Skip to main content

Full text of "Rasputin and the Russian Revolution"

See other formats

Photo by Paxil Thompson 

Gregory Rasputin 
"The Black Monk of Russia" 












Copyright, 1917, 
By Public Ledger Company 

Copyright, 1918, 
By John Lane Company 

Press o! 

J. J. Little & Ives Company 

New York, U. S. A. 


Editor of the "Revue" 

My dear Mr. Finot: — 

Allow me to offer you this little book, which may remind you of 
the many conversations we have had together, and of the many 
letters which we have exchanged. In doing so, I am fulfilling one 
of the pleasantest of duties and trying to express to you all the 
gratitude which I feel towards you. Without your kind help, and 
without your advice, I icould never have had the courage to take a 
pen in my hand, and all the small success I may have had in my 
literary career is entirely due to you, and to the constant encour- 
agement which you have always given to me, and which I shall 
never forget, just as I shall always remember that it was in the 
"Revue" that the first article I ever published appeared. Permit 
me to-day to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and believe 
me to be, 

Always yours most affectionately, 

Catherine Radziwill 

{Catherine Kolb-Danvin) 


When the book called "Behind the Veil at the Rus- 
sian Court" was published the Romanoffs were reign- 
ing and, considering the fact that she was living in 
Russia at the time, the author of it, had her identity 
become known, would have risked being subjected 
to grave annoyances, and even being sent to that dis- 
tant Siberia where Nicholas II is at present exiled. 
It was therefore deemed advisable to produce that 
work as a posthumous one, and "Count Paul Vassili" 
was represented as having died before the publication 
of "his" Memoirs. This however was not the case, be- 
cause on the contrary "he" went on collecting infor- 
mation as to all that was taking place at the Russian 
Court as well as in the whole of Russia, and, consign- 
ing this information to a diary, "he" went on writing. 
If one remembers, "Count Vassili" distinctly foresaw 
and prophesied in "his" book most of the things that 
have occurred since it was published. This fact will 
perhaps give added interest to the present account 
of the Russian Revolution which now sees the light 
of day for the first time. Though devoid of every- 
thing sensational or scandalous it will prove interest- 
ing to those who have cared for the other books of 
"Count Vassili," for it contains nothing but the truth, 
and has been compiled chiefly out of the narrations 
of the principal personages connected in some way 
or other with the Russian Revolution. The facts con- 


8 Publisher's Foreword 

cerning Rasputin, and the details of this man's ex- 
traordinary career, are, we believe, given out now for 
the first time to the American public, which, up to the 
present moment, has been fed on more or less untrue 
and improbable stories or, rather, "fairy tales," in re- 
gard to this famous adventurer. The truth is far 
simpler, but far more human, though humanity does 
not shine in the best colours in its description. 



Part I. — Rasputin 13 

Part II. — The Great Revolution 191 

Part III. — The Riddle of the Future 301 


Gregory Rasputin — "The Black Monk of Russia" Frontispiece 


The Ex-Czar and His Family 34 

Rasputin and His "Court" 74 

Rasputin 94 

The First Bolsheviki Cabinet 200 

The Bolsheviki Headquarters in Petrograd .... 220 

The Bolsheviki General Staff 230 

Soldier and Sailor Citizens' Duma 240 

Foreign Minister Leon Trotzky 250 

Meeting Addressed by Nikolai Lenine 260 

Alexander Kerensky 276 

Revolutionary Crowd in Petrograd 280 

Bolsheviki Sailors Buried at Moscow 290 

Kerensky Inspiring Troops To Support Revolutionary 

Government 304 

Peace Document of Delegates at Brest-Litovsk Confer- 
ence 310 

The House at Brest-Litovsk Where Peace Negotiations 
Between the Russian Bolsheviki and the Austrian-Ger- 
mans Were Conducted 318 



This expose, based on facts which have come to my 
knowledge, though probably far from being com- 
plete, aims at depicting the recent state of things in 
Russia, and thus to explain how the great changes 
which have taken place in my country have been ren- 
dered possible. A lot of exaggerated tales have been 
put into circulation concerning the Empress Alex- 
andra, the part she has played in the perturbations 
that have shaken Russia from one end to another and 
the extraordinary influence which, thanks to her and 
to her efforts in his behalf, the sinister personage 
called Rasputin came to acquire over public affairs 
in the vast empire reigned over by Nicholas II. for 
twenty-two years. A good many of these tales repose 
on nothing but imagination, but nevertheless it is un- 
fortunately too true that it is to the conduct of the 
Empress, and to the part she attempted to play in the 
politics of the world, that the Romanoffs owe the loss 
of their throne. 

Alexandra Feodorovna has been the evil genius of 
the dynasty whose head she married. Without her it 
is probable that most of the disasters that have over- 
taken the Russian armies would not have happened, 
and it is certain that the crown which had been worn 
by Peter the Great and by Catherine II. would not 
have been disgraced. She was totally unfit for the 


16 Rasputin and die Russian Revolution 

position to which chance had raised her, and she never 
was able to understand the character or the needs of 
the people over which she ruled. 

Monstrously selfish, she never looked beyond mat- 
ters purely personal to her or to her son, whom she 
idolized in an absurd manner. She, who had been 
reared in principles of true liberalism, who had had in 
her grandmother, the late Queen Victoria, a perfect 
example of a constitutional sovereign, became from 
the very first day of her arrival in Russia the enemy 
of every progress, of every attempt to civilise the 
nation which owned her for its Empress. She gave 
her confidence to the most ferocious reactionaries the 
country possessed. She tried, and in a certain degree 
succeeded, in inspiring in her husband the disdain of 
his people and the determination to uphold an auto- 
cratic system of government that ought to have been 
overturned and replaced by an enlightened one. 
Haughty by nature and by temperament, she had an 
unlimited confidence in her own abilities, and espe- 
cially after she had become the mother of the son she 
had longed for during so many years, she came to be- 
lieve that everything she wished or wanted to do had 
to be done and that her subjects were but her slaves. 
She had a strong will and much imperiousness in her 
character, and understood admirably the weak points 
iin her husband, who became but a puppet in her 

She herself was but a plaything in the game of a 
few unscrupulous adventurers who used her for the 
furtherance of their own ambitious, money-grubbing 

Rasputin 17 

schemes, and who, but for the unexpected events that 
led to the overthrow of the house of Romanoff, would 
in time have betrayed Russia into sullying her fair 
fame as well as her reputation in history. 

Rasputin, about whom so much has been said, was 
but an incident in the course of a whole series of facts, 
all of them more or less disgraceful, and none of which 
had a single extenuating circumstance to put forward 
as an excuse for their perpetration. 

He himself was far from being the remarkable in- 
dividual he has been represented by some people, and 
had he been left alone it is likely that even if one had 
heard about him it would not have been for any length 
of time. 

Those who hated him did so chiefly because they 
had not been able to obtain from him what they had 
wanted, and they applied themselves to paint him as 
much more dangerous than he really was. They did 
not know that he was but the mouthpiece of other 
people far cleverer and far more unscrupulous even 
than himself, who hid themselves behind him and who 
moved him as they would have done pawns in a game 
of chess according to their personal aims and wants. 
These people it was who nearly brought Russia to 
the verge of absolute ruin, and they would never have 
been able to rise to the power which they wielded had 
not the Empress lent herself to their schemes. Her 
absolute belief in the merits of the wandering 
preacher, thanks to his undoubted magnetic influ- 

18 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ence, contrived to get hold of her mind and to per- 
suade her that so long as he was at her side nothing 
evil could befall her or her family. 

It is not generally known outside of Russia that 
Alexandra Feodorovna despised her husband, and 
that she made no secret of the fact. She considered 
him as a weak individual, unable to give himself an 
account of what was going on around him, who had 
to be guided and never left to himself. Her flatter- 
ers, of whom she had many at a time, had persuaded 
her that she possessed all the genius and most of the 
qualities of Catherine II., and that she ought to fol- 
low the example of the latter by rallying around her 
a sufficient number of friends to effect a palace revo- 
lution which would transform her into the reigning 
sovereign of that Russia which she did not know and 
whose character she was unable to understand. Love 
for Nicholas II. she had never had, nor esteem for 
him, and from the very first moment of her marriage 
she had affected to treat him as a negligible quantity. 
But influence over him she had taken good care to 
acquire. She had jealously kept away from him all 
the people from whom he could have heard the truth 
or who could have signalled to him the dangers which 
his dynasty was running by the furtherance of a pol- 
icy which had become loathsome to the country and 
on account of which the war with Germany had taken 
such an unexpected and dangerous course. 

The Empress, like all stupid people, and her stu- 
pidity has not been denied, even by her best friends, 
believed that one could rule a nation by terror. She, 
therefore, always interposed herself whenever Nicho- 

Rasputin 19 

las II. was induced to adopt a more liberal system of 
government and urged him to subdue by force aspi- 
rations it would have been far better for him to have 
encouraged. She had listened to all the representa- 
tives of that detestable old bureaucratic system which 
gave to the police the sole right to dispose of people's 
lives and which relied on Siberia and the knout to keep 
in order an aggrieved country eager to be admitted 
to the circle of civilised European nations. 

Without her and without her absurd fears, it is 
likely that the first Duma would not have been dis- 
solved. Without her entreaties, it is probable that 
the troops composing the garrison at St. Petersburg 
would not have been commanded to fire at the peace- 
ful population of the capital on that January day 
when, headed by the priest Gapone, it had repaired 
to the Winter Palace to lay its wrongs before the 
Czar, whom it still worshipped at that time. She was 
at the bottom of every tyrannical action which took 
place during the reign of Nicholas II. And lately 
she was the moving spirit in the campaign, engineered 
by the friends of Rasputin, to conclude a separate 
peace with Germany. 

In the long intrigue which came to an end by the 
publication of the Manifesto of Pskow, Rasputin un- 
doubtedly played a considerable part, but all un- 
consciously. Those who used him, together with his 
influence, were very careful not to initiate him into 
their different schemes. But they paid him, they fed 
him, they gave him champagne to drink and pretty 
women to make love to in order to induce him to re- 
present them to the Empress as being the only men ca- 

20 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

pable of saving Russia, about which she did not care, 
and her crown, to which she was so attached. With 
Rasputin she never discussed politics, nor did the Em- 
peror. But with his friends she talked over every 
political subject of importance to the welfare of the 
nation, and being convinced that they were the men 
best capable of upholding her interests, she forced 
them upon her husband and compelled him to follow 
the advice which they gave. She could not bear con- 
tradiction, and she loved flattery. She was convinced 
that no one was more clever than herself, and she 
wished to impose her views everywhere and upon 
every occasion. 

Few sovereigns have been hated as she has been. 
In every class of society her name was mentioned with 
execration, and following the introduction of Raspu- 
tin into her household this aversion which she inspired 
grew to a phenomenal extent. She was openly ac- 
cused of degrading the position which she held and 
the crown which she wore. In every town and vil- 
lage of the empire her conduct came to be discussed 
and her person to be cursed. She was held respon- 
sible for all the mistakes that were made, for all the 
blunders which were committed, for all the omissions 
which had been deplored. And when the plot 
against Rasputin came to be engineered it was as 
much directed against the person of Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna as against that of her favourite, and it was she 
whom the people aimed to strike through him. 

Had she shown some common sense after the mur- 
der of a man whom she well knew was considered the 
most dangerous enemy of the Romanoff dynasty 

Rasputin 21 

things might have taken a different course. Though 
every one was agreed as to the necessity of a change 
in the system of government of Russia, though a rev- 
olution was considered inevitable, yet no one wished 
it to happen at the moment when it did, and all polit- 
ical parties were agreed as to the necessity of post- 
poning it until after the war. But the exasperation 
of the Empress against those who had removed her 
favourite led her to trust even more in those whom he 
had introduced and recommended to her attention. 
She threw herself with a renewed vigour into their 
schemes, urging her husband to dishonour himself, 
together with his signature, by turning traitor to his 
allies and to his promises. She wanted him to conclude 
a peace with Germany that would have allowed her a 
free hand in her desires to punish all the people who 
had conspired against her and against the man upon 
whom she had looked as a saviour and a saint. Once 
this fact was recognised the revolution became inevi- 
table. It is to the credit of Russia that it took place 
with the dignity that has marked its development and 

This, in broad lines, is the summary of the causes 
that have brought about the fall of the Romanoff dy- 
nasty, and they must never be lost sight of when one 
is trying to describe it. It is, however, far too early 
to judge the Russian revolution in its effects because, 
for one thing, it is far from being at an end, and may 
yet take quite an unexpected turn. For another, the 
events connected with it are still too fresh to be con- 
sidered from an objective point of view. I have, 
therefore, refrained from expressing an opinion in 

22 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

this narrative. My aim has been to present to my 
readers a description of the personality of Rasputin, 
together with the part, such as I know it, that he has 
played in the development of Russian history during 
the last five years or so, and afterward to describe the 
course of the revolution and the reasons that have led 
to its explosion in such an unexpected manner. 


We live in strange times, when strange things hap- 
pen which at first sight seem unintelligible and the 
reason for which we fail to grasp. Even in Russia, 
where Rasputin had become the most talked-of per- 
son in the whole empire, few people fully realised 
what he was and what had been the part which he 
had played in Russia's modern history. Yet during 
the last ten years his name had become a familiar one 
in the palaces of the great nobles whose names were 
written down in the Golden Book of the aristocracy 
of the country, as well as in the huts of the poorest 
peasants in the land. At a time when incredulity was 
attacking the heart and the intelligence of the Rus- 
sian nation the appearance of this vagrant preacher 
and adept of one of the most persecuted sects in the 
empire was almost as great an event as was that of 
Cagliostro during the years which preceded the fall 
of the old French monarchy. 

There was, however, a great difference between the 
two personages. One was a courtier and a refined 
man of the world, while the other was only an uncouth 
peasant, with a crude cunning which made him dis- 
cover soon in what direction his bread could be but- 
tered and what advantages he might reap out of the 
extraordinary positions to which events, together with 
the ambitions of a few, had carried him. He was a 


24 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

perfect impersonation of the kind of individual known 
in the annals of Russian history as "Wremienscht- 
chik," literally "the Man of theDay." an appellation 
which since the times of Peter the Great had clung 
to all the different favourites of Russian sovereigns. 
There was one difference, however, and this a most 
essential one. He had never been the favourite of the 
present Czar, who perhaps did not feel as sorry as 
might have been expected by his sudden disappear- 
ance from the scene of the world. 

I shall say a thing which perhaps will surprise my 
readers. Personally, Rasputin was never the om- 
nipotent man he was believed to be, and more than 
once most of the things which were attributed to him 
were not at all his own work. But he liked the public 
to think that he had a finger in every pie that was 
being baked. And he contrived to imbue Russian so- 
ciety at large with such a profound conviction that he 
could do absolutely everything he chose in regard to 
the placing or displacing of people in high places, ob- 
taining money grants and government contracts for 
his various "proteges," that very often the persons 
upon whom certain things depended hastened to grant 
them to those who asked in the name of Rasputin, out 
of sheer fright of finding this terrible being in their 
way. They feared to refuse compliance with any re- 
quest preferred to them either by himself or by one 
who could recommend himself on the strength of his 
good offices on their behalf. But Rasputin was the 
tool of a man far more clever than himself, Count 
Witte. It was partly due to the latter's influence and 
directions that he tried to mix himself up in affairs 

Rasputin 25 

of state and to give advice to people whom he thought 
to be in need of it. He was an illiterate brute, but 
he had all the instincts of a domineering mind which 
circumstances and the station of life in which he had 
been born had prevented from developing. He had 
also something else — an undoubted magnetic force, 
which allowed him to add auto-suggestion to all his 
words and which made even unbelieving people suc- 
cumb sometimes to the hypnotic practices which he 
most undoubtedly exercised to a considerable extent 
during the last years of his adventurous existence. 

Amidst the discontent which, it would be idle to 
deny, had existed in the Russian empire during the 
period which immediately preceded the great war the 
personality of Rasputin had played a great part in 
giving to certain people the opportunity to exploit 
his almost constant presence at the side of the sov- 
ereign as a means to foment public opinion against 
the Emperor and to throw discredit upon him by rep- 
resenting him as being entirely under the influence 
of the cunning peasant who, by a strange freak of 
destiny, had suddenly become far more powerful than 
the strongest ministers themselves. The press be- 
longing to the opposition parties had got into the 
habit of attacking him and calling his attendance on 
the imperial ccurt an open scandal, which ought in 
the interest of the dynasty to be put an end to by 
every means available. 

In the Duma his name had been mentioned more 
than once, and always with contempt. Every kind of 
reproach had been hurled at him, and others had not 
been spared. He had become at last a fantastic kind 

26 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

of creature, more exploited than exploiting, more de- 
stroyable than destructive, one whose real "role" will 
never be known to its full extent, who might in other 
countries than Russia and at another time have be- 
come the founder of some religious order or secret 
association. His actions when examined in detail do 
not differ very much from those of the fanatics which 
in Paris under the reign of Louis XV. were called 
the "Convulsionnaires," and who gave way to all kind 
of excesses under the pretext that these were accept- 
able to God by reason of the personality of the people 
who inspired them. In civilised, intelligent, well-edu- 
cated Europe such an apparition would have been 
impossible, but in Russia, that land of mysteries and 
of deep faiths, where there still exist religious sects 
given to all kinds of excesses and to attacks of pious 
imadness (for it can hardly be called by any other 
name), he acquired within a relatively short time the 
affections of a whole lot of people. ^They were in- 
clined to see in him a prophet whose prayers were ca- 
pable of winning for them the Divine Paradise for 
which their hungry souls were longing. There was 
nothing at all phenomenal about it. It was even in, 
a certain sense quite a natural manifestation of this 
large Russian nature, which is capable of so many 
good or bad excesses and which has deeply incrusted 
at the bottom of its heart a tendency to seek the su- 
pernatural in default of the religious convictions 
which, thanks to circumstances, it has come to lose. 

The American public is perhaps not generally 
aware of the character of certain religious sects in 
Russia, which is considered to be a country of ortho- 

Rasputin 27 

doxy, with the Czar at its head, and where people 
think there is no room left for any other religion than 
the official one to develop itself. In reality, things 
are very different, and to this day, outside of the 
recognised nonconformists, who have their own bish- 
ops and priests, and whose faith is recognised and 
acknowledged by the State, there are any number of 
sects, each more superstitious and each more power- 
ful than the other in regard to the influence which 
they exercise over their adherents. These, though 
not numerous by any means, yet are actuated by such 
fanaticism that they are apt at certain moments 
to become subjects of considerable embarrassment to 
the authorities. Some are inspired by the conviction 
that the only means to escape from the clutches of the 
devil consists in suicide or in the murder of other 

For instance, the Baby Killers, or Dietooubitsy, 
as they are called, think it a duty to send to Heaven 
the souls of new-born infants, which they destroy as 
soon as they see the light of day, thinking thus 
to render themselves agreeable to the Almighty by 
snatching children away from the power of the evil 
one. Another sect, which goes by the name of 
Stranglers, fully believes that the doors of Heaven 
are only opened before those who have died a violent 
death, and whenever a relative or friend is danger- 
ously ill they proceed to smother him under the 
weight of many pillows so as to hasten the end. The 
Philipovtsy preach salvation through suicide, and the 
voluntary death of several people in common is con- 
sidered by them as a most meritorious action. Some- 

28 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

times whole villages decide to unite themselves in one 
immense holocaust and barricade themselves in a 
house, which is afterward set on fire. 

An incident that occurred during the reign of Alex- 
ander II. is remembered to this day in Russia. A 
peasant called Khodkine persuaded twenty people to 
retire together with him into a grotto hidden in the 
vast forests of the government of Perm, where he 
compelled them to die of hunger. Two women hav- 
ing contrived to escape, the fanatics, fearing that they 
might be denounced, killed themselves with the first 
weapons which fell under their hand. It was their 
terror that they might find themselves compelled to 
renounce their sinister design, and thus fall again into 
the clutches of that Satan for fear of whom they had 
made up their minds to encounter an awful death. 
Even as late as the end of the last century such acts 
of fanaticism could be met with here and there in 
the east and centre of Russia. In 1883, under the 
reign of the father of the last Czar, a peasant in 
the government of Riazan, called JoukofF, burnt him- 
self to death by setting fire to his clothes, which he 
had previously soaked in paraffin, and expired under 
the most awful torments, singing hymns of praise to 
the Lord. 

Among all these heresies there are two which have 
attracted more than the others the attention of the 
authorities, thanks to their secret rites and to their 
immoral tendencies. They are the Skoptsy, or Vol- 
untary Eunuchs, about which it is useless to say any- 
thing here, and the Khlysty, or Flagellants, which 
to this day has a considerable number of adepts and 

Rasputin 29 

to which Rasputin undoubtedly belonged, to which, 
in fact, he openly owed allegiance. This sect, which 

I calls itself "Men of God," has the strangest rites 
which human imagination can invent. According to 
its precepts, a human creature should try to raise its 
soul toward the Divinity with the help of sexual ex- 
cesses of all kinds. During their assemblies they in- 
dulge in a kind of waltz around and around the room, 
which reminds one of nothing so much as the rounds 
of the Dancing Dervishes in the East. They dance 
and dance until their strength fails them, when they 
drop to the floor in a kind of trance or ecstasy, during 
which, being hardly accountable for their actions, they 
imagine that they see Christ and the Virgin Mary 

j among them. They then threw themselves into the 

I embrace of the supposed divinities. 

As a rule the general public knows very little con- 
cerning these sects, but I shall quote here a passage 
out of a book on Russia by Sir Donald Mackenzie 
Wallace, which is considered to this day as a standard 
work in regard to its subject. "Among the 'Khly- 
sty,' " he writes, "there are men and women who take 
upon themselves the calling of teachers and prophets, 
and in this character they lead a strict, ascetic life, re- 
frain from the most ordinary and innocent pleasures, 
exhaust themselves by long fasting and wild ecstatic 
religious exercises and abhor marriage. Under the 
excitement caused by their supposed holiness and in- 
spiration, they call themselves not only teachers and 
prophets, but also Saviours, Redeemers, Christs, 
Mothers of God. Generally speaking, they call them- 
selves simply gods and pray to each other as to real 

30 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

gods and living Christs and Madonnas. When sev- 
eral of these teachers come together at a meeting they 
dispute with each other in a vain, boasting way as to 
which of them possesses most grace and power. In 
this rivalry they sometimes give each other lusty 
blows on the ear, and he who bears the blows the most 
patiently, turning the other cheek to the smiter, ac- 
quires the reputation of having the most holiness. 

"Another sect belonging to the same category 
and which indeed claims close kindred with it is the 
Jumpers, among whom the erotic element is dis- 
agreeably prominent. Here is a description of 
their religious meetings, which are held during 
summer in a forest and during winter in some out- 
house or barn. After due preparation prayers are 
read by the chief teacher, dressed in a white robe 
and standing in the midst of the congregation. At 
first he reads in an ordinary tone of voice and then 
passes gradually into a merry chant. .When he re- 
marks that the chanting has sufficiently acted on the 
hearers he begins to jump. The hearers, singing 
likewise, follow his example. Their ever-increasing 
excitement finds expression in the highest possible 
jumps. This they continue as long as they can — 
men and women alike yelling like enraged savages. 
When all are thoroughly exhausted the leader de- 
clares that he hears the angels singing, and then 
begins a scene which cannot be here described." 

I have quoted this passage in full because it may 
give to the reader who is not versed in the details of 

Rasputin 31 

Russian existence and Russian psychology the key to 
the circumstances that helped Rasputin to absorb for 
such a considerable number of years the attention of 
the public in Russia, and which, in fact, made him 
possible as a great ruling, though not governing, 
force in the country. In some ways he had appealed 
to the two great features of the human character in 
general and of the Russian character in particular — 
mysticism and influence of the senses. It is not so 
surprising as it might seem at first sight that he con- 
trived to ascend to a position which no one who knew 
him at first ever supposed he would or could attain. 
— -At the same time I must, in giving a brief sketch 
of the career of this extraordinary individual, protest 
against the many calumnies which have associated him 
with names which I will not mention here out of re- 
spect and feelings of patriotism. It is sufficiently 
painful to have to say so, but German calumny, which 
spares no one, has used its poisoned arrows also where 
Rasputin came to be discussed. It has tried to tra- 
vesty maternal love and anxiety into something quite 
different, and it has attempted to sully what it could 
not touch. There have been many sad episodes in 
this whole story of Rasputin, but some of the people 
whc have been mentioned in connection with them 
were completely innocent of the things for which they 
have been reproached. Finally, the indignation which 
these vile and unfounded accusations roused in the 
hearts of the true friends and servants of the people 
led to the drama which removed forever from the sur- 
face of Russian society the sectarian who unfortu- 
nately had contrived to glide into its midst. 

32 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

The one extraordinary thing about Rasputin is 
that he was not murdered sooner. He was so en- 
tirely despised and so universally detested all over 
Russia that it was really a miracle that he could re- 
main alive so long a time after it had been found im- 
possible to remove him from the scene of the world 
by other than violent means. It was a recognised fact 
that he had had a hand in all kinds of dirty money 
matters and that no business of a financial character 
connected with military expenditure could be brought 
to a close without his being mixed in it. About this, 
however, I shall speak later on in trying to explain 
how the Rasputin legend spread and how it was ex- 
ploited by all kinds of individuals of a shady character, 
who used his name for purposes of their own. The 
scandal connected with the shameless manner in 
which he became associated with innumerable trans- 
actions more or less disreputable was so enormous 
that unfortunately it extended to people and to names 
that should never have been mentioned together with 

It must never be forgotten, and I cannot repeat 
this sufficiently, that Rasputin was a common peas- 
• ant of the worst class of the Russian moujiks, devoid 
of every kind of education, without any manners and 
in his outward appearance more disgusting than 
anything else. It would be impossible to explain the 
influence which he undoubtedly contrived to acquire 
upon some persons belonging to the highest social 
circles if one did not take into account this mysticism 
and superstition which lie at the bottom of the Slav 

Rasputin 33 

nature and the tendency which the Russian character 
has to accept as a manifestation of the power of the 
divinity all things that touch upon the marvellous or 
the unexplainable. Rasputin in a certain sense ap- 
peared on the scene of Russian social life at the very 
moment when his teachings could become acceptable, 
at the time when Russian society had been shaken 
to its deepest depths by the revolution which had 
followed upon the Japanese war and when it was 
looking everywhere for a safe harbour in which to 
find a refuge. 

At the beginning of his career and when he was 
introduced into the most select circles of the Russian 
capital, thanks to the caprices and the fancies of two 
or three fanatic orthodox ladies who had imagined 
that they had found in him a second Savonarola and 
that his sermons and teachings could provoke a re- 
newal of religious fervour, people laughed at him and 
at his feminine disciples, and made all kinds of jokes, 
good and bad, about him and them. But this kind 
of thing did not last long and Rasputin, who, though 
utterly devoid of culture, had a good deal of the 
cunning which is one of the distinctive features of 
the Russian peasant, was the first to guess all the 
possibilities which this sudden "engouement" of in- 
fluential people for his person opened out before him 
and to what use it could be put for his ambition as 
well as his inordinate love of money. He began by 
exacting a considerable salary for all the prayers 
which he was supposed to say at the request of his 

34 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

worshippers, and of all the ladies, fair or unfair, who 
had canonised him in their enthusiasm for all the 
wonderful things which he was continually telling 
them. He was eloquent in a way and at the begin- 
ning of his extraordinary thaumaturgic existence had 
not yet adopted the attitude which he was to assume 
later on — of an idol, whom every one had to adore. 

He was preaching the necessity of repenting of 
one's sins, making due penance for them after a par- 
ticular manner, which he described as being the most 
agreeable to God, and praying constantly and with 
unusual fervour for the salvation of orthodox Rus- 
sia. He contrived most cleverly to play upon the 
chord of patriotism which is always so developed in 
Russians, and to speak to them of the welfare of their 
beloved fatherland whenever he thought it advan- 
tageous to his personal interests to do so. He suc- 
ceeded in inspiring in his adepts a faith in his own 
person and in his power to save their souls akin to that 
which is to be met with in England and in America 
among the sect of the Christian Scientists, and he 
very rapidly became a kind of Russian Mrs. Eddy. 
A few hysterical ladies, who were addicted to neural- 
gia or headaches, suddenly found themselves better j 
after having conversed or prayed with him, and they 
spread his fame outside the small circle which had 
adopted him at the beginning of his career. One 1 
fine day a personal friend of the reigning Empress, j 
Madame Wyroubourg, introduced him at Tsarskoie 
Selo, under the pretext of praying for the health of 
the small heir to the Russian throne, who was occa- 

Rasputin 35 

sioning some anxiety to his parents. It was from 
that day that he became a personage. 

His success at court was due to the superstitious 
dread with which he contrived to inspire the Empress 
in regard to her son. She was constantly trembling 
for him, and being very religiously inclined, with 
strong leanings toward mysticism, she allowed herself 
to be persuaded more by the people who surrounded 
her than by Rasputin himself. She believed that the 
man of whose holiness she was absolutely persuaded, 
could by his prayers alone obtain the protection of the 
Almighty for her beloved child. An accidental oc- 
currence contributed to strengthen her in this convic- 
tion. There were persons who were of the opinion 
that the presence of Rasputin at Tsarskoie Selo was 
not advantageous for many reasons. Among them 
was Mr. Stolypine, then Minister of the Interior, and 
he it was who made such strong representations that 
at last Rasputin himself deemed it advisable to re- 
turn to his native village of Pokrovskoie, in Siberia. 
A few days after his departure the little Grand Duke 
fell seriously ill and his mother became persuaded that 
this was a punishment for her having allowed the va- 
grant preacher to be sent away. Rasputin was re- 
called, and after this no one ever spoke again of his 
being removed anywhere. From that time all kinds 
of adventurers began to lay siege to him and to do 
their utmost to gain an introduction. 

Russia was still the land where a court favourite 
was all-powerful, and Rasputin was held as such, es- 
pecially by those who had some personal interest in 

36 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

representing him as the successor to Menschikoff un- 
der Peter the Great, Biren under the Empress Anne 
and Orloff under Catherine II. He acquired a far 
greater influence outside Tsarskoie Selo than he ever 
enjoyed in the imperial residence itself, and he made 
the best of it, boasting of a position which in reality 
he did not possess. The innumerable state function- 
aries, who in Russia unfortunately always have the 
last word to say everywhere and in everything and 
whose rapacity is proverbial, hastened to put them- 
selves at the service of Rasputin and to grant him 
everything which he asked, in the hope that in return 
he would make himself useful to them. 

A kind of bargaining established itself between 
people desirous of making a career and Rasputin, 
eager to enrich himself no matter by what means. 
He began by playing the intermediary in different 
financial transactions for a substantial considera- 
tion, and at last he thought himself entitled to give 
his attention to matters of state. This was the sad- 
dest side of his remarkable career as a pseudo-Cag- 
liostro. He had a good deal of natural intelligence, 
and while being the first to laugh at fair ladies who 
clustered around him, he understood at once that he 
could make use of them. This he did not fail to do. 
He adopted toward them the manners of a stern mas- 
ter, and treated them like his humble slaves. At last 
he ended by leading the existence of a man of pleas- 
ure, denying himself nothing, especially his fondness 
for liquor of every kind. At that time there was no 
prohibition in Russia and, like all Russian peasants, 
Rasputin was very fond of vodka, to which he never 

Rasputin 37 

missed adding a substantial quantity of champagne 
whenever he found the opportunity. 

I shall abstain from touching upon the delicate 
point of the orgies to which it is related that Rasputin 
was in the habit of addicting himself, the more so be- 
cause I do not really believe these ever took place in 
those higher circles of society where it was said they 
regularly occurred. That strange things may have 
happened among the common people, who in far 
greater numbers than it has ever been known, used to 
attend the religious meetings which he held, I shall 
not deny. It must always be remembered that Ras- 
putin belonged to the religious sect of the Khlysty, of 
whose assemblies we have read the description, and it 
is quite likely, and even probable, that the assemblies 
of these sectarians at which he presided were not dif- 
ferent from the others to which these heretics crowded. 
But I feel absolutely convinced that as regards the 
relations of the adventurer with the numerous ladies 
of society silly enough to believe in him and in his 
gifts of prophecy, these consisted only of superstitious 
reverence on one side and exploitation of human stu- 
pidity on the other. 

I must once more insist on the point that the ap- 
parition of Rasputin in Russian society had nothing 
wonderful about it, and that the only strange thing 
is that such a fuss was made. Before his time people 
belonging to the highest social circles had become af- 
flicted with religious manias of one kind or another 
out of that natural longing for something to believe 
in and to worship which lies hidden at the bottom of 
the character of every Russian who has the leisure, 

38 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

or the craving, to examine seriously the difficult and 
complicated problems of a future life and of the faith 
one ought to follow and to believe in. 

In 1817 there was discovered in the very heart of 
St. Petersburg, holding its meetings in an imperial 
residence (the Michael Palace), a religious sect of 
most pronounced mystical tendencies, presided over 
by a lady belonging to the best circles of the capital — 
the widow of a colonel, Madame Tatarinoff. In her 
apartments used to gather officers, State function- 
aries, women and girls of good family and excellent 
education who, with slight variations, practised all the 
religious rites of the Khlystys. One of the Ministers 
of Alexander I., Prince Galitzyne, was suspected of 
having honoured these assemblies with his presence. 
Thanks to a letter which accidentally fell into the 
hands of the police, the Government became aware 
of what was going on, and Madame Tatarinoff, this 
Russian Madame Guyon, expiated in exile in a dis- 
tant province of Siberia the ecstasies which she had 
practised and which she had allowed others to prac- 
tise under her roof. Some of her disciples were pros- 
ecuted, but the greater number escaped scot free. The 
authorities did not care to increase the scandal which 
this affair had aroused in the capital. 

Much later, in 1878, after the Russo-Turkish war, 
which, like the Japanese affair, had been followed by 
a strong revolutionary movement in the country that 
culminated in the assassination of the Czar, Alexan- 
der II., another prophet, this time of foreign origin, 
appeared on the social horizon of St. Petersburg so- 
ciety, where he made a considerable number of con- 

Rasputin 39 

verts. This was the famous Lord Radstock, whose 
doctrines were taken up by a gentleman who up to 
that time had been known as one of the gayest among 
the gay, a colonel in the Guards — Mr. Basil Pasch- 
koff. He was enormously rich, and put all his vast 
fortune at the service of the religious craze which had 
seized him. He used his best efforts to convert to 
the doctrine of salvation through faith only not alone 
his friends and relatives, but also the poorer classes 
of the population of the capital, devoting in particu- 
lar his attention to the cab drivers. All these people 
used to meet at his house, where they mingled with 
persons of the highest rank and standing, such as 
Count Korff, and a former Minister, Count Alexis 
Bobrinsky. Later on the whole Tchertkoff family, 
to which belonged the famous friend of Count Leo 
Tolstoy, associated itself with them, and, indeed, dis- 
played the greatest fanaticism in regard to its partici- 
pation in the doctrines of the new sect. 

The Paschkovites, as they came to be called, had 
nothing at all in common with the Khlystys. Their 
morals were absolutely unimpeachable, and what they 
preached was simply the necessity to conform one's 
morals were absolutely unimpeachable, and what they 
explained and commented upon, each person accord- 
ing to his own light. They were Protestants in a 
certain sense, inasmuch as their views were distinctly 
Protestant ones. But they had much more in com- 
mon with the nonconformists than the real followers 
of Luther or of Calvin. They were a kind of re- 
fined Salvation Army, if this expression can be for- 
given me ; though they never acquired the importance, 

40 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

nor did the good which the latter has done, perhaps 
because they could never make any practical appli- 
cation of the principles and of the ideas which ani- 
mated them. But at one time the Paschkovist craze 
was just as strong as the Rasputin one became later 
on, and Lord Radstock and Mr. Paschkoff were con- 
sidered just as much prophets among their own par- 
ticular circle as was Rasputin among the fanatical 
ladies who had taken him up. 

These crises of religious mania are regular occur- 
rences in Russian higher social circles when unusual- 
ly grave circumstances arrive to shake their equanim- 
ity. Seen from this particular point of view, the 
apparition of Rasputin and the importance which his 
personality acquired in the life of the Russian upper 
classes present nothing very wonderful. Before him 
other so-called prophets had kept the attention of 
the public riveted upon their doings and their actions. 

What distinguished his short passage was the fact 
that it was made the occasion by the natural enemies 
of the empire, consisting of the discontented at home, 
and of the Germans outside the frontier, to discredit 
the dynasty as well as those whose life was spent in 
its immediate vicinity and to present this figure of 
the vagrant half-monk and half-layman, who 
preached a new relation to those foolish enough to 
listen to him, as being one of almost gigantic impor- 
tance, who could at his will and fancy direct the course 
of public affairs and lead them wherever he wanted. 

My object in this study will be to show Rasputin 
for what he really was, and in retracing the different 
vicissitudes of his strange career, not to give way to 

Rasputin 41 

the many exaggerations, which, in familiarising 
people abroad with his person and with his name, 
have made out of him something quite wonder- 
ful, and almost equal in power with the Czar himself. 
It is time to do away with such legends and to bring 
Rasputin back to his proper level — a very able and 
cunning, half-cultured peasant, who owed his suc- 
cesses only to the fanaticism of the few, and to the 
interest which many had in dissimulating themselves 
behind him, in order to bring their personal wishes to 
a successful end. It is not Rasputin who performed 
most of the actions put to his credit. It was those 
who influenced him, who pushed him forward and 
who, thanks to him, became both rich and powerful. 
He has disappeared. I wish we could be as sure that 
they have disappeared along with him. 


The beginning of the career of Gregory Rasputin 
is shrouded with a veil of deep mystery. He was a 
native of Siberia, of a small village in the govern- 
ment of Tobolsk, called Pokrovskoie. Some people 
relate that when quite a youth he was compromised in 
a crime which attracted some attention at the time — 
the murder of a rich merchant who was travelling from 
Omsk to Tobolsk to acquire from an inhabitant of 
the latter town some gold diggings, of which he 
wished to dispose. This merchant was known to 
carry a large sum of money, and as he never reached 
his destination inquiries were started. At last his 
body was found, with the head battered by blows, 
hidden in a ditch by the high road, together with that 
of the coachman who had driven him. The murderers 
were never discovered, but dark rumours concerning 
the participation of the youth Rasputin in the deed 
spread all over the village. 

Whether it was the desire to put an end to them, 
or remorse for an action of which he knew himself to 
be guilty, it is difficult to say, but the fact remains 
that suddenly Gricha, as he was called, developed 
mystical tendencies and took to attending some relig- 
ious meetings at which a certain wandering pilgrim 
used to preach. The latter used to go from place to 
place in Siberia predicting the end of the world and 


Rasputin 43 

the advent of the dreaded day of Judgment when 
Christ would once again appear to demand from hu- 
manity an account of its various good or bad actions. 
For something like two years Rasputin followed him, 
until at last he began himself to assume the character 
of a lay preacher, to apply himself to the study of the 
Scriptures and to try to establish a sect of his own, 
the principles of which he exposed to his followers in 
these terms: 

I am possessed of the Holy Spirit, and it is only 
through me that one can be saved. In order to do 
so, one must unite oneself with me in body and soul. 
Everything which proceeds from me is holy, and 
cleanses one from sin. 

• On the strength of this theory, Rasputin declared 
that he could do whatever he liked or wished. He sur- 
rounded himself with worshippers of both sexes, who 
believed that by a close union with him they could 
obtain their eternal salvation, together with divine 
forgiveness for any sins they might have committed 
during their previous existence. 

Strange tales began to be related concerning the 
religious assemblies at which the new prophet pre- 
sided. But, nevertheless, the whole village of Pok- 
rovskoie, whither he had returned after his few years' 
wanderings, accepted his teachings and submitted to 
his decrees with scarcely any exceptions. These un- 
believers were looked upon askance by the majority 
of the inhabitants, who had succumbed to the 
"monk's" power of fascination and hypnotism. It 

44 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

was with nothing else that Rasputin kept his "flock" 
subjugated. He introduced among them the cult 
of his own person, together with certain rites which 
he called "sacrifice with prayer." 

According to the narratives of some people, who out 
of curiosity had attended these ceremonies, this is how 
they proceeded: In the night, as soon as the first 
stars had become visible in the sky, Rasputin, with 
the help of his disciples, dragged some wood into a 
deep ditch dug for the purpose and lighted a huge 
bonfire. On a tripod placed in the midst of this fire 
was put a cup full of incense and different herbs, 
around which people began to dance, holding them- 
selves by the hand all the while, and singing in a voice 
which became louder and louder as the wild exercise 
became more and more accelerated different hymns 
which always ended with the phrase : "Forgive us our 
sins, O Lord, forgive us our sins." 

The dance went on until people fell exhausted to 
the ground and groans and tears replaced the former 
singing. The fire died out slowly and, when dark- 
ness had become complete, the voice of Rasputin was 
heard calling upon his disciples to proceed to the 
sacrifice which God required them to perform. Then 
followed a scene of general orgy. 

As one can see by this tale, the strange practices 
introduced by the seer, about whom people were al- 
ready beginning to talk, differed in no way from 
those generally in use among the Khlysty, and, in- 
deed, Rasputin made no secret of his allegiance to 

Rasputin 45 

this particular form of heresy, in which, however, he 
had introduced a few alterations. For instance, he 
did not admit that the souls of his followers could be 
saved by a general prayer, but only thanks to one ut- 
tered in common with him, and by a complete sub- 
mission to his will. Some persons have alleged that 
during the early wanderings of Rasputin he had gone 
; as far as China and Thibet, and there learned some 
Buddhist practices, but this is hardly probable, as 
; in that case his instruction would have been more de- 
veloped than it was. It is far more likely that during 
his travels he had met with exiled sectarians belong- 
ing to the different persecuted religious Russian com- 
munities, of which there exist so many in the whole) 
Oural region, and that they initiated him into some 
of their rites and customs. They also made him at- 
tentive to the hypnotic powers, which he most un- 
doubtedly possessed, teaching him how to use them 
for his own benefit and advantage. 
L Very soon Rasputin found that Pokrovskoie was 
( not a field wide enough for his energies, and he took 
, to travelling, together with a crowd of disciples that 
7 followed him everywhere over the eastern and central 
^Russian provinces. There he contrived to win every 
I day new adherents to the doctrines in which free love 
I figured so prominently. Among the towns where 
I he obtained the most success can be mentioned those 
\d Kazan, Saratoff, KiefF and Samara. 

Concerning his doings in Kazan, people became in- 
formed through a letter which one of his victims ad- 
dressed to the bishop of that diocese, Monsignor Feo- 
fane, who had shown at the beginning of Rasputin's 

46 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

career a considerable interest in him and who had 
protected him with great success. In this letter, 
which later on found its way into the press, the fol- 
lowing was said among other things: 

"Your Reverence, I absolutely fail to understand 
how it is possible that you continue to this day to 
know and see Gregory Rasputin. He is Satan in 
person and the things which he does are worthy of 
those that the Antichrist alone is supposed to per- 
form, and prove that the latter 's advent is at hand." 

The writer then proceeded to explain that Raspu- 
tin had completely subjugated the mind of her two 
daughters, one of whom was aged twenty, whilst the 
second had not yet attained her sixteenth year. 

"One afternoon," writes this unfortunate mother, 
"I met in the street, coming out of a bathhouse, 
Rasputin, together with my two girls. One must be 
a mother to understand the feelings which over- 
powered me at this sight. I could find no words to 
say, but remained standing motionless and silent 
before them. The prophet turned to me and slowly 
said : 'Now you may feel at peace, the day of sal- 
vation has dawned for your daughters!' ' 

Another woman, who had also fallen under the spell 
of Rasputin, wrote as follows about him : 

"I left my parents, to whom I was tenderly at- 
tached, to follow the prophet. One day when we 
were travelling together in a reserved first-class 

Rasputin 47 

carriage, talking about the salvation of souls and 
the means to become a true child of God, he sud- 
denly got up, approached me, and * * * pro- 
ceeded to cleanse me of all my sins. Towards 
evening I became anxious and asked him: 'Per- 
haps what we have been doing to-day was a sin, 
Gregory Efimitsch?' 'No, my daughter,' he re- 
plied, 'it was not a sin. Our affections are a gift 
from God, which we may use as freely as we 
like.' " 

Bishop Feofane finally was obliged to recognise the 
evil which Rasputin was constantly doing, and he bit- 
terly repented having been taken in by him and by 
his hypocrisy. He reproached himself especially for 
having given him a letter of recommendation to the 
famous Father John of Cronstadt, through whom 
Rasputin was to become acquainted with some of the 
people who were later on to pilot him in the society of 
St. Petersburg. The bishop was not a clever man 
by any means, but he had been sincere in his admira- 
tion for Rasputin, a fact which added to the conster- 
nation that overpowered him when the truth about the 
famous sectarian became known to him. He assem- 
bled a kind of judicial court, composed of one bishop, 
one monk and three well-known and highly respected 
civil functionaries, and called upon the prophet to 
come and explain himself before this court as to the 
actions which were imputed to him. Among these 
figured his general conduct in regard to the women 
who had enrolled themselves in the ranks of his dis- 
ciples. But somehow the adventurer succeeded in 

48 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

dispelling the suspicions that had become attached to 
his name and conduct, and he explained in a more or 
less plausible manner the things which had been told 
about him. His leanings towards feminine society, 
and his invariable custom of bathing with women, he 
declared to be quite innocent things, and only a proof 
of his desire to show that it was quite possible for 
human beings to rise above every kind of carnal 

In spite of this episode, which would have inter- 
fered with the career of any one but Rasputin, the 
fame of the latter grew with every day that passed. 
He established himself at last in the town of Tiumen 
in Siberia, where he hired the whole of a large house 
for himself and some of his most favoured disciples, 
and he began to turn his activity into another and more 
profitable channel. He established reception hours 
every day, when all his followers, admirers and friends 
could come to speak with him about any business they 
liked. Hundreds of people used to attend those re- 
ceptions, among them some very influential persons 
curious to see and speak with the modern Peter the 
Hermit, who declared that he had been called by God 
to save Holy Russia. In some mysterious manner 
he acquired the reputation of having great influence 
in high quarters, where (this must be noticed) he was 
at the time still quite unknown. Governors fearing 
dismissal, rapacious functionaries whose exactions 
had become too flagrant, as well as business men in 
quest of some good "geschaft," to use the German ex- 
pression employed before the war among financial 
circles in Russia, crowded round him, waiting some- 

Rasputin 49 

times hours for an opportunity to speak with him, and 
fully believing in his capacities for obtaining what 
they required. 

Rasputin soon became a kind of business agent and 
surrounded himself with a number of secretaries of 
both sexes, whose occupation consisted in attending 
to his correspondence — he could himself hardly read 
or write — and in receiving the numerous offerings 
which were being brought to him daily. These secre- 
taries, among whom figured a sister of the Bishop of 
Saratoff, Warnava, made an immense amount of 
money themselves because no one was ever admitted 
into the presence of Rasputin without having previ- 
ously paid dearly for this favour. Very soon they es- 
tablished a tax in regard to the audiences granted by 
their master. 

Besides this sister of Bishop Warnava, Rasputin 
had another female secretary, and they both accom- 
panied him in all his travels, calling themselves his 
spiritual sisters. They constituted, so to say, his 
bodyguard, and wherever he went, even in St. Peters- 
burg, they never left off attending him and seeing to 
all his wants. They were the channel through which 
everything had to go, and without their consent no 
one was ever admitted into the presence of the 
"Saint," as they already had begun to call him. 

Gregory Rasputin very often used to visit Tobolsk, 
where he was always received with great ceremony 
and pomp, as if he had been really the important per- 
sonage he believed himself. The policeman in the 
streets saluted him as he passed ; the carriage in which 
he drove was escorted or preceded by a high police 

50 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

functionary, and the governor asked him to dinner. 
The same kind of thing used to take place in other 
Siberian cities. In one of them the staterooms re- 
served at the railway station for any high authority 
on a visit to the place were thrown open to him. In 
another triumphal arches were erected in his honour, 
while in a third he was met by deputations in the 
midst of which could be seen civil functionaries and 
religious dignitaries. 

How all this happened no one knew or could ex- 
plain. In what consisted the fame of Rasputin and 
what he had done to deserve all these honours nobody 
could tell. But fame he had acquired, honours he 
had obtained, and where another person gifted with a 
smaller amount of impudence than he was possessed 
of, would have been put into prison or sent to a mad- 
house, Gricha had it all his own way, and defied gov- 
ernors and judges with an equal indifference, sure 
that none among them would be daring enough to 
try to put a stop to his progress or to his avidity. 

Most friendly, not to say intimate, relations were 
established between Rasputin and Bishop Warnava, 
especially after the latter's elevation to the Episcopal 
See of Tobolsk. The first sermon which Warnava 
preached in that town he dedicated to the wife of 
Rasputin. One need not say that the whole clergy 
of the town and of the diocese trembled before Raspu- 
tin, who did not fail to exact from it large sums of 
money, which he extorted, thanks to the promises 
which he made but never meant in the least to keep. 

During the course of the year J.909 -complaints 
about Rasputin's behaviour increased to a consider- 

Rasputin 51 

able extent. He was once more called before an ec- 
clesiastical court to give explanations in regard to his 
general conduct. Among his judges figured again 
Bishop Feofane. This time Rasputin could not clear 
himself of the charges preferred against him, and he 
was invited to retire for one year into a monastery by 
way of penance. But Rasputin refused to submit 
to this sentence and categorically declined to do 
as he had been told. He gave as a reason for his 
disobedience to the commands of his ecclesiastical su- 
periors that his conscience obliged him to resist be- 
cause it would be impossible for his "spiritual sisters 
and daughters" to accompany him in his retreat and 
live together with him in the monastery they wished 
him to enter. 

At the time this incident took place Rasputin was 
already living in St. Petersburg, whither he had re- 
paired on the invitation of some of his admirers and 
protectors, who had the opportunity to listen to his 
preachings in Kieff and other Russian towns. Among 
them figured the Countess Sophy Ignatieff, a woman 
of high standing, irreproachable reputation and great 
influence in some circles of the capital, where her sa- 
lon was considered the centre of the conservative or- 
thodox party. Bishops and priests figured among 
her daily visitors, and it was among her habitues that 
the most important ecclesiastical appointments in the 
Empire were discussed. Often it was the candidates 
whom she honoured with her protection who were 
chosen for a bishop's place or for that of a superior 
to one of those rich monasteries the heads of which 
are quite personages in the state. 

52 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

The Countess was already an old woman, widow 
of a man who had been murdered during the revolu- 
tion of 1905, and, incapable of being even sus- 
pected of any frailties of conduct. She was the 
mother of a large family, and though by no means 
brilliant, was yet clever in her way, with a slight pro- 
pensity to intrigue. She was extremely devout, with 
a strong tendency to exaltation where religious mat- 
ters came into question, and was continually lament- 
ing what she called the relaxation of modern society 
in those practices of strict church discipline which 
Russians belonging to the higher classes have lately 
taken to forgetting. She would not have missed at- 
tending any of the long Church services, sometimes so 
tiring in the Orthodox faith, which are celebrated on 
Sundays and many feast days, and she strictly fasted 
at prescribed times. Indeed, her whole existence 
was, as regards its daily routine, more that of a nun 
than of a woman of the world. But for all that, she 
liked to keep herself well informed as to all that was 
going on around her, and politics was her especial 

Among those who frequented her house were Mr. 
Sabler, then Procurator of the Holy Synod, together 
with his future successor, Mr. Loukianoff ; a good 
sprinkling of ministers — she was distantly related to 
Mr. Stolypine, a fact that had considerably added to 
her importance during the latter's lifetime — and a 
few influential dames belonging to the immediate 
circle of friends of the imperial family. All this 
constituted a coterie that had gradually assumed per- 
haps more importance than it really deserved, but 

Rasputin 53 

that brought into St. Petersburg society an element 
with which it would not have been wise to trifle and 
which it was impossible to overlook, for any one car- 
ing to concern himself or herself with the course that 
public affairs were taking and assuming. 

A few years before the time I am referring to, that 
is about 1908 or 1909, a good deal of interest was ex- 
cited not only in St. Petersburg, but in the whole of 
Russia, by a monk called Illiodore, who also preached 
a new gospel to those willing to listen. There was, 
however, about him none of the peculiarities which 
distinguished Rasputin, and no one had ever found 
one word to say against his morals. But he tried also 
to found a religion of his own in the sense that he at- 
tempted to develop on a higher scale, and with certain 
Protestant leanings, the feelings of fervour of the 
people. At SaratofF, where he lived, he did a great 
deal of good, and he had built there a large church, 
Orthodox, of course, which soon became a centre of 
pilgrimage to which flocked thousands and thousands 
of people desirous of hearing him and of listening to 
his inflamed speeches. They reminded one of those 
crusades that in the Middle Ages had stirred whole 
nations to rise and rush to deliver the Holy Sepulchre 
from the yoke of the infidels. He was far more a 
Peter the Hermit than Rasputin, and had, moreover, 
education, which the other lacked. 

But ecclesiastical authorities in St. Petersburg did 
not approve of his teachings, and he soon came into 
conflict with them, together with the Bishop of Sara- 
toff, who had all along supported him and who con- 
sidered him as being really a good and pious man. 

54 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

This conflict led to a quarrel, the result of which was 
that Illiodore was confined in a monastery, whence, 
however, with the help of his disciples and adherents, 
he contrived to make his escape. There was also a 
whole series of lawsuits, into the details of which it is 
useless to enter here. At last the monk was un- 
frocked for rebellion to his superiors, by a decree is- 
sued from the Holy Synod, and compelled to take 
back his secular name of Trufanoff. He became 
fearful of further annoyance and managed to get 
hold of a false passport, with the help of which he 
made his way into Norway, where we shall find him 
presently mixed up in a most extraordinary adven- 
ture with which Rasputin was concerned. But be- 
fore all this had occurred there was a brief period 
when Illiodore was quite an important personage in 
Russia, and the salons of the Countess Ignatieff and 
of other ultra-devout ladies used to see a lot of him 
whenever he happened to be in St. Petersburg. 
These feminine listeners were very fond of him, and 
did their best to spread his reputation all over the 

During Rasputin's wanderings he had come across 
Illiodore at Saratoff, and the latter, like so many 
others before and after him, had succumbed to the 
hypnotic spell which "Gricha" was casting around 
him. He had believed him to be a real servant of 
God, and he had engaged him to come to St. Peters- 
burg and to preach there before some of the people 
who had already listened to his (Illiodore's) sermons. 
He had introduced him to the celebrated Father John 
of Cronstadt, this saintly priest who was so famous 

Rasputin 55 

for his virtues and his good deeds. And, strange 
though this may appear, Father John also had been 
struck by Rasputin's eloquence and had believed him 
to be really insjured by the Lord. In order to explain 
the state of mind prevalent at the time among the 
orthodox clergy one must say that the clergy, or at 
least some of their important members, were trying to 
bring about a revival of religious fervour in the Ortho- 
dox Church, especially among persons belonging to 
the upper classes, who had, during the last twenty-five 
years or so, become more than indifferent in regard 
to spiritual matters, and who had considered religion 
more a question of "convenience" than anything else. 
Since the religious censorship had been suppressed 
and books to any amount treating of every conceiv- 
able subject had been allowed to circulate freely in 
the country, the former attachment to the Mother 
Church had waxed fainter and fainter, until this 
Church appeared in the eyes of many as simply a 
question of good breeding, to which it was necessary 
to conform when one belonged to good society, but 
which, beyond this, was treated entirely as a matter 
devoid of importance. 

In view of this fact, those Prelates and Dignitaries 
who lamented over this state of things were not 
sorry to find that there were still in the world peo- 
ple capable of arousing in the minds of others an 
interest in religion and religious matters. This ex- 
plains partly why the craze which seized some persons 
in regard to Illiodore at first, and to Rasputin later 
on, was not viewed with the dissatisfaction one might 
have expected by the Russian ecclesiastical authori- 

56 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ties. They argued that surely it was better for people 
to pray in the way these two so-called "sainlts" told 
them to do than not to pray at all. It was only much 
later, after Illiodore's rebellion to the orders of his 
superiors, and Rasputin's ever-growing personal in- 
fluence had begun to alarm them, that there were 
found some bishops in Russia who made a stand 
against both, until at last a catastrophe removed these 
two men from the scene of their previous labours and 

Rasputin and Illiodore were in time to become mor- 
tal enemies, but at first a great friendship united them, 
and when Rasputin was sentenced to enter a convent 
in the manner already related, Illiodore took up his 
cause most warmly and telegraphed to one of the for- 
mer's admirers, an ecclesiastic of high rank in St. 
Petersburg, in the following terms : "Neither Bishop 
Feofane nor Archimandrite Serge has behaved fairly 
in regard to the 'Blessed Grigory.' " Illiodore's ef- 
forts, however, did not avail and Rasputin was or- 
dered to leave the capital immediately. But instead 
of being compelled to enter the convent whither they 
had wished to confine him at first, he was allowed to 
return to his native village of Pokrovskoie. Before 
doing so he bethought himself of calling on his for- 
mer patron, Bishop Feofane, but the latter met him 
with the exclamation, "Don't approach me, Satan! 
Thou art not a blessed thing, but only a vulgar de- 
ceiver!" At Pokrovskoie Rasputin surrounded him- 
self with twelve sisters, of whom the oldest was barely 
twenty-nine years of age. They all lived in his house, 
which was extremely well arranged and richly furn- 

Rasputin 57 

ished. Rasputin's wife, together with her children, 
was also there and occupied a suite of five rooms, 
whilst each of the sisters had a separate room to her- 

People wondered that the woman who ought to 
have been the sole mistress in the place had consented 
to share her authority with all these girls, and some 
even thought that she was just as bad as her hus- 
band. In reality, the "Prophet's" consort had done 
all that she could to persuade her husband to give up 
the "mission" which he declared had been imposed 
upon him by the A] mighty and to return to his for- 
mer life of a simple peasant. Her efforts had re- 
mained fruitless, and Rasputin had replied to all her 
entreaties that his past existence had come forever to 
an end, and that he knew his star was about to shine 
in a wonderful way within a short time. He com- 
manded his wife not to attempt to interfere in the 
matter of his own personal relations with the "Sis- 
ters" living under their roof. Though she tried to sub- 
mit to his will, yet there were occasions when terrible 
scenes occurred between husband and wife. Then the 
latter would attack violently the girls, whom she ac- 
cused of all kinds of dreadful things, and would then 
fall on the ground in attacks of strong hysterics, 
screaming so dreadfully that people heard her from 
the street. But tears and submission were equally 
of no avail and Rasputin did not trouble about his 
wife's rage or grief any more than he had troubled in 
general with any other impediment he had found in 
his way. As concerns the kind of life which the "Sis- 

58 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ters" were leading at Pokrovskoie this is how one of 
them describes it: 

^ It is now already six months since I am here, 

living in a kind of nightmare. I do not know to 
this day whether the "Blessed" Gricha is a saint 
or the greatest sinner the earth has ever known. 
I cannot find a quiet place in this miserable village. 
I would like to run away, to return to St. Peters- 
burg, but I dare not do so. I am so afraid, so ter- 
ribly afraid of the "Blessed" one. His large, grey, 
piercing eyes crush me, enter into my very soul and 
absolutely terrify me. At a distance of 5,000 versts 
I feel his presence near me. I feel that he has got 
extraordinary powers, that he can do everything 
that he wishes with me. 

For two whole years Rasputin was not allowed to 
show himself in the Russian capital, but the influen- 
tial friends he had there never left off trying to get 
the decree of banishment rescinded. Among others, 
the Archbishop of Saratoff, Hermogene, and Illio- 
dore worked most actively in his favour, and the lat- 
ter in one of his sermons did not hesitate to call Ras- 
putin the "greatest saint which the modern Russian 
Church had ever known." At last the efforts of his 
friends proved successful and Rasputin, toward the 
end of the year 1912, reappeared in St. Petersburg, 
where this time his progress was far more rapid than 
it had been formerly, and here his reputation of a lat- 
ter-day saint grew with every hour, until at last he 
came to be looked upon as a real manifestation of the 
Divinity upon earth. 

Rasputin 59 

It was about that time that he was seen more fre- 
quently at Tsarskoie Selo, where the poor Empress 
was eating her heart away in anxiety over the health 
of her only son, the little heir to the throne, whose 
days seemed to be numbered. Rasputin, who had been 
introduced to her as a pious, good man, whose prayers 
had already worked miracles, was very quickly able 
to influence her in the sense that he persuaded her 
that the small Grand Duke could only be cured if 
constant prayers were said for him by people who 
were agreeable to the Lord. It is not to be denied 
that the pseudo-saint had cultivated to a considerable 
; extent the science of hypnotism and that he used it 
i in regard to the consort of the sovereign in the sense 
; that she grew really to believe that the presence of the 
"Prophet" by the side of her sick child might cure the 
■ latter. There was nothing else in their relations to 
I each other, which remained always, in spite of all that 
1 has been said, purely official ones. 

Rasputin was far too clever ever to say one word 
capable of offending the Empress, whose proud tem- 
perament would never have forgiven him any famil- 
iarity had he dared to venture upon it. Whenever he 
was in her presence he kept a most humble attitude, 
and certainly never discussed with her any matters of 
state and never dared entertain her with aught else 
than religious questions. He was far less guarded 
with regard to what he told the Emperor, with whom 
it is unfortunately true that he sometimes allowed 
himself remarks he would have done better to keep to 
himself. But the Czar never looked upon him in any 
other light than in that of a jester whose sayings were 

60 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

absolutely devoid of any importance whatever, but 
who could amuse him at times by the daring manner 
in which he would touch upon things and criticise peo- 
ple whose names no one else would ever have dared to 
mention in a disparaging tone before Nicholas II. 
But between that and the possession of any real power 
and influence, there was an abyss which, unfortunate- 
ly, in view of the turn that events were to take, no 
one noticed among all those who lamented over the 
almost constant presence of Rasputin at Tsarskoie 

All that I have said, however, refers only to the 
Emperor and Empress. In regard to some people 
who surrounded them it was not quite the same. It 
is certain that from the first day that the "Prophet" 
was introduced at Tsarskoie Selo some intriguing 
persons applied themselves to make use of him for 
their own special benefit and advantage, and tried 
to create around him a legend that had hardly any- 
thing in common with the real truth. It is useless to 
mention the names of these people, whose influence it 
must be hoped is now at an end. But it is impossible 
not to speak of their activity in regard to the spread- 
ing of these rumours which attributed to Rasputin an 
importance he was never really in possession of. This 
caused no small damage to the prestige of the dy- 
nasty. Rasputin ought to have been considered for 
what he was — that is, a kind of jester, "un fou du roi," 
who, like Chicot in Dumas' famous novels, allowed 
himself to say all that he thought to his sovereign and 
whose words or actions no one could take seriously 
into account. Instead of this some ambitious men 

Rasputin 61 

and women, mostly belonging to that special class of 
Tchinovnikis or civil functionaries that has always 
been the curse of Russia and that, happily, is losing 
every day something of its former power, profited by 
the circumstance that the solitary existence led by the 
Imperial Court in its various residences did not allow 
any outside rumours to penetrate to the ears of the 
rulers of the country. They intentionally trans- 
formed Rasputin into a kind of deus ex machina, 
whose hand could be traced in every event of impor- 
tance which occurred and who could at will remove 
and appoint Ministers, generals, ladies in waiting, 
court officials and at last induce the Czar himself to 
deprive his uncle, the Grand Duke Nicholas, of the 
supreme command of the army and to assume it him- 

These different tales were repeated and carried 
about all over Russia with alacrity, and all the ene- 
mies of the reigning house rejoiced in hearing them. 
They were untrue nine times out of ten, and gener- 
ally invented for a purpose. Rasputin did not influ- 
ence the Czar, who is far too intelligent to have ever 
allowed this uneducated peasant to guide or to ad- 
llvise him, but unfortunately he influenced other peo- 
ple, who really believed him to be all powerful. A 
kind of camarilla formed itself around Rasputin that 
2lung to him and used him for its own purposes, and 
that went about saying that he was the only man in 
the whole of Russia capable of obtaining what one 
i Ranted, provided it pleased him to do so. One de- 
clared that he could persuade the Empress, always 
trembling for the health of her only son, to discuss 1 

62 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

with her imperial spouse any subject that he might 
suggest. In reality no such thing ever took place. 
Alexandra Feodorovna always kept Rasputin at 
arms' length, and for one thing had far too much faith 
in his absolute disinterestedness even to imagine of- 
fering him any reward or gratification. But it is a 
fact that he was often called by her to pray at the 
bedside of the little boy, who represented the best 
hope of Russia. This circumstance was cleverly ex- 
ploited. No one was ever present at his interviews 
with the Czar or with the Empress; it was therefore 
easy for him to say what he liked about them, certain 
that no one could ever contradict him, with the ex-; 
ception of the interested persons themselves, and these 
could never get to hear or to learn anything about the; 
wild tales which it pleased him, together with his 
friends, to put into circulation regarding the position 
which he occupied at the court. Thanks to his per-J 
suasive powers and to the undoubted magnetic force 
he was possessed of, he contrived to imbue evecfi 
earnest and serious people with the conviction that he 
was at times the echo of the voices of those placed far 
above him, and that they had called upon him to say 
to others what it embarrassed them to mention them- 

In Russia, as a general rule, the people in power 
were all cringing before the Czar, whom they neverj 
dared to contradict. There were at the time I ami 
writing about some Ministers who believed, or af- 
fected to believe, in all the extraordinary tales which] 
it pleased Rasputin to repeat, and who thought it 
useful to follow the indications which it pleased himi 

Rasputin 63 

to give to them. He was only too delighted to be con- 
sidered the most powerful personage in the whole of 
the Russian Empire. He helped as much as he could 
to accredit all the legends going about among the pub- 
lic in regard to his own person, and he imagined that 
the best way to add to his reputation as a man who did 
not care for the opinions of the world was to treat this 
world with disdain and with contempt, and to trans- 
form into his humble slaves ladies belonging to the 
highest social ranks, just as he had transformed into 
his hand-maidens the peasant girls who had fallen 
under his spell. 

That he magnetised most of the people with whom 
he prayed seems but too true. Perhaps they did not 
notice it, and perhaps this was done with the consent 
of those on whom he exercised his hypnotic strength — 
jit is difficult to know exactly — but that his prayer 
Imeetings were the scene of spiritist and magnetic ex- 
periences all who have ever been present agree in say- 
jing. He made no secret about the fact, and openly 
acknowledged the use which he made of the state of 
[trance in which he liked to throw his disciples, espe- 
cially those belonging to the weaker sex. He prac- 
ticed to the full all the customs of the "Khlystys," but 
he added to them a cunning such as is but rarely 
found in a human being, and a rough knowledge of 
human nature which gave him the facility to exploit 
the passions of the many vile people who thought that 
he was their instrument while in reality it was they 
ft'ho were playing fiddle to his tune. 

After his return to St. Petersburg he applied him- 
self to the task of setting aside all his former patrons, 

64 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

such as Illiodore, against whom he contrived to irri- 
tate several important members of the Holy Synod 
with false reports about remarks which the now dis- 
graced monk was supposed to have made. He con- 
trived also to bring about the exile of the Archbishop 
of SaratofT, Hermogene, from whom he feared dis- 
agreeable revelations concerning his own past life and 
certain episodes connected with the days when he had 
preached his so-called doctrine in the town and gov- 
ernment of Saratoff . On the other hand, he toadied 
to other ecclesiastical dignitaries eager for promotion, 
and in that way obtained their support in the Synod. 
Very soon he turned his thoughts to more practical 
subjects than religious fervour or religious reforms, 
and sought the society of business and financial peo- 
ple. Among these he soon obtained the opportunities 
he longed for and established a kind of large shop of 
concern where everything in the world could be 
bought or sold, from a pound of butter to a minister*S" 

It is no exaggeration to say that there was a time 
when nothing of importance ever occurred in the po- 
litical, social and administrative life of the Russian 
capital that was not attributed to Rasputin, and the 
result of this was that there crowded about him all 
kinds of dark personalities, who hoped, thanks to his 
support and influence, to obtain this or that favour.! 
Everything interested him, everything attracted his' 
attention; railway concessions, bank emissions, stock i 
exchange speculations, purchase of properties, acqui- 1 
sition of shares in industrial concerns, arranging of! 
loans for persons in need of them — nothing seemed' 

Rasputin 65 

too small or too important for his activity. He liked 
to think himself necessary to all these high-born peo- 
ple, whom he compelled to wait for hours in his ante- 
chambers, just as if he had been a sovereign. And 
for even- favour he granted, for every word which he 
promised to say, he exacted payment in the shape of 
a pound of flesh, which consisted, according to cir- 
cumstances, in a more or less important commission. 
Ministers and functionaries feared him. They 
knew that he could do them an infinitude of harm by 
causing to be circulated against them rumours of a 
damaging character, the result of which would have 
undoubtedly been their disgrace or removal to another 
sphere of action very probably not at all desirable. 
He was credited for an infinitude of things he had 
aever thought of performing, and he was supposed to 
aave been privy to all kinds of governmental changes 
that either pleased or displeased those who criticised 
them. As time went on one accused him among other 
'hings of the dismissal of the procurator of the Holy 
Synod, Mr. Loukianoff, with whom he had for a long 
period been at daggers drawn and who had openly ex- 
pressed his disapproval of the "Prophet" and his dis- 
lelief in his miraculous powers. The elevation of the 
Archimandrite Warnava, one of his warmest patrons 
n the past, to the Episcopal See of Tobolsk was also 
;aid to have been Rasputin's work, and the public per- 
»isted so entirely in seeing his hand everywhere and 
n everything that it was even rumoured that it was 
le who was answerable for the decision of the censor 
forbidding the representation of a drama by the cele- 
brated author Leonide AndreiefP called, "Anath- 

66 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ema," on the eve of the day when it was to be pro- 
duced — a decision which caused an immense sensation 
in the society of the Russian capital. 

It was natural that among the many people who 
crowded around Rasputin some secret police agents 
found their way. One of these who was later to be- 
come the hero of more than one scandal, a certain Mr. 
Manassevitsch ManiuloffV bethought himself of be- 
coming the mentor of the "Prophet." He was in close 
relation with Count .Witte^always eager for his own 
return to power, and desirous of overturning every in-* 
dividual in possession of the posts which he had for- 
merly occupied himself. The two men tried to imbue 
Rasputin with the idea that he had great political 
talents, and that it was a pity he had not yet turned 
these into account for the good and the welfare ol 
Holy Russia. Rasputin did not believe in the sincere 
ity of his newly acquired advisers, but he was shrewd 
enough to see that their help would be of wonderful 
value to him. He willingly entered into the planl 
which they unfolded to him between two glasses of 
brandy or two cups of champagne as the occasion* 
presented itself. Count Witte was very well aware 
of all the secret influences which were paramount at 
Tsarskoie Selo, and he contrived to turn them in fa* 
vour of Rasputin, suggesting at the same time to the 
latter the things which he ought to say, when in pres- 
ence of certain personages. It was easy to throw ioj 
a word now and then, either in the shape of a jest, oi] 
of a remark uttered inadvertently and unintention- 
ally, but yet sure to bear fruit in the future. Th(j 
great thing was to give to Rasputin the idea that h(j 

Rasputin 67 

was a personage of importance. This was not a very 
difficult matter considering the very high opinion 
which he already had of his own capacities, coupled 
with his set resolution to make the most hay whilst the 
sun was shining, and never to miss an opportunity of 
asserting his personality no matter on what occasion 
or with what purpose. 

The Balkan war gave Rasputin a golden opportu- 
nity for exercising his various talents, and it is pretty 
certain that he made at the time strenuous efforts in 
favour of peace, repeating to whomsoever wished to 
hear him that he had had visions which predicted that 
ifche greatest calamities were awaiting Russia, if she 
mixed herself up in it. This feeling was shared by 
1 numerous party, and the sovereign himself was the 
most resolute adversary of any military intervention 
: in this unfortunate affair. It is likely that even with- 
out Rasputin Russia would not have drawn her sword 
either for Bulgaria or for Serbia, but nevertheless it 
pleased his friends to say that without him this would 
lave most undoubtedly occurred. And it also pleased 
lim to assert that on this occasion he had proved to be 
fhe saviour of his native land. We shall see him re- 
peat this legend with great relish during a conversa- 
;k>n which I had with him personally just before the 
creaking out of the present war. 

There was also another incident in which Rasputin 
nost certainly was implicated. This was thejclismis- 
;al of Mr. Kokovtsoff, then Prime Minister and 
President of the Council, followed by the appoint - 
nent in his place of old and tottering Mr. Goremy- 
dne, to whom no one in the whole of Russia had ever 

68 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

given a thought as a possible candidate for this dif- 
ficult post. Count Witte was the personal enemy of 
Mr. Kokovtsoff , whom he had never forgiven for his 
so-called treason in regard to himself, and he never 
missed any opportunity to attack him in the Council 
of State, of which they were both members, criticising 
his financial administration and making fun of the 
splendid budgets which were regularly presented to 
the Duma. These Witte declared to be entirely arti- 
ficial, reposing on a clever manipulation of figures. 
In some ways it was easy to find fault with Mr. Ko- 
kovtsoff, whose name had been mixed up far too 
much for the good of his personal reputation in all 
kind of financial transactions and Stock Exchange 
operations. But, then, the same thing had been said 
about Count Witte with perhaps even more reason 
than about Mr. Kokovtsoff, whose wife, at least, had 
never been suspected of any manipulations with her 
banking account. Indeed, no finance minister in 
Russia had escaped accusations of the kind from his 
detractors or his adversaries, and it had never inter- 
fered with their administrative careers nor prevented 
them from sleeping soundly. 

So far, so well ; but then this was more the work of 
events as they had unfolded themselves naturally than 
the merit of Rasputin; yet he was openly congratu- 
lated by his friends, or so-called ones, on the success 
which he had obtained in driving Mr. Kokovtsoff 
away. The ultra-orthodox party which hailed the 
advent to power of one of its members — Mr. Goremy- 
kine having always been considered as one of the pil- 
lars of the conservative faction — not only cheered the 

Rasputin 69 

'Prophet" with enthusiasm but also started to pro- 
claim anew his genius and clear understanding of the 
leeds of the Russian people. Thus a ministerial crisis 
culminated in the apotheosis of a man whose only ap- 
preciation of the qualities and of the duties of a Min- 
ster consisted in the knowledge of that Minister's ex- 
istence as a public functionary. 


Among Rasputin's adversaries was Mr. Stolypine, 
who, with strong common sense and great intelli- 
gence, had objected to the importance which certain 
social circles in St. Petersburg had tried to give to the 
soothsayer. At first he had regarded the whole mat- 
ter as a kind of wild craze which was bound to subside 
in time, as other crazes of the same sort had dwindled 
into insignificance in the past. Latdfr on, however, 
some reports that had reached him concerning the per- 
sons who frequented Rasputin's society had given him 
reason to think that there might be something more 
than stupid enthusiasm in the various tales which had 
come to his ears in regard to the Prophet of Pokrov- 
skoie. He, therefore, expressed the wish to see him, 
so as to be able to form a personal judgment of the 
man, and a meeting was arranged in due course at the 
house of one of the ladies who patronised Rasputin. 
It is related that after he had cast his eyes upon him 
Mr. Stolypine, when asked to give his opinion on the 
personality of the individual about whom he had heard 
so many conflicting reports, had simply replied : 

"The best thing to do with him is to send him to 
light the furnace ; he is fit for nothing else." 

The words were repeated and circulated freely in 
St. Petersburg; they reached Rasputin, and enraged 
him the more, because, shortly afterwards, it was Mr. 


Rasputin 71 

Stolypine who had insisted on having him expelled 
from the capital, and who for two whole years had re- 
fused to allow him to enter it again. When, there- 
fore, in the early autumn of 1912 the "prophet" at 
last was allowed to return to St. Petersburg, it was 
with the feelings of the deepest enmity against the 
Minister who had exiled him. He had the satisfac- 
tion of finding that during his enforced absence the 
popularity of Mr. Stolypine had decreased, and that a 
considerable number were openly talking about over- 
throwing him. Rasputin very soon discovered the use 
which could be made of this state of things, which 
surpassed by far any hopes he might have nursed of 
being able to be revenged upon the President of the 
Cabinet for the injury which he imagined that the lat- 
ter had done to him. He proceeded in all his sermons 
to compare him with the Antichrist, and to say that 
jRussia would never be quiet so long as he remained 
one of its rulers. 

The police agent, whose name I have already men- 
tioned, Mr. Manassevitsch ManiulofF, who always 
had his eye on Rasputin, and who had hastened to 
call upon him as soon as he had seen him return to 
the capital, was not slow to notice the now outspoken 
animosity of the latter in regard to the Prime Min- 
ister, who was offensive to him as well as to the whole 
secret police. The latter, finding that it could no 
longer do what it pleased, and that it had to respect 
the private liberty and life of the peaceful Russian 
citizens, or else be called to account by Mr. Stolypine, 
who ever since his appointment had been working 
against the occult powers of the "Okhrana," had but 

72 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

one idea; and this was to get rid by fair means or by- 
foul of a master determined to control the police. 
It is known in Russia that Mr. Stolypine's assassina- 
tion was the work of the secret police itself, who had 
found the murderer in the person of one of its own 
agents, to whom it had furnished even the revolver 
with which to kill the unfortunate Stolypine. But 
few people dared relate all that they suspected in re- J 
gard to this heinous crime, and fewer still were aware 
of all its details, and of the manner in which it had 
been planned. 

The truth of the story is that Mr. Maniuloff sec- 
retly took to Rasputin's house two or three police 
agents, to whom the latter said that God himself had 
revealed to him that Russia could never be saved from 
the perils of revolution until the removal of Mr. Sto- 
lypine. He even blessed the officers, together with a 
pistol with which he presented them. It turned outj 
afterwards that this pistol was the very weapon which 
the Jew Bagroff fired at the Prime Minister in the 
theatre of KiefT during the gala performance given 
there in honour of the Emperor's visit to the town. 
When Stolypine had succumbed to his wounds, Ras- 
putin made no secret of the satisfaction which his 
death had occasioned to him, and exerted himself in 
favour of several people who were supposed to have 
been privy to the plot that had been hatched against 
the life of the Prime Minister. He told his disciples 
that the fate which had overtaken the unhappy Stoly- 
pine did not surprise him at all, and that every one 
of those who would venture to oppose him would meet 
with a similar one in the future. 

Rasputin 73 

In a certain sense, this threat had an effect on those 
before whom it was uttered." People began to dread 
Rasputin, not on account of any supernatural pow- 
ers he might have been endowed with, but because 
they saw that he had managed to get into association 
with individuals utterly unscrupulous and ready to 
resort to every means, even to assassination, in order 
to come to their own ends. They thought it better 
and wiser, therefore, to get out of his way and not 
to attempt to thwart him. He became associated in 
the mind of Russian society with conspirators simi- 
lar to the Italian carbonari or Camorrists. The con-? 
viction that under the veil of religious fervour he was 
able to persuade his satellites to do whatever he 
pleased, and to hesitate at nothing in the way of in- 
famy and crime, gradually established itself every- 
where until it was thought advisable to have nothing 
to do with him, or else to submit to him absolutely and 
in everything. It was very well known that he had 
had a hand in the murder of Mr. Stolypine, but not 
one single person could be found daring enough to 
say so, and an atmosphere of impunity enveloped him 
together with those who worshipped at his shrine or 
who had put themselves under his protection. 

It was during this same winter of 1912-13 that the 
name of Rasputin became more and more familiar to 
the ears of the general public, which until that time 
had only heard about him vaguely and had not trou- 
bled about him at all. It was also then that rumours 
without number concerning the prayer meetings at 
which he presided began to circulate. Innumerable 
legends arose in regard to those meetings, which were 

74 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

compared to the worst assemblies ever held by Khly- 
sty sectarians. In reality nothing unmentionable 
took place during their course. Rasputin was far 
too clever to apply to the fine ladies, whose help he 
considered essential to the progress of his future ca- 
reer, the same means by which he had subjugated the 
simple peasant women and provincial girls whom he 
had depraved. He remained strictly on the religious 
ground with his aristocratic followers, and he tried 
only to develop in them feelings of divine fervour 
verging upon an exaltation which was close to hys- 
teria in its worst shape or form. In a word, it was 
with him and them a case like that of the nuns of Lou- 
dun in the sixteenth century. Had he lived in the 
middle ages it is certain that Rasputin would have 
been burnt at the first stake to be found for the pui 
pose, which, perhaps, would not have been such 
great misfortune. 

I have seen a photograph representing the "Pro- 
phet" drinking tea with the ladies who composed the 
nucleus of the new church or sect, which he pride( 
himself upon having founded. It is a curious pro- 
duction. Rasputin is seen sitting at a table before 
samovar or tea urn slowly sipping out of a saucer the 
fragrant beverage so dear to Russian hearts. Arounc 
him are grouped the Countess I., Madame W., Ma- 
dame T. and other of his feminine admirers, who, 
with fervent eyes, are watching him. The expressioi 
of these ladies is most curious, and makes one regrel 
that one could not observe it otherwise than in a pic 
ture. Their faces are filled with an enthusiasm that 
bears the distinct stamp of magnetic influence, ane 

Rasputin 75 

it is easy to notice that they are plunged into that 
kind of trance when one is no longer accountable for 
one's actions. 

The method used by Rasputin was to humiliate all 
the women of the higher circles whom he had subju- 
gated, and who had been silly enough to allow them- 
selves to fall under his spell. Thus he liked to com- 
pell them to kiss his hands and feet, to lick the plates 
out of which he had been eating, or to drink out of 
the glass which he had just drained. He made them 

; say long prayers in a most fatiguing posture, com- 
pelled them sometimes to remain for hours prostrate 
on the ground before some sacred image, or to stand 
for a whole day in one place without moving, as a pen- 

i ace for their sins ; or again to go for hours without 
food. Once he commanded one of them to walk in 

i one night to the village of Strelna, a distance of about 

i twenty-five miles from St. Petersburg, and to return 
immediately, without giving herself any rest at all, 
with a twig from a certain tree he had designated to 
her c 

In a word, Doctor Charcot would have found in 
him an invaluable assistant in the experiments he was 
so fond of making. But he did not go further than 
these eccentricities. Orgies did not take place dur- 
ing the prayer meetings in which Rasputin exerted 
to the utmost the magnetic powers which he undoubt- 
edly possessed. While he had been preaching to the 
humble followers he had at the beginning of his ca- 
reer of thaumaturgy the theory of free love, to his 
St. Petersburg disciples he declared that sensuality 
was the one great crime which the Almighty never 

76 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

forgave to those who had rendered themselves guilty 
of it. It was in order to subdue the flesh and the devil 
that he commanded his victims to mortify themselves 
together with their senses, and that he submitted them 
to the most revolting practices of self-penitence be- 
fore which they would have recoiled with horror had 
they been of sound mind. 

There is a curious account of an interview with him 
which was published in the Retsch, the organ of the 
Russian Liberal party, immediately after the death 
of Rasputin by Prince Lvoff, who had had the curi- 
osity to speak with the "Prophet." The Prince was 
one of the leaders of the progressive faction of the 
Duma. This is what he wrote, which I feel certain 
will interest my readers sufficiently for them to for- 
give me for quoting it in extenso: 

"I have had personally twice in my life occasion 
to speak with Rasputin. The first time was toward 
the end of the year 1915, when I was invited by Prince 
I. W. Gouranoff to meet him. 

When I arrived Rasputin was already there, sit- 
ting beside a large table, with a numerous company 
gathered around him, among which figured, in the 
same quality as myself, as a curious stranger, the 
present chief of the military censorship in Petrograd, 
General M. A. Adabasch, who was the whole time at- 
tentively watching the "Prophet" from the distant 
corner whither he had retired. Rasputin was dressed 
in his usual costume of a Russian peasant and 
was very silent, throwing only now and then a 
word or two into the general conversation or utter- 

Rasputin 77 

ing a short sentence, after which he relapsed into his 
former silence. In his dress and in his manners he 
was absolutely uncouth, and when, for instance, he 
was offered an apple he cut a hole at its top with 
his own very dirty pocket knife, after which he put 
the knife aside and tore the fruit in two with his hands, 
eating it, peel and all, in the most primitive manner. 
After some time he got up and went to the next 
room, where he sat down on a large divan with 
a few ladies who had joined him, toward whom his 
manner left very much to be desired. 

I had kept examining him the whole time with great 
attention, seeking for that extraordinary glance he 
was supposed to possess, to which was attributed his 
power over people, but I could not find any trace of 
it or notice anything remarkable about him. The 
expression of his face was that of a cunning mougik, 
such as one constantly meets with in our country, per- 
fectly well aware of the conditions in which he 
found himself, and determined to make the best 
out of them. Everything in him, to begin with 
his common dress and to end with his long hair and 
his dirty nails, bore the character of the uncivilised 
peasant he was. He seemed to realise, better perhaps 
than those who surrounded him, that one of his trump 
cards was precisely this uncouthness, which ought to 
have been repelling, and that if he had put on dif- 
ferent clothes and tried to assimilate the manners of 
his betters, half of the interest which he excited would 
have disappeared. I did not stay a long time, and 
went away thoroughly disappointed, and perhaps 
even slightly disgusted at the man. 

78 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

A few months later, in February of the present 
year, 1916, I was asked again to meet Rasputin at 
Baron Miklos's house. There I found a numerous 
and most motley company assembled. There were 
two members of the Duma, Messrs. KaraoulofF and 
Souratchane; General Polivanoff; a great landowner 
of the government of Woronege, N. P. Alexieieff; 
Madame Svetchine; the Senator S. P. Bieletsky and 
other people. Ladies were in a majority. Rasputin 
remained talking for a long time with the Deputy 
Karaouloff in another room than the one in which I 
found myself. Then he came to join us in the large 
drawing room, where he kept walking up and down 
with a young girl on his arm — Mile. D., a singer by 
profession — who was entreating him to arrange for 
her an engagement at the Russian Opera, which he 
promised her to do "for certain," as he exoressed him- 

Every five or ten minutes Rasputin went up to a 
table on which were standing several decanters with 
red wine and other spirits, and he poured himself a 
large glass out of one of them. He swallowed the 
contents at one gulp, wiping his mouth afterwards 
with his sleeve or with the back of his hand. During 
one of these excursions he came up to where I was 
sitting, and stopped before me exclaiming: "I re- 
member thee. Thou art a gasser, who writes, and 
writes, and repeats nothing but calumnies." I asked 
the "Prophet" why he did not say "you" to me, in- 
stead of addressing me with the vulgar appellation 
of "thou." 

Rasputin 79 

"I speak in this way with everybody," he replied. 
"I have got my own way in talking with people." 

I made him a remark concerning some words which 
he had pronounced badly, adding, "Surely you have 
learned during the ten years which you have lived in 
the capital that one does not use the expressions which 
you have employed. And how do you know that I 
have written or repeated calumnies. You cannot read 
yourself, so that everything you hear is from other 
people, and you cannot feel sure whether they tell 
you the truth." 

"This does not matter," he replied. "Thou hast 
written that one is stealing, and thou knowest thyself 
how to do so." 

"I do not know how to steal," I answered. "But I 
have written that one is doing so at present every- 
where. This it was necessary to do for the public 

"Thou hast done wrong; one must only write the 
truth. Truth is everything," he said. 

The conversation was assuming an angry and sharp 
tone. Rasputin became enraged at my telling him 
that all he was saying was devoid of common sense, 
and he began shouting at me, at the top of his. voice. 
"Be quiet, how darest thou say such things. Be 

I did not wish to remain quiet, and I began in my 
turn to shout at the "Prophet," who became absolutely 
furious when I assured him that I was not a woman 
whom he could frighten, that I wanted nothing from 
him, and that he had better leave me alone, or it might 
be the worse for him. 

80 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

He then howled at me, screaming as loud as he 
could: "It is an evil thing for everybody that thou 
art here!" 

.When in the following April it cam^ to my knowl- 
edge that Mr. Sturmer wanted to expel me from the 
capital, I was surprised to have Baron Miklos come 
to me one day in the name of Rasputin, who had asked 
him to tell me that though I was a "proud man," he 
did not bear me any grudge, that if I wished it, he 
would take steps to have the order for my expul- 
sion revoked, and that at all events, he begged me not 
to think that he had taken any part in this whole af- 
fair. I categorically refused to avail myself of the 
help of Rasputin, and there ended the whole matter." 

I have reproduced this tale because it seems to 
me that it helps one to understand the personality of 
Rasputin, and because it describes to perfection the 
manner in which he used to treat the people with whom 
he dealt. Personally, when I interviewed the "Pro- 
phet," I had the opportunity to convince myself that 
the impression which he had produced upon Prince 
LvofT was absolutely a correct one, and I made the 
same remark which the latter had done in regard to 
the total absence of this magnetic strength which Ras- 
putin was supposed to possess over those with whom 
he entered into conversation. The man was a fraud 
and nothing else. He had been deified by the group 
of foolish people whom he had persuaded that he was 
a messenger from Heaven, come to announce to Holy 
Russia that a new Christ had arisen. But his pre- 
tended fascination existed only in the imagination of 

Rasputin 81 

the persons who asserted its existence. To the impar- 
tial observer he appeared what he was — an arrogant 
and insolent peasant, who, knowing admirably well 
on which side his bread was buttered, exploited with 
considerable ability to his personal advantage the stu- 
pidity of his neighbours. 

I have already related that his house had become a 
kind of Stock Exchange in which everything could 
be bought or sold, where all kinds of shady transac- 
tions used to take place, and where the most disgust- 
ing bargaining for places and appointments was per- 
petually going on. Gifts innumerable were show- 
ered upon him, which he pretended he distributed 
to the poor, but which in reality he carefully put into 
his own pocket. This peasant, who when he had ar- 
rived in St. Petersburg for the first time, had hardly 
possessed a shirt to his back, had become a very rich 
man. He had bought several houses, gambled in 
stock shares and other securities, and had contrived to 
accumulate a banking account which, if one is to be- 
lieve all that has been related, amounted to several 
i millions. From time to time, however, he used to 
come out with some munificent offering to some char- 
ity or other, with which he threw dust in people's eyes. 
They thought that it was in this manner that he em- 
ployed all the money which was showered upon him 
by his numerous admirers. It was in this way that he 
built in St. Petersburg, not far from the spot where, 
by a strange coincidence, his murdered body was 
afterwards found, a church which was called the Sal- 
vation Church, which adjoined a school for girls. 
There he used to go often. Whenever he went he 

82 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

was always met by the clergy in charge with great 
pomp, as if he had been a bishop or some great ecclesi- 
astical dignitary, and was awaited at the door with the 
cross and holy water. This church was placed under 
the special protection of the Metropolitan of Petro- 
grad, Pitirim, who often celebrated divine service in 
it, at which Rasputin always made it a point to be 
present. But instead of meeting the Metropolitan, 
as he ought to have done, he was in the habit of arriv- 
ing after him. Mgr. Pitirim, however, awaited his 
arrival just as he would have waited for the Emperor. 
Indeed the submission which the official head of the 
clergy of the capital affected in regard to Rasputin 
is one of the most extraordinary episodes in the lat- 
ter's wonderful career. 

In fact, when one reviews all one has heard con- 
cerning this personage, one is tempted to ask the ques- 
tion whether his appearance in St. Petersburg had 
not brought along with it an epidemic of madness 
among all those who had come in contact with him. 
It hardly seems possible that bishops, priests, minis- 
ters, high dignitaries, statesmen, even, or at least men 
having the pretension to be considered as such, should 
have thought it necessary to go and seek the favour 
of this vulgar, ill-bred, dirty Russian mougik, devoid 
of honesty and of scruples, about whom the most dis- 
graceful stories were being repeated everywhere, and 
whose presence in the houses where he was a daily visit- 
or used to give rise to the worst kind of gossip. This 
gossip was of such a nature that decent persons hesi- 
tated before repeating it, let alone believing it. Like 

Rasputin 83 

an insidious poison it defiled all whom it touched. 
One fails to realise by what kind of magic grave men 
like Mr. Sabler, for instance, who for some time had 
occupied the highly responsible and delicate function 
of Procurator of the Holy Synod, one of the most im- 
portant posts in the whole Russian Empire, could 
be made so far to forget himself as to prostrate him- 
self before Rasputin in his eagerness to become en- 
titled to the latter's good graces and protection. 
And that he did so is at least not a matter of doubt, 
if we are to believe the following letter which the 
monk Illiodore wrote from his exile on the fifth of 
May, 1914, to a personage very well known in the 
political circles of St. Petersburg. 

"I swear to you with the word of honour of an 
honest man that the letter in which I called Sab- 
ler and Damansky the instruments of 'Gricha' 
(Rasputin) contained nothing but the solemn 
truth, and I repeat it once more, that according to 
what Rasputin told to me on the twenty -eighth of 
June, 1911, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon in my little 
cell, Sabler really kissed the feet of 'Gricha,' who, 
in relating this story to me, showed me with an ex- 
pressive pantomime in what way he had done so. 
I consider as utterly false and as a barefaced lie 
the declaration of Mr. Sabler that he had never 
prostrated himself before any one, except before 
the sacred images. Respectfully yours, 

formerlv the monk Illiodore." 

84 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

It is difficult to say, of course, how much reliance 
can be placed on those assertions of Illiodore, and 
whether Mr. Sabler really thought it necessary to fall 
on the ground before Rasputin. But out of this let- 
ter one can infer that the influence of the latter was 
considered to be important enough for people to 
trouble themselves about relating stories of the kind 
to show it up. Altogether, one may safely conclude, 
out of the very spare material which so far has come 
to light in regard to the activity of Rasputin, that 
we have not yet heard the whole truth about all the 
circumstances which accompanied his sudden rise and 
fall, and that there must have been in both events 
things which perhaps will never come to light. But 
all of them point out to some dark intrigue in which 
he was but one of the pawns, whilst believing himself 
to be the principal actor. One must not forget that 
the Czar himself was at one time liberal in his ideas 
and opinions, and that it was entirely due to his per- 
sonal initiative that the Constitution, such as it is, 
which Russia possessed before his fall was promul- 
gated. This was not done without arousing terrible 
animosities, provoking awful discontent. From the 
first hour that its contents were published, there were 
found persons who began to work against it, and who 
by their efforts brought about the revolution of the 
year 1905, with the help of which they hoped to bring 
back the days of absolute government, when every 
public functionary was a small Czar in his own way, 
and when the caprice of the first police official could 
send away to distant Siberia innocent people. This 
abuse Nicholas II. had tried to put an end to, which 

Rasputin 85 

was not forgiven by the crew of rapacious crocodiles, 
who up to that day had administered the affairs of 
the Russian Empire, and they it was who determined 
to take their revenge for this noble and disinterested 
intention of their sovereign. 

Rasputin became the instrument of the reactionary 
party, which he, in his turn, contrived to make in- 
strumental in carrying out his own views and aims. 
His head had been turned by the unexpected position 
in which he had found himself placed. It is not sur- 
prising that he lost his balance and that he ended by 
considering himself as being what he had been told 
by so many different people that he was — a Prophet 
of the Lord, having the right to say what he liked, to 
calumniate whom he liked, to make use of whatever 
means he found at hand, to eliminate from his path 
any obstacles he might have found intruding upon it. 
His name became synonymous with that of this ultra- 
conservative party which was leading Russia towards 
its ruin, and which always contrived to reduce to noth- 
ing all the good intentions of the Czar. Rasputin was 
a symbol and a flag at the same time; the symbol of 
superstition, and the flag of dark reaction. It is 
impossible to know to this day whether he was not 
also what everything points to; that is, an agent of 
the German Government, who had entered into Ger- 
man interests, and who had during the last months 
of his life been working together with Mr. Sturmer 
and the latter's private secretary, the famous Man- 
assevitsch ManiulofF, towards a separate peace with 
the Central Powers, the conclusion of which would 
have dishonoured forever the Czar, together with his 

86 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Government, and which would have provoked such 
discontent in the country that the dynasty might have 
collapsed under its weight. 

There exist at least indications that such a thing 
was within the limits of possibility, and, if so, those 
who put an end to the evil career of this dangerous 
man deserve well from their country, and the leniency 
which has been shown to them is but the reward for 
an act of daring which, though unjustifiable from the 
moral point of view, is nevertheless to be condoned 
by the circumstance that its patriotic aim was so great 
that it was worth while risking everything, even re- 
morse, in order to accomplish it. 

In a certain sense, Rasputin was the curse of Rus- 
sia. Thanks to him, the purest existences were sub- 
jected to a whole series of base attacks and of vile 
calumnies. Thanks to him, our enemies were given 
the opportunity to pour out upon us, upon our insti- 
tutions, our statesmen and even upon our sovereign 
the poison of their venom, and to represent us to those 
who do not know us in a light which, thanks be rend- 
ered to God, was an absolutely false and untrue one. 

Russia was far too great for such things to touch 
her. That Germany rejoiced at every tale which 
reached its ears in regard to Rasputin is evident if one 
reads its newspapers. That it was in understanding 
and accord, if not directly with him, at least with some 
of those who were his immediate friends and habitual 
confidents, has been proved to the satisfaction of all 
impartial persons. And that he worked continually 
towards establishing an understanding between the 
Czar and the Kaiser is another fact of which more 

Rasputin 87 

than one man in Russia is aware. Whether he did so 
intentionally, or whether he was the unconscious in- 
strument of others cleverer and more cultivated than 
he ever was or would become, is still a point that has 
not been cleared up to the general satisfaction. But 
that his so-called influence only existed over certain 
weak people, and that the Czar himself never know- 
ingly allowed it to be exercised in matters of state, is 
a fact about which there can exist no doubt for those 
who knew the sovereign. 



I hate quoted the impressions of Prince Lvoff in 
regard to Rasputin, and have remarked that I have 
had personally the opportunity to convince myself 
that they were correct, at least in their broad lines. 
The interview which I had with Rasputin in the 
course of the winter of 1913-14 left me with feelings 
akin to those experienced by the Prince. This inter- 
view took place under the following circumstances: 
I had been asked by a big American newspaper to 
see the "Prophet," whose renown had already spread 
beyond the Russian frontiers, and who was beginning 
to be considered as a factor of no mean importance 
in the conduct of Russian state affairs. This, how- 
ever, was by no means an easy matter. For one thing, 
he was seldom in St. Petersburg. He spent most of 
his time at Tsarskoie Selo, where his headquarters 
were the apartments of Mme. W. He used to make 
only brief and flying visits to the capital, where he 
possessed several dwellings. One never knew in 
which one he could be found, as he used to go from 
one to another, according to his fancy. He gave au- 
diences like a sovereign would have done, and before 
any one was allowed to enter his presence that person 
had to be subjected to a course of cross-examination 
so as to make quite sure that no malicious or evil de- 

Rasputin 89 

signs were harboured by him in regard to the "Pro- 

At last, after a succession of unavailing efforts, I 
chanced to light on a certain Mr. de Bock, with whom 
Rasputin had business relations, and for whom he 
procured when the war broke out an important con- 
tract connected with the supply of meat for the troops 
in the field. It was this personage who finally ob- 
tained for me the favour of being admitted into the 
home of Rasputin. The latter was living at the time 
in a very handsome and expensive flat, in a house situ- 
ated on the English Prospekt, a rather distant street 
in St. Petersburg, whose proximity to the quarters of 
the working population of the capital had appealed to 
the "Prophet's" tastes. When I arrived there at 
about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I was, first of all, 
stopped by the hall porter, who wanted me to explain 
to him where and to whom I was going. Upon 
hearing that it was to Rasputin he insisted on my 
taking off my fur coat downstairs, and then examined 
me most carefully and suspiciously, surveying with 
special attention the size and volume of my pockets, 
so as to make sure that I was not carrying any mur- 
derous instruments hidden in their depths. 

Upstairs the door was opened by an elderly wo- 
man with a red kerchief over her head, who, I learned 
afterward, was one of the "sisters" who followed the 
'"Prophet" everywhere. She asked for my name, and 
then ushered me into a room, sparely but richly fur- 
nished. There some half-dozen people were waiting, 
in what seemed to me to be extreme impatience, for 
the door of the next room to open and admit them. 

90 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Voices were heard through the door angrily discuss- 
ing something or other. Among the people present I 
recognised a lady-in-waiting on the Empress, an old 
general in possession of an important command, two 
parish priests, three women belonging to the lower 
classes, one of whom seemed to be in great trouble, 
and a typical Russian merchant in high boots and 
dressed in the long caftan which is still worn by some 
of those who have kept up the traditions of the old 
school. Then there was a little boy about ten years 
old, poorly clad, who was crying bitterly. All these 
people kept silent, but the eager expression on their 
faces showed that they were all labouring under an 
intense agitation and emotion. When I entered the 
apartment a distinct look of disappointment appeared 
on all their faces. At last the old general approached 
me, and asked me in more or less polite tones whether 
I had a special card of admission or not. 

"What do you mean?" I inquired. 

"Well, you see," he said, "we all who are in this 
room have got one, but there" — and he pointed with 
his finger to the adjoining door — "there sit the people 
who have come here on the chance, just to try whether 
Gregory Eflmitsch will condescend to speak to them. 
Some have been sitting there since last night," he sig- 
nificantly added. And as he spoke he slightly pushed 
ajar the door he had mentioned. I could see that a 
room, if anything smaller than the one we were in, 
was packed full of persons of different ages and 
types, all of whom looked tired. They were sitting 
not only on the few chairs which the apartment con- 
tained, but also on the floor. There were women with 

Rasputin 91 

children hanging at their breast, military men, priests, 
monks, common peasants and two policemen. The 
last named were seated by the window leisurely eat- 
ing a piece of bread and cold meat, which they were 
cutting into small slices with a pocketknife. They 
had evidently made themselves at home, regardless of 
consequences or of the feelings of other people. Sud- 
denly we heard another door slam, and a strong step 
resounded in the hall. A man began to speak in a 

loud voice. He said: "You just go to see " and 

here the name of one of the most influential officials 
in the Home Office was mentioned, "and you tell him 
that Gricha has said he was to give you a place, and 
a good one, too. It does not matter whether there 
is none vacant, he must find one. There, take this 
paper, and now go, and don't forget to show it when 
you come to the Home Office." 

The door slammed again, and all remained silent 
for a few minutes. Then the elderly woman who had 
admitted me, came into the apartment where we were 
sitting and beckoned me to follow her. But this 
proved too much for the feelings of the old general 
who had accosted me on my entrance, and he pushed 
himself forward in front of me, exclaiming as he did 

"I have been here a longer time than she has been," 
pointing at me with his finger, "and I must get in 

"You cannot do so," replied the woman; "my or- 
ders are to let this lady in first." 

"Do you know who I am, woman?" screamed the 
general at the top of his lungs ; he was evidently in a 

92 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

towering passion. "Go at once, and tell Gregory 
Efimitsch that I must see him at once, I have been 
waiting here for more than an hour." 

"I cannot do so," replied the woman, "I must obey 
the orders that have been given to me." 

"Then I shall do it myself," exclaimed the general, 
and he rushed toward the door, which he opened, 
when he was stopped by a whole torrent of invectives 
coming from the next room. 

"How dare you disobey my orders?" cried out an 
angry voice. "Thou pig and son of a pig, I have said 
I wish to see this person and no one else! Thou idle 
creature! Chuck him out of the room, that pig who 
dares to contradict me, and you come in here!" And 
the tall figure of Rasputin appeared on the threshold 
of the room. He rudely pushed aside the general and, 
seizing my hand, pulled me into another apartment, 
which seemed to be his dining room. 

It was a rather large corner room with three win- 
dows, in which stood a quantity of flowers and green 
plants. A round table occupied the middle, on which 
was laid a striped white-and-red tablecloth. A sam- 
ovar was standing on it, together with glasses on blue- 
and-white saucers, slices of lemon, sugar in a silver . 
sugar basin, and quantities of cakes and biscuits, j 
Chairs were placed around it, on one of which Ras- 
putin sat down, facing the tea urn, after having made 
me a sign to do likewise. I noticed that there was a 
large writing table in one corner covered with books 
and papers. 

The "Prophet" himself did not at all strike me as \ 
being the remarkable individual I had been led to ex- 

Rasputin 93 

pect. He must have been about forty years old, tall 
and lean, with a long black beard and hair, falling 
not quite down to his back, but considerably lower 
than his ears. The eyes were black, singularly cun- 
ning in their expression, but did not produce, at least 
not on me, the uncanny impression I had been told 
they generally made on those who saw them for the 
first time. The hands were the most remarkable thing 
about the man. They were long and thin, with im- 
mense nails, as dirty as dirty could be. He kept mov- 
ing them in all directions as he spoke, sometimes fold- 
ing them on his breast and sometimes lifting them 
high up in the air. He wore the ordinary dress of 
the Russian peasant, high boots and the caftan, which, 
however, was made of the best and finest dark-blue 
cloth. What could be seen of his linen was also of 
the best quality. 

After having beckoned to me to sit down, Raspu- 
tin poured out some tea in a glass and proceeded to 
drink it, sipping the beverage slowly out of the sau- 
cer into which he poured it out of the glass which he 
had just filled. Suddenly he pushed the same saucer 
toward me with the word: 


As I did not in the least feel inclined to take his 
remains, I declined the tempting offer, which made 
him draw together his black and bushy eyebrows with 
the remark: 

"Better persons than thou art have drunk out of 
this saucer, but if thou wantest to make a fuss it is 
no concern of mine." 

And then he called out, "Avdotia ! Avdotia !" The 

94 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

elderly woman who had opened the door for me has- 
tened to come into the room. 

"There," said Rasputin, "this person" — pointing 
toward me with his forefinger — "this person refuses 
to drink out of the cup of life; take it thou instead." 

The woman instantly dropped on her knees and 
Rasputin proceeded to open her mouth with his fin- 
gers and pour down her throat the tea which I had dis- 
dained. She then prostrated herself on the ground 
before him and reverently kissed his feet, remaining 
in this attitude until he pushed her aside with his 
heavy boot and said, "There, now thou canst go." 

Then he turned to me once more. "Great ladieSj 
some of the greatest in the land, are but too happy to 
do as this woman has done," he said dryly. "Remem- 
ber that, daughter." 

Then he proceeded at once with the question, "Thou 
hast wished to see me. What can I do for thee? I 
am but a poor and humble man, the servant of the 
Lord, but sometimes it has been my fate to do some 
good for others. What dost thou require of me?" 

I proceeded to explain that I wanted nothing in 
the matter of worldly goods, but asked this singular 
personage to be kind enough to tell me for the papei 
which I represented whether it was true that but for 
him Russia would have declared wai upon Austria 
the year before. 

"Who has told you such a thing?" he inquired 

"It is a common saying in St. Petersburg," I re- 
plied, "and some people say that you have been right 
in doing so." 

"Right? Of course, I was right," he answered 

'ime, tne greatest wmcn a n; 
se who declare war are crin 
truth when I told our Czai 
if he allowed himself to be p 
'his country is not ready fo] 
Is war, and if Russia went t< 
unes would fall upon her. 
I always speak the truth, ai 

irked, "no one can understai 
on always prevails in such gi 
nk that you must have som< 
to make them do what you 
[ have," he exclaimed angrily 
pigs — all these people who 
v doings. I am but a poor 

96 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

too much. They are obliged to do what I like, anc 
what I like is for the good of Russia. As for thes< 
ministers and generals, and all these big functionariei 
whom every one fears in this capital, I do not troubh 
about them. I can send them all away if I like. Th< 
spirit of God is in me and will protect me. 

"Thou canst say this to those who have sent the< 
to see me. Thou canst tell them that the day wil 
come when there will be no one worth anything ii 
our holy Russia except our Czar and Gricha, the ser 
vant of God. Yes, thou canst tell them so, and be 
sure that thou dost it." 

I protested that I should consider this my flrsl 
duty, but at the same time begged "the servant oi 
God," as he called himself, to explain to me by whal 
means he had acquired the influence which he po* 

"By telling the truth to people about themselves,' 
he quickly replied. "Thou probably thinkest that al] 
these fine ladies about the court who come to me dc 
not care to be told about their failings. But thert 
it is that thou art mistaken. They feel so discon- 
certed when they hear me call them by their propel 

names and remind them that they are but b s, and 

the daughters of b s, that they immediately fall 

at my feet. A silly lot are these women, and Gricha 
is not such a fool as one thinks. He knows how they 
ought to be treated. Wilt thou see how I treat 

I sard that nothing would give me more pleasure. 
Rasputin went to the door and called Avdotia. 

"Go to the telephone," he said when she came in, 

Rasputin 97 

"ask the Countess I to come at once. She must 

come herself to the telephone, and if a servant replies, 
say that he must call her immediately, and then tell 
her that I require her presence here at 12 o'clock to- 
night; not one minute earlier or later, mind." 

The woman went away, and I could hear her talk- 
ing at the telephone in the next room in an authorita- 
tive tone. Soon she returned with the words : 

"The Countess sends her humble respects to Greg- 
ory Efimitsch, and she will be here at midnight as 
she has been ordered to." 

Rasputin turned toward me with a triumphant 
smile on his coarse cunning countenance. 

"Thou canst see, they are losing no time to obey 
me. Thou dost not know what women are, and how 
they like to be handled. Wait, and thou shalt see 
something better. Avdotia," he called again. "Is 
Marie Ivanovna here?" he asked, when she came in 
response to his call. "Yes, since three hours," was the 
reply. "Call her here." 

A young woman of about twenty-five years of age 
appeared. She was very well dressed in rich furs, 
and ran up to Rasputin, kneeling before him, and kiss- 
ing with fervour his dirty hands. 

"How long hast thou been here?" he asked. 

"About three hours, Batiouschka," she answered. 

"This is well, thou art to remain here until mid- 
night, and neither to eat or to drink all that time, thou 

"Yes, Batiouschka," was the reply, uttered in tim- 
id, frightened tones. 

"Xow go into the next room, kneel down before the 

98 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Ikon, and wait for me without moving. Thou must 
not move until I come." 

She kissed his hands once more, prostrated herself 
on the floor before him three times in succession, and 
then retired with the look of being in a kind of trance 
during which she could neither know nor understand 
what was happening to her. 

"If thou carest, thou canst follow her, and see 
whether she obeys me or not," said Rasputin in his 
usual dry tone. 

I declined the invitation, protesting that I had never 
doubted but that the "Prophet" would be obeyed, 
adding, however, that though I had understood he 
could control the fancies and imagination of women 
gifted with an exalted temperament, yet I was not 
convinced that his influence could be exerted over un- 
emotional men, and that this was the one point which 
interested my friends. 

"Thou must not be curious," shouted Rasputin. "I 
am not here to tell thee the reasons for what I choose 
to do. It should suffice thee to know that I would 
at once return to Pokrovskoie if ever I thought my 
services were useless to my country. Russia is gov- 
erned by fools. Yes, they are all of them fools, these 
pigs and children of pigs," he repeated with insistence. 
"But I am not a fool. I know what I want, and if I 
try to save my country, who can blame me for it?" 

"But Gregory Efimitsch," I insisted, "can you not 
tell me at least whether it is true that some ministers 
do all that you tell them?" 

"Of course, they do," he replied angrily. "They 
know very well their chairs would not hold them long 

Rasputin 99 

if they didn't. Thou shalt yet see some surprises be- 
fore thou diest, daughter," he concluded with a cer- 
tain melancholy in his accents. 

Avdotia entered the room again. 

"Gregory Efimitsch," she said, "there is Father 
John of Ladoga waiting for you." 

"Ah! I had forgotten him." Then he turned 
toward me. 

"Listen again," he said; "this is a priest, very 
poor, who is seeking to be transferred into another 
parish somewhere in the south. Avdotia, call on the 
telephone the secretary of the Synod and tell him 
that I am very much surprised to hear that Father 
John has not yet been appointed to another parish. 
Tell him this must be done at once, and that he must 
have a good one. I require an immediate answer." 

The obedient Avdotia went out again, and we could 
hear her once more talk on the telephone. "The sec- 
retary of the Synod presents his humble compliments 
to you, Batiouschka," she said when she returned. 

"Who cares for his compliments?" interrupted Ras- 
putin. "Will the man have his parish or not? This 
is all that I want to know." 

"The order for his transfer will be presented for 
the Minister's signature to-morrow," said Avdotia. 

"This is right," sighed Rasputin with relief. And 
then turning to me: 

"Art thou satisfied?" he asked, "and hast thou seen 
enough to tell to thy friends?" 

I declared myself entirely satisfied. 

"Then go," said Rasputin. "I am busy and cannot 
I talk to thee any longer. I have so much to do. Every- 

ioo Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

body comes to me for something, and people seem to 
think that I am here to get them what they need or 
require. They believe in Gricha, these poor people, 
and he likes to help them. But as for the question 
of war, this is all nonsense. We shall not have war, 
and if we have, then I shall take good care it will not 
be for long." 

He dismissed me with a nod of his head, and his 
face assumed quite a shocked look when he found 
that I was retiring without seeming to notice the hand 
which he was awkwardly stretching out to me. But 
I knew that he expected people, as a matter of course, 
to kiss his dirty fingers, and as I was not at all in- 
clined to do so, I made as if I did not notice his ges- 
ture. As I was passing into the next room, I could 
perceive through a half open door leading into an- 
other apartment the young lady whom Rasputin had 
called Marie Ivanovna. She was prostrated before 
a sacred image hanging in a corner, with a lamp burn- 
ing in front of it, with her eyes fixed on Heaven, and 
quite an illuminated expression on her otherwise plain 
features. St. Theresa might have looked like that. 
But seen in the light of our incredulous Twentieth 
Century, she appeared a worthy subject for Charcot, 
or some such eminent nerve doctor, and her place 
ought to have been the hospital of "La Salpetriere" 
rather than the den of the modern Cagliostro, who 
was making ducks and drakes out of the mighty Rus- 
sian Empire. 

As I was going 'down the stairs, I met an old man 
slowly climbing them, with a little girl whom he was 

Rasputin 101 

half carrying, half dragging along with him. He 
stopped me with the question: 

"Do you happen to know wnether the blessed 
Gregory receives visitors?" 

I replied that the "Prophet" was at home, but that 
I could not say whether he would receive any one 
or not. 

"It is for this innocent I want to see him," moaned 
the man. "She is so ill and no doctor can cure her. 
If only the blessed Gregory would pray over her, I 
know that she would be well at once. Do you think 
that he will do so, Barinia?" the man added anxiously. 

"I am sure he will," I replied, more because I did 
not know what to say rather than from the conviction 
that Rasputin would receive this new visitor. I saw 
the old creature continue his ascent up the staircase, 
and the whole time he was repeating to the child, "You 
shall get well, quite well, Mania, the Blessed One 
shall make you quite well." 

On the last steps before the stairs ended on the land- 
ing, two men were busy talking. They were both typ- 
ical Israelites, with hooked nose and crooked fingers. 
They were discussing most energetically some subject 
which evidently was absorbing their attention to an 
uncommon degree, and discussing it in German, too. 

"You are quite sure that we can offer him 20 per 
cent?" one was saying. 

"Quite sure, the concession is worth a million; the 
whole thing is to obtain it before the others come on 
the scene." 

"Who are the others?" asked the first of the two 

102 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

"The Russo-Asiatic Bank," replied the second. 
"You see the whole matter lies in the rapidity with 
which the thing is made. The only one who can per- 
suade the minister to sign the paper is the old man 
upstairs," and he pointed out toward Rasputin's 
apartment. Thereupon the two in their turn started 
to mount the steps. 

My first interview with Rasputin, all the details of 
which I wrote down in my diary when I got home, 
gave me some inkling as to the different intrigues 
which were going on around this remarkable per- 
sonage. It failed, however, to make me understand 
by what means he had managed to acquire, if he real- 
ly acquired, a fact of which I still doubted, the strong 
influence which he liked to give the impression he ex- 
ercised. It was quite possible that he had contrived 
through the magnetic gifts with which he was endowed 
to subdue to his will the hysterical women, whose big- 
otry and mystical tendencies he had exalted to the 
highest pitch possible. But how could he, a common 
peasant, without any education, knowledge of the 
world or of mankind, have imbued ministers and 
statesmen with such a dread that they found them- 
selves ready to do anything at his bidding and to dis- 
pense favours, graces and lucrative appointments to 
the people whom he called to their attention. There 
was evidently something absolutely abnormal in the 
whole thing, and it was the reason for this abnor- 
mality that I began to seek. 

This search did not prove easy at first, but in time, 
by talking with persons who saw mucli of Rasputin 
and of the motley crew which surrounded him, I con- 

Rasputin 103 

trived to form some opinion as to the cause of his suc- 
cess. It seemed to me that he was the tool of a strong 
though small party or group of men, desirous of using 
him as a means to attain their own ends. There is noth- 
ing easier in the world than to make or to mar a repu- 
tation, and it is sufficient to say everywhere that a 
person is able to do this or that thing, to instil into 
the mind of the public at large the conviction that such 
is the case. This was precisely what occurred with 

Count Witte, who was one of the cleverest political 
men in his generation and perhaps the only real states- 
man that Russia has known in the last twenty-five 
years, ever since his downfall had been sighing for the 
day when he should be recalled to power. He knew 
very well all that was going on in the Imperial family, 
and it was easier for him than for any one else to 
resort to the right means to introduce an outsider into 
that very closed circle which surrounded the Czar. So 
long as he had been a minister and had under his 
control the public exchequer it had been relatively 
easy for him to obtain friends, or rather tools, that had 
helped him in his plans and ambitions. When this fac- 
ulty for persuasion failed him he bethought himself 
to look elsewhere for an instrument through which he 
might still achieve the ends he had in mind. He was 
not the kind of man who stopped before any moral 
consideration. For him every means was good, pro- v> 
vided it would prove effective. When he saw that cer- 
tain ladies in the entourage of the sovereigns had be- 
come imbued with the Rasputin mania, he was quick 
to decide that this craze might, if properly managed, 

104 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

prove of infinite value to him. He therefore not only 
encouraged it as far as was in his power by pretending 
himself to be impressed by the prophetic powers of the 
"Blessed Gregory," but he also contrived very cleverly 
to let the fact of the extraordinary ascendancy which 
Rasputin was rapidly acquiring over the minds of 
powerful and influential persons become known. Very 
# soon everybody talked of the latter-day saint who had 
I suddenly appeared on the horizon of the social life 

|of St. Petersburg, and the fame of his reputation 

I spread abroad like the flames of some great conflagra- 

I tion. 

" Russia is essentially the land where imperial f avoui 
ites play a role, and soon the whole country was not 
only respecting Rasputin, but was trying to make up 
to him and to obtain, through him, all kinds of favours 
and material advantages. Together with Count Witte 
a whole political party was working, without the least 
consideration for the prestige of the dynasty which 
it was discrediting, to show up the rulers as asso- 
ciated with the common adventurer and sectarian, who, 
under other conditions, would undoubtedly have found 
himself prosecuted by the police authorities for his 
conduct. They had other thoughts in their heads than 
the interests of the dynasty, these money-seeking, 
money-grubbing, ambitious men. They represented 
nothing beyond the desire to become powerful and 
wealthy. What they wanted was important posts 
which would give them the opportunity to indulge in 
various speculations and more or less fraudulent busi- 
ness undertakings they contemplated. 

Russia at the time was beginning to be seized with 

Rasputin 105 

that frenzy for stock-exchange transactions, share 
buying and selling, railway concessions and mining en- 
terprises which reached its culminating point before 
the beginning of the war. Men without any social 
standing, and with more than shady pasts, were com- 
ing forward and acquiring the reputation of being 
lucky speculators capable in case of necessity of de- 
veloping into clever statesmen. These men began to 
seek their inspirations in Berlin, and through the 
numerous German spies with which St. Petersburg 
abounded they entered into relations with the German 
Intelligence Department, whose interests they made 
their own, because they believed that a war might put 
an end to the industrial development of the country, 
and thus interfere with their various speculations. 
The French alliance was beginning to bore those who 
had got out of it all that they had ever wanted ; it was 
time something new should crop up, and the German 
and Russian Jews, in whose hands the whole industry 
and commerce of the Russian Empire lay concen- 
trated, began to preach the necessity of an under- 
standing with the great state whose nearest neighbour 
it was. A rapprochement between the Hohenzollerns 
and the Romanoffs began to be spoken of openly as 
a political necessity, and it was then that, thanks to 
a whole series of intrigues, the Czar was induced to 
go himself to Berlin to attend the nuptials of the only 
daughter of the Kaiser, the Brunswick. 

This momentous journey to Berlin was undertaken 
partly on account of the representations of Rasputin 
to the Empress, whose love for peace was very well 
known. Europe had just gone through the anxiety 

io6 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

caused by the Balkan crisis, and it was repeated every- 
where in St. Petersburg that a demonstration of some 
kind had to be made in favour of peace in general and 
also to prove to the world that the great Powers were 
determined not to allow quarrels in Serbia, Bulgaria 
and Greece to trouble the security of the world. The 
marriage festivities of which Berlin became the the- 
atre at the time seemed a fit opportunity for this dem- 
onstration. The bureaucratic circles in the Russian 
capital and the influence of Rasputin were used to 
bring about this trip of the Czar. 

Rasputin was thus fast becoming a personage, 
simply because it suited certain people — the pro-Ger- 
man party, to use the right word at last — to represent 
him as being important. They pushed things so far 
that many ministers and persons in high places re- 
fused on purpose certain things which were asked of 
them and which were absolutely easy for them to per- 
form simply because they wished Rasputin to ask for 
them for those who were weary of always meeting 
with a non possumus in questions for which they re- 
quired the help of the Administration. 

Rasputin's various intermediaries, through whom 
one had to pass before one could approach him, sold 
their help for more or less large sums of money, and 
thus began a period of vulgar agiotage, to use the 
French expression, of which Russia was the stage, 
and Rasputin, together with the men who used him, 
the moving spirits. I very nearly said the evil spirits. 
But of this, more later on. 


I must now make one remark which is absolutely 
necessary in order to enable the foreign readers to 
understand how the numerous legends which were con- 
nected with Rasputin and the influence of the latter 
on the course of public affairs could come to be ac- 
cepted by the nation at large. One can seek its prin- 
cipal reason in the tendency which the Russian gov- 
ernment has cultivated since immemorial times to for- 
bid the open discussion of certain things and facts. 
At the time about which I am writing present military 
censorship did not exist, and there was no war which 
could have justified the control by the government 
of the publication by the daily press of the current 
events of the day. Yet the censors did not allow any 
mention of Rasputin to be made in any organ of pub- 
licity. Thanks to this senseless interdict, it helped the 
invention of the most unbelievable tales concerning 
him and the attitude which he had adopted in regard 
to state affairs, with which he had begun to occupy 
himself, much to the dismay of those who had by that 
time learned to appreciate the fact that the "Prophet" 
was but the plaything of men far cleverer than him- 
self and 50,000 times more dangerous. 

St. Petersburg has always been famed for its gos- 
siping propensities, and in no place in the whole world 
do the most incomprehensible rumours start and flour- 


io8 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ish with the rapidity that they do in the Russian cap- 
ital. What the newspapers are forbidden to mention 
is told by one person to another, whispered from one 
ear to another and discussed everywhere, in clubs, 
drawing rooms, restaurants, in the houses of the 
proudest aristocrats as well as in the dwellings of the 
humblest citizens. Nowhere does, or rather, did, be- 
cause I believe this has become impossible nowadays, 
the telephone contribute more to relate all kind of 
gossip concerning both private people and public mat- 
ters. Of course, as there existed no possibility of 
controlling all that was being related under the seal, 
of secrecy all over St. Petersburg, the most improb- 
able rumours were put in circulation and were carried 
about not only in the town itself, but in the provinces, 
where the travellers returning from St. Petersburg 
were but too glad to repeat with considerable addi- 
tions all that they had heard in the capital. 

The very secrecy which was enjoined by the authori- 
ties in regard to Rasputin added to the latter's im- 
portance and transformed him into a kind of legend- 
ary personage, either too holy or too bad to be men- 
tioned. Soon all kinds of things in which he had had 
absolutely no part began to be attributed to him, and 
many persons, earnestly believing him to be all-power- 
ful, took to asking his help not only in the matter of 
their administrative careers, but also in questions 
where their private life and private interests were in- 
volved. It happened every day that a man who had 
a lawsuit of a doubtful character sought out Rasputin, 
hoping that he might be able to put in a word capable 
of influencing the judges before whom the case was 

Rasputin 109 

to be tried. As it was absolutely impossible for any 
one to approach him without passing through an in- 
termediary of some kind, it was generally this inter- 
mediary who began the regular plundering of the 
pockets of all the unfortunate petitioners who had 
hoped to retrieve their fortunes by an appeal to the 
"Prophet's" protection. This plundering went on as 
long as the victim had a penny to spare and a hope 
to live upon. 

On the other hand, the liberal parties in the coun- 
try began to be seriously alarmed at the importance 
which this uncouth peasant was assuming, and they 
it was who helped by the anxiety which they openly 
manifested to set the general public thinking about 
him more than it ought to have done. In the Duma 
the name of Rasputin was mentioned with something 
akin to horror, and allusions without number were 
made concerning the "Dark Powers," as they were 
called, who were grasping in their hands the conduct 
of public affairs. The "Prophet" began to be men- 
tioned as the scourge of Russia long before he had 
become one. His followers, on the contrary, made 
no secret of his ever-growing importance, and invented 
on their side any number of tales absolutely devoid 
of truth and tending to prove that nothing whatever 
was done in regard to the management of state affairs 
without his having been previously consulted. Who 
consulted him no one knows, and no one could tell. 
Certainly it was not the Emperor, who had, when the 
"Prophet" once or twice had attempted to touch upon 
this point in his presence, rebuked him most sharply; 
1 certainly it was not the Empress, who at that time 

no Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

had never yet cared for politics, whether foreign or 
domestic. It was also not the ministers, and most 
certainly it was not the leaders of any party in the 
Duma, because all parties there were agreed as to 
one thing, and that was a thorough detestation of 
Rasputin and of the whole crew which surrounded him 
and without which he could not exist. Who consulted 
him, then? No one knew, and very probably no one 
cared to know. But the fact that he was consulted 
was an established one, most probably due to the ef- 
forts of those persons in whose interests it lay to 
represent him as the deus ex machina without whom 
nothing could be done in general, and upon whom 
everything more or less depended. 

It was even related in St. Petersburg that one day, 
during an audience which he had had with the Czar, 
Mr. Rodzianko, the President of the Duma, had at- 
tempted a remonstrance on the subject of Rasputin 
for which he had been severely reproved by the Sov- 
ereign. Personally, I do not believe for one single 
instant that such an incident ever took place. For one 
thing, no one, not even Mr. Rodzianko, would have 
dared to talk to the Emperor about such an unsavoury 
subject as that of the "Prophet," even if he had been 
endowed with a moral courage far superior to that of 
the President of the Duma. Then, again, the well- 
informed were, at the time I am referring to, far too 
cognisant of what was going on in the way of court 
intrigues not to understand that all protestations 
against the constant presence of Rasputin in the vicin- 
ity of the Imperial family would have led to nothing, 
for the simple reason that those upon whom it de- 

Rasputin in 

pended did not and could not even recognise the dan- 
ger that it presented, because they simply looked upon 
him as upon a holy man. He soothed the anxieties of 
the Empress in regard to her small son, promising her 
that the day would come when, thanks to his prayers, 
the child would outgrow his delicacy. He amused the 
Emperor by talking to him in a rough but bright lan- 
guage, describing bluntly all the incidents that had 
reached his knowledge generally through the channel 
of those interested in having them conveyed to the 
Sovereign in the way that best served their own inter- 
ests. But Xicholas II. never took him seriously into 
account, and therefore could hardly have been brought 
to think that others were doing so, and doing it with 
a vengeance into the bargain. 

Rasputin, however, was of a different opinion, and 
in his desire that others should share it he liked to 
boast in public of the things which he had not done 
and of the words which he had not spoken. He was 
upon excellent terms with some of the palace servants, 
in whom he had found comrades and with whom he 
felt more at his ease than with any one else. He got 
them to relate to him all that was going on in the 
family of the Czar. He very cleverly made use of this 
knowledge later on. It is well known in Russia that 
the Emperor himself was watched by the secret po- 
lice, not only in view of his personal safety, but also 
because it was to the interest of the police to be thor- 
oughly acquainted with all that he did and with the 
;emarks it pleased him to make. And the secret po- 
ice were working hand in hand with Rasputin. Their 
orovocative agents, of which there existed consider- 

112 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

able numbers, were everywhere talking about the 
"Prophet's" influence and ever-growing importance, 
as well as relating in all the restaurants and public 
places in the capital wonderful and improbable tales 
concerning him and his doings. From these they were 
spread among the public and penetrated to people 
who otherwise would never have had the possibility 
of hearing anything about them. Among those who 
showed themselves the most active and the most eager 
to talk about Rasputin and about the influence which 
he was acquiring were persons well known for their* 
German sympathies and others suspected of being 
German agents in disguise. 

At that period the great aim of the German For- 
eign Office was to bring about the collapse of the 
Franco-Russian alliance, and it set itself most cleverly 
to try to bring it about. Among the persons whom 
it employed for the purpose was Rasputin, perhaps 
unknown to himself, but led by men like Count Witte* 
who had always been pro-German in sympathy and 
who had almost engaged himself to bring about a 
rapprochement between the St. Petersburg and the 
Berlin Court. Working with Witte was Mr. Man- 
usevitsch Maniuloff, one of the most abominable secret 
agents the world has ever known, who in his un- 
scrupulousness would have done anything he wa9 
asked, provided he were paid high enough. For years 
he had been in receipt of German subsidies. By dint 
of blackmailing he had contrived to maintain himself 
in the capacity of one of the editors of the Novoie 
Vremia, where he wrote all that was asked of him 
for a consideration, the extent and nature of which 

Rasputin 113 

depended upon circumstances. He was also on the 
staff of the Russian political Intelligence Depart- 
ment, to which he rendered such services as he consid- 
ered to be advantageous to himself without the least 
thought of the use these might be to the State which 
employed him. 

Mr. Maniuloff was a spendthrift who never could 
deny himself any of the good things of life. These 
are always considered to be expensive ones, and con- 
sequently he had expensive tastes. His capacity of 
police agent had allowed him to blackmail to ad- 
vantage people against whom he had discovered, or 
thought he had discovered, something in the way of 
dangerous political opinions. One of his favourite oc- 
cupations consisted in going about among these peo- 
ple and hinting to them that unless they showed them- 
selves willing to minister to his numerous wants they 
might find themselves one day in a very tight corner. 
Generally these tactics proved successful, until he was 
caught red-handed in Paris, where he had been sent on 
a special mission, tampering with the funds of which 
he had control. This accident caused him to be dis- 
missed. But the man knew far too much and had 
been far too advanced in the confidence of his supe- 
riors for them to be able to do without his services, 
so he was allowed to return to Russia and enroll him- 
self in journalism, thus to make himself useful again. 
He had a wonderful intelligence and was an excellent 
worker and talked fluently in most of the European 
languages. He therefore made his way up the lad- 
\ der once more, until at last he became the private sec- 
retary to Mr. Stunner when the latter was Prime 

114 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Minister, an advancement that proved fatal to him 
because it brought him to prison. But of this I shall 
speak later on when touching upon the events which 
culminated in the murder of Rasputin. 

Such were the men who virtually controlled every 
action of the "Prophet," and it is no wonder if guided 
by them he sometimes contrived to influence never the 
Czar himself, but the latter's Ministers and officials 
who had been told, they did not even know by whom, 
but probably by the loud voice of the public, that to 
do anything to please Rasputin was to secure for 
oneself the good graces of the highest people in the 
land. As time went on the "Prophet" showed himself 
less and less in public, remaining among a small cir- 
cle of personal friends whose interest it was to repre- 
sent him as a kind of Indian idol, unapproachable 
except to his worshippers. 

And in the meanwhile the ladies who had been the 
first artisans of Rasputin's favour were still holding 
religious meetings under his guidance and still seek- 
ing inspiration from his teachings. They believed 
him to be a real saint, refused to admit that he could 
do anything wrong and refused to accept as true the 
rumours which went about and which, unfortunately 
for the "Prophet's" reputation, were but too exact, 
that he was fond of every kind of riotous living, that 
he spent his nights in drunken revels and that he gave 
his best attention to brandy mixed with champagne. 
His admirers persisted in seeing in him the prophet 
of the Almighty and believed that they could never 
be saved unless they conformed to all the directions 
which it might please him to give them. 

Rasputin 115 

The Rasputin craze became more violent than ever 
during the few months which immediately preceded 
the war, and it very nearly verged upon complete 
fanaticism for his personality. Everything that he 
did was considered to be holy. His insolence and 
arrogance, displayed with increasing violence every 
dav and hour, were almost incredible. This illiterate 
peasant dared to send dirty little scraps of paper on 
which he had scribbled a coarse message to ministers 
and public men ordering them to do this or that ac- 
cording to his pleasure, and presuming to give them 
advice, which was never his own, in matters of the 
utmost public importance. At first people had 
\ laughed at him, but very soon they had discovered 
that he could revenge himself on them quickly and 
effectively, and this had led to the general determina- 
tion not to interfere with him any more, but to leave 
him severely alone, no matter what extravagance he 
might commit or say. And when it came to the ex- 
tortion of large sums of money, those who were chal- 
lenged to pay them generally did so with alacrity, as 
happened in the case of several banks to which Mr. 
Maniuloff applied for funds, with the help of these 
illiterate scraps of paper upon which Rasputin had 
scribbled his desire that the money should be put at 
the disposal of his "protege." 

What I have been writing is fact, which has been 
proved publicly, and never contradicted by so much 
as one single word of protestation. It accounts for 
the hatred with which the "Prophet" came to be 
viewed. As time went on it was felt that something 
ought to be attempted against the imposter who had 



Ii6 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

contrived to break through barriers one could have be- 
lieved to be absolutely impregnable. But no one 
knew how this was to be done, and at the time I am 
referring to the idea of a political assassination of 
Rasputin had not entered into the people's heads. It 
was a woman who was to bring it before the public in 
the following circumstances : 

During the spring of the jjrearjl914, Rasputin, to 
the general surprise of everybody, declared to his" 
friends that he intended to leave the capital and to 
return for a few months to his native village of Pok- 
rovskoie in Siberia to rest from his labours. Stren- 
uous efforts were made to detain him in Petrograd, 
but he remained inflexible and rudely thrust aside 
those who would fain have kept him back. He declared 
that he was tired and weary of the existence which 
he had been leading the last year, and that the various 
annoyances and difficulties that had been put in his 
way by his numerous enemies had quite sickened him. 
Such, at least, was the explanation which he chose to 
give and to which he stuck. Others, it is true, declared 
that the real reason for his departure was that he had 
been given to understand that he would do better to 
absent himself from St. Petersburg during the time 
when the visit of the President of the French Republic 
was expected, as his presence there might prove em- 
barrassing from more than one point of view. The 
hint had enraged him, and he had determined to go 
away for a much longer time than he had been told to 
do. He had even declared to a few of his closest 
friends that he was not going to return to the capital 
any more, but that he would remain in Siberia, where, 

Rasputin 117 

as he graphically put it, "there was a great deal more 
money to be made than anywhere else in the world." 
Whether the above is strictly true or not, I am not 
in a position to say, but it does not sound improbable. 
The fact remains that Rasputin left St. Petersburg 
for Pokrovskoie, where he arrived in the first days of 
June, 1914, accompanied by the "Sisters," who were 
his constant companions. He was received with such 
honours that he might have been the Sovereign him- 
self instead of the simple peasant he was. A crowd 
composed of several thousand men and women met 
him at the gates of the village and threw themselves 
at his feet imploring his blessing and calling upon him 

! to pray with them, and to show them the real way to 
God which he was supposed to be the only one in 
Russia capable of indicating. For a few days this 
kind of thing continued, and Rasputin's house was 

i literally besieged by crowds of people who had gath- 
ered at Pokrovskoie from all parts of Siberia eager 
to pay homage to their national hero, for such he was 
considered to be. Rasputin smiled and chuckled and 
rubbed his hands, as was his wont in those moments 
when he allowed his satisfaction at anything to over- 
power him. If in St. Petersburg he had been con- 
sidered as a prophet, here in this remote corner of 
Siberia he was fast becoming a kind of small god at 
whose shrine a whole nation was worshipping. This 
was just the sort of thing to please him and to make 
him forget any small unpleasantnesses he might have 
experienced before his departure from the capital. 

One morning, it was the 13th of July, 1914, Ras- 
putin was leaving his house on his way to church, 

n8 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

whither it was his Custom to repair every day. On 
the threshold of his dwelling a woman was awaiting 
him. She had her face muffled in a shawl in spite of 
the warm weather. When she saw him she threw her- 
self on her knees before him, as persons of her kind 
invariably did when they met him. The "Prophet" 
stopped and asked her what it was she wanted from 
him. Her only reply was to plunge into his stomach 
a large kitchen knife, which she had held the whole, 
time hidden under her shawl. 

Rasputin uttered one cry and sank upon the ground. 
The crowd which was always following him rushed 
toward him and lifted him up, while two local police- 
men who had been set by the authorities to protect 
and guard him threw themselves upon the woman and 
seized her violently by both arms. She remained per- 
fectly quiet, declaring that they need not hold her as 
she had not the slightest intention of running away. 
She knew very well what she had done, and she had 
meant to do it for a long time. When asked what had 
been her motives, she declared that she would speak 
before the magistrates, and only asked to be protected 
in the meanwhile against the fury of the mob that 
was threatening to tear her to pieces in its rage. She 
did not seem to be in the least disturbed by what she 
had done and throughout she showed the most extraor- 
dinary coolness and self-possession. 

Very soon it was ascertained that she was a native 
of the government of Saratoff, and that her name was 
Gousieva. When Rasputin had been preaching in 
Saratoff she was among the women who had been 
taken in by his speeches, and though married she had 

Rasputin 119 

left her husband and family to follow the "Prophet." 
He very soon proceeded to "cleanse her from her 
sins," according to his favourite expression. We 
know, of course, what this meant, and Gousieva, who 
at that time was young and pretty, only shared the 
fate of so many other women, deluded by the mealy 
mouthed utterances of the "new Saviour," that it was 
only by means of a complete union with himself that 
they could be saved and their sins forgiven them. The 
unfortunate Gousieva had been only one of many. 
.When she had found it out an intense rage had taken 
hold of her, which had been further enhanced and 
strengthened by the monk Illiodore, to whom she had 
related her misfortune. He had already at the time 
she sought him out become the deadly enemy of his 
former friend Rasputin. The miserable woman had 
lost everything — home, children, husband, relatives 
— on account of her mad infatuation for the deceiver 
who had made her forget her duties by the fascination 
which he had exercised over her weak mind. She 
swore that she would revenge herself and kill the 
"Prophet," so that at least other women could be 
saved from the awful fate which had befallen her. 

After Rasputin had dismissed her she had been 
compelled to lead a dreadful kind of existence in or- 
der to obtain a piece of bread. At last she had become 
attacked by an awful disease, which had already eaten 
away a part of her nose and completely disfigured her 
face. This, too, she attributed to the "Prophet." In 
her despair she decided that as she had nothing to lose 
the best and only thing left for her to do was to try 
and rid the world from the awful impostor who had 

120 Rasputin and tHe Russian Revolution 

caused so much misery, brought about such abom- 
inable misfortunes and occasioned so much distress 
to such a number of innocent women. She had fol- 
lowed Rasputin for a long time in St. Petersburg, 
but had never been able to approach him near enough 
to execute her design. But when it had come to her 
knowledge that he was returning to Pokrovskoie she 
had taken it as an indication that the Almighty would 
be with her in the deed which she was contemplating, 
and she, too, started for the distant Siberian village. 
There she had spent three days waiting for a favour- 
able opportunity until the morning when she had at 
last succeeded in getting close enough to him to plant 
in his body the knife which she had carried about 
with her for more than two years. 

This whole story was related by Gousieva with the 
utmost composure, and without any hesitation at all. 
She considered Rasputin as the incarnation of the 
devil, and she had thought it a good deed to put him 
out of the way of committing any more evil. For the 
rest, she did not care what was to become of her. As 
it was she knew that she had not long to live, and 
with the illness with which she was afflicted existence 
in itself was not so sweet that she should sacrifice her 
revenge in order to retain it. She had had no accom- 
plices, and she had consulted no one. In spite of the 
efforts which were made to induce her to say that she 
had acted under the directions and the inspiration of 
Illiodore, she denied it absolutely, adding that had she 
spoken to him about her intention she knew that he 
would have dissuaded her from it and that he might 

Rasputin 121 

even have warned the police so as to frustrate her de- 

In the meanwhile, Rasputin had been carried back 
to his room and telegrams dispatched everywhere for 
a doctor. The wound, though deep, was not a serious 
one and it had not attacked any vital organs. The 
man was in no danger, but his disciples chose to say 
that it was a miracle of Providence that he had not 
succumbed at once under the blow which had been 
dealt at him. The "Prophet," when he had felt him- 
self stabbed, had cried out that some one was to "ar- 
rest that b — h who had hit him." Then he caused 
several telegrams to be sent to his friends in St. 
Petersburg in which he described the attempt against 
his life as the work of the devil, who had inspired the 
woman Gousieva arid induced her to commit her 
abominable action. He added that at the moment 
when her weapon had touched him he had seen an 
angel descend from Heaven, stop her arm, and then 
put a hand on his wound so as to stop it from bleed- 
ing, and that it was only due to this direct interven- 
tion of the A] mighty that he had escaped with his 
life. Of course, the story was believed by the credu- 
lous people who accepted every one of his words as a 
manifestation of the will of the Lord, and he became 
more than ever a saint, to whom the people began to 
xaise altars, and to regard in the light of another Sa- 
viour come to redeem mankind from the terrors of sin. 

In St. Petersburg the news of the attempted assas- 
sination of Rasputin had produced an immense im- 
pression, and had been commented upon in different 
ways. Some people saw in it an intervention of the 

122 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

secret police, who had been told to get rid in some way 
or other of a man who was fast becoming a public 
nuisance and embarrassment for everybody, even for 
those who had benefited through their acquaintance 
with him. Others declared that it was a just punish- 
ment for his evil deeds, and that the woman Gousieva 
had not been badly inspired when she had tried to 
revenge herself on him for the terrible wrong which 
he had done to her. Every one was anxious to learn 
how the news would be received in certain quarters; 
and among the bevy of feminine worshippers whosej 
existence was wrapped up in that of Rasputin. Publicj 
curiosity, however, was not destined to be satisfied,; 
because nothing was heard concerning the feelings of 
these adepts of his on this remarkable occasion. 

The only thing which one learned in regard to thej 
whole affair was that two ladies who figured among! 
his most prominent supporters had started at once for> 
Pokrovskoie, and that a celebrated surgeon from 
Kazan had also been requested to go to see hirn re- 
gardless of what his journey might cost. 

The care that was taken of Rasputin soon restored 
him to his usual health, and he became at once a mar-y 
tyr. When the first moment of fright — and, being a 
great coward, he had been thoroughly frightened — I 
had passed away, he felt rather satisfied at the fuss 
which was made about him, and more grateful than 
anything else to the woman Gousieva for having given 
him such a splendid opportunity to recover some ofi 
his popularity, which he had feared might decrease 
during his absence from St. Petersburg. The fact 
that his attempted assassination had brought his name 

Rasputin 123 

and his person once more prominently before the pub- 
lic pleased him, and his natural cunning made him at 
once grasp the whole importance of the event and the 
capital that might be made out of it. He was the 
first to plead for indulgence for his would-be mur- 
deress, perhaps out of fear of the scandal which a 
trial might produce, a trial during which a lawyer 
might be found daring enough and enterprising 
enough to speak openly of the reasons which had 
driven the accused woman to this act of madness, and 
to disclose certain episodes in the past existence of 
the "Prophet" which the latter would not have cared 
at all to become the property of the public. On the 
bther hand, the authorities, too, felt that a public trial 
Should only cause a most painful sensation, by the men- 
tion of names which it was of the highest importance 
to keep outside the question. The culprit herself in- 
sisted upon being brought before a jury, declaring 
that she had sought publicity and that she would not 
rest until she had it; that, moreover, she did not in- 
tend to be cheated out of her revenge or prevented 
from exposing the man in whom she saw the most fla- 
grant and daring impostor, a creature for whom noth- 
ing in the world was sacred and who would not hesi- 
:ate at anything in order to come to his ends. She 
nsisted on the fact that she would have rendered a 
public service to the country had she killed him, and 
:hat, whatever happened to her personally, the ven- 
geance of God would one day overtake "Gricha" and 
lis wickedness, and that others would be found who 
vould follow the example which she had given to 
hem and not fail as she had failed. 

124 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Gousieva told all this to the examining magistrate 
to whom had been intrusted the preliminary inquest, 
and she persisted in her allegations, notwithstanding 
all the efforts and even the threats which were made 
to her to induce her to retract her first deposition. 
The authorities found themselves in a dilemma from 
which they did not know how to extricate themselves, 
when Rasputin himself came to their rescue. 

"The woman is mad," he said. "All that she re- 
lates is but the ravings of a madwoman. Lock her 
up in an asylum, and let us hear nothing more about 

This piece of advice was considered to be the best 
possible under the circumstances, and Gousieva was 
placed first in a hospital for observation and then a 
few months later adjudged insane by order. She was 
removed to a madhouse, no one knows exactly where, 
and there she probably is locked up to this day un- 
less death in some shape or form has overtaken her 
and removed her forever out of a world which cer- 
tainly had never proved a kind one for her. 

In the meanwhile her victim was mending rapidly, 
and three weeks after his accident he was removed 
first to Tobolsk and then to St. Petersburg. His 
disciples were preparing a great reception for him, 
and he himself was openly talking of all that he would 
do on his return and of the revenge which he was 
going to take on the people to whose influence he at- 
tributed the "mad" act of the woman who had attacked 
him. He made the greatest efforts to connect Illio- 
dore with the attempt of Gousieva, and he was quite 
furious to see them fail, declaring that when he was 

Rasputin 125 

once more in the capital he would make it his busi- 
ness to find out whether it was not possible to discover 
some points of association between the unfrocked 
monk and the woman whose knife had been raised 
against him. He further made no secret of his in- 
tention to obtain the proofs which he needed, thanks 
to the intelligence and with the help of his friend Mr. 
Manassevitsch-ManiulorT. Whether he would have 
succeeded or not, it is difficult to say, because when 
Rasputin returned to St. Petersburg and was en- 
abled to visit his friends at Tsarskoie Selo once more, 
there were other preoccupations which were troubling 
the public more than anything connected with his in- 
dividuality. War had broken out with Germany. 


It was perhaps a fortunate thing for Rasputin 
that he was not in St. Petersburg when Germany at- 
tacked us so unexpectedly. It is quite probable that 
if he had found himself in the capital at the time he 
would have intrigued in so many ways that he migh\ 
have put even the Sovereign in an embarrassing post 
tion, for any hesitations in the decisions of the Gov- 
ernment would have been attributed to the influence 
of the "Prophet." At this time of national crisis, if 
certainly would have been a misfortune if anything 
had occurred likely to endanger the prestige of the 
dynasty. But in regard to Rasputin himself, it is 
likely that his absence delayed the conspiracy whicfi 
resulted in his death, as he was forgotten for the 
moment, so intensely was public opinion preoccupied 
with the grave events that were taking place. 

Later on, after the disaster of Tannenberg, the 
friends of the "Prophet," in order to win back for him 
some popularity, spread the rumour that he had from 
his distant Pokrovskoie written to one of his warmest 
patronesses, Madame W, that he had had a vision dur- 
ing which it had been revealed to him that the Rus- 
sian armies were to march immediately upon eastern 
Prussia, where it would be possible to deal a decisive 
blow at the enemy, and to do so with all their strength. 
Now this is precisely what was not done, owing to the 


Rasputin 127 

nilitary misconception of the Russian General Staff, 
vhich for political reasons started to proceed to the 
conquest of Galicia, that could have been delayed with 
idvantage until after the Prussian monster, if not 
rilled, had been at least seriously injured. 

The enemies of the Grand Duke Nicholas, of whom 
;here were plenty, seized hold of this rumour, and 
•allied themselves round Rasputin, declaring that once 
nore God had intervened in favour of Holy Russia, 
n blessing it with a prophet whose clear glance and 
tdsions could be relied upon far better than the stra- 
egical combinations of the Grand Duke that had 
proved such a complete failure. The Grand Duke 
vas accused of having despatched two army corps into 
he Mazurian region without having taken sufficient 
)recautions to insure their safety, and it was said 
hat the only one who had seen clearly the disaster 
rhich had overtaken these corps had been Rasputin, 
,nd that it had been revealed to him direct from 
leaven even before it had taken place. 

All this was great nonsense, of course, but never- 
heless it did a considerable amount of harm. One 
lust not lose sight of one fact when one judges the 
diole history of the impostor who for so many years 
ontrived to occupy with his personality the attention 
f the Russian public, and that is that his sermons and 
tterances appealed to that mystical side of the Slav 
haracter which in all hours of great national crises 
rid misfortunes asserts itself a manner which to the 
>ccidental mind seems quite incomprehensible. It 
sufficient to have looked upon the crowds kneeling 
1 the streets of St. Petersburg, and of Moscow, dur- 

128 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ing those eventful August days which saw the break- 
ing out of the catastrophe, to become persuaded of the 
fact that they reckoned more on God's intervention 
on their behalf than on the efficacy of any guns or 
soldiers to insure a victory for the Russian arms. j 

Rasputin, for a short period, became once more a 
national hero, at least in the eyes of the select circle 
that had first brought him prominently before the 
public, and they began to say among this circle that 
until one followed his directions and gave oneself u|j 
entirely to the service of God in the manner it pleased 
him to recommend, the campaign that had just be- 
gun would never be won. For other people, too, the 
return of the "Prophet" to Petrograd, as St. Peters- 
burg had been rechristened, was also a boon. All the 
speculators, army purveyors and persons interested in 
army contracts awaited him with an impatience which 
surpassed every description, and they surrounded him 
at once and laid siege, not so much to his person as to 
the influence which he was supposed to possess. 

There are innumerable anecdotes about this agi- 
tated period in the career of Rasputin, each more 
amusing and each more incredible than the others. 
I shall here quote a few: 

A Danish gentleman had arrived in Petrograd 
from Copenhagen with a load of medicines and dif- 
ferent pharmaceutical products which he wanted to 
sell to the Red Cross. He brought excellent creden- 
tials with him, and he imagined that the business 
would be a relatively easy one. But to his surprise 
he found that this was not at all the case. Though 
the prices which he asked for his goods were not at 

Rasputin 129 

all high compared with those current in the Russian 
capital, he couid not get rid of them, and he was al- 
ways put off until the next day. At last he became 
quite discouraged and was already thinking of return- 
ing home when he met in the lounge of the principal 
hotel of Petrograd (famed for the financial transac- 
tions which were regularly taking place under its 
roof) a Jew who, seeing him looking worried and 
annoyed, asked what was the matter. The Dane then 
related his story, adding that he failed to understand 
why at a time when the things which he had brought 
with him were in great demand he could not sell them, 
though he had lowered his prices to a point below 
which it was quite impossible for him to go. The 
Jew looked at him for some minutes, then asked 
him whether he would feel inclined, if he could help 
him to dispose of his wares at a profit, to give a 
large commission in exchange. The Dane of course 
(assented, and the Jew took him the next day to Ras- 
putin, to whom he told a long story of which the seller 
of the articles in question understood nothing at all, 
but which culminated in the "Prophet" scribbling 
something in pencil on a dirty scrap of paper, and 
handing it to his visitors. The same afternoon the two 
men went to the head offices of the Red Cross, accom- 
panied by another gentleman, who introduced himself 
as Rasputin's secretary. To the intense surprise of 
the Dane, the medicines which he had been trying 
uselessly to sell for three weeks were at once accepted 
on the producing of the "Prophet's" note, and sold 
at such an enormous profit that he remained abso- 
lutely astounded. The contract was signed there and 

130 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

then, and a cheque handed to the happy seller. His 
two companions then accompanied him to the bank, 
where he handed over to them their share in the trans- 
action, Rasputin's representative taking the lion's 
share of course, but whether for his master or for him- 
self has never been ascertained. 

Another example is still more typical. There ex- 
isted in Petrograd a German who had lived there for 
years, and who had acquired considerable property, 
among other things several houses in Petrograd, 
bringing him a large income. Very soon after the 
breaking out of the war the properties belong ng to 
the enemy were sequestrated, and German subjects 
sent away from the capital to live out the war in some 
northern government. The same fate overtook our 
friend. But he was a man of resources, and he 
immediately proceeded to pay a visit to Mr. Manas- 
sevitsch-Maniuloff. The latter was about the last 
man capable of allowing such a wonderful chance to 
escape him. How he managed he did not say, and the 
German never cared to learn, but he was allowed not 
only to remain in Petrograd, but also to sell his houses 
to a personage occupying such a very important ad- 
ministrative position that nc one cared or dared to in- 
quire of him whether he paid into the bank, as he ought 
to have done, the price of his acquisitions, or whether 
he gave it in the shape of a cheque on a foreign bank 
to the seller. And to crown the whole matter, the 
German in question was allowed to leave Russia with 
all due honours, and received the position of official 
buyer of different military goods for the Russian 
government in Scandinavia. He soon managed to 

Rasputin 131 

indemnify himself to the full for the loss he had in- 
curred in parting from his property for a mere song, 
and in paying the three hundred thousand rubles com- 
mission which Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniuloff and Ras- 
putin had together obtained from him. 

Such things were of daily occurrence, known to the 
general public, and of course commented upon in 
terms which were anything but favourable to the 
"Prophet." The latter, however, did not mind and 
seemed absolutely convinced of immunity in regard 
to the different transactions in which he indulged and 
which increased in importance every day. He began 
to give his special attention to the interesting matter 
of army contracts, and there he found a very rich field 
jto explore. All the different agents and intermedia- 
ries who constituted such a notable element in Petro- 
grad crowded around him, offering him their services, 
•or imploring his help in all kinds of shady business, 
put of which no one with the exception of Rasputin 
himself got a single penny. Thanks to him, bad car- 
tridges were delivered to the army; rotten meat, or 
meat at a fabulous price, was sold for its wants, and 
not only sold once, but several times over. Xo mat- 
ter how strange this last assertion may sound, it is 
absolutely true. If at the beginning of the war people 
were afraid to indulge in that kind of sport, they be- 
came adepts at it later on, and the only art which 
was practised in regard to it consisted in bribing an 
official not to put the Government stamp on the goods 
which were delivered to the Red Cross or to the Com- 
missariat Department, an omission which allowed 
them to be returned to those who had already once 

132 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

disposed of them, and thus become the object of a 
new transaction, perhaps even more profitable than 
the first. 

In regard to important matters, Rasputin did not 
disdain occasionally to play the spy. I remember a 
curious instance which during the first five or six 
weeks of the war greatly amused those who became 
aware of it. The whole incident is most characteristic 
of the business methods then in vogue in Russia, which 
are at present dying out fast, thanks to the co-opera- 
tion of the English and French authorities with the 
Russians in all questions connected with army con- 

When war was declared the military administra- 
tion proceeded to requisition numerous things which 
it required in the way of war material. Among others 
were sand bags for the trenches. Now there happened 
to be a Jew in Petrograd who had about 50,000 of 
them. He did not care to declare them as he ought 
to have done, knowing very well that he was not in 
a position to obtain from the Commissariat Depart- 
ment the price which he wanted. He therefore sold 
them to another Jew, who gave him a certain sum on 
account, stipulating that he would take the delivery 
of the goods in the course of the next week or so. 
But in the meanwhile prices went down, and the un-jj 
lucky buyer found that he had indeed made about as 
bad a bargain as possible. While he was thus lament- 1 
ing his bad luck, he happened to meet one of the 
secretaries of Rasputin to whom he related his mis- 

"Is this troubling you?" exclaimed the latter. "This 

Rasputin 133 

is nothing, and we shall soon set it all right." He took 
him to the "Prophet," where the trio came to the fol- 
lowing arrangement: The Jew was to go forthwith 
to the Commissariat Department and declare that 
he had so many thousand sand bags to sell. Ras- 
putin was to speak in his favour and to do his best 
jto obtain the highest prices possible. Rasputin's sec- 
retary proceeded then to denounce the first Jew, who 
\wsls the real owner of the bags, as having neglected 
jto declare their existence. Immediately a requisition 
was made in the latter's store, where the bags of course 
Were found. Then the Jew who had given an account 
of them interfered, and said that they were his prop- 
erty, and that he had fulfilled all the formalities re- 
quired by the law in regard to them. He forthwith 
proceeded to take possession of the bags, laughing 
in the face of their real owner whom he defied to 
claim the balance still due to him, well knowing that 
the unfortunate victim could do nothing, because if 
he had tried to complain he would inevitably have 
^been condemned to pay a heavy fine and to be im- 

Then again there was a story of railway trucks in 
which the "Prophet" also was mixed up in some un- 
accountable way. Some Jews, protected no one 
knows to this day by whom or in what way, had ob- 
tained some contracts from the Government for dif- 
ferent goods which were to be delivered to the army, 
together with the necessary numbers of railway trucks 
to carry them to the front. They immediately pro- 
ceeded to sell these contracts at a fair price, though 
not an exaggerated one, to other people, but with the 

134 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

clause that these other people were to take upon them- 
selves the care of forwarding the goods to their des- 
tination. And they kept for their own use and benefit 
the trucks which had been allotted to them, hiring 
them afterward to whoever wanted to have them for 
as much money as they could get. One Jew, a certain 
Mr. Bernstein, thus obtained control over more than 
500 trucks, out of which he drew during six months 
an income amounting to something like 250,000 rubles 
a month. And this occurred while everybody was 
complaining of the impossibility of forwarding any- 
thing anywhere, owing to the total lack of railway 
material. It is related that in this little business, too, 
Rasputin was mixed up, and that without him the 
military contracts which the heroes of the anecdote I 
have just related obtained would never have been 

These stories, scandalous though they were, are 
well known. There were others of which it is hardly 
possible to speak in a language fit for a drawing room. 
Such, for instance, is the sad case of a young girl, the 
daughter of a rich merchant in Moscow, who travelled 
all the way to'Petrograd, to see the "Prophet" and 
implore his prayers for her fiance who was at the 
front. Rasputin received her, and forthwith pro- 
ceeded to tell her that the young man for whom she 
felt so anxious was doomed and could be saved only 
if she consented to unite herself with him, Rasputin, 
and to be cleansed by him of all her sins. The poor 
child, frightened out of her wits and fascinated by the 
terror which the dreadful creature inspired in his vic- 
tims, allowed him to do what he liked with her. But 

Rasputin 135 

she afterward became mad, on hearing that in spite 
af her sacrifices her lover had fallen at Tannenburg, 
during the terrible battle which took place in that 

All these things were whispered from ear to ear 
with horror and disgust, but they did not harm in 
the least the impostor who was pursuing his career 
of wickedness, deceit and crime. As time went on, he 
got more and more insolent, more and more overbear- 
ing, so that at last even some of his former protectors 
found that he was going rather too far, and he was no 
longer received at Tsarskoie Selo with the same kind- 
ness that had been shown to him previously. 

He did not care for this, nor did those with whom 
he was working care either. They were all unscrupu- 
lous, daring people, determined to make hay while 
the sun was shining, and careless as to what others 
might think of them. Count Witte, who saw further 
and understood better than most of the public the 
hopeless muddle into which the administration had 
fallen, felt sure that sooner or later the country would 
demand an explanation for the many mistakes and 
errors which had been committed, and that a change in 
the Government was bound to take place. He fully 
meant this change to affect his own prospects in so 
far that it would put him again at the head of affairs, 
and he was helping Rasputin as hard and as well as 
he could to discredit the Cabinet then in power, and 
to show it up as being thoroughly incapable of man- 
aging the country at this moment of grave crisis. 

It was about that time that the Massayedoff inci- 
dent took place, about which such a lot has been writ- 

136 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ten, and which deserves a passing mention in this rec- i 
ord. Massayedoff was a colonel who had already 
given some reasons to be talked about for misdeeds 
of a more or less grave nature. General Rennen-j 
kampf, when he had received the command of the 
Kovno Army Corps, had energetically protested 
against his appointment on his staff, but headquarters j 
ignored his representations and maintained the colonel 
in his functions. 

After the disaster of Tannenberg and the loss of j 
two Russian army corps in the swamps of the Mazu-j 
rian region, it was discovered that some spying of a 
grave nature had been going on and that the principal 
spy was Colonel Massayedoff, who had kept the 
enemy informed of the movements of the Russian 
troops. He was tried and condemned to death, which 
sentence was duly executed. Together with him sev-4 
eral individuals compromised in the same affair, most-1 
ly Jews connected with questions of army purveyance,! 
were also hanged. Among these last was a man called 
Friedmann, who had been one of the parasites who 
were perpetually crowding around Rasputin. The 
latter, however, when asked to interfere in his favour 
had refused to do so, but whether this was due to the 
desire to get rid of a compromising accomplice or the 
dread of being mixed up himself in a dangerous story, 
it is difficult to say or to guess. But others talked, 
if the "Prophet" himself remained silent, and soon it 
began to be whispered that he was also, if not exactly 
a German agent, at least a partisan of a separate 
peace with Germany. 

There certainly exist indications that such was the 

Rasputin 137 

case. In spite of the strong character upon which 
Rasputin prided himself, it is hardly possible that he 
could have escaped the influence of the people who 
were constantly hanging about him, and who were all 
partial to Germany. This was due to the fact that 
1 they hoped, if the latter Power triumphed and van- 
quished the Russians, to obtain from the German 
j Government substantial rewards for their fidelity, in 
! the shape of some kind of army contracts, for the 
time that the Prussian troops remained in occupation 
! of some Russian provinces. It is quite remarkable 
that while the nation in general was all for the con- 
tinuation of the war, and would have considered it a 
1 shame to listen to peace proposals without consent of 
I its Allies, commercial and industrial people were al- 
ways talking about peace to whomever would listen. 
And Rasputin had now more to do with that class of 
j individuals than with the nation. 

It was at that time that he suddenly imagined him- 
self to be endowed with perspicacity in regard to mili- 
tary matters, and that he attempted to criticise the 
' operations at the front, and especially the leadership 
1 of the Grand Duke Nicholas, whom he hated with all 
the ferocity for which his character had become fam- 
ous. He was known to be absolutely without any 
mercy for those whom he disliked. He disliked none 
more than the Grand Duke, who had, on one occa- 
sion when the "Prophet" had tried to discuss with 
him the conduct of the campaign and even volun- 
teered to arrive at headquarters, declared that if he 
ever ventured to put in an appearance there he would 
have him hanged immediately from the first tree he 

138 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

could find. Rasputin was prudent, and moreover he 
knew that Nicolas Nicolaievitsch was a man who al- 
ways kept his word, so he thought it wise to leave a 
wide berth between him and the irascible commander- 
in-chief. But he applied himself with considerable 
perseverance to undermine the position of the latter, 
and especially to render him unpopular among the 
people, accusing him openly of mismanagement in re- 
gard to military matters and of want of foresight in 
his strategical dispositions. 

In the beginning this did not succeed, partly be- 
cause the staff did not allow any news of importance 
to leak out from the front and partly because the 
country believed so firmly in a victory over the Prus- 
sians that it was very hard to shake its confidence in 
the Grand Duke's abilities. The early successes of 
the first Galician campaign had strengthened this con-j 
fidence, and no one in Petrograd during the first 
months of the year 1915 ever gave a thought to the 
possibility of our troops being compelled to retreat 
before the enemy, and no one foresaw the fall of War- 
saw and of the other fortresses on the western fron- 
tier. Rasputin, however, knew more than the public 
at large. He had his spies everywhere, who faithfully 
reported to him everything that was occurring in the 
army. He was well aware that the army was suffer- 
ing from an almost complete lack of ammunition, and 
that it would never be able to hold against any offen- 
sive combined with artillery attacks on the part of the 
enemy. This knowledge, which he carefully refrained 
from sharing with any one, enabled him to indulge in 
prophesies of a more or less tragic nature, the sense of 

Rasputin 139 

which was that God was punishing Russia for its sins, 
and that with an unbeliever like the commander-in- 
chief at the head of its armies it was surely marching 
towards a defeat which would be sent by God as a 
warning never to forget the paths of Providence, and 
never to disdain the advice of the one prophet that 
He had sent in His mercy to save Russia from all the 
calamities which were threatening her. 

He used to speak in that way everywhere and to 
everybody, even at Tsarskoie Selo, not to the Em- 
peror and Empress, of course, but to all those persons 
surrounding them w T ho were favourably inclined 
toward himself and likely to spread abroad the 
prophecies which he kept pouring into their ears. 

But, in spite of all this, he was not quite so suc- 
cessful as he had hoped, because owing to the igno- 
rance which prevailed as to the real state of things in 
1 the army, few people believed him, and fewer still 
would own that they did so. Once more Rasputin's 
star was beginning to wane, and even the Empress be- 
gan to think him very wearisome with his perpetual 
forebodings concerning misfortunes which seemed to 
be far away from the limits of possibility. 

Then suddenly things changed. Mackensen began 
his march forward, and the Grand Duke, with his 
heart full of rage and despair, was compelled, owing 
to the mistakes, the negligence and the crimes of 
others, to make the best out of a very bad job, and to 
try at least to save the army confided to his care. 
Even if he had to sacrifice towns and fortresses, he 
had declared he would never, and under no conditions 
whatever, surrender to the enemy. The great retreat 

140 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

began, and proved to be one of the most glorious 
pages in the history of Russian warfare, a deed the 
gallantry of which will live in the military annals of 
the world as almost as grand a one as the famous re- 
treat of Xenophon and his 10,000 warriors. Russia 
appreciated its importance ; the world admired it ; the 
Czar, though he may have shed bitter tears over its! 
necessity, felt grateful for the talent which was dis- 
played in such a terrible emergency; but people uv 
Petrograd began looking for those upon whom they 
could fix the responsibility for this awful disappoint- 
ment which had overtaken them. This was the mo-; 
ment for which Rasputin had been waiting with the 
patience of the serpent watching for its prey, and of 
which he hastened to make use with the infernal cun- J 
ning he usually displayed in all the evil deeds with 
which he was familiar. 

The secret police agents, who were working with 
him, and thanks to whom he had been enabled to make 
the enormous profits that had added so many millions 
to his fortune since the war had started, began toj 
spread the rumour that the Grand Duke was plot- 
ting against the Czar, and wanted to usurp the lat- 
ter's throne and crown, out of fear of being called 
upon to render an account of his activity during the 
nine months of the campaign. Though it was quite 
evident that the responsibility for the lamentable want 
of organisation which had culminated in the momen- 
tary defeat of the Russian troops lay upon the War 
Office and the Artillery and Commissariat Depart- 
ments, and though the War Minister, General Sou- 
khomlinoff, had been dismissed in disgrace before be- 

Rasputin 141 

ing sent to the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul to 
await there his trial; though strenuous efforts had 
been made to punish those to whose carelessness this 
mass of misfortunes had been due, yet Rasputin and 
his friends applied themelves to the task of represent- 
ing the Grand Duke as being more guilty than any 
one else, and of having on purpose kept secret the real 
state of things, out of fear that he would be called 
upon, if he revealed the truth, to surrender his com- 
mand. There was not one word of truth in these ac- 
cusations, because Xicholas Xicholaievitsch had, on 
the contrary, worked harder than any one to repair 
the blunders of others, and had never shared the blind 
confidence in victory which so many people who knew 
nothing about the real condition of affairs professed 
to nurse. He had done all that it was humanly pos- 
sible to do, in order to save a situation which had been 
doomed from the first day that it had begun to de- 
velop. If he had failed, this had been in no way his 
fault, but that of circumstances and of fate which had 
proved too strong for him. 

The public, however, thought differently, and Ras- 
iputin's numerous supporters helped it to come to the 
conclusion that the Grand Duke ought to be deprived 
of his command by some means or other. This, how- 
iever, was not such an easy thing to do, because the 
Emperor had a sincere esteem and respect for his 
Uncle, and understood better than all those who criti- 
cised the latter the extent of the difficulties against 
which he had had to fight. He refused to listen to 
those who tried to shake his confidence in the com- 
mander-in-chief. He might have gone on for a long 

142 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

time doing so had not Rasputin succeeded in winning 
over to his point of view several high ecclesiastical dig- 
nitaries, who took it upon themselves to speak to the 
Sovereign of the desire and wishes of the nation to 
see him assume himself the supreme command over 
his armies. They assured him that it was quite cer- 
tain that the armies would fight ever so much better 
under the personal leadership of their Czar than under 
any other commander-in-chief, no matter how high 
might be his military reputation, or how elevated 
might be his rank. This was quite a new point of 
view, and Nicholas II. had to examine it with atten- 
tion, the more so as the Empress, too, had been won 
over to the idea, and was pressing him to give to his 
subjects this satisfaction for which they craved. 

The military situation was then recognised, even by 
the most optimistically inclined people, to be very 
serious, and it was generally felt that something had 
to be done to excite the enthusiasm of the troops, 
which had lately begun to wane. The assumption by 
the Czar of the supreme command seemed to present 
itself almost in the light of an absolute necessity. Per- 
haps from some points of view Rasputin was not so 
very wrong to urge it, as it most certainly produced a 
salutary effect on the whole situation. But it is to 
be doubted whether the "Prophet" had ever looked 
at it in that light. It is far more likely that his only 
aim had been the displacing of the Grand Duke 
Nicholas, who had begun to look too closely into all 
that was going on around Rasputin, and to watch 
the different intrigues in which the latter was taking 
part with an attention that did not promise anything 

Rasputin 143 

good for him, or for the further development of his 
career as an adventurer. 

When the Grand Duke had been appointed Viceroy 
of the Caucasus, and had left for his new residence, 
Rasputin breathed freely once more. For one thing, 
this incident had given him a greater confidence in 
his own strength than he had even possessed before. 
Now that he had been able to remove the commander- 
in-chief of the Russian armies from his post, it seemed 
to him that it would be a relatively easy thing to push 
forward, and to appoint to the most important func- 
tions in the State people indoctrinated with his view 
and ready to help him in keeping undisturbed and 
unchallenged the position into which he had glided so 
naturally, and as now appeared to him, so simply — a 
position which he was absolutely determined not to 
lose. With a Prime Minister at his command, he 
would become the real master of Russia, and the Czar 
ihimself would be compelled to take him into account, 
a thing which up to then he had refused to do, much 
to the distress of the "Prophet." Though he repeated 
everywhere, and to whomsoever wished to listen to 
him, that he could do all he liked at Tsarskoie Selo, he 
knew very well in his inmost heart that such was not 
the case, and that in the Imperial Palace Rasputin 
was nothing but Rasputin, an ignorant peasant, en- 
dowed sometimes with gifts of second sight and al- 
ways with religious fervour, but a peasant all the 
same, with whom one might pray, but whom one 
would never dream of appointing to any responsible 

The knowledge that such was the case, and that his 

144 Rasputiii and the Russian Revolution 

so-called influence existed mostly in the imagination 
of the people who spoke about it, worried Rasputin. 
Though he dictated to ministers his will, though he 
decided together with them more than one important 
matter, yet he felt that there was a flaw in the edifice 
of his fortune, and that this flaw consisted in the fact 
that the Sovereign did not share the feeling of rever- 
ence with which the Russian nation, as the "Prophet" 
flattered himself was the case, experienced for his per- 
son and for his teachings. This was what tormented 
him, and he spent the whole time thinking how it 
might become possible to put in the place of Mr. 
Goremykine another Prime Minister more ready to 
enter into his views, and to follow his advice in regard 
to matters of state. This the then President of Coun- 
cil, in spite of his deference for Rasputin, had refused 
to do, preferring to discuss the affairs of the Govern- 
ment alone with the Emperor, without any interfer- 
ence of the former. 

Rasputin spoke of his wishes to some of his confi- 
dants, and even mentioned the subject to several of 
the high-born ladies who formed the great bulk of his 
"clientele." These entered into his views with alac- 
rity, the more so as he developed them in a pathetic 
tone, which appealed to their feelings of "patriotism." 
They would have given much to be able to help him, 
but they did not very well know how this was to be 
done. This was due to the sad fact that there seemed 
to be no one available. The unexpected and sudden 
death of Count .Witte, which had occurred in the 
meanwhile, removed the only person whom they could 
suggest as a candidate for the functions of Prime 

Rasputin 145 

[Minister. All those whose names might have been 
mentioned as fit individuals for the post, such as Mr. 
Krivoscheine for instance, were people who would, 
with a greater energy even than Mr. Goremykine had 
ever displayed, oppose any interference of Rasputin 
into the conduct of the Government. Their perplex- 
ity might have lasted a long time if Providence, in 
the shape of Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, had not 
interfered in their favour, and had the latter not sug- 
jgested the advisability of entering into negotiations 
with Mr. Sturmer. 


Mr. Sturmer was not a novice in politics and he 
was known to be a reactionary of the deepest dye. 
It is likely that even Rasputin's friends would never: 
have given a thought to the possibility of his becom-i 
ing Prime Minister if Count Witte had still been inj 
the land of the living. With the latter's death the sord 
of coalition or secret society that had hoped through 
the occult influence of the "Prophet" to rise to poweij 
had lost its best head. There was no one to take his 
place, officially at least, because with the best will in 
the world it was impossible to suggest as a candidate 
for a ministerial portfolio Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniu4j 
lofF. The past record of this man did not permit him 
to play any role but that of the Pere Joseph of a 
minister who was not a Richelieu. And though the 
secret position of principal adviser to a personage of 
the importance of Rasputin had its advantages, it 
nevertheless precluded the possibility of becoming a 
candidate for the place of a statesman. 

The next best thing, therefore, was to find some one 
who would be willing to become consciously what the 
"Prophet" was unconsciously, the instrument of the 
vile crew whose ambition was to make money by all 
means out of the terrible situation into which the 
country was plunged. These unscrupulous people all 
felt that they would never again in the whole course 


Rasputin 147 

)f their life have another such opportunity of becom- 
ng rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and they were 
lot the kind of people to allow it to escape them. 
Every effort was therefore put forward to bring Mr. 
Sturmer to the notice of the Emperor, and to the at- 
:ention of all those capable of suggesting to the latter 
\he choice of this functionary to replace Mr. Goremy- 
*ine, who had openly declared that he could not any 
onger go on fighting against the subterranean forces 
ivhich were slowly but surely working against him, 
md making his position more unbearable every day. 
rhe candidate who would have been the most wel- 
come to public opinion was Mr. Krivoscheine, but he 
■vas the last man whom Rasputin's friends would have 
jared to put forward. 

On the other hand, Mr. Sturmer, for personal rea- 
sons into which it is useless to enter here, when ap- 
proached by Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, had not hesi- 
:ated a single moment in promising to indorse the 
purposes of the small group of persons who had made 
jp their minds to become the real rulers of the State. 
Ajs soon as he had declared his willingness to join with 
:hem in the future an energetic campaign was started 
n his favour, not in the press nor in the Duma, nor 
bven among the public, but in the immediate vicinity 
ra the Sovereign, a campaign in which some of the 
lighest authorities in the Greek Church were enrolled, 
md in which the Empress herself was persuaded by 
some of her personal friends to take part. The ex- 
pected then occurred. The Czar was finally persuad- 
ad that in Mr. Sturmer he would find a faithful ser- 
vant, which in a certain sense he did, and also a min- 

148 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ister determined to govern according to the old prin- 
ciples of autocracy with an utter disregard for the 
liberal parties, as well as for the Duma. The Duma 
had not spared the Government during the whole 
summer, and its activity had been viewed with dismay 
by certain members. Yet the country was glad to 
find that at last there existed among its representa- 
tives men courageous enough to say what they 
thought, and to try to save Russia from the abyss into 
which it was felt that she was falling through the in- 
fluence not so much of Rasputin himself as of those 
who surrounded him and who used him for their own 

This campaign succeeded and Mr. Sturmer was ap- 
pointed. His selection caused an outcry of indigna- 
tion throughout the whole country, and distressed its 
best friends for more than one reason. But even 
among the functionaries of the Ministry, which had 
to accept him as its chief, there were found some re- 
bellious spirits, among whom was the then Minister 
of the Interior, Mr. ChvostofF, who made up their 
minds that it was at last high time to get rid of Ras- 
putin in some manner or other. He was also a reac- 
tionary, like Mr. Sturmer, and even a furious one. 
When he was still a deputy in the Duma he had been 
one of the leaders of the faction of the right and be- 
fore that time had made for himself the reputation 
of being an ultraconservative in all the different ad- 
ministrative posts which he had occupied. Among 
others, he had been Governor at Nijni Novgorod 
for a short period. He belonged to the number of 
persons who held the opinion that Rasputin ought to 

Rasputin 149 

be removed. But whether he was really a party to 
the extraordinary story I am going to relate is a mat- 
ter about which I shall abstain from expressing an 

The fact is that about the beginning of the year 
1916 people were startled by hearing of a new con- 
spiracy against Rasputin, in which it was rumoured 
that the Minister of the Interior himself was a party. 
Things stood thus: A secret agent of the Russian 
police called Rgevsky, a man about as unscrupulous 
as Manassevitsch-Maniuloff but not so clever, who 
had already figured more than once in occasions when 
the need for a provocative agent had been felt, ar- 
rived in Christiania, in Norway, where the unfrocked 
monk Illiodore was living, and sought him out. His 
journey had been undertaken without the knowledge 
of the chief of the secret police, Mr. Bieletsky, but on 
the express orders of Mr. ChvostofF, the Minister of 
the Interior. Bieletsky, however, had suspected that 
some underhand game was going on, and had caused 
Rgevsky to be w T atched. When the latter had crossed 
the frontier at Torneo, he had been thoroughly 
searched and examined by special orders received from 
Petrograd, without, however, anything suspicious be- 
ing found on him. When he was questioned as to the 
reasons for his journey abroad he had, in order to be 
allowed to proceed, to own that it was undertaken by 
command of the Minister of the Interior. 

On his return from abroad Rgevsky was at once 
arrested under the pretext of having blackmailed an- 
other police agent. Furious at what he considered to 
have been a breach of faith, he contrived to apprise 

150 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Rasputin of the position in which he found himself 
placed, and revealed to him that the object of his mis- 
sion had been to see and speak with Illiodore to try- 
to persuade the latter to organise a conspiracy with 
the help of the many followers he still had in Russia. 
The object of this plot was to be the murder of the 
"Prophet." Illiodore had been considered ever since 
his quarrel with Rasputin one of the latter's worst 
enemies, and it was felt that he would enter with alac- 
rity into the plot which it was proposed to engineer. 
But to the stupefaction of the persons who had thus 
applied to him in the hope of finding in him the in- 
strument which they required, Illiodore went over to 
the enemy. On the advice of Rgevsky he telegraphed 
to Rasputin, asking the latter to send some one whom 
he could trust to Norway, and telling him that he 
would deliver into the hands of that person the proofs 
of the plot that was being hatched against his, Ras- 
putin's, life. 

Mr. Chvostoff, when taken to task for the affair, 
of course, denied it in its entirety. He declared that 
he had given quite different instructions to Rgevsky, 
and that he had sent the policeman to Norway to buy 
the memoirs of Illiodore, which he had heard the lat- 
ter was about to publish abroad. But at the same time 
Chvostoff made no secret of his feelings of repug- 
nance to Rasputin, and declared that he considered 
him a most dangerous and mischievous man, whose 
presence at Petrograd was exceedingly harmful for 
the prestige of the dynasty, as well as for the welfare 
of the State in the grave circumstances in which the 
country was finding itself placed 

Rasputin 151 

According to Mr. Chvostoff, Rasputin was sur- 
rounded with individuals of a most suspicious char- 
acter, who spent their time in concocting any amount 
of shady affairs and transactions, and who had or- 
ganised a regular plundering of the public exchequer. 
He did not dare to do anything directly against the 
"Prophet," but he tried to get at him through the ar- 
rest of several of his adepts and friends. He caused 
the houses of a considerable number of these to be 
thoroughly searched for compromising documents. 
Among other places searched was the flat of a Mr. 
Dobrovolsky, who held the position of a school in- 
spector. This search gave abundant evidence by 
which he might have been incriminated in more than 
one dirty transaction. But he was not immediately 
arrested and contrived to make his escape. Another 
of the Rasputin crew, a certain Simanovitsch, was ar- 
rested at the very moment when he returned to his 
home in the private automobile of Mr. Stunner, one 
of whose familiar friends he happened to be. 

At the request of the "Prophet" an inquest into the 
denunciation of Rgevsky was ordered by Mr. Stur- 
mer, and a certain Mr. Gourland, whose name had 
often been mentioned as that of a rising secret agent, 
was entrusted with it. But Manassevitsch-Maniuloff 
contrived to oust him and to get himself appointed in 
his place. At the same time it was decided to send 
some one to Norway to interview Illiodore, and to try 
thus to come to the bottom of the whole business. A 
certain General Spiridovitsch, who had already more 
than once been entrusted with missions of a delicate 
character which he had always accomplished to the 

152 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

satisfaction of those who had employed him, was se- 
lected for the task. The General had several inter- 
views with Mr. Chvostoff, but they all came to noth- 
ing, and he did not go abroad as it had been rumoured 
that he would do. At last both the Minister of the 
Interior and the chief of the secret police, Mr. Bielet- 
sky, had to resign their functions, and Rasputin found 
himself delivered from two of his most dangerous 

The next question which arose was that of the ap- 
pointment of Chvostoff's successor. The post which 
he had vacated was such a difficult and responsible 
one that several persons who were sounded as to their 
readiness to accept it refused the offer in a most cate- 
gorical manner. The story which I have just related 
died at last a natural death. Rgevsky disappeared, no 
one knew where, but the difficulties out of which it 
had arisen were still there. They could hardly be 
set aside by any minister, unless some radical meas- 
ures were adopted, such as the exile of Rasputin, a 
thing which no one dared to propose, and which no 
one would have dared to enforce even if some one 
else had proposed it. 

After the resignation, or rather the dismissal, of 
Mr. Chvostoff, his post was finally offered, by the 
advice of Rasputin and at the suggestion of Manasse- 
vitsch-Maniuloff, to Mr. Protopopoff, a rich land- 
owner of the Government of Simbirsk, who for some 
time had occupied the position of vice president of the 
Duma of the Empire. 

Just before his appointment to what is the most im- 
portant and responsible function in the whole Rus- 

Rasputin 153 

sian Empire, there was much talk of an interview 
which he had had at Stockholm with Mr. Warberg, a 
representative of the German Government, during 
which the conditions at which a separate peace might 
come to be concluded between Russia and the Central 
Empires had been discussed. Later on, when this 
meeting, which had been arranged through the good 
offices of a Jew, Mr. Maliniak, became the subject 
of general knowledge in Stockholm, and details 
concerning it had found their way into the Russian 
press, Mr. Protopopoff was violently attacked by the 
liberal parties in the Duma, which accused him of 
treason, and refused even to listen to the clumsy ex- 
planations which he attempted to give of the affair. 

It was then generally believed that the political ca- 
reer of this gentleman was at an end, and it was as- 
sumed that he would have to resign his vice presi- 
dency in the House. Certainly no one ever thought 
that he would suddenly develop into a minister. And 
yet, this is the very thing which happened, thanks to 
the Rasputin crew, which persuaded Mr. Sturmer to 
present Mr. Protopopoff to the Emperor as the best 
candidate for the place vacated by Mr. Chvostoff. In 
the meanwhile, Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, who had 
been the moving spirit in this whole intrigue, had been 
appointed private secretary to Mr. Sturmer, and at 
his instigation there began dissipation of public funds 
such as Russia had never seen before, and such as, let 
us hope, she will never see again. 

There are many more things than I could possibly 
relate in regard to the incidents of which I have given 
the outline here, but these could hardly be published 

154 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

at present. The only thing which I can do is to try- 
to make my readers understand the general position 
as it presented itself before the murder of Rasputin 
by quoting some speeches which were delivered in the 
Duma as far back as the year 1912. They were re- 
produced in the Russian Liberal organ, the Retsch, 
on the day following the assassination of the "Pro- 
phet." The Russian censor offered no opposition to 
this republication. 

The first of these speeches was made by Mr. Gout- 
schkoff, one of the most enlightened men in the whole 
of the Russian Empire, whose liberal opinions and 
sound political views had won for him the respect of 
all parties, even those who were opposed to them. 
The occasion upon which it was pronounced was that 
of the discussion of the budget of the Holy Synod, a 
discussion during which for the first time the person- 
ality of Rasputin, together with his activity, was pub- 
licly denounced as one of the greatest sources of dan- 
ger that had ever threatened the country as well as 
the dynasty. 

"You all know," said Mr. Goutschkoff in this mem- 
orable address, "what a terrible drama Russia is liv- 
ing through at present. With sorrow in our hearts 
and with terror in our souls we have followed its de- 
velopments, and we are dreading its consequences. 
Standing in the very heart of this drama we see a 
mysterious, enigmatical, tragi-comical figure, who 
seems to have come out of the dark ages, which we be- 
lieved had passed away forever, into the full light of 
the twentieth century. Perhaps this figure is that of 
a sectarian of the worst kind who is trying to popu- 

Rasputin 155 

larise amongst us his mystical rites : perhaps it is that 
of an adventurer seeking to hide under the cloak of 
religious fanaticism and superstition his numerous 
swindles. By what means has this individual suc- 
ceeded in rising to such a prominent position and in 
acquiring such an influence w T hich even the dignitaries 
of our church, together with the highest functionaries 
in our State, acknowledge and which they seek to 

"If we had had to do with only this one figure 
Which had made its way on the field of religious su- 
perstition and which has thriven, thanks to an exalted 
spirit of mysticism, a state of mind which, though not 
perhaps bordering on insanity, is yet not quite nor- 
mal, then we should have said nothing. We might 
have regretted the fact; we might even have wept 
ver it, but we would not have spoken about it. 
'But unfortunately this figure is not standing alone. 
Behind it there is a whole crew, strong and varied, 
unscrupulous and grasping, wmich is taking advan- 
tage of its position and of the talents of persuasion 
which it may possess. Amongst this crew there are 
to be found journalists in want of copy, shady busi- 
ness men, adventurers of every kind and sort. It is 
they who are the moving spirits in all this sad history, 
it is they who inspire it, they who tell it what it is to 
do. They constitute a kind of commercial enterprise, 
and they understand how to play their game in the 
most clever manner. 

"Before such a spectacle it is our duty to cry out 
as loud as we can that one ought to beware of all those 
people, and that the church — our church, and the 

156 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

country — our country, find themselves in imminent 
danger, because no revolution and no anti-Christian 
propaganda have ever done them more harm than the 
events which are daily taking place under our eyes for 
the last twelve months." 

Two years later, in 1914, a few weeks before the 
breaking out of the present war, another deputy, this 
time a clergyman, Father Filonenko, spoke about 
Rasputin in the Duma, and did so in the following 
strong terms : 

"As a faithful and devoted son of our Holy Ortho- 
dox Church, I consider it my painful duty to mention 
once more what has already been discussed here, by so 
many orators better than myself, and to recur to a 
subject which is at present talked of at the corner of 
every street, in every town and in every village, no 
matter how distant and how far from any civilised 
centre in our vast Empire. We find ourselves com- 
pelled to look upon this unexplainable influence of a 
common adventurer, belonging to the worst type of 
those sectarians, whom until now we have known by 
the name of Khlystys, and despised accordingly. We 
are obliged to reckon with this influence of a man 
upon whom all the sane elements in our society look 
with contempt." 

On that same day another deputy belonging to the 
group of Ultra- Conservatives, Prince MansyrefF, al- 
so spoke about Rasputin, with perhaps even more 
energy than any one had ever done before in the 
Duma. Said the Prince : 

"The adventure of Illiodore ended in ridicule, but 
we have now in his place another adventurer, with 

Rasputin 157 

the personality of whom are connected the most ne- 
farious and disgusting rumours, the most unnatural 
and contemptible crimes. It is useless to mention his 
name ; every one knows who he is, and of whom I am 
talking. He has been let loose on our society to ac- 
quire some influence over it, by men even more shame- 
less than he is himself; he has been used to terrorise 
all those who have dared to express their opinions 
against the currents which prevail at present in our 
administrative circles. This adventurer, whenever 
he travels and whenever he arrives in St. Petersburg, 
is met at the railway station by the highest dignitar- 
ies of the church; before him pray, as they would do 
to God, unfortunate hysterical ladies of the highest 
social circles. This individual, who only seeks the 
satisfaction of the lowest instinct of a low nature, has 
introduced himself into the very heart of our country 
and of our society, and we find and feel everywhere 
his disgusting and filthy influence." 

A few days after this memorable sitting of the 
Duma the Government issued instructions to the press 
never to mention Rasputin's name or to speak of any 
subject connected with him in the newspapers. As 
soon as this became known the Octobrists put down on 
the order of the day in the Duma an interpellation on 
the matter, and Mr. Goutschkoff in moving it ex- 
claimed : 

"Dark and dangerous days have arrived, and the 
conscience of the Russian nation has been deeply 
moved by the events of the last few months, and is 
protesting against the appearance amongst us of 
symptoms proving that we are returning to the dark- 

158 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

est periods of the middle ages. It has cried out that 
things are going wrong in our State, and that danger 
threatens our most holy national ideals." 

Prince Lvoff seconded the motion, and asked the 
Government to explain who was this "strange per- 
sonality who had been taken under the special pro- 
tection of the administration, who was considered as 
too sacred to be subjected to the criticism of the press, 
and who had been put upon such a pedestal that no 
one was allowed to touch or even to approach him." 

I would not have quoted these speeches but for the 
fact that they all bore on the same point, the one that 
I have tried to make clear to the mind of my readers. 
This point is that the danger which Rasputin un- 
doubtedly personified in Russian society at large did 
not proceed from his own personality, but from the 
character of the men who surrounded him, who had 
made out of him their tool and who were trying 
through him to rule Russia and to push it into the 
arms of Germany. There is no doubt that Germany 
had been carefully following all the phases of the 
drama which culminated in the assassination of the 
"Prophet" and had been helping by her subsidies the 
underhand and mysterious work of men like Mr. 
Manassevitsch-Maniuloff and his satellites, and like 
Mr. Sturmer. Sturmer believed quite earnestly that 
he would secure immortality for his name and for his 
work if he contrived to conclude a peace which every 
one knew that Russia required, but which no one ex- 
cept himself and the adventurers to whom he owed 
his elevation thought of making except in con- 
cert with Russia's Allies, and only after Germany 

Rasputin 159 

had been compelled to accept the conditions of her 

The whole Rasputin affair was nothing but a Ger- 
man intrigue which aimed at discrediting the dynasty 
and perhaps even at overthrowing the sovereign from 
his throne. 

Thanks to the infernal cunning of the people who 
were its leaders, the Imperial circle and even some of 
the Imperial family were represented as being entire- 
ly under the "Prophet's" influence. And thanks to 
the solitary existence which the Emperor and Em- 
press were leading, and to the small number of people 
who were allowed to see them, these rumours gained 
ground, for the simple reason that there existed no 
one capable of contradicting them or of pointing out 
their absurdity. Calumnies as stupid as they were de- 
grading to the authors of them were set in circulation, 
and the revolutionary movement which Germany had 
been fomenting grew stronger and stronger every 
day, until it reached the lower classes. These classes 
by a kind of miracle were also kept very well informed 
as to everything that was connected with Rasputin or 
with the subterranean work performed by his party, 
a work which tended to only make the House of Ro- 
manoff unpopular, and to represent it as incapable 
of taking to heart the interest of the country over 
which it reigned. 

If we consider who were the people at the side of 
the "Prophet," and who inspired all his actions as 
well as his utterances we find police agents, adven- 
turers who had been sometimes in prison, and some- 
times in exile ; functionaries eager to obtain some fat 

160 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

sinecure in which they mip-ht do nothing and earn a 
great deal; stock exchange speculators of doubtful 
morality and still more doubtful honesty; women of 
low character and army purveyors, mixed up with an 
innumerable number of spies. Most of these last 
were in the German service and were working for all 
that they were worth to bring about some palace con- 
spiracy or some popular movement capable of re- 
moving from his throne a Czar whose honesty and 
straightforwardness of character precluded the pos- 
sibility of Russia betraying the trust which her Allies 
had put in her. 

Yet this was precisely what these people wanted, 
and what they had made up their minds to force 
through, thanks to the indignation which the various 
stories which were being repeated every day concern- 
ing Rasputin and the favour which he enjoyed was 
arousing all over Russia. The Emperor, of course, 
knew nothing of all this; the Empress even less. 
There was no one to tell them the truth, and they 
would have been more surprised than any one else 
had they suspected the ocean of lies which had been 
told concerning themselves, and concerning the kind- 
ness with which they had treated a man whom they 
considered as being half saint and half mad, but of 
whom they had never thought in their wildest dreams 
of making their chief adviser. 

In this extraordinary history there is also another 
point which must be noticed. When the first decep- 
tions produced by the disasters of the beginning of 
the campaign had thrown public opinion into a state 
of mind which was bordering well nigh upon despair, 

Rasputin 161 

and before it had had time to recover from the shock 
of the fall of Warsaw and the line of fortresses upon 
which they had relied to protect the western frontier, 
people had begun to seek for the cause of the great 
disillusion they had been called upon to experi- 
ence. It was very quickly discovered, partly through 
the revelations that had been made in the Duma, 
that the real reason for all the sad things which 
had happened lay in the systematic plundering of 
the public exchequer, that had been going on for 
such a long time and which even the experiences of 
the Japanese war had not cured. .When the fierce 
battle against Germany began in grim earnest, the 
first thought of the Emperor had been to try to put 
an end to these depredations that had compromised 
the prestige and the good name of Russia abroad as 
well as at home. Great severity was shown to the 
many adventurers who had enriched themselves at 
the expense of the nation. When it had come to the 
fabrication of the necessary ammunition required by 
the army, then the help of Russia's Allies — England 
and France — had been sought. Thanks to the ef- 
forts of these two Powers, something like order was 
re-established in the vast machine of the War Office. 
The fabrication of shells of a size that could not fit 
any gun was stopped. The army at the front got 
clothes and food of which it had been in want at the 
beginning of the campaign. Ammunition was des- 
patched where it was required, and not in the con- 
trary direction as often had been the case before. The 
Allies helped Russia to the best of their ability, and 
Russia, at least the sane and honest part of Russian 

162 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

society, felt grateful to them for their co-operation in 
the work of their common defence against a foe which 
it had become necessary to defeat so thoroughly that 
civilisation could no longer be endangered by its ex- 
istence and activity. 

But the people who surrounded Rasputin and with 
whom he was working were not grateful for the la- 
bour of love which Great Britain and France had 
assumed. They began to complain of the so-called 
interference of foreign elements with the details of 
the Russian administration. Some went even so far 
as to say that Russia was becoming an English colony. 
All the plunderers, all the thieves who had had their 
own way for so many months, perceiving that they 
would no longer have the opportunities which they 
had enjoyed before to add to their ill-gotten gains, 
tried by all means in their power to discredit the Sov- 
ereign whose firmness they had found in their way. 
They joined all the pro-Germans of whom, alas, there 
existed but too many in the country, in an effort to 
bring about a peace, the shame of which would have 
been quite indifferent to them. 

It is not at all wonderful if those shameless ad- 
venturers started the conspiracy for the success of 
which they required the moral influence of Rasputin 
and the authority of his person. It was, after all, 
such an easy matter to say that in such and such a 
case he had been acting in conformity with the Im- 
perial will. No one could disprove the truth of the 
assertion, and in that way the Emperor was made 
responsible for all the unavowable things which were 
going on. He was supposed to have given his sane- 

Rasputin 163 

tion to all these things simply because it had pleased, 
not even Rasputin himself, but individuals like Mr. 
Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, to declare that they had 
been done with his knowledge and approval. 

Can one feel surprised if in the presence of this 
artificial atmosphere, and still more artificial posi- 
tion, an intense feeling of disgust took hold of real 
patriots, and made them contemplate seriously the 
possibility of trying at least to unmask Rasputin and 
his crew and bring to the ears of the Czar all the dif- 
ferent rumours which were in circulation concerning 
the "Prophet" and what was going on around him? 
Men of experience and of weight seriously thought 
how this could be done. They made no secret of the 
fact, unfortunately for themselves as well as for the 
success of their plans. What was going on very 
soon came to the knowledge of Manassevitsch-Maniu- 
loff and made him more frantic than he had ever been 
to overthrow what he called "foreign influences" in 
Russia. He applied himself with renewed energy to 
bring about, by fair means or foul, the conclusion of 
a peace on which depended his whole future destiny. 
And he might perhaps have succeeded if circum- 
stances had not turned against him and put an end 
to his machinations, at least for a time. 

Mr. Sturmer was but a tool in the hands of this 
artful, clever private secretary whom he had been 
persuaded, or rather compelled, to take. Manasse- 
vitsch-Maniuloff had managed to get hold of him and 
to keep him securely bound to his own policy. He 
was the man who had contrived to put him into 
the position of authority which he enjoyed, and Mr. 

164 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Sturmer, whatever may have been his other defects, 
had a grateful nature. Besides, Maniuloff amused 
him, and took an immense amount of trouble off his 
hands. He could rely on his never doing anything 
stupid, even when he did something very dishonest. 
Mr. Sturmer was absorbed in great political combina- 
tions and was looking toward a long term of office. 
He felt absolutely safe in the situation which he oc- 
cupied, where at any moment he liked he could speak 
with the Czar and explain to him what he thought to 
be most advantageous to the interests of his party, or 
the events of the day as they followed in quick suc- 

Alas for this security! An unexpected incident 
was to destroy it in the most ruthless manner. Ras- 
putin, together with Mr. Maniuloff, went too far in 
the system of blackmailing which they had been prac- 
tising with such skill for so many long months. For 
once they found their master in the person of one of 
the directors of a large banking establishment in 
Petrograd, who, upon being threatened with all kinds 
of unpleasantness unless he consented to pay a large 
sum of money, did not protest as others had done be- 
fore him in similar cases, but gave it immediately, 
first having taken the numbers of the banknotes which 
he had handed over to Mr. Maniuloff. He went with 
these numbers to the military authorities and lodged 
with them a formal complaint against the blackmail- 
ers. The result was as immediate as it was unex- 
pected. The General Staff had been waiting a long 
time for just such an opportunity to proceed against 
Rasputin and the members of his crew. That very 

Rasputin 165 

same night, in obedience to orders received from the 
military commander of Petrograd, Mr. Manasse- 
vitseh-Maniuloff's house was searched from top to 
bottom, and he himself conveyed to prison, without 
even having been allowed to acquaint his chief, Mr. 
Stunner, with what had happened to him. 


The arrest of the Prime Minister's private secre- 
tary produced, as may well be imagined, an immense 
sensation in Petrograd and intense consternation 
among the friends of Rasputin. They were thus de- 
prived of the one strong ally capable of guiding their 
steps in the best direction possible under the circum- 
stances, and, moreover, of the one who was possessed 
of information which no one else could possibly get at. 
Mr. Sturmer himself was more than dismayed at this 
step taken by the military authorities without con- 
sulting him and resented it as a personal affront. He 
tried to interfere in the matter and went so far as to 
demand as his right the liberation of Manassevitsch- 
Maniuloff. But his intervention, instead of helping 
the person in whose favour it had been displayed, gave 
on the contrary the signal for a series of attacks 
against Mr. Sturmer himself, attacks of which the 
most important was the speech made by Mr. Miliu- 
koff in the Duma, where he publicly accused the 
Prime Minister of being in league with Germany and 
of working in favour of a separate peace with that 

Of course, the remarks of the leader of the opposi- 
tion in the Chamber were not allowed to be published, 
but so many persons had heard them and so many 
others had heard of them that the contents of the ad- 


Rasputin 167 

dress of Mr. Miliukoff very soon became public prop- 
erty. No one had ever cared for Mr. Sturmer, whose 
leanings had always been for autocracy. While Gov- 
ernor of Tver he had distinguished himself by the zeal 
which he displayed in putting down every manifesta- 
tion of public opinion in his government. In addition 
he had been connected with various matters where 
bribery played a prominent part, a fact which had 
not helped him to win any popularity in the province 
which he had administered. His only merits lay in 
his ability to speak excellent French and in his hav- 
ing very pronounced English sympathies. These 
sympathies, however, by some kind of unexplainable 
miracle, died out immediately after his assumption of 
office. He at once fell under the influence of a cer- 
tain party that clamoured for the removal of foreign- 
ers from the administrative and political life of Rus- 
sia. He was not clever, though he had a very high 
idea of his own intelligence and knowledge. 

Though he had never carried his knowledge be- 
yond a thorough grasp of the precedence that ought 
to be awarded to distinguished guests at a dinner 
party (which he had acquired while he was master 
of the ceremonies at the Imperial Court), yet he was 
convinced of his capacity to fill the most important 
offices of the Russian State. These he looked upon 
with the eyes of a farmer in the presence of his best 
milking cow. He was not a courtier, but a flatterer by 
nature, and an essentially accommodating one, too. 
There was no danger of his ever turning his back on 
persons who he had reasons to think were in posses- 
sion of the favour of personages in high places. And 

168 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

he had a wonderful faculty for toadying wherever he 
expected that it might prove useful to his career. 

For some years he had vegetated in a kind of semi- 
disgrace and fretted over his inactivity. When he 
found himself able once more to make a display oi 
his administrative talents he took himself and these 
talents quite seriously and imagined that perhaps he 
could become the saviour of Russia, but surely a vei 
rich man. This last idea had been suggested to hii 
by Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, who in conversj 
tions with him had imbued Mr. Sturmer with the con- 
viction that it would be a proof of careless neglect oi 
his part if he did not make the most of the many op- 
portunities his important position as Prime Ministei 
put in his way, and did not assure the prosperity oi 
his old age, when he had at his disposal all possible 
sources of information out of which he might make 
a profit. Mr. Sturmer was no saint, and the weak- 
nesses of the flesh had always appealed to him. There 
is nothing wonderful in the fact that he listened witl 
attention, and even with satisfaction, to the confi- 
dences which were poured into his ear by his private 
secretary, of whose talents he had a most exaltee 

When his Fides Achates was arrested and throi 
into a more or less dark dungeon, Mr. Sturmer was se 
dismayed that he allowed himself to be drawn intc 
the mistake of identifying himself with the prisonei 
and claiming his liberty as a right. It is related thai 
when the object of his solicitude heard of the various 
steps undertaken by the Prime Minister on his be- 
half he gave vent to words of impatience at what he 

Rasputin 169 

considered an imprudence likely to cost a good deal to 
the guilty ones. 

"Stunner ought to have known that a man like 
myself does not allow himself to be arrested without 
having taken the precaution to be able to impose on 
those who had ventured to do so the necessity of lib- 
erating him," he had exclaimed. 

The fact was that Manassevitsch-Maniuloff had 
put to profit the months when, in his capacity as pri- 
vate secretary to the Prime Minister, he had access to 
all the archives and secret papers of the Ministry of 
the Interior. He had taken copies of more than one 
important document, the divulging of which might 
have put the Russian Government in an embarrassing 
position. Some persons even said that his zeal had 
carried him so far as to make him appropriate to him- 
self the originals of these documents, leaving only a 
worthless copy in their place. True or not, it is cer- 
tain that the spirit of foresight that had always dis- 
tinguished him had induced him to take certain pre- 
cautions against any possible mishap capable of in- 
terfering with his career. He was able to regard his 
imprisonment philosophically. This was more than 
Mr. Stunner could do. The latter had reason to 
fear that during the police search of the flat occu- 
pied by Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniuloff some compro- 
mising letters had been discovered. This fear did not 
add to his happiness or to his equanimity. Besides, 
he was not strong enough to resist the attacks which, 
dating from that day, were poured upon his head. In 
spite of the assurances which Rasputin was continu- 

170 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ally giving him that he had nothing to fear, he did not 
share the confidence of the "Prophet." 

He had good reasons for this fear. In the Duma, 
in the Petrograd drawing rooms, in the army and 
among the public, all had grown tired of Mr. Stur- 
mer, and all spoke of nothing else but of the necessity 
of compelling him to resign his post. Among the 
different reproaches which were addressed to him was 
that of being an enemy of England and of trying to 
work against the Russo-English alliance. It was 
very well known that his relations with Sir George 
Buchanan, the British Ambassador, were not cordial. 
Sir George, in spite of all that the pro-Germans liked 
to say about him, was a popular personage in Russia, 
that is, among the sane portion of Russian society, 
which had hailed with joy the initiative that he had 
taken in the great work of reorganisation of the Rus- 
sian administration. 

Thanks to the English officers who had arrived in 
Russia with the aim of bringing some kind of order 
out of the chaos that had prevailed not only in the 
War Office, but in every other branch of the Govern- 
ment, the military position of the Empire had con- 
siderably improved, and the great work of national 
defence had been at last put upon a sound basis. As 
a man occupying a very important position in Petro- 
grad wrote to me during the course of last summer: 
"There are some people here who say that Russia is 
fast becoming an English colony, but I reply to them 
that she might certainly do worse, if by that word is 
meant the introduction of the English spirit of order 
and of English honesty in our country." 

Rasputin 171 

This was the opinion of a sincere Russian patriot. 
There is no doubt that it was shared "by all the best 
elements of the nation, who had recognised that in 
the crisis through which their Fatherland was going 
only one idea ought to dominate everything, and that 
was the necessity of imposing upon Germany a peace 
that would at last give to the world the assurance that 
it would never be called upon again to undergo an- 
other such catastrophe as the one under which it was 
struggling. Mr. Sturmer, however, was of a quite 
different opinion. This was well known everywhere, 
especially in parliamentary circles. Mr. MiliukofT 
made himself the echo of the popular voice when he 
delivered his famous indictment of the Prime Minis- 
ter. The latter retorted by issuing against the leader 
of the Opposition a writ for libel, and applied him- 
self with renewed energy to the task of getting out 
of prison the man who had been the prime mover in 
the dark and sinister intrigue of which Rasputin was 
the principal figure. At last he succeeded, and Man- 
assevitsch-Maniuloff was released on bail. Among all 
the papers which had been confiscated at his home 
not one incriminating document had been found, and 
the only thing against him that could be proved was 
the black-mailing scheme against the Bank whose di- 
rector had had him arrested. He threatened, in case 
he should be brought to trial, to make certain revela- 
tions absolutely damaging for more than one highly 
placed personage, and he contrived to inspire a great 
terror even among those most eager to have him con- 
demned for his numerous extortions and other shame- 
ful deeds. As soon as he was at liberty he set Ras- 

172 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

putin to working in his favour, and made the latter 
display an activity that at last exasperated the public 
against the "Prophet" to such an extent that the first 
thought of organising a conspiracy to remove him was 
started, and very soon became quite a familiar one 
with more than one person. 

To be quite exact, this thought had already ex- 
isted for some time. About a year after the begin- 
ning of the war some enterprising individuals in Pet- 
rograd tried to get rid of the "Prophet" by entan- 
gling him in some disgraceful escapade which would 
have made it necessary for him to leave Petrograd. 
In accordance with this plan he was invited one night 
to supper at some fashionable music hall, of which 
there exist so many in the Russian capital. Bohemian 
singers were called in and an unlimited amount of 
champagne provided. Rasputin, who was rather fond 
of such adventures when he was not obliged to pay 
for their cost in rubles and copecs, accepted with 
alacrity. He soon became quite drunk. Then, at 
the invitation of one of the guests, he proceeded to 
show them the manner in which the Khlistys, the re- 
ligious sect to which he belonged, danced around the 
lighted fire, which was an indispensable feature of 
their meetings. As he was dancing, or rather turning 
round and round a table that had been put in the mid- 
dle of the room, he took off some of his clothes, just 
as his followers used to do when they were holding 
one of their assemblies in real earnest. Some of the 
assistants seized hold of the opportunity and hid the 
garments of which he had divested himself, then called 
in the police, requiring them to draw up a report of 

Rasputin 173 

what had taken place. On the next day this report 
was taken to a high authority, in the hope that it 
would have a damaging effect on the reputation of 
Rasputin. The result, however, was quite different 
from that which had been expected, for the person 
who had brought the report to the authority in ques- 
tion instead of being believed was treated as a libeler 
and himself compelled to retire from public life. Af- 
ter this it was generally recognised that nothing in 
the world would be strong enough to bring about 
the downfall of the "Prophet." 

In the meanwhile the efforts of the Opposition party 
in the Duma had succeeded to the extent of forcing 
Mr. Sturmer to resign as Prime Minister; but he had 
influence enough to secure his appointment as High 
Chancellor of the Imperial Court, one of the most im- 
portant positions in Russia. He did not fall into 
disgrace, but remained the power behind the throne 
whose existence, though not officially recognised, yet 
was everywhere acknowledged. He had not been 
dismissed, he had simply gone away — a very different 
thing altogether in the realm of the Czar. Though 
no longer a Minister, he was still a personage to be 
considered as capable of an infinitude of good or of 
harm, according as it might please him to exert his 
influence. His successor, Mr. Trepoff, an upright 
and fairly able man, did not long retain the office he 
had accepted much against his will. With him de- 
parted one of the most popular Ministers Russia had 
known for a long time, Count Paul Ignatieff , the able 
son of an able father. He had for something like 
two years held the portfolio of Public Instruction to 

174 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

the general satisfaction of the public and had come 
to the conclusion that it was useless to go on fighting 
against dark powers which were getting the upper 
hand everywhere. 

The resignation of these two statesmen was pre- 
ceded by one of the most scandalous incidents in Rus- 
sian modern history, the trial of Mr. Manassevitsch- 
Maniuloff . This had been put off from day to day 
for a considerable length of time until at last it be- 
came impossible to secure further delay. The culprit 
had taken good care, as I have already indicated, to 
put in safety documents of a most incriminating na- 
ture, implicating many persons whom the authorities 
could not afford to see mixed up in the dirty business 
connected with the numerous sins of Mr. Sturmer's 
private secretary. When the latter was questioned by 
the examining magistrate in regard to that last trans- 
action which had brought him into court, he declared 
that he had acted in accordance with the instructions 
which he had received from his chief and that it was 
not he himself, but the Prime Minister who had re- 
ceived the money which the bank that had lodged a 
complaint against him had been induced to pay in or- 
der to be spared certain annoyances with which it had 
been threatened. He had insisted upon this version 
of the affair and warned the magistrate that his coun- 
sel would develop it in all the details before the jury. 

In the meanwhile Rasputin was moving heaven and 
earth to get the trial postponed and to get the charges 
against the prisoner quashed by the Chamber of Cas- 
sation. He had long conferences with several ladies 
having free entrance into the Imperial Palace and he 

Rasputin 175 

put forward, among other arguments, the one which 
had certain points in its favour: that it would be 
detrimental to the public interest to have the scan- 
dal of such a trial commented upon by the press of 
the whole of Europe at a time when Russia was 
struggling against a formidable foe, always ready to 
catch hold of anything that would discredit it or its 
institutions. For a time it seemed as if the efforts 
of the "Prophet" would be crowned with success. 
Then one fine day opposite currents became powerful 
and Mr. Maniuloff was sent before a jury in spite of 
his protestations and his threats of revenge upon those 
who had taken upon themselves the responsibility of 
subjecting him to that annoyance. 

On the fifteenth of December, the day appointed 
for the trial, the halls and corridors Of the law courts 
of Petrograd were filled with an inquisitive crowd 
struggling to get access to the room where it was to 
take place. The spectators waited a long time, watch- 
ing curiously the impassive face of the hero of the day, 
who had quietly entered the hall and taken his place 
in the criminal dock. About 12 o'clock the Judges, 
together with the public prosecutor, made their en- 
trance, when to the general surprise the latter rose 
and said that, owing to the absence of several impor- 
tant witnesses for the prosecution, he moved an ad- 
journment of the proceedings until an indefinite time. 
What had happened, what had brought about such 
an extraordinary change? This was the question 
which one could hear everywhere after the Court had 
risen and the assembly dispersed. Comments without 

176 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

number followed upon this decision, which no one 
would have thought possible a few hours before. 

In spite of the severe censorship over the press, the 
principal Liberal organs of the capital published short 
commentaries which revealed the feeling of intense 
indignation that prevailed in every class of society. 
The words "Shame, shame!" were heard on all sides. 
It is not at all wonderful that they found an echo 
among some determined spirits who resolved at last 
to free Russia from the scourge of Rasputin, whose 
hand was again seen in the whole disgraceful affair. 

This, however, was not at all an easy matter, con- 
sidering the fact that the "Prophet" had become very 
careful and that his followers had him watched wher- 
ever he went for fear of an attack which they strongly 
suspected was being contemplated. The house where 
he lived, 64 Gorokhovaja Street, was always sur- 
rounded by policemen and secret agents, who exam- 
ined every person who entered or went out of it. Ras- 
putin himself had also grown suspicious, even of 
persons with whom up to that time he had been upon 
friendly terms, and he avoided the numerous invita- 
tions that began once more to be showered upon him. 
He spoke again of returning to Siberia, which was 
always with him a sign that he did not feel himself at 
ease in the capital. 

I had an opportunity to observe this restlessness 
the second time that I met him at the house of that 
Mr. De Bock whom I have already mentioned, when 
he declared to us that he was sick of Petrograd and of 
the many intrigues which were going on there. But 
that was before the war, and it seems that after it 

Rasputin 177 

began the ideas of Rasputin changed and that he 
was always saying that he considered it his duty to 
remain beside his friends at this hour of national peril. 
The fact that his feelings had changed on the last point 
proves that he was aware of the danger in which he 
stood, and of which it is likely that he had been warned 
by the numerous spies who were but too ready to keep 
him well informed of all that was to his interest to 

One thing seems certain, and that is the activity 
which he began to display during the last weeks and 
days of his evil life in favour of the conclusion of a 
peace, which he now said Russia ought to make if she 
wished to escape from further sin, as he termed it. 

Why his feelings had undergone such a change it 
is impossible to say, but one may make a pretty near 
guess. One of the principal motives which actuated 
him undoubtedly was the idea that existed among a 
certain circle of persons that if peace were made with 
Germany, the English and French officials working 
with Russian officials in perfecting the defence of the 
fatherland, and whose presence already had pre- 
vented so many malversations, would depart. This 
would leave once more a free field for the rapacity* 
of all the civil and military functionaries of the War 
Office and Commissariat Departments, who could 
make a new harvest of rubles as a result of the un- 
avoidable expenses which the liquidation of the war 
would necessarily entail. 

There were, however, some persons who, seeing the 
dangers in the path in which this nefarious individual 
was leading Russia, decided that, as nothing else could 

178 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

bring about his removal, it had to be effected by vi 
lent means. I do not seek to excuse them, far less 
to take their part. Murder remains murder, but if 
ever an assassination had an excuse, this was the slay- 
ing of Rasputin, which also implied the destruction 
of the crew of unscrupulous people of which he was 
the tool. There was something of self-sacrifice in the 
conspiracy to which he fell a victim, something of an 
intense love of the Fatherland in the spirit that armed 
the hand of the man whose pistol sent him into eter- 
nity. One may condemn the deed and yet excuse i+s 
motive. Though I am not trying to do so, yet I shall 
not be the one to cry out for vengeance against the 
over-excited young people who risked everything in 
the world to deliver their country from ev& 

Of the details of the murder we know very little, 
and even the travellers who have gone abroad since 
it was committed could only speak vaguely about the 
circumstances that attended it. It is certain, how- 
ever, that there was a deeply laid and well organised 
plot to kill the "Prophet," that about a dozen persons, 
some of them belonging to the best and to the highest 
social circles, were concerned in it, and that at last 
lots were drawn to select the man who was to execute 
the victim. Among those persons were members of 
the Conservative faction of the Duma, some officers 
of several guard regiments, and even ladies of the 
smartest set of Petrograd. That something was 
known concerning this plot in governmental circles 
can be seen from the fact that the Minister of the In- 
terior, Mr. Protopopoff , who had always been one of 
the most ardent disciples of Rasputin and who had 


Rasputin 179 

been working with him for the conclusion of a peace 
which both considered to be useful to their personal 
interests, hearing that he was going to have supper 
at the house of Prince Youssoupoff, sent there the 
Prefect of Petrograd, General Balk, with instructions 
to watch over the "Prophet." .When the Prefect ap- 
peared upon the scene, he was politely asked by the 
master of the house to withdraw, as his presence was 
not required. 

Young Prince Youssoupoff, who, by the way, is 
well known in London, was the husband of the Prin- 
cess Irene of Russia, the first cousin of the Czar. By 
virtue of his position he could be whatever he liked, 
even to dismiss curtly the principal police official of 
the capital. At the supper which he gave on the night 
when Rasputin was killed about a dozen people be- 
longing to the best circle of Petrograd society were 
present. What passed during the meal and how the 
murder itself was committed is not known even now, 
though several versions of the crime are given. Some 
;say that it was done during the meal, and that the 
pretext for it was the conduct of Rasputin toward one 
of the ladies present at the table. Other people relate 
that they waited until the "Prophet" was on the point 
of departing, and that as he was putting on his over- 
|coat the young man who had drawn the lot designat- 
ing him for the deed shot him with his revolver at the 
foot of the stairs. The body was then wrapped up in 
a blanket and put into the automobile of a very high 
personage, which was waiting. in the garden of the 
Jiouse where the event took place, and driven to the 
Xeva, where it was dropped under the ice. It seems 

180 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

that after this had been accomplished one of the co 
spirators went to Tsarskoie Selo and informed th 
Czar of what had taken place, as well as of his own 
share in the deed. 

In the meanwhile the authorities had become sus- 
picious. At 3 o'clock in the night screams had been 
heard by a policeman on duty at the corner of the 
street in which was situated the house of Prince Yous- 
soupoff . He also noticed several persons coming out 
of the house, not by the usual entrance, but by the 
garden, which had a door leading into another street, 
After this, an automobile was seen driving out of that 
same garden, an altogether strange circumstance. 
This automobile was seen by another policeman about 
one hour later in the islands which surround Petro- 
grad, driving close to the Neva and not on the usual 
road. The next day the garden of Prince Youssou- 
poff was searched by Secret Service agents, who found 
some traces of blood on the snow, but the servants 
of the Prince declared that it was that of a dog that 
had been shot the day before. No one dared say or 
do anything more against the supposed murderers, 
especially as the body of their victim had not yet been 
found. The river was dragged, but it was not until 
twenty-four hours after the event that the dead man 
was discovered under the ice in a frozen condition, 
with the features so completely battered that they 
could be recognised only with difficulty. 

The curious thing is that, though it was known 
exactly where the body had been dropped, it could 
not be found at once, having been carried away by the 
current further than had been expected. This gave 


Rasputin 181 

rise to all kind of rumours, and the friends of Ras- 
putin tried to spread the news that he had escaped 
and was hiding away somewhere from his persecu- 
tors. The tale, however, could not be kept up for any 
length of time, as the whole capital with an unheard- 
of rapidity became aware that the most detested man 
in the whole of Russia had at last met with the fate 
which he so richly deserved. The joy of the public 
could not be suppressed, notwithstanding the fear of 
the police. In all the theatres and public places the 
national anthem was sung with an immense enthusi- 
asm. No one regretted what had happened, and the 
people suspected of having had a hand in the murder 
received messages of congratulation from every quar- 
ter. In fact, they became at once national heroes. 
The murder so far has remained unpunished, and it 
is more than likely that no one will be brought to ac- 
count for it. 

As for the body of Rasputin, it was at first kept in 
the hospital where it had been taken after its recovery 
from under the ice. The police received orders not to 
allow it to be seen by the crowds, which it was feared 
would flock in numbers to have a last look at their 
"saint," the "Blessed Gregory," as he was called. But 
to the general surprise these crowds did not manifest 
any curiosity to view the mortal remains of the man 
about whom so much fuss had been made in his life- 
time, but after whose death the whole Russian world 
seemed to breathe more freely than it had been able to 
do for the last ten years or so. Among the clergy sat- 
isfaction was openly expressed, and it was only a few 
hysterical women who were found to weep over the 

182 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

end of the career of one of the wickedest men who 
had ever lived. 

The question most discussed in connection with the 
death of this sinister adventurer was whether he was 
to be allowed a Christian burial. He had been, after 
all, but a sectarian, a heretic, the follower of a creed 
which was not only reproved by the orthodox church, 
but also prosecuted by the law of the land. The sy- 
nod was called upon to pronounce itself on the sub- 
ject when the advice of the Metropolitan Pitirim of 
Petrograd, one of the personal friends of Rasputin, 
at last prevailed, and he was buried with the rites of 
Holy Church. Some of the ladies who had been the 
first cause of his having obtained the importance 
which grew to be attached to his strange figure did 
not wait, however, for the permission of the ecclesi- 
astical authorities, and a few hours after the body had 
been discovered Madame W., one of the most hys- 
terical among the many women followers of Raspu- 
tin, caused solemn prayers to be celebrated in her 
apartments for the repose of his soul. She went to 
fetch his two daughters, girls of sixteen and fourteen 
years of age, who were living with him at Petrograd, 
taking them to her house and declaring that she would 
henceforward consider and treat them as her own 

But apart from this small group of blind admirers 
no one regretted him, not even the crew of parasites 
that had surrounded him and exploited him. By one 
of those strange anomalies, such as can only take place 
in Russia, Mr. Manasfsevitsch-Maniuloff, who had 
been the indirect cause of his death, was appointed, 

Rasputin 183 

together with other secret police agents, to investigate 
the details connected with the murder of his former 
friend and patron. Of course, the inquest led to noth- 
ing. Xo one had any wish to see it end otherwise than 
in oblivion. Every political party in Russia was 
agreed in thinking that with the disappearance of this 
dangerous man the dynasty had won a battle just as 
important for the safety of its future existence as 
would have been a victory on the battlefield against 
a foreign foe. The names of the murderers, though 
pronounced nowhere, were blessed by all sincere Rus- 
sian patriots, who cried out when they heard that 
Rasputin was no more, "Thank God that this ad- 
venturer is dead and long live the Czar!" 


Rasputin, taken individually, did not deserve any 
notice. He was never in possession of the influence 
which was attributed to him, and his voice was never 
preponderant in the councils of the Czar. It served 
the interests of those whose tool he had become to 
spread the notion that he had acquired it, and that, 
thanks to the religious enthusiasm which he had 
contrived to arouse among a certain small circle of 
influential men and women, he had installed him- 
self in the confidence of his Sovereign. Unfortu- 
nately for Russia, these people not only had accom- 
plices in their evil deeds, but also had the means to 
spread their opinions among the public and the abil- 
ity to make these opinions penetrate into all the dif- 
ferent classes of the nation. They discredited the Im- 
perial family; they discredited the Government of 
the day; they discredited the monarch, until it be- 
came at last a political, and I shall even say a na- 
tional, necessity to suppress them, together with the 
adventurer whom they had put forward and thanks 
to whom they had been able to play unmolested for 
so many years the most nefarious of games. 

Unfortunately, the slaying of Rasputin did not de- 
stroy the persons who had used him. It did not put 
an end to the many abuses which had brought Rus- 
sia to the sad state of chaos in which it found itself 


Rasputin 185 

at the moment of its great trial. The man himself 
was but an ensign, and the loss of an ensign does not 
mean that the regiment that carried it about has 
shared its fate. 

Rasputin was the last representative of the old 
regime. His appearance on the horizon of Russian 
social life was but the last flicker of a detestable past. 
During his time of favour and of success the two 
forces that struggled for supremacy in the land of 
his birth fought their last battle, in which he was the 
stake. We must rejoice that it was not the force which 
he was supposed to incarnate in his enigmatical and 
mysterious person that remained master of the field. 
Whether he would have been killed under different 
circumstances is a question to which it would be very 
difficult to find a reply. Most probably the spirit 
of mysticism which lies at the bottom of the Slav 
character would have prevented even his worst ene- 
mies, let alone his simple adversaries, from trying to 
remove him from the position into which he had been 
thrust. They would most likely have shrugged their 
shoulder and waited for that intervention of St. Nic- 
olas, who, according to Russian traditions, always ar- 
rives at the right moment, to put straight everything 
that has gone wrong. 

The peril in which Russia found herself placed 
gave energy even to those to whom that quality had 
hitherto been unknown, and it was felt everywhere 
that, together with the Fatherland, the Czar ought to 
be saved from a danger of which, perhaps, he did not 
himself realise the real importance. Rasputin, and 
especially Rasputin's followers, had worked as hard 

1 86 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

as they could to make Russia's Allies, and especially 
England, unpopular with the Russian nation. He 
paid with his life for the attempt, and one can only 
rejoice that such was the case. As things stand at 
present, it is principally toward Great Britain and 
America that Russia must look for its salvation. 
What I am writing to-day has been my earnest and 
deep conviction for long years, and I have preached 
it not only since the beginning of this war in all the 
books and articles which I have written, but also long 
before any one ever thought or suspected that the 
day would come when the English Union Jack and 
the Stars and Stripes would float beside the Russian 
flag and the French Tricolor on the same battlefields, 
united against one common enemy. I have always 
considered that in human life, as well as in the exist- 
ence of nations, it is essential to recognise the superi- 
ority of others where this superiority exists, and that 
true civilisation consists in assimilating to oneself with 
gratitude the virtues of other nations, whose example 
one ought to follow instead of trying to ridicule. Rus- 
sia, with all its vast resources and with its immense 
territory, would do well to imitate England and the 
United States in their immense work of culture and 
to call the latter countries to her help in developing 
her own national existence on proper and useful 
bases. In doing so she would not abase herself; she 
would only prove that she was great enough to admire 
the greatness of others. 

It is certain that if Anglo-Saxon influence had 
been so dominant in Russia in the past as it is to be 
hoped it will remain in the future, we should not have 

Rasputin 187 

seen occur in Petrograd incidents like those connected 
with the career of Rasputin. We should not have 
witnessed all these perpetual changes of Ministers, 
over which Germany has rejoiced with such evident 
relish. We should not have heard people defy the 
authority of the Czar, as unfortunately has been the 

We former monarchists, who have been brought 
up in the old traditions of loyalty to bygone days, 
have often been accused by this crew of adventurers 
of harbouring revolutionary ideas. They have re- 
proached us with the spirit of criticism that has some- 
times induced and prompted us to speak out what we 
thought and to lay blame where blame was due; to 
criticise where criticism was almost a national neces- 
sity. Time shall prove whether we have been mis- 
taken. It seems to me, however, that as English 
ideals and English respect for individual liberty and 
individual opinions become more and more familiar 
to Russians and penetrate into the Russian mind, the 
public, will acknowledge that we have not been so 
very wrong when we have raised our voices against 
the importance which individuals such as Rasputin 
have been allowed to take in our society and in our 
governmental circles, and against this corrupt system 
of administration, which, thanks to its crawling, flat- 
tering propensities, caused our people to kneel at his 
feet with the idea that by doing so they were pleas- 
ing the higher authorities, who most of the time knew 
nothing about the developments for which this in- 
trigue was responsible. Russia has still something 
oriental about her, and in some respects she resembles 

188 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

the Greek empire which fell under the blows dealt at 
it by the power of Islam. It needs new life and new 
blood in its veins. It requires the support of this 
strong, earnest British civilisation, which is, perhaps, 
the most beautiful the world has ever known. 

I have always been accused of being too pro-Eng- 
lish in my ideas and opinions. If being pro-English 
means the wish to see my country freed from the 
abuses, the existence of which has prevented her from 
developing herself on the road of a progress embodied 
in the respect of the individual, together with the in- 
stitutions that rule him, such as Great Britain has 
known for so many centuries, then I will willingly 
confess it, I am pro-English. I feel sure that all 
good Russians share my feelings. We have had 
enough of the German Kultur and of German in- 
trigues. They it is that have brought my beloved Fath- 
erland to the brink of ruin. The whole sad incident 
of Rasputin's rise and fall has been the result of Ger- 
man interference, and it would never have assumed 
the proportions to which it rose if the German press 
had not exaggerated it and German spies spoken 
about it, not only abroad, but also in Russia itself. 

When thinking about this story, which savours in 
some of its details of superstitions of the Middle Ages, 
one must always remember what I said at the begin- 
ning of this sketch of the career of a man whom cir- 
cumstances and the hatred of our enemies transformed 
into a kind of monster devouring all that it touched. 
This fact is that Russia is still the land of many sur- 
prises, because of its tendency toward mysticism, al- 
ways so strong in all the Slav races. Before Ras- 

Rasputin 189 

putin appeared there had been other sectarians who 
had drawn thousands of men and women around them 
and who had inspired crowds with feelings of fanati- 
cism in no wise different from the ones which the mod- 
ern "Prophet," as some called him, the modern Cag- 
liostro, as others had nicknamed him, had evoked in 
the breasts of the simple-minded people whose confi- 
dence he had abused and whose spirit of superstition 
he had impressed. But these had remained strictly 
in the field of religion and had not meddled with 
any other questions. They had grouped around 
them only persons convinced of the truth of their 
teachings, while Rasputin had gathered about him 
men determined to use him for the benefit of their 
money-seeking, money-grubbing schemes; men who 
saw in the misfortunes that had fallen upon their 
Fatherland only the possibility to enrich themselves 
at her expense. They would not have sacrificed the 
smallest things for her welfare; far less would they 
have given up the chance to add to the ill-gotten gains 
they were daily accumulating. .Without those per- 
sons the whole story of Rasputin would have ended in 
ridicule. Thanks to them and to their rapacity, it 
finished in blood. 

It was, after all, the aristocracy that finally got 
rid of Rasputin, perhaps to the great relief of many 
persons who out of weakness, or let us say kindness, 
had hesitated before taking the strong measure of 
sending him away where it would have been diffi- 
cult for him to do any more mischief. And it is doubt- 
ful whether his removal anywhere than to a place 
whence there existed no possibility- for him to return 

190 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

would have stopped the evil which the very mention 
of his name alone was sufficient to cause. Credulous 
persons exist everywhere and will always exist ; timor- 
ous ones also abound in the world. Even if Rasputin 
had been exiled it would have been relatively easy for 
those who reaped such a rich harvest out of the blood 
and the tears of the whole Russian nation to attribute 
to him powers which he did not possess, to threaten 
with his vengeance the persons who might refuse to 
lend themselves to their dirty schemes. He would 
have been a perpetual menace suspended over the 
heads of those who would have tried to rebel against 
the directions issued by the enterprising scoundrels 
who abused the prestige which his so-called holiness 
had won for a man who in other times and in another 
country would not have arrested for a single moment 
the attention of any one, let alone the crowds. 

Rasputin is dead ! Let us hope that his former sup- 
porters have lost, together with him, their audacity 
and their power of doing mischief. But to say that 
he was ever a paramount strength in Russian politics 
is an error which I have tried to correct as far as lay 
within my power. Rasputin's story is simpler than 
many persons think, and perhaps the best explana- 
tion that can be given of it is to be found in the Book 
of Esther in the Bible, a careful perusal of which is 
recommended to those who are interested in the char- 
acter of Rasputin. 



On the 15th day of May, 1896, Moscow was cele- 
brating the Coronation of the Czar Nicholas II. of 
Russia. In the large courtyard inside the Kremlin, 
an immense crowd was gathered, awaiting the mo- 
ment when the Sovereign together with his Consort 
would come out of the Cathedral of the Assumption, 
to make the customary round of the different shrines 
and churches, which according to the ancient custom, 
they had to visit after they had assumed the old Crown 
of the Russian Autocrats. Among this crowd, there 
were persons who remembered having witnessed the 
same kind of ceremony thirteen years before, when 
Alexander III. had been standing in his son's place. 
What a splendid apparition it had been that of this 
Czar, gigantic in stature, whose quiet and strong fea- 
tures seemed in their placidity to be a true person- 
ification of the might of that Empire at the head of 
which he stood. One had hoped at that time, that he 
would preside over the destinies of his Realm for long 
years to come, and no one had given a thought to the 
possibility that he would so soon be lying in his cof- 
fin. Xow it was with mixed feelings of pity, combined 
with a sympathy which already was no longer so 
strong as it had been when he had ascended the throne, 
that all were awaiting the new Monarch, who had be- 
come in his turn the chief of the old House of Ro- 


194 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

manoff , so that when the golden gates of the Assump- 
tion were thrown open to give passage to the proces- 
sion which was escorting Nicholas II. all the head,s 
of the numerous people gathered in honour of the oc- 
casion, under the shade of the ancient belfrey of Ivan 
Weliky, turned with an anxious curiosity towards 
the Sovereign about to show himself for the first time 
before his people, in the full pomp of his Imperial 

What did one see? A young man thin and slim, 
who seemed to be entirely crushed under the weight 
of the massive crown which was reposing on his 
head, and of the heavy robe of cloth of gold, lined 
with ermine, which was thrown upon his shoulders. 
He was tottering as he walked along, and his pale, 
tired face, together with his uncertain steps, bore no 
resemblance whatever to the firm and superb coun- 
tenance of his father thirteen years before. As he 
reached the door of the Church of the Holy Archan- 
gels, one noticed that he suddenly stopped, as if un- 
able to proceed any further, completely worn out by 
the fatigue of the long ceremony that had come to an 
end a few moments before, and the hand which was 
holding the sceptre, enriched with precious stones, 
which the Metropolitan of Moscow had just handed 
to him, dropped down at his side, whilst the symbol of 
might and of power which it was holding, escaped 
from its grasp. Chamberlains and lords in waiting 
hastened to pick it up, and the crowd never noticed 
what had occurred, but those who had witnessed the 
incident, were deeply impressed by it, and different 
rumours began to circulate in regard to it, rumours 

The Great Revolution 195 

which would have it that it was a bad omen, whilst 
persons well up in the study of history, and especially 
in that of foreign countries tried to find an analogy 
between it, and the remark made by Louis XVI. on 
the day of his Coronation at Rheims, when he had 
complained that his crown was hurting him, and felt 
too heavy for his head. 

A few days later there happened another event, 
which reminded one of a similar coincidence between 
the life of the unfortunate King whose head was to 
fall on the scaffold of the Champs Elysees, and that 
of Nicholas II. It occurred during the popular feast 
which is always given in Moscow after the Corona- 
tion of a Czar. A crowd amounting to several thou- 
sands of men and women, some say three hundred 
thousand, had gathered together on a field known by 
the name of Khodinka Plain, in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the town, to be present at it, when sud- 
denly a panic which was never accounted for nor ex- 
plained, seized this multitude, and about twenty thou- 
sand human creatures were crushed to death in the 
short space of a few minutes. The emotion produced 
by this disaster among all the different classes of 
society was very deep and terrible. The only person 
who accepted it with calm and even with indifference, 
if the reader w T ill forgive me for this expression, was 
the Czar himself, who, however, and this is a justice 
which I must render to him, only heard much later 
the whole extent of the disaster, but who at the same 
time, did not try to learn anything definite about it, 
3n the day when it took place, and who, under the 
direct influence of his Consort, gave directions to 

196 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

reply to the French Ambassador, the Comte de 
Montebello, who had enquired whether he ought to 
postpone the ball he was giving that same night, that 
"he did not see any necessity for doing so." 

This answer became known at once, and it traced 
between the Monarch and his subjects one of these 
white lines which in a tennis ground marks the antag- 
onistic camps, and out of two players makes two ene- 
mies . . . and this line went on getting wider and 
wider as time went on. It still existed when Nicholas 
II. abdicated, but it had then become an abyss. 

In general there is nothing sadder in the world 
than a misunderstanding between two people both 
possessed of good intentions towards each other. It 
is something worse than a discussion, worse than 
a quarrel, and even worse than hatred, because it is 
the only thing which sound reasoning cannot con- 
quer, and which is bound to go on aggravating itself 
from day to day. How much worse therefore is a 
thing of the kind when it has established itself be- 
tween a nation and those who rule it. The great, the 
/ supreme misfortune of Nicholas II. consisted in the 
fact that he never could understand his people or 
their wants, whilst Russia on the other hand was, 
through circumstances independent of its will, 
brought to distrust the real feelings harboured by the 
Czar in regard to its welfare, and to indulge in com- 
parisons which certainly were not to his advantage, 
between him and the Sovereign to whom he had suc- 
ceeded, who had possessed the full confidence of his 

This fatality which has dogged all the footsteps of 

vThe Great Revolutions 197 

the Emperor who abdicated a year ago, from the 
very first moment that he had ascended his Throne, 
can be partly attributed to the defective education 
which he had received, together with the deplorable 
weakness of his character; and partly to the state 
of absolute subjection in which he had been kept 
first by his father, during the whole time of the lat- 
ter's life, and later on by his wife, together with the 
complete ignorance in which he remained in regard 
to the wants, the aspirations, needs and character of 
his people. He was a despot by temperament, per- 
haps because he had never seen anything else but des- 
potism around him, and perhaps because he had got a 
mistaken idea in regard to the duties which devolved 
upon him. He had always been told that he ought 
to uphold intact the principle of autocracy, thanks to 
which his predecessors had maintained themselves up- 
on the throne. He had seen Alexander III. adopt 
him with these principles with success, and he had 
forgotten, or rather he had never known, that in or- 
der to be a successful autocrat, one must neither prove 
oneself a tyrant, nor an oppressor of people's con- 
sciences and opinions. His first steps as a Sovereign 
had hurt all the feelings of loyalty of his subjects. 
Among the many addresses of congratulation that 
had been presented to him on the occasion of his mar- 
riage and of his accession to the Throne, there had 
been one from the Zemstvo or local assembly of the 
government of Tver, a town which was known to be 
very liberal in its opinions, in which was expressed the 
hope that the Monarch would try to govern his people 
with the help and with the co-operation of these same 

198 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Zemstvos or local assemblies, the aim of which was the 
improvement of the local conditions of existence of 
the population of the different governments or prov- 
inces of the Russian Empire. There was absolutely 
nothing that was revolutionary in this address. Un- 
fortunately there happened to be in the vicinity of 
the young Empress a person whose influence had al- 
ways been perniciously exercised, whenever it had 
manifested itself: the Princess Galitzyne, her Mis- 
tress of the Robes. Out of a feeling of personal 
dislike, or rather hatred, against one of the signatories 
of this document, which, on account of the conse- 
quences that followed upon its composition, became 
historical, Princess Galitzyne explained to the Sov- 
ereign at the head of whose household she stood, that 
this appeal in favour of a liberal system of govern- 
ment ought to be discouraged, if not crushed, at once. 
Alexandra Feodorovna was then beginning to ac- 
quire the absolute power over her consort's mind, 
which she was never to lose in the future, and she 
spoke to him of the matter suggested by the Princess, 
on the very day that different deputations, coming 
from all parts of Russia to express their good wishes 
to the young Imperial couple, were about to be re- 
ceived by them in the Winter Palace. 

Nicholas II. has never in his whole life had an opin- 
ion of his own, but he has shown himself enthusiastic 
for all those that have been suggested to him. He 
promised his wife "to say something," which would 
put into their proper place the people daring enough 
to dream of anything likely to diminish his own power 
or prerogatives. He forgot, however, one thing, per- 

The Great Revolution 199 

haps the most important one, and that was that these 
persons he was about to see, were not at all those who 
had signed the unlucky address, of which it would 
have been far better for everybody to forget the text 
as soon as possible. The result of this first inter- 
vention of the Empress in affairs of State which did 
not concern her is but too well known. The Czar 
instead of thanking the people who had come to lay 
at his feet the expression of their loyalty, declared to 
them that they ought never to "indulge in any sense- 
less 'dreams.' ' The words were repeated every- 
where, and ran from mouth to mouth in the whole of 
Russia. They inflicted on the young popularity of 
Nicholas II. a blow from the effects of which it never 

This was the prologue of the tragedy which came 
to an end, if it has done so, with the signature of the 
Manifesto of Pskov. After this rise of the curtain 
was to begin a drama, all the different acts of which 
appear to us shrouded in bloody clouds. 

One questions at present whether this drama could 
have had a different end from the one which we are 
witnessing, or whether the historical evolution that 
has been accomplished in the course of the last few 
months in Russia could have been avoided, or at 
least otherwise directed. Personally I believe it to 
have been unavoidable, but it could have unfurled 
itself with dignity, if the Crown had consented to 
concessions which would have taken nothing away 
from its greatness or importance, but which would on 
the contrary have lent to it a new lustre. In any case 
it would have been possible for autocracy to die, or 

200 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

better still, to live otherwise. No matter what re- 
proaches could have been addressed to the Roman- 
offs in the past, no matter the injustices and the cru- 
elties they had committed in the course of their fam- 
ily history, there is one thing which cannot be taken 
away from them, and that is that they have all of 
them been strong and courageous men, incapable of 
trembling before the attacks of any enemies, however 
powerful, or before the fury of a revolted mob. 
Nicholas II. was the first one among them who proved 
himself unable to inspire either love or hatred in his 
subjects, and for whom they held nothing but con- 
tempt, because they very quickly grasped the fact 
that he would never be able to give to himself or to 
others an account of the position he stood in, or to 
realise the tragedy of his own fate. 

People who knew him well have wondered whether 
he ever understood what his duty really meant. I 
think, however, from the personal knowledge which I 
have of his character, that in a certain way he wished 
to do what was right, but I doubt whether he knew 
the responsibilities of his position, and the fact that 
he ought to put the interests of the State before those 
of his own family. For him his wife and children 
held the first place, and were the first objects of his 
consideration. This would have been a virtue in a pri- 
vate person, but it could easily assume the proportions 
of a crime in a sovereign. 

His father had left to him a splendid inheritance, 
which he might have kept intact with a little care, 
and very small trouble. Before the Japanese war it 
might have been still possible for him to rule his 

The Great Revolution 201 

country autocratically, though not despotically; but 
after Moukhden and Tschousima, and especially after 
the revolution which followed upon these two catas- 
trophes, and which would have been hardly possible, 
had they not occurred, the thing became more diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, because the Russian nation had 
begun to wonder at the causes that had brought about 
these terrible disasters, the consequences of which had 
been the loss of Russian prestige in the Far East, 
and even in Europe. It would, however, still have 
been possible to save something out of the former 
form of government, if a serious and honest appeal 
had been made to the nation to help to consolidate 
its strength, and if an attempt had been made to 
modify it according to the exigencies of the times 
and of the moment. But after the famous day which 
saw rivers of blood flow in the streets of St. Peters- 
burg, and the wholesale slaying of thousands of inno- 
cent workmen, whose only crime had consisted in wish- 
ing to lay their grievances before their Czar, every 
attempt to keep up the old order of things was bound 
to fail. Something else had to be tried to save the 
dynasty together with the country, but not the grant- 
ing of a so-called Constitution, which it had been de- 
termined beforehand to leave a dead letter. If on 
the occasion I have just referred to, Nicholas II. had 
found sufficient courage to meet his people face to 
face, and to speak with them as his great grandfather 
had done on an occasion far more critical even than 
the ones which prevailed in 1905, it is likely that the 
divorce which finally separated him from his subjects 
would never have taken place. But he went to Tsar- 

202 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

skoie Selo as soon as he heard there was likely to be 
trouble in his capital, forgetting everything else but 
his own personal safety, which, by the way, had never 
been seriously threatened. He proved himself to be a 
coward, and cowardice is the last thing which a nation 
forgives in those who rule it. The Czar lost in conse- 
quence of his conduct every prestige he had left. 
And he also lost the respect of Russia, owing to the 
shameless corruption which established itself every- 
where during his reign, when at last everything un- 
der the sun could be bought or sold in the country, to 
begin with, a Court appointment, and to end with, the 
highest functions in the State. The Emperor was 
unable to refuse anything to those whom he liked, and 
he never grasped this essential fact, that when one 
gives too easily and without discernment, it inevitably 
follows that one also allows people to take what per- 
haps one would never have granted, had one thought 
about it. 

Alexander III. had been just as generous as his son 
showed himself to be later on. But his generosity was 
only exercised in regard to what belonged to him per- 
sonally, whilst no one was more careful than this sov- 
ereign of the public exchequer. He had seen what 
corruption meant during his own father's reign, when 
abuses had also prevailed, which though in no way 
comparable to those that established themselves to- 
wards the close of the one which has come to an end a 
year ago, were still sufficiently grave and serious 
to cause anxiety to a Monarch eager and anxious for 
the welfare of his State. He therefore had applied 
himself to put an end to them, and knowing as he did, 

The Great Revolution 203 

admirably well the character of the Russian nation, he 
took up morally the famous stick of Peter the Great, 
with which he dealt at times most severe blows to those 
whom he believed to be in need of them. The result 
of this system made itself felt within a very short time, 
and when Alexander III. died, the old custom of tak- 
ing bribes, which had been formerly so prevalent in 
Russia, had nearly died out, or at least existed upon 
such a small scale that it could no longer do any harm. 
But under Xicholas II. the old evil was revived, and 
finding no obstacle in its path, it soon assumed most 
unheard of proportions, and became at last a regular 
institution. Soon everything in the vast Empire of 
the Czars was put up at public auction, everything 
could be purchased or sold, and everything became 
buyable, provided a sufficient price was offered for it. 
The Emperor knew nothing, and saw nothing, and 
no one dared to tell him anything, whilst many un- 
scrupulous persons found it to their advantage to 
profit by the changes that had taken place to enrich 
themselves quickly and with very little trouble. The 
whole country was seized with a perfect fever of spec- 
ulation, and with the frantic desire to win millions as 
rapidly as possible. When I say the whole country, 
this is not quite exact, because it was not the country, 
but only some people in it, who, thanks to the position 
which they occupied, or to their relations in influen- 
tial circles, found themselves able to take a part in this 
general plundering. The Japanese war which was to 
have such a sad end, was entirely brought about 
through certain concessions being granted by the Rus- 
sian government on the River Yalou which never be- 

204 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

longed to the Russian State, to a number of persons 
who hoped to transform them into shareholders' com- 
panies, and to make money out of them. They had 
bribed officials who persuaded the Emperor to sign 
the decree which was presented to him, of which he 
failed to see the importance or the meaning, or the 
strange light in which it put him, to distribute thus 
what he did not possess, and what had still to be 
taken away from the Japanese government before it 
could be disposed of. This war, one cannot suffi- 
ciently repeat it, was brought about willingly and 
knowingly, by people who saw in it an opportunity to 
enrich themselves at the expense of their fatherland, 
thanks to the ammunitions and provisions they would 
be able to deliver for the use of the army in the field, 
and which that army never got at all. The system of 
an organised plundering which in the present war has 
had such mournful and such tragical consequences, 
was then inaugurated with a success that went far 
beyond the most sanguine expectations of those who 
indulged in it. Huge fortunes were made in the space 
of a few months whilst our troops were in want of 
everything, and enduring cold, hunger and thirst. 
The Czar remained in utter ignorance of all that was 
being done in his name. He never suspected any- 
thing. But his people never forgave him for this in- 
difference to its fate. One sees it to-day. 

One wonders what was in the mind of this Sover- 
eign, who having ascended the throne amidst so many 
sympathies, had contrived to lose them within the 
space of a few months! Did he ever realise the im- 
portance of the ocean of unpopularity which was sub- 

The Great Revolution 205 

merging him slowly, and the waves of which were ris- 
ing higher and higher, with each day that passed? 
One would like to know it now, when one tries to go 
back to the sources of the tragedy to which he has fal- 
len a victim. Or was his character so shallow and so 
careless, that he only looked at the outside of things, 
and could not appreciate their real depth? He was 
of a very reticent nature and disposition, and rarely 
confided in any one, not even in his wife, whose in- 
spiration and advice he was nevertheless to follow 
so blindly. And the tastes for solitude which he was 
to develop so strongly later on soon brought him to 
lead a kind of existence that can be compared only 
to that of the Mikado of Japan, before the reforms 
that were to change everything in that country. 

That he was surrounded by flatterers goes without 
saying, but he could nevertheless have manifested 
some desire to learn the truth, and not have been so 
continually busy with the exclusive wish to maintain 
his own authority, which in spite of his efforts to the 
contrary, no one in the whole of Russia either re- 
spected or feared. All the concessions which politi- 
cally were squeezed out of him, came too late, or else 
were accepted by him at the wrong time. Even when 
he seemed in the eyes of the public to be following 
the advice which was given to him by disinterested 
and honest persons, he tried in an underhand way to 
counteract the efficacy of the measures he had himself 
ordered to be taken, and whenever he resigned him- 
self to the inevitable, he did not understand the reason 
why he was so doing. 

With it all he was in some respects an intelligent 

2o6 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

man. He cared for good reading, for arts, for music, 
for all the things which help to make out of life a 
pleasant thing for irresponsible individuals. He was 
fond of study, very painstaking, but ignorant, and 
doing all that was required of him, in an almost auto- 
matic manner; kind, it is true, but incapable of com- 
ing to any serious resolution or determination of his 
own accord; devoid of political sense, occasionally 
most obstinate, and, unfortunately for him as well as 
for his country and dynasty, he had the misfortune in 
all the circumstances when a sacrifice of some fraction 
of his Imperial prerogatives came into question, not 
to be able to understand either his people or the times 
he was living in, and to have no thought for anything 
else but the safety of his own family, forgetting 
utterly that his country and its welfare ought to have 
come before them. 

When he resigned himself to grant that shadow of 
a constitution, the advent of which was hailed with 
such enthusiasm by the whole of Russia, he might still, 
had he liked, have regained some part at least, of his 
lost popularity. His personal prestige, or rather that 
of the position he stood in, was still so great among 
the nation, that it would have felt gratitude toward 
him, for every favour he would have chosen to confer 
upon it, if only he had not taken back all that he had 
given, almost immediately after he had awarded it. 
It is quite certain that the first Duma committed 
many errors, but it should have been remembered that 
no human achievement can reach perfection at once; 
and the excitement and effervescence that had fol- 
lowed upon the opening of the first Russian Parlia- 

The Great Revolution 207 

ment ought to have been allowed to cool down, and 
been given sufficient time to make an honest trial of 
its rights and privileges. At the period I am refer- 
ring to, and this notwithstanding all that was said to 
the contrary, a revolution like the one which took 
place the other day, would have been an impossible 
thing, because the Sovereign could still rely upon the 
army, and it would have been better for him had he 
always leant upon it rather than upon the low crowd 
of state functionaries with which he was exclusively 
surrounded and out of which his wife had picked her 
favourites. He might have checked the then rising 
tide of radicalism with which he found himself unable 
to cope later on, and in the strength of which he was 
to remain to the end mistaken, because he dreaded it 
when it was not dangerous, and imagined that he had 
subdued it, at the very moment when it had become, 
thanks to his own errors, and to his own faults, suffi- 
ciently strong to carry him away on its waves. 

Such a thorough weakness of character was bound 
to bring about the most serious consequences, and 
these did not fail to produce themselves. If Nicholas 
II. had had beside him a wife able to lead him, to ad- 
vise him, to open his eyes which perhaps he did not 
quite close, but which he was never to succeed in keep- 
ing sufficiently open, and to show him not only the 
perils which surrounded him (these she never forgot 
to point out to him in an exaggerated manner), but 
also to bring to his notice his duties towards his sub- 
jects, he might have become a Sovereign like any 
other, neither better nor worse, insignificant perhaps, 
but never really dangerous for his country or for his 

208 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

dynasty. Even if that wife he was so devoted to had 
wished not to identify herself with State affairs, had 
kept outside them, and not surrounded herself with 
people lost to every sense of shame, he might have 
come out of the numerous difficulties with which 
he found himself confronted, if not exactly to his 
honour and credit, at least without losing too much of 
his prestige. But Alexandra Feodorovna was the 
fatal and dissolving element which destroyed, thanks 
to her attitude and conduct, every scrap of respect for 
the Sovereign, and who inspired in the whole of the 
nation the desire to get rid of an authority in which 
it believed no longer, and in which it saw only an ob- 
stacle in the way of its development and of its histori- 
cal evolution. The Empress understood even less 
than her husband the state of mind of his subjects ; she 
raised between him and them a barrier which nothing 
could destroy, because it was made out of the con- 
tempt which they both inspired in the whole of Russia. 
There is one curious thing contrasting with the 
facility with which Nicholas II. accepted the opinions 
of others, and with his total absence of personal ini- 
tiative ; and that is the persistence with which he main- 
tained himself during the whole time that his reign 
lasted, in one line of conduct which never varied in 
regard to the determination to govern his country in 
a despotic sense, and which was the more singular that 
he never knew the meaning of real authority. He al- 
ways kept listening to those who represented to him 
that the first duty of a Russian Emperor consisted in 
keeping up the prestige of the police before the mass 
of the citizens. Under no reign in Russia, if we ex- 

The Great Revolution 209 

cept the dark period of the Opritschnikys under Ivan 
the Terrible, did the police play such an important 
part in public life, or become guilty of more abuses 
and of more malversations of every kind. I will not 
mention here the horrors which took place during and 
after the revolution of 1905, when no one felt secure 
against an anonymous denunciation, the consequences 
of which might be that one saw oneself exiled in Si- 
beria, simply because one had not sufficiently bribed 
the police officer in charge of the district where one 
lived ; but later on, even after things had calmed down, 
the might of what was called the Okhrana, remained 
just as formidable as it had been before. Literally 
no one could feel safe under this so-called liberal Czar, 
whilst under the reign of his father everybody pos- 
sessed of a good and clear conscience could rest peace- 
fully in the certitude that neither the security of his 
domicile or his personal safety would ever be threat- 
ened or infringed upon by the caprice of this secret 
power called by the vague name of "administration." 
But after all was he really liberal, this Czar who 
had so little known or understood how to endear 
himself to his subjects, or did he merely say that 
such was the case, in order to dissimulate despotic 
leanings which were the more dangerous that they ex- 
ercised themselves without any judgment or without 
any justification for their explosion? A considerable 
number of persons have wondered about it, and have 
found themselves unable to solve this riddle. To hear 
him speak, one would have thought that such was the 
case, whilst it was hardly possible to talk with him 
for any length of time, without finding him a sympa- 

210 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

thetic, kind personality, curious mixture of totally 
different elements in a character that was chiefly re- 
markable for its weakness. One could like him, one 
could even admire some of the qualities which he un- 
doubtedly possessed, but it was utterly impossible to 
respect in him the Monarch, or to esteem the man, so 
strange did his conduct sometimes appear, a conduct 
which finally dragged him into an abyss, together 
with his family and with his dynasty. Physically, he 
had a sad and kind face, affectionate and clear blue 
eyes, a charming voice, much affability in his man- 
ners; a wonderfully br%ht smile, reminding one of 
his mother's, a most cordial manner of shaking hands 
that went straight to the heart and made one suspect 
a lot of things which in reality did not exist; a rapid 
and quick walk, a certain hesitation in his speech, and 
in the expression of his face at times; such was the 
man. Morally, he was possessed of honesty of pur- 
pose to such an extent that he could realise its ab- 
sence in others ; he had no will of any kind, but a good 
deal of obstinacy; principles which were always for- 
gotten when they interposed themselves between his 
personal welfare and his duty; no sense of responsi- 
bility, but a very exalted opinion of his own rights, 
and especially of his might ; the conviction that autoc- 
racy ought to be maintained at any cost, and simul- 
taneously the sincere desire, during a short while, to 
govern according to the change of system to which 
he had been compelled to submit, more by the force 
of things and of events, than through his personal 
opinions; absolutely no consciousness of the great 
events with which he found himself mixed up, or of 

The Great Revolution 211 

the wants of the country over which he ruled ; no con- 
ception of the aims he ought to have had in view; no 
real sympathy for his people, but a vague wish to 
help them; an unacknowledged dread of finding him- 
self thrown into any intimate contact with the mob, 
combined with the hope that this feeling would not 
be noticed by the public at large; far too much con- 
fidence in incapable advisers; an exaggerated mis- 
trust of the persons courageous enough to tell him 
the truth, an absolute incapacity to resist bad influ- 
ences ; sometimes considerable dignity, and often use- 
less haughtiness; a good deal of superstition com- 
bined with religion; a deep conviction that his own 
person was something so sacred that though it might 
come to be attacked and criticised, yet nobody would 
be daring enough to lay a sacrilegious hand upon it; 
a complete incapability of making any distinction be- 
tween his friends and his foes, and such a persuasive 
manner that no one could ever contradict or resist 
him, so that the Revolution in which he lost his Crown 
must have surprised him to the extent of paralysing 
all his faculties of realising its importance and its 
extent ; such was the Sovereign. 


By the side of this Monarch in whom his subjects 
at last lost every vestige of confidence, there stood a 
sinister figure, the bad genius of a reign that would 
most probably have been far more peaceful if it had 
not been there: the figure of his wife, the Empress 
Alexandra Feodorovna, "the German," as she had 
been called even long before the present war broke 
out. It was undoubtedly to her that were due, at 
least to a considerable extent, the various misfortunes 
which have assailed the unfortunate Nicholas II., 
and it was also she, who, in the brief space of a few 
short years, discredited him together with the throne 
to which he had raised her. It was she who destroyed 
all the prestige which the Monarchy had retained in 
Russia, until the day when she tarnished it. She was 
another Marie Antoinette, without any of the quali- 
ties, or the courage that had distinguished the latter, 
who had become the object of the hatred and furious 
dislike of her subjects, more on account of the vices 
which were attributed to her, than of those which she 
really possessed. In regard to the Consort of the 
Czar Nicholas II., it was just the contrary that oc- 
curred, because the general public never became 
aware of all the strange details concerning the private 
life of this Princess, who compromised by her conduct 
the inheritance of her son, together with the Crown 


The Great Revolution 213 

which she herself wore. On her arrival in Rus- 
sia she had been met with expressions of great sym- 
pathy, and it would have been relatively easy for her 
to make herself liked everywhere and by everybody, 
because the peculiar circumstances which had accom- 
panied her marriage had won for her a sincere popu- 
larity all over Russia. At the time she arrived there 
as the bride of the future Sovereign there existed in 
the country a strong current of anglomania, which 
disappeared later on, to revive again during the last 
year or two. The Princess who came to Livadia from 
Darmstadt was the granddaughter of Queen Vic- 
toria of Great Britain, by whom she had been partly 
brought up, a fact which spoke in her favour because 
it was supposed that her education would have devel- 
oped in her liberal opinions, love for freedom, and the 
desire to make herself liked as well as respected by her 
future subjects, who received her with the more enthu- 
siasm that they all hoped she would influence in the 
right direction her husband, whose weakness of char- 
acter was already at that time known by those who 
had had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with 
him. One felt therefore inclined to forgive her any 
small mistake she might be led into committing dur- 
ing those first days which followed upon her arrival 
in her new Fatherland. One pitied this young bride, 
whose marriage was to follow so soon the funeral of 
the monarch whose untimely death was lamented so 
deeply by the whole of Russia, and one felt quite dis- 
posed, at least among the upper classes of St. Peters- 
burg society, as well as in court circles, to show one- 
self indulgent in regard to the almost inevitable errors 

214 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

into which she might fall, at the beginning of her 
career as an Empress. This feeling was so strong 
that during the first months which followed upon her 
marriage, the popularity of her mother-in-law, who 
had been so sincerely loved before, suffered as a con- 
sequence of this general wish to make an idol of Alex- 
andra Feodorovna. The eyes of everybody were 
turned towards the new star that had arisen on the 
horizon of the Russian capital. 

Amidst this general concert of praise which arose 
on all sides in honour of the newly wedded Empress, 
there were a few persons who, having had the oppor- 
tunity to listen to some discordant notes, kept aloof 
and waited for what the future would bring. At the 
time of the death of Alexander III., a man belonging 
to the prominent circles of Russian society, who had 
been for a long period of years upon terms of per- 
sonal friendship with the German Royal Family, hap- 
pened to be in Berlin, and during a visit which he 
paid to the Empress Frederick, the aunt of the future 
wife of the new Czar, he told her how many hopes 
were set in Russia upon her young niece. He was 
very much surprised to hear the Empress express 
herself with a certain scepticism in regard to the bride, 
and finally say that she felt afraid the Princess 
Alix, as she was still called at the time, would not 
understand how to make herself beloved by her sub- 
jects, or how to win their hearts. Seeing the astonish- 
ment provoked by her remark, she added that the char- 
acter of the girl about to wear the crown of the Rom- 
anoffs, was an exceptionally haughty and proud one, 
and that as in addition to this defect she was pos- 

The Great Revolution 215 

sessed of an unusual amount of vanity, she would 
most probably have her head turned by the grandeur 
of her position, and would put forward, in place of the 
intelligence which she did not possess, an exaggerated 
feeling of her own importance. The gentleman to 
whom I have referred returned therefore to Russia 
with fewer illusions concerning Alexandra Feodo- 
rovna than the generality of his compatriots indulged 

I must give the latter their due, they did not keep 
these illusions for any length of time, because from 
the very beginning of her married life the new Czarina 
contrived to wound the feelings and the susceptibili- 
ties of all those with whom she was thrown into con- 
tact. She had absolutely no tact, and she fancied 
that if she allowed herself to be amiable in regard to 
any one, she would do something which was below 
her dignity. She applied herself to treat everybody 
from the height of her unassailable position, and she 
took good care never to say one word that might be 
interpreted in the light of a kindness or amiability 
towards the people who were being presented to her, 
so that though they tried hard to attribute her utter 
want of politeness to a timidity which in reality did 
not exist, yet they felt offended at it. Russian society 
had been used to something vastly different, and to a 
certain familiarity in its relations with its Sover- 
eigns. The mother of Nicholas II., the Empress 
Marie, had been worshipped for the incomparable 
charm of her manners, and the simple kindness with 
which she received all those who were introduced to 
her, asking them to sit down beside her, and talking 

216 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

with them in a charming chatty way, full of sweet and 
unassuming dignity. Her daughter-in-law abolished 
these morning receptions which had brought the Sov- 
ereign into close intercourse with so many different 
people. She received the ladies who had asked to be 
presented to her, standing, surrounded by her court, 
with two pages behind her holding her train, and she 
merely stretched out her hand to be kissed by those 
whom she condescended to admit into her august 
presence, without speaking one single word to them. 
Of course the people whom she treated with such 
rudeness felt hurt at it, and it began to be said among 
the public that the Empress was not at all amiable, 
and people abstained from seeking her presence or 
appearing at Court, unless it was absolutely neces- 
sary to do so, leaving thus the field free to people 
devoid of self respect, to whom one impoliteness more 
or less did not matter. The balls at the Winter Pal- 
ace, which formerly had been such brilliant ones, be- 
came dull and monotonous. The smile of the Em- 
press Marie was no longer there to enliven them. At 
last the Czarina left o*ff giving any, and no one missed 
them, or felt the worse for their absence. One felt 
rather relieved than otherwise not to be compelled any 
longer to appear in the presence of the Empress. 

As time went on, an abyss was formed which di- 
vided the Consort of Nicholas II. from her subjects, 
whose feelings manifested themselves quite openly on 
the day of the solemn entry of the Imperial Family 
into Moscow, on the eve of the Coronation of the new 
Sovereigns. The golden carriage that contained the 
Dowager Empress was followed all along its way by 

The Great Revolution 217 

the cheers of the population of the ancient capital, 
whilst a tragic silence prevailed during the passage 
of the coach in which sat her daughter-in-law. The 
contrast was such a striking one that it was every- 
where noticed and commented upon. 

This latent animosity, the first signs of which man- 
ifested themselves on this memorable occasion, became 
even more acute after the catastrophe of Khodinka. 
Russia did not forgive its Empress for having danced 
the whole of the night that had followed upon it, and 
for having given no sign of regret at a disaster that 
had cost the life of more than twenty thousand people, 
who had perished in the most awful manner possible. 
The divorce between her and her subjects was accom- 
plished definitely after that day, and without any hope 
of a future reconciliation coming to annul its effects. 

This unpopularity, and let us say the word, this 
hatred of which she became the object, did not remain 
unknown to the Empress, who either noticed it her- 
self, or else was enlightened on the point by her 
German relatives, with whom she had remained upon 
most intimate and affectionate terms. She attributed 
it at first to the fact that she had not during many 
years given a son to her husband and an heir to the 
Russian Throne, but later on she was compelled to 
acknowledge that the dislike which she inspired was 
due to other causes which were dependant on her 
own self. The discovery angered and soured her, and 
made her nasty and ill natured. She tried to avenge 
herself by the assumption of an authority in the exer- 
cise of which she found a certain pleasure, because it 
procured her at least the illusion of an absolute power, 

218 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

allowing her, if the wish for it happened to cross her 
mind, to crush all those who were bold enough to 
criticise any of her actions or her general demeanour. 
Her character was obstinate without being firm. 
She believed herself in all earnestness to be the equal 
of her husband, and did not think of herself at all as 
his first subject, so that, instead of giving to others 
the example of deference towards their Sovereign, she 
applied herself to lower him down to her own level, 
to diminish his importance, and to show quite openly 
that she did not in the very least respect either him 
or the throne which he occupied. One heard a number 
of anecdotes on the subject, among others one to the 
effect that during a regimental feast, at which the 
Imperial Family was present, the Empress, who had 
arrived a little in advance of the Czar, did not rise 
from her seat when he entered the riding school in 
which the guests were assembled to receive him. This 
want of deference was commented upon in unfavour- 
able terms, and caused such a scandal that Alexandra 
Feodorovna was taken to task for it by her mother-in- 
law, with the only result that she impertinently told 
the latter to mind her own business and to hold her 
tongue. The Dowager Empress did not allow her to 
repeat such a remark, and withdrew herself almost 
entirely from the Court, much to the regret of all 
her admirers. All these things were perhaps not im- 
portant ones, at least from other points of view than 
the purely social one, but they constituted this drop of 
water, which by its constant and continual dripping 
ends in attacking the solidity of the hardest granite. 
Very soon it became a subject of general knowledge 

The Great Revolution 219 

that no one cared for the Empress, and one came to 
the conclusion that this initial want of sympathy 
would easily become very real and implacable hatred. 

The woman who had become the object of it, instead 
of trying to fight against the general dislike which she 
inspired, did absolutely nothing to try to persuade 
her subjects that she was not the detestable being she 
had been represented to be, but that she cared for their 
welfare, in spite of her cold appearance. The haughty 
and mistaken pride which was one of the chief features 
in her strange character, led her to retire within herself 
and to try to avoid seeing the people, who by that time 
had grown to meet her whenever she appeared in pub- 
lic, with angry and unpleasant expressions in their 
faces. The Imperial Court under her rule was 
quickly transformed from the brilliant assemblage it 
had been into a desert — a solitude no one cared to 
disturb. The Empress amused herself chiefly in 
turning tables and in evoking spirits from the other 
world, in company with mediums of a low kind who 
abused the confidence that she so unwisely and un- 
necessarily placed in them, and predicted for her (as 
it was to their interest to do) a happy and prosperous 

Then came the war with Japan, together with the 
disasters which attended it, a war that shook most' 
seriously the prestige of the throne of the Romanoffs. 
It brought to light all the defects, the disorder, and 
the inefficiency of the War Office; it enlightened the 
nation as to the real worth of the people who were 
standing at the head of its government, and it sounded 
the first knell of the Revolution which was at last ac- 

220 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

complished. This war afforded another pretext to 
the public for attacking the personality of the Em- 
press, who according to the rumours which circulated 
at the time, had only looked upon it from the joyous 
and glorious side, and never noticed its earnest and 
sad one. It is a fact that neither disasters like those 
of Moukhden and Tschousima, nor even the revolu- 
tionary movement that broke out in consequence of 
them, affected her equanimity. She remained abso- 
lutely cold in presence of these grave events and was 
absorbed in the joy of the new maternity, which just 
at that time was granted to her — the birth of the long 
expected and hoped for Heir to the Russian Throne, 
which occurred in the very midst of the Japanese cam- 
paign. This event certainly did not contrive to make 
her more popular among her subjects, whilst on the 
other hand it increased considerably her importance, 
so that after the appearance in the world of the son 
she had so ardently wished for, she began to display 
more independence in her conduct than had been 
formerly the case, and to discuss more eagerly, and 
more authoritatively than she had ever been able to 
do before, matters of State which her position as the 
mother of the future Sovereign gave her almost a 
right to know, and to interfere with. She brought 
forward her own opinions and judgments, which never 
once proved in accord with the real needs of the Rus- 
sian people. The Empress was neither good, kind, 
nor compassionate. Her nature was cold, hard and 
imperious, and she had never been accessible to the 
divine feeling which is called pity for other people's 
woes. She would have signed a death warrant with 

The Great Revolution 221 

the greatest coolness and indifference, and more than 
once her husband decided, thanks to her interven- 
tion, to confirm those submitted to his consideration. 
This last fact became known, and, as may be im- 
agined, it did not procure her any sympathy among 
her subjects. 

It was about that time, that is just before the birth 
of the Heir to the Throne, and whilst the war with 
Japan was being fought, that people began to spread 
dark rumours concerning the private life of Alexandra 
Feodorovna. A most extraordinary friendship which 
she contracted with a lady whose reputation left very 
much to be desired, and who had been divorced from 
her husband under circumstances that had given rise 
to much talk, Madame Wyroubieva, was severely 
criticised. The Empress remained deaf to all the hints 
which were conveyed to her on the subject. She kept 
the lady in question beside her, gave her rooms in the 
Imperial Palace, and took her about with her wher- 
ever she went, without minding in the least the im- 
pression which this bravado of public opinion pro- 
duced everywhere. Another friendship for a certain 
Colonel Orloff , an officer in her own regiment of lanc- 
ers, also gave rise to considerable gossip, which in- 
creased in intensity when after the death of the lat- 
ter, who committed suicide under rather mysterious 
circumstances, the Empress repaired every afternoon 
to the churchyard where he was buried, prayed and 
laid flowers upon his grave. One wondered why she 
did such strange things, and of course persons were at 
once found to explain her motives in a manner which 
was the reverse of charitable. 

222 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

The Emperor knew and saw all that was going on, 
but said nothing. His wife by that time had acquired 
over his mind quite an extraordinary influence, and 
either he did not dare to make any remarks as to 
the originality which she displayed in her conduct, 
or else he imagined that her position put her so much 
above criticism that it was useless to interfere with 
what she might feel inclined to do in the matter of 
eccentricity. A legend soon established itself in re- 
gard to Alexandra Feodorovna. She was said to 
suffer from a nervous affection, which obliged her 
at times to keep to her own apartments, and not to 
appear in public. People tried, thanks to this pre- 
text, to explain her absence on different occasions 
when her position would have required her to show 
herself to her subjects. But the truth of the matter 
was that the Empress did not wish to see anybody, 
outside the small circle of people before whom she 
need not constrain herself to be amiable or pleasant; 
and that utterly forgetful of the duties entailed upon 
her by her high rank and great position, she wanted 
only to live according to her personal tastes, sur- 
rounded by flatterers or by people resigned before- 
hand to accept and bow down before her numerous 
caprices, and to fulfil with a blind obedience all the 
commands it might please her to issue to them. 

She mixed openly in public affairs, and began 
to play a leading part in the conduct of the State. 
Her husband never dared to refuse her anything, 
and the Empress attempted to lead the destinies of 
Russia in the sense which she had the most at heart, 
that is in one corresponding to the interests of her 

The Great Revolution 223 

own native country. She had remained entirely Ger- 
man in her tastes and opinions, and her English edu- 
cation had had absolutely no influence on her charac- 
ter. Thanks to an active correspondence which she 
kept up with her brother, the Grand Duke of Hesse, 
she was able to acquaint the Emperor William II. 
with a good many things that he would never have 
learned without her. This is the more curious, if one 
takes into account the fact that during the first years 
which had followed upon her marriage, and especially 
after the different journeys which she had made in 
France, Alexandra Feodorovna had expressed great 
sympathy and admiration for everything that was 
French, perhaps on account of the great enthusiasm 
with which she had been received by the French pop- 
ulation. But later on, thanks to the influence of the 
unscrupulous people into whose hands she fell, her 
ideas became transformed, and she boldly tried to fight 
against the French leanings of her husband, and to 
lead him towards an alliance with Germany, in which 
she thought that she saw the advantage, and even the 
safety of her throne, and of the son she loved above 
everything else in the world. 

All these facts could not long remain unknown, and 
soon the public began to discuss them, together with 
the story of the different intrigues of which the Pal- 
ace of Tsarskoie Selo became the centre. Thanks to 
the friends whom she had chosen for herself, the ante- 
chamber of the Empress was transformed into a kind 
of annex to the Stock Exchange, where all sorts of 
people, honest or dishonest, used to meet, in order to 
obtain through her intercession more or less extrava- 

224 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

gant, if not dangerous, favours. Thanks to Madame 
Wyroubieva, there were introduced into the intimacy 
of the Czarina certain members of the orthodox 
clergy recommendable only by their love for money 
and for lucrative employments, or rich dioceses and 
monasteries. The Empress together with her sister, 
the Grand Duchess Elisabeth, who after the murder 
of her husband had become a nun and the superior 
of a cloister which she had founded in Moscow, and 
to whom one might have applied with success the re- 
mark of Marie Antoinette in regard to her aunt Ma- 
dame Louise of France, "she is the most intriguing 
little Carmelite in the whole of the kingdom," tried to 
mix themselves up in every important matter in the 
State, and to lead it according to their own lights 
and aims, making use of the Emperor as of an instru- 
ment of their own private ambitions and desires. They 
were both fierce reactionaries, who from the first day 
that Nicholas II. had promulgated the Constitution 
of the 17th of October, had tried to persuade him 
to recall it. It was thanks to the initiative of the Em- 
press that the first Duma was dissolved, and that the 
government began to exercise considerable pressure 
over the elections in order to prevent the candidates 
whom it believed it could not trust from being chosen 
by their constituents. One Minister after another 
of those whom the Czar appointed in rapid succession, 
resigned their functions, until at last it was an ac- 
knowledged fact in Russia that no honest trial of con- 
stitutional government could or would be attempted 
so long as Alexandra Feodorovna would be there to 
counteract its existence. When the Revolution broke 

The Great Revolution 225 

out in the year 1905, and especially at the time of the 
disturbances which took place in Moscow, it was the 
Empress who excited her husband to adopt rigorous 
measures in order to crush it, measures which led to 
nothing, and which only made Nicholas II. a little 
more unpopular than he already was among his sub- 
jects. It was related, whether true or not I cannot 
say, that when the famous Semenovsky Regiment was 
sent to Moscow to reduce into submission the insur- 
rection which had broken out there, Alexandra Feo- 
lorovna had desired to say good-bye to the officers 
before their departure, and that the only recommen- 
iation which she had made to them had been not to 
show any mercy to the insurgents. She had read 
without understanding it in the very least, the history 
)f the French Revolution in 1789, and one had often 
leard her say that to show any weakness or compas- 
sion in times of danger was equivalent to signing 
Dne's own death warrant. Her friends were nearly 
ill of them men and women with a bad reputation, 
md amidst the circle of her own immediate family 
she had only contrived to make herself enemies, 
rhanks to her influence, and to her petty personal 
spite, the young Grand Duke Cyril, the son of the 
Grand Duke Vladimir, was deprived of his titles and 
iignities and exiled from Russia for having dared to 
marry his first cousin, the divorced wife of the Em- 
press's brother, the Grand Duke of Hesse, the Prin- 
cess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh. This punish- 
ment, however, was promptly cancelled, thanks to the 
numerous protests which followed upon it from all 
quarters, but the two people concerned never forgave 

226 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

the Empress her attitude in regard to their union, 
and we saw an echo of this hostility the other day 
when the Grand Duke Cyril on the outbreak of the 
Revolution tried to play the part of Philippe Egalite 
in the Romanoff family, and went with his regiment 
to put himself at the disposal of the new government 
appointed by the Duma. 

The only brother of Nicholas II., the Grand Duke 
Michael Alexandrovitsch, saw the influence of the 
Empress exercised against him in a manner which 
was even more odious, because she contrived to de- 
prive him of the control not only of his fortune, but 
also of his personal liberty to manage his estates. With 
her mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Marie, 
Alexandra Feodorovna showed herself absolutely 
abominable in her disdain, haughtiness and pride. 
With the persons composing her court and household, 
she was unpleasant and bitter. Even in regard to her 
own daughters she proved herself heartless, and she 
never once during the twenty-three years which fol- 
lowed her arrival in Russia until the day of her down- 
fall, tried to do any good around her or induce her hus- 
band to accomplish one of those actions full of gen- 
erosity and mercy which unite a nation with its Sov- 
ereign, and make their hearts beat together for some 
noble cause or other. Then again there occurred the 
Rasputin incident. I have discussed it at length in the 
first part of this book, and shall therefore not enter 
here into a second description of the career of this 
strange personage, this low Cagliostro of a reign that 
did not deserve to have any great nobleman or even 
gentleman for its favourite. The only thing which I 

The Great Revolution 227 

want to point out to the reader, is the responsibility 
which devolves upon the Empress in this disagreeable 
story, which more perhaps than anything else hastened 
the fall of the old Romanoff monarchy. Whether 
she was really persuaded of the holy character of the 
sinister adventurer who had contrived so cleverly to 
exploit her credulity, or whether there was in this 
curious infatuation for an unworthy object a ques- 
tion of hypnotism, combined with the extravagance of 
a badly balanced mind and imagination, it is difficult 
to say, especially when one has not followed otherwise 
than by hearsay the different incidents of this almost 
unbelievable tragedy. It is probable that the mystery, 
such as it was, will never be quite explained, but one 
may reasonably suppose that the perpetual invoca- 
tions to spirits of another world, which Alexandra 
Feodorovna had practised for so many years, have had 
a good deal to do with the obstinacy with which she in- 
sisted upon imposing this personage upon all those 
who surrounded her, and with which she allowed him 
to interfere with the details of her family life, a 
thing which went so far that one day the governess 
of the young Grand Duchesses, Mademoiselle Tout- 
scheff , a most distinguished lady, went to seek the 
Emperor, and told him that she could no longer be re- 
sponsible for the education of his daughters if Raspu- 
tin was allowed to enter their apartments at every 
hour of the day and night. The only reply which was 
made by Nicholas II. to this communication was that 
the Empress ought not to be crossed, on account of 
the state of her nerves. He seemed to approve of 
everything that was going on in his house, and, this 

228 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

is the point which has always seemed so incompre- 
hensible in his character, he even appeared to view 
with a certain pleasure the admittance into the inti- 
macy of his home life of this uncivilised and uncouth 
creature called Rasputin, whose hand Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna bent down to kiss with a reverence that she 
had never before in the course of her whole life shown 
to any one else, not excepting Queen Victoria of Eng- 
land, whom she had tried to snub during the official 
visit which she had paid to her after her marriage. 

The complete indifference of the Czar as to what 
was going on around him and under his own roof, 
combined with his weakness of character and his un- 
reasonable love for his wife, did not add to the feel- 
ings of respect that his subjects ought to have enter- 
tained for him. In a very short time extraordinary 
rumours began to circulate concerning all that was 
supposed to take place at Tsarskoie Selo, rumours 
which, disseminated as they were among the popula- 
tion of Petrograd, contributed in no small degree 
to the promptitude with which it rallied itself to the 
cause of the Revolution that put an end to the reign 
of Nicholas II. It was related amongst other things 
that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Grand 
Duke Nicholas, had one day told his Imperial nephew 
that if he did not lock up Alexandra Feodorovna in 
a convent, he would come himself at the head of his 
troops, to carry her away, and confine her within the 
walls of the monastery of Novodievitvchy. True or 
not, the story was repeated everywhere, and it pro- 
cured for the Grand Duke a considerable number of 
friends and sympathisers. 

The Great Revolution 229 

Soon after this it was related that the Empress was 
in connivance with the numerous people who had made 
it their business to plunder the national exchequer, 
and that she looked with indulgence upon the malver- 
sations from which profited the partisans and the 
accomplices, for one could hardly call them by another 
name, of Rasputin. She began to be hated even more 
ferociously than had been the case before, and at 
last the police had to let Nicholas II. know that his 
Consort would do better not to show herself too often 
in public, because an attempt against her life might 
easily come to be made, under the influence of all the 
stories which one heard right and left concerning her 
private conduct and her affection for a being who was 
accused by the whole nation of being fatal to Rus- 
sia's prosperity at home and good renown abroad. 
The Czar listened to all this, as he was to listen later 
on to the remonstrances of his own family, but he did 
not act on all that he had been told. He continued 
to see Rasputin, partly because, according to the 
tales of those who were in the secret of what really 
went on in that strange Imperial household, the 
frank way of speaking of this uncouth peasant 
amused him and pleased him, being something so 
totally different from the language which he was ac- 
customed to hear. But contrary to what was gen- 
erally believed, he did not discuss with him matters 
of State, any more than did the Empress. It is to 
be hoped that this last assertion is correct, and that 
Rasputin in regard to Nicholas II. only played the 
part sustained by Chicot at the court of Henri III. 
of France, that of the King's Jester, capable occa- 

230 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

sionally of telling some truths to his master. But dur- 
ing the last months which preceded the removal of 
this sinister figure from the horizon of Tsarskoie 
Selo, no one in Russia would believe in such 
a version, seeing that this Jester could dispose 
according to his pleasure of all the high places 
in the State, that he had created ministers, func- 
tionaries of paramount importance, church dignitaries, 
and that whoever addressed himself to him generally 
got what he wanted, whilst it was his friends who were 
controlling the government of the vast empire of the 
Czars. One did not realise that this had become pos- 
sible only because all persons endowed with the slight- 
est independence of character, had gradually become 
estranged from their Sovereign, and had come to the 
decision to abandon him to his fate, disgusted as they 
were by his weakness in regard to his wife, and being 
moreover unwilling to accept the responsibility of du- 
ties which they were not allowed to fulfil according 
to the dictates of their conscience. One after another 
the Ministers, who at the beginning of the reign of 
Nicholas II. had helped him to rule Russia, had been 
dismissed by him, or retired of their own accord, and 
their places had been taken by simple subaltern func- 
tionaries, preoccupied only with that one single 
thought of remaining as long as possible in possession 
of the places which they had been called upon by a 
caprice of destiny to occupy, and for which they knew 
at heart that they were not fit. Everybody who had 
a sense of decency left, had fled from Tsarskoie 
Selo, not caring to enter into conflict with the myste- 
rious and subterranean powers, which, to repeat 

The Great Revolution 231 

the words used by Professor Paul Miliukoff in his 
famous speech in the Duma a few days before the 
Revolution, alone decided the most important ques- 
tions in the State. The whole country was disgusted 
at the conduct of those who ruled it, and this disgust 
was soon to change into an absolute contempt. The 
unpopularity of the Empress had extended itself to 
the person of the Czar himself, whom one was begin- 
ning to render responsible for the different things 
going on under his roof and to accuse of seeing, 
without any emotion, the Imperial prestige and 
honour sullied, and this autocracy for which he cared 
so much dishonoured. This unfortunate Emperor did 
not find anywhere a support. His mother had been 
estranged from him; his whole family had turned 
against him, after numerous and useless attempts to 
open his eyes as to the dangers which surrounded him 
and the position in which he stood before his subjects. 
His brother had been systematically kept away from 
him by the Empress, who did not care to have in her 
vicinity a man in whom she saw an eventual pre- 
tender to the throne of her son. His sisters tried to 
remove themselves as far from his as possible. He 
was longing for disinterested affections, and there is 
therefore nothing wonderful or surprising that he 
sought them from the wife whom fate had associated 
with his existence, whom in spite of everything he 
continued to love tenderly, and whose nefarious influ- 
ence was to lead him to his destruction. 

And she, this woman who alone stands responsible 
for all this ruin that has overtaken her consort, and 
his dynasty, did she ever understand the terrible 

232 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

responsibility that she had assumed? Did she ever 
try to be for her husband the faithful companion 
whom he required, and on whom he might have 
leant in the hour of danger and of peril? Did she 
attempt to develop in him those strong and virile 
qualities a sovereign conscious of his might requires 
to be able to handle it wisely? Did she ever enter into 
the needs of her people, or identify herself with the 
interests of the nation whose Empress she happened to 
be? Alas! Alas! history has already replied to those 
questions, and it is history which tells us that, thanks 
to Alexandra Feodorovna, the inheritance bequeathed 
by Peter the Great to his posterity has been squan- 
dered and lost. If there has ever existed a woman 
who has proved fatal to all those with whom her lot 
has been thrown, it is this little Hessian Princess, 
whom fate or chance associated with one of the great- 
est political crises of which Russian history will keep 
the record and the remembrance, and for whose tears 
no one will find any pity, even when her sorrows will 
need it most. 


Eh one of her letters addressed to her daughter 
Marie Antoinette, the Empress Marie Therese wTote: 
"I am glad to hear that you have decided to re- 
establish the old etiquette and representation of 
Versailles. However tiresome it may be, its incon- 
veniences are still far less than those which arise out 
of its absence. A Court must learn to know well its 
sovereigns." These words of a woman who knew bet- 
ter than any other queen had ever known how to up- 
hold the prestige of her crown, ought to have been 
remembered by the Czar Nicholas II., because it is an 
undoubted fact that the custom which was established 
during his reign to keep the Emperor and his 
family isolated from the nation over which he 
ruled, had a good deal to do with the change that 
established itself gradually in the ideas of the people, 
as well as in the minds of the aristocracy, in regard to 
the reigning house. One forgot that there existed 
in Russia an Emperor, and one only remembered the 
manifold abuses which were the consequence of the 
detestable government to which the nation was sub- 
jected. All the personal ties that might have bound 
the monarch with those who could in an emergency 
have defended him against danger, had been snapped 
asunder by that monarch himself. St. Petersburg, 
which formerly (I have now in mind only the upper 


234 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

classes) had converged towards the sun represented 
by the Imperial Palace and its inhabitants, learned 
how to do without it, and it was no longer considered 
to be an honour to have relations, no matter of what 
nature, with any member of the House of Romanoff. 
The Imperial Family, in imitation of the conduct pur- 
sued by its Chief, seemed as if it wished to efface it- 
self and to lead the existence of common mortals, 
which it did not succeed in doing, because it had been 
brought up too far from the world in general, repre- 
sented by that portion of humanity which suffers and 
which works in silence, to be able to enter into its in- 
terests, and to make them its own. On the other hand 
that same family gave the first signal of rebellion 
against the system represented by the masters of the 
Palace of Tsarskoie Selo, whom it applied itself to 
discredit with an energy which was the more tenacious 
that it would have liked to be in their place. The 
Grand Duchess Vladimir, especially, together with her 
two sons, who had never cared for the Head of their 
dynasty, were the first ones to greet in their house all 
the discontented people who abounded in the Russian 
capital, and to deplore in their presence the scandal 
occasioned by the strange conduct of the Empress. 
The Revolution which was to come later on was pre- 
pared silently in the palaces of the very persons who 
ought to have fought against it, as well as in the homes 
of those old servants of the monarchy, who would 
have wished to save it from the disaster, which they 
saw but too well, was fast overtaking it, but who 
had to own themselves powerless to do so, and had to 
acknowledge with sorrow and with shame that it was 

The Great Revolution 235 

discrediting itself a little more with each day that was 
passing. The nation, on its side, was preparing itself 
for the impending struggle. The systematic manner 
in which the labour party in Russia organised itself in 
view of the approaching Revolution, has never been 
sufficiently known or appreciated abroad. It has 
constituted for those who have followed the slow evo- 
lution which was the consequence of the premature 
revolutionary movement that had failed in 1905, one 
of the most interesting political problems of the twen- 
tieth century. I have lived in Russia during the years 
which have immediately preceded the war, and I have 
been in personal relations with some of the leaders 
of this party. I can therefore write about it from the 
point of view of a witness eager to watch the slow 
transformation, which out of a party essentially vio- 
lent in its view and aspirations had produced a polit- 
ical faction, sufficiently ripened and saddened by the 
unsuccesses of its first fight not to seek elsewhere 
than in a too rapid solution the end of the difficulties 
under which it had been condemned to develop itself. 
It was quite sufficient to have witnessed the manifes- 
tations that used to take place each first of May, to 
come to the conclusion that the workman who was 
walking the streets, singing and carrying revolution- 
ary flags, in 1906, was quite a different man from the 
one who indulged in manifestations of the like kind in 
1913 and 1914. The general strike which preceded 
the war by a few weeks upon which the Germans 
founded so many useless hopes was, notwithstanding 
its revolutionary character, rather an expression of 
opinion on the part of a powerful and perfectly well 

236 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

organised party than a rebellion against authority. 
The workman had at last realised that he had got the 
future for him, provided he did not allow his natural 
impatience to carry him too far, and that he could 
resist the temptation to proceed too quickly with the 
plans which he had formed. He had also realised an- 
other thing, and that was that neither the liberals nor 
the octobrists, nor the party called that of the cadets, 
nor even the revolutionary socialists, were strong 
enough to constitute a government, and that all the 
plans they were continually talking about, would only 
end in speeches more or less empty and devoid of 
practical common sense. The workman applied him- 
self to avoid mistakes, which perhaps he had noticed 
before he had quite grasped their importance. He un- 
derstood on the other hand perfectly well the fact 
that the immense industrial movement, which had de- 
veloped itself during the years that had followed im- 
mediately upon the war with Japan, was bound to in- 
crease still further in importance, and that the future 
belonged to those who would be able to profit by it, 
to guide it, and to direct it in the sense of a great and 
general reform of the different abuses which had cor- 
rupted all the higher classes of the nation. The num- 
ber of factories which suddenly arose everywhere, 
the speculation that followed upon the rise in the value 
of all kinds of industrial securities, and the knowledge 
that the workman very quickly acquired as to the dif- 
ferent means thanks to which the fortunes of so many 
people come, no one knew from whence, had been edi- 
fied, gave him a strength which became the more for- 
midable that he was compelled to remain silent in pres- 

The Great Revolution 237 

ence of so many spectacles that revolted his sense of 
integrity. In regard to this particular point, the im- 
possibility to hold public meetings proved a blessing 
in disguise for the development of the activity of the 
labour party, because it allowed it to proceed in secret 
to a propaganda that became the more dangerous for 
the security of the government in that there existed no 
one able to point out to those among whom it flour- 
ished its perilous, and even to a certain extent, its 
disastrous sides. Under the very eyes of the police, 
the mass of the workmen employed in the different 
factories scattered all over Petrograd, prepared it- 
self for the mission which it felt but too well was 
bound sooner or later to devolve upon it ; so that when- 
ever it allowed its voice to be heard, it was always with 
prudence, and even with a certain amount of cautious 
wisdom that prevented the general public and the au- 
thorities noticing how strong and powerful it was get- 
ting, and what a wonderful instrument it would prove 
later on, in the hands of those who in the meanwhile 
were leading it in secret, until the day when, thanks 
to their help, it would be able in its turn to lead 

It must here be remarked that the Russian govern- 
ment of that time never understood the wants of the 
labour party. It is sufficient to recall the terrible 
drama which was enacted in the Lena gold fields of 
Siberia, when the troops, called to the help of the own- 
ers of the works, fired on the mass of workmen who 
were simply asking for some legitimate improvements 
in their conditions of existence, to come to the con- 
clusion that, according to the words of Hamlet, "there 

238 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

was something rotten in that state of Denmark." 
Only, neither the government nor the upper classes 
of society, who were all of them, or nearly all, in the 
dependance of a few lucky speculators in stocks and 
shares, nor these speculators themselves, whose num- 
ber was getting larger and larger every day in St. 
Petersburg, cared to remember that such was the fact. 
During the years which immediately preceded the 
great war, the whole of Russia had become one vast 
Stock Exchange, the securities of which were quoted 
at every street corner, where the only things that had 
any value, were those which could be turned into a 
shareholder's company. The Emperor Alexander 
III. had tried, during the whole time of his reign, to 
improve agriculture in his land, and he had tried to 
bind together the different social classes of the nation, 
by a common love for their native soil. It had been 
told at that time that he had been wrong in looking 
upon Russia exclusively from the agricultural point 
of view, but in presence of the things which have hap- 
pened recently, one may wonder whether after all he 
had not been right, because it is quite certain that the 
change of system that had followed upon his death, 
and the exclusive protection which to the detriment 
of everything else, industry was awarded, during the 
twenty-two years of Nicholas II. 's administration, 
and especially during the time that Mr. Kokovtsoff 
remained at the Treasury, darkened the judgment of 
the people who under different circumstances, and 
if they had made less money, would have probably 
noticed the progress made by socialism, and the 
growing influence of the labour party over its adher- 

The Great Revolution 239 

ents, who from the outset had been determined to 
break this might of capital which was of no good to 
the country, and simply added to the importance of 
lucky speculators. 

As for the Emperor, he had ceased to count for 
anything in Russia, after the failure of the so-called 
Constitutional government, which he had inaugurated 
rather out of caprice than because he had become con- 
vinced that it was indispensable to the welfare of 
Russia to see it ruled by a responsible Cabinet. At 
the time I am referring to, it was an acknowledged 
fact in the whole of Russia that it was governed by 
some mysterious and dark powers which in secret were 
proceeding to any amount of malversations, most 
harmful for the prosperity of the nation, as well as 
for its prestige in Europe. The one general feeling 
which prevailed everywhere was one of immense las- 
situde at a state of things one knew but too well 
could not last, but which no one yet felt strong 
enough to try to ameliorate, change, or overturn. If 
the war had not broken out, it is likely that this con- 
dition, which hovered between a dream and a night- 
mare, might have gone on for a long time, because 
though the public realised perfectly well that the 
Throne, as well as the man who occupied it, rep- 
resented only a dead thing, yet it appeared still so 
immense that no one dared to touch it, but continued 
looking upon it, with the same eyes one would have 
done had it remained the great one it had been for- 

The war broke out and awakened the nation out 
of the state of marasm into which it had fallen. Dur- 

240 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ing the first weeks which followed upon its declara- 
tion there took place in Russia an explosion of en- 
thusiasm such as had never been witnessed before. It 
did not, however, last any appreciable length of time, 
and collapsed together with the news of the reverses 
that attended the Polish campaign. Nowhere were 
these reverses felt more than amidst the ranks of the 
labour party, which, as a direct consequence of them, 
acquired all at once an importance it had hardly 
dared to hope it could win so soon. Factories became 
the principal organ of the national defence, and the 
word "ammunition" was transformed into the flag 
under which all those who were dissatisfied with the 
government then in power enrolled themselves as 
well as the people who longed for the end of an order 
of things the faults and mistakes of which were 
known in Russia long before they came to be recog- 
nised abroad. The workman suddenly became the 
individual to whom was awarded the greatest im- 
portance, there where the question of the salvation 
of the Fatherland came to be raised. He was 
the one to whom everybody said aloud what he 
had been himself aware of long before, that it 
was from him, and from his efforts, that depended 
victory over the enemy who had audaciously in- 
vaded Russian territory. This workman (this must 
never be lost sight of) was intimately connected with 
the army in which he had served, with the army that 
had far more confidence in him, and in his knowl- 
edge and efforts, than in the incapable government 
that had sent it to be slaughtered without providing 
it with any means to fight its foes. The workman be- 

The Great Revolution 241 

came thus conscious of his extreme importance, and he 
aspired to be awarded the place in society which he 
imagined that he had the right to pretend to. He 
raised his voice, and insisted upon its being listened to. 
Perhaps Nicholas II. would still be in possession of 
his throne had he had sufficient common sense to 
do so. There were at this juncture people who tried 
to make the Sovereign understand that it was not 
enough for him to have assumed the supreme com- 
mand over his troops in order to win back the popu- 
larity he had so completely lost, and that he would do 
well, in the interest of his dynasty as well as in his 
own, to show himself more frequently to the popula- 
tion of Petrograd, and to try to get into direct touch 
with it otherwise than through his official visits to the 
factories where ammunition was prepared for the 
army ; visits during which he was escorted with great 
pomp and ceremony by his usual cortege of attendants 
and in the course of which he had never found one 
single word of encouragement to say to those who 
were toiling for the welfare of the Fatherland. The 
Emperor failed to grasp the wisdom of this piece of 
advice, nor did he realise the importance of another 
one, which proceeded from the few friends he had 
still left to him, the advice to call together a na- 
tional and responsible Ministry, composed of men 
chosen among the representatives of the country in 
the Duma, and in possession of the confidence of the 
latter. He understood even less the necessity, recog- 
nised everywhere outside the gates of his Palace, to 
try and raise the prestige of the Crown, by getting 
rid of the compromising personalities, whose presence 

242 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

at his side dishonoured him as a man, and discredited 
him as a sovereign. He did not see, and perhaps no 
one dared to point out to him, the shameless money 
speculations which were taking place everywhere in 
Russia, and even under his own roof; the bargaining 
of everything that there was to sell or to buy in the 
country; honours, dignities, distinctions, places, and 
the Fatherland itself, by a gang of shameless adven- 
turers, who had found the protection which they 
needed to carry on their plunder within the walls of 
the Imperial residence. He believed what his wife 
kept repeating to him, that once he had declared such 
was not the case, no one would dare to think that he 
consulted Rasputin or the metropolitan Pitirim in re- 
gard to State affairs, and he simply laughed at those 
who pretended that he was doing so. He was blind 
until the end. He is perhaps blind still, and it is quite 
possible that he will persist in remaining so until the 
day when his revolted subjects will come and claim his 
life, after having compelled him to surrender his 
throne. Unconscious creature, unable to notice the 
dangers amidst which he had been living, or the abyss 
that was already swallowing him up. 

It is when considering this point that one feels 
tempted to ask what would have become of Nicholas 
II. had he had beside him one of these intelligent 
women, endowed with a strong character, and under- 
standing the nature of her duties as a wife, as a mother 
and a sovereign. It is likely that if he had found such 
a help he might have prevented or at least have con- 
trived to give a different shape to the crisis through 
which Russia had to pass. The war was an un- 

The Great Revolution 243 

avoidable misfortune, owing to the firm determination 
of Germany to provoke it, no matter in what way, or 
under what pretext, but it would have been possible 
to conduct it differently than was the case. One 
could also have been prepared for it, and one ought 
to have realised that the old and superannuated sys- 
tem of government so utterly rotten, where every- 
thing was left in the hands of corrupt functionaries, 
who had never learned anything out of the book of 
history, for whom the intellectual development of na- 
tions meant nothing at all, and who did not look be- 
yond their personal advantages in all the great crises 
which might come to shake the equanimity of the coun- 
try, that this system had served its time, and was 
bound to collapse under the weight of the universal 
contempt. But Nicholas II. called together a Duma 
which he had determined beforehand to deprive of 
every initiative, and of the liberty to say what it 
wished concerning the needs of the country that had 
entrusted it with the defence of its interests. He made 
many fine promises w T hich he never intended to keep, 
and when he spoke about the necessity of bringing 
about a close union between the Czar and the rep- 
resentatives of his people, he never wished to give to 
the latter the possibility to approach him, or to lay 
their grievances at his feet. Had there been in Rus- 
sia an Empress worthy of the name, and compe- 
tent to fill the position she occupied, she would have 
told her husband that the duty of them both con- 
sisted in remaining loyal towards their subjects. 
She would have exposed her person, and risked her 
life if necessary, in the accomplishment of the task 

244 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

which had been allotted to her by Providence. She 
would have spent her time otherwise than in the 
practices of a piety that was nothing else but super- 
stition mingled with erotic tendencies. 

What did Alexandra Feodorovna do during those 
solemn hours of a supreme crisis? I do not wish to 
be hard on her now that misfortune has overtaken 
her, but the truth must be told, and it is necessary to 
point out that her principal preoccupation during 
the months which preceded the Revolution consisted 
in defending Rasputin against the attacks directed 
against him from all sides, and in isolating the Em- 
peror from all the people capable of enlightening 
him in regard to the conduct and the character of the 
sinister personage whom her imagination had trans- 
formed into a Saint, and to whose presence at her side 
she attributed a miraculous power, capable of protect- 
ing her and her family, against every kind of 
danger. Under his influence and thanks to the 
impulse which he gave to her activity, she applied 
herself to persuade the Czar to conclude a separate 
peace with Germany, working upon the humanitarian 
feelings of Nicholas II., and repeating constantly to 
him that he owed it to his subjects to put an end to 
a useless effusion of blood, and not to go on with a 
perfectly hopeless struggle. If the Revolution had 
not taken place it is most probable that a separate 
peace would have been signed between Russia and 
Germany during the course of the next few months, 
and it is also likely that if this intention of the Em- 
press had not transpired outside the gates of her Pal- 
ace the Revolution would not have broken out when it 

The Great Revolution 245 

did, because all the different political parties in the 
Duma were agreed as to the advisability of putting it 
off so long as the enemy was in occupation of a part of 
the country. But Alexandra Feodorovna poured the 
last drops into a glass which was read}^ to overflow, 
and the hatred which the Russian nation bore her 
found at last its justification in the general opinion 
which suddenly exploded like a barrel of powder in 
the whole of the country, that she also was a traitor, 
who had been won over to the German cause, and 
who was ready to give up into the hands of the ad- 
versary against whom one had been fighting for so 
many long and anxious months of a struggle during 
which so much blood had flown, this Russia that had 
offered her the Imperial diadem, which she had found 
nothing better to do than to sully with the mud of the 
dirty roads whither her steps had taken her. 

Here I must make a pause, and try to analyse the 
real part played in the drama by the unfortunate Sov- 
ereign on the head of whom so many curses have 
been showered. I do not believe that it was in order 
to hand over to her own native country, the one which 
had become hers by marriage, that Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna lent herself to the intrigue in which it is 
unfortunately an uncontested fact that she took an 
active share. It seems to me, so far as I can judge of 
things which did not take place in my presence, that 
her intentions were sincere according to her lights. 
She was not an intelligent woman by any means, 
and what she possessed in the way of intellect had dis- 
appeared in a vanity and haughtiness of which it is 
hardly possible to form an adequate idea. She cared 

246 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

only for her crown, and for autocratic power over 
her subjects, and under the influence of those who 
represented to her that the least concession to the 
spirit of the times was bound to further the cause of 
a revolution which she abhorred, she had awarded 
her protection to this reactionary party represented 
by men like Sturmer, Protopopoff, and others of 
the same kind. She had preached to her husband 
whenever she had had the opportunity for doing so, 
the necessity to stand firm, and never to sacrifice one 
fraction of the principle of absolute power over his 
subjects. She had pointed out to him on every pos- 
sible occasion the example of Louis XVI., who had 
been beheaded, because he had not had sufficient cour- 
age to resist to the pressure exercised over him by the 
revolutionary elements in the French monarchy. She 
did not grasp in the very least that times were dif- 
ferent, that ideas as well as men had changed, and that 
a sovereign who in a moment of danger does not seek 
help from his people, or try together with them to find 
a solution to the difficulties of a threatening situation, 
courts an inevitable ruin. The Empress has, without 
any doubt being allowed as to this point, been the di- 
rect cause of the misfortunes as well as of the fall of 
her husband, and probably when history will be called 
upon to judge her, it will show itself even more severe 
in regard to her and to her conduct than her contem- 
poraries have been, because she has certainly done 
more to destroy the respect of Russia for the throne to 
which she had been raised than the most violent revo- 
lutionary attacks that were ever directed against it. 
Instead of trying to bring her consort nearer to the 

The Great Revolution 247 

nation at whose head he stood, she only inspired him 
with suspicions and even with dislike for this nation, 
or at least for the best among its representatives. 

There happened circumstances when the Empress 
interfered directly in the affairs of the State, and per- 
suaded the Czar to do what she required of him; 
as, for instance, the exile in Siberia, this Siberia 
whither she was to be sent herself, and the arbitrary 
arrest of several leaders of the labour party, whom, 
under some futile pretext or other, the government 
threw into prison a few weeks before the outbreak of 
the Revolution, in spite of the indignant protesta- 
tions made by the Duma on the subject. It was also 
Alexandra Feodorovna, who, on the advice of the 
metropolitan Pitirim, a creature of Rasputin, who 
had caused him to be appointed to the See of Petro- 
grad, the most important one in the Empire, per- 
suaded the Emperor to follow the advice of the 
minister Protopopoff to prorogue the Duma, and to 
arm the police with machine guns, in view of a pos- 
sible revolt of the inhabitants of the capital against 
the government, a fatal and most imprudent measure, 
if there ever was one, which decided the fate of the 
Romanoff dynasty. 

In this last occurrence, it was less out of fear of 
the debates that might take place in the Duma, than 
because he wanted to have his hands untied in regard 
to the conclusion of peace for which he had been work- 
ing ever since he had been called to the ministry of the 
interior, that Protopopoff induced his Sovereign to 
resort to a measure absolutely devoid of common sense, 
and the only effect of which could be to add fuel to 

248 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

a fire that had been smouldering for months, if not 
years. It proved fatal for everybody, and it is still a 
question whether it was not to be more fatal for Rus- 
sia than anything else which Nicholas II. had ever 
done, because it has thrown her into an era of revolu- 
tion and of trouble, for which she was neither pre- 
pared nor ripe. 

At that time I am writing about, the members of 
the Imperial family together with the aristocracy 
were beginning to get more and more alarmed at the 
manner in which events were unfolding themselves, 
and were wondering as to what could be done to put 
an end to the influence of the Empress and of her 
favourites. One of the oldest, and the only surviving 
personal friend of the late Czar Alexander III., 
Count Vorontzoff DachkofF, when he visited the Em- 
peror to take leave of him, on his resignation of the 
functions of Viceroy of the Caucasus, had tried to 
remonstrate with him on the subject, and to point out 
to him the necessity of getting rid of Rasputin and 
of the followers of the latter. He had known Nich- 
olas II. as a child, and he could therefore talk with him 
more familiarly than any one else in Russia: "I must 
tell you the truth," he said. "Do you know that, 
thanks to your Rasputin, you are going to your ruin 
and endangering the throne of your son?" The old 
soldier, who had served under four sovereigns, be- 
came quite eloquent in his speech. The Czar lis- 
tened to him in silence, and at last exclaimed almost 
with a sob: "Why did God lay upon me such a 
heavy burden?" 

After Count Vorontzoff, the Dowager Empress 

The Great Revolution 249 

Marie Feodorovna tried to do something to save her 
son. She had left Petrograd months before, not caring 
to live in the vicinity of her daughter-in-law, whom 
she disliked as much as did the other members of the 
Imperial family. When Nicholas II. visited Kieff in 
October, 1916, where his mother was residing, the lat- 
ter had a long conversation with him, in which she 
pointed out to him the peril which threatened him 
and the dynasty, unless he decided upon an ener- 
getic step, and removed from her side the favourites 
of his wife. But even Marie Feodorovna was power- 
less in presence of the dark and occult powers that 
held her son in their trammels, and nothing followed 
upon her remonstrances or her adjurations that he 
might consider the dangers with which he was sur- 
rounded, and try at least to conjure them. 

After this interference of the widow of Alexander 
III., some of the members of the Cabinet who were 
not of the same opinions as Messrs. Sturmer and 
ProtopopofF, attempted to reason with their Sover- 
eign, among others Count IgnatiefF and Mr. Bark, 
but they were also not listened to, and the former at 
last handed in his resignation which was accepted with 
alacrity, Alexandra Feodorovna not trying even to 
hide the extreme satisfaction she felt at its having 
taken place. 

Count IgnatiefF had been the most popular min- 
ister of public instruction Russia had ever known, and 
his departure was looked upon in the light of a na- 
tional misfortune, adding to the dislike with which 
the Empress was viewed everywhere. Mr. Bark did 
not feel himself at liberty to abandon the department 

250 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

of finances of which he had the charge at the very 
moment when a new loan was being floated, but he 
avoided seeing the consort of his Sovereign, and only 
appeared at Tsarskoie Selo, when he could not help 
doing so. 

On the 1st of November, 1916, one of the cousins 
of the Czar, the Grand Duke Nicholas Michaylo- 
vitsch, who was perhaps the cleverest member of the 
Imperial family, a man wonderfully well learned, and 
who had acquired the reputation of an excellent his- 
torian, thanks to the remarkable studies which he had 
published on the life and times of Alexander I., and 
the Napoleonic wars, made another effort to shake 
the influence of Rasputin, Protopopoff and the Em- 
press. He asked the Czar to receive him, and during 
a long and heated conversation which he had with the 
latter, he read to him a letter which he had prepared 
beforehand, in which were exposed not only the polit- 
ical, but also the private reasons, which made it an 
imperative necessity to remove Rasputin from Tsar- 
skoie Selo. As the Grand Duke told his friends 
later on, there were in this letter some passages that 
might have wounded Nicholas II. in his feelings as a 
husband, not only as a sovereign. But the Czar did 
not reply one single word, only went to fetch the Em- 
press, and in his turn read to her the incriminating 
epistle. When he reached the passage in which re- 
marks were made concerning her, Alexandra Eeo- 
dorovna rose up in a passion, and snatching the docu- 
ment out of her husband's hands, she tore it up into a 
thousand small pieces. In the course of this memor- 
able conversation, the Grand Duke asked the Em- 

The Great Revolution 251 

peror whether he knew that the appointment of Proto- 
popoff was the work of Rasputin, with whom the 
former had become acquainted at the house of one 
of their common friends, a certain Badmaieff . 

"Yes," replied the Czar, "I know it." 

"And you find this a matter of course," exclaimed 
his cousin. 

Nicholas II. replied nothing. 

In spite of the angry tone which the discussion had 
assumed, the Emperor remained perfectly civil 
to the Grand Duke. The latter afterwards re- 
marked that he had been more than surprised to meet 
with such utter indifference, and at the same time 
such kindness, in appearance at least, from his cousin. 
It seemed as if nothing that he could say could move 
the Czar, who, during the most heated moments of 
this interview, handed the matches to his kinsman, 
when he noticed that the cigarette of the latter had 
gone out. At last the Grand Duke exclaimed: 
"You have got Cossacks here, and a great deal of 
room in your gardens. You can have me killed and 
buried without any one being the wiser for it. But 
I must tell you the truth, and say to you that you are 
going to your ruin." 

The Czar continued to be silent, and his cousin had 
to take his leave, without having been able to obtain 
one single word from him by which he might have 
guessed whether he had been believed or not. 

The confessor of the Imperial family, Father Scha- 
belsky, was induced to interfere in his turn, and to 
warn the Emperor of the ever increasing unpopularity 
of his consort, advising him at the same time to send 

252 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

her somewhere for the benefit of her health, until the 
storm had abated which everybody except the few peo- 
ple who surrounded the Sovereign saw was on its way. 
His advice also was disregarded. A lady belonging 
to the highest social circles, whose family had always 
been upon terms of intimacy with that of Nicholas II., 
the Princess Vassiltschikoff, bethought herself to 
write to the Empress, and to entreat her to save the 
country and the dynasty, and to induce her husband 
to call together a responsible ministry, in possession 
of the confidence of the Duma and of the nation. 
The only reply which she received was an order com- 
manding her to leave the capital immediately for her 
country seat, with a prohibition to return to it again. 
Alexandra Feodorovna remained the only person the 
Czar would listen to, and Alexandra Feodorovna was 
but the mouthpiece of people like Rasputin, Sturmer, 
and Protopopoff , who kept telling to her that she must 
not yield, and that the only thing capable of restoring 
peace to Russia was to subdue the rebellious spirits 
who dared talk about the necessity of making conces- 
sions to public opinion, coupled with the firm determi- 
nation to crush, even by force, any manifestations 
which might be made in that direction. Acting upon 
this advice, the Empress assumed a power which had 
never belonged to any consort of a sovereign before. 
In the absence of Nicholas II. at the front, it was she 
who gave out orders, not only to the different min- 
isters, but also to the troops composing the garrison 
of Petrograd; she had people arrested according to 
her fancy, she caused the houses of others that had 
displeased her to be searched by the numerous police 

The Great Revolution 253 

agents whom she had at her disposal, read}- to exe- 
cute any of her caprices ; she showed herself the abso- 
lute master in her consort's dominions, and she held 
everybody, including himself, in a firm grasp, which 
(this must be added) was more the grasp of Ras- 
putin and ProtopopofT, than her own. 

It was evident that such a state of things could not 
go on indefinitely. There were still some persons left 
who hoped to be able to save the dynasty by removing 
its principal enemy, the unscrupulous peasant who 
had tarnished its prestige. A plot, into which en- 
tered different persons belonging to the highest aris- 
tocracy of the land as well as some members of the 
Imperial family, was arranged, and culminated, as I 
have already related, in the murder of Rasputin. All 
this has been told, but what has not yet been written is 
the manner in which the news of the assassination of 
her favourite was received by the Empress. At first 
her despair was pitiable to behold, then she quickly 
rallied, and getting back her energy, proceeded to 
avenge her murdered friend. The Czar was at Head- 
quarters, and she happened to find herself alone with 
her children at Tsarskoie Selo. She sent for one of her 
husband's aide de camps, General Maximovitsch, and 
commanded him to proceed immediately to Petrograd, 
and to arrest the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovitsch, 
allowing him, however, to remain in his own palace, 
but with strict orders not to leave it, even for a short 
walk. The whole Imperial family protested, but it 
was of no avail. Mr. Protopopoff was on the side of 
the Czarina, and he alone was in command of the po- 
lice forces of the capital. Any thought of resistance 

254 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

was out of the question. The hated minister would 
not have hesitated to proceed, even against the rela- 
tives of his Sovereign, to gratify the revengeful feel- 
ings of Alexandra Feodorovna. 

How vindictive the latter showed herself to be can 
be seen out of the severity of the punishments which, 
at her instigation, were showered upon all those who 
had taken part in the conspiracy to which Rasputin 
had fallen a victim. Prince Youssoupoff, with his 
wife, was exiled in one of his properties in the gov- 
ernment of Koursk, and the young Grand Duke 
Dmitry was ordered to proceed to the front in Persia, 
which, considering his delicate state of health, was 
tantamount to a death sentence. When this became 
known, the whole of the Imperial family wrote to the 
Czar in the following terms : 

"May it please Your Majesty, we, whose signatures 
you will find at the bottom of this letter, urgently 
and strongly beg of you to reconsider your decision 
in regard to the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovitsch, 
and show him some leniency. We know for a fact that 
he is physically ill, and morally broken down. You 
have been his guardian in his youth, and you are aware 
of the deep feelings of affection and of respect that 
he has always entertained in regard to you, and to 
our Fatherland. We implore Your Majesty in view 
of his youth, and of the precarious state of his health, 
to allow him to repair either to his own estate of 
Oussoff, or else to Vilensky. 

"Your Majesty is probably aware of the terrible 
conditions in which our army finds itself placed in 
Persia at the present moment, and of the many ill- 

The Great Revolution 255 

nesses and epidemics of all kinds that are raging 
there. To expose the Grand Duke to those dangers 
is simply compassing his ruin, because he can only 
come out of such a trial a physical and moral wreck, 
and surely the kind heart of Your Majesty will take 
pity on a youth for whom you have had some affec- 
tion in the past, and in regard to whom you have al- 
ways shown yourself a kind father. We pray to God 
to soften the feelings of Your Majesty, and to in- 
duce you to alter your decision, and to show some 
mercy to your own kinsman." 

To this letter was received on the next day the 
following reply : 

"Xo one has the right to commit a murder. I 
am aware that many people are suffering now from 
qualms of conscience, because it is not only Dmitry 
Pavlovitsch who is mixed up in this business. I am 
surprised at your daring to address me in such terms. 

The Grand Duke had to submit. He departed for 
the Persian front, accompanied by an officer who had 
received strict orders to oppose any attempt that he 
might feel tempted to make, in order to escape 
his doom. A curious incident, very characteristic of 
the state of mind prevailing in the capital at that 
time, then occurred. The comrades of this officer, 
upon hearing of his appointment, obliged him to re- 
sign his commission, considering that he had disgraced 
himself by accepting such a mission. 

In the meanwhile the body of Rasputin was taken 
at night to Tsarskoie Selo and buried in a small chapel 
which had been erected some years before by the Em- 

256 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

press, quite close to the palace which she inhabited. 
Troops surrounded it so as to prevent any one getting 
near to it, whilst the ceremony lasted, and the funeral 
was attended by the Emperor, the Empress, and the 
intimate friend of the latter, Madame Vyroubieva. 
Alexandra FeodoroVna used to go every afternoon to 
pray on the grave of the man whose influence had! 
proved her bane, until at last the Revolution empris- 
oned her, and threw to the winds the ashes of the 
greatest enemy that the dynasty of the Romanoffs 
had ever known. When the body was exhumed by 
the angry populace, one found on its breast a sacred 
image, bearing the names of the Empress, and of her 
three daughters, last memento of an affection which 
had proved so fatal to those who had nursed it. 

The murder of Rasputin had one very clear and 
definite object, that of ridding the Czar of an indi- 
vidual who had sullied his honour. Those who were 
courageous enough to send him into eternity had 
nursed the hope that once this evil influence had dis- 
appeared, the counsels of wisdom would prevail, and 
Nicholas II. might be at last brought to understand 
that his duty required of him to look bravely into the 
face of the situation in which he had been thrown to- 
gether with the Empire over which he ruled. Until 
that time, no one had been able to talk seriously with 
him, with hopes of being listened to. The Emperor 
had acquired the habit of never giving an immediate 
reply to any proposition that was submitted to him, 
but deferred his decisions, in order to discuss them 
first with the Empress, who in her turn consulted her 
favourites Sturmer and Protopopoff, who had taken 

The Great Revolution 257 

to a certain extent the place left empty by Rasputin's 
disappearance. They were all of them working to- 
gether towards the conclusion of a separate peace 
with Germany, because they believed that if once this 
were achieved they would be able to recall the army 
from the front, and to use it against the Duma and 
the nation, establishing with its help upon a sounder 
;and firmer base their own power and might. Xone 
among them gave a thought to the possibility that the 
troops might practise with the people, and work to- 
gether with it towards the downfall of the govern- 
ment and of the dynasty. 

This desire of the Empress to bring about, no mat- 
ter at what cost, the ending of the war, was suspected 
by a good many people. A few officers in possession 
of important commands had an inkling of it, and the 
leaders of the labour party had also heard about 
it. The last named, whc had worked more than any 
other class of the nation for the continuation of the 
struggle in the material sense of the word, and who 
wanted to avenge their sons fallen before the enemy, 
became anxious at the possibility of such a peace 
being concluded; and very distinct threats were ut- 
tered not only in Petrograd, but all over Russia, 
against the Ministers, the Emperor, and especially the 
Empress. This explains, apart from other reasons, 
why the murder of Rasputin was hailed with such 
! joy. One hoped that his removal would put an end 
to a state of things out of which could only result dis- 
aster, shame and misfortune. 

Unfortunately things turned out quite differently. 
Alexandra Feodorovna declared that she considered it 

258 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

her duty to go on doing exactly what her dead an< 
gone friend had advised her to do, and the partisan 
of a separate peace with Germany found in her 1 
more solid protection than the one they had en 
joyed before. She pursued unmercifully all thos< 
who had tried to open the eyes of the Emperor, an< 
the first thing she did, after having seen the Gran< 
Duke Dmitry sent to Persia and Prince Youssoupof 
exiled, was to cause the Czar to write to the Gran< 
Duke Nicholas Michaylovitsch, who had addresse( 
to him the letter which had incensed her so ter 
ribly, and command him to leave Petrograd an( 
repair for two months to an estate which he owned h 
the South of Russia, in the government of Kherson 
This order was brought to the Grand Duke by ai 
Imperial messenger, on the last day of the year 1916 
at half past eleven o'clock at night. It was writtei 
entirely in the Emperor's hand, and was couched ii 
the following terms: "I command you to start a 
once for Grouchevka, and to remain there two months 
Nicholas." But there was added a postscript that ha( 
been probably written without the Empress's knowl 
edge, under the vague feeling of remorse for such ai 
unjustifiable action, and which said: "I beg you to d( 
what I ask you." Other Grand Dukes attempted ir 
their turn to shake the influence of Alexandra Feo 
dorovna, and to point out to the Czar the peril whicl 
it represented for the dynasty. Many angry scenes 
took place at Tsarskoie Selo, between them and the 
master of this Imperial place, but they all led to noth- 
ing, and when the wife of the Grand Duke Cyril, the 
Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, sought the Sov- 

The Great Revolution 259 

ereign on her own initiative, and tried to make him 
realise the great unpopularity of his consort, Nicholas 
II. interrupted her with the exclamation: "What has 
Alice got to do with politics? She is only a sister of 
mercy, and nothing else. And in regard to her so- 
called unpopularity, what you say is not exact." 

He then proceeded to show his cousin any 
amount of letters emanating from wounded soldiers, 
who thanked the Empress for the care which she had 
taken of them, letters of which not a single one was 
genuine, and which had been manufactured at the in- 
stigation of Sturmer and ProtopopofF. The truth of 
the matter was that the wounded and sick in the dif- 
ferent hospitals visited by Alexandra Feodorovna, did 
not at all harbour kind feelings in regard to her, as 
they reproached her with giving all her care and atten- 
tion to the German prisoners, to the detriment of her 
own soldiers. And among other stories which were 
related concerning those visits of hers, there was one 
which had obtained a wide circulation. It was re- 
lated that one day the Empress, talking to a wounded 
officer who had been brought to her own hospital at 
Tsarskoie Selo, had asked him the name of the Ger- 
man regiment against which he had been fighting. The 
officer had replied that it was a Hessian regiment, 
upon which Alexandra Feodorovna had turned her 
back upon him, and had left the room in a violent 
rage which she had not even tried to control or to dis- 

The Grand Duchess Victoria was not discouraged 
by the manner in which her disclosures had been re- 
ceived by Nicholas II., and she had attempted to dis- 

260 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

cuss the subject with the Empress, but the latter, at 
her first words, had stopped her with the remark: 
"The people whom you advise us to take into our con- 
fidence, are the enemies of the dynasty. I have been 
for twenty-two years upon the throne, and I know 
Russia well. We are beloved by the nation, and no 
one will ever dare raise his hand against us. All this 
opposition about which you are talking proceeds from 
a few aristocratic bridge players, and is devoid of any 
importance." After this, there was nothing to be done 
but to allow events to take their course, and to pro- 

They were to develop far quicker than one could 
have imagined. The army had begun to discuss 
the position, and to comment upon it. Every one 
who had watched the march of affairs during the last 
months, felt that something was going to happen, but 
no one knew what it would be, or wished even to know 
it, so general was the discouragement that had taken 
hold of the public mind. There was, however, one 
factor left, which towered over the whole of the situa- 
tion; that was the sincere desire on the part of the dif- 
ferent political parties to try and keep back as long 
as possible a crisis which was recognised to have be- 
come inevitable, but which no one wished to see has- 
tened. This feeling was such a general one that a 
member of the Duma, who for family reasons had 
come for a few days to Stockholm where I was resid- 
ing at the time just before the Revolution, told me 
that no one had been more surprised than he when 
the news had reached him that it had broken out, be- 
cause, though he had been convinced it was going 

The Great Revolution 261 

to produce itself, yet he had never believed that it 
could take place so soon. 

Whilst this fearful storm was brooding on the 
horizon and getting nearer and nearer to him with 
each day that passed, Xicholas II. refused to listen 
to the thunder which was already resounding close to 
his ears, and was getting more and more determined 
to persist in the fatal resolution of holding his own 
against the tempest, and if necessary of using force 
in order to conjure and to subdue it. If ever the old 
Latin proverb, "Quod Deus vult perdere, prius dem- 
entat," has ever been realised, it was in the case of 
this unfortunate Sovereign, who had fallen into the 
hands of an ambitious, cold woman, devoid of intelli- 
gence and of scruples, and incapable of appreciating 
the character of the people over whom she had been 
called upon to reign, and of whom she had been un- 
able to conquer either the esteem, the respect or the 
affection, during the quarter of a century that she 
had lived in its midst. 


This discredited Monarch, and his hated and de- 
spised Empress, by whom were they surrounded dur- 
ing those eventful days which preceded their fall? Who 
were the people whom they trusted, and on whom they 
relied? .Whom do we see advising them? Only a hand- 
ful of flatterers, of sycophants, always ready to turn 
against him and to betray them at the first oppor- 
tunity, together with Ministers devoid of any political 
sense, and without any knowledge or comprehension 
of the position into which the country had been al- 
lowed to drift; without any courage or energy, in- 
capable of imposing themselves or their opinions upon 
the masses, and of convincing them of the soundness 
of their views; incapable even of subduing these 
masses by the use of sheer force. Apart from these 
flatterers and these weak advisers, whom could Nich- 
olas II. and his Consort trust and believe in? Whom 
had they got beside them? A discontented army, that 
was too thoroughly weary of seeing itself neglected 
and passed over like a negligible quantity, whilst it 
was fighting for dear life on the frontiers, and who had 
lost all wish to go on with what appeared to it to have 
become a hopeless struggle; a few functionaries who 
cared for nothing but their own advantage or advance- 
ment; a handful of adventurers in quest of places, in- 
fluence and riches, especially of the latter; a police 


The Great Revolution 263 

always ready to listen to every kind of low denuncia- 
tion; that had abused its power, that had destroyed, 
thanks to its criminal activity, every sense of personal 
security in the nation, and that prosecuted only those 
who did not pay it sufficiently to leave them alone. 
Blackmailers, spies, and valets; this was all that was 
left to the Czar of All the Russias, to watch over him. 
They were the only people on whom he could rely, and 
even they would only remain faithful to him as long 
|as the supreme power would remain, at least nom- 
inally, in his hands. His family, as we have seen, 
detested the Empress, and was ready and prepared to 
side against him on the first notice of his downfall, 
I which it effectively did. What was left in Petrograd 
; of aristocracy had withdrawn itself from him, lament- 
ing over evils which it knew itself powerless to allay, 
J and had come to the sad conclusion that the further 
it kept from Tsarskoie Selo the better it would be for 
everybody. The Emperor stood alone, forsaken by 
jail those who under different circumstances would 
have considered themselves but too honoured to die 
for him, let alone defend him against his foes. Alex- 
andra Feodorovna had created a desert around her 
husband, and, thanks to her, there was hardly a Rus- 
sian left in the world who did not for some reason 
or other curse the Sovereign w T hom Providence had 
destined to become in all human probability the last 
of the Romanoffs crowned in Moscow. Nicholas II. 
imagined that he could rely on the devotion and the 
loyalty of his army. He forgot that this army was no 
longer the one that had acclaimed him with such en- 
thusiasm at the beginning of the war. Most of the 

264 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

officers who had been in command of it at the time 
had fallen on some battle field or other; the soldiers 
too had disappeared, and the young recruits who had 
taken their place had been reared in different ideas, 
and were ignorant of the old discipline which had in- 
spired the former regiments whose original contin- 
gents had been slain. The army had become a national 
one from the Imperialist it had been before; it was 
composed of the same elements of discontented minds 
who before they had been called to the colours had 
freely discussed the conditions under which the war 
was being fought, and who had noticed better than it 
would have been possible for them to do at the front, 
the mistakes of those in command, the remorse- 
less dilapidation of the Public Exchequer which was 
going on everywhere, together with all the faults and 
the carelessness that had brought about all the disas- 
ters which had fallen upon the nation. This army 
could no longer nurse, in regard to the Czar, the ven- 
eration and almost religious respect which had ani- 
mated it in earlier days. It had perceived at last that 
he was not at the height of the duties and responsi- 
bilities which had devolved upon him, and as a natural 
consequence of the fall of the scales from its eyes it 
had sided against him, together with the Duma, from 
which it was hoping and expecting the salvation 
which its masters of the present hour were unable to 
procure for it. 

But whilst the whole of Russia was aware of this 
state of things, Nicholas II. alone refused to see it. 
He felt afraid of appearing as the weak man that he 
really was ; he refused all the urgent entreaties which 

The Great Revolution 265 

were addressed to him, to appeal to his people, and to 
appoint a popular and responsible Ministry, capable 
once he had called it to power of requiring from him 
the fulfilment of his former promises, which he had 
determined beforehand never to keep. He threw 
himself from right to left, and from left to right, in 
quest of councillors after his own heart, or rather after 
the heart of the Empress, because it was she who final- 
ly decided everything; and he changed his Minis- 
ters with a facility which was the more deplorable that 
those of the morrow did not differ from the ones whom 
he had dismissed the day before, until at last, thanks 
to his irresolution and to his obstinacy, he contrived 
to discredit, not only in Russia, but also abroad and 
among his Allies, the government of which he was 
the head, together with his own person and the great 
Imperial might which he personified. At last even 
the extreme conservative parties, who until then had 
been on his side, joined the ranks of his enemies, and 
this defection of theirs made the disaster an irremedi- 
able one, and the fatal catastrophe inevitable. 

England at this moment made an effort to save the 
Czar, together with his dynasty. Lord Milner, who 
had repaired to Petrograd to attend the conference of 
the Allies which was being held there, tried to open 
the eyes of Nicholas II. as to the dangers which sur- 
rounded him, and to persuade him to grant at last 
a constitutional government to his people, and to en- 
trust the interests of the country to a Cabinet in pos- 
session of its confidence. His representations proved 
absolutely useless. The Emperor replied to him that 
if the troubled state of public opinion persisted, he 

266 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

would establish a military dictature. He forgot in 
saying so that in order to carry an attempt of the 
kind it is indispensable to have at one's hand a man 
strong enough to accept the responsibility of such a 
post, and an army faithful and loyal enough to back 
him up. ProtopopofF, whom the Empress consulted 
as to the wisdom of the decision which Lord Milner 
had implored the Czar to take, declared that he 
thought it would be an extremely dangerous one to 
adopt, and that the only thing which could and ought 
to be done, in the present circumstances, was to re- 
sort to rigorous measures ; to prorogue the Duma and 
the Council of State ; and to repress without the least 
mercy every demonstration against the government. 
He added that he was quite ready to assume the re- 
sponsibility of the repression which he advised, and if 
the necessity for doing so presented itself, to give 
orders to the police to fire on the crowds. At the 
same time he inundated the capital, and even the prov- 
inces, with a whole army of spies, whose only occupa- 
tion consisted in denouncing to him all the people who 
did not pay them sufficiently well to leave them alone. 
A kind of committee of public safety, such as had 
existed in France at the time of the Terror, became, 
thanks to Mr. Protopopoff, the sole master of the 
Russian Empire, and it disposed, according to its 
fancy, of the existence as well as of the property and 
liberty of the most peaceful citizens. During one 
night, fifty workmen belonging to the group that was 
sitting in the industrial war committee, entrusted with 
the fabrication of ammunitions, as representatives of 
the labour party, were arrested, without any other ap- 

The Great Revolution 267 

parent reason than the fact that they had allowed 
themselves to discuss in public the debates which had 
taken place in the Duma, and had been overheard by 
some spy or other. 

This Assembly had met on the 27th of February, 
1917, as had already been settled before the resigna- 
tion of Mr. Sturmer, and the appointment of Prince 
Galitzj-ne as Prime Minister in his place. It became 
evident from the very first day the Session was opened 
that most violent discussions were about to take place, 
and that the government would never be able to com- 
mand a majority, because even the ultra Conserva- 
tives who had backed it up before had forsaken it. 
One more reason for discontent with it had arisen : the 
almost total lack of food in Petrograd, where, thanks 
to the mismanagement of the railways and the lack 
of tracks, no provisions of any kind could arrive. 
Riots of a more or less serious character took place in 
different quarters of the town; the population clam- 
oured for bread, and broke the windows in the bakers' 
and butchers' shops, wherever it could do so. This 
was one more complication added to all those al- 
ready existing. The Duma thought it indis- 
pensable to make an energetic manifestation of its 
want of confidence in the government's power to 
grapple with the difficulties of the situation. The par- 
ties composing the moderate left, together with the 
Cadets that had recently united themselves into one 
group denominated the "Bloc," declared by the mouth 
of their leader, Mr. Chidlovsky, that it was indis- 
pensable to call together a Cabinet comprising really 
national elements, in possession of the confidence of 

268 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

the country as well as that of the Sovereign, because 
the one in existence was entirely discredited, even 
among its former supporters. During the debates 
which followed upon this motion, the socialist depu- 
ties, among others Mr. Tcheidze, expressed themselves 
in most violent terms, and said, among other things, 
that the government then in power would never un- 
derstand the wishes or the needs of the nation, or 
become reconciled with it, and that between it and 
the country there existed an abyss which nothing in 
the world could ever fill. It had against it the 
whole of Russia, and it had done nothing and was 
doing nothing to smooth over the difficulties which 
it had itself created, and for which it was alone re- 
sponsible. And Mr. Tcheidze concluded his speech 
by expressing his conviction that a compromise was 
no longer possible, and that only a great national 
movement of revolt could overturn the Cabinet and 
replace it by another one better able to understand 
the needs of the country and of the army. 

One of the leaders of the extreme right who, up to 
that time, had been famous for his reactionary opin- 
ions and sympathies, Mr. Pourichkievitsch, went even 
further than his socialist colleague, and proceeded to 
sketch the character of Mr. Protopopoff, accusing 
him of spending his time in suspecting everybody (the 
zemstvos, the aristocracy, the Duma, and even the 
Council of State) of conspiracies against his person, 
and of meditating the suppression of these two insti- 
tutions within a short time. Mr. Pourichkievitsch 
added that in what concerned the Duma he was per- 
sonally convinced that it would prefer a dissolution to 

The Great Revolution 269 

the alternative of a blind submission to a tyrant like 
the Minister of the Interior, and of keeping silent 
when it knew that the Fatherland was in danger. 

Another speaker of great talent, Mr EfremofF, 
said that he had come with great regret to the con- 
clusion that all means at the disposal of a parliamen- 
tary assembly to fight the government had been ex- 
hausted, and that the whole country was a prey to 
deep dissatisfaction with the existing order of things. 
It was high time, he added, that the system which had 
ruled Russia for such a long time should give way 
before a responsible cabinet, the constitution of which 
was claimed imperatively by public opinion. It was 
only such a cabinet that would be able to encourage 
the country to go on with the struggle in which it 
found itself engaged, against a foe who had obtained 
so many advantages over it, thanks to the mistakes 
and to the crimes of the administration represented 
by Mr. Protopopoff, and by his friends. 

But it was the leader of the Cadets, Mr. Miliukoff, 
the greatest statesman that Russia possesses at the 
present moment, who dealt the last blow to the Min- 
istry, thanks to the acerb criticisms which he ad- 
dressed to the Sovereign and to the latter's advisers, 
and to his indignant protest against the arbitrary 
imprisonment of the delegates of the workmen of 
Petrograd, who had been chosen by them to repre- 
sent their interests in the industrial war commission. 
The vice president of this commission, Mr. Konov- 
aloff, joined him in this protest, whilst another dep- 
uty belonging to the extreme left, whose name was to 
become famous very soon, Mr. Kerensky, in Ian- 

270 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

guage of a violence such as had never been heard be- 
fore in the Duma, prophesied that the time would 
soon come when this Duma would find itself compelled 
to fight for its rights and for the liberty of the nation, 
and would adopt decisive measures to put an end to 
the danger which was threatening the great work of 
the national defence, if it was allowed to remain in 
the hands and under the control of people who had so 
badly understood its claims and its necessities. 

After these debates, during which had been voted 
by an immense majority the immediate release of the 
arrested workmen, Mr. Protopopoff rushed to Tsar- 
skoie Selo, the metropolitan Pitirim, and Mr. 
Sturmer (who had remained a persona grata at Court, 
notwithstanding the fact that he had been compelled 
to resign his former functions of Prime Minister) ac- 
companied him. A conference took place between 
them and the Empress, towards the close of which 
Nicholas II. was asked to come in and to listen to the 
decisions that had been arrived at, which he was re- 
quested to sanction. This conference decided that the 
negotiations already engaged with Germany in view 
of the conclusion of a separate peace should be 
hastened; that the Duma should be prorogued for an 
indefinite period of time, and the police armed with 
machine guns, in order to be able to crush at once, by 
a display of its forces, every popular manifestation 
that might be attempted in favour of a change of gov- 
ernment, should such manifestation take place in the 

Here I am touching in this short sketch of the Rus- 
sian Revolution upon a point which is still dark, the 

The Great Revolution 271 

point concerning this separate peace with Germany, 
about which there arose at that time so much talk in 
Petrograd. The idea of a step of that kind, which 
would have constituted an arrant treason in regard to 
the Allies of Russia, had been conceived first in the 
brain of Mr. Sturmer, to whom most probably it had 
been suggested by his confidential friend and secre- 
tary, Mr. Manassevitsch-Maniuloff, about whom I 
have already spoken in the first part of this book, and 
who, after the murder of Rasputin, had been finally 
brought to trial and sentenced to eighteen months 
hard labour for blackmail. He had always been in the 
employ of Germany, and he had spoken to his patron 
of the necessity for putting an end to a war which, if it 
went on much longer, might endanger the very ex- 
istence of the dynasty. Mr. Sturmer had also 
sympathies for the "Vaterland," and he was but too 
glad to act according to the hints which were given 
to him by a man in whom he had every confidence. 
He found an unexpected ally in Rasputin, who in his 
turn induced the Empress through Madame Vyrou- 
bieva to rally herself to his opinion, which was a rela- 
tively easy thing to do, considering the fact that she 
had been already, of her own accord, working towards 
a reconciliation between the Romanoffs and the 
Hohenzollerns, the only people whom she thought of 
any consequence in the whole affair. The difficulty 
consisted, however, in finding a person willing and 
disposed to act as intermediary in so grave a mat- 
ter. Rasputin knew Protopopoff, discussed the sub- 
ject with him, and found him quite ready to enter into 
the views which he expounded to him. 

272 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

At that time Mr. Protopopoff was vice president of 
the Duma. TsTo one knew exactly how he had con- 
trived to secure his election as such, considering his 
reputation of reactionary and especially of oppor- 
tunist. He had, however, succeeded in getting him- 
self appointed, and the fact that he held this position 
gave him a certain weight and prestige abroad. He 
was given very precise instructions as to what he was 
to do, and started with several of his colleagues 
of the Duma for England, under the pretext of 
returning the visit which some members of the Eng- 
lish House of Commons had paid to Petrograd a few 
months earlier. On his way back, he stopped at Stock- 
holm as I have already related, conferred there with 
an agent of the German Foreign Office called Mr. 
Warburg, and settled with him the conditions un- 
der which an eventual peace could be concluded. 
After this Protopopoff returned to Russia, where, 
however, the story of his Swedish intrigues had 
already become known so that he was awarded a very 
poor welcome by his friends. People believed then 
that his political career had come to an end, when, 
just at this juncture, the most important post in the 
Russian Empire, that of Minister of the Interior, be- 
came vacant, thanks to the dismissal of Mr. Chvostoff 
who had tried to get rid of Rasputin with the help of 
the monk Illiodore, and, to the general stupefaction 
of the world, the place was offered to Mr. Protopopoff 
by the Empress herself. 

By that time one had become used in Russia to 
every possible surprise in regard to the appointment 
of Ministers, and nothing that could happen in that 

The Great Revolution 273 

line astonished those (and they were legion) who 
knew that it was a gang of adventurers that was rul- 
ing the country. The rise of Mr. Protopopoff was not 
therefore considered by them as something out of the 
way, but in parliamentary circles it gave rise to deep 
,indignation; an indignation which eventually found 
its way into the press, where, however, it was very 
quickly suppressed by the censor, and also in the vari- 
ous speeches uttered in the Duma, during which al- 
jlusions were made for the first time to the unhealthy 
influence exercised by the Empress over her husband. 
The former was triumphant. As soon as she be- 
came aware of the conditions under which the Ger- 
man government would consent to conclude peace 
with Russia, she set herself, in conjunction with her 
friends, to try to persuade Nicholas II. that his 
duty in regard to his people required him to put an 
end to a hopeless conflict during which the best blood 
in Russia was being spilt for a cause doomed before- 
hand. She made him observe that if the war went 
on much longer, the revolutionary elements in the 
country would wax stronger, in proportion to the sac- 
rifices entailed upon the nation, and that it was quite 
possible, the latter, exasperated by their magnitude, 
would attempt to get rid of a government that had 
not succeeded in restoring to it the tranquillity which 
it so sorely needed. It did not take her a long time 
to convert the Czar to her point of view, and the nego- 
tiations officiously inaugurated by Mr. Protopopoff 
were officially continued by him together with Mr. 
Sturmer, whom Alexandra Feodorovna personally 

274 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

entreated to assume their direction in conjunction 
with her own self. 

In spite of the extreme secrecy which had presided 
at these different conferences between the Empress 
and her favourites, something of their purport had 
transpired among the general public, and threats had 
been proferred against those who had accepted to 
play the sad part of Judas in regard to their country. 
These threats had been whispered in the corridors of 
the Duma, and Mr. Protopopoff had been informed 
of their purport by his spies. It became therefore 
one of his principal aims to get rid of an opposition 
which, he knew but too well, would only increase in 
violence as well as in importance as the sorry work he 
was bent upon performing would come out in the 
light of day and become known to his numerous 
adversaries. Apart from this, he thought it would be 
better to present himself later on before the Duma 
with an accomplished fact behind him. He therefore 
persuaded the Empress that whilst he would be 
pressing with the utmost speed the negotiations with 
the Kaiser, begun already, it would be advisable to 
bring from the front a considerable number of troops 
to Petrograd, so as to be able with their help to crush 
any effort at resistance attempted either by the popu- 
lation of the capital or by its garrison, about whose 
state of mind the minister did not feel quite sure. 
The Cabinet was so badly informed, in spite of its 
numerous spies, of what was going on in the army 
that it imagined the latter would only feel grateful 
and happy to see the campaign come to an end and 
be able to go back to its homes, and that in conse- 

The Great Revolution 275 

quence it would lend itself with the greatest pleasure 
to any attempt made by the Monarch and the govern- 
ment to put an end to a struggle for which it did not 
feel any longer any enthusiasm at heart. 

The men who reasoned thus were absolutely mis- 
taken. The army had made up its mind to win the 
war ; the workmen whose importance was increasing 

1 with every day that went by, also wished it, because 
they hoped that out of this victory they were longing 
for might result a radical change in the form of the 
administration they had begun to despise more and 

; more as its incapacity became more and more ap- 
parent. The person of the Czar did not inspire re- 
spect or enthusiasm any longer, but on the other hand 
love for the Fatherland had made considerable prog- 
ress since the beginning of the war, and the national 
sentiment which, up to that time, had only existed in 
the state of an Utopia had become a reality, espe- 
cially since one had perceived the great strength which 
it had communicated to Russia's allies, to France 
among others, where the Republic, which many peo- 
ple were already seeing loom in the distance as a pos- 
sibility in the land of the Czars, had inspired so much 
patriotism to its citizens. 

Neither Mr. Sturmer, nor Mr. Protopopoff, nor 
those who shared their opinions and their views, were 
able to understand what was going on in the heart 
and in the soul of the Russian nation. They were far 
too much absorbed in their own petty, personal inter- 
ests, to be able to give a thought to such a subject. 
For them the conclusion of a peace with Germany 
meant the strengthening of their influence and of their 

276 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

power, together with honours, dignities, and the 
possibility to enrich themselves, and to have a few 
more stars attached to the golden embroideries of 
their uniforms. It meant also the possibility of get- 
ting rid once for all of this spectre of a responsible 
ministry, of which they stood in such dread. They 
therefore threw themselves in the struggle against the 
Duma with an ardour that grew as they saw the in- 
creasing difficulties with which the accomplishment 
of their designs was going to encounter in that As- 
sembly, and, as a first step in the course of action they 
had determined to follow, they submitted to the sig- 
nature of Nicholas II. the fatal decree which pro- 
rogued the Duma together with the Council of State, 
and which was to give the signal for the conflagration 
of which they were to become themselves the first 

Traitors are always to be found in hours of great 
national peril. Among the people who resided in 
the palace of Tsarskoie Selo, there was a person who, 
becoming acquainted by chance of what was going on 
there, rushed to communicate the news which he had 
heard to Mr. Kerensky, the leader of the extreme left 
party in the Duma. The latter did not lose one mo- 
ment in communicating to his colleague the news 
which had come to his knowledge, and also to the 
president of the Assembly, Mr. Rodzianko. 

Mr. Rodzianko was about the last man whom one 
would have suspected of being possessed of the neces- 
sary determination to resort to a "Coup d'Etat." He 
was a Chamberlain of the Czar ; he had been brought 
up in monarchical traditions, and during his whole 

Photograph, International Film Serrire. Inc. 

Alexander Kerexskt 

The Great Revolution 277 

life he had submitted to the one which, in Russia, 
placed the Sovereign in the light of something holy 
and sacred before his subjects. He was respected 
but did not enjoy an immense authority in the Cham- 
ber that had never taken quite kindly to him, not 
thinking him possessed of sufficient courage to fight 
its battles with efficiency. It is probable that he felt 
terrified rather than anything else, at the prospect 
which the communication of Mr. Kerensky opened be- 
fore him, but things had advanced too far for him to 
be able to withdraw. There was no alternative left 
but to perish oneself, or to destroy others. Mr. Rod- 
zianko called together a meeting of several deputies 
belonging to the moderate parties, with whom he dis- 
cussed the situation. They very quickly came to the 
conclusion that if one entered into a struggle with the 
government in this all important question of war and 
peace, one would be backed up by the whole country, 
which did not wish to see the war come to an end until 
the enemy had been driven out of Russian territory. 
There was also another thing which added itself to all 
the different questions roused by the discovery of the 
intentions of the Court. It was the determination 
of the radical groups of the Duma to proceed to the 
"Coup d'Etat" on their own accord, and no matter 
under what conditions, with or without the help of 
the moderate elements in the Assemblv. This might 
have become extremely dangerous, as they had be- 
hind them the whole mass of the working population 
of the capital. The question had therefore to be con- 
sidered as to whether the Revolution was to be made 
with the concurrence of all the parties represented in 

278 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

the Duma, or by the radical socialists alone, who, in 
the latter case, would have become the absolute mas- 
ters of the situation, and might have pressed for the 
immediate proclamation of a Republic which could 
easily have degenerated into an anarchy, and which in 
the best of cases would have lacked the necessary dig- 
nity, capable of giving it prestige and authority at 
home and abroad. Mr. Rodzianko found himself 
placed in the presence of a dilemma of a most difficult 
kind and nature. He took the only decision possible 
under the circumstances, he boldly placed himself 
at the head of the movement and constituted a pro- 
visional government, in place of the one that had 
foundered under the weight of the contempt of the 
whole nation. 

The first thing that was done by the Duma was to 
refuse to disperse and to resist the ukaze of the Czar 
that had prorogued its debates for an indefinite time. 
The socialist deputies went about trying to get the 
population of Petrograd to join in the vast movement 
of revolt they meant to bring about. The latter was 
but too willing to do so, and the want of provisions 
was the pretext which the people took to organise 
vast meetings, and a strike in all the factories. Great 
masses of men and women paraded the streets, and 
were dispersed by a formidable police force which 
had been assembled by Mr. ProtopopofT and armed 
with machine guns that were used against the 
crowds, whenever these did not obey immediately the 
injunctions to disperse given to them by special con- 
stables and Cossacks gathered together in all the prin- 
cipal streets and squares of the capital. The regular 

The Great Revolution 279 

troops had been consigned in their barracks and or- 
dered to keep themselves ready to lend a hand to the 
police. But the unexpected happened. The sol- 
diers had been worked upon by delegates from the 
workmen, and they declared that they would not obey 
orders, should any be given to them, to fire upon the 
populace assembled in the streets. The latter seemed 
quite sure of impunity, because nothwithstanding the 
preparations made by the police to quell the revolu- 
tionary movement, the existence of which was already 
recognised everywhere, it refused to disperse, and on 
the contrary proceeded to commit the only acts of vio- 
lence which were performed during the course of the 
mutiny. It threw itself on the prisons where political 
offenders were confined, plundered and burned them, 
and liberated their inmates. A few other excesses 
were performed, upon which the Duma constituted 
itself an executive committee, which assumed the task 
of restoring order in Petrograd. 

In the meanwhile, the Czar who had been kept in 
total ignorance of what was going on in the capital, 
had left Tsarskoie Selo for headquarters, after having 
signed the prorogation of the Chambers. In his ab- 
sence, it was the Empress who was left sole mistress 
of the situation, and it is to her and to Protopopoff 
that were due all the attempts at repression which 
happily for all parties concerned were not allowed to 
be executed, at least not in their entirety. 

Mr. Rodzianko telegraphed to the Czar. He in- 
formed him that the position was getting extremely 
serious, that the population of Petrograd was abso- 
lutely without any food, that riots were taking place, 

280 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

and that the troops were firing at one another. He 
implored the Sovereign in the interests of the dynasty 
to send away Protopopoff and his crew, and he drew 
his notice to the fact that every hour was precious, and 
that every delay might bring about a catastrophe. 
At the same time he telegraphed to the principal com- 
manders at the front, asking them to uphold his re- 
quest for a responsible government capable of put- 
ting an end to the complete anarchy that was reigning 
in the capital, an anarchy which threatened to extend 
itself all over the country. The commanders replied 
that they would do what he asked them to perform. 
Nicholas II. alone made no sign. It was related af- 
terwards that he had telegraphed to the Empress, 
asking her what she advised him to do. But it is 
more likely that the telegram of the President of the 
Duma was never handed to him. Mr. Rodzianko, 
however, sent another despatch to headquarters which 
contained the following warning: "The position is 
getting more and more alarming. It is indispensable 
to take measures to put an end to it, or to-morrow 
it may be too late. This is the last moment dur- 
ing which may be decided the fate of the nation 
and of the dynasty." To this message also no reply 
was received. The Czar seemed unable to under- 
stand the gravity of the situation. Others did, how- 
ever, in his place, and on that same day, the 12th of 
March, the troops composing the garrison of Petro- 
grad went over to the cause of the Revolution. They 
marched to the Duma in a long procession, beginning 
with the Volynsky regiment, one of the crack ones in 
the army, to which joined themselves almost imme- 

Copyright, International Film Service. Inc. 

Revolutionary Crowd in Petrograd 

The Great Revolution 281 

diately the famous Preobragensky Guards, and they 
declared themselves ready to stand by the side of the 
new government. The President of the Duma re- 
ceived them, and declared to them that the executive 
committee which had been constituted was going to 
appoint a provisional government; of the Czar, there 
was no longer any question. It had become evident 
that his army would no longer support his authority 
or fight for him and for his dynasty. Soon the troops 
composing the garrisons of Tsarskoie Selo, Peterhof, 
and Gatschina left their quarters and joined the muti- 
neers. The Revolution had become an accomplished 

The new executive committee displayed consider- 
able patriotism at this juncture. It might have pro- 
voked enormous enthusiasm in its favour had it re- 
vealed what it knew concerning the peace negotia- 
tions entered into by the Empress, but this might 
have given a pretext for explosions of wrath on the 
part of the mob, which could easily have ended in 
excesses, compromising the dignity of the Revolution. 
It therefore decided to keep back from the public its 
knowledge on this subject, and contented itself with 
arresting the ministers, and all the persons whom it 
suspected of having lent themselves to this intrigue, 
and it simply empowered two members of the Duma, 
Mr. Goutschkoff and Mr. Schoulguine, to proceed 
to Pskov, where it was known that the Emperor had 
arrived the day before, to ask the latter to abdicate 
in favour of his son. Xicholas II. in the meanwhile 
had arrived at headquarters which were then in Mohi- 
lev, and where no one seemed to know anything about 

282 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

what was going on in Petrograd. None of the people 
about him even suspected that a storm was brewing 
which would overturn in a few hours a power which 
they considered far too formidable for anything to 
be able to shake. The only person who was kept 
informed of the course which events were taking was 
the head of the Staff, General Alexieieff, who had 
been won over from the very first to the cause of the 
Revolution, and who, if one is to believe all that 
one hears, played all the time a double game. 
It was he who received all the telegrams ad- 
dressed to the Emperor, and who communicated 
them to him. The latter at last was shaken out 
of his equanimity, and gave orders to prepare his 
train to return to Tsarskoie Selo. He took this de- 
cision in consequence of a message from the com- 
mander of the Palace, addressed to General Voyei- 
koff the head of the Okhrana, where the latter was 
advised that the presence of the Sovereign was neces- 
sary, because the troops of the garrison in the Impe- 
rial residence had mutineed, and the safety of the 
Empress and of her children was endangered. But in 
spite of the orders given to press the departure of the 
Imperial train it somehow could not be got ready as 
quickly as was generally the case, so that it was only 
during the night from the 12th to the 13th of March, 
that it started at last. It went the usual route as 
far as the station of Lichoslav, where it was met with 
the news that a revolutionary government had been 
formed at Petrograd which had seized the railway 
lines and appointed a deputy to take them in charge. 
Another telegram from the military station master 

The Great Revolution 283 

of the Nicholas station in Petrograd instructed the 
officials at Lichoslav to send the Imperial train to 
Petrograd, and not to Tsarskoie Selo. This was com- 
municated to General VoyeikofT, who, however, gave 
directions not to heed this warning, but to proceed to 
Tsarskoie Selo, as had been arranged at first. At 
twelve o'clock at night the Imperial train reached 
Bologoie. There a railway official informed the per- 
sons in' charge of it that Tosno and Lioubane were in 
possession of the troops which had mutineed against 
the government, and that it might be dangerous to 
proceed any further. General VoyeikofT would not 
listen to this advice, and the train went on to the 
station of Vichera, where it had perforce to stop. The 
General was told that the first train which always 
preceded the one in which the Sovereign was travel- 
ling had been seized by the insurgents, and the mem- 
bers of the Imperial suite who were travelling in it 
had been arrested and conveyed under escort to Pet- 

The Czar was awakened. General VoyeikofT in- 
formed him that it was impossible to proceed to Tsar- 
skoie Selo, because the railway line was in the hands 
of the revolutionaries. It was then decided to go to 
Pskov, where commanded General Roussky, on whose 
fidelity the Sovereign believed that he might rely. 

But Roussky had been won over to the cause of the 
Duma, notwithstanding the fact that he had been 
loaded with favours by Xicholas II. When the lat- 
ter reached Pskov, where the General met him at the 
railway station, the troops there had already been 
sworn over by their commander in favour of the Revo- 

284 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

lution, and were quite ready to enforce its decisions. 
The Czar knew nothing about this, and after a few 
moments' conversation with Roussky, who acquainted 
him superficially with the spirit reigning in the army, 
he declared to him that he consented to call together 
a responsible Cabinet chosen out of the principal 
leaders of the different parties in the Duma. But the 
General replied that he feared this concession came 
too late, and that it would no longer satisfy the coun- 
try or the army. 

On the 15th of March, Roussky succeeded in talk- 
ing over the telephone with Rodzianko, whom he in- 
formed of the details of his conversation with Nicholas 
II. The president of the Duma then told him that 
the former must decide to abdicate in favour of 
his son. They spoke for more than two hours, and 
before their talk had come to an end, Roussky had 
promised to do all that lay within his power, even to 
resort to violence if need be, to further the views 
of the new government that had taken up the su- 
preme authority in Russia. He went then to make his 
report to the Emperor, after which the latter signified 
his intention to resign his throne to his little boy. The 
telegram announcing this resolution, however, was not 
sent to Petrograd, because in the meanwhile there 
had reached Pskov the news that the two delegates 
sent by the Executive Committee, Mr. Goutschkoff, 
and Mr. Schoulguine, had started on their way thither, 
in order to confer personally with the Czar. 

At ten o'clock in the evening of that same day, the 
15th of March, they reached Pskov. Their intention 
had been to confer at first with General Roussky, but 

The Great Revolution 285 

an Imperial aide de camp met them on the platform, 
and asked them to follow him immediately into the 
presence of Xicholas II. The latter received them in 
his railway carriage. With him were old Count 
Fredericks, the Minister of his household, and a 
favourite aide de camp, General Xarischkine. Noth- 
ing in the appearance of the Emperor could have led 
any one to suppose that something extraordinary was 
happening to him. He was as impassible as was his 
wont in all the important occasions of his life, and 
he shook hands with the delegates as if nothing what- 
ever was the matter, asking them to sit down. He mo- 
tioned Goutschkoff to a chair beside him, and Schoul- 
guine opposite. Fredericks and Xarischkine stood at 
some distance from the group, and Roussky, who 
came in uninvited at that moment, placed himself 
next to Schoulguine. 

Goutschkoff was the first one to speak. He was ex- 
tremely agitated and could only control his feelings 
with difficulty, keeping his eyes riveted on the table 
and not daring to lift them up to the face of the Sov- 
ereign whose crown he had come to demand. But his 
speech was perfectly correct, and contained nothing 
that could have been interpreted in an offensive way. 
He exposed the whole situation, such as it was, and 
concluded by saying that the only possible manner to 
come out of it would be the abdication of the Czar 
in favour of his son under the regency of the former's 
brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitsch. 

At this juncture Roussky could not restrain his 
impatience, and, bending down towards Schoulguine, 
murmured in his ear: "This is already quite settled." 

286 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

When Goutschkoff had finished his speech, Nich- 
olas II. replied in a perfectly quiet and composed 
tone of voice: 

"I thought the matter over yesterday, and to- 
day, and I have made up my mind to abdicate. Un- 
til three o'clock I was ready to do so in favour of my 
son, but then I came to the conclusion that I could 
not part from him." 

He stopped for a few moments, then went on : 

"I hope that you will understand this," and after 
another pause he continued: 

"On that account, I have decided to abdicate in 
favour of my brother." 

The delegates looked at each other, and Schoul- 
guine remarked that they were not prepared for this 
complication, and that he begged permission to con- 
sult with his colleague. But after a short conversa- 
tion they gave up the point, as Goutschkoff remarked 
that he did not think they had the right to mix them- 
selves up in a matter where paternal feelings and 
affection came into question, and that besides a re- 
gency had also much to say against it, and was likely 
to lead to complications. The Emperor seemed sat- 
isfied that the delegates had conceded the point, 
and then he asked them whether they could under- 
take to guarantee that his abdication would pacify 
the country and not lead to any disturbances. They 
declared that they could do so. Upon this he got 
up and passed into another compartment of his rail- 
way carriage. In about half an hour he returned, 
holding in his hand a folded paper, which he handed 
over to Goutschkoff, saying as he did so: "Here is 

The Great Revolution 287 

my abdication, will you read it?" After which he 
shook hands with the delegates and retired as if noth- 
ing unusual had happened, perhaps not realising that 
with one stroke of his pen he had changed not only 
his own life, but the course of Russian history, and, 
in a certain sense, destroyed the work of his glorious 
ancestor, Peter the Great. 

It is difficult here not to make some remark on the 
part played by General Roussky in this tragedy which 
without his interference would probably have taken a 
different course. It is impossible not to come to the 
conclusion that the unfortunate Czar whom he induced 
to abdicate, might have found better and more faith- 
ful servants than the people who forsook him in the 
hour of his peril. Very probably Roussky believed 
that he was acting in the interests of his country, which 
in a sense he was also doing, because something 
had to be attempted in order to stop the nefari- 
ous work of Alexandra Feodorovna, and it is certain 
that her husband would never willingly have con- 
sented to be parted from her. Killing a woman would 
have been disgracing oneself, together with the Revo- 
lution which had been accomplished under such ex- 
ceptional circumstances ; but still one would have pre- 
ferred that the man who was instrumental in the de- 
struction of the Romanoff dynasty should not have 
been one who wore on his epaulettes the initials of the 
Sovereign he was helping to dethrone. One would 
have liked him to feel some pity for the master whose 
hand he had kissed a few days before he presented to 
him the pen with which he ordered him to sign his 
own degradation. In spite of the impassibility pre- 

288 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

served by Nicholas II. during the last hours of his 
reign, it is likely that the tragedy which took place 
at Pskov must have been one of the most poignant 
that has ever assailed a Sovereign, who, after having 
reigned for twenty-two years, found himself, in the 
course of a few hours, reduced to utter powerless- 
ness and compelled to give up of his own accord 
the crown which his father had bequeathed to 
him, and which he had hoped to leave in his turn to 
the son, whom fate and perhaps a mistaken feeling of 
affection had made him despoil. He was not a bad 
man after all, although he had done many a bad ac- 
tion; he was a tender father, and the thought of his 
child must have added to the moral agony of his soul. 
By what means he was induced to put his name at the 
bottom of the document which snatched away from 
him the sceptre which he had dropped on his corona- 
tion day in Moscow, remains still a mystery. .Whether 
violence was used, or whether he was persuaded by 
the eloquence of Roussky alone to give up the inheri- 
tance of his race, is a thing which the future alone will 
reveal to us. It is probable that he found himself com- 
pelled to come to his decision in some way or other, 
and perhaps the threat to reveal the treason against 
his allies in which he had participated, and which had 
been the work of the Empress, was the most powerful 
argument which was used to oblige him to sign his 
abdication. It was after all better to fall as a weak 
man than to be covered with shame in the eyes of the 
world. He was perhaps told to choose between 
degradation and dishonour, and he cannot be blamed 
if he refused to resign himself to the latter. 


The abdication of Nicholas II. was but one of the 
acts of a drama the end of which is awaited with anxi- 
ety not only in Russia, but in the whole of the world. 
Like everything else that he had ever done, it was not 
performed in time, and it was badly executed. His 
own selfishness, together with that of his wife, had 
brought about catastrophes which it would have been 
relatively easy to avoid, by displaying a small amount 
of political tact, good sense, and knowledge of the real 
requirements of the Russian people. If the Czar had 
only been able to render to himself an account of all 
that was going on around him, he would in the inter- 
est of his dynasty have given up his son to the care 
of the nation, and allowed him to take his place under 
the regency of the Grand Duke Michael. This would 
have left Russia with a Czar, and not allowed the peo- 
ple to see that they could very well exist without one, 
which, as events have proved, has not been a particu- 
larly lucky experience for them. This would also have 
ensured to Nicholas II. his own liberty, because it is 
not likely that the Grand Duke Michael would have 
had his brother and sister-in-law imprisoned. But 
neither the dispossessed Monarch nor Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna were characters able to rise to any heights of 
unselfishness. She had not the faintest knowledge of 
the duties imposed upon her by her position as Em- 


290 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

press of Russia, and when she was placed between the 
alternative of seeing her husband dethroned, or being 
compelled to give up his crown to their child, she 
suggested a third one ; that of substituting for the lat- 
ter his uncle, because she thought it would be easier 
for her later on to overturn him than an Emperor 
who owned her for a mother; and that she already 
contemplated the eventuality of a protest on the part 
of Nicholas II. against the abdication to which he had 
been compelled is a fact that can hardly be denied. 

On the other hand the Grand Duke Michael could 
not have refused to act as Regent for his nephew, 
though it was, in a certain sense, natural for him to 
show some hesitation in accepting over the head of his 
brother, and of his brother's son, the crown of their 
common ancestors. Personally the young Grand Duke 
did not care for power or for honours, and the fact 
that he was married to a lady not belonging to any 
royal house made it easier for him to resign himself to 
go on for the rest of his existence living as a very rich 
private gentleman, which he had done for a number 
of years. Pressure was also brought to bear upon him, 
in the sense that he was told by persons interested in 
his not accepting the throne that if the Constitutive 
Assembly which it was proposed to call together, 
would elect him as Emperor, it would put him later 
on in an easier position in regard to his nephew, the 
little Grand Duke Alexis, and perhaps even allow 
him to secure the possession of his empire to his own 
children after him. All these considerations put to- 
gether decided him not to avail himself of the imme- 
diate opportunity which lay before him, of becoming 

The Great Revolution 291 

the Czar of All the Russias, and his proclamation on 
the subject may have been a wise one from a personal 
point of view ; it was, however, disastrous as regarded 
the future fate of the dynasty, and it is doubtful now 
whether it will ever be possible for a Romanoff to 
reign again in Russia. 

The men who had made the Revolution were but 
too well aware of this fact, and they proceeded, im- 
mediately after this act of Renunciation, to organise 
the government of the country on the new lines which 
they hoped and wished to follow in the future. Their 
lead was followed by the nation with an enthusiasm 
which was so intense that it is no wonder it came to 
collapse so soon as was the case. Russia seemed to 
have been seized with a perfect frenzy; she was like 
a man who after having been unjustly imprisoned 
for years does not know what to make of his newly 
acquired freedom. People were literally mad with 
joy, and inclined to find that everything their new 
government wished to do was right. Hardly a voice 
of discontent arose during these first weeks that fol- 
lowed upon the abdication of Xicholas II., and this 
absolution, which was granted beforehand to the Min- 
istry that had taken into its hands the direction of the 
affairs of the country, allowed the men at the head 
of it to decide the fate of the Sovereign whom they 
had helped to overthrow, in a manner perhaps differ- 
ent from what would have been done under other cir- 

The Czar, after having parted from Mr. Goutsch- 
koff and Mr. Schoulguine at Pskov, and seen them 
leave with his abdication for Petrograd, proceeded 

292 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

himself in his own special train to Mohilew, where the 
headquarters of the army were established. It is not 
easy to understand the reasons which induced him to 
do it. Perhaps he thought he would be in greater 
safety among the troops that had owned him as a chief 
but the day before than anywhere else. At that time 
he had not the slightest inkling of the treason 
of General Alexieieff, and he might have nursed the 
vague thought that the latter might lend himself to 
another effort to subdue the revolutionary movement 
which had seized hold so rapidly of the whole country. 
Others say that he wished to bid good-bye to his army 
before returning to Tsarskoie Selo to join his wife and 
family. The real motive of his determination has, how- 
ever, not been ascertained so far, though the rumours 
going about at the time would have it that he had been 
invited to repair to headquarters by Alexieieff, who 
thought that it would be easier for him to keep his 
former Sovereign a prisoner there than anywhere else, 
until the moment when the new government should 
have decided as to what was to be done with him. That 
something of the kind must have been in his mind can 
be deduced from the fact that from the day of the 
return of Nicholas II. at Mohilew he was no longer 
allowed to see any of the officers of the Staff, or those 
attached to headquarters, and that the only person 
who visited him twice a day, as if to assure himself 
that he was still there, was General Alexieieff himself, 
and this only for a few minutes. It was also the gen- 
eral who insisted on both Count Fredericks, formerly 
Minister of the Imperial household, and General 
Voyeikoff , the head of the Okhrana, or personal police 

The Great Revolution 293 

guard of the Czar, being sent away from Mohilew. 
He explained his request by saying that these two 
gentlemen were looked upon with such inimical feel- 
ings by the garrison and officers stationed at Mohilew, 
that he could not answer for their safety were they 
to remain near the Emperor. In consequence of this 
warning both of them left for Petrograd, but on 
their way thither were arrested, and conveyed under 
escort to the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul, from 
whence Count Fredericks in view of his advanced age 
(he is over eighty), and of the precarious state of his 
health, was transferred to the Evangelical hospital. 
General Voyeikoff having been invited to tear off the 
initials of Nicholas II. from his epaulettes, proudly 
refused to do so, and declared that he had rather take 
off these epaulettes altogether. He was the only one 
who did not consent to submit to the orders of the 
government in that respect, all the other members of 
Nicholas II. 's military household having shown them- 
selves but too eager to do it, General Roussky divest- 
ing himself of his aiguillettes five minutes after the 
Emperor had handed over his abdication to the Dele- 
gates sent by the Duma to require it from him. 

The unfortunate Monarch returned to Mohilew 
from Pskov on the 17th of March. On the next day 
arrived there by special train his mother, the Dow- 
ager Empress Marie, who, upon hearing of the mis- 
fortunes that had befallen her son, had hastened 
to his side. Their relations had been more than 
strained for a long time, thanks to the intrigues 
of the Empress Alexandra, but in those moments 
of agony the mother's heart forgot aught else save 

294 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

that her child was in trouble, and she rushed to him 
to try at least to help him by her presence to bear 
it. Nicholas II. felt the nobility of this conduct, and 
the few days which he spent with Marie Feodorovna 
did away with much of the bitterness that had pre- 
sided at their intercourse with each other for some 
time. But what they must have been for the widowed 
Empress it would be hardly possible to imagine. She 
understood but too well, if he did not, the perils which 
awaited her son in the future, and the contrast which 
his reign had presented with that of his father must 
have filled her soul with agony and distress. Fate 
proved itself indeed hard for this noble woman, be- 
cause it inflicted upon her that last, supreme sorrow, 
of seeing, before her train carried her back to this 
town of Kieff which she had made her home for the 
last two years, Nicholas II. taken away a captive to 
that palace that was to know him no longer for its 

If one is to believe all that one hears, it seems that 
it was General Alexieieff, together with General 
Roussky and a few socialist leaders, who insisted on 
the provisional government ordering the arrest of the 
former Czar and of his Consort. They represented 
to Mr. Miliukoff and to his colleagues, that it would 
be the height of imprudence to allow the Empress to 
remain at liberty and able to go on intriguing, as was 
her wont, against the new administration. On the 
other hand sending the Imperial family immediately 
abroad had also its inconveniences, because their 
presenoe in Denmark or in England would only have 
been a cause of embarrassment to the Allies. Then 

The Great Revolution 295 

again, the hatred of the population of Petrograd 
for Alexandra Feodorovna had reached such im- 
mense proportions that it was feared it would give 
way to excesses against her, and even attempts to 
murder her, if some kind of satisfaction were not 
given to its incensed feelings in respect to a woman 
who was considered everywhere in the light of the 
worst of traitors. For this reason or for another, it 
is not quite clear, but most likely because of the rep- 
resentations made by Roussky and by Alexieieff, the 
Executive Committee of the Duma, which was then 
the highest authority in Russia, decided to arrest 
Nicholas II. together with his Consort. 

Four members of the Duma, Messrs. Boublikoff, 
Gribounine, Verschinine and Kalinine, were com- 
manded to repair to Mohilew, and to signify to the ex- 
Emperor the decision of the government. It seems 
that what had hastened it had been the discovery of a 
correspondence between the Empress and Protopo- 
poff, which the latter, in abject fear for his life, had 
himself given up to the Duma, hoping that he would 
thus be able to drive away from his own person the 
responsibility for the conspiracy which had been going 
on at Tsarskoie Selo, under the plea that he had been 
compelled to obey the orders which had been given 
to him. Apart from this correspondence, other things 
had come to light; amongst others the part that a 
Thibetan doctor, who had been a friend of Rasputin, 
and whom Madame Vyroubieva had introduced to the 
Empress, had played in the private life of the Impe- 
rial pair. It seems that he had given to Alexandra 
Feodorovna certain drinks and drugs, which, un- 

296 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

known to him, she had administered to Nicholas II., 
with the result that the latter had been completely 
stupefied, and had become a tool in the hands of his 
enterprising wife. The fact sounds incredible, and 
I would not have mentioned it here had it not been 
that young Prince Youssoupoff, one of those who 
had executed Rasputin, publicly spoke about it dur- 
ing an interview which after his return to Petrograd 
from the exile whither he had been sent by the Czar, 
he awarded to a correspondent of the Vovoie Vremia, 
where the account of it was published. Both these 
incidents gave a free hand to those who, from the 
very first day of the Revolution, had insisted upon 
the Empress being put under restraint, and once this 
measure was adopted, it was hardly possible not to 
extend it also to Nicholas II. 

The Commissioners started on March 20th for 
Mohilew. General Alexieieff had been privately in- 
formed as to the reason of their arriving there, and, 
unknown to others, gave orders for the Emperor's 
train to be prepared to carry him away at a moment's 
notice. At four o'clock of the afternoon of March 
21st, the Commissioners reached their destination, 
and they sent at once for the General, with whom they 
held a conference of about twenty minutes. He as- 
sured them that he had already made full prepara- 
tion for the departure of the Monarch. They asked 
him for a list of the people in attendance on the lat- 
ter, and noticing thereon the name of Admiral Niloff, 
who was considered to be one of the staunchest sup- 
porters of the Empress, they said at once that he 
could not travel in the Imperial train, and sent for 

The Great Revolution 297 

him to acquaint him with the fact. Niloff asked only 
if he was to consider himself as being under arrest, 
but the commissioners assured him that they had re- 
ceived no orders to that effect. 

Whilst this was going on, Nicholas II. was lunching 
with his mother in the latter's special train, which all 
the time of her stay in Mohilew had remained at the 
station, and which she had not left during these days. 
General AlexieiefF was the one who took it upon him- 
self to tell the Czar that he had been made a 
a prisoner. He boarded the train of the Empress, 
pushed himself most unceremoniously into the car- 
riage where she was sitting with her son, and ac- 
quainted the latter with his fate. Neither the de- 
posed Sovereign nor the widowed Empress said a 
word. She simply got up and went to the window. 
She saw a crowd of people standing around her train, 
and the one that was about to carry away her son, then 
she turned back, and folded him in one long embrace. 
Speech was impossible to either of them and Marie 
Feodorovna remained tearless all through this trag- 

On the platform were standing several officers 
who had formerly been attached to the person of the 
Emperor, whilst he had been in command of the army. 
They were waiting to say good-bye to their former 
chief. A guard, no longer of honour alas! was also 
standing at the door of the railway compartment as- 
signed to him, who a few days before had been the 
Czar of All the Russias, together with the commis- 
sioners of the Duma, into whose hands AlexieiefF de- 
livered his prisoner. Nicholas II. passed on from his 

298 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

mother's train to his own. Every head was uncov- 
ered ; he spoke to no one, and no one spoke. A silence 
akin to that of the grave prevailed. Standing at the 
window of her carriage could be seen the figure of the 
Empress Marie watching this sad departure. A few 
minutes later the train started on its mournful jour- 
ney. Another act in this drama had come to an end. 

Whilst this was going on at Mohilew, the officer in 
command of the garrison of Petrograd, General 
Korniloff y had repaired to Tsarskoie Selo. From the 
station he telephoned to Count Benckendorff, the head 
of the Imperial household, asking him when he could 
see the Empress. The Count asked him to wait a few 
minutes at the instrument, and then told him that 
Alexandra Feodorovna would be ready to receive him 
in half an hour. At the appointed time the General 
was introduced into the presence of the Sovereign 
who entered the room dressed in deep black, but as 
haughty as ever, and asked him in ironical tones to 
what she was indebted for the honour of his visit. 
Korniloff got up, and briefly communicated to her the 
decision of the government in respect to her person, 
and warned her that the Palace would be strictly 
watched, and all communications between her and the 
outside world forbidden. The Empress then en- 
quired whether her personal servants and those of her 
children would be left to her, and after having been 
reassured as to that point, she withdrew as impassible 
as ever, though strong hysterics seized her as soon as 
she was once more alone in her private apartments. 

The guard in charge of the Palace was changed ; the 
telephone and private post and telegraph office were 

The Great Revolution 299 

taken over by a staff which General Korniloff had 
brought over with him from Petrograd, and the Em- 
press was informed that she could not leave her rooms, 
even for a walk, without the permission of the officer 
in charge of the troops quartered in the Imperial resi- 
dence. Though no orders had been issued in regard to 
her personal attendants, yet the proud Princess was 
to find that most of them had left her of their own ac- 
cord. Her children were all ill with a severe attack 
of measles, but this did not prevent the salaried 
domestics who up to that moment had been so happy 
and eager to be allowed the privilege of serving her, 
deserting her in the hour of her need. The few friends 
she thought she could rely upon were in prison. She 
was alone, all alone ; and so she was to remain until 
the end. The devotion with which Marie Antoinette 
was surrounded during the tragedy of her existence 
was not known by Alexandra Feodorovna in the 
drama of her life. She had made far too many ene- 
mies during the time of her splendour and prosperity 
to find any one willing to cheer and comfort her in 
the hour of her misfortune. 

And the next day her husband was brought back 
to that Palace of Tsarskoie Selo they had both liked 
so much, brought back a prisoner to find her captive. 
What did she think when she saw him again? Did she 
realise at last all the evil which she had done, all the 
misery, which, thanks to her influence, had overtaken 
the Emperor whose crown she had shared ? How did 
she feel in presence of this catastrophe, of this wreck 
of all her ambitions, plans and hopes? Outwardly 
she made no sign that she understood the full signifi- 

300 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

cance of the events that had swallowed her up in their 
depths, together with her pride and haughtiness. She 
only manifested some emotion when told that the body 
of Rasputin had been exhumed and burned publicly 
by exasperated crowds. Otherwise she remained 
silent and if not resigned at least disdainful, even 
when she was subjected to a close interrogation by 
General Korniloff , who was deputed to examine her 
as to certain points in the correspondence which Mr. 
Protopopoff had surrendered to the Duma. She de- 
nied to every one the right to question her ; she proud- 
ly refused to reply to the demands addressed to her, 
and it was only when she was alone in her rooms that 
she used to give way to terrible fits of despair at the 
loss of that grandeur by which her head had been 
turned. Her children were so ill that they could not 
even be told of the change that had taken place in 
their existences and destinies. Her husband was too 
much crushed by the weight of all the calamities which 
had fallen upon him to be able to comfort her in any 
way. Her friends had left her, her attendants had 
forsaken her, her family had abandoned her. . . . 
And it was thus, amidst the stillness of sorrow and of 
anxiety, that the curtain was to fall upon the tragedy 
of Nicholas II. and of Alexandra Feodorovna, or at 
least upon one of its principal acts. . . . 



More than one year has gone by since the events 
narrated in this book, and it is possible now to throw 
a retrospective glance on them, as well as on all the 
tragedies that have followed the fall of the Roman- 
offs. It has been proved beyond doubt that it is not 
sufficient to destroy a political system and to over- 
turn a monarchy. These must be replaced by some- 
thing else, and it is this something else which Russia 
has been vainly looking for during the last twelve 
months. After the abdication of Nicholas II., suc- 
cessors had to be found to take up the power which 
had been snatched out of his hands owing to the 
clamours of public indignation at his weakness of 
character and want of comprehension of the needs of 
his people. These successors, who were taken here 
and there in the hazards of an adventure brought 
about by the intrigues of a few and by the cowardice 
of many, who were they? What did they represent? 
And what elements of strength did they possess? 
They were called upon to take the direction of the des- 
tinies of their Fatherland in an hour of national 
crisis, such as it had never known before in the whole 
course of its history, and to try to save a situation 
which had become already so entangled that it had 
almost reached the limits of desperation. It is pos- 
sible to-day to pass judgment on the first government 


304 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

that assumed authority after the fall of the un- 
fortunate Czar. And, much as one would like to 
think well of it, it must be admitted that though it 
was composed of men of great talent and integrity, 
it did not possess one single character determined 
enough and strong enough to deliver it from the 
demagogues who had secured an entry into it, and 
from the anarchist elements that had tried from the 
very outset to impose themselves upon it and their 
doctrines. Moreover these men were devoid of ex- 
perience, and they believed sincerely (there can be 
no doubt as to this point) but absolutely erroneously, 
that it was sufficient for them and their party to come 
to the foreground in order to bring about in Russia 
an era of bliss such as exists only in fairy tales. 
Among them was found Alexander Kerensky, a So- 
cialist, one of the leaders of the Labour Party, an 
indifferent lawyer but a most eloquent speaker, who, 
better than any one else in Russia, understood the art 
of stirring the souls and appealing to the passions 
of the crowds upon which he relied to keep him in 
power ; and who by his wonderful speeches could eas- 
ily lead these crowds upon any road he wished to 
have them follow, though it might not land them 
where they imagined they were going. Kerensky 
imposed himself upon the Revolution in the same 
way he imposed himself upon a jury, and he treated 
it as he would have treated a jury during a crim- 
inal trial. Of politics he had but a hazy idea; of 
the art of government he understood nothing. He 
believed in the value of words, and imagined that 
he could establish in Russia an ideal State, living 

The Riddle of the Future 305 

upon ideal principles. But at one time he was popu- 
lar, and people thought him a strong man, whilst he 
was only an eloquent demagogue. With this he had 
an overbearing character, would not admit contradic- 
tion, and soon was at variance with his colleagues in 
the ministry, who, unfortunately for Russia, were 
as weak as he was himself but with less tyrannical 
dispositions; they retired when they found that 
they could not prevent him from carrying out his 
plans of reforming the army and of abolishing its 
military discipline, without which no troops in the 
world could be expected to stand bravely in pres- 
ence of an attacking foe. It is a thousand pities 
that men like Paul MilyukofT, Prince George Lvoff, 
Rodzianko and others, to whose initiative was due 
the success of the Revolution, allowed themselves 
to be overruled by Kerensky, until he was left 
alone to bear upon his shoulders the whole bur- 
den of the government and the whole responsi- 
bility of the war, when he collapsed like a weak 
reed at the first real attack directed against 

Another misfortune connected with the govern- 
ment that replaced that of Nicholas II. was that it 
failed to recognise the terrible German propaganda 
that was carried on with renewed energy in Russia 
after the Revolution. It would not believe in its 
danger, and it could not bring itself to employ vio- 
lence to put an end to the Socialist or, rather, anar- 
chist agitation fomented by German intrigues and 
kept up by German money, which alone has rendered 
possible the triumph of Bolschevikism and the seiz- 

306 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

ure of supreme power by people such as Lenine, 
Trotzky, KamenefF, and other personalities of the 
same kind, and the same doubtful or, rather, not 
doubtful reputation. 

And yet it would have been relatively easy to put 
an end to the career of these men, had one only ap- 
plied oneself to do so in time and bravely faced the 
criticisms of the people who were in their pay, or in 
their employ. The whole story of the Lenine- 
Trotzky intrigue has not yet been told, at least not 
here in America; and it may not be without interest 
to disclose some of its details. When Milyukoff and 
Prince Lvoff proceeded to form a government after 
the overthrow of the Monarchy, they offered the port- 
folio of Justice to a Moscow lawyer called Karensky 
'(nothing to do with Alexander Kerensky) who en- 
joyed the reputation of being one of the most elo- 
quent, and, at the same time, honest members of the 
Moscow Bar. They called him to Petrograd, where 
they held several consultations with him. Karensky 
declared himself ready to accept the position offered 
him, but only on one condition: that he would be 
given an absolutely free hand to proceed with the 
greatest energy and vigour against all the German 
spies and agents with which the Capital was infested, 
and that he would also be allowed the same free hand 
in his dealings with the anarchists who were begin- 
ning to make themselves heard. Neither Prince 
Lvoff nor Milyukoff would agree to give him these 
powers he demanded. They feared that if they did 
so they would be reproached for doing exactly the 
same as the government that had crumbled down a 

The Riddle of the Future 307 

few days before; and they also objected to allowing 
a member of the cabinet to dispose at his will and 
fancy of such grave questions as those involved in re- 
pression exercised against any political party, no 
matter of what shade or opinion. Karensky there- 
upon refused the position offered to him, but accepted 
the post of State Prosecutor under Alexander 
Kerensky at first, and, afterwards, when the latter 
had been transferred to the war office, under Mr. 
Pereviazeff. This allowed him to watch the grow- 
ing German agitation, connected with anarchist con- 
spiracies, which was beginning to feel its way previ- 
ous to its explosion. He had heard about Lenine 
and Trotzky, and was from the first convinced that 
they were both in the employ of the Kaiser either 
directly or indirectly, and he set himself to obtain 
proof that such was the case. He had wondered at 
the easiness with which Lenine had been able to ob- 
tain a passport from the German government author- 
ising him to cross the dominions of William II. on his 
way from Switzerland to Russia. He, therefore, 
had the correspondence of both Lenine and Trotzky 
watched, and very soon his attention was attracted 
by the fact that they were both sending and receiv- 
ing constantly telegrams to and from Sweden and 
Finland, all of which were deeply concerned with the 
health of a certain "Kola" who seemed to be always 
getting ill, and then better, in a sort of regular way 
which appeared more than strange. This was the 
first remark which led to the result that at last, it 
was established, to the absolute satisfaction of Ka- 
rensky and of others, that Trotzky, Lenine, Kamen- 

308 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

eff , a certain Zinovieff , a lawyer called Kozlovsky, a 
lady going by the name of Madame Soumentay, and 
the wife of Lenine, had received not less than nine- 
teen millions of rubles from the German govern- 
ment. This money had been sent through so many 
different channels that it was next to impossible to 
discover its origin. It had passed through eight 
banks, and, I do not now remember, through how 
many private hands. But the people whose names 
I have just mentioned had received it, partly in Rus- 
sian banknotes, and partly in banknotes printed in 
Berlin, which were supposed to be Russian, of a new 
type with which the German government was begin- 
ning to meet its obligations so as not to make them 
too heavy for its own Exchequer. 

Karensky sought Prince Lvoff, who was still 
Prime Minister at the time, and asked him to sign 
an order for the arrest of Trotzky and Lenine. The 
Prince had not the courage to do so, and the State 
Prosecutor had, perforce, to wait. But in July the 
first insurrectionary movement, engineered by the 
Bolscheviki, broke out, and then Karensky thought 
that his duty obliged him to assume the responsibili- 
ties which the ministry did not care to face. By that 
time Prince Lvoff, MilyukofF and others had re- 
signed, and Kerensky was virtually master of the 
situation. But he was weak, weaker perhaps than 
any of his colleagues had been, and he openly de- 
clared to the State Prosecutor that he felt afraid to 
arrest the two men who were ultimately to lead Rus- 
sia to her destruction. Karensky, however, was 
made of sterner stuff, and he bravely decided to act 

The Riddle of the Future 309 

for himself, and signed alone the order for the in- 
carceration of both Lenine and Trotzky. But the 
former had been warned, and had fled to Finland. 
A thorough search was made of the flat which he oc- 
cupied, where the sum of one million and a half of 
rubles was found in possession of his wife, who could 
not explain whence she had this money. Trotzky 
at the same time was incarcerated and brought be- 
fore the State Prosecutor. The latter, in order to 
justify the course of action he had taken, had caused 
to be published in all the Petrograd and Moscow 
newspapers an account of the discoveries which he 
had made, together with the names of the people 
who had participated in the work of treason he was 
determined to suppress. A curious thing in the 
story is that none of the papers that printed it (and 
they all did with the exception of the Bolschevik or- 
gan Praicda), was allowed to get abroad, which ac- 
counts for the fact of no publicity having been given 
to the story. Petrograd then was exasperated 
against Trotzky to such an extent that Karensky 
feared he would be lynched, and caused him to be 
conveyed to the prison called "Kresty" in an auto- 
mobile driven by his own son, as no chauffeur would 
undertake to drive him there. What happened later 
on remains to this day a mystery. The Minister of 
Justice, Mr. Pereviazeff, resigned his functions two 
days after the arrest of Trotzky, and his place was 
taken by Xekrassoff, who, when asked by the Com- 
mittees of soldiers and peasants who had begun by 
that time to be all powerful, to give the reasons which 
had induced the government to resort to this meas- 

310 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

lire, became so embarrassed in his replies that these 
Committees insisted on Trotzky being set at liberty, 
which was done three days afterwards. Karensky 
then resigned his functions, and returned to Mos- 
cow whence, however, he was obliged to fly and seek 
a refuge in Kharkov, as soon as the Bolscheviki 
seized the government. The latter inaugurated a 
system of terrorism that claimed more victims than 
is known abroad, completed the disorganisation of 
the army, and at last started the negotiations which 
culminated in the shameful peace signed at Brest 
Litovsk. After three and a half years' war and a 
Revolution, Russia as an independent nation ceased 
to exist, and became virtually, and to all appearance, 
a German province. 

This is the story as it reads, and sad enough it 
sounds. Germany can look triumphantly on the 
success of her work and glory in it. Happily for 
Russia, for the world and for the cause of civilisa- 
tion, it is only one chapter of it that has come to an 
end. Russia, the great Russia of the past, is not 
dead. She possesses far more vitality than she is 
given credit for, and she still has sound, true, and 
honest elements amidst her citizens. When attempt- 
ing to judge her, one ought to think of the great 
French Revolution, and to remember that in France, 
also, it took years before its work was at last con- 
solidated and set upon a sound basis. One must 
bear in mind that in France, too, a period of terror- 
ism made people despair of the future and fear that 
the end of their Fatherland had come. Our Rus- 
sian Revolution is hardly one year old, and though 

t/s- /#*, 


lfac$bfL4xJc*<i &&*< 



Copyright, International Film Service, Inc. 

Peace Document of Delegates at Brest-Litoysk Conference 

The Riddle of the Future 311 

perhaps one will be aghast at what I am going to 
say, I think that she has not yet passed through that 
phase of real terror which is always a symptom of 
great upheavals such as Russia has undergone and 
is undergoing. We may see worse things yet; we 
may live to look upon the erection of a scaffold on 
one of the squares of Petrograd or of Moscow. But 
this will not mean that the end of Russia has come, 
nor that she has become, or will remain, a German 
province. The hatred of the Teuton, on the con- 
trary, will grow as events progress and the great dis- 
illusion arrives. A few more months, and the peas- 
ants whom Trotzky, Lenine and their crew have lured 
with false promises will perceive that these dema- 
gogues have been unable to fulfil all that they had 
sworn to them they would do. They will realise that 
their lot has become under the rule of these new mas- 
ters ten thousand times harder than was the case 
before, and they will be the first to rise against these 
deceivers. If we are to believe all that we hear from 
people who have arrived here from Russia recently, 
this movement of reaction has already started, and 
it is bound to grow stronger with everj- day and hour 
which goes by. The peace signed at Brest Litovsk 
will remain verily a "scrap of paper" which will end 
by being thrown into the waste-paper basket. Not 
one Russian will recognise it, not one Russian will 
accept it; the Germans feel it themselves, and are 
preparing for a new struggle which may have a far 
different conclusion from the one which they are now 
trying to persuade the world has come to an end. 
What has helped them, apart from the treason of 

312 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

Trotzky, Lenine and their followers, who have only 
had one idea in heart and brain, that of enriching 
themselves at the expense of the country for which 
they feel neither affection nor pity, has been the state 
of confusion into which Russia was thrown by the 
Revolution that broke up so unexpectedly — a con- 
fusion which can only be compared to that which 
prevails in the house of a man whom sudden ruin has 
overtaken, when every servant or menial in the place 
tries to steal and take something in the general dis- 
aster or to profit out of it in some way or other. In 
Petrograd, in Moscow, as well as all over the coun- 
try, looting took place, not only of private property, 
but also of the Public Exchequer, especially of the 
latter, and the Russian officials, who had always been 
grasping, became all at once bandits after the style 
of Rinaldo Rinaldino, or any other brigand illustrated 
by drama or comedy. They stole; they took; they 
carried away; they seized everything they could lay 
their hands upon. To begin with the silver spoons 
of the unfortunate Czar and as many of the Crown 
Jewels as they could get hold of, down to the paper 
money issued by the State Treasury, of which, as the 
Kerensky government had to own before the so- 
called National Assembly at Moscow, eight hundred 
millions were put into circulation every month after 
the Revolution, in contrast with two hundred mil- 
lions which were issued formerly. I do not think that 
it is a libel on these officials to suppose that part of 
this fabulous sum found its way into their pockets, 
instead of being applied to the needs of the nation or 
of the army. 

The Riddle of the Future 313 

This wholesale plundering, if I may be forgiven 
for using such a word, was of course not the fault of 
Kerensky and of his colleagues, under whose minis- 
try it began, but whereas the latter realised immedi- 
ately that it was taking place and resigned rather than 
countenance it ; the former, though aware of it, found 
his hands tied in every attempt he made to subdue 
it, by the fact that those who were principally guilty 
were either his personal friends or his former parti- 
sans, or people with whom he had associated in ear- 
lier times, and with whom he had compromised him- 
self to a considerable extent. With regard to those 
associates of his former life, Kerensky found himself 
in the same position as Napoleon III. after his ac- 
cession, in presence of the Italian Carbonari, who 
claimed from the Sovereign the fulfilment of the 
promises made to them by the exiled Pretender. 
Kerensky had also given certain pledges at a time 
when he never expected he might be called upon to 
redeem them ; and when he became a Minister he had 
to give way to the exigencies of all the radicals, an- 
archists, and extreme socialists among whom he had 
laboured, and with whom he had worked at the over- 
throw of the detested and detestable government of 
the Czar. He could not cast them overboard or set 
them aside. He had to listen to them, and in a cer- 
tain sense to submit to their demands. For example, 
in the case of the exile to Siberia of the unfortunate 
Nicholas II., a measure which in the first days of the 
Revolution he had declared that he would never re- 
sort to, but which he nevertheless executed under con- 
ditions of the most intense cruelty, simply because it 

314 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

was demanded from him by persons to whom he could 
not say no. People who knew him well say that the 
fact of his power lessness caused him intense suffer- 
ing, but he had neither the strength to assert himself 
in presence of his former comrades, nor, perhaps, the 
will to do so. 

In a certain sense, he was the man of the hour, 
"le maitre de l'heure," as the Franco- Arab proverb 
says. He was even to some extent the one indis- 
pensable element without which it would have been 
impossible for a Republic ever to become established 
in Russia. And everybody seemed to agree, one 
year ago, that a Republic was the only form of gov- 
ernment possible after the fall of the Romanoifs. Of 
this Republic Kerensky rapidly became the symbol 
and at the same time the emblem of a new Russia ; a 
regenerated and better one, in the opinion of his fol- 
lowers of the moment ; a worse one from what it had 
been formerly, in that of his adversaries, but at all 
events of a different Russia from the one previously 

But, unfortunately, Kerensky was neither a states- 
man like Milyukoff nor an administrator like Prince 
Lvoff, nor even a business man like Konovaloff. He 
lacked experience and knowledge of the routine of 
government. He had but a limited amount of edu- 
cation, no idea of the feelings of people born and 
reared in a different atmosphere from that in which 
he had grown up. He was only a leader of men, or 
rather of the passions of men ; and, unfortunately for 
him, what Russia required was more a ruler than a 
leader, of whom she had more than she wanted, 

The Riddle of the Future 315 

though perhaps at that particular moment none so 
powerful as Kerensky. He had emerged a Dictator 
out of a complete and general chaos; and he was to 
add to it the whole weight of his unripe genius and of 
his exuberant personality. After having been the 
Peter the Hermit of a new Crusade, he was to become 
the false Prophet of a creed which he had preached 
with an eloquence such as has been seldom surpassed, 
but in which it is doubtful whether he himself be- 
lieved. Had he consented, or had he been able to 
work in common with more experienced men than 
himself towards the triumph of the Republican cause, 
he would have taken in the annals of his country the 
place of one of its greatest men. As it has turned 
out, he will rank among its most interesting and bril- 
liant historical figures, but only as a figure. His 
disappearance also has had something romantic about 
it, which will perhaps appeal to certain people in 
Russia, and which will disgust others. The world is 
wondering where he has gone and what has become 
of him; but everything points to the fact that he has 
either done away with himself, as he often said he 
would do in case of failure, or else that he has been 
murdered by the Bolscheviki during those days when 
the Xeva and the different canals of Petrograd were 
carrying away to the sea hundreds of dead bodies 
every day. At least this is the opinion of persons 
who were in Russia at the time Kerensky vanished 
into space; and very probably this opinion will prove 
to be a true one. 

The moderate liberal parties in Russia, who are the 
really intelligent, would, of course, wish their coun- 

316 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

try's future government to become a Republic mod- 
elled after that of the United States. At the same 
time, if we are to believe the rare news which reaches 
us from Petrograd, and especially from Moscow, one 
hears people say now what they would never have 
dared to mention a few months ago — i. e., that a con- 
stitutional Monarchy, if it could be established, would 
offer certain advantages. I hasten to say that, per- 
sonally, I do not see where these advantages would 
come in, unless they were associated with a new dy- 
nasty. But at the same time, together with many 
others, when I look at all that has taken place re- 
cently in my poor country, I cannot but feel sad at 
the great uncertainty as to the morrow which the 
Revolution of last year has opened, not only before 
Russia, but before the whole world, and I would like 
to see this incertitude come to an end in some way or 

I have but little more to add. It is difficult even 
to try to guess what the future holds in store for the 
former realm of the Romanoffs. The only thing 
which one can say at present with any certainty is that 
Russia will never honour the signature of Trotzky in 
regard to the peace treaty concluded with Germany. 
Any hesitation Russia might have had as to this point 
in her moments of discouragement, that must have 
made themselves felt at times, disappeared after the 
message sent by the President of the United States 
to the Soviets in Moscow. This message dispelled 
any fear the Russians might have had as to whether 
their allies had abandoned her. At present the coun- 
try knows that it does not stand alone, and that any 

The Riddle of the Future 317 

resistance it has to offer to its foes will be appreci- 
ated and encouraged. This is much, indeed this is 
the one thing which was capable of rousing the ener- 
gies of the whole of that vast land which the Teutons 
imagine that they have conquered. I can but repeat : 
Russia is not dead yet. Russia shall show the world 
that, betrayed as she has been, she can still lift the 
yoke put upon her, save herself, and help to save the 
world for the great cause of Democracy. 

And the conclusion of this book? I do not pre- 
tend to offer any. I simply invite my readers to 
draw the one they like best. I ask them only to do 
so with kindness and an appreciation of the difficul- 
ties of the situation. I have not tried to write a vol- 
ume of controversy; I have merely attempted to de- 
scribe, as well as I could, the Revolution and the 
events which preceded it, among which the extraordi- 
nary story of Rasputin figures so curiously. 

I have given the narrative as it was related to me 
by people whose veracity I have no reason to chal- 
lenge. It is certain, however, that many of its de- 
tails are still unknown, and it is doubtful whether 
they will be revealed before the end of the war. At 
present there are too many persons interested in dis- 
simulating the part which they have played in the 
drama, either out of fear, or because they do not think 
the time opportune. It seems sometimes as if there 
exists a tacit understanding among the actors of the 
tragedy to hide the details of the conspiracy which 
came to an end by the signature of the Manifest of 
Pskov. This signature was wrenched, no one knows 
yet by just what means, out of the weakness of Xich- 

318 Rasputin and the Russian Revolution 

olas II! — that unfortunate Monarch who has never 
realised the obligations and duties he owed to the na- 
tion that dethroned him. The last crowned Roman- 
off had never had, unfortunately for him, and still 
more unfortunately for his subjects, a sense of ap- 
preciation of the real value of facts or of events, 
which sometimes is even more useful than a great in- 
telligence, to those whom destiny has entrusted with 
the difficult task of ruling over nations. He be- 
lieved that his duty consisted in upholding the super- 
annuated traditions of autocracy, and he did not per- 
ceive that these traditions had been maintained so 
long only because there had existed strong men to 
enforce them. Honest and kind of heart though he 
was, at least in many respects, he had contrived in 
spite of these qualities to rouse against him from the 
very first days of his accession to the Throne all the 
social classes of his country. He had irritated the 
aristocracy, wounded the feelings of the army and of 
the people, and excited against himself the passions 
of the proletariat and of the peasantry, by his weak- 
ness of character and his obstinacy in surrounding 
himself with the most hated and most despised ele- 
ments in Russia. A few days before his fall he 
might still have made a successful effort to save him- 
self and his dynasty, had he only followed the dis- 
interested advice which was forwarded to him by 
his Allies and consented to the establishment of a re- 
sponsible Ministry. He preferred to listen to his 
wife and to the people she kept around her. In- 
stead of trying to conciliate his subjects, he threat- 
ened them, until the expected occurred, and he lost 

The Riddle of the Future 319 

not only his crown but also his liberty; and has per- 
haps forfeited his life and that of his family. 

But the future, the future, my readers will ask me, 
what will be the future, what shall it bring forth for 
Russia? The only reply possible to this eager ques- 
tion is to quote the words of Victor Hugo in his won- 
derful Ode to Napoleon: "The future belongs to no 
one, it is controlled by God alone."