By Maurice Paléologue
APRIL 7-21, 1917.
The United States of America declares war on Germany.---A concert at the Marie Theatre on behalf of the victims of the revolution; Siberian exiles in the imperial box.---Public feeling revolts against the recent ceremony in the Champ-de-Mars: funeral orations pronounced over the graves of the victims.---Russian patriotism vanishes: "The war is dead."---Acrimonious disputes between the Provisional Government and the Soviet on the subject of "war aims."---Life of the fallen sovereigns at Tsarskoïe-Selo; a closer guard kept: the Emperor is imperturbable, the Empress resigned.---Three French socialist deputies, Montet, Cachin and Lafont arrive in Petrograd.---Easter Sunday: curious appearance of the churches.---The French socialist deputies get such a frigid reception from the Soviet that their hearts fail them and they dare not assert France's right to the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine.---Arrival of the "maximalist." Lenin, in Petrograd.---Illusions of the French socialist deputies about the natural tendencies and guiding forces of the Russian revolutions: our discussions of the subject.---Lenin's growing ascendancy; his antecedents, character and ideas.
Saturday, April 7, 1917.
Yesterday the United States of America declared war on Germany.
Miliukov and I congratulated each other on this event which deprives the Teutonic powers of their last chance of salvation. I impressed upon him that the Provisional Government should spread far and wide the splendid message which President Wilson has just addressed to Congress and which ends thus
It is not possible to remain neutral when the peace of the world and the liberty of the nations are at stake. We are thus compelled to join battle with the natural enemy of peace and liberty. To that we will sacrifice our lives, our fortunes, all that we possess, with the pride of knowing that the day has come in which America can give her blood for the nobler principles from which she has sprung.
While the American democracy is speaking in this lofty strain, the Russian revolution is about to complete the destruction of the instinct of patriotic duty and national honour.
This afternoon, the Volhynian regiment, formerly a regiment of the Guard, which was the first to revolt on the 12th March and carried the rest of the garrison with it by its example, organized a concert at the Marie Theatre for the benefit of the victims of the revolution. An extremely polite invitation was sent to the ambassadors of France, England and Italy. We decided to turn up, to avoid the appearance of slighting the new regime; the Provisional Government was also present at the ceremony.
What an extraordinary change at the Marie Theatre! Would its clever stage-hands have succeeded in producing such an amazing transformation? All the imperial coats of arms and all the golden eagles have been removed. The box attendants had exchanged their sumptuous court liveries for miserable, dirty grey jackets.
The theatre was filled with an audience of bourgeois, students and soldiers. A military orchestra occupied the stage; the men of the Volhynian regiment stood in groups behind.
We were ushered into the box on the left which was formerly the box of the imperial family, and in which I have so often seen the Grand Duke Boris, the Grand Duke Dimitri and the Grand Duke Andrew applauding Kchechinskaïa, Karsavina, Spesivtsiava or Smirnova. Opposite us, in the Minister of the Court's box, all the ministers were gathered, wearing nothing more impressive than frock-coats. I could not help thinking of old Count Fredericks, with his blaze of orders and his exquisite courtesy, who is now kept a prisoner in a hospital, sorely stricken with a disease of the bladder and obliged to submit to the most humiliating attentions in the presence of two gaolers. My thoughts went also to his wife, the worthy Countess Hedwig-Aloïsovna, who sought refuge in my embassy and is on her deathbed in an isolation hospital; to General Voyeïkov, Commandant of the Imperial Palaces, who is a prisoner in the Fortress, and to all the brilliant aides-de-camp, gardes-à-cheval and knight-guards, who are now for in captivity or flight.
But the real interest of the audience was concentrated on the great imperial box in the centre, the gala box. It was occupied by some thirty persons, old gentlemen and several old ladies, with grave, worn, curiously expressive and unforgettable faces, who turned wondering eyes on the assembly. These were the heroes and heroines of terrorism who, scarcely three weeks ago, were living in exile in Siberia, or in the cells of Schlusselburg and the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul. Morozov, Lopatin, Vera Figner, Catherine Ismaïlovitch, etc., were there. I shivered to think of all that the little party stood for in the way of physical suffering and moral torment, borne in silence and buried in oblivion. What an epilogue for Krapotkin's Memoirs, or Dostoïevsky's Memories of the House of the Dead!
The concert began with the Marseillaise, which is now the Russian national anthem. The theatre almost collapsed under the cheers and shouts of "Long live the Revolution!" and "Long live France!" was occasionally sent in my direction.
Then we had a long speech from the Minister of Justice, Kerensky; it was a clever speech in which the subject of the war was wrapped up in socialist phraseology. The orator's style was incisive and jerky; his gestures were few, impatient and imperious. He had a succès fou which made his pale, drawn features seem to light up with satisfaction.
In the interval which followed, Buchanan said to me:
"Let's pay our respects to the Government box! It will look well."
At the end of the interval we returned to our box. A murmur of sympathy and something like concentration passed through the theatre; it was a sort of silent ovation.
Vera Figner had appeared on the stage, in the conductor's place.
She was utterly unaffected, her grey hair coiled round her head, dressed in a black woollen gown, with a white fichu, and looking like a very distinguished old lady.
Nothing about her betrayed the fearsome nihilist she used to be in the days of her youth. She was of course of good family, connected with the nobility.
In calm, level tones, unaccompanied by any kind of gesture, and without a single outburst or the slightest trace of violence or emphasis, the acid note of vengeance or the pealing cry of victory, she reminded us of the countless army of obscure victims who have bought the present triumph of the revolution with their lives, all those nameless ones who have succumbed in state prisons or the penal settlements of Siberia. The list of martyrs came forth like a litany or a piece of recitative. The concluding phrases, uttered more slowly, struck an indescribable note of sadness, resignation and pity. Perhaps the Slav soul alone is capable of that intensity. A funeral march which the orchestra at once began seemed a continuation of the speech, the pathetic effect of which thus culminated in religious emotion. Most of those present were reduced to tears.
We took advantage of this general emotion to withdraw, as we were told that Cheïdze, the orator of the "Labour" group, was about to speak against the war and that heated disputes, etc. might be anticipated. It was time to go. Besides, the ceremony had made a peculiarly poignant impression upon us: we did not want to spoil it.
In the empty passages through which I hastened I seemed to see the ghosts of my smart women friends who had so often been here to lull their restless minds with the novelties of the ballet, and who were the last charm of a social system which has vanished for ever.
Sunday, April 8, 1917.
The number of persons present last Thursday at the funeral ceremonies in the Champ-de-Mars has been calculated at nearly a million. The civil character of the obsequies has aroused no popular protest. The Cossacks alone had announced that their conscience did not allow them to take any part in a funeral at which the figure of Christ was not displayed and they stayed at home in their barracks.
But next morning the humblest classes, especially the soldiers, began to experience an uneasy feeling, a feeling compounded of disapproval, remorse, vague alarm and superstitious forebodings. There could be no doubt now, they thought, that these obsequies, unhallowed by priest or ikon, were an act of sacrilege. God would be avenged! Those Cossacks had known it all along! They had refused to be involved in such a sinful enterprise. How cunning they are! Besides, was it not doubly impious to have painted the coffins red? There are only two Christian colours for coffins---white and yellow; it is so well known that the catechism does not even mention it. So the dead have been profaned by that devilish novelty of painting the coffins red! That was the last straw! The entire ceremonial at the Champ-de-Mars must have been arranged by the Jews!
This revulsion of public feeling has become so general and outspoken that the Provisional Government has seen itself compelled to mollify it. Acting on its orders, a number of priests proceeded to the Champ-de-Mars yesterday and said prayers over the graves.
I dined this evening with Madame P-----. There were about a dozen guests, all the closest of friends, and among them an aide-de-camp of the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaïevitch, Prince Sergei B-----, who has just come from the Caucasus.
Throughout the evening there was a general and highly animated conversation, in which all of us freely spoke our minds about the course of events. Of this frank and spontaneous exchange of ideas this is what I remember:
"The situation has become much worse in the last few days. The country, taken as a whole, would not agree to a peace of dishonour, such as a separate peace would be. But it has lost all interest in the war and thinks of nothing now but domestic questions and, first and foremost, the agrarian question. . . . It must frankly be admitted that henceforth there is no object in the war, from the point of view of the Russian people. What about Constantinople, Santa Sophia and the Golden Horn? But who gives that fantastic notion a thought nowadays, except Miliukov, and he solely because he's an historian. What about Poland? Poland has ceased to be any concern of the Russian State since the Provisional Government proclaimed her independence. It's her business now to secure her territorial unity; in future she'll have to take Polonia farà da se for her motto. As for Lithuania, Courland and even Livonia, their future destinies are regarded with the most complete unconcern, on the pretext that they are not Russian territories. . . . The same note can be heard everywhere, in Moscow as in Petrograd, Kiev no less than Odessa; despondency and the effacement of all national and patriotic feeling is universal. Impressions of the army are equally discouraging. Among the garrisons in the interior there is nothing but hopeless indiscipline, idleness, absenteeism and desertion. Until quite lately the troops at the front had preserved an excellent spirit. The recent reverse on the Stochod has shown that even the troops in the front line have lost their moral, for there can be no doubt that one regiment refused to fight. And what is to be said of all the turmoil raging in the administrative departments, the transport, supply and munitions services?"
As I was endeavouring to argue against some of these pessimistic statements, Madame P----- replied:
"Don't make any mistake. The war is dead, for all the fine phraseology of official speeches. A miracle alone can galvanize it back to life!"
"May not that miracle come from Moscow?"
"Moscow's no better than Petrograd!"
Monday, April 9, 1917.
A few days ago a hot dispute began between the Provisional Government and the Soviet, and more particularly between Miliukov and Kerensky, on the subject of "war aims."
The Soviet demands that the Government shall immediately join with its allies in opening peace negotiations on the following basis: "No annexations, no indemnities, and the free development of the nations."
I fortified Miliukov to the best of my ability by pointing out that the Soviet's demands amount to the defection of Russia and if that came to pass it would be an eternal disgrace to the Russian people:
"You have ten million men in arms," I said; "you are supported by eight allies, most of whom have suffered more than you but are as determined as ever to fight on until complete victory. A ninth ally is about to join you, an ally who is indeed an ally! America! This terrible war was originally a fight for a Slav cause. France rushed to your assistance without a moment's haggling over the price of her help. And you're to be the first to withdraw from the contest!"
"I'm so entirely in sympathy with your view," Miliukov protested, "that if the Soviet got its way I should resign my office at once!"
A proclamation which the Provisional Government addresses to the Russian people and has published this morning tries to evade the difficulty by veiling its intention to continue the war in nebulous phrases.
When I pointed out the inconsistency and timorousness of these phrases to Miliukov, he replied:
"I think I achieved a great triumph in getting them inserted in the proclamation. We are obliged to tread very warily in dealing with the Soviet; we cannot yet rely on the garrison to defend us."
Can it be that the Soviet is the master of Petrograd!
Wednesday, April 11, 1917.
I had the leader of the "Cadet" party, Basil Maklakov, Princess Dolgoruky, Prince Scipio Borghese and Alexer Nicolaïevitch Benois, the painter and art critic, to lunch with me to-day.
Maklakov, who has seen as much of the revolution at close quarters as anyone, told us all about its beginnings.
"Not one of us," he said, " foresaw the immense scale of the movement; no one expected such a cataclysm. Of course we knew that the imperial regime was rotten; but we never suspected that it was as rotten as it has proved to be. That's why nothing was ready. I was discussing it only yesterday with Maxim Gorky and Cheidze; they haven't recovered from the shock even yet."
"So this combustion of all Russia has been spontaneous? " asked Borghese.
"Yes, absolutely spontaneous."
I remarked that the same thing happened in February., 1848, when the triumph of the Revolution surprised no one more than the leaders of the Republican Party, Ledru-Rollin, Armand Marrast and Louis Blanc; I added:
"You can never predict the day and hour of an eruption of Vesuvius. You have done pretty well when you can recognize the premonitory signs, record the first seismic waves and announce that an eruption is inevitable and imminent. So much the worse for the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum who require more than that warning!"(1)
At Tsarskoïe-Selo a closer watch is being kept over the fallen sovereigns.
The Emperor still presents an extraordinary spectacle of indifference and imperturbability. He spends, in his calm and casual way, his day skimming the papers, smoking cigarettes, doing puzzles, playing with his children and sweeping up snow in the garden. He seems to find a kind of relief in being at length free of the burden of supreme power.
Diocletian at Salona and Charles V at San Juste could not have shown greater serenity.
The Empress, on the other hand, has taken to mystical exaltation; she is always saying:
"It is God who has sent us this ordeal; I accept it thankfully for my eternal salvation."
But she cannot refrain from outbursts of indignation when she sees how strictly those orders are carried out which deprive the Emperor of all freedom of movement, even within the confines of the palace. Sometimes a sentry refuses to allow him to pass into a gallery; sometimes the officer on duty, at the end of a meal taken in common, gives him orders to retire to his room. Nicholas II always obeys, without a word of reproach. Alexandra Feodorovna, rages and protests as if she had been insulted; but she soon recovers her self-control and calms down, murmuring:
"We must submit to this too.. . .Did not Christ drink the cup to the very dregs?"
Saturday, April 14, 1917.
Three French socialist deputies, Montet, Cachin and Lafont, arrived from Paris yesterday evening, travelling via Bergen and Tornea; they have come to preach wisdom and patriotism to the Soviet. They are accompanied by two members of the British Labour Party, O'Grady and Thorne.
Montet is a barrister; Cachin and Lafont are professors of philosophy; O'Grady is a cabinet-maker; Thorne, a plumber. French socialism is thus represented by intellectuals with a classical education, English socialism by manual workers, "matter-of-fact men." Theory on one side, practice on the other.
My three compatriots presented themselves at my office this morning. My first impressions of them left nothing to be desired. We were absolutely at one about the task that lies before them here. Their main anxiety was to know whether Russia is capable of continuing the war and if we can still rely on her for an effort which will enable us to secure our terms of peace. I told them that if they could win the confidence of the Soviet, speak to it kindly but firmly and succeed in convincing it that the fate of the revolution is bound up with the result of the war, the Russian army would again become an important factor---a factor of mass, if not of shock, in our strategic plans. As regards our peace programme, we must obviously adapt it to the new aspects of the problem. In the West I saw no reason for abandoning our claims or modifying our hopes, as American help must necessarily more or less compensate us for the diminished value of Russia's aid. But in eastern Europe and Asia Minor we should doubtless have to sacrifice something of our ambitions; but I also thought that if we set about the matter in the right way and our diplomacy carried out the manuvre which will sooner or later be forced on us, in time that sacrifice would not cost France too much. They said they entirely agreed with me.
At one o'clock they came to lunch, as a family party, at the Embassy. All that they told me about the state of public feeling in France is quite satisfactory.
Seeing them thus under my roof, I could not help thinking what a strange and paradoxical spectacle their presence here presents. For the last five-and-twenty years the Socialist Party has never ceased in its attacks on the Franco-Russian alliance. And now we see three socialist deputies coming to defend it---against Russia!
When they left me, they went to the Champ-de-Mars to lay a wreath on the grave of the victims of the revolution, just as in the old days the envoys of the French Republic used to go to the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul to place a wreath on the tomb of Alexander III. As Sainte-Beuve wrote: "Life is nothing but seeing everything and the reverse of everything."
Sunday, April 15, 1917.
According to the orthodox calendar, to-day is Easter Sunday. Not a single incident or innovation has marked Holy Week, except that the theatres, which formerly closed their doors for the whole of the last fortnight of Lent, remained open until last Wednesday.
To-night all the churches of Petrograd have celebrated the solemn office of the Resurrection with the usual splendour. In the absence of the Metropolitan Pitirim, who is now a prisoner in his Siberian monastery, the pontifical mass was said at the Lavra of Saint Alexander Nevsky by Monsignor Tikhon, Archbishop of Yaroslavl, while the two episcopal vicars, Monsignor Ghennadius and Monsignor Benjamin, officiated at Saint Isaac and Our Lady of Kazan. The crowds which thronged these great cathedrals have been as large as in former years.
I paid a visit to Our Lady of Kazan and saw the same scenes as in the days of tsarism, the same majesty and magnificence, the same display of liturgical pomp. But never before had I beheld such an intense revelation of Russian piety. Nearly all the faces around me wore a positively thrilling look of fervent pleading or prostrate resignation. At the supreme moment of the office, when the clergy came through the iconostasis in a blaze of gold and the hymn of triumph, Praise to the Holy Trinity! Eternal Praise! Our Saviour Christ is risen! rang out, a wave of emotion swept over the worshippers. And while they embraced each other, in the customary fashion with murmurs of Christ is risen! I saw that many of them were dissolved in tears.
On the other hand, I am informed that in the working-class quarters of Kolomna, the Galernaïa and Viborg, several churches were practically empty.
The French socialist deputies and their English comrades were received by the Soviet this afternoon.
Their reception was frigid, so frigid that Cachin was completely taken back and thought it his duty to make any sort of negotiation possible, to "throw out ballast." This "ballast" was nothing less than Alsace-Lorraine, the restoration of which to France was not asserted as a right but presented simply as a contingency, subject to all sorts of conditions, such as a plebiscite.
If that is all the help our deputies have come to bring me, they would have been better advised to spare themselves the trouble of the journey!
At the same sitting of the Soviet, Plekhanov, who arrived from Paris at the same time as the French and English delegates, reappeared before a Russian Assembly for the first time after forty years of exile.
Plekhanov is a noble figure in the revolutionary party and the founder of Russian social democracy. From him the Russian proletariat heard the first appeals for union and organization. He was therefore given a triumphal reception when he arrived at the Finland Station the night before last, and the Provisional Government went to welcome him officially.
He was also greeted with cheers from all sides when he entered the Tauride Palace to-day. But when he spoke of the war, when he proudly claimed the title of socialist-patriot and declared that he would not submit to the tyranny of the Hohenzollerns any more than to the despotism of the Romanovs, there was a gloomy stillness around him and then mutterings could be heard on several benches.
Monday, April 16, 1917.
I asked the three socialist deputies to come and see me this morning and pointed out to them the danger of the far too conciliatory statements in which one of them indulged at the meeting of the Soviet yesterday. Cachin replied:
"I said what I did because, honestly and truly, no other course was open to me. Instead of being received as friends we were put through a regular cross-examination, and in such a tone that I could see the moment coming When we should be obliged to retire."
Before returning to the Tauride Palace to-day they have promised to withdraw as much as they can of yesterday's concessions.
When I went to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs this morning, Miliukov immediately mentioned these most unfortunate concessions:
"How can you expect me," he said, "to resist the demands of our Maximalists when the French socialists themselves abandon the struggle?"
Tuesday, April 17, 1917.
The Minister of Justice, Kerensky, came to lunch at the Embassy, with Cachin, Montet and Lafont.
Kerensky accepted my invitation only on condition that he could leave the moment the meal was over, as he had to be with the Soviet at two o'clock. The essential point was that he should meet my three deputies.
The conversation immediately began with the war. Kerensky told us what is the root of his dispute with. Miliukov, i.e., that the Allies must revise their peace terms in order to adapt them to the ideas of the Russian democracy. The arguments with which he supported this theme are those of the "Labour" Party he represents in the Duma, a party which is par excellence that of the peasants and takes for its motto the phrase Lemla i Fola, "Land and Liberty." Apart from this reservation, he was strong on the necessity of continuing the struggle against German militarism.
We heard him out without too much protest. In any case I suspected that, at the bottom of their hearts, my socialist guests more or less agree with him. As for myself, not yet knowing what attitude Albert Thomas has been instructed to adopt towards Russian socialism, I reserved my opinion.
Hardly had coffee been served before Kerensky fled back to the Soviet, where the apostle of international Marxism, the celebrated Lenin, who has come from Switzerland through Germany, was to make his political re-entry.
A disgusting scene was witnessed a few days ago in the Russian Church at Helsingfors. A funeral service was being held for Lieutenant-Commander Polivanov, who was murdered by his crew during the recent disorders. The coffin was open as the orthodox rite prescribes. Suddenly a mob of workmen and sailors burst into the church. The whole lot marched past the catafalque in single file and spat in the dead man's face. The stricken and weeping widow wiped the sullied features with her handkerchief and implored the brutes to cease their infamous behaviour.
But, thrusting her roughly aside, they seized the coffin, turned it upside down, emptied out the corpse, the candles and the wreaths, and left the church bawling the Marseillaise.
Wednesday, April 18, 1917.
This morning Miliukov gleefully remarked to me:
"Lenin was a hopeless failure with the Soviet yesterday. He argued the pacifist cause so heatedly, and with such effrontery and lack of tact, that he was compelled to stop and leave the room amidst a storm of booing. He will never survive it.."
I answered him in Russian fashion: "God grant it!"
But I very much fear that once again Miliukov will prove the dupe of his own optimism. Lenin's arrival is in fact represented to me as the most dangerous ordeal the Russian revolution could have to face.
Thursday, April 19, 1917.
General Brussilov has just sent Prince Lvov this strange telegram:
The soldiers, officers, generals and civil officials of the South-Western Army, met in conference, have decided to acquaint the Provisional Government with their firm conviction that the place of meeting of the Constituent Assembly should in all fairness be the first capital of the Russian State. Moscow is sacred in the popular mind as the scene of the most important acts in our national history. Moscow is essentially Russian and infinitely dear to the Russian heart. To convoke the Constitutional Assembly at Petrograd, the city whose administrative and cosmopolitan character has always kept it apart from Russian life, would be an illogical and artificial proceeding, opposed to all the aspirations of the Russian people. I associate myself freely and fully with this motion, and in my capacity as a Russian citizen I say that I consider the Petersburgian period of Russian history at an end.
Friday, April 20,. 1917.
The French socialist deputies are beginning to be less rapturous about the Russian revolution now that they have seen it at close quarters. The contemptuous reception given them by the Soviet has somewhat cooled their ardour. But they still cherish a colossal number of illusions: they still believe in the possibility of galvanizing the Russian people by a "boldly democratic policy in the direction of internationalism."
I tried to convince them of their error:
"The Russian revolution is essentially anarchic and destructive. Left to itself, it can only end in terrible mob-rule by the lowest classes and the soldiery, in the rupture of all national ties and the total collapse of Russia. In view of the propensity to excess which is innate in the Russian character, it will soon go to extremes: it is doomed to sink into mere destruction and barbarism, horror and absurdity. You have no idea of the magnitude. of the forces that have just been released. Whether this catastrophe can still be averted by means such as an immediate meeting of a constituent assembly or a military coup d'état I have grave doubts. Fortunately the movement has only begun, so it may be possible to master it, more or less, to put on the brake, to make it take the direction we desire and thus gain time. A respite of a few months would be of incalculable importance to the result of the war. The support you are giving the extremists will precipitate the catastrophe."
But I soon realized that I was speaking to deaf ears: I do not possess the grandiloquence of a Tseretelli or a Cheidze, a Skobelev or a Kerensky.(2)
Saturday, April 21, 1917.
When Miliukov assured me that Lenin had been hopelessly discredited in the eyes of the Soviet by the extravagance of his "defeatism," he was once more the victim of an optimistic illusion.
On the contrary, Lenin's influence seems to have been increasing greatly in the last few days. One point of which there can be no doubt is that he has already gathered round him, or under his orders, all the hot-heads of the revolution; he is now established as a strong leader.
Born on the 23rd April, 1870, at Simbirsk on the Volga, Vladimir Flitch Ulianov, known as Lenin, is a pure Russian. His father, who belonged to the provincial petite noblesse, was employed in the department of education. In 1887 his eldest brother, implicated in a plot against Alexander III, was condemned to death and hung. This tragedy determined the whole course of life of young Vladimir Flitch, who was finishing his education at Kazan University: he threw himself heart and soul into the revolutionary movement. The destruction of tsarism was thereafter an obsession with him, and the gospel of Karl Marx became his breviary. In January, 1897, the police, who were keeping an eye on him, exiled him for three years to Minuschinsk, on the Upper Jenissei, near the Mongolian frontier. On the expiration of his sentence, he was permitted to leave Russia and he made his home in Switzerland, from which he frequently visited Paris. Tireless in his activities, he soon formed an enthusiastic sect which he fired with the cult of international Marxism. During the seditious. disorders of 1905 he thought for a moment that his hour had come, and secretly returned to Russia. But the crisis passed; it was only a prelude, the first stirring of popular passions, and he went back into exile.
Lenin, utopian dreamer and fanatic, prophet and metaphysician, blind to any idea of the impossible or the absurd, a stranger to all feelings of justice or mercy, violent, machiavellian and crazy with vanity, places at the service of his messianic visions a strong unemotional will, pitiless logic and amazing powers of persuasion and command. Judging by the reports I have received of his first speeches, he is insisting on the revolutionary dictatorship of the working and rural masses; he is preaching that the proletariat has no country and proclaiming his longing for the defeat of the Russian armies. When anyone attacks his crude fancies with some argument drawn from the realm of reality, he replies with the gorgeous phrase: "So much the worse for reality!" Thus it is mere waste of time to endeavour to convince him that if the Russian armies are destroyed, Russia will become helpless prey in the claws of the German conqueror who, after gorging himself on her, will abandon her to the convulsions of anarchy. The man is all the more dangerous because he is said to be pure-minded, temperate and ascetic. Such as I see him in my mind's eye, he is a compound of Savanarola and Marat, Blanqui and Bakunin.
1. In 1917 the Russian socialists had the same shock as the French republicans in 1848. At a conference held in Paris on the 12th March, 1920, M. Kerensky said that his political friends had met at his house on March 10, 1917, and that they had unanimously come to the conclusion that a revolution was impossible in Russia. Two days later, tsarism was overthrown. (Cf. Le Journal du Peuple, March 14, 1920.)
2. In the newspaper, l'Heure, of the 5th June, 1918, M. Marcel Cachin gave the following summary of our conversations:
When Montet and I were telling him that it was necessary to make another effort in the democratic direction to try and put Russia on her feet again, M. Paléolgue answered pessimistically: "You are deluding yourselves if you think that the Slav people will rise again. On the contrary, it is now doomed to dissolution. From a military point of view you have nothing more to expect from it; it is going to its destruction; it is following in its historic path; anarchy lies in wait for it. For years no one will he able to say what will become of it." Speaking for ourselves, we were unwilling to abandon all faith in the Slav soul.
Volume III, Chapter Twelve
Table of Contents