« on: February 02, 2017, 01:13:28 PM »
I have posted this before, but it seems to be on point to quote this again. From Spiridovitch "Last Days of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo" Payot Paris, 1927. Vol 2 Ch. 19 (my personal translation from the original French)
That time the Prince had prepared for the audience with a great unease. He noted down on a small piece of paper all of the points he wanted to mention to the Emperor. As number 8 on the list was the question of the Jews and number 9 was external politics, Bourdukov asked him:
"Why are you going to ask these questions as the last ones?"
"It is because they are the most serious ones" the Prince replied, "I am going to everything possible to tell the Emperor my thoughts, and my opinions. But at the same time I am afraid that the Emperor will be displeased that I have ventured into the forbidden circle. You know well that every time I have tried to touch on the question of the Jews, the Emperor has become angry and for some time afterward would change the tone of his letters written to me. But, I have very little time left to live, and I must tell my beloved Tsar the truth one last time. I greatly love our Minster of the Interior, Maklakov, but he is quite wrong on that matter. He is very young and quite presumptuous, and I will speak out this time against him. I will warn him. His obstinance is harmful to the Emperor. Many measures against the Jews must be eliminated as useless, fictitious, unreasonable and quite harmful to the Supreme Power."
At six o'clock, the Prince, in a Chamberlain's uniform with the cross of St. Vladimir around his throat, took his place in his friend's automobile. The Prince had been given the rank of Chamberlain when he was only 26 years old, and the cross of St. Vladimir was the only order he ever got, 3 years earlier, for his birthday.
The automobile broke down twice on the way, which the Prince took to be the most evil omen, and said that he would never succeed before the Emperor. At 7 o'clock he arrived at Peterhof at the home of their friend Admiral Nilov. The handsome Court carriage already waited for the Prince and several minutes later, he left for the Alexander Palace.
It was 8:30 when the Prince returned to Admiral Nilov's home. He was emotional, excited and nervous as he had never been. His face was red, his eyes feverish, his front covered in sweat. Breathing heavily, the Prince abandoned his cloak to the lackey and fell heavily into an armchair.
"You are tired Vladimir Petrovitch" Nilov said.
"Not tired, but I do not feel well. I seem to have a fever…and I was quite agitated during my meeting with the Emperor…" the Prince responded.
"It is time to die" he then said, after a small pause, "I am tired of living…Do you understand what I wish to say? Life itself weighs heavy on me. It is time for me to go…for me to rest…."
The dinner was gloomy. Conversation languished. After dinner, the Prince embraced the Admiral, kissed the hand of the Admiral's wife and invited Nilov to his home in Tsarskoie Selo, and then left with Bourdukov.
In the car, alone with just his friend, the Prince sighed profoundly.
"You don't know, my friend, how difficult it was to speak to the Emperor…Even thinking about that reception is painful for me...I spoke about the Jewish question. The Emperor listened to me without interrupting me and with great attention. From time to time, in his kind face, I saw the shadow of displeasure. I did everything I could to force him to respond to me. But he kept silent. Knowing well his intelligence, the fineness of his spirit, I was wounded that he did not want to face the evidence. When I had finished with the Jewish question, the Emperor thought for several minutes, looked me fixed in the eyes and slowly smiled as if he wanted to soften his response, said to me: 'Excuse me, my old friend, but I am not in agreement with you. I thank you very much for the advice which you have given me and which has been dictated by your devotion to me, by the love for our Mother Russia, but…you know that it is often that I do not wish to follow your advice. I must take into consideration many other circumstances which you do not know about, which escape your attention…My responsibility towards Russia is so great that I do not have the right to consider a question of such great importance to the State on just one side alone, although I should find it personally desireable. You do not know all of these circumstances which I do, which I do not have the right to ignore, and which, quite to the contrary, I must take into consideration…"
And the prince continued to convey to his friend his opinions on this question which was so serious and so complicated.
On the subject of external politics, the Prince recounted:
"I had told the Emperor the idea that Russia must take its proper and definitive position in Europe, and in the Balkans without becoming enmeshed in the conflicts in Europe, although this must be dictated by humanitarian interests. The external politics of Russia must be less sentimental, more independent and more self centered in the point of view of Russia itself and of personal interests. I told the Emperor that Europe desires only the blood of Russia, that Europe wants only to weaken Russia, and I begged the Emperor to not become involved in the Balkan matters. The Russian-Turkish war had cost a million Russian lives and all we had received in compensation was the ingratitude of one, the treason of others, and ill will. I recalled the attitude of Europe at San Stefano, and in Berlin, and I begged the Emperor to put a good end to this lesson of history.
"The Emperor listened to me as he always listened to everyone he received. At moments, it seemed to me that he was ready to speak his agreement…But in vain…When I had finished, he have me his hand, embraced me as always, and said to me:
'And all the same, I must think about all of this. It is too serious, that I should give you a response immediately, I hope that we are going to meet again soon and as soon as I have the opportunity to free up several moments in my affairs for my old friend, I will do so. Good bye."
The Prince was desolate. The audience had ended without result.
Being unwell during the springtime, and becoming then more weak, he was because of his ill health, stricken with pneumonia, and his health had become hopeless. Two days before he died, the Prince refused to take medication. That evening he asked for pen and paper.