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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White Volume II by Andrew Dickson White

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were the acting minister, Shishkin, who had formerly been at
Washington, and the head of the Asiatic department, Count
Kapnist. They were agreeable in manner; but it soon became clear
that, regarding the question of the Behring seal-fisheries, they
were pursuing a policy of their own, totally distinct from the
interests of the empire. Peter the Great would have beheaded both
of them.

The strongest man among the Czar's immediate advisers was
understood to be the finance minister, De Witte. There always
seemed in him a certain sullen force. The story usually told of
his rise in the world is curious. It is, in effect, that when the
Emperor Alexander II and his family were wrecked in their special
train at Borki, many of their attendants were killed; and the
world generally, including the immediate survivors of the
catastrophe, believed for some time that it was the result of a
nihilist plot. There was, therefore, a general sweeping into
prison of subordinat'e railway officials; and among these was De
Witte, then in charge of a railway station. During the
examinations which ensued he showed himself so clear-headed and
straightforward that he attracted attention was promoted, put
into the finance ministry, and finally advanced to the first
place in it. His dealings with Russian finances have since shown
great capacity: he has brought the empire out of the slough of
depreciated currency and placed it firmly on a gold basis. I came
especially to know him when he offered, through me, to the United
States a loan of gold to enable us to tide over our difficulties
with the currency question. He informed me that Russia had in her
treasury many millions of rubles in American gold eagles, and
that the Russian gold reserve then in the treasury was about six
hundred millions of rubles.

The only result was that I was instructed to convey the thanks of
the President to him, there being no law enabling us to take
advantage of his offer. What he wished to do was to make a call
loan, whereas our Washington Government could obtain gold only by
issuing bonds.

I also met him in a very interesting way when I presented to him
Rabbi Krauskopf of Philadelphia, who discussed the question of
allowing sundry Israelites who were crowded into the western
districts of the empire to be transferred to some of the less
congested districts, on condition that funds for that purpose be
furnished from their coreligionists in America. De Witte's
discussion of the whole subject was liberal and statesmanlike.
Unfortunately, there was, as I believe, a fundamental error in
his general theory, which is the old Russian idea at the bottom
of the autocracy--namely, that the State should own everything.
More and more he went on extending government ownership to the
railways, until the whole direction and management of them
virtually centered in his office.

On this point he differed widely from his predecessor in the
finance ministry, Wischniegradsky. I had met the latter years
before, at the Paris Exposition, when he was at the head of the
great technical school in Moscow, and found him instructive and
interesting. Now I met him after his retirement from the finance
ministry. Calling on him one day, I said: "You will probably
build your trans-Siberian railway at a much less cost than we
were able to build our first trans-continental railway; you will
do it directly, by government funds, and so will probably not
have to make so many rich men as we did." His answer impressed me
strongly. He said: "As to a government building a railway more
cheaply than private individuals, I decidedly doubt; but I would
favor private individuals building it, even if the cost were
greater. I like to see rich men made; they are what Russia most
needs at this moment. What can capitalists do with their money?
They can't eat it or drink it: they have to invest it in other
enterprises; and such enterprises, to be remunerative, must meet
the needs of the people. Capitalists are far more likely to
invest their money in useful enterprises, and to manage these
investments well, than any finance minister can be, no matter how

That he was right the history of Russia is showing more and more
every day. To return to M. de Witte, it seemed strange to most
onlookers that the present Emperor threw him out of the finance
ministry, in which he had so greatly distinguished himself, and
shelved him in one of those bodies, such as the council of state
or the senate, which exist mainly as harbors or shelters for
dismissed functionaries. But really there was nothing singular
about it. As regards the main body at court, from the grand
dukes, the women, etc., down, he had committed the sin of which
Turgot and Necker were guilty when they sought to save France but
found that the women, princes, and favorites of poor Louis XVI's
family were determined to dip their hands into the state
treasury, and were too strong to be controlled. Ruin followed the
dismissal of Turgot and Necker then, and seems to be following
the dismissal of De Witte now: though as I revise this chapter
word comes that the Emperor has recalled him.

No doubt Prince Khilkoff, who has come in as minister of internal
communications since my departure from Russia, is also a strong
man; but no functionary can take the place of a great body of
individuals who invest their own money in public works throughout
an entire nation.

There was also another statesman in a very different field whom I
found exceedingly interesting,--a statesman who had gained a
power in the empire second to no other save the Emperor himself,
and had centered in himself more hatred than any other Russian of
recent times,--the former Emperor's tutor and virtual minister as
regards ecclesiastical affairs, Pobedonostzeff. His theories are
the most reactionary of all developed in modern times; and his
hand was then felt, and is still felt, in every part of the
empire, enforcing those theories. Whatever may be thought of his
wisdom, his patriotism is not to be doubted. Though I differ from
him almost totally, few men have so greatly interested me, and
one of the following chapters will be devoted to him.

But there were some other so-called statesmen toward whom I had a
very different feeling. One of these was the minister of the
interior. Nothing could be more delusive than his manner. He
always seemed about to accede to the ideas of his interlocutor,
but he had one fundamental idea of his own, and only one; and
that was, evidently, never to do anything which he could possibly
avoid. He always seemed to me a sort of great jellyfish, looking
as if he had a mission to accomplish, but, on closer examination,
proving to be without consistency, and slippery. His theory
apparently was, "No act, no responsibility"; and throughout the
Russian Empire this principle of action, or, rather, of inaction,
appears to be very widely diffused.

I had one experience with this functionary, who, I am happy to
say, has since been relieved of his position and shelved among
the do-nothings of the Russian senate, which showed me what he
was. Two American ladies of the best breeding and culture, and
bearing the most satisfactory letters of introduction, had been
staying in St. Petersburg, and had met, at my table and
elsewhere, some of the most interesting people in Russian
society. From St. Petersburg they had gone to Moscow; and, after
a pleasant stay there, had left for Vienna by way of Warsaw.
Returning home late at night, about a week afterward, I found an
agonizing telegram from them, stating that they had been stopped
at the Austrian frontier and sent back fifty miles to a dirty
little Russian village; that their baggage had all gone on to
Vienna; that, there being no banker in the little hamlet where
they were, their letter of credit was good for nothing; that all
this was due to the want of the most trivial of formalities in a
passport; that they had obtained all the vises supposed to be
needed at St. Petersburg and at Moscow; and that, though the
American consul at Warsaw had declared these to be sufficient to
take them out of the empire, they had been stopped by a petty
Russian official because they had no vise from the Warsaw police.

Early next morning I went to the minister of the interior,
presented the case to him, told him all about these
ladies,--their high standing, the letters they had brought, the
people they had met,--assured him that nothing could be further
from possibility than the slightest tendency on their part toward
any interference with the Russian Government, and asked him to
send a telegram authorizing their departure. He was most profuse
in his declarations of his willingness to help. Nothing in the
world, apparently, would give him more pleasure; and, though
there was a kind of atmosphere enveloping his talk which I did
not quite like, I believed that the proper order would be given.
But precious time went on, and again came telegrams from the
ladies that nothing was done. Again I went to the minister to
urge the matter upon his attention; again he assumed the same
jellyfish condition, pleasing but evasive. Then I realized the
situation; went at once to the prefect of St. Petersburg, General
von Wahl, although it was not strictly within his domain; and he,
a man of character and vigor, took the necessary measures and the
ladies were released.

Like so many other persons whom I have known who came into Russia
and were delighted with it during their whole stay, these ladies
returned to America most bitter haters of the empire and of
everything within it.

As to Von Wahl, who seemed to me one of the very best Russian
officials I met, he has since met reward for his qualities: from
the Czar a transfer to a provincial governorship, and from the
anarchists a bullet which, though intended to kill him, only
wounded him.

Many were the sufferers from this feature in Russian
administration--this shirking of labor and responsibility. Among
these was a gentleman belonging to one of the most honored
Russian families, who was greatly devoted to fruit-culture, and
sought to bring the products of his large estates in the south of
Russia into Moscow and St. Petersburg. He told me that he had
tried again and again, but the officials shrugged their shoulders
and would not take the trouble; that finally he had induced them
to give him a freight-car and to bring a load of fruit to St.
Petersburg as soon as possible; but, though the journey ought to
have taken only three or four days, it actually took several
weeks; and, of course, all the fruit was spoiled. As I told him
of the fruit-trains which bring the products of California across
our continent and distribute them to the Atlantic ports, even
enabling them to be found fresh in the markets of London, he
almost shed tears. This was another result of state control of
railways. As a matter of fact, there is far more and better fruit
to be seen on the tables of artisans in most American towns,
however small, than in the lordliest houses of Moscow and St.
Petersburg; and this solely because in our country energetic men
conduct transportation with some little ambition to win public
approval and patronage, while in Russia a horde of state
officials shirk labor and care as much as possible.

Still another sufferer was a very energetic man who had held
sundry high positions, but was evidently much discouraged. He
showed me specimens of various rich ores from different parts of
the empire, but lamented that there was no one to take hold of
the work of bringing out these riches. It was perfectly clear
that with the minister of the interior at that time, as in sundry
other departments, the great question was "how not to do it."
Evidently this minister and functionaries like him felt that if
great enterprises and industries were encouraged, they would
become so large as to be difficult to manage; hence, that it
would be more comfortable to keep things within as moderate
compass as possible.

To this easy-going view of public duty there were a few notable
exceptions. While De Witte was the most eminent of these, there
was one who has since become sadly renowned, and who, as I revise
these lines, has just perished by the hand of an assassin. This
official was De Plehve, who, during my acquaintance with him, was
only an undersecretary in the interior department, but was
taking, apparently, all the important duties from his superior,
M. Dournovo. At various times I met him to discuss the status of
sundry American insurance companies in Russia, and was favorably
impressed by his insight, vigor, and courtesy. It was, therefore,
a surprise to me when, on becoming a full minister, he bloomed
out as a most bitter, cruel, and evidently short-sighted
reactionary. The world stood amazed at the murderous cruelties
against the Jews at Kishineff, which he might easily have
prevented; and nothing more cruel or short-sighted than his
dealings with Finland has been known since Louis XIV revoked the
Edict of Nantes. I can only explain his course by supposing that
he sought to win the favor of the reactionary faction which, up
to the present time, has controlled the Czar, and thus to fight
his way toward the highest power. He made of the most loyal and
happy part of the empire the most disloyal and wretched; he
pitted himself against the patriotism, the sense of justice, and
all the highest interests and sentiments of the Finnish people;
and he met his death at the hands of an avenger, who, in
destroying the enemy of his country, has struck a fearful blow at
his country's happiness.

While a thoughtful American must condemn much which he sees in
Russia, there is one thing which he cannot but admire and
contrast to the disadvantage of his own country; and this is the
fact that Russia sets a high value upon its citizenship. Its
value, whatever it may be, is the result of centuries of
struggles, of long outpourings of blood and treasure; and
Russians believe that it has been bought at too great a price and
is in every way too precious to be lavished and hawked about as a
thing of no value. On the other hand, when one sees how the
citizenship of the United States, which ought to be a millionfold
more precious than that of Russia, is conferred loosely upon tens
of thousands of men absolutely unfit to exercise it,--whose
exercise of it seems, at times, likely to destroy republican
government; when one sees the power of conferring it granted to
the least respectable class of officials at the behest of ward
politicians, without proper safeguards and at times without any
regard to the laws; when one sees it prostituted by men of the
most unfit class,--and, indeed, of the predatory class,--who have
left Europe just long enough to obtain it, and then left America
in order to escape the duties both of their native and their
adopted country, and to avail themselves of the privileges of
both citizenships without one thought of the duties of either,
using them often in careers of scoundrelism,--one feels that
Russia is nearer the true ideal in this respect than we are.

As a matter of fact, there is with us no petty joint-stock
company in which an interest is not virtually held to be superior
to this citizenship of ours for which such sacrifices have been
made, and for which so many of our best men have laid down their
lives. No stockholder in the pettiest manufacturing company
dreams of admitting men to share in it unless they show their
real fitness to be thus admitted; but admission to American
citizenship is surrounded by no such safeguards: it has been
cheapened and prostituted until many who formerly revered it have
come to scoff at it. From this evil, at least, Russia is free.



Still another department which interested me was that known as
the "Ministry of Public Enlightenment," its head being Count
Delyanoff. He was certainly a man of culture; but the title of
his department was a misnomer, for its duty was clearly to
prevent enlightenment in the public at large. The Russian theory
is, evidently, that a certain small number should be educated up
to a certain point for the discharge of their special duties; but
that, beyond this, anything like the general education of the
people is to be discouraged; hence the Russian peasant is the
most ignorant and helpless in Christendom.

There was evidently a disposition among very many of the most
ardent Russians to make a merit of this imperfect civilization,
and to cultivate hatred for any people whom they clearly saw
possessing anything better: hence it came that, just as so many
Frenchmen hate Great Britain, and so many in the backward,
slipshod regions of our country hate New England, it was quite
the fashion among large classes of Russians to hate everything
German, and especially to detest the Baltic provinces.

One evening during my stay a young Russian at a social gathering
of military and other officials voiced this feeling by saying, "I
hope the time will soon come when we shall have cleared out all
these Germans from the Russian service; they are the curse of the
country." Thereupon a young American present, who was especially
noted for his plain speaking, immediately answered, "How are you
going to do it? I notice that, as a rule, you rarely give a
position which really involves high responsibility to a Russian;
you generally give it to a German. When the Emperor goes to the
manoeuvers, does he dare trust his immediate surroundings to a
Russian? Never; he intrusts them to General Richter, who is a
Baltic-Province German. And when his Majesty is here in town does
he dare trust his personal safety to a Russian? Not at all; he
relies on Von Wahl, prefect of St. Petersburg, another German."
And so this plain-spoken American youth went on with a full
catalogue of leading Baltic-Province Germans in positions of the
highest responsibility, finally saying, "You know as well as I
that if the salvation of the Emperor depended on any one of you,
and you should catch sight of a pretty woman, you would instantly
forget your sovereign and run after her."

Richter and Von Wahl I knew, and they were certainly men whom one
could respect,--thoughtful, earnest, devoted to duty. Whenever
one saw the Emperor at a review, Richter was close at hand;
whenever their Majesties were at the opera, or in any public
place, there was Von Wahl with his eyes fastened upon them.

The young American might now add that when a man was needed to
defend Port Arthur another German was chosen--Stoessel, whose
heroism the whole world is now applauding, as it once applauded
Todleben, the general of German birth who carried off the Russian
laurels of the Crimean War.

One Russian official for whom there seemed to be deep and wide
respect was Count Woronzoff-Daschkoff; and I think that our
irrepressible American would have made an exception in his favor.
Calling upon him one day regarding the distribution of American
relief to famine-stricken peasants, I was much impressed by his
straightforward honesty: he was generally credited with stopping
the time-honored pilfering and plundering at the Winter Palace.

One of the most interesting of all the Russians I met was General
Annenkoff. His brother-in-law, Struve, Russian minister at
Washington, having given me a letter to him, our relations became
somewhat close. He had greatly distinguished himself by building
the trans-Caucasian railway, but his main feat had been the
annexation of Bokhara. The story, as told me by a member of his
family, is curious. While superintending his great force of men
and pushing on the laying of the rails through the desert, his
attention was suddenly called to some horsemen in the distance,
riding toward him with all their might. On their arrival their
leader was discovered to be a son of the Ameer of Bokhara. That
potentate having just died, the other sons were trying to make
their way to the throne by cutting each other's throats, but this
one had thought it wise to flee to the Russians for safety.
Annenkoff saw the point at once: with a large body of his cavalry
he started immediately for Bokhara, his guest by his side; pushed
his way through all obstacles; seated the young prince on the
throne; and so made him a Russian satrap. I shall speak later of
the visit of this prince to St. Petersburg. It was evident that
Annenkoff, during my stay, was not in favor. It was said that he
had been intrusted with large irrigation-works in order to give
employment to peasants during the famine, and that he had not
managed them well; but it was clear that this was not the main
difficulty: he was evidently thought too progressive and liberal,
and in that seething caldron of intrigue which centers at the
Winter Palace his ambitions had come to grief.

Another Russian who interested me was Glalkin Wraskoy. He was
devoted, night and day, to improving the Russian prison system.
That there was much need of such work was certain; but the fact
that this personage in government employ was so devoted to
improvements, and had called together in Russia a convention of
men interested in the amelioration of prison systems, led me to
think that the Russian Government is not so utterly and wilfully
cruel in its prison arrangements as the Western world has been
led to think.

Another interesting Russian was Count Orloff Davidoff; and on my
meeting him, just after his return from the Chicago Exposition,
at General Annenkoff's table, he entertained me with his
experiences. On my asking him what was the most amusing thing he
had seen in America, he answered that it was a "sacred concert,"
on Sunday, at a church in Colorado Springs, in which the music of
Strauss's waltzes and Offenbach's comic songs were leading
features, the audience taking them all very solemnly.

In the literary direction I found Prince John Galitzin's readings
from French dramas delightful. As to historical studies, the most
interesting man I found was Professor Demetrieff, who was brought
to my house by Pobedonostzeff. I had been reading Billbassoff's
"Life of the Empress Catherine"; and, on my asking some questions
regarding it, the professor said that at the death of the
Empress, her son, the Emperor Paul, intrusted the examination of
her papers to Rostopchine, who, on going through them, found a
casket containing letters and the like, which she had evidently
considered especially precious, and among these a letter from
Orloff, giving the details of the murder of her husband, Peter
III, at Ropscha. The letter, in substance, stated that Orloff and
his associates, having attempted to seize Peter, who was
evidently on his way to St. Petersburg to imprison the Empress
Catherine,--if not to put her to death,--the Emperor had
resisted; and that finally, in the struggle, he had been killed.
Professor Demetrieff then said that the Emperor Paul showed these
papers to his sons Alexander and Nicholas, who afterward
succeeded him on the throne, and expressed his devout
thankfulness that the killing of Peter III was not intentional,
and therefore that their grandmother was not a murderess.

This reminds me that, at my first visit to St. Petersburg, I
often passed, during my walks, the old palace of Paul, and that
there was one series of windows carefully barred: these belonging
to the rooms in which the Emperor Paul himself was assassinated
in order to protect the life of his son Alexander and of the
family generally.

Another Russian, Prince Serge Wolkonsky, was certainly the most
versatile man I have ever known: a playwright, an actor, an
essayist, an orator, a lecturer, and admirable in each of these
capacities. At a dinner given me, just before my departure from
St. Petersburg, by the Russians who had taken part in the Chicago
Exposition, I was somewhat troubled by the fact that the speeches
of the various officials were in Russian, and that, as I so
imperfectly understood them, I could not know what line to take
when my own speech came; but presently the chairman, Minister
Delyanoff, called upon young Prince Serge, who came forward very
modestly and, in admirable English, gave a summary of the whole
series of Russian speeches for my benefit, concluding with an
excellent speech of his own. His speeches and addresses at
Chicago were really remarkable; and, when he revisited America,
his lectures on Russian literature at Cornell University, at
Washington, and elsewhere, were worthy of the College de France.
This young man could speak fluently and idiomatically, not only
his own language, but English, French, German, Italian, and I
know not how many other tongues.

To meet scientific men of note my wont was to visit the Latin
Quarter; and there, at the house of Professor Woeikoff of St.
Petersburg University, I met, at various times, a considerable
body of those best worth knowing. One of those who made an
especially strong impression upon me was Admiral Makharoff.
Recently has come news of his death while commanding the Russian
fleet at Port Arthur--his flag-ship, with nearly all on board,
sunk by a torpedo. At court, in the university quarter, and later
at Washington, I met him often, and rated him among the
half-dozen best Russians I ever knew. Having won fame as a
vigorous and skilful commander in the Turkish war, he was
devoting himself to the scientific side of his profession. He had
made a success of his colossal ice-breaker in various northern
waters, and was now giving his main thoughts to the mapping out,
on an immense scale, of all the oceans, as regards winds and
currents. As explained by him, with quiet enthusiasm, it seemed
likely to be one of the greatest triumphs of the inductive method
since Lord Bacon. With Senator Semenoff and Prince Gregory
Galitzin I had very interesting talks on their Asiatic travels,
and was greatly impressed by the simplicity and strength of
Mendeleieff, who is certainly to-day one of two or three foremost
living authorities in chemistry. Although men of science, unless
they hold high official positions, are not to be seen at court, I
was glad to find that there were some Russian nobles who
appreciated them; and an admirable example of this was once shown
at my own house. It was at a dinner, when there was present a
young Russian of very high lineage; and I was in great doubt as
to the question of precedence, this being a matter of grave
import under the circumstances. At last my wife went to the
nobleman himself and asked him frankly regarding it. His answer
did him credit: he said, "I should be ashamed to take precedence
here of a man like Mendeleieff, who is an honor to Russia in the
eyes of the whole world; and I earnestly hope that he may be
given the first place."

There were also various interesting women in St. Petersburg
society, the reception afternoons of two of them being especially
attractive: they were, indeed, in the nature of the French salons
under the old regime.

One of these ladies--the Princess Wolkonsky--seemed to interest
all men not absorbed in futilities; and the result was that one
heard at her house the best men in St. Petersburg discussing the
most interesting questions.

The other was the Austrian ambassadress, Countess Wolkenstein,
whom I had slightly known, years before, as Countess Schleinitz,
wife of the minister of the royal household at Berlin. On her
afternoons one heard the best talk by the most interesting men;
and it was at the salons of these two ladies that there took
place the conversations which I have recorded in my "History of
the Warfare of Science," showing the development of a legend
regarding the miraculous cure of the Archbishop of St. Petersburg
by Father Ivan of Cronstadt.

Another place which especially attracted me was the house of
General Ignatieff, formerly ambassador at Constantinople, where,
on account of his alleged want of scruples in bringing on the war
with Russia, he received the nickname "Mentir Pasha." His wife
was the daughter of Koutousoff, the main Russian opponent of
Napoleon in 1812; and her accounts of Russia in her earlier days
and of her life in Constantinople were at times fascinating.

I remember meeting at her house, on one occasion, the Princess
Ourousoff, who told me that the Emperor Alexander had said to
her, "I wish that every one could see Sardou's play 'Thermidor'
and discover what revolution really is"; and that she had
answered, "Revolutions are prepared long before they break out."
That struck me as a very salutary bit of philosophy, which every
Russian monarch would do well to ponder.

The young Princess Radzivill was also especially attractive. In
one of her rooms hung a portrait of Balzac, taken just after
death, and it was most striking. This led her to give me very
interesting accounts of her aunt, Madame de Hanska, to whom
Balzac wrote his famous letters, and whom he finally married. I
met at her house another lady of high degree, to whom my original
introduction had been somewhat curious. Dropping in one afternoon
at the house of Henry Howard, the British first secretary, I met
in the crowd a large lady, simply dressed, whom I had never seen
before. Being presented to her, and not happening to catch her
name, I still talked on, and found that she had traveled, first
in Australia, then in California, thence across our continent to
New York; and her accounts of what she had seen interested me
greatly. But some little time afterward I met her again at the
house of Princess Radzivill, and then found that she was the
English Duchess of Buckingham. One day I had been talking with
the Princess and her guest on the treasures of the Imperial
Library, and especially the wonderful collection of autographs,
among them the copy-book of Louis XIV when a child, which showed
the pains taken to make him understand, even in his boyhood, that
he was an irresponsible autocrat. On one of its pages the line to
be copied ran as follows:

L'hommage est du aux Roys, ils font ce qu'il leur plaist.--LOUIS.

Under this the budding monarch had written the same words six
times, with childish care to keep the strokes straight and the
spaces regular. My account of this having led the princess to ask
me to take her and her friend to the library and to show them
some of these things, I gladly agreed, wrote the director,
secured an appointment for a certain afternoon, and when the time
came called for the ladies. But a curious contretemps arose. I
had met, the day before, two bright American ladies, and on their
asking me about the things best worth seeing, I had especially
recommended them to visit the Imperial Library. On arriving at
the door with the princess and the duchess, I was surprised to
find that no preparations had been made to meet us,--in fact,
that our coming seemed to be a matter of surprise; and a
considerable time elapsed before the director and other officials
came to us. Then I learned what the difficulty was. The two
American ladies, in perfectly good faith, had visited the library
a few hours before; and, on their saying that the American
minister had recommended them to come, it had been taken for
granted at once that THEY were the princess and the duchess, and
they had been shown everything with almost regal honors, the
officials never discovering the mistake until our arrival.

The American colony at St. Petersburg was very small. Interesting
compatriots came from time to time on various errands, and I was
glad to see them; but one whose visits were most heartily
welcomed was a former consul, Mr. Prince, an original, shrewd
"down-easter," and his reminiscences of some of my predecessors
were full of interest to me.

One especially dwells in my mind. It had reference to a former
senator of the United States who, about the year 1840, was sent
to Russia as minister. There were various evidences in the
archives of the legation that sobriety was not this gentleman's
especial virtue, and among them very many copies of notes in
which the minister, through the secretary of legation, excused
himself from keeping engagements at the Foreign Office on the
ground of "sudden indisposition."

Mr. Prince told me that one day this minister's valet, who was an
Irishman, came to the consulate and said: "Oi 'll not stay wid
his igsillincy anny longer; Oi 've done wid him."

"What's the trouble now?' said Mr. Prince.

"Well," said the man, "this morning Oi thought it was toime to
get his igsillincy out of bed, for he had been dhrunk about a
week and in bed most of the toime; and so Oi went to him, and
says Oi, gentle-loike, 'Would your igsillincy have a cup of
coffee?' whin he rose up and shtruck me in the face. On that Oi
took him by the collar, lifted him out of bed, took him acrass
the room, showed him his ugly face in the glass, and Oi said to
him, says Oi, 'Is thim the eyes of an invoy extraorr-rrdinarry
and ministher plinipotentiarry?'"

Among interesting reminders of my predecessors was a letter in
the archives, written about the year 1832 by Mr. Buchanan,
afterward senator, minister in London, Secretary of State, and
President of the United States. It was a friendly missive to an
official personage in our country, and went on somewhat as
follows: "I feel almost ashamed to tell you that your letters to
me, mine to you, and, indeed, everything that has come and gone
between us by mail, has been read by other eyes than ours. This
was true of your last letter to me, and, without doubt, it will
be true of this letter. Can you imagine it? Think of the moral
turpitude of a creature employed to break open private letters
and to read them! Can you imagine work more degrading? What a
dirty dog he must be! how despicable, indeed, he must seem to
himself!" And so Mr. Buchanan went on until he wound up as
follows: "Not only does this person read private letters, but he
is a forger: he forges seals, and I regret to say that his
imitation of the eagle on our legation seal is a VERY SORRY
BIRD." Whether this dose had any salutary effect on the official
concerned I never learned.

The troubles of an American representative at St. Petersburg are
many, and they generally begin with the search for an apartment.
It is very difficult indeed in that capital to find a properly
furnished suite of rooms for a minister, and since the American
representative has been made an ambassador this difficulty is
greater than ever. In my own case, by especial luck and large
outlay, I was able to surmount it; but many others had not been
so fortunate, and the result had generally been that, whereas
nearly every other power owned or held on long lease a house or
apartment for its representative,--simple, decent, dignified, and
known to the entire city,--the American representative had lived
wherever circumstances compelled him:--sometimes on the
ground-floor and sometimes in a sky-parlor, with the natural
result that Russians could hardly regard the American Legation as
on the same footing with that of other countries.

As I write, word comes that the present ambassador has been
unable to find suitable quarters save at a rent higher than his
entire salary; that the proprietors have combined, and agreed to
stand by each other in holding their apartments at an enormous
figure, their understanding being that Americans are rich and can
be made to pay any price demanded. Nothing can be more
short-sighted than the policy of our government in this respect,
and I shall touch upon it again.

The diplomatic questions between the United States and Russia
were many and troublesome; for, in addition to that regarding the
Behring Sea fisheries, there were required additional
interpretations of the Buchanan treaty as to the rights of
Americans to hold real estate and to do business in Russia;
arrangements for the participation of Russians in the Chicago
Exposition; the protection of various American citizens of
Russian birth, and especially of Israelites who had returned to
Russia; care for the great American life-insurance interests in
the empire; the adjustment of questions arising out of Russian
religious relations with Alaska and the islands of the Northern
Pacific; and last, but not least, the completion of the
extradition treaty between the two nations by the incorporation
of safeguards which would prevent its use against purely
political offenders.

Especial attention to Israelite cases was also required. Some of
these excited my deep sympathy; and, having made a very careful
study of the subject, I wrote to Secretary Gresham a despatch
upon it in obedience to his special request. It was the longest
despatch I have ever written; and, in my apology to the secretary
for its length I stated that it was prepared with no expectation
that he would find time to read it, but with the idea that it
might be of use at the State Department for reference. In due
time I received a very kind answer stating that he had read every
word of it, and thanked me most heartily for--it. The whole
subject is exceedingly difficult; but it is clear that Russia has
made, and is making, a fearful mistake in her way of dealing with
it. There are more Israelites in Russia than in all the remainder
of the world; and they are crowded together, under most
exasperating regulations, in a narrow district just inside her
western frontier, mainly extending through what was formerly
Poland, with the result that fanaticism--Christian on one side
and Jewish on the other--has developed enormously. The Talmudic
rabbis are there at their worst; and the consequences are evil,
not only for Russia, but for our own country. The immigration
which comes to us from these regions is among the very worst that
we receive from any part of the world. It is, in fact, an
immigration of the unfittest; and, although noble efforts have
been made by patriotic Israelites in the United States to meet
the difficulty, the results have been far from satisfactory.

There were, of course, the usual adventurous Americans in
political difficulties, enterprising Americans in business
difficulties, and pretended Americans attempting to secure
immunity under the Stars and Stripes. The same ingenious efforts
to prostitute American citizenship which I had seen during my
former stay in Germany were just as constant in Russia. It was
the same old story. Emigrants from the Russian Empire, most of
them extremely undesirable, had gone to the United States; stayed
just long enough to secure naturalization,--had, indeed, in some
cases secured it fraudulently before they had stayed the full
time; and then, having returned to Russia, were trying to
exercise the rights and evade the duties of both countries.

Many of these cases were exceedingly vexatious; and so, indeed,
were some which were better founded. The great difficulty of a
representative of the United States in Russia is, first, that the
law of the empire is so complicated that,--to use the words of
King James regarding Bacon's "Novum Organum,"--"Like the Peace of
God, it passeth all understanding." It is made up of codes in
part obsolete or obsolescent; ukases and counter-ukases; imperial
directions and counter-directions; ministerial orders and
counter-orders; police regulations and counter-regulations; with
no end of suspensions, modifications, and exceptions.

The second difficulty is the fact that the Buchanan treaty of
1832, which guaranteed, apparently, everything desirable to
American citizens sojourning in the empire, has been gradually
construed away until its tattered remnants are practically
worthless. As the world has discovered, Russia's strong point is
not adherence to her treaty promises.

In this respect there is a great difference between Russia and
Germany. With the latter we have made careful treaties, the laws
are well known, and the American representative feels solid
ground beneath his feet; but in Russia there is practically
nothing of the kind, and the representative must rely on the main
principles of international law, common sense, and his own powers
of persuasion.

A peculiar duty during my last stay in St. Petersburg was to
watch the approach of cholera, especially on the Persian
frontier. Admirable precautions had been taken for securing
telegraphic information; and every day I received notices from
the Foreign Office as a result, which I communicated to
Washington. For ages Russia had relied on fetishes of various
kinds to preserve her from great epidemics; but at last her
leading officials had come to realize the necessity of applying
modern science to the problem, and they did this well. In the
city "sanitary columns" were established, made up of small squads
of officials representing the medical and engineering professions
and the police; these visited every nook and corner of the town,
and, having extraordinary powers for the emergency, compelled
even the most dirty people to keep their premises clean.
Excellent hospitals and laboratories were established, and of
these I learned much from a former Cornell student who held an
important position in one of them. Coming to town three or four
times a week from my summer cottage in Finland, I was struck by
the precautions on the Finnish and other railways: notices of
what was to be done to prevent cholera and to meet it were
posted, in six different languages; disinfectants were made
easily accessible; the seats and hangings in the railway-cars
were covered with leather cloth frequently washed with
disinfectants; and to the main trains a hospital-car was
attached, while a temporary hospital, well equipped, was
established at each main station. In spite of this, the number of
cholera patients at St. Petersburg in the middle of July rose to
a very high figure, and the number of deaths each day from
cholera was about one hundred.

Of these victims the most eminent was Tschaikovsky, the composer,
a man of genius and a most charming character, to whom Mr. Andrew
Carnegie had introduced me at New York. One evening at a
dinner-party he poured out a goblet of water from a decanter on
the table, drank it down, and next day was dead from Asiatic
cholera. But, with this exception, the patients were, so far as I
learned, almost entirely from the peasant class. Although boiled
water was supplied for drinking purposes, and some
public-spirited individuals went so far as to set out samovars
and the means of supplying hot tea to peasant workmen, the answer
of one of the muzhiks, when told that he ought to drink boiled
water, indicated the peasant view: "If God had wished us to drink
hot water, he would have heated the Neva."



On arriving at St. Petersburg in 1892 to take charge of the
American legation, there was one Russian whom I more desired to
meet than any other--Constantine Pobedonostzeff. For some years
various English and American reviews had been charging him with
bigotry, cruelty, hypocrisy, and, indeed, with nearly every
hateful form of political crime; but the fact remained that under
Alexander III he was the most influential personage in the
empire, and that, though bearing the title of "procurator-general
of the Most Holy Synod," he was evidently no less powerful in
civil than in ecclesiastical affairs.

As to his history, it was understood to be as follows: When the
Grand Duke Nicholas, the eldest son of Alexander II,--a young man
of gentle characteristics, greatly resembling his father,--died
upon the Riviera, the next heir to the throne was his brother
Alexander, a stalwart, taciturn guardsman, respected by all who
knew him for honesty and directness, but who, having never looked
forward to the throne, had been brought up simply as a soldier,
with few of the gifts and graces traditional among the heirs of
the Russian monarchy since the days of Catherine.

Therefore it was that it became necessary to extemporize for this
soldier a training which should fit him for the duties of the
position so unexpectedly opened to him; and the man chosen as his
tutor was a professor at Moscow, distinguished as a jurist and
theologian,--a man of remarkable force of character, and devoted
to Russian ideas as distinguished from those of Western Europe:
Constantine Pobedonostzeff.

During the dark and stormy days toward the end of his career,
Alexander II had called in as his main adviser General
Loris-Melikoff, a man of Armenian descent, in whom was mingled
with the shrewd characteristics of his race a sincere desire to
give to Russia a policy and development in accordance with modern

The result the world knows well. The Emperor, having taken the
advice of this and other councilors,--deeply patriotic men like
Miloutine, Samarine, and Tcherkassky,--had freed the serfs within
his empire (twenty millions in all); had sanctioned a vast scheme
by which they were to arrive at the possession of landed
property; had established local self-government in the various
provinces of his empire; had improved the courts of law; had
introduced Western ideas into legal procedure; had greatly
mitigated the severities formerly exercised toward the Jews; and
had made all ready to promulgate a constitution on his
approaching birthday.

But this did not satisfy the nihilistic sect. What more they
wanted it is hard to say. It is more than doubtful whether Russia
even then had arrived at a stage of civilization when the
institutions which Alexander II had already conceded could be
adopted with profit; but the leaders of the anarchic movement,
with their vague longings for fruit on the day the tree was
planted, decreed the Emperor's death--the assassination of the
greatest benefactor that Russia has ever known, one of the
greatest that humanity has known. It was, perhaps, the most
fearful crime ever committed against liberty and freedom; for it
blasted the hopes and aspirations of over a hundred millions of
people, and doubtless for many generations.

On this the sturdy young guardsman became the Emperor Alexander
III. It is related by men conversant with Russian affairs that,
at the first meeting of the imperial councilors, Loris-Melikoff,
believing that the young sovereign would be led by filial
reverence to continue the liberal policy to which the father had
devoted his life, made a speech taking this for granted, and that
the majority of those present, including the Emperor, seemed in
accord with him; when suddenly there arose a tall, gaunt,
scholarly man, who at first very simply, but finally very
eloquently, presented a different view. According to the
chroniclers of the period, Pobedonostzeff told the Emperor that
all so-called liberal measures, including the constitution, were
a delusion; that, though such things might be suited to Western
Europe, they were not suited to Russia; that the constitution of
that empire had been, from time immemorial, the will of the
autocrat, directed by his own sense of responsibility to the
Almighty; that no other constitution was possible in Russia; that
this alone was fitted to the traditions, the laws, the ideas of
the hundred and twenty millions of various races under the
Russian scepter; that in other parts of the world constitutional
liberty, so called, had already shown itself an absurdity; that
socialism, anarchism, and nihilism, with their plots and bombs,
were appearing in all quarters; that murder was plotted against
rulers of nations everywhere, the best of presidents having been
assassinated in the very country where free institutions were
supposed to have taken the most complete hold; that the principle
of authority in human government was to be saved; and that this
principle existed as an effective force only in Russia.

This speech is said to have carried all before it. As its
immediate result came the retirement of Loris-Melikoff, followed
by his death not long afterward; the entrance of Pobedonostzeff
among the most cherished councilors of the Emperor; the
suppression of the constitution; the discouragement of every
liberal tendency; and that fanatical reaction which has been in
full force ever since.

This was the man whom I especially desired to see and to
understand; and therefore it was that I was very glad to receive
from the State Department instructions to consult with him
regarding some rather delicate matters needing adjustment between
the Greek Church and our authorities in Alaska, and also in
relation to the representation of Russia at the Chicago

I found him, as one of the great ministers of the crown, residing
in a ministerial palace, but still retaining, in large measure,
his old quality of professor. About him was a beautiful library,
with every evidence of a love for art and literature. I had gone
into his presence with many feelings of doubt. Against no one in
Russia had charges so bitter been made in my hearing: it was
universally insisted that he was responsible for the persecution
of the Roman Catholics in Poland, of the Lutherans in the Baltic
provinces and in Finland, of the Stundists in Central Russia, and
of the dissenting sects everywhere. He had been spoken of in the
English reviews as the "Torquemada of the nineteenth century,"
and this epithet seemed to be generally accepted as fitting.

I found him a scholarly, kindly man, ready to discuss the
business which I brought before him, and showing a wide interest
in public affairs. There were few, if any, doctrines, either
political or theological, which we held in common, but he seemed
inclined to meet the wishes of our government as fully and fairly
as he could; and thus was begun one of the most interesting
acquaintances I have ever made.

His usual time of receiving his friends was on Sunday evening
between nine and twelve; and very many such evenings I passed in
his study, discussing with him, over glasses of fragrant Russian
tea, every sort of question with the utmost freedom.

I soon found that his reasons for that course of action to which
the world so generally objects are not so superficial as they are
usually thought. The repressive policy which he has so earnestly
adopted is based not merely upon his views as a theologian, but
upon his convictions as a statesman. While, as a Russo-Greek
churchman, he regards the established church of the empire as the
form of Christianity most primitive and pure; and while he sees
in its ritual, in its art, and in all the characteristics of its
worship the nearest approach to his ideals, he looks at it also
from the point of view of a statesman--as the greatest cementing
power of the vast empire through which it is spread.

This being the case, he naturally opposes all other religious
bodies in Russia as not merely inflicting injury upon
Christianity, but as tending to the political disintegration of
the empire. Never, in any of our conversations, did I hear him
speak a harsh word of any other church or of any religious ideas
opposed to his own; but it was clear that he regarded Protestants
and dissident sects generally as but agents in the progress of
disintegration which, in Western Europe, seemed approaching a
crisis, and that he considered the Roman Catholic Church in
Poland as practically a political machine managed by a hierarchy
in deadly hostility to the Russian Empire and to Russian
influence everywhere.

In discussing his own church, he never hesitated to speak plainly
of its evident shortcomings. Unquestionably, one of the wishes
nearest his heart is to reform the abuses which have grown up
among its clergy, especially in their personal habits. Here, too,
is a reason for any repressive policy which he may have exercised
against other religious bodies. Everything that detracts from the
established Russo-Greek Church detracts from the revenues of its
clergy, and, as these are pitifully small, aids to keep the
priests and their families in the low condition from which he is
so earnestly endeavoring to raise them. As regards the severe
policy inaugurated by Alexander III against the Jews of the
empire, which Pobedonostzeff, more than any other man, is
supposed to have inspired, he seemed to have no harsh feelings
against Israelites as such; but his conduct seemed based upon a
theory which, in various conversations, he presented with much
force: namely, that Russia, having within its borders more Jews
than exist in all the world besides, and having suffered greatly
from these as from an organization really incapable of
assimilation with the body politic, must pursue a repressive
policy toward them and isolate them in order to protect its rural

While he was very civil in his expressions regarding the United
States, he clearly considered all Western civilization a failure.
He seemed to anticipate, before long, a collapse in the systems
and institutions of Western Europe. To him socialism and
anarchism, with all they imply, were but symptoms of a
wide-spread political and social disease--indications of an
approaching catastrophe destined to end a civilization which,
having rejected orthodoxy, had cast aside authority, given the
force of law to the whimsies of illiterate majorities, and
accepted, as the voice of God, the voice of unthinking mobs,
blind to their own interests and utterly incapable of working out
their own good. It was evident that he regarded Russia as
representing among the nations the idea of Heaven-given and
church-anointed authority, as the empire destined to save the
principle of divine right and the rule of the fittest.

Revolutionary efforts in Russia he discussed calmly. Referring to
Loris-Melikoff, the representative of the principles most
strongly opposed to his own, no word of censure escaped him. The
only evidence of deep feeling on this subject he ever showed in
my presence was when he referred to the writings of a well-known
Russian refugee in London, and said, "He is a murderer."

As to public instruction, he evidently held to the idea so
thoroughly carried out in Russia: namely, that the upper class,
which is to conduct the business of the state, should be highly
educated, but that the mass of the people need no education
beyond what will keep them contented in the humble station to
which it has pleased God to call them. A very curious example of
his conservatism I noted in his remarks regarding the droshkies
of St. Petersburg. The droshky-drivers are Russian peasants,
simple and, as a rule, pious; rarely failing to make the sign of
the cross on passing a church or shrine, or at any other moment
which seems to them solemn. They are possibly picturesque, but
certainly dirty, in their clothing and in all their surroundings.
A conveyance more wretched than the ordinary street-droshky of a
Russian city could hardly be conceived, and measures had been
proposed for improving this system; but he could see no use in
them. The existing system was thoroughly Russian, and that was
enough. It appealed to his conservatism. The droshky-drivers,
with their Russian caps, their long hair and beards, their
picturesque caftans, and their deferential demeanor, satisfied
his esthetic sense.

What seemed to me a clash between his orthodox conservatism on
one side, and his Russian pride on the other, I discovered on my
return from a visit to Moscow, in which I had sundry walks and
talks with Tolstoi. On my alluding to this, he showed some
interest. It was clear that he was separated by a whole orb of
thought from the great novelist, yet it was none the less evident
that he took pride in him. He naturally considered Tolstoi as
hopelessly wrong in all his fundamental ideas, and yet was
himself too much of a man of letters not to recognize in his
brilliant countryman one of the glories of Russia.

But the most curious--indeed, the most amazing--revelation of the
man I found in his love for American literature. He is a wide
reader; and, in the whole breadth of his reading, American
authors were evidently among those he preferred. Of these his
favorites were Hawthorne, Lowell, and, above all, Emerson.
Curious, indeed, was it to learn that this "arch-persecutor,"
this "Torquemada of the nineteenth century," this man whose hand
is especially heavy upon Catholics and Protestants and dissenters
throughout the empire, whose name is spoken with abhorrence by
millions within the empire and without it, still reads, as his
favorite author, the philosopher of Concord. He told me that the
first book which he ever translated into Russian was Thomas a
Kempis's "Imitation of Christ"; and of that he gave me the Latin
original from which he made his translation, with a copy of the
translation itself. But he also told me that the next book he
translated was a volume of Emerson's "Essays," and he added that
for years there had always lain open upon his study table a
volume of Emerson's writings.

There is, thus clearly, a relation of his mind to the literature
of the Western world very foreign to his feelings regarding
Western religious ideas. This can be accounted for perhaps by his
own character as a man of letters. That he has a distinct
literary gift is certain. I have in my possession sundry articles
of his, and especially a poem in manuscript, which show real
poetic feeling and a marked power of expression. It is a curious
fact that, though so addicted to English and American literature,
he utterly refuses to converse in our language. His medium of
communication with foreigners is always French. On my asking him
why he would not use our language in conversation, he answered
that he had learned it from books, and that his pronunciation of
it would expose him to ridicule.

In various circles in St. Petersburg I heard him spoken of as a
hypocrite, but a simple sense of justice compels me to declare
this accusation unjust. He indeed retires into a convent for a
portion of every year to join the monks in their austerities; but
this practice is, I believe, the outgrowth of a deep religious
feeling. On returning from one of these visits, he brought to my
wife a large Easter egg of lacquered work, exquisitely
illuminated. I have examined, in various parts of Europe,
beautiful specimens of the best periods of mediaeval art; but in
no one of them have I found anything in the way of illumination
more perfect than this which he brought from his monkish
brethren. In nothing did he seem to unbend more than in his
unfeigned love for religious art as it exists in Russia. He
discussed with me one evening sundry photographs of the new
religious paintings in the cathedral of Kieff in a spirit which
revealed this feeling for religious art as one of the deepest
characteristics of his nature.

He was evidently equally sensitive to the beauties of religious
literature. Giving me various books containing the services of
the Orthodox Church, he dwelt upon the beauty of the Slavonic
version of the Psalms and upon the church hymnology.

The same esthetic side of his nature was evident at various great
church ceremonies. It has happened to me to see Pius IX celebrate
mass, both at the high altar of St. Peter's and in the Sistine
Chapel, and to witness the ceremonies of Holy Week and of Easter
at the Roman basilicas, and at the time it was hard to conceive
anything of the kind more impressive; but I have never seen any
church functions, on the whole, more imposing than the funeral
service of the Emperor Nicholas during my first visit to Russia,
and various imperial weddings, funerals, name-days, and the like,
during my second visit. On such occasions Pobedonostzeff
frequently came over from his position among the ministers of the
crown to explain to us the significance of this or that feature
in the ritual of music. It was plain that these things touched
what was deepest in him; it must be confessed that his attachment
to the church is sincere.

Nor were these impressions made upon me alone. It fell to my lot
to present to him one of the most eminent journalists our country
has produced--Charles A. Dana, a man who could discuss on even
terms with any European statesman all the leading modern
questions. Dana had been brought into close contact with many
great men; but it was plain to see--what he afterward
acknowledged to me--that he was very deeply impressed by this
eminent Russian. The talk of two such men threw new light upon
the characteristics of Pobedonostzeff, and strengthened my
impression of his intellectual sincerity.

In regard to the relation of the Russo-Greek Church to other
churches I spoke to him at various times, and found in him no
personal feeling of dislike to them. The nearest approach to such
a feeling appeared, greatly to my surprise, in sundry references
to the Greek Church as it exists in Greece. In these he showed a
spirit much like that which used to be common among High-church
Episcopalians in speaking of Low-church "Evangelicals." Mindful
of the earnest efforts made by the Anglican communion to come
into closer relations with the Russian branch of the Eastern
Church, I at various times broached that subject, and the
glimpses I obtained of his feeling regarding it surprised me.
Previously to these interviews I had supposed that the main
difficulty in the way to friendly relations between these two
branches of the church universal had its origin in the "filioque"
clause of the Nicene Creed. As is well known, the Eastern Church
adheres to that creed in its original form,--the form in which
the Holy Ghost is represented as "proceeding from the
Father,"--whereas the Western Church adopts the additional words,
"and from the Son." That the Russo-Greek Church is very tenacious
of its position in this respect, and considers the position of
the Western Church--Catholic and Protestant--as savoring of
blasphemy, is well known; and there was a curious evidence of
this during my second stay in Russia. Twice during that time I
heard the "Missa Solennis" of Beethoven. It was first given by a
splendid choir in the great hall of the University of
Helsingfors. That being in Finland, which is mainly Lutheran, the
Creed was sung in its Western form. Naturally, on going to hear
it given by a great choir at St. Petersburg, I was curious to
know how this famous clause would be dealt with. In various parts
of the audience were priests of the Russo-Greek faith, yet there
were very many Lutherans and Calvinists, and I watched with some
interest the approach of the passage containing the disputed
words; but when we reached this it was wholly omitted. Any
allusion to the "procession" was evidently forbidden. Great,
therefore, was my surprise when, on my asking Pobedonostzeff,[5]
as the representative of the Emperor in the Synod of the
empire,--the highest assemblage in the church, and he the most
influential man in it, really controlling archbishops and bishops
throughout the empire,--whether the "filioque" clause is an
insurmountable obstacle to union, he replied, "Not at all; that
is simply a question of dialectics. But with whom are we to
unite? Shall it be with the High-churchmen, the Broad-churchmen,
or the Low-churchmen? These are three different bodies of men
with distinctly different ideas of church order; indeed, with
distinctly different creeds. Which of these is the Orthodox
Church to regard as the representative of the Anglican
communion?" I endeavored to show him that the union, if it took
place at all, must be based on ideas and beliefs that underlie
all these distinctions; but he still returned to his original
proposition, which was that union is impossible until a more
distinct basis than any now attainable can be arrived at.

[5] I find, in a letter from Pobedonostzeff, that he spells his
name as here printed.

I suggested to him a visit to Great Britain and his making the
acquaintance of leading Englishmen; but to this he answered that
at his time of life he had no leisure for such a recreation; that
his duties absolutely forbade it.

In regard to relations with the Russo-Greek Church on our own
continent, he seemed to speak with great pleasure of the
treatment that sundry Russian bishops had received among us. He
read me letters from a member of the Russo-Greek hierarchy, full
of the kindliest expressions toward Americans, and especially
acknowledging their friendly reception of him and of his
ministrations. Both the archbishop in his letter, and
Pobedonostzeff in his talk, were very much amused over the fact
that the Americans, after extending various other courtesies to
the archbishop, offered him cigars.

He discussed the possibility of introducing the "Holy Orthodox
Church" into the United States, but always disclaimed all zeal in
religious propagandism, saying that the church authorities had
quite enough work to do in extending and fortifying the church
throughout the Russian Empire. He said that the pagan tribes of
the imperial dominions in Asia seemed more inclined to
Mohammedanism than to Christianity, and gave as the probable
reason the fact that the former faith is much the simpler of the
two. He was evidently unable to grasp the idea of the Congress of
Religions at the Chicago Exposition, and seemed inclined to take
a mildly humorous view of it as one of the droll inventions of
the time.

He appeared to hold our nation as a problem apart, and was,
perhaps, too civil in his conversations with me to include it in
the same condemnation with the nations of Western Europe which
had, in his opinion, gone hopelessly wrong. He also seemed drawn
to us by his admiration for Emerson, Hawthorne, and Lowell. When
Professor Norton's edition of Lowell's "Letters" came out, I at
once took it to him. It evidently gave him great
pleasure--perhaps because it revealed to him a very different
civilization, life, and personality from anything to which he had
been accustomed. Still, America seemed to be to him a sort of
dreamland. He constantly returned to Russian affairs as to the
great realities of the world. Discussing, as we often did, the
condition and future of the wild tribes and nations within the
Asiatic limits of the empire, he betrayed no desire either for
crusades or for intrigues to convert them; he simply spoke of the
legitimate influence of the church in civilizing them.

I recall a brilliant but denunciatory article, published in one
of the English reviews some time since by a well-known nihilist,
which contained, in the midst of various charges against the
Russian statesman, a description of his smile, which was
characterized as forbidding, and even ghastly. I watched for this
smile with much interest, but it never came. A smile upon his
face I have often seen; but it was a kindly smile, with no trace
of anything ghastly or cruel in it.

He seemed to take pleasure in the society of his old professorial
friends, and one of them he once brought to my table. This was a
professor of history, deeply conversant with the affairs of the
empire; and we discussed the character and career of Catherine
II. The two men together brought out a mass of curious
information, throwing a strange light into transactions which
only the most recent historians are beginning to understand,
among these the assassination of Czar Peter III, Catherine's
husband. On one occasion when Pobedonostzeff was visiting me I
tested his knowledge in regard to a matter of special interest,
and obtained a new side-light upon his theory of the universe.
There is at present on the island of Cronstadt, at the mouth of
the Neva, a Russo-Greek priest, Father Ivan, who enjoys
throughout the empire a vast reputation as a saintly worker of
miracles. This priest has a very spiritual and kindly face; is
known to receive vast sums for the poor, which he distributes
among them while he himself remains in poverty; and is supposed
not merely by members of the Russo-Greek Church, but by those of
other religious bodies, to work frequent miracles of healing. I
was assured by persons of the highest character--and those not
only Russo-Greek churchmen, but Roman Catholics and
Anglicans--that there could be no doubt as to the reality of
these miracles, and various examples were given me. So great is
Father Ivan's reputation in this respect that he is in constant
demand in all parts of the empire, and was even summoned to
Livadia during the last illness of the late Emperor. Whenever he
appears in public great crowds surround him, seeking to touch the
hem of his garment. His picture is to be seen with the portraits
of the saints in vast numbers of Russian homes, from the palaces
of the highest nobles to the cottages of the humblest peasants.

It happened to me on one occasion to have an experience which I
have related elsewhere, but which is repeated here as throwing
light on the ideas of the Russian statesman.

On my arrival in St. Petersburg my attention was at once aroused
by the portraits of Father Ivan. They ranged from photographs
absolutely true to life, which revealed a plain, shrewd, kindly
face, to those which were idealized until they bore a near
resemblance to the conventional representations of Jesus of

One day, in one of the most brilliant reception-rooms of the
Northern capital, the subject of Father Ivan's miracles having
been introduced, a gentleman in very high social position, and
entirely trustworthy, spoke as follows: "There is something very
surprising about these miracles. I am slow to believe in them;
but there is one of them which is overwhelming and absolutely
true. The late Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, Archbishop
Isidore, loved quiet, and was very averse to anything which could
possibly cause scandal. Hearing of the wonders wrought by Father
Ivan, he summoned him to his presence and sternly commanded him
to abstain from all the things which had given rise to these
reported miracles, as sure to create scandal, and with this
injunction dismissed him. Hardly had the priest left the room
when the archbishop was struck with blindness, and he remained in
this condition until the priest returned and restored his sight
by intercessory prayer." When I asked the gentleman giving this
account if he directly knew these facts, he replied that he was,
of course, not present when the miracle was wrought; but that he
had the facts immediately from persons who knew all the parties
concerned, as well as all the circumstances of the case; and,
indeed, that these circumstances were matter of general

Sometime afterward, being at an afternoon reception in one of the
greater embassies, I brought up the same subject, when an eminent
general spoke as follows: "I am not inclined to believe in
miracles,--in fact, am rather skeptical; but the proofs of those
wrought by Father Ivan are overwhelming." He then went on to say
that the late metropolitan archbishop was a man who loved quiet
and disliked scandal; that on this account he had summoned Father
Ivan to his palace, and ordered him to put an end to the conduct
which had caused the reports concerning his miraculous powers;
and then, with a wave of his arm, had dismissed him. The priest
left the room, and from that moment the archbishop's arm was
paralyzed; and it remained so until the penitent prelate summoned
the priest again, by whose prayers the arm was restored to its
former usefulness. There was present at the time another person
besides myself who had heard the previous statement as to the
blindness of the archbishop; and, on our both asking the general
if he was sure that the archbishop's arm was paralyzed as stated,
he declared that he could not doubt it, as he had the account
directly from persons entirely trustworthy who were cognizant of
all the facts.

Sometime later, meeting Pobedonostzeff, I asked him which of
these stories was correct. He answered immediately, "Neither: in
the discharge of my duties I saw the Archbishop Isidore
constantly down to the last hours of his life, and no such event
ever occurred. He was never paralyzed and never blind." But the
great statesman and churchman then went on to say that, although
this story was untrue, there were a multitude of others quite as
remarkable in which he believed; and he gave me a number of
legends showing that Father Ivan possessed supernatural knowledge
and miraculous powers. These he unfolded to me with much detail,
and with such an accent of conviction that we seemed surrounded
by a mediaeval atmosphere in which signs and wonders were the
most natural things in the world.

As to his action on politics since my leaving Russia, the power
which he exercised over Alexander III has evidently been
continued during the reign of the young Nicholas II. In spite of
his eighty years, he seems to be, to-day, the leader of the
reactionary party.

During the early weeks of The Hague Conference, Count Munster, in
his frequent diatribes against its whole purpose, and especially
against arbitration, was wont to insist that the whole thing was
a scheme prepared by Pobedonostzeff to embarrass Germany; that,
as Russia was always wretchedly unready with her army, The Hague
Conference was simply a trick for gaining time against her rivals
who kept up better military preparations. There may have been
truth in part of this assertion; but the motive of the great
Russian statesman in favoring the conference was probably not so
much to gain time for the army as to gain money for the church.
With his intense desire to increase the stipends of the Russian
orthodox clergy, and thus to raise them somewhat above their
present low condition, he must have groaned over the enormous
sums spent by his government in the frequent changes in almost
every item of expenditure for its vast army--changes made in
times of profound peace, simply to show that Russia was keeping
her army abreast of those of her sister nations. Hence came the
expressed Russian desire to "keep people from inventing things."
It has always seemed to me that, while the idea underlying the
Peace Conference came originally from Jean de Bloch, there must
have been powerful aid from Pobedonostzeff. So much of good--and,
indeed, of great good--we may attribute to him as highly
probable, if not certain.

But, on the other hand, there would seem to be equal reason for
attributing to him, in these latter days, a fearful mass of evil.
To say nothing of the policy of Russia in Poland and elsewhere,
her dealings with Finland thus far form one of the blackest spots
on the history of the empire. Whether he originated this iniquity
or not is uncertain; but when, in 1892, I first saw the new
Russian cathedral rising on the heights above Helsingfors,--a
structure vastly more imposing than any warranted by the small
number of the "orthodox" in Finland,--with its architecture of
the old Muscovite type, symbolical of fetishism, I could not but
recognize his hand in it. It seemed clear to me that here was the
beginning of religious aggression on the Lutheran Finlanders,
which must logically be followed by political and military
aggression; and, in view of his agency in this as in everything
reactionary, I did not wonder at the attempt to assassinate him
not long afterward.

During my recent stay in Germany he visited me at the Berlin
Embassy. He was, as of old, apparently gentle, kindly, interested
in literature, not interested to any great extent in current
Western politics. This gentle, kindly manner of his brought back
forcibly to my mind a remark of one of the most cultivated women
I met in Russia, a princess of ancient lineage, who ardently
desired reasonable reforms, and who, when I mentioned to her a
report that Pobedonostzeff was weary of political life, and was
about to retire from office in order to devote himself to
literary pursuits, said: "Don't, I beg of you, tell me that; for
I have always noticed that whenever such a report is circulated,
it is followed by some new scheme of his, even more infernal than
those preceding it."

So much for the man who, during the present reign, seems one of
the main agents in holding Russian policy on the road to ruin. He
is indeed a study. The descriptive epithet which clings to
him--"the Torquemada of the nineteenth century"--he once
discussed with me in no unkindly spirit; indeed, in as gentle a
spirit as can well be conceived. His life furnishes a most
interesting study in churchmanship, in statesmanship, and in
human nature, and shows how some of the men most severely
condemned by modern historians--great persecutors, inquisitors,
and the like--may have based their actions on theories the world
has little understood, and may have had as little conscious
ferocity as their more tolerant neighbors.



Revisiting Moscow after an absence of thirty-five years, the most
surprising thing to me was that there had been so little change.
With the exception of the new gallery of Russian art, and the
bazaar opposite the sacred gate of the Kremlin, things seemed as
I had left them just after the accession of Alexander II. There
were the same unkempt streets; the same peasantry clad in
sheepskins; the same troops of beggars, sturdy and dirty; the
same squalid crowds crossing themselves before the images at the
street corners; the same throngs of worshipers knocking their
heads against the pavements of churches; and above all loomed,
now as then, the tower of Ivan and the domes of St. Basil,
gloomy, gaudy, and barbaric. Only one change had taken place
which interested me: for the first time in the history of Russia,
a man of world-wide fame in literature and thought was abiding
there--Count Leo Tolstoi.

On the evening of my arrival I went with my secretary to his
weekly reception. As we entered his house on the outskirts of the
city, two servants in evening dress came forward, removed our fur
coats, and opened the doors into the reception-room of the
master. Then came a surprise. His living-room seemed the cabin of
a Russian peasant. It was wainscoted almost rudely and furnished
very simply; and there approached us a tall, gaunt Russian,
unmistakably born to command, yet clad as a peasant, his hair
thrown back over his ears on either side, his flowing blouse kept
together by a leathern girdle, his high jack-boots completing the
costume. This was Tolstoi.

Nothing could be more kindly than his greeting. While his dress
was that of a peasant, his bearing was the very opposite; for,
instead of the depressed, demure, hangdog expression of the
average muzhik, his manner, though cordial, was dignified and
impressive. Having given us a hearty welcome, he made us
acquainted with various other guests. It was a singular
assemblage. There were foreigners in evening dress, Moscow
professors in any dress they liked, and a certain number of
youth, evidently disciples, who, though clearly not of the
peasant class, wore the peasant costume. I observed these with
interest but certainly as long as they were under the spell of
the master they communicated nothing worth preserving; they
seemed to show "the contortions of the sibyl without the

The professors were much more engaging. The University of Moscow
has in its teaching body several strong men, and some of these
were present. One of them, whose department was philosophy,
especially interested and encouraged me by assurances that the
movement of Russian philosophy is "back to Kant." In the strange
welter of whims and dreams which one finds in Russia, this was to
me an unexpected evidence of healthful thought.

Naturally, I soon asked to be presented to the lady of the house,
and the count escorted us through a series of rooms to a salon
furnished much like any handsome apartment in Paris or St.
Petersburg, where the countess, with other ladies, all in full
evening dress, received us cordially. This sudden transition from
the peasant cabin of the master to these sumptuous rooms of the
mistress was startling; it seemed like scene-shifting at a

After some friendly talk, all returned to the rooms of the master
of the house, where tea was served at a long table from the
bubbling brazen urn--the samovar; and though there were some
twenty or thirty guests, nothing could be more informal. All was
simple, kindly, and unrestrained.

My first question was upon the condition of the people. Our
American legation had corresponded with Count Tolstoi and his
family as to distributing a portion of the famine fund sent from
the United States, hence this subject naturally arose at the
outset. He said that the condition of the peasants was still very
bad; that they had very generally eaten their draught-animals,
burned portions of their buildings to keep life in their bodies,
and reduced themselves to hopeless want. On my suggesting that
the new commercial treaty with Germany might help matters, he
thought that it would have but little effect, since only a small
portion of the total product of Russian agriculture is consumed
abroad. This led him to speak of some Americans and Englishmen
who had visited the famine-stricken districts, and, while he
referred kindly to them all, he seemed especially attracted by
the Quaker John Bellows of Gloucester, England, the author of the
wonderful little French dictionary. This led him to say that he
sympathized with the Quakers in everything save their belief in
property; that in this they were utterly illogical; that property
presupposes force to protect it. I remarked that most American
Quakers knew nothing of such force; that none of them had ever
seen an American soldier, save during our Civil War, and that
probably not one in hundreds of them had ever seen a soldier at
all. He answered, "But you forget the policeman." He evidently
put policemen and soldiers in the same category--as using force
to protect property, and therefore to be alike abhorred.

I found that to his disbelief in any right of ownership literary
property formed no exception. He told me that, in his view, he
had no right to receive money for the permission to print a book.
To this I naturally answered that by carrying out this doctrine
he would simply lavish large sums upon publishers in every
country of Europe and America, many of them rich and some of them
piratical; and that in my opinion he would do a much better thing
by taking the full value of his copyrights and bestowing the
proceeds upon the peasantry starving about him. To which he
answered that it was a question of duty. To this I agreed, but
remarked that beneath this lay the question what this duty really
was. It was a pleasure to learn from another source that the
countess took a different view of it, and that she had in some
way secured the proceeds of his copyrights for their very large
and interesting family. Light was thus thrown on Tolstoi's
remark, made afterward, that women are not so self-sacrificing as
men; that a man would sometimes sacrifice his family for an idea,
but that a woman would not.

He then went on to express an interest in the Shakers, and
especially in Frederick Evans. He had evidently formed an idea of
them very unlike the reality; in fact, the Shaker his imagination
had developed was as different from a Lebanon Shaker as an eagle
from a duck, and his notion of their influence on American
society was comical.

He spoke at some length regarding religion in Russia, evidently
believing that its present dominant form is soon to pass away. I
asked him how then he could account for the fact that while in
other countries women are greatly in the majority at church
services, in every Russian church the majority are men; and that
during the thirty-five years since my last visit to Moscow this
tendency had apparently increased. He answered, "All this is on
the surface; there is much deeper thought below, and the great
want of Russia is liberty to utter it." He then gave some
examples to show this, among them the case of a gentleman and
lady in St. Petersburg, whose children had been taken from them
and given to Princess ----, their grandmother, because the latter
is of the Orthodox Church and the former are not. I answered that
I had seen the children; that their grandmother had told me that
their mother was a screaming atheist with nihilistic tendencies,
who had left her husband and was bringing up the children in a
scandalous way,--teaching them to abjure God and curse the Czar;
that their father had thought it his duty to give all his
property away and work as a laborer; that therefore she--the
grandmother--had secured an order from the Emperor empowering her
to take charge of the children; that I had seen the children at
their grandmother's house, and that they had seemed very happy.
Tolstoi insisted that this statement by the grandmother was
simply made to cover the fact that the children were taken from
the mother because her belief was not of the orthodox pattern. My
opinion is that Tolstoi was mistaken, at least as to the father;
and that the father had been led to give away his property and
work with his hands in obedience to the ideas so eloquently
advocated by Tolstoi himself. Unlike his master, this gentleman
appears not to have had the advantage of a wife who mitigated his

Tolstoi also referred to the difficulties which translators had
found in securing publishers for his most recent book--"The
Kingdom of God." On my assuring him that American publishers of
high standing would certainly be glad to take it, he said that he
had supposed the ideas in it so contrary to opinions dominant in
America as to prevent its publication there.

Returning to the subject of religion in Russia, he referred to
some curious incongruities; as, for example, the portrait of
Socrates forming part of a religious picture in the Annunciation
Church at the Kremlin. He said that evidently some monk, who had
dipped into Plato, had thus placed Socrates among the precursors
of Christ. I cited the reason assigned by Melanchthon for
Christ's descent into hell--namely, the desire of the Redeemer to
make himself known to Socrates, Plato, and the best of the
ancient philosophers; and I compared this with Luther's idea, so
characteristic of him, that Christ descended into hell in order
to have a hand-to-hand grapple and wrestle with Satan. This led
Tolstoi to give me a Russian legend of the descent into hell,
which was that, when Christ arrived there, he found Satan forging
chains, but that, at the approach of the Saviour, the walls of
hell collapsed, and Satan found himself entangled in his own
chains, and remained so for a thousand years.

In regard to the Jews, he said that he sympathized with them, but
that the statements regarding the persecution of them were
somewhat exaggerated. Kennan's statements regarding the treatment
of prisoners in Siberia he thought overdrawn at times, but
substantially true. He expressed his surprise that certain
leading men in the empire, whom he named, could believe that
persecution and the forcible repression of thought would have any
permanent effect at the end of the nineteenth century.

He then dwelt upon sundry evil conditions in Russia, on which my
comment was that every country, of course, had its own grievous
shortcomings; and I cited, as to America, the proverb: "No one
knows so well where the shoe pinches as he who wears it." At this
he asked me about lynch law in the United States, and expressed
his horror of it. I showed him that it was the inevitable result
of a wretched laxity and sham humanity in the administration of
our criminal law, which had led great bodies of people, more
especially in the Southern and extreme Western parts of the
country, to revert to natural justice and take the law into their
own hands; and I cited Goldwin Smith's profound remark that "some
American lynchings are proofs not so much of lawlessness as of a
respect for law."

He asked me where, besides this, the shoe pinched in the United
States. I told him that it pinched in various places, but that
perhaps the worst pinch arises from the premature admission to
full political rights of men who have been so benumbed and
stunted intellectually and morally in other countries that their
exercise of political rights in America is frequently an injury,
not only to others, but to themselves. In proof of this I cited
the case of the crowds whom I had seen some years before huddled
together in New York tenement-houses, preyed upon by their
liquor-selling landlords, their families perishing of typhoid and
smallpox on account of the negligence and maladministration of
the local politicians, but who, as a rule, were almost if not
quite ready to mob and murder those of us who brought in a new
health board and a better order of things; showing him that for
years the very class of people who suffered most from the old,
vile state of things did their best by their votes to keep in
power the men who maintained it.

We then passed to the subject of the trans-Siberian Railway. In
this he seemed interested, but in a vague way which added nothing
to my knowledge.

Asking me regarding my former visit to Moscow, and learning that
it was during the Crimean War, he said, "At that time I was in
Sebastopol, and continued there as a soldier during the siege."

As to his relations with the imperial government at present, he
said that he had been recently elected to a learned society in
Moscow, but that the St. Petersburg government had interfered to
stop the election; and he added that every morning, when he
awoke, he wondered that he was not on his way to Siberia.

On my leaving him, both he and the countess invited me to meet
them next day at the Tretiakof Museum of Russian Pictures; and
accordingly, on the following afternoon, I met them at that
greatest of all galleries devoted purely to Russian art. They
were accompanied by several friends, among them a little knot of
disciples--young men clad in simple peasant costume like that
worn by the master. It was evident that he was an acknowledged
lion at the old Russian capital, for as he led me about to see
the pictures which he liked best, he was followed and stared at
by many.

Pointing out to me some modern religious pictures in Byzantine
style painted for the Cathedral of Kieff, he said, "They
represent an effort as futile as trying to persuade chickens to
reenter the egg-shells from which they have escaped." He next
showed me two religious pictures; the first representing the
meeting of Jesus and Pilate, when the latter asked, "What is
truth?" Pilate was depicted as a rotund, jocose, cynical man of
the world; Jesus, as a street preacher in sordid garments, with
unkempt hair flowing over his haggard face,--a peasant fanatic
brought in by the police. Tolstoi showed an especial interest in
this picture; it seemed to reveal to him the real secret of that
famous question and its answer; the question coming from the
mighty of the earth, and the answer from the poor and oppressed.

The other picture represented the Crucifixion. It was painted in
the most realistic manner possible; nothing was idealized; it was
even more vividly realistic than Gebhardt's picture of the Lord's
Supper, at Berlin; so that it at first repelled me, though it
afterward exercised a certain fascination. That Tolstoi was
deeply interested was clear. He stood for a time in silence, as
if musing upon all that the sacrifice on Calvary had brought to
the world. Other representations of similar scenes, in the
conventional style of the older masters, he had passed without a
glance; but this spectacle of the young Galilean peasant, with
unattractive features, sordid garb, poverty-stricken companions,
and repulsive surroundings, tortured to death for preaching the
"kingdom of God" to the poor and down-trodden, seemed to hold him
fast, and as he pointed out various features in the picture it
became even more clear to me that sympathy with the peasant
class, and a yearning to enter into their cares and sorrows, form
the real groundwork of his life.

He then took me to a small picture of Jesus and his disciples
leaving the upper room at Jerusalem after the Last Supper. This,
too, was painted in the most realistic manner. The disciples,
simple-minded fishermen, rude in features and dress, were
plodding homeward, while Christ himself gazed at the stars and
drew the attention of his nearest companions to some of the
brightest. Tolstoi expressed especial admiration for this
picture, saying that at times it affected him like beautiful
music,--like music which draws tears, one can hardly tell why. It
was more and more evident, as he lingered before this and other
pictures embodying similar ideas, that sympathy for those
struggling through poverty and want toward a better life is his
master passion.

Among the pictures, not to be classed as religious, before which
he thus lingered were those representing the arrest of a nihilist
and the return of an exile from Siberia. Both were well painted,
and both revealed the same characteristic--sympathy with the
poor, even with criminals.

Some of the more famous historical pictures in the collection he
thought exaggerated; especially those representing the fury of
the Grand Duchess Sophia in her monastery prison, and the remorse
of Ivan the Terrible after murdering his son.

To my surprise, he agreed with me, and even went beyond me, in
rating landscape infinitely below religious and historical
painting, saying that he cared for landscape-painting only as
accessory to pictures revealing human life.

Among genre pictures, we halted before one representing a peasant
family grouped about the mother, who, with a sacred picture laid
upon her breast, after the Russian manner, was dying of famine.
This also seemed deeply to impress him.

We stopped next before a picture of a lady of high birth brought
before the authorities in order to be sent, evidently against her
will, to a convent. I cited the similar story from Manzoni's
"Promessi Sposi"; but, to my surprise, he seemed to know little
of that most fascinating of historical romances. This led to a
discussion in which he said he had once liked Walter Scott, but
had not read anything of his for many years; and he seemed
interested in my statement that although always an especial
admirer of Scott, I had found it almost impossible to induce the
younger generation to read him.

Stopping before a picture of Peter the Great's fatal conference
with his son Alexis, in reply to my remark upon the marvel that a
prince of such genius as Peter should have appeared at Moscow in
the seventeenth century, he said that he did not admire Peter,
that he was too cruel,--administering torture and death at times
with his own hands.

We next halted before a picture representing the horrible
execution of the Strelitzes. I said that "such pictures prove
that the world does, after all, progress slowly, in spite of what
pessimists say, and that in order to refute pessimists one has
only to refer to the improvements in criminal law." To this he
agreed cordially, and declared the abolition of torture in
procedure and penalty to be one great gain, at any rate.

We spoke of the present condition of things in Europe, and I told
him that at St. Petersburg the opinion very general among the
more thoughtful members of the diplomatic corps was that war was
not imminent; that the Czar, having himself seen the cruelties of
war during the late struggle in the Balkans, had acquired an
invincible repugnance to it. He acquiesced in this, but said that
it seemed monstrous to him that the peace of the empire and of
Europe should depend upon so slender a thread as the will of any
one man.

Our next walk was taken across the river Moskwa, on the ice, to
and through the Kremlin, and as we walked the conversation fell
upon literature. As to French literature, he thought Maupassant
the man of greatest talent, by far, in recent days, but that he
was depraved and centered all his fiction in women. For Balzac,
Tolstoi evidently preserved admiration, but he cared little,
apparently, for Daudet, Zola, and their compeers.

As to American literature, he said that Tourgueneff had once told
him that there was nothing in it worth reading; nothing new or
original; that it was simply a copy of English literature. To
this I replied that such criticism seemed to me very shallow;
that American literature was, of course, largely a growth out of
the parent stock of English literature, and must mainly be judged
as such; that to ask in the highest American literature something
absolutely different from English literature in general was like
looking for oranges upon an apple-tree; that there had come new
varieties in this growth, many of them original, and some
beautiful; but that there was the same sap, the same life-current
running through it all; and I compared the treatment of woman in
all Anglo-Saxon literature, whether on one side of the Atlantic
or the other, from Chaucer to Mark Twain, with the treatment of
the same subject by French writers from Rabelais to Zola. To this
he answered that in his opinion the strength of American
literature arises from the inherent Anglo-Saxon religious
sentiment. He expressed a liking for Emerson, Hawthorne, and
Whittier, but he seemed to have read at random, not knowing at
all some of the best things. He spoke with admiration of Theodore
Parker's writings, and seemed interested in my reminiscences of
Parker and of his acquaintance with Russian affairs. He also
revered and admired the character and work of William Lloyd
Garrison. He had read Longfellow somewhat, but was evidently
uncertain regarding Lowell,--confusing him, apparently, with some
other author. Among contemporary writers he knew some of
Howells's novels and liked them, but said: "Literature in the
United States at present seems to be in the lowest trough of the
sea between high waves." He dwelt on the flippant tone of
American newspapers, and told me of an interviewer who came to
him in behalf of an American journal, and wanted simply to know
at what time he went to bed and rose, what he ate, and the like.
He thought that people who cared to read such trivialities must
be very feeble-minded, but he said that the European press is, on
the whole, just as futile. On my attempting to draw from him some
statement as to what part of American literature pleased him
most, he said that he had read some publications of the New York
and Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, and that he knew and
liked the writings of Felix Adler. I then asked who, in the whole
range of American literature, he thought the foremost. To this he
made an answer which amazed me, as it would have astonished my
countrymen. Indeed, did the eternal salvation of all our eighty
millions depend upon some one of them guessing the person he
named, we should all go to perdition together. That greatest of
American writers was--Adin Ballou! Evidently, some of the
philanthropic writings of that excellent Massachusetts country
clergyman and religious communist had pleased him, and hence came
the answer.

The next day he came over to my hotel and we went out for a
stroll. As we passed along the streets I noticed especially what
I had remarked during our previous walks, that Tolstoi had a
large quantity of small Russian coins in his pockets; that this
was evidently known to the swarms of beggars who infest the
Kremlin and the public places generally; and that he always gave
to them.

On my speaking of this, he said he thought that any one, when
asked for money, ought to give it. Arguing against this doctrine,
I said that in the United States there are virtually no beggars,
and I might have gone on to discuss the subject from the
politico-economical point of view, showing how such
indiscriminate almsgiving in perpetual driblets is sure to create
the absurd and immoral system which one sees throughout
Russia,--hordes of men and women who are able to take care of
themselves, and who ought to be far above beggary, cringing and
whining to the passers-by for alms; but I had come to know the
man well enough to feel sure that a politico-economical argument
would slide off him like water from a duck's back, so I attempted
to take him upon another side, and said: "In the United States
there are virtually no beggars, though my countrymen are, I
really believe, among the most charitable in the world." To this
last statement he assented, referring in a general way to our
shipments of provisions to aid the famine-stricken in Russia.
"But," I added, "it is not our custom to give to beggars save in
special emergencies." I then gave him an account of certain
American church organizations which had established piles of
fire-wood and therefore enabled any able-bodied tramp, by sawing
or cutting some of it, to earn a good breakfast, a good dinner,
and, if needed, a good bed, and showed him that Americans
considered beggary not only a great source of pauperism, but as
absolutely debasing to the beggar himself, in that it puts him in
the attitude of a suppliant for that which, if he works as he
ought, he can claim as his right; that to me the spectacle of
Count Tolstoi virtually posing as a superior being, while his
fellow-Russians came crouching and whining to him, was not at all
edifying. To this view of the case he listened very civilly.

Incidentally I expressed wonder that he had not traveled more. He
then spoke with some disapprobation of travel. He had lived
abroad for a time, he said, and in St. Petersburg a few years,
but the rest of his life had been spent mainly in Moscow and the
interior of Russia. The more we talked together, the more it
became clear that this last statement explained some of his main
defects. Of all distinguished men that I have ever met, Tolstoi
seems to me most in need of that enlargement of view and
healthful modification of opinion which come from meeting men and
comparing views with them in different lands and under different
conditions. This need is all the greater because in Russia there
is no opportunity to discuss really important questions. Among
the whole one hundred and twenty millions of people there is no
public body in which the discussion of large public questions is
allowed; the press affords no real opportunity for discussion;
indeed, it is more than doubtful whether such discussion would be
allowed to any effective extent even in private correspondence or
at one's own fireside.

I remember well that during my former stay in St. Petersburg,
people who could talk English at their tables generally did so in
order that they might not betray themselves to any spy who might
happen to be among their servants.

Still worse, no one, unless a member of the diplomatic corps or
specially privileged, is allowed to read such books or newspapers
as he chooses, so that even this access to the thoughts of others
is denied to the very men who most need it.

Like so many other men of genius in Russia, then,--and Russia is
fertile in such,--Tolstoi has had little opportunity to take part
in any real discussion of leading topics; and the result is that
his opinions have been developed without modification by any
rational interchange of thought with other men. Under such
circumstances any man, no matter how noble or gifted, having
given birth to striking ideas, coddles and pets them until they
become the full-grown, spoiled children of his brain. He can at
last see neither spot nor blemish in them, and comes virtually to
believe himself infallible. This characteristic I found in
several other Russians of marked ability. Each had developed his
theories for himself until he had become infatuated with them,
and despised everything differing from them.

This is a main cause why sundry ghastly creeds, doctrines, and
sects--religious, social, political, and philosophic--have been
developed in Russia. One of these religious creeds favors the
murder of new-born children in order to save their souls; another
enjoins ghastly bodily mutilations for a similar purpose; others
still would plunge the world in flames and blood for the
difference of a phrase in a creed, or a vowel in a name, or a
finger more or less in making the sign of the cross, or for this
garment in a ritual, or that gesture in a ceremony.

In social creeds they have developed nihilism, which virtually
assumes the right of an individual to sit in judgment upon the
whole human race and condemn to death every other human being who
may differ in opinion or position from this self-constituted

In political creeds they have conceived the monarch as the
all-powerful and irresponsible vicegerent of God, and all the
world outside Russia as given over to Satan, for the reason that
it has "rejected the divine principle of authority."

In various branches of philosophy they have developed doctrines
which involve the rejection of the best to which man has attained
in science, literature, and art, and a return to barbarism.

In the theory of life and duty they have devised a pessimistic
process under which the human race would cease to exist.

Every one of these theories is the outcome of some original mind
of more or less strength, discouraged, disheartened, and
overwhelmed by the sorrows of Russian life; developing its ideas
logically and without any possibility of adequate discussion with
other men. This alone explains a fact which struck me
forcibly--the fact that all Tolstoi's love of humanity, real
though it certainly is, seems accompanied by a depreciation of
the ideas, statements, and proposals of almost every other human
being, and by virtual intolerance of all thought which seems in
the slightest degree different from his own.

Arriving in the Kremlin, he took me to the Church of the
Annunciation to see the portrait of Socrates in the religious
picture of which he had spoken; but we were too late to enter,
and so went to the Palace of the Synod, where we looked at the
picture of the Trinity, which, by a device frequently used in
street signs, represents, when looked at from one side, the
suffering Christ, from the other the Holy Ghost in the form of a
dove, and from the front the Almighty as an old man with a white
beard. What Tolstoi thought of the doctrine thus illustrated came
out in a subsequent conversation.

The next day he came again to my rooms and at once began speaking
upon religion. He said that every man is religious and has in him
a religion of his own; that religion results from the conception
which a man forms of his relations to his fellow-men, and to the
principle which in his opinion controls the universe; that there
are three stages in religious development: first, the childhood
of nations, when man thinks of the whole universe as created for
him and centering in him; secondly, the maturity of nations, the
time of national religions, when each nation believes that all
true religion centers in it,--the Jews and the English, he said,
being striking examples; and, finally, the perfected conception
of nations, when man has the idea of fulfilling the will of the
Supreme Power and considers himself an instrument for that
purpose. He went on to say that in every religion there are two
main elements, one of deception and one of devotion, and he asked
me about the Mormons, some of whose books had interested him. He
thought two thirds of their religion deception, but said that on
the whole he preferred a religion which professed to have dug its
sacred books out of the earth to one which pretended that they
were let down from heaven. On learning that I had visited Salt
Lake City two years before, he spoke of the good reputation of
the Mormons for chastity, and asked me to explain the hold of
their religion upon women. I answered that Mormonism could hardly
be judged by its results at present; that, as a whole, the
Mormons are, no doubt, the most laborious and decent people in
the State of Utah; but that this is their heroic period, when
outside pressure keeps them firmly together and arouses their
devotion; that the true test will come later, when there is less
pressure and more knowledge, and when the young men who are now
arising begin to ask questions, quarrel with each other, and
split the whole body into sects and parties.

This led to questions in regard to American women generally, and
he wished to know something of their condition and prospects. I
explained some features of woman's condition among us, showing
its evolution, first through the betterment of her legal status,
and next through provision for her advanced education; but told
him that so far as political rights are concerned, there had been
very little practical advance in the entire East and South of the
country during the last fifty years, and that even in the extreme
Western States, where women have been given political rights and
duties to some extent, the concessions have been wavering and

At this, he took up his parable and said that women ought to have
all other rights except political; that they are unfit to
discharge political duties; that, indeed, one of the great
difficulties of the world at present lies in their possession of
far more consideration and control than they ought to have. "Go
into the streets and bazaars," he said, "and you will see the
vast majority of shops devoted to their necessities. In France
everything centers in women, and women have complete control of
life: all contemporary French literature shows this. Woman is not
man's equal in the highest qualities; she is not so
self-sacrificing as man. Men will, at times, sacrifice their
families for an idea; women will not." On my demurring to this
latter statement, he asked me if I ever knew a woman who loved
other people's children as much as her own. I gladly answered in
the negative, but cited Florence Nightingale, Sister Dora, and
others, expressing my surprise at his assertion that women are
incapable of making as complete sacrifices for any good cause as
men. I pointed to the persecutions in the early church, when
women showed themselves superior to men in suffering torture,
degradation, and death in behalf of the new religion, and added
similar instances from the history of witchcraft. To this he
answered that in spite of all such history, women will not make
sacrifices of their own interest for a good cause which does not
strikingly appeal to their feelings, while men will do so; that
he had known but two or three really self-sacrificing women in
his life; and that these were unmarried. On my saying that
observation had led me to a very different conclusion, his
indictment took another form. He insisted that woman hangs upon
the past; that public opinion progresses, but that women are
prone to act on the opinion of yesterday or of last year; that
women and womanish men take naturally to old absurdities, among
which he mentioned the doctrines of the Trinity, "spiritism," and
homeopathy. At this I expressed a belief that if, instead of
educating women, as Bishop Dupanloup expressed it, "in the lap of
the church (sur les genoux de l'eglise)," we educate them in the
highest sense, in universities, they will develop more and more
intellectually, and so become a controlling element in the
formation of a better race; that, as strong men generally have
strong mothers, the better education of woman physically,
intellectually, and morally is the true way of bettering the race
in general. In this idea he expressed his disbelief, and said
that education would not change women; that women are illogical
by nature. At this I cited an example showing that women can be
exceedingly logical and close in argument, but he still adhered
to his opinion. On my mentioning the name of George Eliot, he
expressed a liking for her.

On our next walk, he took me to the funeral of one of his
friends. He said that to look upon the dead should rather give
pleasure than pain; that memento mori is a wise maxim, and
looking upon the faces of the dead a good way of putting it in

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