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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, dig-
nified, and known to the entire city, the American rep-
resentative 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 foot-
ing 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 understand-
ing 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.



"ALL CONDITIONS OF MEN"-1892-1894 51

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 re-
quired 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 espe-
cially 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 reli-
gious relations with Alaska and the islands of the North-
ern Pacific ; and last, but not least, the completion of the
extradition treaty between the two nations by the in-
corporation 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 Secre-
tary 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 regula-
tions, in a narrow district just inside her western fron-
tier, mainly extending through what was formerly Po-
land, with the result that fanaticism Christian on
one side and Jewish on the other has developed enor-
mously. The Talmudic rabbis are there at their worst;
and the consequences are evil, not only for Russia, but



52 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE-X

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 im-
migration 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 Ameri-
cans 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 ex-
tremely 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 compli-
cated 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



"ALL CONDITIONS OF MEN" -1892-1894 53

discovered, Russia's strong point is not adherence to her
treaty promises.

In this respect there is a great difference between Rus-
sia and Germany. With the latter we have made careful
treaties, the laws are well known, and the American rep-
resentative 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 inter-
national law, common sense, and his own powers of per-
suasion.

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 * * sani-
tary columns" were established, made up of small squads
of officials representing the medical and engineering pro-
fessions 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 labo-
ratories 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 rail-
ways : 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 tempo-
rary hospital, well equipped, was established at each main



54 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE-X

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 intro-
duced 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. Al-
though 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 peas-
ant 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. ' '



CHAPTER XXXVI

MY RECOLLECTIONS OF POBEDONOSTZEFF 1892-1894

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 Constan-
tine Pobedonostzeff. For some years various English
and American reviews had been charging him with big-
otry, 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 per-
sonage 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 Alex-
ander 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 Cath-
erine.

Therefore it was that it became necessary to extempo-
rize 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,

55



56 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE-XI

distinguished as a jurist and theologian, a man of re-
markable force of character, and devoted to Russian ideas
as distinguished from those of Western Europe: Con-
stantine 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 devel-
opment in accordance with modern ideas.

The result the world knows well. The Emperor, having
taken the advice of this and other councilors, deeply pa-
triotic 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 estab-
lished local self-government in the various provinces of
his empire; had improved the courts of law; had intro-
duced Western ideas into legal procedure; had greatly
mitigated the severities formerly exercised toward the
Jews; and had made all ready to promulgate a constitu-
tion 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 civili-
zation when the institutions which Alexander II had al-
ready conceded could be adopted with profit ; but the lead-
ers 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 bene-
factor 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 mil-
lions 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



RECOLLECTIONS OF POBEDONOSTZEFF- 1892-1894 57

imperial councilors, Loris-Melikoff, believing that the
young sovereign would be led by filial reverence to con-
tinue 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. Ac-
cording to the chroniclers of the period, Pobedonostzeff
told the Emperor that all so-called liberal measures, in-
cluding 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 Al-
mighty ; 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 fanat-
ical 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



58 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE-XI

to receive from the State Department instructions to con-
sult with him regarding some rather delicate matters
needing adjustment between the Greek Church and our
authorities in Alaska, and also in relation to the repre-
sentation of Russia at the Chicago Exposition.

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 Rus-
sia 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 super-
ficial 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



RECOLLECTIONS OF POBEDONOSTZEFF- 1892-1894 59

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 re-
ligious bodies in Russia as not merely inflicting injury
upon Christianity, but as tending to the political disin-
tegration of the empire. Never, in any of our conversa-
tions, 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 disinte-
gration 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. Unquestion-
ably, 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 rev-
enues 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



60 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE -XI

than exist in all the world besides, and having suffered
greatly from these as from an organization really inca-
pable of assimilation with the body politic, must pursue
a repressive policy toward them and isolate them in order
to protect its rural population.

While he was very civil in his expressions regarding
the United States, he clearly considered all Western civili-
zation a failure. He seemed to anticipate, before long, a
collapse in the systems and institutions of Western Eu-
rope. 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 or-
thodoxy, 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 des-
tined 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 refu-
gee 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. Pe-
tersburg. The droshky-drivers are Russian peasants,



RECOLLECTIONS OF POBEDONOSTZEFF 1892-1894 61

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 pos-
sibly 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 Eussian,
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 def-
erential demeanor, satisfied his esthetic sense.

What seemed to me a clash between his orthodox con-
servatism 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 hope-
lessly 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 reve-
lation of the man I found in his love for American liter-
ature. 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 Haw-
thorne, Lowell, and, above all, Emerson. Curious, indeed,
was it to learn that this ' ' arch-persecutor, ' ' this ' l Torque-
mada of the nineteenth century, ' ' this man whose hand is
especially heavy upon Catholics and Protestants and dis-
senters 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 Con-
cord. He told me that the first book which he ever trans-
lated into Russian was Thomas a Kempis's " Imitation



62 IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE -XI

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 feel-
ings regarding Western religious ideas. This can be ac-
counted 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 espe-
cially a poem in manuscript, which show real poetic feel-
ing 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 ex-
pose 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



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