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which he had not created. He differed from
him in every other respect. America called him
Lincolnoffski. Europe was salaaming to him
for his treatment of the Turk. He had a gov-
ernment of iron, a people absolutely subservient.
In between was but*a thin red line.

To efface that line Alexander did his best, and
also his worst. He used all means to conciliate;
those failing, all means to suppress. Nihilism
already outfaced by stupidty, indifference might
have squelched. Indifference is highly coer-
cive. But though Alexander had frequented
the antique sages, he had also loitered over the
annals of his house. When philosophy deserted
him, ferocity stepped in. Moreover, the cour-
age which previously he had lacked, Plevna
supplied. Young men who had just left the uni-



202 The Imperial Orgy

versities were given post-graduate courses in
Siberia. Young women, less advanced per-
haps, were taught that of all brutes, pliocene,
miocene, lampsacene, the most ignoble is man.
These lessons, instead of correcting, corroded.
After each deportation to Siberia, when it did
not happen to be Shame, the places of the exiles
were filled, and so fully that you would have
thought that terrorists covered the land. Gen-
erated spontaneously, multiplying with the rap-
idity of insects, swarming everywhere, they pre-
sented a curious spectacle, the infinitely little
contending with the infinitely great.

To Petersburg, then, came larger prisons. To
the mines were longer lanes. In the mines was
the dry guillotine; in the prisons there was tor-
ture, the rack re-established, applied for nothing,
for a look, for a word, for holding a pamphlet,
for throwing it way. Very properly, too, and
with the finest sense of law and order. Defend-
ants were tried in public. What more could
they ask? It is true they were always convicted.
But what did they mean by looking, by talking,
by having or not having things in their hands?
To teach them better, torture followed. The
torture was private. To make it more private
the condemned were never seen again. If they



King Terror 203

had been, perhaps only their mothers could have
recognised them.

Then, face to face, were two terrors ; the white
terror radiated by the tsar; the black terror rad-
iated at him.

One does not choose between tears, or per-
haps between terrors. Yet of those two terrors,
the more terrifying was the black. The white
terror terrified the little. The great, being
large, are more receptive. The mighty were
terrified most.

Black terror is nihilism in its acute form.
Usually maniacal, sometimes in its delirium it
has expressed that which was "inarticulate in a
nation. Always hideous, sometimes it is sub-
lime. In France, it had been grandiose. But
Russia lacked a Mirabeau; the terrorists, a Dan-
ton; the people, a Voltaire, who, even if they
had had him, they could not have read. They
were otherwise blessed. With them, to a man,
was the imperial clan.

The latter, violently opposed to Alexander's
concessions, saw in reform a diminution of them-
selves. Peter would have devoured the lot.
Alexander lacked the stomach. By policy a
philanthropist, though by instinct a thug, physi-
cally scrofulous and mentally unsound, congen-
ially aphasiac and consequently incoherent,



204 The Imperial Orgy

freeing Russia and regretting the act, history,
with her gallery taste for shams, saw what she
could mistake for the righteous liberator and
applauds him still. No one need begrudge him
that. For the first time since tsars were in-
vented, the orgy palled. In what otherwise
would have been his normal enjoyments, terror-
ism interfered, absolutism as well.

Whether the two combined in uncertain. In
the tenebrous chronicles of the great carnivora
there is always much that is obscure. But in his
court, which of all courts was the most regal,
he became afraid to stir. One evening, it was
fortunate for him that he omitted to.

Long before he had married a Hessian. On
that evening she was ill. Another lady pre-
sided. This other, the Favorita, was the Prin-
cess Dolgorouki, whom presently, when the Hes-
sian was dead, he married and who, at the time,
had a court of her own.

Without, in the hollow square that fronted the
palace, cavalry was stationed. Within, on a
wide stair, ran a hedge of rose-tunicked Cos-
sacks, a line of Circassians in silver and pale
blue. Beyond that rainbow, in a red-gold hall,
which a thousand candles lit, was this man, his
mistress and their court. Where the cavalry
were was ice, a wind that had knives. Within,



King Terror 205

in the glowing hall, was the atmosphere of a
seraglio perfumed with turpentine and Russia
leather — an odour which this palace always ex-
haled. From above, in a gallery, fell a tinkle
of balalaikas, accompanying the conversation
which must have been dull. Adjacently, or
more exactly, less than a quarter of a mile away,
was another hall, equally pleasant, where these
people were to dine.

Like the conversation, the minutes dragged.
The tsar, the princess, the court, were waiting
for a German, a boor, one of the Hesse tribe,
who was guest that night. Finally, a breath, a
rumour, an announcement. The royal brute
strode in. The usual brilliancies. The forma-
tion of the usual procession, which, just as it
started, shook.

Lights flared, the hall oscillated, mirrors fell.
Into the scented atmosphere came another
odour, a trifle acrid, the smell of smoke which a
concussion had preceded. From a guard-room,
directly beneath the dining-hall, terrorists had
blown up the table, blown off the ceiling, killed
the guard below, the pages above, sixty in all.
An unpunctual Hun had saved the tsar that
night.

The night was in February, 1880. A year
passed during which other attempts were made,



2o6 The Imperial Orgy

but not without the police knowing beforehand
that they would be. In the subsequent reign,
the third Alexander saw an officer of his house-
hold approaching and, not recognising him, shot
him dead. The second Alexander also saw a
man approaching and also fired. It was at him-
self that he shot, at his figure reflected from a
mirror. Enviable existence.

Presently it was learned that he was to inspect
the troops. As he might go one way and return
another, or vice versa, at both ways two men,
each with a bomb, were stationed. Afterward
it was said that the explosive employed looked
and smelt like honey. If that be true, a new and
fragrant death was hurled at him in two bombs,
both of which, wrapped in cotton, looked like
snowballs. The second bomb killed the terror-
ist and the tsar. What remained of Alexander
II. was removed on a carpet.

In a very human effort to avoid that bomb,
Alexander, a few days before, had arranged to
placate terrorism with a constitution. To pla-
cate is to disarm — but not everybody. That
which may pacify one, can infuriate another.
It may be that, in planning a sop to Cerberus, he
aroused another dog. Yet, in any event, pre-
viously, there had been minor precautions.

To prevent the entrance of foes, Ivan ringed



King Terror 207

the realm with forts. To prevent the entrance
of ideas, Nicholas established a quarantine. To
prevent the entrance of death, Alexander put
police. Incoming ships were searched, incom-
ing travellers stripped. Bales of tea, brought
on camels from China, were turned inside out.
For an incautious word, the mines! On the
vaguest suspicion, the gallows!

To death, what were these precautions? It
had not quite got him yet, but terror had and so
potently that this man who was potent also,
signed a ukase convoking a national assembly.

It is said that Alexander's son protested. He
was put under arrest. It is said that Alexan-
der's brother also protested but, more adroitly,
to others than the tsar. It may be a coincidence
but promptly the honeyed death was served.
Similarly, it may be another coincidence that
the ukase, already in type, disappeared. But
it is a fact that absolutism remained.

After one Alexander, another. After a scrof-
ulous father, a scrofulous son, a composite being
at once Torquemada and Jack the Slipstring, a
sceptred prisoner projecting death from his cell
and feeding on fear, a hulking giant strong
enough to fell an ox and afraid of his shadow,
an obese butcher with the brains of a mujik and
the virulence of a plague.



208 The Imperial Orgy

A younger son, he had not been awaited or
desired on the throne. The death of a brother,
then his father's, put him there. He did not
want it. Reigning over Russia, once the grand-
est of mundane vocations, terrorism had di-
vested of any charm. The savour of the orgy
had gone. As grand-duke, if he knew little else
he knew at least that. But into dull brains
dreams will creep. He fancied that he had
been miraculously chosen to incarnate the theo-
cratic power which his father said, and not only
said but believed, was a gift personally bestowed
on him by the Almighty. He fancied that the
sacrament of coronation induced regeneration
and that in the attending hypostasis he would be
transformed into a god.

It is unbelievable, but everything is unbeliev-
able in this creature who managed to be both a
nigger king and a state prisoner and who, how-
ever he may be regarded, supped terror with a
long spoon. That terror he felt it his divine
mission to disperse. Dissent was, he imagined,
the cause, and dissent meant to him everything
that was not orthodox and illiterate. Terror-
ists, nihilists, Jews and Gentiles, he jumbled con-
fusedly in what little mind he had. They were
all abominable in the sight of Heaven, vermin
that it was for him, as Heaven's emanation, to



King Terror 209

destroy. Piously and austerely he began, for
pious and austere he was.

Pobiedenostsev, procurator of the holy synod,
a thin-lipped hyena with a vulture's beak, cat-
ered diabolically to that piety. In submitting
measures, diabolic in themselves, he always cited
a text from the Bible. Vichnegradski, minis-
ter of finance, a clever rogue, heard of it and
cited two texts. He impressed the tsar greatly.
Dagmar of Denmark, Alexander's wife, a gentle
soul, gentle at least by comparison with him,
cited texts also and cited them but once. Char-
ity is the New Testament told in a word. In
connection with his Judenhetze she reminded
him of it.

"Ah, yes, my dear," the sanctimonious Ne-
buchadnezzar replied. "But we must never
forget that it was the Jews who crucified our
Lord."

The Jews did nothing of the kind, but that
is another page from the arcana celestia, in ad-
dition to being beside the issue, which this man
made very poignant. His father had estab-
lished courts where defendants were at least
tried in public. The son abolished them.
Then the Jew baiting began.

At the time there were five million Jews in
Russia, exactly five million too many, almost



210 The Imperial Orgy

every one of whom was more intelligent than the
emperor. They were evicted, despoiled, plun-
dered, hounded and hunted into pariah com-
munities, piled in on top of one another like
grasshoppers in a ditch. Here and there were
priests' hunts. The Judenhetze was every-
where. It would have been joy to him could he
have destroyed them all. Nor was Israel alone
afflicted. The attitude of the fourteenth Louis
to the Huguenots was courteous by comparison
to the third Alexander's treatment of the Luth-
erans. In Nero, Christianity had a foe less
malign than he. He issued edicts that would
have penalised the Apostles, ukases that would
have outlawed the Christ. At any criticism in
the Times, which Dagmar read, he foamed at
the mouth. Had the editors been in Russia
their shrift would have been short.

"They are a set of hogs," he wittily remarked.

Yet it was this man that kept Europe at peace.
The dishwashers of history have said that his
motive was religious. The motive, less spiritual
than physical, was due to the fact that a fat tyr-
ant, afraid of nothing but danger, did not care
to incur the risk and discomfort of mounting a
horse. He had other risks to consider. Bar-
ring his father, no modern monarch had more.
Barring his son, no autocrat led a life such as he.




A I I X WDI-R III



King Terror 211

In Petersburg, when he drove, a cloud of
Cossacks enveloped him;. The empty streets
were swept. No one was permitted there.
When he journeyed, it was over rails uninter-
ruptedly guarded, minutely patroled. The route
was a lane of troops. The train, divided into
four sections, made it difficult to conjecture in
which of them he hid. But not impossible.
The right one was dynamited. From the wreck
he disentangled his wife, his daughter and him-
self. About them were guards dead and dying.
The girl, flinging herself at him, cried: — "Oh,
papa, now they will come and murder us all!"

At that cry, the charwomen of history have
wept. But at the cries of countless children
whom this Nebuchadnezzar devoured, not a
word. Perhaps it was a negligible detail. But
though terrorists did not again alarm the girl,
they had not done with him. Terror, more con-
stant than they, had not either.

Thereafter, his residence became a secret. On
his palaces flags flaunted, but, among them all,
where he was, Russia did not know. In town,
his home was a fortress; in the country, a bas-
tille. Approach to either was impossible.
Every avenue was guarded. Every hour the
guard was changed. Princes, who happened to
be stopping at one or the* other of them, were



212 The Imperial Orgy

forbidden at any time, night or day, to lock their
door. However becoroneted their belongings,
they were searched.

Visits were not encouraged. The man fought
shy even of his relatives. He knew them. On
an Easter egg he found a terrorist threat; in a
family album a terrorist face. In spite of pa-
tient precautions, death's-heads fluttered in the
dreary halls through which he slunk, a hang-
man shaking at shadows, an emperor who con-
tinued to be executioner but who had ceased to
be tsar, a monarch turned mole, burying him-
self behind walls which could not shelter him
from fright, invoking saints and signing the
death-warrants of officers of his household, leav-
ing to take care of itself an empire which he was
no more fitted to rule than a sea-serpent is com-
petent to be an apothecary, going mad before go-
ing to his Maker, driven mad by one who had
come unawares as thieves and angels do.

The visit, a little drama in itself will be told
in a moment.

Meanwhile, Israel agonised. In a district
where other game was scant, a prince hunted
Jews. One appeal remained, it was to God.
In secret synagogues, the candles were reversed
and in the name that contains forty-two letters;
in the name of the Tetragrammaton; in the



King Terror 2 13

name of the Globes and the Wheels ; in the name
of Him who said, "I am that I am and who shall
be," the great ban, Schammatha, was pro-
nounced. Ofanim were implored to repeat the
malediction. Jehovah was supplicated to rain
on the tsar every curse in the Roll of the Law.
The Lord of Hosts was adjured to blot him out
from under the sky.

In the Orient, mantras are believed to be ef-
fective. Russia was always Asiatic. The in-
cantations of the secret synagogues vibrated, as-
cended and perhaps were heard.

At Livadia, the emperor fell ill. The ail-
ment was slight, an attack of coryza, which nor-
mally lasts a week, unless the patient is carefully
tended, in which event it may persist. The im-
perial coryza persisted and pleurisy developed.

Tn Moscow, at the time, was a specialist, ec-
centric and successful. His name was Zak-
karin. Summoned to the Crimea, he came and
diagnosed. It would have been interesting to
have seen him at it. If he had been a terrorist
he could have killed the tsar and been torn to
bits the next minute. Zakkarin was not a ter-
rorist. He was a physician. As physician he
prescribed a remedy which, precautionally, he
had brought. Uncomplainingly, the august pa-



214 The Imperial Orgy

tient deigned to take it. Zakkarin was looking
at him.

It would have been still more interesting to
have seen that look. Shakespearian, disquieting
and yet serene, it was a look that said, "At last!"

There was not much room in the camp-cot
which the third Alexander habitually used, but
in it, from before that look, he shrank.

Beside him, stood the physician. The room,
vast, high-ceiled, furnished in the large Victor-
ian manner, was covered with wall-paper manu-
factured in Manchester to frighten children.
Behind Zakkarin, was Dagmar. Behind her
was the procurator of the holy synod, together
with an officer of the household. In the hall
were servants. Beyond were guards. With-
out, enveloping the palace, was a sotnia of Cos-
sacks. Yet, unperceived, unheralded, unan-
nounced, with no show of royal honours, a great
king had come.

The emperor, unaware as yet of that, but sub-
consciously stirred, poked his head at the physi-
cian.

"What are you?"

Zakkarin, leaning forward, whispered it. "A
Jew."

"A Jew!" the obese butcher shrieked.



King Terror 215

Zakkarin turned and explained. "His ma-
jesty is delirious."

He turned anew to his patient and whispered
again. "You are doomed."

Alexander, to shriek his fright, had raised
himself. But the whispers were potent. More
potent still was the drug. He fell back. The
ban, too, had fallen. Israel had triumphed
where terrorism failed.

"Weep, Russia!" ran the official notice in the
next issue of the Novoye Vremya. "The em-
peror is dead!"

Zakkarin was given the Nevski decoration and
the usual diamonds. In derision, he accepted
them.

Another Te Deum mounted. But the orgy,
long since embittered, was drawing to a close.



X

THE WHIRLWIND

IT has been said that England conquered half
the world in a fit of absent-mindedness. A
fit of abstraction, let us say. While Eng-
land abstracted, Russia absorbed. She absorbed
steadily, stealthily, civilly, avoiding noise and
offence. Her policy, the most unscrupulous
and successful in history, was one which there
was no change of administration to alter, no in-
coming government to reverse. Technically
what the tsar willed, it consisted in considering
the end, never the means, in turning treaties into
memoranda of agreements that were not to be
kept, in retreating the better to advance, in
avoiding haste but ever forward, in transform-
ing an obscure principality into an empire that
covered one-seventh of the land surface of the
globe.

Relatively untrammelled and very gay, until
latterly it was a round of festivities, soirees in
the fairyland of Scheherazade that were fol-
lowed by a frog dance through Manchuria.

216



The Whirlwind 217

Not so long ago either. One can still hear the
admirable orchestra of a nation, apparently in-
vincible, executing Slav airs in Cathay, seren-
ading the dowager, singing to her that they were
natural affinities, that, under the khans, Mus-
covy and Mongolia were one. En sourdine,
were roulades not intended for her ear, blythe
airs that told of a state dinner in the Forbidden
City, with after revels in Delhi and Stamboul.

Quelle reve! Too fair though, at any rate for
Russia, thought the Wilhelmstrasse, where also
hung that opium dream.

Obliquely, China eyed them both. The
dowager of nations, the eldest of realms, anterior
to every monarchy and indifferent to all, she has
sat in history aloof, her robes of silk about her,
in an attitude of supreme disdain. Beside her
arts and wiles, those of dead Greece and buried
Rome were modern creations. Before Nineveh,
before Eridu and Ur, China was. She has had
all time, as these have had their day. The rise
of kingdoms, the fall of empires, left her un-
moved. Russian cajolements and Prussian
snares might disgust, her repose remained un-
altered.

At the time, the Shah of Persia, the Shah-an-
Shah, King of kings, Regent of (he Prophet, was
a spider in Russian jelly. The winged bulls



2l8 The Imperial Orgy

that guarded the palaces of Xerxes and of Da-
rius were dead Turn as he might from them
to Mekka, he was doomed. Doomed, too, was
that other venomous insect, the Shadow of God
on Earth, who throned in Stamboul.

Already, in Afghan passes, Cossacks were
peering at the gates of Herat. At a signal, they
would have occupied Kabul and fought on and
down perhaps, or tried to fight, to the monkey-
haunted temples of Benares and the blue gulf
of Bengal. It is improbable that they could
have got there. Yet, given that signal and the
history of the world might have changed. The
powers invisible willed otherwise. What they
willed, Napoleon perhaps foresaw.

"Prussia," said Napoleon, "will develop into
a Germany reconstituted, but that phase will be
brief. Anarchy will throw her back where she
began. Austria will crumble, Italy become
united, and the role of France be intellectual."

Napoleon added: — "The supremacy of the
world will be divided between England, mis-
tress of Africa, and Russia, established at the
Golden Horn."

In Russia, everything goes wrong. That is
her history. Her history is an uncompleted
book. In some future chapter Napoleon's pre-
diction may come true. "Watch Russia," an



The Whirlwind 219

adept admonished when the war of the world
began. "Great things are gestating there. 1 '

Meanwhile, in the gaieties of the Muscovite
revel, Germany urged Japan to interpose. Ja-
pan needed no urging. A dozen years or so
before, she sprang at China, threw the old lady
down, and would have pulled her clothes off,
had not the police interfered. What Japan had
then in view she subsequently acquired, with
Wilson's blessing. But at the time, Russia got
in the way, not omitting while she was at it, to
subtilise a few odds and ends from the dowager's
handbag.

To Japan that was highly unjust. The view
is amusing. Russia and Japan were like two
dogs over the same bone, only, of the two, Rus-
sia had the bigger teeth. The teeth were false,
but so perfectly adjusted that perhaps Russia
herself did not suspect it, though certainly Ja-
pan did.

Japan, affecting her usual naivete, backed
away, yet inwardly ravening, nursing her sus-
picions, her grudge, her arsenals, her warships,
lie r Togo, until — Banzai! — the guns popping at
Port Arthur disclosed to a bewildered world the
gigantic humbug of Russian might.

Nikolai the Last was then at Tsarskoie Selo,
occupied with the puerilities of his empty mind.



220 The Imperial Orgy

The war did not matter. Word was brought
him that his fleet was destroyed. At the mo-
ment he was playing tennis. Without interrupt-
ing the game, he remarked that it was a fine day.

The attitude, curious in itself, was charac-
teristic. In any crisis, he displayed it. When
told that he must abdicate, his composure was
identical. When arrested he was equally un-
moved. A prisoner in his own gardens, his
equanimity endured.

Such an attitude is beautiful. But in his case
it proceeded not at all from the impassibility
of the sage, nor yet from the serenity of the
philosopher, but from the indifference of the
witless, unless it were the apathy of the drugged.

In an interview that appeared — shortly after
the fall of the empire — in the Novoye Vremya,
Prince Youssoupov, a young man related to the
imperial clan, said that Nikolai Alexandrovitch
was usually under the influence of a drug which
a Thibetan lama had supplied and which was
administered by his wife.

None the less he could be witty. Relatives
of his wrote, begging him to be merciful to a
kinsman. Admirably he replied that their au-
dacity in addressing him was amazing. Admir-
able, too, was his retort to petitioners humbly



The Whirlwind 221

praying for a less rigorous regime: — "Don't in-
dulge in senseless fancies."

These epigrams and that attitude serve in a
measure to delineate the messiah of the Hague
Convention, which Dr. Dillon called an ignoble
farce, and which was designed to jockey Europe
into peacefully disarming while peacefully Rus-
sia armed.

Shifty and shallow, physically and mentally
incapacitated even for military duty, his incom-
petence was so adequately estimated that, before
the great ban was pronounced on his father, he
was sent on a junket through the Orient, where,
in some tiger-hunt, perhaps, he might decently
succumb. In Japan he nearly did. An assault
was made on him there, though whether it were
prearranged or not, one may surmise and never
know. Then indolently the gorgeous East dis-
gorged the offered prey. Clearly he was des-
tined to renew the orgy, to drink and make


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