“Peter, who broke his enemies on the rack and hanged them in Red Square, who had his son tortured to death, is Peter the Great. But Nicholas, whose hand was lighter than that of any tsar before him, is "Bloody Nicholas". In human terms, this is irony rich and dramatic, the more so because Nicholas knew what he was called.”
“It is one of the supreme ironies of history that the blessed birth of an only son should have proved the mortal blow. Even as the saluting cannons boomed and the flags waved, Fate had prepared a terrible story. Along with the lost battles and sunken ships, the bombs, the revolutionaries and their plots, the strikes and revolts, Imperial Russia was toppled by a tiny defect in the body of a little boy.”
“Gregory Rasputin, his bloodstream filled with poison, his body punctured by bullets, had died by drowning.”
“The German leaders, said Winston Churchill, turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia.”
“I have a secret conviction," he once told one of his ministers, "that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth”
“but the soldier only shook his head and said, “They say it is a wide road that leads to war and only a narrow path that leads home again.”
“Without Rasputin, there could have been no Lenin.” ALEXANDER KERENSKY”
“is as old as man. It has come down through the centuries, misted in legend, shrouded with the dark dread of a hereditary curse. In the Egypt of the Pharaohs, a woman was forbidden to bear further children if her firstborn son bled to death from a minor wound. The ancient Talmud barred circumcision in a family if two successive male children had suffered fatal hemorrhages.”
“Only one further prize remained on the entire North Pacific coast, the peninsula of Korea. Although Japan clearly regarded Korea as essential to her security, a group of Russian adventurers resolved to steal it. Their plan was to establish a private company, the Yalu Timber Company, and begin moving Russian soldiers into Korea disguised as workmen. If they ran into trouble, the Russian government could always disclaim responsibility. If they succeeded, the empire would acquire a new province and they themselves would have vast economic concessions within it.”
“Nicholas was received with cheers as he drove past dense crowds in the streets. While he stood on the Neva bank, a cannon employed in the ceremonial salute fired a live charge which landed near the Tsar and wounded a policeman, but investigation proved that the shot was an accident, not part of a plot.”
“Because she had waited so long and prayed so hard for her son, the revelation that Alexis suffered from hemophilia struck Alexandra with savage force. From that moment, she lived in the particular sunless world reserved for the mothers of hemophiliacs.”
“With tears in her eyes, Alexandra assured him that the husband and father was infinitely more precious to her than the tsar whose throne she had shared. Nicholas finally broke. Laying his head on his wife’s breast, he sobbed like a child.”
“hemophilia is an inherited blood-clotting deficiency, transmitted by women according to the sex-linked recessive Mendelian pattern. Thus, while women carry the defective genes, they almost never suffer from the disease. With rare exceptions, it strikes only males. Yet it does not necessarily strike all the males in a family. Genetically as well as clinically, hemophilia is capricious.”
“The Admiral had been much impressed by Japan’s surprise torpedo attack on the fleet at Port Arthur. Assuming that such wily tactics would have a sequel, he suspected that Japanese ships flying false colors might slip through neutral European waters to deliver another frightful blow to the Russian navy. No man to be tricked, the Admiral ordered extra lookouts posted from the moment his ships left home port. Steaming at night through the North Sea in this trigger-happy state, Russian captains suddenly found themselves surrounded by a flotilla of small boats. Without asking questions, Russian guns sent shells crashing into the frail hulls of British fishing boats in the waters of Dogger Bank. After the first salvos, the Russians realized their mistake. Such was the Admiral’s fear, however, that, rather than stopping to pick up survivors, he steamed off into the night.”
“alone knows what times we are living in when undisguised selfishness stifles all feelings of conscience, duty, or even ordinary decency.”
“mind was impure and his moral behavior was gross. But he had in lavish abundance some of the dramatic trappings of holiness. Along with his burning eyes, he had a fluent tongue. His head was filled with Scriptures, and his deep, powerful voice made him a compelling preacher. Besides, he had wandered the length and breadth of Russia and twice made pilgrimages to the Holy Land. He presented himself as a humble penitent, a man who had sinned greatly, been forgiven and commanded to do God’s work. It was a touching symbol of his humility, people said, that he kept the nickname “Rasputin” which he had earned as a young man in his native village. “Rasputin” in Russian means “dissolute.”
“As a young man, the seer became a rake. He drank and fought and made free with the village girls. He became a wagoner, carrying goods and passengers to other villages, an occupation that extended the range of his conquests. A good talker, sure of himself, he tried every girl he met. His method was direct: he grabbed and started undoing buttons. Naturally, he was frequently kicked and scratched and bitten, but the sheer volume of his efforts brought him notable success. He learned that even in the shyest and primmest of girls, the emptiness and loneliness of life in a Siberian village had bred a flickering appetite for romance and adventure. Gregory’s talent was for stimulating those appetites and overcoming all hesitations by direct, good-natured aggression.”
“me!” For Alexandra sitting beside him, unable to help, each cry seemed a sword thrust into the bottom of her heart. Almost worse for the Empress than the actual episodes of bleeding was the terrible Damoclean uncertainty of hemophilia. Other chronic diseases may handicap a child and dismay the mother, but in time both learn to adjust their lives to the medical facts. In hemophilia, however, there is no status quo. One minute Alexis could be playing happily and normally. The next, he might stumble, fall and begin a bleeding episode that would take him to the brink of death. It could strike at any time in any part of the body: the head, nose, mouth, kidneys, joints, or muscles. Like Queen Victoria’s, Alexandra’s natural reaction was to overprotect her child. The royal family of Spain put its hemophilic sons in padded suits and padded the trees in the park when they went out to play. Alexandra’s solution was to assign the two sailors to hover so closely over Alexis that they could reach out and catch him before he fell. Yet, as Gilliard pointed out to the Empress, this kind of protection can stifle the spirit, producing a dependent, warped and crippled mind. Alexandra responded gallantly, withdrawing the two guardians to permit her son to make his own mistakes, take his own steps and—if necessary—fall and bruise. But it was she who accepted the risk and who bore the additional burden of guilt when an accident followed. To”
“declared that he had been directed to make a pilgrimage. His father scoffed—“Gregory has turned pilgrim out of laziness,” said Efim—but Gregory set out and walked two thousand miles to the monastery at Mount Athos in Greece. At the end of two years, when Gregory returned, he carried an aura of mystery and holiness. He began to pray at length, to bless other peasants, to kneel at their beds in supplication when they were sick. He gave up his drinking and curbed his public lunges at women. It began to be said that Gregory Rasputin, the profligate, was a man who was close to God. The village priest, alarmed at this sudden blossoming of a vigorous young Holy Man within his sphere, suggested heresy and threatened an investigation. Unwilling to argue and bored by life in Pokrovskoe, Rasputin left the village and began once again to wander.”
“William tapped Nicholas on the shoulder and said, “My advice to you is more speeches and more parades.”
“If it is medically possible that Rasputin could have controlled Alexis’s bleeding by using hypnosis, it is far from historically certain that he did. Stephen Beletsky, Director of the Police Department, which monitored all Rasputin’s activities, declared that in 1913 Rasputin was taking lessons in hypnotism from a teacher in St. Petersburg; Beletsky put an end to the lessons by expelling the teacher from the capital. Rasputin’s successes with Alexis, however, began well before 1913. If he had been using hypnosis all the while, why did he need lessons? The probable answer to this mystery derives from recent explorations into the shadowy links between the working of mind and body and between emotions and health. In hematology, for example, it has been proved that bleeding in hemophiliacs can be aggravated or even spontaneously induced by emotional stress. Anger, anxiety, resentment and embarrassment cause an increase in blood flow through the smallest blood vessels, the capillaries. In addition, there is evidence that overwrought emotions can adversely affect the strength and integrity of the capillary walls.”
“A child can do nothing in his weakness. A man can do much.’ ”
“One frequent visitor, an opera singer, often rang up Rasputin simply to sing to him his favorite songs over the telephone. Taking the telephone, Rasputin danced around the room, holding the earpiece to his ear. At the table, Rasputin stroked the arms and hair of the women sitting next to him.”
“But “Bloody Sunday” was only the beginning of a year of terror. Three weeks later, in February, Grand Duke Serge, the Tsar’s uncle and Ella’s husband, was assassinated in Moscow. The Grand Duke, who took a harsh pride in knowing how bitterly he was hated by revolutionaries, had just said goodbye to his wife in their Kremlin apartment and was driving through one of the gates when a bomb exploded on top of him. Hearing the shuddering blast, Ella cried, “It’s Serge,” and rushed to him. What she found was not her husband, but a hundred unrecognizable pieces of flesh, bleeding into the snow.”
“Rasputin, returning to his village on June 27, had been followed there without his knowledge by Khina Gusseva, Iliodor’s agent. Gusseva caught the starets alone in a village street. She accosted him and, when he turned, drove Iliodor’s knife deep into his stomach. “I have killed the Antichrist,” she screamed hysterically and then attempted unsuccessfully to stab herself. Rasputin was gravely hurt; the slash in his stomach had exposed his entrails. He was taken to a hospital in Tyumen, where a specialist sent by his friends in St. Petersburg performed an operation.”
“Sometime after midnight, another band of soldiers broke into the tiny chapel in the Imperial Park which had become Rasputin’s tomb and exhumed the coffin. They took it to a clearing in the forest, pried off the lid and, using sticks to avoid touching the putrefying corpse, lifted what remained of Rasputin onto a pile of pine logs. The body and logs were drenched with gasoline and set on fire. For more than six hours, the body burned while an icy wind howled through the clearing and clouds of pungent smoke rose from the pyre. Along with the soldiers, a group of peasants gathered, silent and afraid, to watch through the night as the final scene of this baleful drama was played. It had happened as Rasputin once predicted: he would be killed and his body not left in peace, but burned, with his ashes scattered to the winds.”
“Nicholas showed her the way. “He would sometimes laugh at the idea of being what he called ‘an Ex,’ ” said Lili Dehn. Alexandra picked up the expression. “Don’t call me an Empress any more—I’m only an Ex,” she would say. One day at lunch when an especially unpalatable ham appeared on the table, Nicholas made everyone laugh by shrugging and saying, “Well, this may have once been a ham, but now it’s nothing but an ex-ham.”
“Sometimes, the men did more than mock: when Nicholas got his bicycle and started to pedal along a path, a soldier thrust his bayonet between the spokes. The Tsar fell and the soldiers guffawed. Yet Nicholas was unfailingly friendly even to those who insulted him. He always said “Good morning” and held out his hand. “Not for anything in the world,” declared one soldier, turning his back on the outstretched hand. “But, my dear fellow, why? What have you got against me?” asked Nicholas, genuinely astonished.”
“a word, I treated everybody, of whatever social position, as an equal. This behavior was a heavy strain on me as all acting is to the unaccustomed, but it surely was worth the trouble.”
“Vladimir, released from prison in St. Petersburg, was given five days in St. Petersburg and four in Moscow to prepare for his exile. He traveled alone across the Urals, taking with him a thousand roubles and a trunk filled with a hundred books. His three years in the quiet backwater Siberian village of Shushenskoe near the Mongolian border were among the happiest of his life. The river Shush flowed nearby and was filled with fish, the woods teemed with bears, squirrels and sables. Vladimir rented rooms, went swimming twice a day, acquired a dog and a gun and went hunting for duck and snipe.”
“What could be worse? Dying, and not being missed.”
“When you strip all the clothes away and the doodads, you have two human beings who were either happy or unhappy together, and we have no complaints.”
“I have to live and make my own choices, my own mistakes. You have to let me be me, even if i suck at it sometimes." - Adria”
“Wait, it's going to fall," I say, pointing to the banner. "Pull it tighter-there, yeah, see how loose it is?"
"A little to the left" Isaac mocks me, grinning. "A little to the right?"
I stick my tongue out at him.
"Better be careful with that thing," he jokes.”
“Yes. My mother, for one. As a child I loved her, despite knowing so little about her. But now, knowing everything she has done, how stubborn she can be, how blind, how strong, how clever…knowing her as a woman, I love her so much more.”
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