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Outside a Government Vodka Store. The Vodka Was Bought in Small Bottles and Could Not be Drunk Inside THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 5 At any rate, the lamentable situation that prevailed in all the wide, flat areas, and in the fringes of mountain and forest, was practically the same in the cities as well. Cabdrivers, with the silky whiskers of saints and the padded shapes of round pincushions, drive recklessly enough now. The maneuvers they executed when lit with the fire of a pint of vodka are thrilling to hear in retrospect from the lips of the inhabitants. Accidents were rare, but the everpresent danger of them was great. Whether it was less precarious at night for a woman to go in one of the low, open cabs or on foot.was a public question. If she walked she stumbled over prostrate figures in the street and bumped into men in their spiral courses. Peasants lay on the sidewalk, with ten degrees of frost in the atmosphere, until their hands and feet, and sometimes their bodies, were frozen, with the result that they died. If somebody fell in frOnt of a nobleman's house the gentleman would probably send out two bearded butlers, uniformed in long dressing gowns, who lifted the insensible figure and deposited it on the plot of ground between sidewalk and street, where they left it to its fate. The police handled roughly such as fell to their charge and the jails were full almost every night. Fires raged in towns and villages alike, and murders were not rare. To one man goes the credit for ending this situation indefinitely, and he is the Czar. Others would have stopped it merely for the mobilization. The Emperor noticed the situation in Petrograd. He is said to have expressed the wish many times to inaugurate a temperance measure. Members of the bureaucracy protested that it could not be done; and the Czar held his own counsel but did not abandon his determination. The Little Father's Obstinacy THE Prime Minister of Russia, Mr. Goromikin, is a close family friend of the Emperor. He is seventy-five years old and takes the privileges of a father. He received me at the palace and at once began to scold because the United States had abrogated its commercial. treaty with Russia. This was the first time I had heard of the incident; and, though it happened during the administration of Mr. Taft, from the way the Prime Minister talked to me I felt it to be entirely my fault. In the controversy over the abolition of vodka he practiced the same asperity on the Czar that he displayed toward me. "Your Majesty," he said, "I have watched you grow up, and you are the most obstinate man I ever saw!" The Emperor laughed as though pleased and not insulted by the characterization, and he altered his attitude toward the national menace not one degree. If he had been inclined to do so another influence is said to have been exerted in the other direction. It flowed through the medium of the Empress, and was created by a powerful agent. Vespucian, the monk, of whom complaint had been made by high authorities of Russia, was brought to throw the weight of his counsel on the side of temperance. He is a man to whom the Czarina feels she owes the life of her little, fair-haired, delicate-looking son, and she has kept him at court because she thinks his banishment would in some sinister, occult way work the death of the child. As is known, the prophecies and opinions of this soothsaying apostle are so influential with the reigning house that the big men of the empire complain that he has been ruling all Russia. Not long since he was wounded by a woman who was dissatisfied with her personal relations with him. He called the attention of the Empress to the menace that an insidious drink held over her empire and inspired her to pit her word against the Prime Minister's. Not that the monk ever took his high attitude through any independent mental exercise; he was instigated by a virtually banished man. The shadowy influence of Count Witte, hero of the Portsmouth Treaty, is said to have been back of the movement. He was at one time honored by his country for having made £he most brilliant negotiation with Japan that a beaten nation ever achieved with the people who defeated them. He presents the unique figure in history of a conquered man dictating terms. His skill, as practiced at home, was less successful than it was with the Japanese. Something he has said or done—some little thing, so a member of bureaucracy conjectures—has brought him the ill favor of the crown; and he now lives in Petrograd, practically a banished man. He has no official position, and he takes no part in the present crisis; but he holds his opinions, nurses his feelings, broods over the unfairness of life and cherishes his resentments. It suited his desire to have the sale of vodka abolished, and he embraced the most personal, the most indirect, the most powerful means for accomplishing his end. He influenced the monk to persuade the Empress to take a stand for temperance. Idle chatter, some will say, and I cannot contest their statement. Still, the story was told me by somebody so near the throne that I do not feel justified in ignoring it. My informant, when he goes to the Winter Palace, is never stopped by any of the thirty-four flunkies who man the outer doors and corridors. He is not even formally conducted by them to the reception rooms for visitors, but makes directly and alone for those private quarters of the house in which such situations germinate. And so I give the story for what it is worth. True though it probably is, its value is not great for a certain reason, and that is, the Czar needed no such machinations for keeping his determination alive. This took place some time before the war, at a period when the Emperor, however much he might have wished to change the law, could not do so. Even an autocrat has to bow to conditions. The German Ambassador was right in a portion of his report to the Kaiser. The spirit of Nihilism breathed through the country as it had not done before in years. Labor difficulties broke out and were coming to a head in strikes. The nation was discontented. It had no recreation, being too illiterate, for the most part, to read; and it was subject to long evenings of inaction. Even I, a very temporary visitor, was nettled by the shopping and driving on the Nevski Prospekt at three o'clock in the afternoon by pale moonlight. Long nights seem to sap the coloring pigment of an individual and a nation. To bring up a people subject to lengthy periods of darkness is something like trying to raise grass under a board. For centuries the vigor and cheer of Russia have been supplied artificially, and suddenly to stop the stimulating fluid would be to invite a first-class revolution. Still, the most obstinate man the Prime Minister had ever known was not to be vanquished by such a situation. He was merely wise enough to wait his time. Meantime, what he saw reenforced his determination. He went to the great annual fair in Nijni-Novgorod and counted forty-seven drunken men on a stretch of road two miles long. The country was in holiday spirit out of deference to the visit of the Czar, and scores of his subjects expressed their hospitality by intoxicating themselves. The Little Father, as the peasants call their sovereign, has always been most passionately and sentimentally fond of his lowlier subjects. At one of these very fairs he objected because his box was surrounded by police and nobles. "All very lovely," he protested; "but where are my people? These are society people. Make way! Stand back"—he addressed the police—" and let my children press round me." Later in the day he and the little Czarevitch viewed them at close range from their carriage; and the child said: "I should like to give them something—some money— perhaps a ruble!" He looked up through his fair eyelashes into his father's face, as the sun shone on his golden hair and on the neatly cropped head of the sovereign, several shades darker than his boy's head. "All right, my son," he said; "suppose you give them a ruble each, and I will give the same sum." They distributed thousands of coins among the masses of people. To see those intoxicated for Nichol& Nicholaiewitch, Commander•ln•Chief of the Army, Who Advised the Czar to Prohibit the Sale of Vodka During Mobilisation whom he and his little boy felt so sincere a tenderness was, of course, a source of deep grief to the Czar. He began expressing more decidedly his wish to have the vodka shops of the nation nailed up. Certain reformers in the Duma had been agitating a movement for a temperance bill for some time. To them and to the Czar's tentatively expressed desires, the man who was then Prime Minister returned one determined reply. He said: "Impossible!" In a few days he received a letter delivered by hand, and marked "Official." He opened it and read a personal, friendly communication, penned by the Czar. It said that His Majesty was extremely sorry the continued ill health of the Prime Minister made it impossible for him to serve longer, and expressed the hope that in the retirement from official duties his personal life would be happy. The Prime Minister was fired ! The Czar was holding his own! The Right Time to Strike THIS was not the man who regards the Emperor as the most obstinate of beings—though he may do so now— but the one Who immediately preceded him. His Excellency Mr. Goromikin was appointed in his stead, and divided the duties of his predecessor with another. The cares of state and finance had been consigned to one official. The present Prime Minister devotes himself to the former, and the finances of the government are given to the ministry of His Excellency Mr. Bark. With this action the temperance movement in Russia progressed a pace and one distinct coup was accomplished. Count Witte achieved in part what he is said to have had in mind. It is supposed he wished the retirement of the Prime Minister. This came about shortly before the war clouds lowered, and it did not affect the temperance movement. The vodka industry went unthreatened this time. Not until Emperor William began to boom threatening messages did the Czar get his real chance. Russia began mobilizing, as will be remembered, before war was declared. While it was still in progress, and when Nicholai Nicholaiewitch was appointed commander-in-chief of the army, the blow was struck. He went to his nephew, the Czar, in his Winter Palace one evening, and said: "See here: the time has come for you to accomplish that favorite measure of yours. If vodka continues to be sold we cannot mobilize the army. Strike your blow for temperance now." The Emperor issued his mandate that same evening. While the present Prime Minister was saying, with his usual bluffness, "Oh, we'll keep a dozen of the shops shut up to please the Czar," the Autocrat of All the Russias was so much pleased with his first order that he issued the second, and not long after that he gave his third. That is one of the beauties of an autocratic government. While a nation talks one man can sign a paper and change its destiny. While the Autocrat is the most obstinate man known to his Prime Minister, let his people rejoice that he insists on leading them upward toward the light. Whether this last order will hold forever one cannot prediet, but the Minister of Finance says it will. Never again is the government to conduct a liquor business; never again is an intoxicating beverage to Le (Continued on Peg* 29)


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