Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book IX. On the Metahistory of the Petersburg Empire

IX. Chapter 3. Withdrawal of the Sanction

When, finally, Count Pahlen (a Baltic German courtier and general, translator’s note) wrung a consent for the overthrow of Pavel I out of Prince Alexander, it was just that – a consent for the overthrow. There was no question about killing the half-looney emperor. It was presumed that the suddenly arrested ruler would sign the act of resignation and be sent away to Pavlovsk (a town in Russia, t/n). Yet, no one who was familiar with Pavel Petrovich’s temperament could be confident enough that the royal blood would not be shed that very night. The prince had his hands free, flattering himself with the anticipated positive outcome of this undertaking; he could, as much as he pleased, banish a possibility from his mind that the wretched cocksure maniac (Pavel, t/n) would defend his royal dignity and rights for as long as he could breathe. Such a thought could not but burn in the trembling soul of Alexander. When the blood was actually shed, he blamed himself in patricide.

Had his enthronement been legitimate, he would have born upon himself, as any sovereign, the weight of the state karma: the very weight that trails behind the coffin – once the individual karma has been unraveled – as the lot of a slave builder of the witzraors’ fortress. Now Alexander aggravated his etheric being with a silent, informal, inner consent for his father’s murder. In the afterlife, such a crime entails a downfall into the depths of the transphysical magmas.

Alleviating the great severity of this guilt is the fact that the murder of Pavel I was, in essence, a measure of self-defence for Alexander and the entire society – both were the recipients of the monarch’s arbitrariness, the direct outcome of his disintegrating psyche while alive. But the subjective conscience of Alexander was telling him something else. Was it the dread of an afterlife punishment? In his contrition, the dominating feeling was, apparently, shame. Shame and pity for the murdered. Shame, pity, and that unique, poignant and burning feeling which is the very essence of the pangs of conscience.

This unrelenting feeling that had haunted him always and everywhere, not abating over years, was an important component in the sum of causes which precipitated an unparalleled turn in his destiny at the very end of his reign and beyond its worldly, chronological bound.

The second component was his inborn mystical predisposition. He possessed such a mold, such a mindset and emotional makeup which make one feel that all his or her activities – in direct proportion to the power wielded – are inseparably connected with some hierarchies of Good and Evil abiding both within and without one’s soul in an ongoing spiritual confrontation.

The trepidation felt in the depth of his conscience (some shallow observers took it for his weakness) and his sense of responsibility became painfully acute, for he strived to apply the religio-moral gauge to everything and because of his proclivity for self-analysis. He was rather strong-willed to endure the battle with Napoleon as long as he felt empathy coming from the masses of the people. Yet, he could waiver in executing some large-scale plans without his fellow-thinkers’ support. In fact, he felt lonely, and progressively lonelier at that, for a number of reasons: his position as a sovereign; the idiosyncrasy of his nature; his proclivity to ideas that were alien to his epoch; conflicts in his personal life; and, finally, the inborn reticence which had been aggravated by his sense of guilt for the committed crime.

The third component of Alexander’s nature was something for which his inner circle, sensitive to the emanations of his personality, called him, even before 1812, “our angel” and, after the victory over Napoleon, “the blessed” and “the kin-guardian of the nineteenth century”.

It is possible, of course, to aggravate one’s inborn short-sightedness to the point of seeing only base and shallow motifs in all alien phenomena of the socio-political life. In this case, in these nicknames of Alexander I we would see nothing but subservience to the king. Yet, what matters is that even subservience, imaginary or real, attached to him precisely those names and none other. For some reason, it did not occur to his flatterers to call him “wise”, “valiant”, or “great”. At the same time, the multitudes of people, not only courtiers but also gentry, merchants, and even townsfolk called him precisely “the blessed” and, of all others – “kin-guardian”. Perhaps, these nicknames were imprecise and unjustified philosophically or historically. What is reflected in them, of course, is not some metahistorical conclusion but something else: the living need of the people, unsophisticated in philosophical and mystical nuances, to express the understanding that the personality of this monarch had some special, exceedingly light-filled, moral, and “acceptable before God”, as they used to call it, significance. Evidently, this royal individual emanated something that put him in stark contrast with the kingly-majestic, at times deigning, at times fearsome and sinister, but never “angelic” emanations of his predecessors. Such emanations can result only from a deeply spiritual life, a custom of perceiving one’s ethical obligement, and weighing each and every step on the scales of morality.

These three constituents – deep conscience, the mystical cast of his character, and a sense of ethical dutifulness both of a sovereign and a human being – were manifestations of the innermost being of Emperor Alexander, of his better, higher Self. Two factors countered this: the inborn and the acquired.

Only one sixteenth of the blood running in Alexander’s veins was Russian. This was the heredity of Peter the Great, transfigured through the psychophysical form of the pathetic Peter III and the mentally ill Pavel. As though poisoned at those junctions in the lineage, it commingled there with the dense, obstinate, unyielding blood of the German ruling dynasties. Adoration of the Prussian origin; irrational apprehension of everything German as kindred; love for the military parade; notions of the lofty, seemingly moral significance of militarism combined overall with petty and formal understanding of the qualities of a warrior; the exultant, nearly ecstatic fondness for foot drills and regimentation – all this had been passed down through the lineage with an astonishing consistency, from generation to generation, starting from Peter III down to and including Alexander III. Alexander I was less affected than others, but he was not and could not be totally exempt of it. It overpowered him as it was a matter of heredity.

And, finally, there was an extraneous factor, a purely negative one, which played a major role in the activities of Alexander I. It was that “logic of power” which is inherent in any autocracy. The mere fact of sitting on the throne predisposes the monarch to the voice of the demon of statehood: contrary to morality, humanity, and lofty considerations. Its many manifestations, albeit not all, are often oiled by certain politicians with such vindicating and even flattering terms as “political common sense” or “political realism”. The demon of “greatpowerness” is selfish and absolutely egocentric. He is incapable of forgoing his immediate interests for the sake of some general idea. Precisely for this psychological reason, many reforms, initiated out of lofty ideals, either stopped in their tracks, were not followed through, or became utterly distorted. The state stubbornly refused to even slightly sacrifice its sovereignty in order to join hands with others for the sake of common, rather than individual, goals. The authorities, “having dug their heels” in the political tradition, resisted any movements in the country that championed essential, historically legitimate reforms. Finally, smitten with the animal fear for their own existence, those in power embarked on mass repressions, thereby antagonizing even their own supporters. A ruler has to be a kin-guardian to never yield to those urges. Despite the hearsay, a kin-guardian Alexander was not.

In his complex nature, the voice of “political common sense” was peculiarly mixed with the irrational fear of the Luciferian-revolutionary principle, an awareness of the deep psychological trauma left by revolutionary upheavals in Europe. This voice had railed against his better Self in all the years of his reformational activities. This very voice nudged him to dwarf and emasculate reforms. Its ringing victoriously strengthened when merged with the chorus of reactionary social circles, particularly with the solo of Karamzin (a Russian man of pen and historian, t/n), that bellowed about the preservation of serfdom. This voice muffled the rest before the Patriotic War of 1812 when Speransky, the initiator and implementor of the reforms, was sent into exile. All this only proves that Alexander did not become a kin-guardian despite having certain chances.

Yet, a great historical moment arrived when the confrontation between the two wills in his country and his very soul – those of the demiurge and the oppressing “greatpowerness” – suddenly concurred, and the consciousness of the king, riven by these two, was illumined with an absolute certitude in the fairness of his cause, in the Divine help when Napoleon invaded Russia.

The providentialism of the Patriotic War’s outcome is so clear that it needs no explications. The volleys of Borodino (the decisive battle when the Russians beat the French in 1812, t/n) and the burning embers of Moscow (to a great extent, Moscow was burnt down as the Russians retreated, t/n) snapped the consciousness and will of the age-long slave out of its slumber. As for the providentialism which marked the course of the events in the war of 1812-1814, this becomes apparent from those far-reaching consequences which could spring only from particular developments and not others. The arousal of self-awareness and the activation of forces in all strata of the society would have been impossible without an impetus, which the Battle of Borodino, the occupation of the ancient, sacred heart of the country by the enemy and its burning down happened to be. Squashing the empire of the Bonapartes would have not occurred if, as Kutuzov (a celebrated Russian general, t/n) desired, the Russians had limited themselves with driving away the enemy from their dear land. Pouring of ideas and vivid impressions of a more mature culture into the Russian society – the consequences of this are numerous – would have been unthought-of without transferring the hostilities onto the fields of Western Europe and a more prolonged stay of the Russian army there. All that is clear. Much less obvious and less studied is the following: the striking difference of the original idea of the Holy Alliance that belonged personally to Alexander I from what this Holy Alliance had degenerated into when Alexander, understood neither in Russia, nor in the West, backtracked. Thus, the European thought, acquiring an instrument in “political common sense” and the immoral will of Metternich (an Austrian diplomat, t/n), made use of this establishment in the interests of local, self-interested beneficiaries.

A trace of the higher ethical dutifulness always glimmered in the notions of Alexander I about the supreme power, its meaning and purpose. With those notions, influenced in part by La Harpe (a Swiss political leader, t/n) and checked against the unbridled arbitrariness of Pavel I, he ascended the throne. In their light, he undertook the reforms, which later saw the interruption. These notions hovered around his mind’s eye in 1812, 1813, and 1814. With the highest inner sanction, they hallowed the idea of the Holy Alliance.

The Holy Alliance, as Alexander I envisioned it, apparently came down to uniting all the leading nations of Europe in some harmonious whole inspired by the religious-moral truth, all under the stewardship of those who, at the time, appeared as the natural, legitimate rulers of the peoples. These rulers were to make up a body that would override the sovereignty of individual nations and ensure security from wars, coups, and dictatorships in Europe, as well as the inner peace, development of spiritual forces, and gradual moral perfection of the Christian world1.

Thereby, the idea of the Holy Alliance was the first step in history toward a united humanity – at least, as far as Christians were concerned – from above, in a peaceful way. We would not find any historical precedents of this, unless in the ==========================================================

1Containment of the Holy Alliance within the bounds of Christian peoples was totally natural for the religio-political outlook of the early nineteenth century. Rebuking Alexander I for the incomplete universality of his idea is as strange as, for instance, blaming Peter the Great for not developing national aviation.


cosmopolitan hierocracy of Roman popes. Do I really need to show how much closer the ideas and even the methods of the Holy Alliance were to the humanistic, citizenly undertakings of the twentieth century than to the druidic autocracy of the Middle Ages? The next stage of this idea would be none other than expanding the capacity of the sought-for union up to global bounds and attempting to materialize it into the League of Nations, then the UN, and, finally, into the global federation of the future.

A metahistorian cannot be surprised with all this. If one feels, despite whatsoever human blinders, into Yarosvet’s goals of transforming humanity into a brotherhood, this being his or her most cherished yearning, would it appear odd or psychologically unfounded that the first, approximated reflection of this design had emerged in the consciousness of precisely Alexander I? In whom else’s consciousness save this monarch’s, the deepest, the most religious, and ethically sensitive individual that had ever sat on the Russian throne?

Yet, whenever there is a witzraor lurking behind the statehood, should the ruler earnestly announce ethically-backed ideas, there could be but two possible outcomes: either the demon of “greatpowerness” eliminates such a herald as an unwanted nuisance; or the witzraor puts the announced ideal on his muzzle as a mask of sorts, thus gradually emasculating the original design and turning it into its opposite.

All the more so, this could not but happen to the idea with which Alexander I outpaced his time by a whole century. Bound with the witzraor principle of legitimacy, the emperor could not think of any other supranational body than the one based on the goodwill and living conscience of Christian rulers. As they were not perfect human beings but rather ordinary kings, guided, first and foremost, with so-called “political realism” and “political common sense”, it became obvious from the very start that the implementation of the ideal would invariably discredit it.

It was only natural that in this greatest and truly global lifelong ambition of his, Alexander I felt even lonelier than ever.

In three to four years, it became totally evident to the emperor that the rulers of the European countries were incapable of imbuing such designs; that, among Russian intellectuals, this idea did not kindle a single mind or resonate with a single heart; that there were no sympathetic statesmen whom Alexander I could lean upon – not a single one; and that the Holy Alliance, the way it was envisioned, could not materialize. Worse yet: already founded at his initiative, the alliance invariably transformed into a purely political tool of feudal reactionism, in particular, and specifically, into a tool of the narrow, self-seeking policy of the Austrian court. He returned to Petersburg as the vanquisher of Napoleon, an arbiter to great political powers, and the lord of Europe. A shrewd diplomat and a gentleman from top to toe – such was the image of him imprinted upon European high society.

An incorrigible lover of military parades that could spend hours and days inventing new forms of buttonholes and chevrons for guards regiments; a royal horseman who, upon the triumphant entry into the capital, impulsively dashed after a commoner with his sabre drawn when the poor thing unwittingly crossed the king’s path; a friend of Arakcheev (a Russian general, t/n) – this is the way he came to be known in Russia.

This is the way Pushkin (a great Russian poet, t/n) came to know him, too. Having peered into “the bust of the conqueror”, he decided that the portrait was accurate:

There can be no mistake – the sculptor
Applied his wits, along with all his craft:
A smile's on the lips of the marble Alexander,
His cold and glossy head displaying wrath.

Yet, the carver did not make a single move with his chisel to let people know about the portrait of the one who dreamed of humanity’s transformation into a Christian brotherhood; the portrait of an eager seeker of mystical conversations with an aged visionary Madame de Krudiner; the portrait of a tireless reader of the Holy Scripture, church fathers, and visionaries of the West; the portrait of an unfortunate one who had remained on his kneels for hours on end in his lonely room and sobbed himself to sleep at night.

How did he take the ruin of his dream of the Holy Alliance? Perhaps, he saw this as an omen that his light-filled design was unwanted by Providence: not unwanted as such, but because he dared to bring it forth – he, a criminal, a violator of the moral foundations of the world order the night he had ascended the throne.

He had an unflagging sense that Providence had expected some move from him which he, time and again, had failed to guess. Apparently, through his activities as a ruler, he was to absolve this sin. And was it the only sin? Didn’t the guilt of the whole dynasty, “this dark house of Artryds wherein the retribution passes down from one head onto another”2 lie on him? In 1812 he met the expectations of Providence – for him this was beyond doubt. But prior to and after the war… What was he to do? What? Apparently, the Holy Alliance. Yet, this undertaking was not accepted from on high: he was unworthy. As for Reforms… Yes, this was ==========================================================

2An expression by D. Merezhkovsky (a Russian man of pen, t/n)


the task that he could not accomplish. It was the last tarry given to the demon of “greatpowerness”! Perhaps, had the return of Alexander I from the liberated Europe been marked with broad reforms; had the demon himself demolished the dungeon of Navna in the citadel of witzraors, and his instrument – the emperor – had reflected this act through the limiting the monarchy and the lifting of severe prohibitions, thus opening the doors to a free expression of the people’s will – the sanction of the demiurge would have not been withdrawn from the demon of statehood. Yet, Zhrugr was growing more autocratic. He was becoming more entrenched, and the hope for his involtation by Yarosvet’s powers was lost. His voice, which we call “the logic of power” and “political common sense”, concurred with that of heredity and the irrational dread of revolution. Even before, it was suggesting to the king that embracing the way of reforms was a mistake. After his stay in the West, the king became totally convinced in that. This voice insisted that the Holy Alliance as molded by Metternich was still better than a new string of European revolutions and the plunging of Russia into their vortex. This very voice invited duality into Alexander I’s life after 1816. Arakcheev, reactionism, military settlements, Magnitsky (a high-rank Russian politician, t/n) – all that appearingly postponed the upheaval which echoes were being heard from afar – were but one side. The other side: the secret, intense, rueful life of Alexander’s soul, its inward orientation, vacillating from one idea to another, an ardent yearning to finally comprehend and realize his duty. I cannot say which year exactly marked the moment of enlightenment, of clear understanding that the last glimmer of Divine emanation over the anointed one, as well as over the whole empire died out. Evidently, this happened at the end of Alexander’s reign.

While the sanction still lingered, Alexander’s religious life demanded some action visible to all, some commemoration of his ardent faith in offering praises of thanksgiving to God for all those heroic days of struggle with the foreign invader when he felt confident (it was just one year out of twenty five years of his rule in total) that he was following God’s Will. And so, he set about to deliver on his vow, that is, erecting a cathedral in memory of the Patriotic War. At the architectural design contest, an extraordinary entry caught his eye: robust staircases ascending from the river, deep cavernous halls – sepulchers of those fallen on the field of Borodino hidden behind rows of heavy columns embedded into the steep coastal ridge. Above them, on the crest, there sat a capacious and stately cathedral, and still higher – a magnificent rotunda with a grand dome resembling a golden peak shooting into the azure heavens. It was a project of the young and barely known Alexander Vitberg; he was not even an alumnus of the Academy of Arts. It stirred in the emperor the very voice of fine artistic instinct, exquisite taste, and aesthetic elation that had ushered in the rise of the Russian architecture to its zenith and turned the capital (Petersburg, t/n) into one of the most beautiful cities of the world. The project received the highest approval notwithstanding biddings by celebrated academicians. And so, in 1817 on the Vorobyovy Gory (the Sparrow Hills, t/n) in Moscow, with a concourse of half a million people, after a solemn prayer service in the presence of a few hundred of church hierarchs and the monarch, there was laid the foundation of the Cathedral of Body, Soul, and Spirit.

Years passed by, but the project was not even half underway. The sandy soil of the Vorobyovy Gory could not uphold the weight of such a grandiose structure. Vitberg was discharged from the site management, all works came to a halt. Birches and barren fields were still humming and rustling on the Vorobyovy Gory. What about Alaxander I?

His angst drove him from one place to another, from palace to palace, from town to town. In winter blizzards and spring thaws, in the dead of winter and in blistering heat, the carriage of the emperor ripped through the semi-civilized provinces, scaring off passers-by, through wretched, dwarfish towns, through identical, looking as though stamped-out, military settlements. One after another, the years rose and set behind the leady horizon, the years of grievous and lonesome inner work of his spirit.

Yet, a man of Alexander I’s temperament, whose conscience was bleeding from a misdeed which somebody else would simply leave unnoticed; a man who, in over twenty years of rule, had become convinced that statehood could not be illumined by Divine principle; a man who had realized how the religious and ethical duty for the whole dynasty and the entire country could weigh down on one’s shoulders; a man who had long contemplated the highest truth of the monastic life, hence the expiatory significance of abdication – such a man could be only lead by his inner work to a conclusion which uproots one’s life altogether and steals it out of history’s scope into a murky and faraway mystery.

to the next part: 9.4 The Feat
to the previous part: 9.2 The Second Witzraor and the Homeland Space
to the beginning: «The Rose of the World». Table of contents
Сверху Снизу