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sational French has always been very rusty. You remember how in that little shop at Avignon in 1880 he said "Quel dommagef" for "What is the price?"
II. Mr. Adrian Armyne to the Conservative Agent at Wilchester. Mr. Adrian Armyne presents his compliments to Mr. Bashford, and greatly regrets what must look very like a slight in his absence from the chair at last night's meeting, but circumstances over which he had no control caused him to miss the way in his motor-car and afterwards to break down at a spot where it was impossible to get any other vehicle. Mr. Armyne cannot too emphatically express his regret at the occurrence, and his hope that trust in his good faith as a worker in the cause of Fiscal Reform may not be permanently shattered.
III. Sir Vernon Boyce to Mr. Armyne.
Dear Armyne,—I think you ought to know that I came across your Frenchman with a gun in the Lower Spinney this morning, evidently intending to get what he could. He explained to me that he distinctly understood you to say that he was at liberty to shoot there. How such a misunderstanding can have arisen I cannot guess, but he is now clearly informed as to divisions of land and other matters which apparently are different in France. It Is all right, but I think you ought to keep an eye on him.
Mrs. Armyne to her sister.
Achille is certainly very useful, although his mercurial French nature makes him a little too careless about
time, and once or twice he has been nowhere to be found at important junctures. For instance, we completely missed Lord Tancaster's wedding the other day. Not that that mattered very much, especially as we had sent a silver inkstand, but Adrian is rather annoyed. Achille plays the mandoline charmingly (we hear him at night in the servants' hall), and he has been teaching me repousse work.
V. Mrs. Armyne to Mrs. Jack Lyon. Dear Mrs. Lyon,—My husband and myself are deeply distressed to have put out your table last evening, but it was one of those accidents that occur now and then, and which there is no foreseeing or remedying. The fact is that we were all ready to go and had ordered the car, when it transpired that Achille, our chauffeur, had been called to London by telegram, and had left in so great a hurry that he had no time to warn us. By the time we could have sent to the village and got a carriage your dinner would have been over, and so we decided not to go at all. Achille has not yet returned, which makes us fear that the poor fellow, who has relatives in Soho, may have found real trouble. Yours sincerely,
VI. Mr. Armyne to Achille Le Bon. Dear Achille,—I am very sorry to have to tell you that it has been made necessary for us to ask you to go. This is not on account of any dissatisfaction that we have with you, but merely that Mrs. Armyne has heard of the son of an old housekeeper of her father's who wishes for a post as chauffeur, and she feels it only right that he should be given a trial. You will, I am sure, see how the case stands. Perhaps we had better say that a month's notice begins from to694 Life's Little
ilay, but you may leave as much earlier as you like. I shall, of course, be only too pleased to do all I can to find you another situation. I should have told you this in person, but had to go to town, and now write because I think it would be wrong not to let you have as early an intimation of Mrs. Armyne's decision as possible. I am, Yours faithfully,
VII. Mr. Armyne to Achille Le Bon. (By hand.) Dear Achille,—I am afraid that a letter which was posted to you from London when I was last there, a month ago, cannot have reached you. Letters are sometimes lost, and this must be one of them. In it I had to inform you that Mrs. Armyne, having made arrangements for an English chauffeur who has claims on her consideration (being the son of an old housekeeper of her father's, who was in his service for many years, and quite one of the family), it was made necessary for us, much against our will, for we esteem you very highly, to ask you to go. As that letter miscarried I must now repeat the month's notice that I then was forced to give, and the permission for you to leave at any time within the month if you like. I am, yours faithfully, Adrian Armyne.
VIII. Mr. Armyne to his nephew Sidney Burnet. (Extract) There seems to be nothing for it but to sell our car. This is a great blow to us, but we cannot go on as we are, apparently owning a car but in reality being owned by a chauffeur.
IX. Sidney Burnet to Mr. Armyne. Dear Uncle,—Don't sell the car. The thing to do is to pretend to sell It. get
rid of your Napoleon, and then have it back. Why not say I have bought it: I will come over one day soon and drive it home. Say Thursday morning. Your affectionate nephew, Sidney.
X. Mr. Armyne to Mr. Sidney Burnet.
My dear Sidney,—Your plan seems to me to be ingenious, but your aunt is opposed to it. She says that Achille might find it out. Suppose, for example, he came back for something he had forgotten and saw the car in the coach-house again! What should we do? Another objection is that poor Job is ill, and Achille remarked to me the other day that before he took to engineering he was a gardener. From what I know of him this means that, unless Job gets better, Achille—if your plan is carried through—will ask to be retained in Job's place, and this will mean that we shall never see asparagus or strawberries again. Don't you think that we might go to town, and you could ride over to "Highcroft" and give Achille notice yourself for me? We will go to town to-morrow, and you might see Achille on Monday. Your affectionate uncle.
XI. Sidney Burnet to Mr. Armyne. Dear Uncle,—I went over and sacked Achille to-day as arranged, but he replied that he could take notice only from you; and that from what Aunt Emily had said to him just before you went away he is sure there has been some mistake. As to notice from you I'm afraid the beggar's right He seems to have taken advantage of your absence to build a really rather clever pergola leading from Aunt Emily's sitting-room to the rose walk, as a surprise for Mrs. Armyne, he said. He has also re-painted all your bookshelves and mended that pair of library steps. With the dispatch of this bulletin I retire from the position of discharger of Frenchmen.
Your affectionate nephew,
XII. Mrs. Jack Lyon to a friend a few months later. (Extract.) You remember the Armynes? In despair at ever getting rid of their chauf
feur, who certainly led them a fearful dance, although he was rather a dear creature, the poor things let their house for a year and decided to travel. I have just heard from Bella, from Florence, that she met them toiling up the hill to Flesole the other day, and behind them, carrying Mrs. Armyne's easel, was—who do you think? The chauffeur!
THE ASSASSINATION OF THE GRAND DUKE SERGIUS.
It would have taxed the gloomy power of Tacitus, that supreme master of the condensed eloquence for which scarcely any language but the Roman is an adequate vehicle, to describe accurately the present condition of the Russian Empire. Far away on the Eastern frontier the greatest army that Russia has ever sent beyond its historic boundaries is fighting for its life against a superior foe, and hardly hopes for the victory which alone can preserve it from destruction. If the railway which supplies it is completely broken at any point of its six thousand miles of length, Kuropatkin is as certainly lost as ever Varus was; and on that railway behind him gather not only hosts of "brigands," descendants most of them, it is said, of soldiers of Jenghis Khan's vast army, who took the northerly direction and settled on their conquests, but of raiders from the Japanese army who have slowly forced their way behind their enemy's left. To-morrow, next week, or in the coming spring the Augustus of the Northern world may be moaning—"Varus, give me back my legions!" The Fleet, if it cannot be said to have been destroyed, has been paralyzed for effective action. The Reserves, dismayed or irritated by a year of continuous and unexpected defeat, are resisting the summons to the front; while the peasants and artisans
behind them, all, in fact, except the best-trained legionaries, are crying "Stop the war!" All over the vast extent of the Czar's dominion, from Warsaw, from Moscow, from Kieff, from Odessa, even from Irkutsk, conic tidings of a movement, half economic, half political, accompanied by risings which can only be put down by sanguinary repression, and which, whether economic or political, are all directed, openly directed, against the "Princlpate," the autocracy as we now call it. There are provinces in Russia where industry is profitless because of strikes, most of them produced by actual want among the unskilled, and provinces where the landlords are crowding into the cities because they fear a jacquerie of their tenants. There is talk of discontent even in the Army, discontent which, if Kuropatkin is crushed or driven out of Manchuria, may become mutinous or explosive. And now in the midst of it all the old disease of Russia, call it Nihilism, or revolutionary furor, or what you will, the old impulse which kills moral restraint and invents for itself the excuse that when tyranny is irresistible assassination is war, is rearing its head once again, and secret societies threaten the extinction of the Romanoffs. They have struck, too, successfully at the Grand Duke who after the Czar was the most prominent member of the house, a man who, whatever else he may have been— his wife's devotion throws at least strong doubt on some of the charges brought against his personal character —was a fanatic for orthodoxy and absolutism, and as such was regarded by his kinsman and Sovereign as the most trustworthy of friends. He was regarded by all Russians as the closest adviser of the Czar, and he was therefore murdered in circumstances the full weight of which seems even yet not to be discerned abroad. Any Revolutionary Committee can order an assassination, and escape is nearly hopeless if the assassin will give his life for that of his victim; but this Revolutionary Committee must have agents even in palaces, or how did its instrument know that Sergius Alexandrovitch, who took every precaution he or the police could devise, would be passing the precise spot at the precise time when his carriage, always driven at speed, could be checked, and the grenade thrown with a certainty of fatal effect? The Czar is censured by opinion for placing his palace of Tsarskoe Selo and its environs under martial law; but with this evidence of the network of treachery amidst which all of his house must be living the order may be only a wise precaution, adopted for the sake of his family rather than for that of his own person. The order may prove futile, but it adds fresh energy to the watchfulness of the guards, and at least warns "the enemy" that its foes are awake and well prepared. With his fleet destroyed, his armies threatened with destruction, his people, if not hostile, at least sullen, the very women of his family menaced with death, and hidden treason with murder for its object lurking in his palaces, the position of the Czar is worse than that of the Julian Emperors, for they, at least, could fly or perish sword in hand. Nicholas II., to
judge from the evidence afforded by his uncle's murder, would be no safer iu Livadia than in St. Petersburg, and no personal courage or skill in arms avails against a hand-grenade.
We regret deeply the almost universal tolerance with which this crime has been regarded all over Europe, including Russia herself. We detest the methods of the Russian autocracy, which seem to us to imply a refusal of justice and intellectual life to a great and patient people. The conduct of the Grand Duke Sergius towards the Jews and the workmen under his authority in Moscow would at any time have justified armed insurrection; but even when slaves have risen against their masters, we can have no sympathy with insurgents who order hostile officers to be picked off, or arrest the career of a dreaded general by the bullet or the knife as he makes his rounds. Let the Liberals of Russia play fair even if their lives are staked on the game they are playing. Christianity is hypocrisy if assassination is declared excusable by provocation, or by the intensity of the just hate which a man has developed in a multitude of enemies; and besides that supreme argument, there is another, which even Revolutionary Committees ought to respect. What good do they accomplish by murder? Plehve dies, and Trepoff succeeds him; and how much has been gained for the cause of liberty? A vengeance partly personal, as any one may see who reads the absorbing account of his motives written by Plehve's murderer, and published in this country in the Manchester Guardian of February 18th, has been satisfied; and of what good is that either to the deeply wronged assassin or to his country? As a rule, the only effect of assassination is to justify repression to the consciences of those who carry it out, and to make them stronger by calling up the "clean pride" that will not yield to terror to support the "mucky pride" which will not yield up power. Even if the Czar were himself killed, all his rights would, in the opinion of those who uphold the autocracy—that is, in the opinion of the whole Army and of a majority of the peasantry—pass to his child, for whom some Regent would fight by the use of the same weapons as those now employed, with this additional energy imparted to them, that they would be used on behalf of the innocent, on whose future millions would rely with hope. There are Russians, we believe, who declare that their only trust is in a change of dynasty; but even they cannot hope to secure that result by successive hand-grenades. It is insurrection they must rely on, or military revolt—that most dangerous and detestable of political weapons—or passive resistance to general taxation, the refusal of supplies by a vote of the unorganized people, which so far as we know no revolutionary party, however just its cause, has ever yet secured. Of those three chances, which one is brought even a little nearer by a policy of murder, that at the most for some sixty individuals brings the thought of death a little closer to their fears? Every Grand Duke and Duchess has, like every other human being, already been sentenced to capital punishment by the will of Almighty God. The revolutionists may say that they hope to terrorize their rulers into better behavior; but has that ever in history been accomplished? Yes, it has been once; and in that one instance is the condemnation, written as it were by the finger of Providence, of their entire argument and policy. Orsini's bomb freed Italy because it failed. Had it succeeded, Italy might still be languish
ing under the tyranny of its petty despots.
We have mentioned the gloomy conditions which at this moment surround the Russian throne, but have as yet omitted the gloomiest of them all. The man who, in circumstances almost unparalleled in history—for Philip II. of Spain lived safe in the Escorial—struggles to uphold that awful sceptre, and even to carry it upwards over one more hill, is unequal to its weight. He wishes no harm to his people, probably knows of no harm happening to them, for the truth of things is carefully kept from his ears, and he does not even know, as he himself is said to have confessed, why his terrible uncle was made away with. He is miserable, yet he might in a day be a happy man if he would only content himself with a position, say, like that of his cousin the German Emperor,—master, that is, of a dominion in which he is practically absolute, but can act only through law, and occasionally with the consent of representatives whose preoccupation is not to differ with him too seriously. He could secure that position to-morrow by a decree of twenty lines, for once it were in print, and known to be signed by him, resistance would be as impossible as was resistance to the decree of Emancipation, and the Emperor might next day wander at will along the quays of the Neva as safe as if he were walking on the Thames Embankment. We believe that he would be only too rejoiced to do this, and now and then resolves on doing it; but the resolute will of his house has not been given to him, his burden Is to« great for his strength, and in Russia la the hour of her agony—and of his—"all things drift."