[LETTER TO THE MOSCOW HERALD]
London, August 14, 1887.
I have no idea into whose hands this letter may fall or who will read it. But whoever he may be, he surely will be a Russian, and everyone who is truly Russian will understand that it has been written not merely for the sake of propriety, but under the weight of a sincere and heavy grief over the death that has shocked us all.
For four days I have been in a daze. For seven years I have written for the Moscow Herald and the Russian Messenger, and never had but kindness and gentle condescension for my ungrammatical Letters from India, and never will I forget it. To me the Herald as well as the Journal are indissolubly connected with the image of the deeply revered Michael Nikiforovich. These, however, are my personal feelings which are of no interest to anyone else. How much importance even in my own estimation do they have in comparison to the loss which Russia has suffered in his death! He is no Russian, and no patriot, who in these trying days does not recognize this death as an irreparable loss for our long-suffering fatherland; and that no other similar true sentinel of its national interests lives now, and possibly there will be none for a long time to come. That is why those Berlin and Austrian riff-raff rejoice and seethe with happiness—for there is no one now who can crush their lying brains under his heel.
What a misfortune seems to pursue Russia! Skobelev and I. S. Aksakov—all her most faithful servants are being
taken from her; and now the greatest of patriots, the only publicist before whose name both Germany and England trembled, the defender of Russia, Michael Nikiforovich, suddenly dies! Is it a curse? It is almost as if some dark forces were weaving an invisible network around the native land, and there is no one now to cut its meshes by a mighty and truthful word. For anyone who, like myself, has long lost all hope ever to see my native land again, but who has not lost any of his warm love for it—quite to the contrary—such a one will understand how all this love was for me mirrored by, and centered in, during the last two years, in the Moscow Herald Editorials of the one who has passed away. I devoured them, and in view of the dishonest and downright mean coalition of European publicists against Russia, the only hope lay in these Editorials. And now there is no one to uncover their intrigues, and to point out so unerringly their falsehoods, as only the late Michael Nikiforovich knew how to do. Forever shut is the watchful eye which safeguarded both the honor and the interests of Russia.
Even the Englishmen are envious of Russia. I enclose an excerpt from the staid and conservative St. James Gazette, wherein the Editor defends the memory of the great patriot and wishes one like him for England.
This is what the St. James Gazette of August 3, 1887, has to say:
“Some declarations about Mr. Katkoff which appeared in the German and English press are very unfair . . . They attack him for his jingoism, (?) with which he tried to push away Germany on the West and England on the East, Of course Katkoff was a dangerous man, but only for those who seemed to be or really were the enemies of his Fatherland. The Germans might not regret the death of a man who helped to Russify the Baltic provinces. The English might feel better for the disappearance from the scene of the man, one of whose latest plans was the rousing of rebellion against them of India with the help of Ireland’s revolutionaries and Indians (Sikhs). But what of it? We must admit that Katkoff was a true patriot, who put first,
before everything else, the interests of his Fatherland (as he understood them) and does not allow any comprises to other nations to interfere with them. We know that personally he was not against England, but when England and Russia were in a fight for supremacy, he had no hesitancy to defeat and humiliate England, i.e. he did what should be done by a Russian. A few more Katkoffs would be very useful to us.”*
In deep and sincere sorrow I repeat—everlasting and perpetual memory of the late Michael Nikiforovich Katkov, and may the Heavenly Powers send similar men to Russia in the future.
* [We are indebted to Melitza Y. Cowling for translation of the Russian quotation from the St. James Gazette.—Compiler.]