Rasputin the Rascal Monk - William Le Queux - ebook

In the following pages I have attempted to take the reader behind the veil of the Imperial Russian Court, and to disclose certain facts which, in this twentieth century, may appear almost incredible.As one who knows Russia, who has traversed the Empire from Virballen to the Pacific coast, and who has met personally both the ex-Emperor and his consort, as well as many of the persons herein mentioned, I confess that I myself have often been astounded when examining the mass of documents which this dirty Siberian peasant—the convicted horse-stealer who rose to be the secret adviser of Nicholas II—had happily secreted in the safe in his cellar in the Gorokhovaya, in Petrograd, so that the real truth of his traitorous dealings with the Kaiser might be chronicled in history.

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William Le Queux

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Table of contents


Chapter One.

Chapter Two.

Chapter Three.

Chapter Four.

Chapter Five.

Chapter Six.

Chapter Seven.

Chapter Eight.

Chapter Nine.

Chapter Ten.

Chapter Eleven.

Chapter Twelve.


Why this Book is Written.In the following pages I have attempted to take the reader behind the veil of the Imperial Russian Court, and to disclose certain facts which, in this twentieth century, may appear almost incredible.As one who knows Russia, who has traversed the Empire from Virballen to the Pacific coast, and who has met personally both the ex-Emperor and his consort, as well as many of the persons herein mentioned, I confess that I myself have often been astounded when examining the mass of documents which this dirty Siberian peasant—the convicted horse-stealer who rose to be the secret adviser of Nicholas II—had happily secreted in the safe in his cellar in the Gorokhovaya, in Petrograd, so that the real truth of his traitorous dealings with the Kaiser might be chronicled in history.I had hoped to be able to reproduce many of the cipher telegrams and letters in facsimile, but the present shortage of paper has precluded this, and it could only be done if this book were issued in expensive form.To me, it seems best that the British public should have access to it in a cheap and popular form, and hence I have abandoned the idea of facsimiles.I here publish the story of the mock-monk’s amazing career as a further contribution to the literature upon Germany’s spy system and propaganda so cleverly established as an insidious adjunct to her military attack upon the civilisation of our times.The conversations herein recorded have been disclosed by patriotic Russians, the truth has been winnowed out of masses of mere hearsay, and the cipher telegrams and letters I have copied from the de-coded originals placed at my disposal by certain Russians, Allies of ours, who desire, for the present, to remain anonymous.William Le Queux.

Chapter One.

The Cult of the “Sister-Disciples.”The war has revealed many strange personalities in Europe, but surely none so sinister or so remarkable as that of the mock-monk Gregory Novikh—the middle-aged, uncleanly charlatan, now happily dead, whom Russia knew as Rasputin.As one whose duty it was before the war to travel extensively backwards and forwards across the face of Europe, in order to make explorations into the underworld of the politics of those who might be our friends—or enemies as Fate might decide—I heard much of the drunken, dissolute scoundrel from Siberia who, beneath the cloak of religion and asceticism, was attracting a host of silly, neurotic women because he had invented a variation of the many new religions known through all the ages from the days of Rameses the Great.On one occasion, three years before the world-crisis, I found myself at the obscure little fishing-village called Alexandrovsk, on the Arctic shore, a grey rock-bound place into which the black chill waves sweep with great violence and where, for four months in the year, it is perpetual night. To-day, Alexandrovsk is a port connected with Petrograd by railway, bad though it be, which passes over the great marshy tundra, and in consequence has been of greatest importance to Russia since the war.While inspecting the quays which had then just been commenced, my friend Volkhovski, the Russian engineer, introduced me to an unkempt disreputable-looking “pope” with remarkable steel-grey eyes, whose appearance was distinctly uncleanly, and whom I dismissed with a few polite words. “That is Grichka (pronounced Greesh-ka), the miracle-worker!” my friend explained after he had ambled away. “He is one of the very few who has access to the Tsar at any hour.” “Why?” I asked, instantly interested in the mysterious person whose very name the Russian Censor would never allow to be even mentioned in the newspapers.My friend shrugged his broad shoulders and grinned. “Many strange stories are told of him in Moscow and in Petrograd,” he said. “No doubt you have heard of his curious new religion, of his dozen wives of noble birth who live together far away in Pokrovsky!”I glanced back at the receding shock-haired figure in the long black clerical coat and high boots, little dreaming that I had met the mock-Saint whose evil influence was to cause the downfall of the Imperial House of Romanoff.Strange it is that to-day I have before me the amazing official reports of his career from revolutionary and private sources—reports from which I intend to here set out certain astounding facts.First, it is quite beyond question that the Pravoslavny Church, with its malign influences and filthy practices, is, in the main, responsible for Gregory Novikh’s success as a worker of bogus “miracles.” The evil-minded libertine upon whom his fellow-villagers in Pokrovsky, in the Siberian Province of Tobolsk, bestowed the name of Rasputin (or in Russian, “Ne’er-do-well-son),” was a fisherman who possessed an inordinate fondness for the village lasses, and also for vodka. A mere illiterate mujik, disgusting in his habits and bestial in his manners, he grew lazy and dissolute, taking to theft and highway-robbery, for which, according to the official report of the Court of Tobolsk, before me, he was imprisoned twice, and a third time was publicly flogged and so degraded that he was compelled to bid farewell to Pokrovsky, much to the relief of the villagers. Behind him he left a peasant wife, a little son, named Dmitri, and two daughters. He also left behind him a handsome young peasant woman known as Guseva, a person who was destined to contribute a few years later in no small measure to his dramatic death. Sins always follow the sinners.After a year or two of wandering as a rogue and vagabond, committing thefts where he could, and betraying any woman he came across, he suddenly conceived the brilliant idea of posing as a “holy man.” This idea came to him because, while in Pokrovsky, he had had as boon companion and fellow-drunkard a certain market-gardener who had joined the Pravoslavny Church and is to-day by his influence actually a bishop!In most Eastern countries, especially in India and China, there are many wandering “holy men,” and modern Russia is no exception. To lead a “gospel life” of endless pilgrimages to “holy” places and to collect money for nonexistent charities appealed to the fellow as an easy mode of lazy sensual self-indulgence. Therefore he adopted it, being aided by the ex-market-gardener, who was already in the Church. So both prospered exceedingly well.Rasputin had by this time discovered himself possessed of quite extraordinary powers. Indeed a report upon him written by a great Russian alienist who knew him intimately, has recently reached London, and from its voluminous pages which I have had before me, I gather that both physiologically and psychically he was abnormal, while his natural hypnotic influence was marked by the rare power he possessed of being able to contract the pupils of his steel-grey eyes at will, regardless of sunlight or shadow. Few persons can do this. It is a sign well known to alienists that the person is a criminal degenerate. Rasputin never smiled, even when he drank heavily. He could consume three bottles of champagne and still be quite sober! With vodka, his favourite spirit, he became talkative, but never indiscreet. He was a lunatic of an intensely erotic type; a satyr who possessed a truly appalling influence over women of all ages, and even at his word men in high positions did not hesitate to cast off their brilliant uniforms and decorations and mortify their flesh!From this man, crafty, cunning and elusive, a fiendish satyr whose hypnotic influence was irresistible, no woman, however high-born, high-minded, or highly religious was safe. He lived upon his wits, and lived well. With that amazing cunning usual in such criminals he affected a deep piety, so that at the various monasteries where he sought hospitality he was welcomed. In Russia many of the religious houses still unfortunately savour of the most disgraceful debauchery, as they did in England before the Reformation, and at such institutions Rasputin became a popular figure. At certain convents the mock-monk, with the connivance of the Pravoslavny Church, was eagerly entertained by the dissolute nuns, more especially at Novo Tchevkask, on the Don, as well as at Viatka, and at Saratov, in Kasan.From the convent of Novo Dievichy (The Convent of the Virgins) near the last-mentioned town, a great place which overlooks the Volga half way to Wolgsk, some terrible scandals leaked out, when the Mother-Superior, probably to save herself from the public indignation, brought in four sturdy mujiks from the countryside, who pitched the “Saint” out into the road, and administered such a severe kicking that the “Holy Father”—as the Tsaritza afterwards called him—could only creep about in pain for many days after!Two months later, according to a report countersigned by Paul Dragomrioff, superintendent of the Secret Police of Moscow—a screed which, being somewhat ill-written, is difficult of translation—Rasputin was in that city. I here quote from it:— “Report of Ivan Obroutcheff, Police-agent, Number 1287, of the 2nd Division, Secret Police, stationed at Moscow. April 2nd:— “According to instructions from Police Headquarters, I visited at orders of Superintendent Dragomrioff, Number 136, Tverskaia, next to Loukonture’s papier-maché factory at 1:35 a.m. to-day. I there found in a carpeted but barely furnished room an assembly of the cult of the Naked Believers kneeling before the monk, Gregory Novikh. Twenty-eight persons, all being women, fourteen of them ladies of birth and education, were present, and as I entered with my eight assistants the ‘holy man’ stood at the lectern, reading passages from the Gospel of St. Luke, interspersed with his own exhortations of the trials of the flesh. The walls of the room were decorated with disgusting pictures of a nature which would shock the modesty of all but the demi-monde, while behind the monk Novikh hung a copy of the Holy Ikon of Novgorod. “In accordance with instructions all present were arrested after they had dressed, and I ordered them to be conducted to the Central Police Bureau, where their names and addresses were taken, and they were interrogated singly. Most of the midnight worshippers expressed indignation, and more especially the ‘Saint’ Rasputin, who demanded in the name of the Tsar that he might telegraph to the Empress. My superior officer, Nemiloff, Chief of Secret Police of Moscow, could not deny him this privilege. The result has been that by eleven o’clock next day an order came from the Tsar for the release of all the prisoners, and orders that no facts should be permitted to appear in the Press. Grichka has left for the capital by the 4:15 express this afternoon. “Signed: Ivan Obroutcheff.”The report above quoted shows Rasputin in the early stages of his shameless debauchery. In London we have had the notorious Swami, with her male accomplice, practising similar acts upon innocent girls, but in Moscow the drunken and verminous monk with his hair-shirt, a rope around his waist and sandals upon his bulging feet, had attracted a select coterie of society women, daughters and wives of some of the greatest nobles of Russia, who, in secret and with gold in their hands, vowed themselves as docile followers of this Siberian fisherman whom nature had equipped as a satyr of such a type that happily none has ever been known in Britain in all its glorious years of history.I readily admit that the career of Grichka, the man whose name the Censor does not allow to be mentioned, the sinister power that later on so suddenly appeared behind the Russian throne and whose true story I am here revealing, will appear incredible to my readers. I have written many works of fiction which some, of you may have read. But no work of mine has ever contained facts so extraordinary as the real life of this unwashed charlatan who, under the active protection of his debauched Church—and I write here with a true and reverent sense of our Christian religion—succeeded in establishing himself in the apartments of the favourite lady-in-waiting upon the Empress, and further, to teach his horrible “religion” to the innocent daughters of the Tsar in turn!Much has already appeared in the newspapers regarding the sturdy unkempt rogue, but the greater part of it has emanated from the brains of writers who have not had access to official documents.In these present articles my intention is to tell the British public the bare unvarnished truth culled from documentary evidence at my disposal, and to leave them to form their own conclusions. Russia, our great Ally, is, alas, still mysterious and much behind the times. True, she has a press, a Duma, and many modern social institutions. Yet her civilisation is only upon the surface. The Empire is, unfortunately, still the same as England was under the Tudors, an underworld of profligacy, plotting, and strange superstitions. The latter have, of course, been recently revived in London, as is proved by the prosecution of the fortune-tellers of Regent Street and St. John’s Wood. Again, were not the scandals of the “Abode of Love” much the same as that of Rasputin’s dozen-wived harem which he established in Pokrovsky?The criminal records of Holy Russia teem with amazing stories of this “holy” scoundrel who from a drunken Siberian fisherman rose, by erotic suggestion, to become the greatest consolation to the Empress, and the lever by which “Nikki the Autocrat” was flung from his throne.I remember how, when in Sofia, in the pre-war days with Sir George Buchanan, then our Minister to Bulgaria, and now ambassador to Russia, a cultured and clever diplomat to whom Great Britain owes more than she can ever know, and hence cannot acknowledge, we discussed the mystery of Russia and of the subtle influences near the Throne.Little did either of us dream that he would now be ambassador to the Russian Court, and I would be writing this exposure of the evil life of the blasphemous satyr Rasputin.The cult established by the pilgrimages of this illiterate peasant grew apace. The “holy father” whose disgraceful past is recorded in the police dossiers at Tyumen and Tobolsk had, by his astounding power of hypnotism, gathered around him a crowd of “Sister-disciples,” mostly of the upper and leisured classes, to whom the new religion of nature strongly appealed.Upon his constant pilgrimages to Jaroslav, Vologda, Vitebsk, Orel and other places, he made converts everywhere. He declared that no woman could obtain favour of the Almighty without first committing sexual sin, because that sin was the one which was forgiven above all others. At his weekly séances at which, strange to say, the highest born ladies in the Empire attended in secret, the most disgraceful scenes were witnessed, the dirty unwashed monk, a most repellent creature to all save his “disciples,” acting as the high-priest of this erotic sisterhood.Soon the disgusting rogue began to perform “miracles.” Into his confidence he took a young man named Ilya Kousmitch—who, be it said, afterwards made certain statements to those who at last meted out justice and who provided me with certain details—and with the young fellow’s connivance he succeeded in bamboozling a number of perfectly respectable and honest women in Petrograd, as well as in Moscow and Kiev, where he effected some really mysterious “cures.”In one instance at the house of a certain Madame Litvinoff, in the Sergiyevskaya, the most fashionable quarter of Petrograd, the man known as “the Stareb,” or “Grichka,” held a select meeting of his followers. The shameless charlatan treated the ladies who had assembled to worship him and to contribute lavishly to his imaginary charities, with the greatest disdain and most brutal contempt. This man, guilty of the most appalling vices, addressed them as usual in a strange illiterate jumble, urging them to follow the new religion which he called “the trial of the flesh,” interspersing his remarks with occult jargon from works upon black magic, interlarded with those self-same scriptural quotations which will be found marked in that big Bible used by the Swami and her fellow-criminal—a volume now preserved in the Black Museum at Scotland Yard.One of the women present, a certain Baroness Korotki, was suffering from acute rheumatism. The “Saint” placed his hands upon her, looked into her eyes with that intense unwavering stare of his, uttered some strange incantation, and lo! the pains left her, and she declared herself healed! The effect was electrical. Others declared themselves suffering from various imaginary maladies, and after performing certain rites as laid down by the “Holy Father,” he laid hands upon them one after the other, and hypnotised them into a belief that they were cured.Next day reports of these amazing “cures” ran like wildfire through Petrograd, and the superstitious lower-classes were at once seized by a belief that the Saint “Grichka,” head of the fast-growing organisation of thinly disguised sensuality, was really a holy man and could work miracles. Around him crowded the halt and maimed and the blind, and aided by his accomplice Ilya Kousmitch, he not only pretended to effect cures, but succeeded in making many more converts among the lower-class women by declaring, as he had told the society dames, that there was in him a portion of the Divine with whom, as he put it, “all that would be saved must be one in the flesh and in the spirit!”At one of his reunions, held a week or so later at Madame Litvinoff’s, there attended Madame Vyrubova, the handsome leading lady-in-waiting at Court, and the chamber-confidante of both Tsar and Tsaritza. Like the others, this intriguing woman at once fell beneath the mock-monk’s inexplicable spell. His new religion of the flesh appealed to her erotic temperament, and she at once became one of his most passionate devotees, a few days later introducing him at Court with astonishing result.The subtle intrigues of Madame Vyrubova were many.As chamber-confidante of both Emperor and Empress she had for a long time assisted in the spiritualistic séances which were given in private at Tsarskoe-Selo by a Russian monk named Helidor and his French friend, known as “Philippe.” The young Tsarevitch was in a state of fast-declining health, and Helidor, as a “holy man,” had, at Madame’s suggestion, been called in to pray for him. Spiritualistic practices followed in strictest secrecy, and the credulous Empress first believed that the “holy man’s” dealings with the unseen were resulting in a beneficial effect upon the weakly lad.At last, however, owing to. Court intrigue, Helidor fell out of favour. It was just after this when Anna Vyrubova first met and fell beneath the evil influence of Rasputin. Grichka was a “miracle-worker,” and might, she thought, perhaps restore the Tsarevitch to health! She knew that the Empress, a shallow-minded, ephemeral woman, lived for one object alone, namely, to secure for her son the crown of Romanoff. But the physicians gave but little hope of this. In a year—perhaps before—he must die, they had whispered. Helidor had been dismissed. Would Rasputin be more successful?Madame sought out the charlatan who was busy with many “cures,” and suggested that he should accompany her to the Palace, but with lordly disdain the drunken fisherman from Pokrovsky declared that to him all men and women were equal.To a friend, a certain Madame Kovalenko, wife of one of the high Court officials, Madame Vyrubova described this interview. It took place in Petrograd at the house of a rich merchant living in the Tavritsheskaya, opposite the gardens. When the lady-in-waiting, who had, like so many others, fallen beneath his spell, had made the suggestion that the master should be introduced to the Court circle, he placed his left hand behind his back, a favourite attitude of his, drew himself up and began to address her in that strange jargon which she hardly understood—quotations from the “Lives of the Saints” jumbled up with lewd suggestions, high phrases, and meaningless sentences. As conclusion to this speech, however, the wily fellow added: “I care nothing for the rulers of earth, but only for the Ruler of Heaven, who has bestowed upon me His blessing, and has led me into the path of honour, righteousness and peace. The rulers, of earth worship in their chapels and their tinsel cathedrals, but I worship everywhere, in the air, in the woods, in the streets, and you, lady, worship with me in body and in soul.” And he raised his cold eyes upward, his right hand with its bulgy joints and broken dirty finger nails being placed across his breast. Then he sighed, as he added: “Ah! you do not yet understand! God has placed within me the power to smite—as well as to heal.”Madame Vyrubova, fascinated by his strange hypnotic glance, fell upon her knees before the “Saint,” and kissing his bulgy unclean hand begged of him again and again to see the Empress.But the artful scoundrel remained obdurate. He knew of Helidor’s disgrace, and did not intend to hold himself at all cheaply.The result was that Madame Vyrubova sought him next day and, handed him an autograph note from the Empress inviting him to come to the Winter Palace and see the Grand Duke Alexis. He read it, secretly much gratified, for he knew that not only had his latest devotee prevailed upon the Empress to seek the aid of another Russian monk to succeed the degraded Helidor, but that the Pravoslavny Church, the most powerful influence of State governance, had also been responsible for the invitation he held within his dirty fingers.From that moment Rasputin’s power became assured—a power he wielded for evil from that hour until the day of his well-deserved end.When that grey afternoon the unkempt libertine was introduced to the small white-and-gold private salon of the Empress, which overlooks the gardens and the Neva on the northern wing of the palace, the Princess Obolensky, Princess Orbeliani and Countess Hendrikoff, maids-of-honour, were with Her Majesty, curious to see what manner of man it was who could perform miracles, and whom so many of the Society women in Petrograd and Moscow now acknowledged and addressed as “Master.”Upon the threshold the mock-monk halted, and in that dramatic attitude, struck in order to impress his hearers, he stood with his left arm behind him, erect, with his unkempt head thrown back, his face stern and relentless, his grey eyes sharp and piercing.For some moments he remained there in statuesque silence, well-knowing how women were impressed by that pose. The hypnotism of those grey eyes few of the opposite sex could withstand. His conquests, or “conversions” as he termed them—were in every direction, and in every city. The Cult of the Naked Believers had rapidly spread everywhere. He was besieged by female disciples eager to hold meetings, for without the actual presence of the Saint true worship of the erotic could not take place. “Great Lady!” he exclaimed at last in his deep, heavy voice, still that of the Siberian mujik, “you desire me here? I have come!”The Empress rose and stretching out her hand eagerly welcomed the unholy charlatan into the Court circle, and half-an-hour later introduced him to fully a dozen of the highest-born women of the Empire, all of whom were at once impressed by his affected piety and humility. But a “dark force” had now entered the very heart of Russia, and later that afternoon, in a luxuriously furnished bedroom the miracle-worker was shown the poor little Heir to the Throne lying upon his sick couch, he placed hands upon him, and Her Majesty herself fell victim to that strange spell which other women had found so indescribable and so inexplicable. “I will cure your son,” said Rasputin slowly, after he had knelt beside him and looked long and earnestly into his eyes without uttering a word.Madame Vyrubova was present and exchanged glances of relief with the Empress. To the latter, easily impressionable as she was, though all believed her to be a staid mother of a family, Rasputin became at once a Saint, a Divine agent, a miraculous guide. He had cured the poor; why could he not, if he willed it, cure her son?Then in the days that followed “incidents” occurred in the Palace. At select assemblies of one or two of the Empress’s confidantes—parties, of course, arranged by Madame Vyrubova, Rasputin expounded his shameless “religion.” His jargon, the jumbled phrases of an illiterate peasant who knew not the meaning of what he uttered, his exhortations to commit sin so that it might be forgiven, his declaration of self-divinity, and his odds and ends of scripture mixed with the foulest vocabulary of Russian, was listened to with bated breath. Why?Because, strange though it may seem, the health of the young Grand Duke Alexis had taken a sudden turn for the better. Even his physicians were compelled to acknowledge it!Whether the latter were in any way under the influence of Rasputin by means of money-payment—for the fellow had by this time acquired a considerable fortune from his dupes—has not yet been ascertained. One thing, however, is shown in the documents before me, namely, that the mock-monk’s “miracles” were often effected by means of secret drugs of which he had quite a curious extensive knowledge. How this was acquired is again a mystery, save that he was very friendly with a certain student of Chinese and Thibetan medicine, named Badmayeff, and that this person regularly furnished him at high prices with certain little-known drugs from the Far East.With the gradual improvement of the health of the poor little Grand Duke, Rasputin’s ascendancy over the Empress rapidly increased. He had been introduced to the Emperor, who, though regarding him with askance, tolerated him merely because his beloved son was improving beneath his daily prayerful treatment. Meanwhile, the canker-worm of Rasputin’s religion had, fostered by the Empress’s favourite lady-in-waiting, entered into the Court circle, and many secret meetings were held in the Palace where under the pseudo-religious cloak certain ladies of the Russian Court became devotees of the “Holy Father,” and practised abominations absolutely incredible.Official reports contain both dates and names of those who gave themselves into the unscrupulous hands of this man who claimed the Divine right and thus worshipped as “Believers.”