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WHO IS RASPUTIN?
O.v ? , VT r? , By LUCIAN SWIFT KIRTLAND K. LJIX niftnthsairn. tt'hnn \lr. kirthum J ?nnnur?. hi?? TKm? ? ^ left for Russia, we asked him to find out and write for us the real truth about Rasputin, the mysterious monk who is said to be the power behind the Russian throne. Mr. Kirtland was granted exceptional facilities for securing information: we believe his article to be the first really authoritative statement of the facts published in America. It is a story of fascinating interest a figure out of the fourteenth century influencing the destinies of a twentiethcentury nation. We shall see in the next decade a mighty conflict between the forces of progress in Russia, strengthened by the present war, and the forces that in the past have been responsible for Rasputin and the medievalism which he represents. The Editor. I MISSISD having dinner with Rasputin by one day. Every intricate detail had at last been arranged. Although reported to lie visiting friends in Siberia, Rasputin had come to Petrograd, and was to have been motored in a closed car to a private apartment for the dinner. Since the attempt on his life, last spring, in one of the exclusive eating places of fashion, ho now never appears in a restaurant. For six weeks I had manceuvered, reaching for this wire and theu for that, ill U II T l__ 1I...1 T 1 J il. _ A uiuu iinany 1 Knew iiun i null me rigm one?for in Russia every one ean be readied by some wire. The point was, to find the man whom Rasputin could not deny, and then to find the man who could bring pressure on that man. Fortuitously, 1 found that third man, and then I knew that I was well ou my way to Rasputin. And then, with the last detail completed, 1 was called away t wenty-four hours too soon. By the space of that one day I missed meeting the most interesting character in Russia?the great, towering monk, Gregory Rasputin, who from behind the throne of Muscovy for the past decade lias held in the mercy of his power the dictation of the weal of the Empire. It is neither necessary nor discreet to say who my acquaintance was, nor who it was that knew Itaspntin. Emphatically it is necessary to omit tolling the intrigue of the pressure that was brought to hear. But the man who knows Rasputin 1 is perhaps the only man who has ever really known the monk intimately, and who has ever been his confidant. He promised to toll me, as a prelude to the dinner, tho secret of just who Rasputin is, and to reveal the mystery of how he arose to his power. To get to my informant's house I was led from tho sunshine of the broad, roughly cobbled street into a court-yard, and there we found a door leading to a long tlight of dark stairs. We climbed until just under the roof, and nressed a hell. Ktons enme and a door was unlocked. Wo slipped in quickly, as if there were furtive eyes watohing. Where the trail of Rasputin reaches there is always clandestine slyness. The man himself came to thedoor. , He pushed open a door and led us through some rooms until we came to an inside of f " '* ' - i i i I^Bmi ji.. m mm flee, a musty place crowded with heavy, sa rich furnishings. as A hove the desk hung a picture of Rasputin. Our host reached up his hands to ar each side of the frame and looked into the kt eyes. yc "The eyes are of fire,'' he said, "living yt fire!" in Most men hate Rasputin, hut many or obey his commands, as do almost all sh women. ne "Look at those lips," he continued? in "the thin lips of a master. No; you see, be they are not thick, stupid, sensual lips. And now look at his eyes. Look deeply, di and maybe you will understand something ht of tlwi t?ni? " ??? Hp sat down at thp desk and talked th across it toward me. be "How eould a moujik," he began, "an wi ignorant peasant born in the heart of sw Siberia?how do you suppose that such sp a man could rise in proud Russia to be a 111 1 >owpr greater even than the throne? I lei tell you again: it was his tire, his sensuous loi bursting passion of life. He can dissipate av the enn ni of a jaded court and not be ye drained. He has wits, but so have thou- rii """"I; HMMggraHr ^Hhh nds. His presence rekindles dea hes. They are subjugated by his powe "Yes, Rasputin was a moujik, a pea it. Everybody knows that; but tht low little more. They think he >ung. He is not. He was born fifty-tw >ars ago, born in the province of Tobols a little village, tie uvea in a nouse i le room, where they all slept in reekii eepskins on the stove in winter, and iw-cut hay above the cattle in the sur er. Was that a beginning for sleepii 'tween silken sheets in a palace? "Rasputin was big and strong, but 1 dn't like to work. He liked to talk at liked to quarrel, and he stirred up h spiration for talking and quarreling i e vodka shop. Are thinking heads found in such a village to match one its against? There was nobody to ai er his questions. And, in his hig irits, he rebelled and wrangled an ade trouble. Everybody for miles aboi trued who Rasputin was. including sue :'al noblesse as is mustered in such a fa ray province. At first he amused the: ikt'l aristocrats by his boisterous rove >s and strange moods, but they couldn iiuuugv U?1? iuuj nuuicu 111111 w uc a buffoon, but he was too much their master. He made a mockery of his superiors, and victims of the women. When the village grew too narrow a field for his adventures,howandered awayas a pilgrim. "Rasputin had never had a day of schooling, and he had the direst ignorance of anything that he might find in the outside world, except what his priest had told him of big cities with great churches, and of monasteries and convents and holy places. It was the betrinnine of an eduea tion to make his way from village to village, trying tho mettle and temper of strangers with his questions and high spirits. You can picture him when ho reached Moscow, tramping around and around the great churches and palaces with open mouth and staring eyes. "He saw that men had done bigger things in the world than he had ever dreamed of. He docided that reading and writing must have had something to do with this power. A Rasputin does not have to look long in this world for teachers. He has had many. Amidst various hotblooded ud ventures he found time to watch fair fingers point out the letters of the alphabet. "Rasputin's development seems always tn hnvfi nrlvnnpoH inmnc Maoaaw * ?_ ceived him uncoutli, uneducated, and untamed. He had had only the most shadowy ideas of the power and organization and the dogma of the great Russian Church. Something in the refinement of the city and the art of the wonderful churches began to smooth away the outside of his uneouthness. The paradox of it all was that Moscow was now a disappointment to his new moods. Incredible ?yes; but this central Siberian moujik was demanding something from the great Moscow churches that they could not give. Rasputin told his friends that the church lacked passion. Their answer was that the materialism and commercialism of a great city had engulfed the church ?that he should go to Kief if he wished to finH linlinpsa iinonntA?ninnt.AH "Again he picked up his pilgrim staff. At Kief he found another great city; but the atmosphere was narrow and bigoted. For a time he thought that this bigotry meant life. But a man of Rasputin's keen senses can not long be fooled by the specious, and he was soon angered by the corruption that he found. Possibly?who d can deny??this hot-blooded, intemperate, r. riotous, desirous wanderer was honestly s- seeking some unfaltering purity of relig>y ion as a salvation outside himself against is the raging fires within, the very fires which o later were to carry him to the pinnacle k, of power and might, of "He heard of Holy Mount Athos, and lg again he took up his wanderings. Again in he found pettiness. Pilgrims were going t ?f 11- liU UWUSttlClU. Xi.%3 JUIUCU IUOI11. a oaiu lg that Rasputin was impressionable. Xow came the second great evolution in his lie life. It came from the sea. To this child id of the steppes, the expanse, the colors, the is storms, the peace, the majesty, the power, ?t and the mystery affected him as someto thing new and revolutionary from Qod's i's hand. The effect upon his life was treii mendous. He ceased being a simple ;h mottjik upon a quest, he himself not half i,l L-nnu'inor whnt ho u-whod to find. He had it been struck with the conviction, the reve h lution. that if lie could feel this inspiration r- of the sea, which others could not feel so until his words and his fire discovered the 1- treasures for them, he must then l>e |>os't sessed of powers which they did not