Thus it was at any rate that we left theRussian steppes that summer. And I think we noticedin our brief stay that something was changed.I am a little doubtful about the indications ofRussian life, for my own passions and fortunes,my own love affairs, have intervened very much.But even for the political, during our stay there,the masses as well as the rulers, the various classesand creeds, agreed about one thing, that theTsar and his people had left St. Petersburg.
"Imagine," they said, "the Tsar and his suite, his daughters,and his court—at a dead stop, just as theGrand Duke had told them. The church and the palacesare still going on, not a head turned round,not a horse halted for a moment. And for what?For nothing, really," they answered themselves, "forabsolutely nothing, except that he has got tired of it."And it was at the same moment of Stambolensisperfection, when from these dead cities thetsar and the people were quietly moving offafar away, that the whole of the petty localbusiness and everyday routine was ceasing for ever.The carloads of peasants who had been attendingdivine service and the milling crowd of the poor, whoalways attend divine service, the mudlarkers andthe beggars—all these were stopping in their tracks.The human factor had ceased. The whole thing was gone,the Tsar, the people, the church, the palaces and templesand their functionaries, the roads and the houses,the houses and the shops. It was all gone, there wasnothash, nuthin'. Nothing. All the money in the worldcan not buy it back again. I went away with Shelley,when we came back to England, wading into the littleold churchyard at Leghorn, to pick up, together,a broken glass of Mona Lisa's smile. We are oldmen now. The churchyard is peaceful and still andempty. Shelley says: 'What is that, Mona Lisa?A broken urn or a piece of paper?' I ran tolook. I made haste and threw up my hand."
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