Transcripts of tape-recorded conversations with Princess Mary (Mariya Ksaveryevna) Orbeliani, sister of Alexander Bulatovich, June 3- 4, 1973


The following is source material that Richard Seltzer used in writing the novels The Name of Hero and The Name of Man. At the time (1973), Mary Orbeliani was 99 years old, living in at the Haven Hill Retirment Center in Penticton, British Columbia. Richard, age 27, was living in Boston.

The Name of Hero was published by Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin in 1981. The rights have reverted to the author, Richard Seltzer. He grants permission to make and distribute verbatim electronic copies for non-commercial purposes provided that the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

This historical novel is based on the life of Alexander Bulatovich, a Russian who was an explorer in Ethiopia, a cavalry officer during Russia's conquest of Manchuria in 1900, and later, as a monk at Mount Athos, led a group of "heretics" who challenged the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, asserting the divinity of the Name of God.

You can buy this book in hardcover:
The Name of Hero by Richard Seltzer. an historical novel based on the life of Alexander Bulatovich, a Russian who was an explorer in Ethiopia, and a cavalry officer during Russia's conquest of Manchuria in 1900. Later, as a monk at Mount Athos, he led a group of "heretics" who challenged the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, asserting the divinity of the Name of God.

You can also buy it on CD ROM with the author's other works:
Everything But the Internet  gathers the complete non-Internet works of Richard Seltzer on CD, in plain text, with software that lets you listen as well as read. It includes: The Name of Hero, Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes, The Lizard of Oz, Without a Myth, Spit and Polish, Mercy, Rights Crossing, short stories, articles, book reviews, and poems.

You'll find the full text of The Name of Hero and related material at www.samizdat.com/readers.html#name and www.samizdat.com/readers.html#ethiopia



"Despite its bland title, this is the most important book on the history of eastern Africa to have been published for a century."  That's the beginning of a review of my book Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes (my translation from the Russian of From Entotto to the River Baro and With the Armies of Menelik II by Alexander Bulatovich) that just appeared in the August/Septemter 2008 issue of Old Africa (published in Kenya).

Sunday June 3, 1973, tape #1
 

Preliminaries

Orbeliani -- I told you my age, I think.

Seltzer -- Yes, 99.

Orbeliani -- It is not encouraging, noat at all encouraging. Well, I will try to be attentive.

Seltzer -- You say your sister-in-law is here as well?

Orbeliani -- Yes, it is the sister of my husband. She is a former Orbeliani. Her name is Bubnov. Her husband was a professor at the University at Louvain in Belgium. He was in Belgium many years, but had the misfortune to lose partly his sight, due to an explosion of sulphuric acid, I think. He lost his sight, so he couldn't not be a professor but partly worked with other professors and helped students.

Enter Mrs. Bubnov

Orbeliani -- So you have here antiques.

Bubnov -- Yes, old people. My sister is going 99.

Seltzer -- Yes, and how old are you?

Bubnov -- I am so young -- 84. So how old are you?

Seltzer -- 27, about the age that Sasha was when he went to Ethiopia.

Orbeliani -- I think he was older.

Seltzer -- He was 26 when he went.

Orbeliani -- Was he? So young. He ws born in 1870, so he went in 1896. 26 years. Yes. He seemd older to me. Yes, he was very young, very courageous.

I explain how I came to be interested in her brother, tell her about hte article in the London Times

Orbeliani -- I cannot read. I cannot hear. I am miserable. I am the remainder of what I was. I am nothing. But I heard everyting you said. You read very distinctly.

Seltzer -- You are an amazing woman.

Orbeliani -- Amazing becaue I live so long time.

Bubnov -- But all the painting you've done.

Orbeliani -- No, I am really amazing and my life is very interesting. Perhapd tomorrow I will tell you my life. Very interesting life. Such changes. I can only boast that I went through with honor and with all, I struggled with difficulties, but never Volence, but always purity and honesty.


Sunday, June 3, 1973, Tape #2

Orbeliani -- Who is this? [in a picture]

Seltzer -- This is Ilarion, the monk who wrote the other book, Na Gorakh Kavkaza.

Orbeliani -- You have even the picture?

Seltzer -- Yes.

Orbeliani -- Yes, and the Grand Duchess, the sister of the Tsarina -- she was like a nun -- Elizaveta Fyodorovna. Her husband, Sergei Alexandrovich, was the Governor-General of Moscow. He was killed by revolutionaries. Then she became widow and lived the life of a nun. She would always dress in gray, not in black, but in gray. All her life, she had no children. She consecrated to benefactory.

Alexandra Fyodorovna was married to the Tsar and Elizaveta Fyodorovna was married to the uncle of the Tsar, Sergei Alexandrovich, who was killed by the revolutionaries. This so much impressed Elizaveta Fyodorovna that the rest of her life she consecrated to religion and good deeds.

Seltzer -- Did she support Ilarion? Did she in her devotion to good deeds have some contact with your brother?

Orbeliani -- No, she had no contact, but she protected this monk.

Seltzer -- Ilarion.

Orbeliani -- And she paid to have his books printed. And how popular this book was that printed this dogmas as the principal idea of Christian religion, that the name of God was divine. Elizaveta Fyodorovna, the sister of the Empress, gave means for printing of this book. And my brother had the right to support this principle because it was shared by very many Christians and perhaps persons like Elizaveta Fyodorovna and this very devoted person, this monk. This is the reason why he so insisted. He found it unjust and the fancy of this Antony Volynsky, the bishop.

Seltzer -- Did you ever meet any of thse people who were opposed to your brother?

Orbeliani -- No, I never met those opposed, but I met those who were with him. For instance, he was surrounded in Nikiforskoye Podvorye. There were several monks, ancient soldiers of the Hussars of the Tsar, who followed him in the convent when he left the regiment.

Seltzer -- Several went with him at the same time?

Orbeliani -- Yes. I think six. Six soldiers went in at the same time and were monks the same as he, even from the same regiment -- but uneducated people.

Seltzer -- They weren't officers? They were common soldiers?

Orbeliani -- Not officers. Simple Peasants, soldiers. They adopted the religion, how do you say? le sentiment religieux of my brother.

Seltzer -- And they would have stayed at Nikiforskoye. They became monks and Petersburg and they would have stayed there when your brother went to Athos.

Orbeliani -- Yes, they stayed there. I forgot the names.

Seltzer -- They say that this is a picture of the house where your brother was living.

Orbeliani -- Yes, maybe. I was not there. I was never there when he lived in this estate. It was the war. It was a time when it was dangerous to travel, but when the position appeared that we had to leave our cournty, my husband took me.  We went in a merchant [freight] train, un train de marchandise, and went to my mother in Sumy to say goodbye.

Seltzer -- So your husband took you to see  your mother in Sumy.

Orbeliani -- Yes. At that time my brother lived in Lutsikovka, his estate, and my mother lived in Sumy. The main house on the estate at Lutsikovka was destroyed in 1906.

Seltzer -- Was there a fire?

Orbeliani -- No. When Russia had an uprising, a revolution, all the pomeshchiki, the houses of the many pomeshchkov have suffered and lost their houses. But it was not a general revolution.

[Interrupted by arrival of Mrs. Boubnoff).

Seltzer -- You were saying you went to Sumy to see your mother...

Orbeliani -- Yes. It was difficult. There were no trains. Terrible disorder. It was the White Army that advanced from the south and threw out the Bolsheviks near Tula. The whole region of Ukrainia was in the hands of the...

Seltzer -- Was that Denikin?

Orbeliani -- Yes, no, Denikin, yes, I think Denikin. The Southern Army.  And so it was we could travel. WE were not afraid to be arrested. We could travel, and my husband brought me to say goodbye to my mother. But I couldn't see my brother because he ws in the coutnry, and I couldn't go to Lutsikovka from Sumy which is not far because we heard that this White Army was defeated. And this was a terrible moment if it was true. The Bolsheviks came then. They shot on the right and on the left of this pomeshchiki; and we were the owners, landowners. So we were emigrating.

Seltzer -- Now at that time was the White Army on your side, or was anytbody on your side at that time?  I mean was there any place where you would have been safe?

Orbeliani. We were not interested in politics. We were nothing.  We lived in Poltava and were happy that we were not arrested. We left all our belonging ins Petersburg.

Seltzer -- Was it 1918 when you left Petersburg?

Orbeliani -- I could be 1918. 1919 perhaps.

Seltzer -- And did you go to Poltava next?

Orbeliani -- Yes, we went to Poltava and several days later we took a train and went to the south which was firmly in the hands of the White Army.  We went to near Rostov-no-Dono.  Then there we stayed, and from Rostov we went to the motherland of the Orbeliani, to Gruzy [Georgia].  There we lived for two winters.  And in February came the Bolsheviks.  We went to Batum, took the Frnch boat, and went to Constantinope. But my brother stayed in his estate far away. He lived with the Bolsheviks. The kolkhoz [collective farm] didn't exist. My mother remained in Sumy. She didn't want to leave.  And they lived under the Bolsheviks several years, I think.

When the kolkhoz didn't exist yet, the peasants gave to my brother a part of the garden in his own keep. He can own this.  And he cultivated vegetables. He had fruit. He changed the fruit for chickens. He went and had the service in the church, and he helped my mother who had a pension form the gneral, from my father who was a general. My father was two times married.  He died when I was born in 1874. She had the pension from him.

Seltzer -- When the revolution came did she lose her pension?

Orbeliani -- She had a little pension to live, and she lived not in Lutsikovka. She lived in Sumy. The house at Lutsikovka was destroyed, entirely burnt; everything.  And my brother lived somewhere near it. [Pointing to a watercolor picture she had done of Lutsikovka] Here, behind was a little forest and behind it were the buildings for the cows, the horses, and all the houses of the servants. One of those was his house.

Seltzer -- [pointing to a magazine photo of Bulatovich standing beside a little hut] This may be that house.

Orbeliani -- Yes, this must be, I think, on of these. Because they burnt the main house, but the other buildings probably remained. This might be the house of the gardener or of the cook or of the coachman. They all had little houses.

Seltzer -- Did the estate belong to your brother or to your mother?

Orbeliani -- The estae belonged to my mother.  She never wanted to give anything.  He offered when he entered the regiment, as a young boy, 22 I think.  Then he felt himself not rich enough with these rich people, and he offered with his friend to take the whole estate and raise horses.  Now this could give an income. It could not be what she wishes.

Seltzer -- Waht friend ws that?  Do you remember his name?

Orbeliani -- It was the beginning of his military service.

Seltzer -- That was an interesting chapter of his life.  I know that he went to the Alexandrosky Litsei [Lycee].

Orbeliani -- Alexandrosky Litsei, it was a school of the aristocracy, to form the diplomats. So my mother thought he would be diplomat. No, nothing of this kind.

Yes, my brother was a very good pupil, but he had an attachment to those who were not on his level -- much simpler, much more developed.  He was very attached to them, but to those who were clever he was not very attached.  I have noticed this.  He liked simple souls who admit the religion, and the clever souls he respected, but he was not very close to them.  I think he liked to be over. This was perhaps his defaut.  When he ws young his friends were Voronov, a very clear boy, and Borobyov. They were not very talented pupils. Perhaps it was his ambition to be over, to be the leader. There are such characaters, I think. He liked to be the leader, but he never had any profit from this. Only his heart was toward the simple good souls.  About himself, he was not ambitious.

Seltzer -- When he was at the lycee what did he dream of becoming? The lycee was preparation for government service wasn't it?

Obeliani -- I don't know. It was a feature of his character not to approach the more sophisticated. In the regiment, his great firend was a very nice person, Molchanov.  He helped him with his books. Colonel Molchanov.  And my brother was very attached to the family of Zinoviev -- Stpan Tepanich and Mariya Nikolayevna, and their daugther Katya.  The Zinovievs were very welathy, but they did not make some fuss of this wealth. They lived very well and liked people to come to them, but they didn't make parties, they didn't make big receptions. And MOlchanov was a great friend of them.

My brother, when he came from Tsarskoye Selo on Sundays, he visited the Zinovievs; and on Saturdays he went to see them. And Molchanov was also a great friend of theirs. He had no family and was always there.  He was not married. My brother had pleasure to be with these good and plain rich people.

Seltzer -- Was Colonnel Molchanov connected with the regiment?

Orbeliani -- Yes, he was a colonel in the regiment of the hussars.  As I have written, my brother was very serious about his duty; and he was very severe with his soldiers. He was known for that.  But they loved him, and when he went to the convent, six of his soliders followed him. And they called him for his seerity "Mazepa". Mazepa is the Ukrainian hero for the independence of Ukraina during the reign of Peter the Great.

Seltzer -- Was the Zinoviev family connected with the regiment?

Orbeliani -- Stepan and his wife died at the beginning of the revolution. I saw in Yugoslavia the daugther Katya. She was married with Azbotkin, an officer of the saper. She was insignificant because when she was rich it was one thing and when she had to give French lessons  it was another.

Seltzer -- At the time that your brother was visiting the Zinovievs, would he have been interested in Katya?

Obeliani -- No. He liked more Stepan Stepanich and Mariya Nikolayevna, the old ones. He had more in common with them.



Sunday, June 3, 1973, Tape #3

Seltzer -- I found several of your  brother's books. This is a photocopy of one that I found in a library in Athens.

Orbeliani -- Apologiya very vo Imya Bozhiey. What is written here? Who published it?

Seltzer -- Izdaniye Religiozno-Filosofskoy Biblioteki.

Orbeliani -- Eto verno Kolokol. Kolokol, Mr. Skvartsov shared this opinion with my brother and came often to my brother.  I thought that Mr. Skvartsov was the head, but perhaps he wasn't the head of it.

Seltzer -- But your brother wrote and published many books on this subject.

Orbeliani -- My son [Andrey] has another one -- the same book, but another edition.

Seltzer -- There was also an article your brother wrote for Istorichesky Vestnik in 1916.

Orbeliani -- This is very intersting.  That was one year before the revolution, and such a long work.

Seltzer -- Yes. Also, on my trip to Mount Athos, I stopped in Salonika.  There is a man in Solonika who is writing a doctor's degree dissertation about your brother and his theological writings.  The man's name is Konstantinos Popoulidis, and he is writing his book in Greek.

Orbeliani -- Yes, Greek, because Mount Athos is in Greece and there the Russians have a great convent.  Does he share or oppose [my brother's beliefs].

Seltzer -- He shares. He studied in Paris, at the theological school t hre. And there he met someone who had known your brother; and all that he has in his dissertation about your brother's life came from what that person told him.

Orbeliani -- Does he give here a picture of my brother's life?

Seltzer -- Very little.  This is the page where he does it. Here is your brother's name: Antonios Boulatovich. He says that your brother was in China, and that in 1907 he went to Ethiopia.

Orbeliani -- It was before.

Seltzer -- He says that in 1907 he became a monk in the Skete of St. Andrew at Mount Athos.

Orbeliani -- The dates are wrong.

Seltzer -- He says that your brother knew Greek, and that he translated books from Greek to Russian. In 1910 in became a hieromonach.

Orbeliani -- What is that?

Seltzer -- Hieromonach is one of the orders of monks. He reached that higher rank in 1910. And in 1011 he returned to Ethiopia for a short trip. It was when he returned from Ethiopia that time that the controversy began.

This is a photo of your brother in a photocopy of a photocopy of a book by your brother. The man who is writing the dissertation photocopied this in Paris, and I made a copy of his copy. This is from a book published by your brother in 1917 -- Opravdaniye very... This is just some small parts of it.

Orbeliani -- And this is all about the dogma?

Seltzer -- Yes. This is just two chapters from a thick book. He says much the same things as he did in his other books about the dogma. He  thought that these beliefs were the foundation of the Christian religion.

[break]

Seltzer -- When your brother left the lyceem he went into government service for a short while. After a few months, he decided to become a solider.

Orbeliani -- No, he didn't work for the government. When he  finished the Alexandrovsky Lycee, my mother thought that he would be in the Gosudarstvenny Soviet, in the Council fo the sTate. But he didn't.  He began his demarche to be accepted by the regiment of hussars. He had some liaison with the regiment. First a cousin of my mother was a hussar -- Lev Lvovich Albrand. He was distinguished for his heroism during the war for the Caucasus. He lost his left arm in battle and continued right with his right hand. He died. And his portrait was in the sobraniye of the guard of the hussars, the reception  room of the regiment. Then  also he had a distant relative, Nikolai Kmostadius. I don't know his rank, but he was of an upper rank. For many years he was an office of the hussar glagar-samzhesti.

Seltzer -- It was very difficult at that time to get into that regiment.  Did it take several months for your brother to be accepted?

Orbeliani -- No. He was accepted in one month, not several months. He was accepted as a volno predelyayushchiy, as a volunteer. Because he had not gone to military schook, he had to be a volunteer, [a common soldier] for one year, and then the next year he was an officer, like other officers. He was kindly accepted by his friends. They liked him. And the commander was Prince Boris (I think) Vassilchikov. He was a very nice person. He and his  wife were  friends of the officers. They always open their house for the regiment.

Seltzer -- Was that the same man whose daughter...

Orbeliani -- Yes, Sonya Vassilchikov. But I never heard about this. You told me that there were such rumors; but we never heard; my  bother never said. He visited their estate for perhaps a week or so during the summer, occasionally.  HE went to see them in Kobno. Prince Vassilchikov was a landowner.

Seltzer -- Was this during summer vacations while he was in the army? Or was it before that?

Orbeliani -- I was army vacation, after maneuvers.  In July or Augusat they had military games for the whole guard dividsion -- very serious  [exercises] in the presence of His Majesty. Then my brother had a leave for four weeks which he spent partly in Lutsikovka. Then he  visited his friend, as I wrote to you, Sofia Mihailovna Sboromirskaya; and then there was another family of Sboromirsky, iwth three daughters. He liked to visit this family Sboromirsky, distance relatives. She was a cousin of our mother.

Seltzer -- One thing I was wondering about the regiment.

Orbeliani -- I can give absolutely no details about the regiment, because he was against any conversation about the events, conversations, or persons, or officers or friends. Never one word in the house was spoken. [He did not speak about] their quarrels, their peaces, their friendships, nothing. He came to our home, then he went [to visit] those families that I told you.  But never dancing, never parties, never gossipping; about the regiment not one word.

Seltzer -- And where in the city were you living with your mother at this time?

Orbeliani -- I lived with my mother, and he had a room for himself. He came, and we had parties for me. And sometimes we asked him to bring some of friends. He brought them, but he stood like a martyr.

Seltzer -- Did he have the same friends as in earlier days, such as Voronov?

Orbeliani -- He brought Mazhaysky. He brought sometimes friends, but they never were so close to us. They came with us and went away.  And my brother didn't dance, and he didn't talk. He had the figure of a martyr. He didn't share our life; he had his own.  But he was a good son, and a very good brother.  He was my friend. We made a pact of friendship.  And when he went to Abyssinia he didn't write to our mother, but he wrote to me, and I wrote to him. He liked our mother; he was a great friend of our mother.  But the pact was between me and him.

Seltzer -- What did he write about in those letters?

Orbeliani -- I don't remember.

Seltzer -- None of that would have survived the Revolution, would it?

Orbeliani -- I know that this Vaska, my mother was not pelased to take this new burden. She was not so very young already, and then a child to grow -- it was a burden.  Now she said that to him, but he asked her, and she accepted. She at first refused, but then accepted. And the boy, of couse, was very well looked after, this boy Vaska. Vaska was not happy. With us he was happy, but when he was in the monastery, in the convent, then he was very mistreated. I don't know the details. We lived then in Moscow.

Seltzer -- When did you live in Moscow?  You mentioned in your letters the friends that you had then.

Orbeliani -- It was a most remarkable time.  Moscow was the camp of reovlution, of intelligentsia revolution. The president of the Duma then and the comrade of the present then, many of the intelligentsia of Moscow were against absolutism.  It was absolutism.  We had no parliament, and there was such strain that Russia must join all the European coutnries that had parlaiments of representatives.  So Moscow was a camp of anti-absolutism of the Tsar. And my husband was very happy with these people because they shared his opinion.  He belonged to those who disliked the present way of government, and I think he was right.

Seltzer -- Would that have been 1906, 1907?

Orbeliani -- The president of the Duma was Golovin.  My husband was a friend of Golovin, and of Mikhail Chernikov, and of Dmitry Nikoaevich Shipov.  All of those are leading names in history.

Seltzer -- Was this around 1906 and 1907?

Orbeliani -- It was the beginning of the Duma.

Seltzer -- The First Duma or the Second Duma?

Orbeliani -- The first was Rodianko. No, who was president of the first?  Miliukov.  I forgot who was.  The second was Golovin. And Prince Lvov -- he was ver pure, and veyr convinced, honest.  They were fighters for what they called "liberty", but it ws not not liberty; it was parlaiment -- to have a government of representation.

Seltzer -- Adn then the Tsar dissolved the Second Duma.

Orbeliani -- The Tsar only gave a Duma that can give advice, not publish laws. The Duma was whatever he gave. They asked for a real parlaiment, but hte Tsar received them and he raised his voice.  I was in Petersburg then with Andrey, having just returned form abroad.  And I was in Peterburg in the Hotel de France, and they all came form the Winter Palace where the Tsar had received them, and they talked that he was so nervous that he raised his voice, and he said that follows the advice of his father Alexander and will not deviate from that.

Seltzer -- You had just returned from a trip to Europe?  Would that have been around 1906 or 1907?  How long were you abroad for?

Orbeliani -- When was it?  Yes.  It must have been 1906. It was after this war where there were great demonstrations against the Tsar, and my husband thought that perhaps there would be revolution.  I don't think it was ver wise.  But he wanted me and his mother and Mrs. Boubnoff and Mrs. Boubnoff's sister to go to Wiesbaden in Germany.  And then we returned.

Seltzer -- And when you returned, did you go to live in Moscow?

Orbeliani -- Yes. First I was in Petersburg, and he was in Moscow.  Then he found an apartment, and we came and I lived the whole summer in Moscow, adn then I took a better apartment.  I think we spent three years in Moscow.

Seltzer -- So that would ahve been from 1906 to 1909?

Orbeliani -- I think so.

Seltzer -- And was it near the end of your time in Moscow that your brother passed through there?

Orbeliani -- Yes. He was already a monk at the Nikiforskoye Podvorye, and he passed through when we were in Moscow. He had Vaska with him.  He was returning Vaska to Abyssinia.  He did not say that  he would not return to Russia, but he had decided to go to Mount Athos.

Seltzer -- One of the most interesting and curious aspects of your brother's life is the way he often made unexpected decisions.  He would be going along fine; he would be the best at whaever he was doing; and then he would suddenly decide to do something different. He was that way when he was in Petersburg.  He was the dashing young officer in Petersburg and then he decided to go to Abyssinia.  Then he decided to become a monk. Then he decided to go to Mount Athos.

Orbeliani -- He was thinking long about this.  During the Great War [First World War], my husband and I lived in Petersburg. My hasband had the well-paid position of advisor of the Board of Agriculture, Svietnik Selskogokhozaystva.  So we had a decent aparment, and I must say that my brother was extremely generous.  When I married, he was in Manchuria; and he brought from there a beaultiful colleciton of Japanese and Chinese vases and decorations -- things to make my apartmetn pretty.  He was not so very rich, but he probably shared his belongings with me to make me this greaet pleasure.  That made my apartment seem very elegant with these beautiful tigers on the walls and beautiful tiger on the floor, and the beautfiul vases -- four beautiful vases.  It was very generou.  It was from Manchuria.

Seltzer -- It must ahve been aroudn the time that you got married that he returned from Manchuria.

Orbeliani -- When was he in Manchuria?

Seltzer -- He returned form Manchuria in 1901.

Orbeliani -- I didn't have these in Moscow. I had them later in Petersburg.



Sunday, June 3, 1973, Tape #4

Orbeliani -- My brother rescued a French missionary who was shut up byt he Chinese.  He relieved him, and this missionary had typhus fever.  My brother stayed with him for some time and caught this fever.  My brother recovered and was extremely weak, and Shtakelberg, I believe, was the general who sent him to Japan for reset.  Then when he crossed the Sea of Japan therew as a very violent storm, a typhoon, and he wanted to see what is this typhoon.  And the terrible wind hurt his eyes, and since then he always had an inflammation of the eyes.

Seltzer -- He seems to have had lots of trouble with his eyes throught he years.

Orbeliani -- Yes. I think he caused this himself.  He crossed the Sea of Japan and a terrible storm, and he went on the deck to look and the wind hurt his eyes, and since then he always had to wear a visor. I remember a photo in a book with him dressed like a monk with this thinkg called "skhima" that I embroidered for him, and he has a beard and on his head a visor.  I ahd a book, yes; it is lost.  I gave it in Belgium. I sent it to a friend, and she sent it back registered; but I never received it.

[break]

Seltzer -- Do you have any grandchildren?

Orbeliani -- No. I have no grandchildren. It's so sad. The line will die. My son was married two times, and both times he had no children. It is a great pity. I am very lonely.

{Right now] my son Andree and his wife Irene are [travelling] in Rome, and from there they will go through Italy, and then they will stay a long time in Belgium. My son studied in Belgium and has a lot of friends there. Then they will go to Paris and England. Six weeks. It is not expensive. They flew from Toronto to Rome, and through Europe they will go by bus.

I'd like to give a right image of my brother. He was a man of quite exceptional strength of character. He was always in search of what in Russian is called "podvig" -- bravery, heroism, dnager.  Where there was danger he was very interested.

Seltzer -- I was going to ask you, during the First World War, as a priest, did he go to the front lines?

Orbeliani -- Yes, as a priest he was on the front.  He went and returned several times.  During the Great WAr, we lived in Petersburg, and he came with his "dyshik" (what do you call this? a soldier who belonged to him). He came with his dyshik seeral times and led this correspondence of this  discussion with the Synod. He returned to the f ront.  And then the last time, I told you about this, he jumped through the window of the train.  It was so unexpected.  And that was the last time I saw him.  After that, we left Petersburg. It think in the beinning of May -- I and my son and the mother of Mrs. Boubnoff left for Poltava. I never returned to Petersburg. We left in the apartment all my belongings, all these beutiful things.  Then it was this dividion between the Urkraine with Hetman, withthe Germans and the northern part fighting in the war. Then the Germans left the Ukraine, and the Bolsheviks came and took the Ukraine. This moment was dangerous, and we had to leave.

Seltzer -- What happened to your mother during this time?

Orbeliani -- My mother stayed in Sumy, and she died there, the same year that my poor brother was shot [1919].

Seltzer -- How did you hear of your brother's death?

Orbeliani -- One or two years later I heard form one Russian who was an emigre.  He has sons and Moscow, and when the peace was established, he returned to Moscow and continued to live with his family. He was a banker.  He wrote to me from Russia.  He sent to Sumy and  asked about it and worte to me how it happened.

Seltzer -- You mentioned your brother's death in your most recent letter.  You mentioned that he was shot.  Did you hear anything further in this letter from the banker?

Orbeliani -- No. I was very angry, but what can you do? You can do nothing about such events.  I had hoped that it would be all right.  He was a great freind of the peasnats. They liked him always. During the revolution and after the revolution, they said that when he had a service in the local church, the chuch was overfull. Perhaps this displeased the Bolsheviks, that he had religious influnce, and they destroyed him. This might be. I don't know. That is my own supposition. But Mr. Katsnelson says gangsters, that gangsters thought that he was rich.  I don't believe that.

I think that they didn't like his religious influence and made an effort to destroy him.  From what I head, they didn't arrest him because he was extremely democratic, in the real and best sense of this word. He iked the common soldier. He liked the simple heart. He said, "I like the simple people." He didn't like the sophisticated. He liked the plain truth.

Seltzer -- That's extraordinary considering the sort of environment that he would have been in when he was in Petersburg, with the regiment.

Orbeliani -- Why Petersburg is full of narod, masses, prostoy narod. He was not a revolutionnary, but he was a dreal pure democrat. He considered people of lower rank equal to him. It was not that he was so and they were less so.  Eeryone equal. Everyone is God's slave, God's podanny. N one can say this is hgih, and this is low. He couldn't consider the Abyssinian lower.

Seltzer -- Yes, that's one of the things taht struck me in his book.

Orbeliani -- And this approach to the whole people probably won the hears. I think so.

Seltzer -- Do you think he would have had the same attitude when he was in Manchuria too?  When he was in Abyssinia he muchly respected the culture and the people there and he  got very interested in that.  I was wondering if he had the same sort of attitude to China and to Japan when he visited there.

Orbeliani -- This I cannot say. He had no time.  First of all was the war; then after this war of Manchuria he resigned. Why he resigned -- I heard that when he was in Manchuria he went with his saber and had a fight with a Manchuria soldier. He killed the soldier, and the soldier fell on him, and all his blood covered my brother's face. This made such a physical impression on him that, I heard, for seeral days he could not eat meat -- everything tasted like blood.  He considered that he was an assassin, a killer. In the war, he had killed many, but had not had this felling.  This time he had the feeling that he comitted a terrible crime by killing. I heard this from a friend of his whom I knew, whom I met in Poltava during the revolution.  He told me that my brother asked him, "How many people has this saber killed? How many heads has it cut?"  He was so depressed, he turned around and cried. I never saw him cry, but this friend said that he creid.

Seltzer -- Who was this friend you met in Poltava?

Orbeliani -- It was Grotten, an officer, Lieutenant Grotten.

Seltzer -- And this story took place in Manchuria.

Orbeliani -- Yes. After this, he delivered the French missionary and caught the typhus fever


Monday, June 4, 1973, Tape #1

Orbeliani -- des course, comment dit-on "des courses"? Il fallait prendre des obstacles.

Seltzer -- Stepple chase in English.  And the three were Pavel ...?

Orbeliani -- In Petrograd, yes, my brother was very famous as a rider. They all knew him.

Seltzer -- And the three great riders were...?

Orbeliani -- My brother had horses. He bought and sold. He got a little money, but not much from my mother; and this [horse trading] was an income for him. While he was a good rider, an ambitious man, when he wanted something he attained it, by great effort; and he ws fit for that.  He gave me lessons. It was very amusing.  In the summer, I think August, he spent in the country, then he took the decision to train me.  I rode in the country -- my mohter in the car and I with the coachman behind her; but he wanted me to relearn. So there was a place where corn shuck were stacked like huge buildings, before they were comment "balchir", grain, and there he stood and taught me to ride in a square, then to cross in a square, then to make a turn and to cross to make a turn; all this he tuaght me to have his sister trained and to appear in Tsarskoye Selo where there were steeple chases with ladies.  During hte winter I appeared, taught by him even to jump over barriers. And when there was a show and pretty ladies a very beautiful Amazon, in black outfits and red outfits. We appeared. But he stopped me, "Don't go down!" "Waht's the matter?" "No," he said, "I am afriad that something will happen." He didn't want me to. There were truly very good riders, but he was not so sure of me. He was certain I would fall.

Seltzer -- I had heard that he was a great rider.

Orbeliani -- He was a perfect rider.  For instance, once he left our Lutsikovka before the end of his vacation and went on horseback on his Arab horse Medusa. He rode westward. Afterwards he wrote that he toook a prize because il a franche le passages to Kiev, he went to Kiev in a short space of time wihtout rubbing the back of his horse.

Seltzer -- Without rubbing the back of his horse?

Orbeliani -- That was veyr important because this occurs with a long ride and leads to a wound on the back of the horse. He made this great passage without huritng the horse.

Seltzer -- That was from Lutsikovka to Kiev.

Orbeliani -- Yes. Later he made another was a great distance starting in Tsarskoye Selo. He was very proud of this. He came, went, and came back in a very short time; much shorter than usual, and the horse quite safe.

Seltzer -- That sounds like the time in Abyssinia when he went across a great distance in a very short time.

Orbeliani -- Yes, when they diesembarked, he crossed the Somali, I think, desert, and there was terribled heaet.  He crossed also in a much shorter time than was usual on a camel, not a horse. He ahd never ridden a camel before. It is a very disagreeable movement, but he forced himself.  He had great power over himself. What he needed, what he wanted to attain, he attained, with effort.  But he was always disinterested, not seeking money, only what he needed for the moment in his speciality -- the knowledge of the horse.

Seltzer -- Did he do things like this as a child at Lutsikovka?

Orbeliani -- As achild, there was one dag that I wrote to you about -- Usman.  Usman was a very wicked dog.  He never appraoched anyone and as always gloomy.  But my brother took him and made him his servant.  He went k noge [heeled]; he stood up; he appraoched; and he went the whole walk close to the foot of his master and recognized him as master.

There was another dog, too, a pure-bred hunting dog -- Ryabchik. Poor Ryabchik was a good hunting dog but he was not allowed to go out. He was always shut in the room, except for short walks.  He was such a miserable animal.

My brother knew how to make animals serve him. But I never knew him to have people under his pressure.

This poor Ryabchik was an enthusiastic hunter. He went in the vicinity hunting birds, wild ducks.

My brother had a special little car called "Lineyka", which means "ruler" [a ruler for measuring things]. In Lineyka he had the coachman Mihaylovo, also a gloomy man, and then the hunter and then himself; adn they went about from place to place where they heard there were wild ducks, wild geese, all; he went hunting.  It gave him pleaseure.  But he disappeared sometimes for days or even weeks. Once we hear from far "brrrr" -- it was old "Lineyka". It made a special noise, andthere he was.  He was very friendly to this Mihaylovich, Vsenkaya, and Khrisko -- the coachmen were his great friends.  They exchanged smiles and laughs and impressions of waht they had done. My borther was veyr friendly with plain people, with peasants.

Seltzer -- It must have been great coutnry for hunting.  I remember Turgenev wrote Hunting Sketches about the area around Oryol, and one story was about the area around Lebedyan.

Orbeliani -- That is a different Lebedyan, a town near Oryool. Lebedine is a little place, capital of our uyezd. The rpvoice or "guberniya" was divided into smaller districts, and Lutsikovka belonged not to Sumy, but rather to Lebedine. Lebedine was very far away. Sometimes for business, I think for her pension, my mother had to go there. She had the pension form my father. And I think she lived on this pension even during the revolution, when they didn't take away the pensions. Lutsikovka was lost, but she still had this pension, because my father was a commander of a regiment that had stood there in this little town of Lebedine. But otherwise we didn't have much to do with Lebedine. If we had to buy something, there was a drive to Sumy, which was also far for horses -- 40 miles away.  Sumy was a big town, the center of sugar production from Khritoninka. This Khritoninka was a simple peasant who rose to be a millionaire by refinery, where they make sugar.  He owned big parts of land not far form us and cultivated beet root -- sugar beet root. That's not the red beet that they serve, but a white one, a little bit rosey. Khritoninka had seeral refineries not far from us. The peasant women had a good win.  They went to weed out the unwanted vegetation that would otherwise strangle this little plant.  All the women from Lutsikovka, from Markovka, and all the surrounding villages had a good earing on these fields of Khritoninka. It was field after field of beets roots.  But he had to change; so he changed from beet root and cgrew wheat and corn and other grain.

Seltzer -- Waht was grown at Lutsikovka?

Orbeliani -- Lutsikovka was a villlage. This was a hill [drawing] and here stood this house, and here was vegetation and park, up to the river.  This part was the estate Lutsikovka.  But here was the village -- a big village:  thousand. A big street and a church.

Seltzer -- And what is the name of the river that goes by it?

Orbeliani -- Sula. It was the beginning, the source of the river, one of the tributaries of the Dniepr. The three tributaries of the Dniepr are Sula, Kharoly, and Payol. Kiev is on the Dniepr. The Dniepr flows into the Black Sea. The celebrated Cossacks were there. Tara Bulba -- have you read? -- was here. Here was Odessa.

Seltzer -- Was anything grown on the estate at Lutsikovka?

Orbeliani -- It was a very big estate. The Sula is flowing here and on this side was the main field that Kritoninka worked, afater the death of my mother.  How to begin to tell you?  The first owner of the great land on one side of this Sula and on the other side the great pieces of beautiful black soil was owned by an officer of the guard, who after his service big estate adn matied Miss Albrand. His name was Platon Ivanovich Kouriss. Now tis big estate, without any house, without anything, he bought. Then he built the house and al the other buildings. He came there and was very crazy about the French Revolution. He had lived a long time in France, and this house, (not the one I have shown you, but the one that was after destroyed) he built with unburnt bricks. It was all so fantastic -- sometihng like the Trianon at Versaille; and he palnted the whole place with a beautiful garden where there were straight alleys cut. And behind was grown with all trees, some part of a forest that was there before. It was a very big park, with maple trees and oaks. Then was this beautiful building with a garden with staight alleys and behind was a very big park where as a girl I spent the afternoon with my governess.  Then he was married with Miss Albrands.  Thent he Albrands, the family of Albrand, were French immigrants who left rance with the Duke of Richelieu, not the cardinal, but the founder of the city of Odessa.  They established themselves on the shores of the Black Sea.  This Albrand family owned great territories that they bought, I think, in the time of Catherine the Great, maybe later.

Now Mr. Albrand had many children -- I think about seven. He was very rich with sheep and a commercial fleet.  One of his sons was the father of my mother. This son was an engineer and was involved in the building of the Voyenno-Gruzinskaya Doroga [Military Georgia Road] between Georgia and Russia.  There he was attacked by -- they say "gangsters", but I think perhaps people who hated Russian dominion.  They killed him and his wife (my grandmother), Three children were left alive -- one boy and two girls.  One of these girls was adopted by a rich Albrand aunt of hers who had married Platon Ivanovich Kouriss and lived at Lutsikovka.  She was adopted by her uant who gave her a French governess, Madame de la Vaux. And when my mother married, her aunt gave her a dowry.

My mother married General Bulatovich, who lived in the adjoining town where was stationed the Sevsky Polk [Regiment]. Afterwards this regiment moved to Oryol, and my mother lived in Oryol. There he was commander of another regiment. So as a young girl -- she was 25 I think -- married my father who was not not young, and who died when I was born. He cuaght cold during military games and was sent by the doctors form one climate to another.  He lived in Italy. He lived in the Crimea. He lived in Austria. And the last place, where he died, was Vevey in Switzerland.  My mother was with him. So in one of these towns, not far form Yugoslavia, in Austria, in the town of Gleichenberg, also a warm place, I was born and was sent back to my great-aunt at Lutsikovka, where she already had three other children -- two boys and one girl. One of the boys, Kolya died.

Seltzer -- The rest of the children stayed behind while your mother and father went to Europe?

Orbeliani -- Yes. Rather was sent to Tyrol and to Italy. But he didn't like Italy because the apartments were very cold. He alwys caught cold in these cold apartments. Then Austria. Gleichenberg is in Austria, not far form Yugoslavia. [After the Revolution[, I could have gone to look, but I had no money; I was a poor refugee.  But I was never in need. I was a school teacher, in spite of my advanced age already for a teacher, I was a teacher for twelve years in Yugoslavia. And then I could not get a teaching job because I had no diploma. But I was a good teacher. They kept me. They wouldn't keep me. It was a very meager pay.

Seltzer -- You mentioned in a letter that you had returned with your mother one time to Vevey to see your father's grave.

Orbeliani -- Yes, I think I was 14 then. My mother had the chance to rent Lutsikovka for a good price, and she wanted to show us.  My brother was maybe 16 then. It was maybe during hte summer of 1888.  We went to Geneva in Switzerland and on the lake there's this famous chateau of Chillon.

Seltzer -- Yes, form the poem by Byron

Orbeliani -- And not far form Chillon is a little town for those who have lung problems. It is called Vevey. My father died and is buried there.  My mother, my brother and I went. My brother was wearing a school uniform.


Monday, June 4, 1973, Tape #2

Orbeliani -- This priest was such a strict Chatolic that he said, "Who are you?" My mother said, "I am Orthodox and the children are Orthodox." "Ah, no," he said. If the children and the wife were Orthodox, he did't want to do a service at the grave. I rememer so well the disappointment of my mother. My father had been a Catholic, but the children were raised Orthodox. In our education we had never this chauvinism to hate Chatolics, to hate Lutherans, to hate Protestants.  I myself like to be in chuch.  In Nelson [British Columbia] there was no Orthodox church, so I sent to the protestant chuch for years and years, and I still correspond with the ministor of Nelson.  I sent him for East a view of [the town of] Nelson I painted.

[Regarding a painting she did of Lutsikovka] I must make it better. My sight every day goes down and down. Perhaps a week from now it will be even worse, and my hearing worse; everything worse.

Seltzer -- Were there any other trips like this trip to Switzerland?

Orbeliani -- No. The conditions changed. [At the time of that trip], my mother had a good revenue. But she had to make money on her own, and she was never very clever.  It was such a critical time for her.  As the children grew up, expenses drew, and the revenues fell.

Seltzer -- So how did she make money?

Orbeliani -- She rented her fields to the peasants and they brought her not money but half of the harvest. I was there adn counted the sheafs. The peasant would announce the number of his sheafs -- I think 28 sheafs are put together in heaps. Standing in a field likea soldier, he had to announce, and to bring a certain number of them; and I had to help my mother, and when I counted there was always something missing.

It was seldom very honest. There were always one, two, or three missing. I was once so diappointed that I began to cry. I went on crying that I didn't want to hepl -- such dishonest people.  They bring only perhaps less than half what they owed. But still she was not easy to help. She had a very disagreeable character, very quarrelsome.

She did all that she could for her children. What she could do she always did.  But, for instance, with my husband, they didn't agree at all.  My husband neveer went to visit her.  He didn't want to kneel before her. "To kneel" is the wrong expression. Not to diminish himself. It  was not ambition, but amour-propre.

Seltzer -- When a professor of mine heard the name Orbeliani he immediately thought of Gruzy [Georgia]. He remembered that the Orbeliani were princes of Gruzy.

Orbeliani -- When Nicholas I was tsar, Gruzy was a little independent kingdom. Nicholas I joined it to Russia. There were, of couse opponents who didn't like Russia. So to flatter those opponents, he offered several families great pieces of land in the Urkaine. I know only Prince Eristov, Prince Orbelinai, and there was a third. As a gesture in favor of Gruziya, he invited osme of these noble to come to the Urkaine and to own and cultivate parts of Russia.  One of these princes coming from Gruziya was Orbeliani.  I believe that the father of my husband was the third generation who left Gruziya. They were quite Russian, and did not speak Georgian.

[break]

Orbeliani -- [talking about a painting of hers] This is the drawing room at Lutsikovka on my great-aunt's name name.  And this is "Lineyka". People site back-to-back. There's the coachman and a young man who has jumped out has flowers for a lady.

This [name day picture is the interior] the same house I sketched. The guests are from Lebedine, I think. The Ispravnik or poplice chief and the governor.  They are playing cards. And she is compalining to the priest who is standing here observing while others play whist. She is displeased. This is me with a little dog.  This is my older sister. My father was married twice. This is my mother meeting guests.  This is my great-aunt sitting. And this is a servant in a white dress coat. The splendor of the past.

Seltzer -- Did you paint this from memory?

Orbeliani -- Yes, from memory, when I was in Yugoslavia.  I was jsut dissed from my teaching job. I had no lessons. I had time. So I painted.

Seltzer -- Do ou always work in watercolors?

Orbeliani -- No, I have some oil paintings.  Oil is difficult and more expsive and difficult to transport.  This is easier to carry.


Monday, June 4, 1973, Tape #3

Seltzer -- You mentioned in one of your letters that your mother called you "Meta" from a German book she had read.  Waht was the name of the book?

Orbeliani -- I don't know. I asked her once, "Why am I Meta?" And she said that she had in Gleichenberg when she lived htere with my father, who had truberculosis, she read this book and she liked the heroine, and so she called me by this name.  Otherwise I don't know. I never had this book in my hands.

Seltzer -- You mintioned that you went to Georgia with your husband after the revolution.  Had you ever been to that ara before?

Orbeliani -- No.

Seltzer -- I would also like to hear aboutyour life and that of your husand and son.

Orbeliani -- My son and his wife will stay for a while in Belgium because he was educated in Belgium. Mrs. Boubnoff's husband was a professor at the University of Louvain, not far from Brussels. I believe that Louvain is the second oldest university in Europe.

Seltzer -- You mentioned that your son had lived and worked in the Congo.

Orbelinai -- He was working in the Congro, then in Brussels, and since 1950 -- 22 years, he has been here in Canada, alwasy with the came company -- Craighmont. He married Irene.  He lived in Barret, not far from here.  He had a lovely house.  He sold it, and bought a house in Nelson -- not a large house, but centrally situated. I lived in his house for ten years after I was a teacher at a school in Duncan. I had to leave the school because I had a lung infection. I had to leave Duncan, and I settled with my son.  Downstairs there were tenants, but I had a nice little place in the attic. And people gave me their children to teach, and I taught.  So I had my little money and was very happy.  I left Neson after 1960.  I was in my 90s, so it was 1965 that I left there and came here, because I felt that if I cannot work, I must live like an old person.

[break]

Orbeliani -- [In the religious dispute] my brother was protected by our emperor. Perhaps they wanted, but the empeor interfered.

[break]

Orbeliani -- [Talking about military service as chaplain in WW I ]My brother suffered terribly with the eyes. He had this visor. At that point, I don't think he could be very active in the military. I don't know. We lived in a nice apartment in Petersbug, and my husband had a good position. We had money.  My brother came to us and lived with us, andthen he went away and again he came and he went away, with this Dzhenshik (I forget his name). But I dont' think that he was active as a warrior. I never heard about this activity; and it would have been spoken about or it would have been written in the paper.  I never heard anything of this.  Perhaps he took part in reconnaissance. But he never took off his skhima, with on the chest a cross which I embroidered and emblems. He always wore that. He was not a man who took off such things. Reconnaissance perhaps, but fighting he could not, because he was a monk. He was very loyal by his characater, by his principles.


Monday, June 4, 1973, Tape #5

Orbeliani -- We went with the train to pass the station where he had to enter the train from Tsarskoye Selo. We saw a crowd of officers that came to see him off.  If he had such a reputation it would never have been.  It was most friendly. There were many officers, and the commander of the regiment was there to see him off to Abyssinia, the first time.

Seltzer -- Was Vassilchikov the commander of the regiment at that time?

Orbeliani -- Yes, and Molchanov was a colonel in the same regiment.

[break]

Orbeliani -- I know that when he was in the convent -- the Nikiforskoye Podvor-ye --  many officers went to visit him. It was behind the Alexander Nevskaya Lavra, at quite a distance. It was in the suburbs.

Seltzer -- It's probably still standing.

Orbeliani -- I know know if they kept it as a convent.  They closed all the convents.

Seltzer -- But they kep some as museums.

Orbeliani -- But probably not this one.  It was newly built, I believe by the means of Ioann Kronshtadsky.  I don't think it exists.

Seltzer -- Did you ever see Ioann Kronshtadsky? Did you ever go to hear him?

Orbeliani -- Yes, I saw him. It was in Petersburg after I had returned from Europe. My husband wanted us, his family to leve Russia, because he thought it would be more quiet and restful. So we spent the winter in Weisbaden. To Wiesbaden came my mother, who was not on good realtions with my husband, and Andrey, and we went to Nice, Cote d'Azur, and there we lived soem time.  Then we returned from Nice. We cross the whole of Europe and came to Petrograd where my borther was in the Nikiforskoye Podvor-ye.  He was already there.  And we lived in the North Hotel, at the great station to Moscow. Then
my husband was not pleased that I had returned then. There was such a kind of displeasure amdst us two. And at that time Father Ioann Kronshtadsky as in this hotel, visiting somebody.  So I went to him. But he was deaf, as I am now.  When I spoke to him about my doubts, he heard partly, and partly he didn't. I asked, "Must I return to my husband?" He said, "Yes, yes, yes." And that was all the conversation.  I didn't say much.

Seltzer -- I remember reading that 1908 was the year Ioann Kronshtadsky died. That may have been the occasion for your brother leaving Nikiforskoye and going to Moutn AThos, because the man that he hd been udner would hae died.

Orbeliani -- His retirement to Mt. Athos was a surprise for me. After this event, my husband and I went to Siberia and lived here and there.

Seltzer -- Mr. Katsnelson mentions that in 1911 he returned to Ethiopia to visit Vaska. So while you were in Siberia, he went back to Ethiopia for a year.

Orbeliani -- That might be.

Seltzer -- But he never talked to you about that trip?

Orbeliani -- I never saw him. My husband and I were in Khabarovsk. We didn't correspond much.  Later, when he returned to Petersburg and lived with us sometimes, Vaska was not with him. He stayed with us rather than at the Nikiforskoye Dvorye because he hd quarrels with the Synod.

Seltzer -- You mentioned that in Petersburg you had Chinese and Japanese vases and that you had a tiger on the floor and another on the wall.

Orbeliani -- It was a very nicely arranged apartment. It was left as it was. I don't know who took it and who carried way the things. After this great events happened in the Ukraime -- the separation of the Ukraine with the Hetman from Russia.

Seltzer -- Where in Petersburg was your apartment?

Orbeliani -- 39 Rozhdestvenskoye -- "Christmas". Itr was on the corner of Chistmas. This part of town was called "Peski". They named the stretts first, second, fourth, and this was the ninth. I think there were only nine streets in the region.  No, there was a tenth and eleventh, adn this is the ninth. It was number 339., and apartment six I believe. It belonged to the Count Rochefort.

Seltzer -- You m;entioend that your brother was very conservative in his politics and that he had discussions with your husband who was liberal.

Orbeliani -- It was summer, and I was not there; but I can imagine.  My brother disliked politics.  It thought it was was not right for the public to get mixed up in politics.  He was an absolute monarchist. And my husband was a liberal like all the intelligentsia. He wanted representatives of the people. Butthe Emperor did not give this. He set it up so the Duma could only give advice; it could not make laws. The Duma could express its opinionis and advice, but that was not enough.

Seltzer -- You mentioned too that your brother was a great democrat.

Orbeliani -- Yes, a great democrat.  He loved the peasansts, and he thought they must work. He was against all the reforms. He was a clever man. I think he saw great.  But politics was not his specialty; so he was interested in what he did, not in criticizing the deeds of the government.  The government is blessed by God and the common government acts truly and the public has not to interfere. If that is right, I don't know. Everyone3 has an opinion. Too many opinions.

Seltzer -- When he came back form Ethopia he had things that he wanted the government to do, but that didn't happen.

Orbeliani -- He didn't mix at all with what the govenment did or didn't do.  The government did what it must do. It was not his decision. His mind was not directed in this dierction.  No criticizing.  The government was blessed by God, adn the monarch makes decisions based on God's inspiration. There is nothing to criticize.

My husband and he probably took opposite opinions, but never quarreling -- very preacfully. They each had their convictions, but they did not fight. My brother's life was very full. He thought his own thoughts. He never tried to control other people. Once I straightened up his room. His room was full of typed papers. I thought they were trash to be thrown away.  I picked it up carefully and threw the papers away.  It was a great correspondence about his dogma. But he was so kind he didn't quarrel. He said, "You are just like a soldier.  Why did you throw this away? I need all this." But he was not angry. He was very cavalier.

Seltzer -- Was it unusual in that day to be able to use a typewriter?

Orbeliani -- I know the whole night was ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, the whole night.  And my brother's room was next to my son's room. So my son didn't sleep well.  My husband and I had the room on the other side of the house, so we didn't hear, but sometimes I heard, but it didn't disturb me.  He wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote [tapping on the table]. hours and hours and hours.  He wrote on this literature. It was only to prove his opinioin is the right opinion. This opinion was shared by very many people whom I knew in Petersburg.

[break, then walking down the street in Penticton]

Orbeliani -- I have no money. What good is it to be a princess?  It only disturbs.  It makes people laugh at you. So we never since we emigrated to Canada have used this title of prince. My son, he was also in this same condition; so he didn't use this title of prince either. When we were in Nice, it was nice. Then venito, venito.  I didn't like it too much.  But the old prince was very proud.

Seltzer -- You mentioned that your mother didn't care much for your husband, and I'm surprised. I would have expected that she would have liked her own title of "generalsha" and she would have liked the title of "knyaz" [prince].

Orbeliani -- Yes, she liked the title. It flattered her this inherited title.


Monday, June 4, 1973. Last tape

Orbeliani -- In downtown Penticton there is a store that is now empty, but it used to be Bennet's store. Last year I went there to buy a book. I went in. At first there was nobody there.  I went straight ahead and I saw a little passage. I stepped and it waas the steps. I fell down stairs and hurt myself and I've never been the same after this fall.  This made a geat change in me.  I used to walk so well.  I never walked as I walk now.  It was after that fall that brougth such a change.  But, of course, you cannot be young eternally. I recovered, but when I fell I lost consciousness. I felt I was in the dark at once. Then what was I don't know.  I fell and hurt my head and all this dress was in blood. There was nobody int he shop so I was lying there maybe a long time. At last they discovered me. I head they said, "Ambulance." Then how they took me to the hospital I don't remember.  But the doctor she put me to bed and they washed me.  I was all in blood.  And the doctor asked me, "Do you remember what happened with you?" "No, I don't remember. What happened?"  Then he told me.  Then I couldn't remember where I live3d and what I was; I couldn't for perhaps several minutes. Then my memory came back.  I said to the doctor, "Now I know waht I am and where I live. I know. But what happened to me?"  And he told me I was in the hospital two weeks, and that he knew very quickly that I had nothing broken.  I don't know how it was that the skull was not broken. Strong bones.

Mrs. Boubnoff falls on the eave and she breaks an arm or she breaks her hip.

The staircase was the height of a room. They store their merchandise in the basement. I fell all the way to the bottom.

But now when I turn my head I hear "kluck, kluck". I think I broke something in there.  I don't think they discovered it at once.

[Here at the rest home] we never had as many cripples as we have now.  They didn't accept them.  This was more for healthy old people.  But now it's full of cripples.  I don't think they have enough care. It used to be ladies and gentlemen who were very capble to walk, and I was capable to walk. Now I don't walk because I belong to those cripples. And there is quite a different atmosphere. We were all very friendly. We talked together.  Now nobody talks to one another.  I don't hear talking.  So silent, silent, silent.  In the dining room, also no talking.  Our table is silent.

The people [at the store] should have helped me, because I had to spend money -- it cost much.  After falling there was a woman who came and helped me, and I spent money.  I wrote the owner a letter. He never answered. Then he sent it to the manear of the shop. They never paid the damage. They said everything was in order, and they were not guilty that I fell. But the entrance to the steps was wide and there was left such a narrow passage -- boxes.  I saw the boxes in the passage and didn't see the stpes.  It was all covered with boxes.  He dind't give me one dollar.  I wanted his help because Bennet is such a rich man. But now the shop is closed.


Handwritten notes from the above conversations (including some information that was not recorded)

Sunday
Nikiforskoye Podvorye was under the protection of Ioann Kronshtadsky
Bulatovich returned Vaska to Abyssinia in 1907 or 1908.
The Kolokol (magazine) press, edited by Skvartsov (a sympathizer) published Bulatovich's religious books.
IN 1911-12 Mrs. Orbeliani was in Siberia, Khabarovsk, Tomsk; travelled to Japan.
Shtakelburg, not Rennenkampf, was the commander with whom Bulatovich quarrelled, who dislikd him for his independence. Bulatovich was to be decorated, but was not.
She knew Kokhovsky (saper) -- stout; Krasnov -- wife was a singer; Vlassov -- married to an English lady who accompanied him to Ethopia; Mrs. Konstadius; Mrs. Mardinov.
Prince Vassilchikov was tactful.

Mrs. Orbeliani's sister-in-law, Mrs. M.M. Boubnoff, age 84, was also at Haven Hill Retirement Center. Her husband was a professor at Louvain University in Belgium. He was nearly blind from a laboratory eaccident.  She met him in Switzerland. During World WAr I, he was in England, where he worked for the government. He was in England when the Russian Revolution broke out. It was there that the accident occurred. Then he taught at Louvain and elsewhere in Europe.

Vaska lived with Bualtovich's mother in Petersburg. She was reluctant to take him, but she did.  He stayed with her while Bulatovich was in Manchuria, etc.

Bualtovich was accepted into the regiment immediately after the Lycee.

Bulatovich liked to be a leader.  His friends (such as Voronov and Voroyov) were not brilliant. He was attracted toward simple, good souls. He was not ambitioius.

Friends of Bulatovich included:
Colon Molchanov (of the regiment) who helped him in the writing of his books.
Stepan Stepanich Zinoviev (his wife was Maiya Nikolaevna and his daughter Katya was 17). Stepan died at the beginning of the Revoltuion. The daugher married Zabotin. Mrs. Orbeliani knew her in Yugoslavia, where she adapted badly to the changed circumstances and was disagreeable, dissatisfied.

When Bulatovich entered the monastery (Nikiforskoye), six common soldiers from his regiment followed him.

He was called "Mazepa" for his severity.

From Entotto was written in Lutsikovka during summer vacation.
With the Armies of Menelik II was written when Mrs. Orbeliani was away.

It was difficult getting into this elite regiment.  Connections that helped included:

He was accepted as a volunteer and hence served as a common soldier for one year (since he had not attended military shcool). The next year he was an officer.

Prince Boris Vassilchikov (daughter = Sonya) was commander of the regiment.  Bualtovich visited Prince Vassilchikov's summer house in Kovna during summer vacations (four weeks after maneuvers in front of the Tsar).

Bulatovich also visited Sboromirsky, cousin of his mother.

He lived at Tsarskoye Tselo; neer parites, never gossipping.

He had a room at his mother's house in Petersbug.

When he was in Abuyssinia he wrote to his sister but not to his motoher.

His mother was not pleased to take new burden of VAska.

After returning Vaska to Abyssinia, Bulatovich suddenly, unexpectedly decided to go to Mount Athos (probably 1907 or 1908).

Once Archbishop Nikon came to see Bulatovich, and Bulatovich went down on his knees before Nikon -- he respected church authority.

Elizaveta, sister of Empress Alexandra, after her husband, the governor of Moscow, was assassinated, became very religious and lived like a nun.  She was a patroness and protectice of the monk Ilarion and helped him publish his books.

It was probably in April-May 1917 that Mrs. Orbeliani, her son Andree, and her sister-in-law Mrs. Boubnoff left for Poltava.

Monday

She doesn't know the name of the novel that has Meta Holdeness.

There were two great riders in Petersbug -- Pavel Markovich and Bulatovich.

Up until six months ago, she was still able to paint in a manner that satisfied her.  But know she can't do so well. She had difficulty seeing and controlling her hand.

She ahs managed marvelously to adapt to whateer circumstances she found herself in.  She is now a Canadian. She has lived here for twenty years, and is proud of the beauties of the place.

Her address in Petersburg (during WW I) was:
Mariya Ksaver'evnya Orbeliani
zhila v 1912
9al Rozhdestvenskom
No. 39 (dom Roshfor)
v. 3m etazhe, naprava
[= in a section called Peski, 9th Street (or block) Christmas St., No. 39, apartment 6]

Andrew and Irene Orbeliani live at 624 Victoria Street, Nelson, British Columbia

She has a correspondent in Leningrad. She is uncertain of the address but believes it is
Gosphozha Bobrovskaya
31 Krasnaya Ulitsa
Her motoher, a widow, married Mikhail Sboromirskiy, the son of Sophie Soboromirksiy.
Sophie's husband, Lev Mikhailovich, ws in the Kavalir Gvardii regiment.
There were three daughters and a son (Mikhail)
They lived 20 versts from Sumy.

The mountains of Georgia are much steeper and higher than the Rockies surrounding Penticton.

Mrs. Orbeliani embroided the cross on the front and on the back of his skhima. He would never have taken that off at the front.

In WW I he was a chpalin wiht his old regiment.

The Canadian painting she gave me was done last summer.

She played (among others) Chopin Valse Op. 64 No. 1, anotehr hosthumous Vlse, adn the Blue Danube by Strauss (about 10 pages long). She plays the piano beautifully. Her arthritic fingers that have difficulty opening a piece of candy come to life and remember when she sits down at the piano.

Photos hanging in her room -- photos of Mr. Orbeliani square face and head (crew cut) waxed mustache, straight back, sober, distinguished.
1930ish photos of her son and his wife.
three watercolors (brick church, mountain scene from nearby, still llife of bowl of cherries and vase of flowers)
icon of Virgin and child

After the Revolution, they stayed for two winders in Georgia. Then in February (probably 1921), they left by a French boat from Batum(the Bolsheviks were coming ) and went to Constantinople.



 

This site is published by B&R Samizdat Express, 33 Gould St., West Roxbury, MA 02132. 617-469-2269 seltzer@samizdat.com

Letters from Princess Mary Orbeliani

Links to the complete novel, The Name of Hero.

To contact Richard Seltzer send email to seltzer@samizdat.com

Article about Bulatovich.

Sample chapters from The Name of Man

Complete text of From Entotto to the River Baro

Complete text of With the Armies of Menelik II

Related materials

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