ON THIS DATE IN THEIR OWN WORDS: GRAND DUKE DMITRI TO NICHOLAS II- 19 FEBRUARY, 1914
Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich to Nicholas II:
Palermo, 1914. 19th March. My dear uncle, it’s amazing isn’t it that suddenly I decided to write to you – as you know all my love of this sort of sports. But living so terribly far away from friends and loved ones, sometimes one wants to talk and share one’s thoughts. As it is now a complete impossibility for me to come to you on the 7.20 train for dinner at Tsarskoe, I decided to write to you, my dear, and write not just some silly “cartolina postale”, but a real letter.
Of course my decision makes it worse for you, as a card can be read in one minute, while a letter, and one written by me at that – requires a lot more work and a good eye. But nevertheless. Take this message with you when you are shitting. The time will be more leisurely, and at the very least you can always wipe yourself with it (combine the pleasant with the practical).
I stopped at Palermo, although the doctor said that I should live in Tower-Mine, but there, according to Papa, to live for a long period is unimaginable. No walks, the garden too small. And since the most important thing for my health – was the warmth and the sun, I headed to Sicily, where I am thinking to stay for another two or three weeks.
From Petersburg I ended up in Paris, where I stayed for five days. I felt so weak that couldn’t even think about evenings and holidays. I found Papa and the countess in good health; both are very busy with the move to Tsarskoe, which in their projection is supposed to happen at the end of April our style.
From Paris I passed by Palermo, where I stopped at a good hotel, outside of the city, away from the city dust and noise. It was right on the beach, the terraces lead into the cliffs, and walking one can hear the soft caressing sounds of the waves. On the day of my arrival the weather was really bad, it was raining and phenomenally windy. Then the weather became wonderful, the wind continued for another three-four days, but now it is delightful. I am positively coming alive each day, got a tan, and cough is almost gone. The air is so amazing. In order to demonstrate graphically what life-giving air is here, it is enough to say that a month ago an Englishwoman arrived here. She was completely ill with nerves and so weak that could hardly stand on her legs. Now she is playing tennis, dancing and walking as much as she wants.
I was so insanely bored the first week. Although my most dear general Layming is with me, who takes care of me touchingly. About four days ago “count” and “countess” Kokovtzev arrived here. Such is my fate – I must always meet with the Kokovtzevs. We took a lot of interesting walks with them, and saw a lot of interesting things. Today we had a big outing in an automobile. Went to see the ruins of the old Greek cathedral and V century theater on the P.X. II. Well, walking around suddenly I remembered so terribly clearly our walks with you, and felt sorry that you do not know any of these views, and I wanted to speak and have a talk with you; but unfortunately the only way to do it is – to write. Really forgive me.
Well, my health now is better thank God! The most pleasant thing – is that not only the physical health is improving but also emotional. During my stay in Petersburg this same emotional health plunged terribly. I became irritable and stupid. Lost command of myself –this is very unpleasant. Now je me retrouve.
It must be so boring for you to read all this – I understand this, but I also understand that you are not completely indifferent to this.
I want to speak with you, and now, without thinking of what I was going to write, it is as if I am speaking with you, seeing you in front of me in your study at Tsarskoe, under the hanging lamp. I repeat, it is so pleasant for me to write to you, my dear, because I know and feel that you understand me. I am sending de temps en temps to Bologne, a dry health report and basta… ?!
A rather shiny Kokovtzev has a very energetic appearance, and as I already mentioned, he sees a lot.
The public here is very boring. One snout is worse than the next. Devil only knows what this is. And among all this rubbish lives a pair of professional dancers who hold séances every day during tea, and a French coquette who probably is looking for a patron. But when bird-less even an ass is a nightingale –as they say.
There is a big very nice theater here – opera. They sing wonderfully well. About two-three days ago I went to a play and liked it a lot.
And how are things by you? How was the meeting of the Romanian prince and Missy? How is her majesty’s health? Tell her that I think of her often, drowning in helpless and unnecessary tears of passion, embrace my pillow thinking of her. John is a boy and a puppy compared to me. How is Alexei and the children? Hug Olga and the daughters for me please.
Well, it is now time to end this short letter. Forgive me mine own, if you are sick of me. I embrace you tightly.
Your sincere and deeply faithful
Maria is now in Athens. I haven’t had news from her since the day she left Petersburg.