THERE have been several rumours of the Tsar’s death, but there is now no doubt that he has been murdered by the Ural Regional Council, whose action has been approved by such government as exists in Russia. The murder of a king is always tragic, by reason of the fall from the majesty of a throne to the circumstances of a common assassination, but the Tsar’s reign had been tragic throughout. The representative of a belated ideal of autocracy, which he had announced his intention of maintaining, the ex-Tsar had no qualities which would have fitted him for such a rule as that which he nominally wielded. Unstable and superstitious, ill-informed by those whom he called to his councils, swayed by the Tsaritsa and Rasputin, the reins of government slipped from his hands, and, if the Revolution had not anticipated it, a palace revolution would probably have dethroned him. At first enthusiastic in the prosecution of the war, he had grown weary of campaigns which had not developed well, and nothing but the fear of the Duma had restrained him from coming to an agreement with the Central Powers. There was a certain dignity in the document which recorded his abdication, there was pathos in the expression of his wish to retire with his son from the cares of the Court to the life of a private citizen. But the weakness of his character made possible the development of that spirit which now animates the rulers of Russia, and it is possible to feel for the last of the Tsars only that pity which the tragic fate of a kindly man evokes.
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