N. A. BERDYAEV (BERDIAEV)
Journal Put', Apr. 1930, No. 21, P. 94-96.
N. A. BERDYAEV (BERDIAEV)
IN MEMORY OF
PRINCE G. N. TRUBETSKOY
(1930 - #352)
There has died a most noble representative
of old Russia. Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy belonged to the among us rare type of highly
cultured, liberal conservatives. If Russian conservatism had been such, as it
was for Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy, then truly, Russia would have avoided many a catastrophe.
An enemy of extremes, imbued with a gift of balance, he was opposed to the divisiveness
of the times. An implacable antagonist against revolution -- he was nonetheless
never a protagonist of black reaction. He loved foremost of all the Orthodox Church
and Russia, and he sought to serve these eternal values. But religious values
for him always stood higher than political values, to a degree such as is rarely
met with in the emotional atmosphere of the emigration. A former diplomat, then
an active participant in the White Movement, in his final years he was concerned
chiefly with churchly activity. A member of the Church Sobor-Council, a man very
influential in churchly circles -- he was a fervent adherent of Patriarch Tikhon,
about whom he wrote in the pages of "Put'", and he strove always to uphold churchly
unity. His striving for churchly peace and unity, his fear of discord within the
Church made difficult his position during the time of churchly dispute. However
we may relate to the views of Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy, we have to admit, that these
views were always very sincere, always were defined by his striving for truth,
and by his love for the Church and Russia. I myself long knew Pr. G. N. for more
than twenty years. I knew still closer his brother, the reposed philosopher Pr.
E. N. Trubetskoy. The Trubetskoy family -- was one of the most cultured of Russian
families. It is a rare thing, that in one and the same family two brothers should
become noted philosophers, as we see in the persons of Princes S. and E. Trubetskoy.
In the first years after my banishment from Russia we were in rather close contact
with Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy, despite divergence of views. But in the final years,
after the Karlovtsy Schism, we became quite divergent in ideas and rarely met,
but which though has not hindered me from having a deep respect for Pr. G. N.
Trubetskoy. The noble character of Pr. G. N. was expressed in that he was prepared
to admit for himself being partially in the wrong. Thus, at one of our last meetings
he surprised me by admitting his own being in the wrong on the question about
the relationship of the Church in the Emigration and the Church within Russia.
He had come to this awareness by his study of anti-religious propaganda in Russia,
of the godless literature and the religious movement evoked by all this. He regarded
the Christian Youth Movement with great sympathy and he took part in it in the
capacity of friend and adviser. Pr. G. N. was quite sickened by the splintering
of the Christian world and he was quite interested in the movement towards a reapproachement
of the Churches and faith-confessions. He took an active part in the interconfessional
gatherings of the Russian Orthodox and French Catholics and Protestants, arranged
on the initiative of the Russians. Several days prior to his sudden death, he
participated in an interconfessional gathering, at which Fr. S. Bulgakov had read
a report concerning the Orthodox Church, and he took part in the discussions.
With him there was always a great interest and sympathy towards Catholicism and
a striving towards reapproachement, but with the preserving of the assuredness
and strength of Orthodoxy. Pr. G. N. was a man solid in the Orthodox manner of
life. He preserved it even under the conditions of the emigration. On his homestead
at Clamart was built the Orthodox church, which we residents at Clamart always
visit. Amidst his Orthodox lifestyle and his interest in bringing the Churches
closer together, he displayed a religious tactfulness and absence of narrow-mindedness.
Pr. G. N. combined strong faith and traditionalism with a complete lack of any
fanaticism, indeed with a great sense of toleration. This -- is a very rare combination
of traits, particularly in the atmosphere, in which we happen to live. His influence
on his surroundings was something ennobling and moderative. The traditionalism
of Pr. G. N. was very cultured, moderate, tolerant, and involved his love of freedom.
We have few such people and the loss of such people is very grievous and painful.
Even when Pr. G. N. was wrong and unjust, in him there was no malice and ill-will,
there was no bad temper, there was no hate. He was a man mortally wounded by the
Revolution, but in his heart there was no malice and desire for revenge, which
tears apart so many. In life he tended to strike one by his extraordinary simplicity
and innate democratism, which are traits characteristic but to a true aristocratism.
An unassuming simplicity was his virtue. And with it was connected the charm of
his personality. Quite possibly the upper crust of the Russian nobility, shattered
by the Revolution, will never again beget such a noble type. A class struck down
by revolution and driven out of history is readily embittered. And after such
catastrophes, the generation of the children can lose the already high nobility
of nature and culture of their fathers. But the memory of such a cultural type,
worked out by a prolonged cultural process, ought always to be preserved. The
memory itself is always a sign of nobility, forgetfulness indeed a sign of lack
of nobility. The aspect most of all striking in the personality of Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy
was his extraordinary integral wholeness in a fractious and fragmented epoch,
the organicity of his type. His faith was integrally whole, like in the best sense
that of a child. Such people easily come to repose. But it is not easy to lose
them, for those who remain yet alive in this most agonising epoch of Russian history.
© 2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos
(1930 - 352 - en)
PAMYATI KN. G. N. TRUBETSKOY. Journal Put', Apr. 1930,