On May 17 Omsk was excluded from the Vatka (station), and by this indirect means became aware that the Supreme Governor was returning from the front. The Cossack Guard lined up outside, while detachments of Russian infantry in English uniform occupied the platform. The Russian Tommies looked quite smart, and except for their long, narrow, triangular bayonets, might easily have been mistaken for English troops. While awaiting the train, General Knox informed me that two of our proposals, “Women’s suffrage” and “Universal education,” had been cut out by the reactionaries. Why are the churches of the world so hostile to the popular education of the people? The Church is quite prepared to allow the people to receive educational instruction if controlled by the priests. It prefers to leave them in ignorance and the easy prey of Bolshevik charlatanism rather than allow free play for intelligent thinking. Women’s suffrage was opposed by quite a different set of men, mostly those who make enormous display of deference to drawing-room ladies, and look upon us Englishmen as wanting in gallantry because we do not kiss every feminine hand we shake. On the whole I think it is good to have pushed them ahead so far. Measured by Russian standards, it amounts to a revolution in ideas of government. The great thing just now is to fix some point beyond which the pendulum shall not be allowed to swing towards reaction. The workmen are sick of strife and would gladly go straight back to the old regime as an easy way of escape from Bolshevism. This is the danger from which English diplomacy has tried, and is trying, to guard the Russian people if possible.
Thus, having finished my work at Omsk, I asked that arrangements might be made as quickly as possible to transport my escort and myself to Vladivostok. The arrangements were completed by May 21, when I announced myself ready to begin the first stage of my journey homeward. The Supreme Governor surprised me by proposing to visit me in my carriage at the Vatka to say “Good-bye.” At 7 P.M. he came, attended by his aide-de-camp; he was very gracious in his thanks for my services to the Russian people. He said my voice, presence and influence had aroused the better elements to throw off the feeling of despair which had so universally settled upon them. He did not presume to calculate the good I had done, though none appreciated it better than himself, since we had been thrown by circumstances into personal contact with each other. Without attempting to form an estimate of his character, I considered his visit and words the act of a gentleman, and as such I appreciated it.