Journal Put’, Apr. 1930, No. 21, P. 94-96.


(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.

Nikolai  Berdyaev.


©  2002  by translator Fr. S. Janos

(1930 – 352 – en)

PAMYATI  KN. G.  N.  TRUBETSKOY. Journal Put’,  Apr. 1930,  No. 21,
p. 94-96.