Andrew D. White, who observed him very carefully from 1892 to 1894, while serving as American minister at St. Petersburg, has drawn a portrait of the Czar that is exceedingly graphic and convincing. Mr. White describes him as being extraordinarily indifferent to what goes on about him, and as possessing neither apprehension nor ambition. Later, since his accession to his father's throne, an official closely associated with him told the American diplomat that "he knows nothing of his empire or of his people. He never goes out of his house if he can help it." Mr. White adds his own belief that to a great extent Nicholas is kept in ignorance of the terrible conditions that have arisen in Russia. Dr. Dillon, an Irish journalist of wide experience who is - one of the first authorities on Russian affairs, wrote as follows, shortly after the "Bloody Sunday" outbreak of 1905, when it was reported that the Czar was fleeing in terror from one hiding place to another:
Tolstoy has styled his sovereign "a most commonplace man," and the description seems to be a fair one. According to all the best evidence, Nicholas is a good-natured, well meaning man, colorless and self-centered, remarkably indifferent to the world about him, and caring little or nothing for public responsibilities and duties.
His marriage with the Princess Alix of Hesse has greatly added to his domestic happiness; and since his little son Alexis was born, three years ago, the Czar has felt especially content. He is happiest when cruising about with his family in his magnificent yacht, the Polar Star.
The little Czarevitch is a beautiful child, as may be seen from the accompanying photograph. His birth dispelled the superstitious apprehension of many Russians, who had seen an ill omen in the fact that the first four children of the Czar were girls. The portrait of Nicholas II bears out Mr. White's description. His face certainly gives no evidence of anxiety. As he walks the deck of his yacht, he is probably as happy and care-free as any sovereign in Europe.
Originally published in Munsey's Magazine. August of 1907.