COUNT SPIRIDOVITCH GIVES A LUNCHEON
Russian General Entertains at St. Regis, Eulogizing Czar in a Speech.
Count A. de Jcherep-Spiridovitch [sic], a Major General in the Russian Army, and President of the Slavonic Society of Russia and also of the Latino-Slavic League of Paris and Rome, gave a luncheon yesterday at the St. Regis to a number of guests, among whom were Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain,) Gen. Nelson A. Miles, Gen. Grant Wilson, Russian Consul Baron Schilling and Baroness Schilling.
After Mr. Clemens had paid some compliments to Count Jcherep-Spiridovitch, the latter said:
"I thank you for your sympathetic interest, which I attribute to my having come from Russia that old and sincerest friend of the United States.
"While I, as a soldier, would willingly die for the Czar, the liberal-minded and brave Emperor prefers that every one of his people should live for the progress of not only Russia, but the whole human race. He has already immortalized himself in history first by declaring against wars in the world outside and bringing about the creation of The Hague conference, and in the second place by granting to his people a Constitution regardless of dangers and obstacles.
"The Constitution has been definitely introduced, but necessarily half a thousand politically trained men to work in the Parliament cannot be produced in a day. We must wait a generation. Andrew Carnegie, one of your best men, has already materialized the idea of the Czar by building a Temple of Peace in The Hague.
"The Russian people remember that the American Nation is formed from the cream of the best European peoples, and Russia is infinitely more proud of every expression of American sympathy than of all other expressions."
The luncheon was given in the main restaurant of the St. Regis on the ground floor. The decorations were red carnations. The other guests were Mrs. James Roosevelt, Miss Virginia Roosevelt, John Bigelow, Mr. and Mrs. Whitridge, Baron de Fersen, Gen. Cinus, Hayne Davis, Prince Henri de Croy, Mr. and Mrs. P. Williamson Roberts, Miss Alice Hassell, Miss Purrington, W. H. Brown, Mrs. Daniel Butterfield, Mrs. James E. Martin, Mrs. Warren Goddard, Mrs. Chickering, Mrs. Westervelt, Mrs. Jordan Smyth, Miss Tucker, Jennie Pomerene, Mrs. Marcus Daly, Mrs. James W. Gerard, W. H. Bliss, Prof. Michael Pupin, William Sloane, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Alexander.
Note: Arthur Cherep Spiridovitch (also spelled as "Spiridovich" in various news articles) died on October 22, 1926 at age 75. He was found dead in his hotel room at Barrett Manor, Arrochar, on Staten Island. His death was caused by asphyxiation from gas. While the official report ruled his death accidental, a police investigation could not rule out suicide. The New York Times on October 23, 1926 reported, "Count Cherep-Spiridovich was a strange figure who spent considerable time traveling between Europe and America on his self-appointed misson of uniting the 200,000,000 Slavs into one organization." The Count had sent out thousands of circulars request money for membership in his organization and he had the ability to garner press attention with such activities as awarding President Theodore Roosevelt a silver cup in 1907 for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese War. According to the same New York Times article of October 23, 1926, "St. Petersburg said that while the Count was of a good family he had been made a noble by the Vatican, not by Russia" and that "his title of Count had never been recognized in Russia." In a series of articles over the next week The New York Times continued to probe into the life of Count Cherep-Spiridovich. The newspaper reported that the Count had left no property other than bundles of newspaper clippings about himself. According to an adopted son, Howard Victor von Broens-Trupp, the Count died penniless and the burial expenses were defrayed by charity.
Two letters from "Tcherep-Spiridovitch" to Mark Twain survive in
the Mark Twain Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. The first
is dated February 7, 1907 and the second is dated March 27, 1907. No letters
from Twain to Spiridovitch are known to survive. It is unknown what opinon Twain
held of Spiridovitch or if he saw in him similarities to his old acquaintance
Emperor Norton of San Francisco.
- Barbara Schmidt
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