THE FIELD OF HONOR.
A Duel Between Russians Imminent.
The Imperial Consul Has Been Challenged.
Dr. Russell Demands Satisfaction According to the European Code.
There is blood on the face of the moon. A duel! Sirs, theres to be a duel to the death! Already ink has been spilled, and blood may follow, for in the veins of the challenged runs the blood of the Polish gentry, while he who throws down the gauntlet boasts a Russian pedigree that antedates Peter the Great.
The challenger of Nicolas K. Saudsilovschy; the challenged is Vladimir Artzymovitch. The challenger is better known to local Russians as Dr. Russell, one of the leaders of the opposition party in the Græco-Russian church; the challenged is the new imperial Consul of Russia to the post of San Francisco.
The challenge was given in a shape a personal letter delivered at the Consuls residence by special messenger. The challenge is short and decidedly pointed. "I have read in the morning papers that you have signed a circular alleging that Vladimir was never recalled. If this be true you are" here the doctor tells the Consul what he thinks of him in cold English and very briefly. Then the doctor apologizes for "feeling unwell to-day, else I would slap you in the face as you deserve. You will spare me this trouble and accept this letter as an equivalent." The challenge follows in these words: "In case a drop of blood of your Polish gentry ancestors still runs in your veins you know what you have to do. I am at your service any time."
This is all written on one of Dr. Russells professional letter-heads, giving his office number in the Phelan building. But in order that the consuls seconds might not be put to the inconvenience of calling during business hours the doctor wrote his private address, 1211 Octavia street, at the head of the letter.
This was delivered on Saturday evening. The special messenger brought no answer, indeed he waited for none, but the doctor still waits impatiently the arrival of the consuls seconds. His seconds have been selected and are ready to arrange this "little affair of honor" either with swords or pistols.
Vladimir Artzymovitch was found yesterday at the Imperial Russian consulate, on California street. He was so deeply engrossed in affairs of state that he could only spare a moment to the Chronicle reporter.
"It is my private concern; a private letter received by me on private business," said the Consul. "My private correspondence can have no public interest. I am surprised that you wish to speak to me of such a matter. In Russia it is different."
"If a duel is to be fought, surely that is of public interest," suggested the reporter.
"By no means. I have nothing to say. This is a private matter."
"But do you accept the challenge?"
"Private matter, sir, purely a private matter. Good-day, sir," and graciously and courteously the reporter was waved out, while the Imperial Consul of Russia bowed himself into a private chamber.
Some time ago Dr. Russel caused the publication of two telegrams from a friend in Russia, who is said to stand near the Czar. These dispatches stated that Bishop Vladimir of the Græco-Russian Church in this city had been recalled by the holy synod.
The authenticity of these dispatches was disputed by the Bishop and his friends, and the doctor was accused of forging the telegrams. Subsequently a circular was issued by the Bishops friends denying the authenticity of Dr. Russells telegrams and declaring that the Bishop had not been recalled. This circular was signed by the Russian Consul.
Will the Consul fight?
As his enemy says, he has the old Polish nobility in his veins. Dr. Russell says that in 1868 his father purchased an estate from the Artzymovitch family in the province of Mohileff, for a nominal price. This was because the family had taken an active part in the Polish revolution of 1863. When the war was over the Artzymovitchs, along with many other prominent Polish families, were banished to Siberia and graciously permitted to sell their property to orthodox Russian citizens.
The present Russian Consul at this port is a distant member of that branch of the family. His grandfather early became converted to the Greek Catholic church, and Vladimirs father is a Russian Senator and a very distinguished personage.
The man who gives the challenge comes of a noble Russian family that dates back 600 years. An Dr. Russell says it with pride that the Saudzilovschys were always members of the orthodox Greek church. In Roumania on March 15, 1876, the doctor had his name changed to that on Nicolas Russell. He has been in this country four years, though it is sixteen years since he left Russia to escape being arrested for alleged connection with revolutionary conspirators. A sister of the doctor was arrested, and, after suffering a preliminary four years imprisonment, was finally tried and acquitted.
So much for the history of the two men. Will they fight?
The San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, October 27, 1891, p. 12:5