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     When Alexandre Dumas visited Russia in 1858-1859, he came to admire the work of his contemporary and namesake, Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin. Dumas was probably intrigued by the many parallels between Pushkin's life and his own. The two writers were born only three years apart, and could both claim Generals of African descent in their heritage. Pushkin was the father of romantic fiction in Russia, a cause which Dumas had advanced in France. Both had been involved in Republican politics yet subject to the patronage of their respective monarchs. Pushkin was shot to death in a duel in 1838, while Dumas had fought at least two duels, fortunately with causing or receiving injury.
     Dumas' essay on Pushkin is excerpted from his 1859 travelogue on his trip to Russia, En Russie. The English translation was made by Alfred Allinson, and published in The Castle of Eppstein, Acté, and Jacquot (London, Methuen & Company, circa 1904). --Arthur Rypinski.


     Poushkin, whose death took place in 1837, and who is as popular in Russia as Schiller in Germany, is hardly known in France. Nevertheless, he was a man of ideas and a master of literary form; he was a patriot and a poet.
     Until his time, except Kriloff, the writer of fables, Russia had not produced any true representative of the national genius; and no nation can, intellectually speaking, claim to be considered as a nation until it has produced a literature of its own. With the appearance of Kriloff's Fables and Poushkin’s Poems, the history of Russian Literature begins.
     In the present day, Russia can boast of many true poets; besides Kriloff and Poushkin, there may be mentioned Lermontoff, Nekrassof, and the Countess Rostopchin; she has also her writers of fiction: Pissienesky, Tourgenieff, Gregorovitch, Tolstoi, Tschedrin, Jadofskaya, Tono, and Staniki.
     But to return to Poushkin.
     He was born in 1799, in the government of Pskoff; he was the son of a landed proprietor, and the grandson, through his mother, of Hannibal, a negro belonging to Peter the Great. This negro, having been carried off from the coast of Guinea on a slave-ship, jumped overboard when twenty-five leagues from land, not seeking life but death. In this hope he was disappointed, for a boat was lowered and he was picked up. Loaded with irons, and in the bottom of the hold, he was carried to Holland, and there exposed for sale. Peter chanced to see him and hear his story. Being touched by his love of freedom, the emperor bought him, and took him in his train to Russia, where he showed great intelligence, rose to the rank of general, and became the leader of the Russian artillery.
     Prince Peter Dolgorouki, in his Notes on the Chief Russian Families, tries to show that on the female side Poushkin could claim descent from the great house of Poushkin, whose seat was at Radscha. This family, which was divided into two branches—Bobrischoff-Poushkin and Moussin-Poushkin—came from Germany, and settled in Russia during the thirteenth century, and, during the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, it is said, gave several boyars to the country of their adoption. But this is more than doubtful. Perhaps since his death these families have claimed kinship with the poet, desiring to enrich the lustre of their long descent by arrogating to themselves a share of his fame in letters. However this may be, it is certain that in the lifetime of the poet, there was no question of this relationship. When Boulgarin in his paper attacked Poushkin, and taunted him with the baseness of his origin, the poet set up no claim to illustrious ancestry, but replied by an epigram which recalls the lines of Béranger, Je suis vilain, and of which the following is a translation
         "Monsieur de Boulgarin, who treats me like a helot,
         Declares that formerly my grandsire Hannibal
         For half a glass of rum was purchased by a pilot
         Upon the distant banks of the river Senegal.
         ‘Tis true: but let him add to this bad joke of his,
         That purchaser was God’s own pilot from the skies,
         Who, guiding the great bark of Russia’s destinies,
         Made Asia hold its poop, America its prow,
         And joined the seas of fire unto the seas of snow."
     Poushkin, who had been educated at the Imperial Lyceum founded in Tzarskoye Selo in 1811 by Alexander I, was by nature no apt pupil. He entered the Lyceum the year of its foundation, and was still there when in 1818 he wrote his Ode to Liberty. This Ode he threw in the path of the Emperor, who picked it up and read it; and it is a proof of the injustice of Poushkin’s accusations, that this Emperor, branded in the poem with the name of tyrant, neither threw him into prison nor had him tried, although it was the dead body of Alexander’s murdered father which the poet treated with such indignity. Poushkin was merely told to leave St. Petersburg and to return home. Later on he was sent to the Caucasus. In France, an order to go, gun in hand, and adventure one’s life, is regarded, not as a punishment, but as a favour.
     The solitude, the mountains with their torrents and snow-capped summits, the sparkling sea, all combined to develop in Poushkin that melancholy and that energy which makes his poetic genius so admired by the Russians. From the mountain gorges and from the borders of the Caspian Sea he flung his verses towards Russia, and the wind from the east carried them to Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was at this period, just when Byron’s poems were appearing, that Poushkin wrote his Prisoner of the Caucasus, a work which takes rank beside The Corsair and The Giaour.
     Poushkin’s genius interceded for him with the Emperor, and the poet was soon allowed to return to his father’s house; and it was while he was at Pskoff that the famous conspiracy, got up by Pestel, Ryleyieff, Mouravieff-Apostol, Bestucheff, and Kochoffsky, was hatched. Ryleyieff tried to get Poushkin to join, but he, not believing the plot could succeed, refused. Wishing, however, to be at hand when the impending events took place, he borrowed a passport from a friend, and, quitting Pskoff, which he was under orders not to leave, he set out for St. Petersburg.
     He had driven about three versts when a hare ran across his path. Now, in Russia, which is the most superstitious of countries, this is the worst of omens, threatening catastrophe on the way. Among the Romans, kicking accidentally against a stone had the same meaning, which recalls the melancholy witticism of Bailly, who, on his way to the scaffold, stumbling over a pebble, remarked, "A Roman would have turned back."
     Although very superstitious, Poushkin resolved to defy fate, and when the postilion turned round and asked what he should do, he received the order to go on. The postilion obeyed, but a few versts farther the same thing happened. This time, after a moment of indecision, Poushkin gave in and went home, saying in French, "The shorter our follies are the better." He probably owed his life to this circumstance, for if he, with his antecedents, had been in St. Petersburg during the events which occurred in December, he would have been hung with Ryleyieff or exiled with Troubetz-Roi.
     He was still in Pskoff when he learned the fate of his friends. Always ready for the fray, he wrote at once a verse to the effect that short as was their then Emperor’s reign, he had already sent two hundred men to Siberia and executed five.
     We wonder if Nicholas heard of this fresh offence against the throne. What we do know is, that from the date of the trial of the Dekabrists, Poushkin was again taken into favour. Among the papers of the conspirators, his letter declining to join them had been found and laid before the Emperor, who, not inquiring too closely into Poushkin's motives for refusing, was only too glad to grant a favour after the terribly severe sentence passed on the conspirators; accordingly, Poushkin was summoned to St. Petersburg.
     When the Imperial order reached Poushkin regarded himself as lost. Was Nicholas I., who was now on the throne, disapproving of the clemency of Alexander, going to make him pay a second time for his Ode to Liberty, although the full penalty had already been enacted? Or, what was more to be dreaded, had the Emperor heard of the couplet which had just fallen from his pen?
     As there was no means of evading of evading obedience to the order, Poushkin set out for St. Petersburg, where, to his great astonishment, his reception was most gracious. The Emperor appointed him Imperial Historiographer, and commanded, as his first task, a history of Peter the Great.
     Poushkin, who was capricious like the majority of poets, in place of treating of the reign of Peter, wrote an account of the revolt of Pougatcheff, a work of which even Russians think very little; indeed, we must say that Poushkin’s manner of setting about the duties of his new office was not a happy inspiration.
     It is, however, to be noted, that in spite of his favour at court, Poushkin changed none of his opinions, and, far from forgetting his exiled friends, his love and sympathy for them became stronger, and he lost no opportunity of breaking into songs of regret for their fate, or giving vent to the battle-cry of revenge.
     Every year the foundation of the Lyceum was celebrated by a dinner, at which the old students met, thus keeping alive many college friendships which else would have died out in the course of time. At one of these dinners at which Poushkin was present, four of those who had graduated with him were absent, viz. Valkorsky, who was fighting in the Caucasus, Mathuskin, a naval officer, who was taking a voyage round the world, a cousin of Poushkin’s of the same name, and Kuchelbecker; these last two buried alive as Dekabrists in the Siberian mines. Poushkin rose, and at the risk of being sent to join them, improvised a toast in their honour in verse in which their several situations were recalled in the happiest yet in the most pathetic manner.
     As his voice ceased there was a silence as of death in the hall, and then a burst of applause. Although sixty students were present there was no informer among them. This, which would have been fine in any time and country, was doubly fine in Russia under Nicholas I. Other verses, which no one dared print, were circulated in manuscript, and Poushkin’s popularity increased from day to day among the younger generation, whose warm blood made them appreciate generous ideas.
     About this time Poushkin fell deeply in love with a young girl, and married her. During the happy days which followed, he published several poems of varied form, in which at bottom can still be traced the deep melancholy and bitter spirit of their author.
     There is much variety in Poushkin’s poems; his genius was so malleable that it lent itself to every passing influence; or, more properly speaking, it was so strong that it moulded a form for itself in every case. Besides his poems, he left behind two volumes of prose: one, the Revolt of Pougatcheff, mentioned above, and the other a collection of tales, one of which, The Captain’s Daughter, is already known in France. I have translated three shorter tales, viz. A Fine Shot, The Snowstorm, and The Coffin-Maker.
     Poushkin’s genius had reached its full development and his popularity was at its height when the event happened by which his country lost him at the age of thirty-eight.
     The Russian aristocracy had become very jealous of Poushkin, who had gained for himself a rank more illustrious and a name more widely known than that of the greatest aristocrat among them; for in war the poet’s lyre is heard above the noise of battle, and in time of peace his notes find an echo in every soul.
     This jealousy led to unworthy attempts to torture his passionate heart, pulsing with African blood, if not to break it. Nearly every day Poushkin received an anonymous letter, the object of which was to awake doubts of his wife’s fidelity, by joining her name with that of a young man called D’Anthès, who was much at Poushkin’s house.
     Poushkin gave D’Anthès to understand that his visits were disagreeable to him, and D’Anthès ceased to call. For a time all went well, until one day Poushkin, meeting D’Anthès on the staircase, and boiling over with rage, sprang at the young man’s throat, and tried to choke him. D’Anthès defended himself, and succeeded in getting out a few words explaining that he came to the house not to see Madame Poushkin, but her sister. "There is only one way of proving me that you do not lie," said Poushkin.
     "Name it."
     "You love my sister-in-law?"
     "Well, marry her at once."
     "I ask for the hand of your sister-in-law in marriage; be so good as to transmit my request to her parents."
     A month later D'Anthès and Mademoiselle Gantchovna, Poushkin’s sister-in-law, were married.
     It may be thought that after the convincing proof of his innocence, and of Madame Poushkin, given by D'Anthès, the matter might have been allowed to drop. But the unknown enemy had sworn to bring about the destruction of the poet. The anonymous letters began again, and affirmed that the marriage was only a base trick to enable the lovers to meet freely.
     For months Poushkin repressed the rage, hate, and gall which filled his heart; but at last he could no longer bear the sight of D’Anthès and gave him to understand that he must either leave the country or accept a challenge.
     D’Anthès did all he could to convince Poushkin that he was in the wrong, but in vain. Poushkin was like a madman. He threatened to inflict on D’Anthès one those public indignities which leave a man no choice between a duel or dishonour.
     D’Anthès at last consented to meet him, but begged for an interval of a fortnight between the challenge and the meeting, hoping that in the mean time Poushkin’s rage would abate, and that he would not insist on carrying out his dreadful intention.
     Poushkin consented to the delay, but the very morning the time was up Poushkin’s second, Lieutenant-Colonel (now General) Danzas, called on D’Anthès. D'Anthès tried hard, through this gentleman, to bring Poushkin to a better mind, for, although the bravest of the brave, he felt a mortal repugnance to the duel. But at last he had to yield, Poushkin’s instructions were positive.
     Pistols were chosen, as is nearly always the case in Russia, and the same day the meeting took place, on the other side of the Neva, in a wood just beyond the last houses of the town.
     The pistols were loaded —Poushkin watching the process carefully, lest the bullets should be abstracted—and thirty paces were measured out. The adversaries were to fire while advancing on each other, each being at liberty to take ten steps, which would reduce the distance between them to ten yards. D’Anthès did not move, but, when Poushkin had taken eight steps, fired at a distance of twenty-two paces. Poushkin fell; but, rising, took aim and fired in his turn. The ball passed through the fleshy part of D’Anthès forearm, and carried away one of his coat buttons. "Again!" cried Poushkin; but as he pronounced the word his strength failed him, and he fell a second time.
     D’Anthès went towards him, but Poushkin’s hate survived his wound; he made a sign with his hand to D’Anthès to keep back, and the sign was obeyed.
     The two seconds now examined Poushkin’s wound. The ball had entered the right side of the abdomen, between the lower ribs and the liver, and had buried itself in the intestines. Poushkin was placed in his carriage and taken away. It was now about six o’clock in the evening.
     Poushkin’s valet took his master from Lieutenant-Colonel Danzas, and carried him upstairs.
     "Where shall I take my master?" he asked.
     "Into my study," said Poushkin, "and take care that my wife doesn’t see me."
     Madame Poushkin knew nothing as yet.
     Poushkin was carried into his study, and, leaning on a chair, stood while he was undressed, his blood-stained shirt being replaced by clean linen. He then lay down on a divan, while his man spread a covering over him. At this instant he recognized his wife’s approaching step.
     "Don’t come in," he cried, "I am engaged."
     But she, suspecting something, persisted in entering.
     "Good God! what is the matter?" she exclaimed, on finding him pale and lying, down.
     "I am not quite well," said Poushkin, "and I have thrown myself on the divan."
     "Shall I send for the doctor?"
     "Yes; please drop a line to Dr. Harrendt."
     By this means he got his wife out of the room, and during her absence gave instructions to the valet, telling him if Harrendt was not at home he was to go to Scholtz and Jadler, two other physicians whom he knew, and then to tell his two friends, Joukoffsky, the poet, and Dahl, a doctor of medicine, but more a man of letters than a physician.
     Joukoffsky, Dahl, and Harrendt, were out, hut the valet found Scholtz and Jadler at home. They hastened to Poushkin’s house, and making Danzas lead Madame Poushkin out of the room, they began their examination.
     "I feel very bad," said Poushkin, moving with great agony, so as to the doctors see the wound.
     Scholtz made a sign to Jadler, who went out to get his case of instruments.
     Finding himself alone with Scholtz, the wounded man asked— "What do you think of my condition? Be frank."
     "I cannot hide from you that your condition is grave, and that you are in danger," answered Scholtz.
     "Say, rather, I am a dead man."
     "At the right moment I shall consider it my duty to hide nothing from you. But we must wait for Harrendt, and see if his opinion coincides with mine. He is very skilful, and, whatever he thinks of your case, his opinion may be depended on."
     "Thank you," said Poushkin in French, "You are an honest man. I see that I must set my house in order."
     "Should you not like to send for some of your relations?" asked Scholtz.
     Poushkin did not answer, but, turning his face towards his books, murmured in Russian, "Farewell, dear friends;" but it was uncertain whether he meant those dead friends, or the friends who were living.
     After a short time he asked, "Do you think I can live an hour?"
     "Certainly! I only asked the question, thinking you might like to see some one belonging to you. Monsieur Pietnieff, for instance, he is outside."
     "Very well," said Poushkin; "but above all, I should like to see Joukoffsky."
     Suddenly he exclaimed, "Water! water! my heart is stopping!"
     Scholtz felt his pulse, and found it weak and rapid, while his hand was cold. He left the room to prepare a draught, and while he was so occupied, Jadler returned with his instruments, bringing with him a doctor of the name of Salomon. Dr. Harrendt also arrived. A glance at the wound showed him there was no hope; but he applied cold compresses to the wound and prescribed cooling draughts which soon had a soothing effect on the patient. Spassky, the family doctor, having also arrived meantime, Harrendt gave the patient into his care, and he, with the three other doctors, withdrew, knowing they could depend on the skill of their colleague, and his friendship for Poushkin.
     "I feel very bad," said Poushkin again, seeing Spassky beside him.
     The latter tried to reassure him, but Poushkin stopped him by a gesture.
     From this moment he seemed to forget himself, thinking only of his wife.
     "Above all things," said he to Spassky, "don’t raise her hopes; don’t hide my condition from her. You know she has no self-control. As to me, treat me as you think best. I consent to everything."
     Indeed, as one can easily imagine, Madame Poushkin, although she did not know how great was the danger, was in a state bordering on despair. Although she was strong in her innocence, she was quite well aware that it was about her that the duel had been fought, and she could not forgive herself for having been the involuntary cause of a misfortune so much greater than she as yet knew, poor lady!
     From time to time, silent and flitting about like a ghost, she came into the room. Although Poushkin, who lay with his face to the wall, could not see her, he always divined her presence, and would whisper to Spassky, "Take her away, please."
     He seemed to dread the thought of her seeing him suffer, more than the sufferings themselves.
     "My poor wife!" he said once to Spassky, with a slight shrug of the shoulders, "the world will tear her reputation to tatters, and yet she is innocent."
     He made these remarks in the calm tone habitual to him in his ordinary state of health, for with the exception of the first night, when for a few hours his sufferings were greater than human strength could bear, he showed wonderful fortitude.
     "I have been present at thirty battles," Harrendt often said in after days, "and I have seen many die, but never one with the courage of Poushkin."
     What was more, Poushkin, who in health had a hasty and violent temper, having conquered the agony of the first hours, became another man. The storm which all his life had muttered in his heart, died away, and left no trace. He never uttered an impatient word.
     It was as if he had already entered into the peace of death and risen above humanity. He had even ceased to hate.
     Greitch and Boulgarin had constantly attacked him in their paper, and he had been in the habit of replying to these attacks with gloomy bitterness. Now, in the midst of his sufferings, he recollected that he had received word the day before of the death of Greitch’s son.
     "That reminds me," said he to Spassky, "if you see Greitch, remember me to him, and tell him he has my sincere sympathy in his great loss."
     On being asked if he would like to make his confession and receive Holy Communion, he assented, and having asked the doctor if he would live till noon the next day, and receiving a favourable answer, he desired that the priest should come at seven o’clock next morning. Having performed his religious duties, his peace of mind became, if possible, deeper. He called Spassky, and asked him to hand him some papers, pointing out the place in which they were. They were in his own handwriting. He then called Lieutenant-Colonel Danzas to him, and made him take note of a few debts. But this fatigued him so much that he was not able to give all the directions he wished. Feeling his weakness increase, he thought his last moment had come, and panted out to Spassky, "My wife! call my wife!"
     Madame Poushkin, who was listening at the door, ran in, and a scene ensued, whose sadness is beyond description. He then asked for his children; they were still in bed, but they were roused, and brought to their father while not yet quite awake. He gazed at them, one after another, for a long time, placed his hand upon their heads and blessed them, and then, feeling that his emotions threatened to overpower him, and anxious to reserve some strength for the supreme moment of parting, he sent them away by a movement of his hand.
     When they had left, he asked Spassky and Danzas who else was waiting. They mentioned the poet Joukoffsky and Prince Viasemsky.
     "Call them," said he, in a feeble voice. He gave his hand to Joukoffsky, who, feeling that it was ice-cold, raised it to his lips and kissed it.
     Prince Viasemsky tried to speak, but the words would not come, and he and Joukoffsky were leaving the room so that Poushkin might not hear their sobs when he called them back.
     "Tell the Emperor," said he, "that I am sorry to die; I should have been his devoted servant. Tell him I wish him a long, long reign, and much happiness in his children and country."
     He spoke these words slowly and struggling with his weakness, but still clearly and intelligibly; then he took farewell of Viasemsky.
     At this moment Vielgorsky, the famous cellist and master of the ceremonies at court, entered, desiring once more to press the hand of Poushkin. Poushkin gave him his hand silently, and with a smile, a but his eyes had a far-away look as if they were gazing into eternity. And indeed, the next instant he laid his fingers on his pulse, and said, "Death is near."
     Tourgenieff, the uncle of the celebrated novelist, next approached, but he stopped beside Vielgorsky, as Poushkin did not speak, only making a sign with his hand to him. With a great effort, a little later, he said, but to no one in particular, "Madame Karamsin." As she was not there she was sent for, and hastened to obey the summons. The interview lasted 1 only a minute; but as she was turning away he recalled her, saying, "Catherina Alexeyevna, make the sign of the Cross over me." She did so, and he kissed her hand.
     A dose of opium which he took just then gave him some calm, while cooling compresses which were laid on the lowered the fever. He had for some time showed himself as gentle as a child, helping those who were nursing him in every possible way, and never complaining or showing the least impatience, so that if almost seemed as if he were better.
     It was thus that Doctor Dahl, whom we have mentioned before, found him when he returned. For this friend, whom he had been expecting since the previous day, he made an effort.
     "My dear fellow," said he, "it is time for you to come. I am very low."
     Dahl answered, "When we are full of hope, why do you despair?"
     Poushkin, shaking his head, replied, "I have done with this world; I am dying; and there is nothing to be done."
     His pulse was now full and hard, and leeches were applied, whereupon the pulse became quicker and weaker. Poushkin remarking that Dahl was less cast down than the others, took his hand, and asked—"Is there any one else here?"
     "No one," replied Dahl.
     "Then," said Poushkin, "tell me, am I soon going to die?"
     "Die! what are you thinking of? Why, we all hope—"
     A smile of inexpressible sadness hovered on Poushkin’s lips.
     "You hope still," said he; "I thank you."
     Dahl passed the night of the 29th by his bedside, while Joukoffsky, Viasemsky and Vielgorsky sat up in the adjoining room. The patient held Dahl's hand almost constantly, but did not speak. Dahl damped his lips from time to time with cold water, or wiped the clammy sweat from his brow; heated cloths were laid on the wound, which Poushkin himself helped to change when needful, and although his agony was terrible, not a complaint escaped him.
     Once only, throwing his arm above his head, he said, in a tone of discouragement, "Oh! how oppressed I feel; it is as if my heart were trying to burst, and yet could not." Sometimes he asked Dahl to raise him, to change his position, or to shake up his pillow; but before it was done he would say, "That’ll do! that’ll do! it is quite comfortable." Or else, "Stop! stop! it’s not necessary; take hold of my hand, and raise me that way."
     He asked once who was with his wife, and was told kind friends were there sharing his sufferings, that the antechamber and the drawing-room were crowded.
     "I thank them," said Poushkin. Then, "Go tell my wife I am getting on all right, else she will think things worse than they are."
     Indeed, so great was the number of people who either came themselves or sent to inquire, that the outer door, which gave admittance to the antechamber just outside of Poushkin’s study, was continually opening and shutting. This noise being too much for the invalid, the door was locked, and all who came into the house had to come up the back staircase through the kitchen into the dining-room. This only intimate friends ventured on doing.
     Later on, Poushkin asked what o’clock it was. Hearing that it was ten, he cried in a broken voice, "My God—how— much—longer—have I—to suffer? Have mercy—quicker — quicker. Oh, when will it be over? Quick—quick."
     He half raised himself, but, as if exhausted by the effort, fell back fainting, and bathed in perspiration.
     When pain got the mastery, or the dreadful oppression of which he spoke grew stronger, he made signs with his hands, and groaned softly.
     "Alas! my poor friend," said Dahl, "how you suffer. Don’t be ashamed of showing it. Take pity on yourself; it will do you good to give way."
     "No, no," said the wounded man, "my wife would hear; besides, it would be too bad if that stupid thing called pain were stronger than my will."
     Toward five o’clock on the morning the pain increased to anguish. It was not till then that Harrendt gave a positive opinion. He now said all hope was at an end, the patient could not outlive the day. His pulse was hardly perceptible.; his hands were like ice; he lay with closed eyes, and only moved his hands to take a morsel of ice and slowly lay it on his forehead. At two o’clock in the afternoon he opened his eyes and asked for some moroshka (a Russian fruit—a kind of cloudberry—which is eaten as a preserve).
     When it was brought, he said, in a stronger voice, "Ask my wife to come; I want her to give it to me."
     She came and, kneeling by the bed, gave her husband a couple of spoonsful, and laid her cheek to his. He stroked her hair, saying, "There now, there now, I am better. It’s nothing at all."
     The serenity of his expression and the steadiness of his voice deceived her; she went away quite comforted.
     "Go and look at him," said she to Doctor Spassky who came in. "Thank God, he is better; he will recover."
     But even as she spoke death’s cruel sentence was being carried out, for when Joukoffsky and Vielgorsky, hearing what Madame Poushkin had said, went to look at him the death agony had begun.
     His mind seemed still quite clear, but from time to time he became unconscious. Once pressing Dahl’s hand he begged, "Lift me up; let us go higher, still higher."
     Was this the beginning of delirium, or was it a reaching out after God?
     Coming to himself once more, he pointed to his bookcases, and said to Dahl, "It seemed to me that you and I were climbing up those shelves so high that my head turned."
     Shortly after, with closed eyes, he fell for Dahl’s hand, and said, "Come, come Let us set off together."
     On this Dahl, at the risk of hurting him, half raised him, when suddenly, as if aroused by the movement, he opened his eyes, and with transfigured face h said, "It is finished. I am going; I an going."
     Then falling back on his pillow, "I can hardly breathe; I am choking."
     These were his last words. His breathing, which till now had been regular grew slower, then ceased. One sigh passed his lips, but so softy and easily that almost no one remarked it; but it was the last.
     Jukoffsky looked at Dahl after a moment’s silence. "All is over," said Dahl.
     It was a quarter to three on the afternoon of January 29, 1837. Poushkin had not completed his thirty-eighth year.
     After his death things took their normal course. Joukoffsky had a cast of the face taken before the features had had time to change. It shows a man of calm and grand aspect.
     Every care was taken both of the dead and living. Princess Viasiniki and Madame Tyagrashkaya never left the side of the widow. Other friends arranged the obsequies. On the day following his death, Dahl, Joukoffsky, Vielgorsky, and Tourgenieff placed him in his coffin, and, till he was removed, the house never emptied. More than ten thousand persons came to pay him a last visit. Sobs were heard on all sides, some had lost a relation, others a friend, and all, a poet.
     The funeral mass in church was sung on February 1. All the aristocracy of St. Petersburg, all the ministers of State, and the foreign ambassadors were present. When the mass was over, the coffin was placed in a vault till it could be taken out of town.
     On February 3, at ten o’clock at night, his friends gathered for the last time, and a service was held in the vault, and at midnight, by the light of the moon, of which the poet had so often sung, his coffin was placed on a sleigh, and accompanied by Tourgenieff only, Poushkin began his last journey.
     Poushkin had often said that he would like to be buried at the Convent of the Assumption of the Virgin, where his mother lay. This convent is in the Government of Pskoff, four versts from the village of Michaeloskoe, and there Poushkin had passed some of the most fruitful time of his life.
     On February 4, at nine o’clock in the evening, his body reached Pskoff, and at five o’clock the next evening he finished the last stage of his Journey, passing close by three lonely pines which he had loved and celebrated in song. The coffin was placed for the night in the cathedral church, and a mass was chanted. During the night a grave was dug for him beside his mother’s, and the next morning at break of day the coffin was lowered into it, in the presence of Tourgenieff, and of the village peasants, who assembled to pay their last respects to their master. The sacred words of committal sounded sadly in the ear of all present as the first clod fell on the coffin—"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
     They apply fortunately only to the body, while the soul returns to God; and a poet having two souls, leaves one on earth, which inhabits his song.
     I may perhaps have written a little too much of the last scenes of Poushkin life, the details of which I have drawn from a letter written by Joukoffsky to Poushkin’s father. These details, it may be said, are in general such as only a father who had lost a son would find of interest.
     But a poet has not only two souls but two mothers. He goes down to one in the tomb, as Poushkin did; but one watches over his grave with jealous care, and desires to know how her son died; and the name of this second mother is POSTERITY.

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