Skip to main content

Full text of "Fyodor Dostoyevsky : a study"

See other formats







Printed in Great Britain 


Russia was preparing to celebrate the centenary 
of the birth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky on October 30, 1921. 
Our writers and poets hoped to do honour in prose and 
verse to the great Russian novehst; the Slav peoples 
had arranged to send deputations to Petrograd, to pay 
their homage in Czech, Serbian and Bulgarian to the 
great Slavophil, who was ever faithful to the idea of 
our future Slav confederation. The Dostoyevsky family, 
in its turn, proposed to mark the occasion by publishing 
the documents preserved in the Historical Museum 
of Moscow. My mother was to have given the world 
her memories of her illustrious husband, and I was to 
have written a new biography of my father, and to have 
recorded my childish impressions of him. 

It is unlikely that any such festival will take place. 
A terrible storm has passed over Russia, destroying 
the whole fabric of our European civilisation. The 
Revolution, long ago predicted by Dostoyevsky, burst 
upon us after a disastrous war. The gulf which for 
two centuries had been widening between our peasants 
and our intellectuals, became an abyss. Our intellec- 
tuals, intoxicated by European Utopias, were advancing 
towards the West, while our people, faithful to the 
tradition of their ancestors, had set their faces to the 
East. The Russian Nihilists and Anarchists desired 
to introduce European atheism into our country, 
whereas our deeply religious peasantry remained faithful 
to Christ. 

The result of this conflict is now before us. The 






\IV. FIRST STEPS ....... 38 


VI. PRISON LIFE ...... 62 







XIII. MY mother's FAMILY AND ITS ORIGIN , . 124 

XIV. MY mother's GIRLHOOD . . . .134 
XV. THE BETROTHAL . . . . . .141 





XX. LITTLE ALEXEY . . . . . .175 















" I know our people. I have lived with them in prison, eaten 
with them, slept with them, worked with them. The people gave 
me back Christ, whom I learned to know in my father's house, 
but whom I lost later, when I in my turn became ' a European 
Liberal.' "—August, 1880. 

In reading biographies of my father, I have always 
been surprised to find that his biographers have studied 
him solely as a Russian, and sometimes even as the 
most Russian of Russians. Now Dostoyevsky was 
Russian only on his mother's side, for his paternal ances- 
tors were of Lithuanian origin. Of all lands in the 
Russian Empire, Lithuania is certainly the most interest- 
ing by reason of its transformations and the various 
influences it has undergone in the course of centuries. 
The Lithuanian breed is the same mixture of Slavs 
and Finno-Turkish tribes as the Russian. Yet there 
is a very marked difference between the two peoples. 
Russia remained long under the Tatar yoke, and became 
mongolised. Lithuania, on the other hand, was nor- 
manised by the Normans, who traded with Greece by 
the waterways of the Niemen and the Dnieper. Finding 
this trade highly profitable, the Normans established 
vast mercantile depots in Lithuania, and placed them 
under the guard of sentinels. Gradually these depots 
were transformed into fortresses, and the fortresses 
into towns. Some of these towns exist to this day, 
as, for instance, the town of Polozk, which was governed 
by the Norman prince Rogvolod. The whole country 
was divided into a number of small principalities; 


the population was Lithuanian, the government Norman. 
Perfect order reigned in these principaHties, and excited 
the envy of the neighbouring Slav peoples.^ 

The Normans did not hold aloof from the Lithuanians ; 
the princes and their followers married readily among 
the women of the country, and were gradually merged 
with the original inhabitants. Their Norman blood 
gave such vigour to the hitherto insignificant Lithuanians 
that they overcame the Tatars, the Russians, the 
Ukrainians, the Poles, and the Teutonic Knights, their 
northern neighbours. In the fifteenth century Lithuania 
had become an immense Grand Duchy, which com- 
prised all Ukrainia and a large part of Russia. It played 
a very great part among the other Slav countries, had 
a brilliant, highly civilised Court, and attracted numerous 
foreigners \of distinction, poets and men of learning. 
The Russian Boj^ards who opposed the tyranny of their 
Tsars fled to Lithuania and were hospitably received 
there. This was the case of the celebrated Prince 

1 This envy led the Slavs who inhabited the shores of the 
Dnieper, and were the ancestors of the Ukrainians and Russians, 
to desire Norman princes to rule over them in their turn. They 
sent a deputation to Lithuania to offer Prince Rurik the crown 
of the Grand Duchy of Kiew. Rurik, probably the brother or 
the younger son of some Norman prince who was governing a 
part of Lithuania, accepted the crown and went to Kiew with his 
Norman retinue. The descendants of Rurik reigned in Russia 
until the seventeenth century, first under the title of Grand Duke, 
and later under that of Tsar. When the last descendant of Rurik 
died at Moscow, Russia passed through a period of anarchy, until 
the Boyards elected as Tsar Mihail Romanoff, whose family 
was of Lithuanian origin — that is to say, a strongly normanised 
Slav family. In their turn the Romanoffs reigned for several 
centuries, loved and venerated by the Russian people. The 
curious fact that the Russian nation has twice chosen as princes 
Normans or normanised Slavs, is readily explained by the dis- 
putatious character of my countrymen. Interminable talkers 
and controversialists, capable of holding forth for a dozen hours 
on end without uttering a single sensible word, the Russians 
can never agree. The Normans, clear-headed and practical, 
sparing of words but prolific in deeds, made them live in peace 
one with another, and kept order in our country. 


Kurbsky, the mortal enemy of the Tsar Ivan the 

The Normans were ruHng in Lithuania at the beginning 
of the Christian era, and perhaps before. We find 
them still in power in 1392, in the person of the 
Grand Duke Witold, who, as his name indicates, was a 
descendant of the Norman princes. It is obvious that 
Lithuania must have become profoundly normanised 
in the course of fourteen centuries. To say nothing of 
the marriages contracted by the princes and the members 
of their retinue, the numerous merchants and warriors 
who came to Lithuania from the North readily took 
to wife young Lithuanians, w^ho, thanks to their Slav 
blood, are handsomer and more graceful than the women 
of Finno-Turkish tribes in general. The offspring of 
these marriages inherited the Lithuanian type of their 
mothers, and the Norman brains of their paternal 
ancestors. Indeed, when we examine the Lithuanian 
character, we recognise its strong reseinblance to the 
Norman character. I recommend to those who wish 
to study this practically unknown country, Lithuania, 
Past and Present, by W. St. Vidunas. I shall often have 
occasion to quote this learned writer, but his excellent 
study should be read in its entirety. A curious fact 
in connection with Vidimas's book is that while he 

1 Modern historians who deal mth the history of Lithuania 
and Ukrainia rarely mention the Normans. On the other hand, 
they often speak of the Varangians, and assert that the latter 
played an important part in Lithuania, and even in Ukrainia. 
Now the Varangians are in fact Normans, for the word Varangian 
means in old Slav " enemy." As the Normans always beat the 
Slavs, the latter called them the " enemies." Slavs have as a 
rule but little curiosity, and are not concerned to know the race 
to which their neighbours belong ; they prefer to give them fancy 
names. Thus when the Russians began to trade with the Germans 
they called them " Nemzi," which in old Russian means " the 
Dumb," because the Germans did not understand their language 
and could not answer their questions. The Russian people 
still call the Germans " Nemzi." The name German or Teuton 
is used only by the intellectuals. 


describes the Lithuanian character as essentially Norman, 
he ignores the Norman blood of his compatriots, and 
declares ingenuously that they are merely Finno-Turks, 
who came originally from Asia. The author here adopts 
the attitude of the majority of the Lithuanians, who, 
under the influence of some perverted sense of national 
pride, have always repudiated their Norman ancestors.^ 

Instead of glorying in their descent, as the wise 
Rumanians glory in their descent from the ancient 
warriors of Rome, the Lithuanians have always tried 
to pass off their Norman Grand Dukes as princes of 
native blood. The Russians have never been deceived 
on this point. They knew that the Lithuanians were 
too weak to beat them, and were only able to do so 
with the help of the Normans. This is why my com- 
patriots have always given all these Gediminas, Algardas 
and Vitantas their true Norman names of Guedimine, 
Olguerd and Witold. The Poles and the Germans 
have done the same, and the Norman princes have passed 
into history under their real names, to the great annoy- 
ance of all the Lithuanophils. Guedimin was the most 
famous of these princes. He was of the true Norman 
type, almost without any trace of Finno-Turkish blood. 
His portraits always remind me of those of Shakespeare ; 
there is a family likeness between these two Normans. 
Guedimin showed the characteristic Norman indifference 
and tolerance in religious matters; he protected both 
Catholic and Orthodox. For his own part, he preferred 
to remain a pagan. 

As Russia and Ukrainia became stronger, they suc- 
ceeded in severing their connection with Lithuania and 
recovering their former independence. When they 

^ In their hatred of Russia and of Poland, the Lithuanians 
have even refused to admit that they have Slav blood in their 
veins. Yet one has only to look at them to see that they are much 
more Slav than Finno-Turkish. 


had lost their rich provinces to the cast and the south, 
the Lithuanians were enfeebled, and could no longer 
struggle against their mortal enemies, the Knights of 
the Teutonic Order. The Germans conquered Lithuania, 
and introduced into the country a host of mediaeval 
institutions and ideas. These the Lithuanians retained 
for a long time when they had entirely disappeared 
from the rest of Europe. The Germans forced the 
Lithuanians to become Protestants. Like all Slavs, 
the Lithuanians were mystics, and Luther's religion 
meant nothing to them.^ 

When at a later period Poland had become a power- 
ful state in its turn, and had wrested Lithuania from 
the Teutonic Knights,^ the Lithuanians hastened to 
return to the Catholic or Orthodox faith of their 
ancestors. The Polish Catholic clergy, especially the 
Jesuits, warred passionately against the Orthodox 
monastic houses; but these were protected by many 
Lithuanian families, who preferred the Orthodox 
religion. Among these were some very influential 
personalities, notably Prince Constantine Ostrogesky, 
the celebrated champion of the Orthodox Church. In 
face of this determined resistance the Poles were obliged 
to leave the Orthodox religious houses in the country, 
placing them, however, under the supervision of noble 

^ The Finns, the Esthonians and the Letts, who are Finno- 
Turks of unmixed race, adopted the Protestant rehgion with 
ardour and remained faithful to it. The hostihty the Lithuanians 
have always shown to Protestantism attests their Slav blood 
more eloquently than all else. The Slavs, who readily embraced 
the Orthodox or the Catholic faith, have never been able to 
understand the doctrine of Luther. 

2 The Germans, however, kept a part of Lithuania, which was 
inhabited by the Lithuanian tribe of the Borussi. They ger- 
manised it and christened it Prussia. The Prussians are not 
Germans, but Lithuanians, first normanised and then germanised. 
Their strength of character and the important part they have 
played in Germany are due to their Norman blood. The majority 
of the Prussian Junkers are the direct descendants of the ancient 
Norman chiefs. 


Catholic families, in order to check Orthodox propaganda. 
The Jesuits organised excellent Latin schools, forced 
the nobility of the country to send their sons to them, 
and in a short time succeeded in latinising all the young 
nobles of Lithuania. Poland, wishing to attach the 
Lithuanians to herself definitively, introduced among 
them many Polish institutions, including the Schliahta, 
or Union of Nobles. The Schliahtitchi (nobles) adopted 
the custom of rallying to the banner of some great 
lord of the country in time of war, and lived under 
his protection in time of peace. These lords allowed 
the Schliahtitchi to adopt their armorial bearings. Later, 
Russia, who had borrowed numerous institutions from 
Lithuania, imitated the Schliahta by creating the Union 
of Hereditary Nobles. Among the Russians, this Union 
was agrarian rather than martial ; but in both countries 
the Unions were above all patriotic. 

My father's ancestors were natives of the Government 
of Minsk, where, not far from Pinsk, there is still a 
place called Dostoyeve, the ancient domain of my 
father's family. It was formerly the wildest part of 
Lithuania, covered almost entirely with vast forests; 
the marshes of Pinsk extended as far as the eye 
could reach. The Dostoyevsky were Schliahtitchi and 
belonged to the " grassy Radwan." That is to say, 
they were nobles, they went to war under the banner 
of the Lord of Radwan, and had the right to bear his 
arms. My mother had the Radwan armorial bearings 
drawn for the Dostoyevsky Museum at Moscow. I have 
seen them, but I cannot describe them, as I have never 
studied heraldry. 

The Dostoyevsky were Catholics, very devout and 
very intolerant, it seems. In the course of our researches 
into the origin of our family, we found a document, 
in which an Orthodox monastery placed under the 


supervision of the Dostoyevsky family complained 
of their harsh treatment of the Orthodox monks. This 
document proves two things : 

1. That the Dostoyevsky must have held a good 
position in their country, otherwise an Orthodox monas- 
tery would not have been placed under their supervision. 

2. That as fervent Catholics, the Dostoyevsky must 
have sent their sons to the Latin schools of the country, 
and that my father's ancestors must have possessed 
that excellent Latin culture which the Catholic clergy 
propagate wherever they go. 

When in the eighteenth century the Russians annexed 
Lithuania, they did not find the Dostoyevsky in the 
country; the family had passed into Ukrainia. What 
they did there and what towns they inhabited we 
know not. I have no idea what my great grandfather 
Audrey may have been, and this for a very curious 

The fact is that my grandfather Mihail Andrevitch 
Dosto3'^evsky was a highly original person. At the age 
of fifteen he had a mortal quarrel with his father and his 
brothers, and ran away from home. He left the Ukraine, 
and went to study medicine at Moscow University. He 
never spoke of his family, and made no reply when 
questioned as to his origin. Later, when he had reached 
the age of fifty, his conscience seems to have reproached 
him for having thus quitted the paternal roof. He 
put an advertisement in the papers, begging his father 
and his brothers to let him hear from them. No notice 
was ever taken of this advertisement. It is probable 
that his relations were all dead. The Dostoyevsky do 
not make old bones. 

However, my grandfather Mihail must have declared 
his origin to his children, for I often heard my father, 


and later my uncles say : " We Dostoyevsky are 
Lithuanians, but we are not Poles. Lithuania is a 
country quite distinct from Poland." 

My father told my mother of a certain Episcopus 
Stepan, who, according to him, was the founder of our 
Orthodox family. To my great regret, my mother did 
not pay much attention to these words of her husband's, 
and did not ask him for more precise details. I suppose 
that one of my Lithuanian ancestors, having emigrated 
to the Ukraine, changed his religion in order to marry 
an Orthodox Ukrainian, and became a priest. When 
his wife died he probably entered a monastery, and 
later, rose to be an Archbishop. ^ 

This would explain how the Archbishop Stepan may 
have founded our Orthodox family, in spite of his being 
a monk. My father must have been convinced of the 
existence of this Episcopus, for he named his second 
son Stepane in his honour. 

At this time Dostoyevsky was fifty years old. It is 
very curious that my grandfather published his adver- 
tisement in the newspaper when he reached this age, 
and that it was also at the age of fifty that my father 
suddenly remembered the existence of the Archbishop 
Stepan. Both seem to have felt a wish to strengthen 
the bonds of union with their ancestors at this period. 

It is somewhat surprising to see the Dostoyevsky, who 
had been warriors in Lithuania, become priests in the 
Ukraine. But this is quite in accordance with Lithu- 
anian custom. I may quote the learned Lithuanian 
W. St. Vidunas in this connection : ^ 

" Formerly many well-to-do Lithuanians had but 
one desire : to see one or more of their sons enter upon 

^ In the Orthodox Church only monks — the Black Clergy — 
may become Archbishops. The White Clergy — married priests — 
never rise to high rank. When they lose their wives they often 
become monks, and can then pursue their career. 

^ See his La Lituanie dans le passe et dans le present. 


an ecclesiastical career. They gladly provided the funds 
necessary to prepare them for such a calling. But 
they had no sympathy with studies of a more general 
character, and were averse from the adoption of any 
other liberal profession by the sons. Even of late years 
many young Lithuanians have had to suffer greatly 
from parental obstinacy. Their fathers have refused 
them the money necessary for advanced secular studies, 
when they have declined to become ecclesiastics. Thus 
many lives of the highest promise have been wrecked." 

These words of Vidunas probably give the key to 
the extraordinary quarrel of my grandfather Mihail 
with his parents, which broke all the ties between our 
Moscovite family and the Ukrainian family of my great- 
grandfather Audrey. The latter perhaps wished his 
son to pursue an ecclesiastical career, while the young 
man had a vocation for medicine. Seeing that his father 
would not pay for his medical studies, my grandfather 
fled from his home. We must admire the truly Norman 
energy of this youth of fifteen who entered an unknown 
city without money or friends, managed to get a superior 
education, made a good position for himself in Moscow, 
brought up a family of seven children, gave dowries 
to his three daughters and a liberal education to his 
four sons. My grandfather had good reason to be proud 
of himself, and to quote himself as an example to his 

Andrey Dostoyevsky's wish to see his son a priest was 
not, indeed, very extraordinary, for the Ukrainian clergy 
has always been highly distinguished. The Ukrainian 
parishes enjoyed the right to select their own priests, 
and naturally only men of blameless life were chosen. 
As to the higher ecclesiastical dignities, they were nearly 
always held by members of the Ukrainian nobility, 
which was very rarely the case in Greater Russia, where 
the priests are an isolated caste. Stepan Dostoyevsky 


must have been a man of good family and good education 
or he could not have become an Episcopus. The Arch- 
bishop or Episcopus is the highest dignity in the Orthodox 
Church, for we have no Cardinals. After the abolition 
of the Patriarchate, the Archbishops managed the 
affairs of our church, each in turn taking part in the 
deliberations of the Holy Synod. 

We have yet another proof that the Ukrainian 
Dostoyevsky were intellectuals. Friends who had lived 
in Ukrainia told us that they had once seen there an 
old book, a kind of Almanach or poetical Anthology 
published in Ukrainia at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. Among the poems in this book there was a 
little bucolic piece written in Russian and gracefully 
composed. It was not signed, but the first letters of 
each line formed the name Andrey Dostoyevsky. Was 
it the work of my great-grandfather or of some cousin ? 
I know not, but it proves two things of great interest 
to the biographers of Dostoyevsky : 

1. First, that his Ukrainian ancestors were intellec- 
tuals, for in Ukrainia only the lower and middle classes 
speak Ukrainian, a pretty and poetic, but also an infan- 
tile and somewhat absurd language. The upper classes 
in Ukrainia habitually spoke Polish or Russian, and 
accordingly last year, when the country separated from 
Russia and proclaimed its independence, the new 
Hetman, Scoropadsky, had to post up eloquent appeals, 
which said : " Ukrainians ! learn your native tongue ! " 
The Hetman himself probably did not know a word of it. 

2. That poetic talent existed in my father's Ukrainian 
family and was not the gift of his Moscovite mother, 
as Dostoyevsky's literary friends have suggested. 

The interesting and varied history of Lithuania had 
a great influence in the formation of my father's powers. 
We find in his works traces of all the transformations 


Lithuania has undergone in the course of centuries. 
My father's character was essentially Norman : very 
honest, very upright, frank and bold. Dostoyevsky 
looked danger in the face, never drew back before peril, 
pressed on to his goal unweariedly, brushing aside all 
the obstacles in his path. His normanised ancestors had 
bequeathed to him an immense moral strength which 
is rarely found among Russians, a young, and conse- 
quently a weak race. Other European nations also 
contributed to the formation of Dostoyevsky's genius. 
The Knights of the Teutonic Order gave to his ancestors 
their idea of the State and of the family. 

In Dostoyevsky's works, and still more in his private 
life, we find innumerable mediaeval ideas. In their turn 
the Catholic clergy of Lithuania, the leaders of whom 
came from Rome, taught my father's ancestors discipline, 
obedience, and a sense of duty, which can hardly be 
said to exist in the youthful and anarchic Russian 
nation. The Latin Schools of the Jesuits formed their 
minds. Dostoyevsky learned to speak French very 
quickly, and preferred it to German, though he knew 
German so well that he proposed to his brother Mihail 
that they should collaborate in translating Goethe and 
Schiller. My father had evidently the gift of languages, 
which is very rare among the Russians. Europeans 
generally say : " The Russians can speak all tongues." 
They do not, however, notice that those among my 
compatriots who speak and write French and German 
well all belong to Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian 
families, whose ancestors were latinised by the Catholic 
clergy. Among the Russians of Great Russia, it is 
only the aristocrats who have had a European education 
for several generations who speak the European languages 

The Russian bourgeois find the study of foreign 
languages enormously difficult. They learn them at 


school for seven years, and when they leave can barely 
manage to say a few sentences, and do not understand 
the simplest books. Their accent is deplorable. The 
Russian language, which has hardly anything in common 
with the European tongues, is rather a hindrance than 
a help to linguistic studies. 

The emigration of my ancestors to Ukrainia softened 
their somewhat harsh Northern character, and awoke 
the dormant poetry of their hearts. Of all the Slav 
countries which form the Russian Empire, Ukrainia is 
certainly the most poetic. When one comes from 
Petrograd to Kiew, one feels oneself in the South. 
The evenings are warm, the streets full of pedestrians 
who sing, laugh, and eat in the open air, at tables on 
the pavement outside the cafes. We breathe the per- 
fumed air of the South, we look at the moon which 
silvers the poplars; the heart dilates, one becomes a 
poet for the moment. Ever3'thing breathes poetry in 
this softly undulating plain bathed in happy sunshine. 
Blue rivers flow serene and unhasting seawards; little 
lakes sleep softly, girdled by flowers ; it is good to dream 
in the rich forests of oak. All is poetry in Ukrainia : 
the costumes of the peasants, their songs, their dances, 
and above all their theatre. Ukrainia is the only 
country in Europe which possesses a theatre created by 
the people themselves and not arranged by the intel- 
lectuals to develop the taste of the masses, as else- 
where. The Ukrainian theatre is so essentially popular 
that it has not even been possible to make a bourgeois 
theatre of it. In early days Ukrainia was in close 
contact with the Greek colonies on the shores of the 
Black Sea. Some Greek blood flows in the veins of 
the Ukrainians, manifesting itself in their charming 
sunburnt faces and their graceful movements. It may 
even be that the Ukrainian theatre is a distant echo of 
the drama so beloved of the ancient Greeks. 


Emerging from the dark forests and dank marshes 
of Lithuania, my ancestors must have been dazzled by 
the hght, the flowers, the Greek poetry of Ukrainia. 
Their hearts warmed by the southern sunshine, 
they began to write verses. My grandfather Mihail 
carried a httle of this Ukrainian poetry in his poor 
student's wallet when he fled from his father's house, 
and kept it carefully as a souvenir of his distant home. 
Later, he handed it on to his two elder sons, Mihail 
and Fyodor. These youths composed verses, epitaphs 
and poems; in his youth my father wrote Venetian 
romances and historical dramas. He began by imitating 
Gogol, the great Ukrainian writer, whom he greatly 
admired. In Dostoyevsky's first works we note a good 
deal of this naive sentimental and romantic poetry. 
It was not until after his imprisonment, when he became 
Russian, that we find in his novels the breadth of view 
and depth of thought proper to the Russian nation, 
the nation of great genius and a great future. And yet 
it is not right to say that Dostoyevsky's powerful 
reahsm is essentially Russian. The Russians are not 
realists ; they are dreamers and mj'stics. They love 
to lose themselves in visions instead of studying life. 
When they try to be reahsts, they fall at once into 
Mongolian c}Tiicism and eroticism. Dostoyevsky's real- 
ism is an inheritance from his ndrmanised ancestors". ■ 
All -^Titers of Norman blood are distinguished by their 
profound reahsm. It was not for nothing that Dos- 
toyevsky admired Balzac so heartily, and took him 
as his model. 

The Dostoyevsky family was essentially a family 
of nomads. We find them now in Lithuania, now in 
Ukrainia, now domiciled in Moscow, now in Petersburg. 
This is not surprising, for Lithuania is distinguished from 
other countries by its curious class of " nomad intel- 
lectuals." In all other countries it is the proletariat 


which emigrates. In Russia, the moujiks, who cross 
the Ural Mountains in hordes every year and are absorbed 
by Asia; in Europe, the peasants and lower middle 
classes who go to seek their fortune in America, Africa 
and Australia. In Lithuania, the populace remained | 
in the country; only the intellectuals emigrated.! 
As long as Lithuania was a brilliant Grand Duchy 
attracting European poets and learned men, the Lithu- 
anian nobility stayed at home. But when the splendour 
of Lithuania began to wane, the intellectuals ^ soon 
felt themselves circumscribed in their forests and 
swamps and emigrated to neighbouring nations. They 
entered the service of the Poles and the Ukrainians, 
and helped to build up their civilisation. A great 
number of famous Poles and Ukrainians are of Lithuanian 

Later, when Russia annexed Lithuania, a horde of 
Lithuanian families descended upon our large towns. 
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Poles 
in their turn entered the service of Russia, but my com- 
patriots very soon noted the difference between the 
Polish and the Lithuanian " sky." ^ 

Though the Poles lived and grew rich in Russia, they 
remained Catholics, spoke Polish among themselves, 
and treated the Russians as barbarians. The Lithu- 
anians, on the other hand, forgot their mother-tongue, 

^ Critics may accuse me of confounding the words " noble " 
and " intellectual," which are not alway synonymous. But 
they must remember that in the good old times education was 
impossible for the proletariat and the middle classes. The 
Catholic and Orthodox clergy, who were the principal educationists 
of Lithuania, were only interested in the sons of the nobility, 
the future legislators and governors of their country. 

^ It is thought that the great Polish poet Mickiewicz was a 
Lithuanian. One of his poems begins : 

" Lithuania, my coimtry." 

3 " Sky " is the termination of the names of the Polish and 
Lithuanian nobihty. 


adopted the Orthodox faith, and thought no more of 
their native land.^ 

This migration of the intellectuals, and their facility 
in amalgamating with the nations of their adoption, is the 
most characteristic feature bequeathed by the Normans 
to their Lithuanian posterity. The Normans alone 
among the nations of antiquity possessed a nomad 
nobility. The young men of the highest families rallied 
to the banner of some Norman prince, and sailed in 
their light vessels to seek new homes. It is generally 
asserted that all the aristocracies of northern Europe 
were founded by the Normans. There is nothing sur- 
prising in this : when the young Norman nobles appeared 
among some primitive people, they naturally became 
the chiefs of the wild and ignorant aborigines. Their 
descendants, accustomed to govern, continued to do so 
throughout successive centuries. The Normans, as we 
have already seen, did not hold aloof from the nations 
they conquered ; they married the women of the country, 
and adopted its ideas, its costume and its beliefs. Two 
centuries after their arrival in Normandy, the Normans 
had forgotten their native tongue, and spoke French 
to each other. When William the Conqueror landed in 
England with his warriors, the culture he brought to 
the English was a Latin, and not a Norman culture. 
When the Norman family of the Comtes d' Hauteville 
conquered Sicily, they adopted the Byzantine and Sara- 
cen culture they found in that country with amazing 
rapidity. In Lithuania there was a complete fusion 
of invaders with invaded; the Normans gave the 

^ Among the great Russian families of Lithuanian origin, we 
must note more especially the Romanoffs, the ancestors of the 
late reigning family, who belonged to the tribe of the Borussi ; 
the Soltikoffs, whose Lithuanian name was Saltyk ; and the 
Golitzins, the descendants of Duke Guedunin. In Poland, the 
majority of the aristocratic families were of Lithuanian origin, 
as well as the royal house of Jagellon. 


Lithuanians their moral strength, and bequeathed to 
them the mission of civihsing neighbouring peoples. 
All the nomad intellectuals of Lithuania are, in fact, 
but Normans in disguise. They continue the great 
work of their ancestors with unfailing courage, patience 
and devotion. 

It is obvious that poor Lithuania, who gives the flower 
of her race to others, can never become a great state 
again. She understands and regrets this herself. 
" The Lithuanians must be accounted in general a 
most intelligent race," says Vidunas; "that in spite 
of this, Lithuania has exercised no influence on European 
civilisation, is to be explained by the fact that Lithu- 
anian intelligence has been perpetually at the service 
of other nations, and has never been able to put forth 
all its powers in its native land." Vidunas is no doubt 
right when he deplores the emigration of the Lithuanian 
intellectuals, but he is mistaken when he says that 
Lithuania has had no influence on European civilisation. 
No country, indeed, has done so much for the civilisation 
of the Slav states as Lithuania. Other peoples worked 
for themselves alone, for their own glory; Lithuania 
has devoted the gifts of her intelligence to the service 
of her neighbours. Poland, Ukrainia and Russia do 
not understand this yet, and are unjust. But the day 
will come when they will see clearly what a huge debt 
they owe to modest and silent Lithuania. 

The Dostoyevsky were such wanderers, they had such 
a thirst for new ideas and new impressions, that they 
tried to forget the past, and refused to talk to their 
children of their forbears. But while thus renouncing 
the past, they had a desire to link their wandering 
family by a kind of Ariadne's thread. This thread, 
which enables us to trace them throughout the centuries, 
is their family name Audrey. The Catholic Dostoyevsky 
of Lithuania habitually gave this name to one of their 


sons, generally to the second or the third; and the 
Orthodox Dostoyevsky have kept up the custom till 
the present. In each generation of our family there 
is always an Andrey, and, as before, this name is borne 
by the second or the third son. 



After completing his medical studies at Moscow, my 
grandfather Mihail entered the army as a surgeon, 
and in this capacity served during the war of 1812. 
We may assume that he was well skilled in his profession, 
for he was soon appointed superintendent of a large 
State hospital in Moscow. About this time he married 
a young Russian girl, Marie Netchaiev. She brought a 
sufficient dowry to her husband, but the marriage was 
primarily one of mutual love and esteem. The young 
couple, indeed, lacked nothing, for in those days govern- 
ment appointments were fairly lucrative. If salaries 
were not very high, the State made amends by providing 
its functionaries with all the requisites of a comfortable 
existence. Thus, in addition to his income, my grand- 
father Mihail was lodged in a Crown building, a small 
house of one storey, built in the bastard Empire style 
which was adopted for all our Crown buildings in the 
nineteenth century. This house was situated close to 
the hospital and was surrounded by a garden. In this 
little house Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born on October 80, 

My grandfather was allowed the services of the 
servants attached to the hospital, and a carriage to 
visit his patients in the town. He must have had a 
good practice, for he was soon able to buy two estates 
in the government of Tula, 150 versts from Moscow. 
One of these properties, called Darovoye, became the 
holiday residence of the Dostoyevsky. The whole 
family, with the exception of the father, spent the 



summer there. My grandfather, who was kept in the 
city by his medical duties, only joined them for 
a few days in July. These annual journeys, which in 
those pre-railway days were made in a troika (a carriage 
with three horses), delighted my father, who was 
devoted to horses in his childhood. 

A few years after the birth of his elder sons, my 
grandfather had himself registered together with them 
in the book of the hereditary nobility of Moscow.^ 
My father was five years old at the time. It is strange 
that my grandfather, who had all his life held aloof 
from the Moscovites, should have wished to place his 
family under the protection of the Russian nobility. 
It is probable that he recognised in it the Lithuanian 
SchUahta of which the Russian Union of Nobles is, 
in fact, an imitation.^ As of old his ancestors had 
placed their sons under the banner of the united Lithu- 
anian nobility, so my grandfather hastened to place 
his children under the protection of the united Russian 

As a Moscovite noble my grandfather remained 
morally a Lithuanian Schliahtitch — proud, ambitious, and 
very European in many of his ideas. He was econo- 
mical almost to the verge of niggardliness ; but in the 
matter of the education of his sons he did not grudge 
expense. He began by placing his two boys in the 
French school of Suchard. As Latin was not taught 
in this establishment, my grandfather undertook the 
Latin lessons himself. When they came home, his 
sons prepared their French lessons, and in the evening 

^ No one could be registered in the books of the nobility unless 
they possessed titles of hereditary nobility. The Russian nobles 
willingly admitted to their unions Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, 
Baltic and Caucasian nobles. 

2 In the eighteenth century the Russians still called their 
hereditary nobility Schliahetstvo. This word is no longer current, 
and the majority of the Russian nobles are unaware that their 
institution of hereditary nobUity is of Lithuanian origin. 


did Latin exercises with their father. They never 
ventured to sit down in his presence, and conjugated 
their verbs standing, trying not to make mistakes, and 
greatly in awe of their teacher. My grandfather was 
very severe; but his children never received corporal 
punishment. This is the more remarkable, as the little 
Moscovites of the period were very vigorously chastised. 
Tolstoy has told us in his recollections of childhood how 
he was beaten at the age of twelve. It is evident that 
my grandfather Mihail had European ideas of educa- 
tion. Thanks to their proximity to Poland and Austria, 
Lithuania and Ukrainia were much more civilised than 
Russia. In later years, when Dostoyevsky recalled his 
childhood, he would say to his younger brothers, 
Audrey and Nicolai, that their parents were remarkable 
people, more advanced in their ideas than the majority 
of their contemporaries. 

Like many Lithuanians whose ancestors were latinised 
by the Catholic clergy, my grandfather had an affection 
for the French tongue. He talked French with his 
wife, and encouraged his children to express themselves 
in that language. To please him, my grandmother 
made his sons and daughters write their good wishes 
on their father's birthday in French. She corrected 
their mistakes on the rough drafts, and the children 
then made fair copies on ornamental sheets of paper. 
On the day of the anniversary, they marched up to 
their father in turns, and blushingly presented the rolls 
of paper, tied up with a coloured ribbon. My grand- 
father unfolded them, read the artless congratulations 
aloud with emotion, and kissed the little writers. Later, 
his elder sons were not content with good wishes; to 
please their father they learned French poems by 
heart and recited them to their parents in the presence 
of their brothers and sisters. My father once recited 
a fragment of the Henriade at a family festivity. 


Dostoyevsky inherited his father's liking for French; 
French phrases occur frequently in his novels and 
newspaper articles. ^ He read a great deal of French, 
and very little German, although he knew the language 
well. At that period, German was not fashionable in 
Russia. But my father did not forget it; German 
must have been retained intact in some cell of his 
brain, for as soon as he passed the Prussian frontier 
he at once began to speak German, and, according to 
my mother, he spoke it fluently. 

When his elder sons had finished their course at the 
Suchard school, my grandfather placed them at the 
preparatory school of Tchermack, the best private 
school in Moscow, an expensive establishment frequented 
by the sons of the intellectuals of the city. In order 
that they might prepare their lessons under the super- 
intendence of their teachers, my grandfather sent them 
as boarders, and they came home only on Sundays and 
festivals. The Moscovite nobles of this period preferred 
to send their children to private schools, for in the 
Crown institutions the most severe corporal punishment 
was inflicted. The school of Tchermack was of a 
patriarchal character, and the arrangements were 
modelled on those of family life. M. Tchermack dined 
with his pupils, and treated them kindly, as if they 
were his sons. He got the best masters in Moscow to 
give lessons in his school, and the work done there was 
of a high order. 

^ The writer Strahoff, a great friend of my father's, says in 
his reminiscences that he preferred tallying of serious things to 
Dostoyevsky, and did not Uke to hear his jests, for, according to 
him, Dostoyevsky always jested a la frangaise. The play of 
words and images which is the essence of French wit is not 
appreciated by my compatriots, m^io like more solid pleasantries. 
Strahoff considered that Dostoyevsky jested a la frangaise not 
only in conversation, but in his writings. This was, no doubt, 
the result of a certain hereditary latinisation of the mind in 


My grandfather dreaded the brutaHty of the Mos- 
covite lower orders, and never allowed his children to 
walk in the streets. " We were sent to school in our 
father's carriage, and fetched home in the same way," 
my uncle Andrey once told me. My father knew so 
little of his native city that there is not a single descrip- 
tion of Moscow in any of his novels. Like many Poles 
and Lithuanians, my grandfather despised the Russians, 
and was prejudiced enough to look upon them as bar- 
barians. The only Moscovites he received in his house 
were his wife's relations. Later, when my father went 
from Petersburg to Moscow, he met only his relatives. 
There were no friends of childhood, no old comrades of 
his father's to visit. 

If my grandfather distrusted Russian civilisation, he 
was careful not to say so before his children. He 
brought them up after the European fashion ; that is to 
say, he strove to awaken and foster patriotism in their 
hearts. In his Journal of the Writer, Dostoyevsky 
relates that when he was a child his father was fond of 
reading episodes of Karamzin's Russian history aloud 
in the evenings, and explaining them to his young sons.^ 
Sometimes he would take his children to visit the historic 
palaces of the Kremlin and the cathedrals of Moscow. 
These excursions had all the importance of great 
patriotic solemnities in the eyes of his sons. 

It is also possible that in thus holding aloof from the 
Moscovites, my grandfather gave way to that segre- 
gating instinct so characteristic of the Lithuanians. 
" The Lithuanian is attracted by solitude," wrote 
Vidunas; "he likes to live to himself. Solitude is a 
refuge to him." This curious shyness of the Lithuanians 

1 Karamzin's History of Russia was my father's favourite 
book. He read and re-read it in his childhood till he finally knew 
it by heart. This was very remarkable, for in Russia not only 
the children but the grown-up persons know very little of the 
history of their country. 


is probably a growth of their soil. The Russians and 
Ukrainians, inhabitants of vast plains, have been able 
to found large villages, to go to market in the neigh- 
bouring towns, to meet other villagers, to enter into 
relations with them and so to become sociable and 
hospitable. The great forests and wide marshes of 
Lithuania have prevented the development of large 
villages. The few houses it was possible to build on an 
oasis of firm ground formed but a single family, which, 
owing to the impracticable roads, was unable to visit 
the inhabitants of the adjacent oases. Living thus in 
isolation, the Lithuanians became unsociable. These 
temperamental defects, the growth of centuries, take 
centuries to correct, even in those who have long lived 
in a different country and under different conditions.^ 
The Lithuanians are as a rule excellent husbands and 
fathers. They are only happy in their homes; but 
loving it so dearly, they are apt to become jealous of 
their wives and children, and to wish to withdraw 
them from outside influences. My grandfather, when 
he shut up his sons in a kind of artificial Lithuania in 
the heart of Moscow, did not realise how difficult such 
an education would make life for the boys, who, after 
all, were Russians, and had to work among their com- 
patriots. Happily, my grandfather at least provided 
good companions for his children in their domestic 
prison; in the evenings of the festivals, all the family 
assembled in the drawing-room and read the works of 
the great Russian writers aloud in turns. At the age 
of fifteen my father was familiar with the majority of 

1 The Lithuanians never forget their forests; they continue 
to adore them even when they have quitted them for generations. 
In his Journal of the Writer Dostoyevsky says : " All my life I 
have loved the forest, with its mushrooms, its fruits, its insects, 
its birds and its squirrels ; I revelled in the scent of its damp 
leaves. Even at this moment as I write I can smell the aroma 
of the^birches." 


our masterpieces. The children were accustomed to 
recite the poems they had learnt. Sometimes competi- 
tions in recitation were arranged between the boys. 
My father and his brother Mihail learned Russian 
poems by heart, and the parents decided which of them 
had recited best. My grandmother took a great interest 
in her children's reading. She was a pretty, gentle 
creature, devoted to her family, and absolutely sub- 
missive to her husband. She was delicate; her 
numerous confinements had greatly exhausted her.^ 
She had to lie in bed for days together, and loved then 
to hear her sons recite her favourite poems. The two 
elder boys, Mihail and Fyodor, worshipped her. When 
she died, while still a young woman, they mourned 
most bitterly, and composed her epitaph in verse. My 
grandfather had her effigy carved on the marble monu- 
ment he erected to her memory. 

In accordance with the fashion of the day, my grand- 
father had portraits of himself and his wife painted by 
a Moscow artist. My grandmother is represented in 
the costume and head-dress of 1830, young, pretty and 
happy. Her father was a Russian of Moscow, yet she 
has the Ukrainian type. Possibly her mother was a 
Ukrainian. 2 It was, perhaps, her origin which first 
attracted my grandfather and led to his marriage with 
this daughter of Moscow. His portrait shows him in 
a gala uniform, richly embroidered with gold. At this 

^ My grandparents had eight children, four sons and four 
daughters. One of these, twin-sister to my aunt Vera, was 
stillborn. My grandmother had only been able to nurse one of 
her children, her eldest son Mihail, whom she loved above all 
the rest. The remaining children were suckled by nurses chosen 
among the peasant-women of the country roiuid Moscow. 

' She belonged to the family of Kotelenitsky, a name which is 
often met with in Ukrainia. They were a family of intellectuals ; 
my grandmother's uncle, Vassil Kotelenitsky, was a professor at 
the University of Moscow. He had no children, was very fond 
of his great-nephews, and often invited my father and his brothers 
to spend long days in his house at Novinskoye. 


period, everything in Russia was militarised. Doctors 
in the service of the State were not allowed to dress in 
mufti, but had to wear uniform and a sword. In 
Dostoyevsky's memory, his father figured as a military 
man, the more so because my grandfather, who had 
begun life as an army surgeon, always retained the 
military bearing of an officer. He had the characteristic 
Lithuanian type; his four sons were all very like him. 
My father's eyes, however, were brown, true Ukrainian 
eyes, and he had the kindly smile of his Russian mother. 
He was livelier, more passionate and more enterprising 
than his brothers. His parents called him " the hot- 
head." He was not proud, and had none of that 
disdain for the proletariat which is often shown by 
Poles and Lithuanians. He loved the poor, and felt 
a keen interest in their lives. There was an iron gate 
between my grandfather's private garden and the great 
garden of the hospital, where the convalescents were 
sent to walk. The little Dostoyevsky were strictly 
forbidden to go to this gate; my grandparents dis- 
trusted the manners and behaviour of the lower class 
Moscovites. All the children obeyed the injunction, 
with the exception of my father, who would steal up 
to the gate and enter into conversation with the con- 
valescent peasants and small tradespeople, braving 
the wrath of his father. During the summer visits to 
Darovoye, my father made friends with the serfs belonging 
to his parents. According to my uncle Audrey, his 
brother Fyodor's greatest pleasure was to make himself 
useful to the poor peasant-women who were working 
in the fields. 

My grandparents were very religious. They often 
went to church, taking their children with them. My 
father recalls in his works the immense impression 
made upon him by the readings from the Bible which 
he heard in church. My grandfather's faith had httle 


in common with the mystical, hysterical and tearful 
faith of the Russian intellectuals. My compatriots 
complain incessantly of the trials life brings to all; 
they accuse God of harshness, revile Him, and shake 
their fists at Heaven, like foolish children. The 
Lithuanian faith of my grandfather was that of a 
mature people which had suffered and struggled. The 
Jesuits, perhaps, and also the Teutonic Knights taught 
the Lithuanians to respect God and bow to His will. 
Their descent from pious Ukrainians, who looked upon 
the ecclesiastical career as the noblest and most dignified 
of human callings, inclined the Dostoyevsky family to 
love God, and made them eager to draw near to Him. 
It was with such ideals as these that my grandfather 
brought up his young wife and his sons and daughters. 
A childish memory was deeply impressed on my father's 
mind. One spring evening at Moscow the door of the 
drawing-room where all the family was assembled was 
thrown open, and the bailiff of the Darovoye estate 
appeared on the threshold. " The domain has been 
burnt," he announced in a tragic voice. At the first 
moment my grandparents believed that they were 
entirely ruined; but instead of lamenting, they knelt 
down before the icons and prayed God to give them 
strength to bear the trial He had sent them. What 
an example of faith and resignation they gave their 
children, and how often my father must have remem- 
bered this scene during the course of his stormy and 
unhappy life ! 



When his elder sons had finished their term at Tcher- 
mack's preparatory school, my father took them to 
Petersburg. He did not intend to make doctors of 
them ; he wished them to embark on a military career, 
which at this period had brilliant possibilities for the 
intelligent. In Russia every official had a right to ask 
for free education for his sons at one of the State schools. 
My grandfather, a practical man, chose the School of 
Military Engineers, with a double end in view : on 
leaving, a pupil might become an officer in a regiment 
of the Imperial Guard, and have a splendid career, or 
he might become a civil engineer and amass a con- 
siderable fortune. My grandfather Mihail was very 
ambitious for his sons, and perpetually reminded them 
that they must work incessantly. " You are poor," 
he would say; "I cannot leave you a fortune; you 
have only your own powers on which to rely; you 
must work hard, be strict in your conduct, and prudent 
in your words and deeds." 

At this time my father was sixteen, and my uncle 
Mihail seventeen. Brought up as they had been 
always under the paternal eye, knowing nothing of life, 
and possessing no friends of their own age, they were 
nothing but two big ciiildren, artless and romantic. 
There was a passionate affection between the two 
brothers. They lived in a world of dreams, reading a 
great deal, exchanging their literary impressions, and 
ardently admiring the works of Pushkin, their common 
ideal. When they started for Petersburg they did not 



realise that their childhood was over, that they were 
entering a new world. ^ 

During the journey from Moscow to Petersburg, 
which lasted several days,^ the young Dostoyevsky 
continued to dream. " My brother and I," says my 
father, " dreamed of the great and the beautiful. These 
words sounded magnificent to us. We used them 
without irony. How many fine words of the same 
order we repeated in those days ! We had a passionate 
belief in I know not what, and, although we knew all 
the difficulties of mathematical examinations, we could 
only think of poetry and poets. My brother wrote 
poems, and I was writing a Venetian romance." 

A great misfortune awaited the young dreamers at 
Petersburg. Though he had obtained two nominations 
for his sons at the School of Engineers, my grandfather 
was only able to place his son Fyodor there. Mihail 
was pronounced too delicate to study in the capital, 
and the authorities sent him with some other youths 
to Reval, where the School of Engineers had a kind 
of annexe. My father's despair at this separation from 
his adored brother was immeasurable. He suffered 
the more because, when his father had returned to 
Moscow he was left utterly alone, without friends or 

^ My uncle Andrey tells us in his reminiscences that my grand- 
father never allowed his sons to go out alone and never gave them 
any money. He watched over their conduct most jealously ; no 
flirtation, even of the most innocent kind, was tolerated. These 
young Puritans never dared to speak of women save in verse. 
Of course, their modesty must have been a source of great amuse- 
ment to their comrades in the School of Engineers, for the 
amorous adventures of the young Russian begin early. Dos- 
toyevsky, for his part, must have suffered a good deal froni the 
cynicism of his young comrades. When in The Brothers Kara- 
mazov my father described Aliosha stopping his ears in order 
not to hear the obscene talk of his schoolfellows, he was probably 
drawing on his own experiences. 

2 There were no railways in those days. Travellers went by 
the stage-coach, or in a troika, which often took nearly a week 
to get from Moscow to Petersburg. 


relations. He was a boarder, and, as he knew no one 
in the city, he had to spend all his holidays at school. ^ 
The School of Engineers was in the ancient palace of 
Paul, where the unhappy Emperor had been murdered. 
It is in the best quarter of the town, opposite the Summer 
Garden, on the banks of the Fontanka river. The 
rooms are large and light, full of air and sunshine. One 
could have wished no better domicile for one's children ; 
as a doctor my grandfather realised the important part 
played by space and light in the physical education of 
young people. Nevertheless, my father was not happy 
at the Engineers' Castle. ^ He disliked the life in 
common with the other pupils, and the mathematical 
sciences he had to study were repellent to his poetic 
soul. Obedient to his father's wishes, he did his work 
conscientiously, but his heart was not in it. He spent 
his spare time seated in the embrasure of a window, 
watching the flowing river, admiring the trees of the 
park, dreaming and reading. . . . Scarcely had he 
quitted his father's house, when the Lithuanian un- 
sociability took possession of him; he felt himself 
attracted by solitude. His new companions did not 
attract him. They were for the most part the sons of 
colonels ^ and generals, who were commanding the 
garrisons in the various provincial towns. At this 

1 When he placed his son at school in Petersburg, my grand- 
father had counted on the kindness of his relative, General 
Krivopichin, who held an important administrative post. But 
Krivopichin dishked his Moscow kinsman, and would do nothing 
for his son. However, after the death of my grandfather, the 
General remembered his obligations; he went to see my father 
at the School of Engineers, and invited him to his house. Dos- 
toyevsky, who was eighteen by this time, soon became a favourite 
with all the Krivopichin family, of whom he speaks affectionately 
in his letters to his brother Mihail. 

2 This was the name by which the School of Engineers was 
known in Petersburg. The Palace of Paul does, in fact, look like 
an ancient castle. 

3 My grandfather's position at Moscow was equivalent to that 
of a colonel. 


period there was little reading in the provinces, and 
even less thinking. It was difficult to find a serious 
book there, though one could always reckon on a bottle 
of champagne of a good brand. People drank a great 
deal, played very high, flirted, and, above all, danced 
with passion. The parents paid very little attention 
to their children, and left them to the care of servants. 
My father's new companions were like young animals, 
full of gaiety, loving to laugh, and run, and play. They 
made fun of the serious airs of their Moscow school- 
fellow, and his passion for reading. Dostoyevsky, for 
his part, despised them for their ignorance ; they seemed 
to him to belong to another world. This was not 
surprising. My father was several centuries ahead of 
his Russian companions. " I was struck by the foolish- 
ness of their reflections, their games, their conversation 
and their occupations," he wrote later. " They 
respected nothing but success. All that was righteous, 
but humiliated and persecuted, called forth their cruel 
mockery. At the age of sixteen, they talked of nice 
little lucrative situations. Their vice amounted to 
monstrosity." As he observed his schoolfellows, Dos- 
toyevsky felt his father's Lithuanian disdain for the 
Russians awaking in his heart, the contempt of a civilised 
individual for brutes and ignoramuses.^ 

1 Although he despised them, my father never east off his 
companions. Former pupils at the School of Engineers remember 
that he was always ready to protect new pupils when they 
arrived, helping them with their lessons, and defending them 
against the tyranny of the elder boys. General Savelieff, who 
at this period was a young officer acting as superintendent of the 
classrooms, states in his recollections that the school authorities 
considered Dostoyevsky a young man of high culture, with great 
strength of character and a deep sense of personal dignity. He 
obeyed the orders of his superiors readily enough, but declined 
to bow to the decrees of his elder comrades, and held aloof from 
all their demonstrations. This was a very characteristic trait, 
for in Russian schools boys as a rule show more deference to their 
elders than to their masters. 


My father, however, found a friend at last. This 
was the young Grigorovitch, who, Hke himself, was 
only half a Russian; his maternal grandmother was a 
Frenchwoman. She took a great interest in her grand- 
son's education, and made him a well-informed young 
man. Gay and sociable as the French generally are, 
Grigorovitch was ready enough to play with his school- 
fellows, but he preferred the society of my father. 
There was a bond of union between them : both were 
writing in secret, and dreaming of becoming novelists. ^ 

His friendship with young Grigorovitch did not make 
my father forget his brother Mihail. They corresponded 
constantly ; some of their letters have been published. 
In these they speak of Racine, Corneille, Schiller and 
Balzac, recommend interesting books to each other, 
and exchange their literary impressions. My uncle took 
advantage of his term at Reval to study the German 
language thoroughly. Later he translated several of 
the works of Goethe and Schiller, and his translations 
were much appreciated by the Russian public. 

Letters from the young Dostoyevsky to their father 
have also been published. They are very respectful, 
but as a rule contain nothing but requests for money. 
My grandfather was not loved by his children. This 
Lithuanian, who had so many good qualities, had also 
one great defect : he was a hard drinker, violent and 
suspicious in his cups. As long as his wife was there 
to intervene between him and the children all was well ; 
she had considerable influence over him, and prevented 
him from drinking to excess. After her death my 

^ My father had another friend at this period, the young 
Schidlovsky, his former schoolfellow at Tchermack's. For some 
reason unknown to me, Schidlovsky travelled a great deal, 
going sometimes to Reval, sometimes to Petersburg. He acted 
as bearer of dispatches to the young Dostoyevsky. Schidlovsky 
was a poet, an idealist and a mystic. He had a great influence 
on my father. He was probably of Lithuanian origin. 


grandfather gave way to his weakness, became incapable 
of working, and resigned his appointment. Having 
placed his younger sons, Andrey and Nicolai, at Tcher- 
mack's school, and having married his eldest daughter 
Barbara to a native of Moscow, he retired to Darovoye 
and devoted himself to agriculture. He took his two 
younger daughters, Vera and Alexandra, with him, and 
led them a terrible life. At this time it was usual to 
bring up girls under the superintendence of their parents. 
The instruction given them was not very extensive : 
French, German, a little piano-playing and dancing, 
fancy needlework. Only the daughters of the poor 
worked. The girls of noble families were destined for 
marriage, and their virginity was carefully guarded. 
My grandfather never allowed his pretty daughters to 
go out alone, and accompanied them himself on the 
rare occasions when they went to visit their country 
neighbours. The jealous vigilance of their father 
offended the delicacy of my aunts. Later they remem- 
bered with horror how their father used to visit their 
bedrooms at night to make sure that they had not 
hidden some lover under the bed. My aunts at this 
time were pure and innocent children. 

My grandfather's avarice increased as his drinking 
habits became more confirmed. He sent so little 
money to his sons that they were in want of everything. 
My father could not indulge in a cup of tea when he 
came in from drill, which was often carried on in a down- 
pour of rain ; he had no change of boots, and, worst of 
all, no money to give to the orderlies who waited on 
the engineer cadets. Dostoyevsky rebelled against the 
privations and humiliations to which his father's mean- 
ness subjected him; a meanness for which there was 
no excuse, for my grandfather owned land and had 
money put away for the dowry of his daughters. My 
father considered that, as my grandfather had chosen 


a brilliant and distinguished school for him, he ought 
to have given him enough money to live in the same 
manner as his comrades. 

This state of friction between the father and his sons 
did not long continue. My grandfather had always 
been very severe to his serfs. His drunkenness made 
him so savage, that they finally murdered him. One 
summer day he left his estate Darovoye to visit his 
other property, Tchermashnia, and never returned. 
He was found later half-way between the two, smothered 
under the cushions of his carriage. The coachman had 
disappeared with the horses; several of the peasants 
of the village disappeared at the same time. When 
interrogated by the Court, other serfs of my grand- 
father's admitted that the crime was one of vengeance. 

My father was not at home at the time of this horrible 
death. He no longer went to Darovoye, for in summer 
the pupils of the School of Engineers had to carry out 
manoeuvres in the neighbourhood of Petersburg. The 
crime committed by the peasants of Darovoye, of whom 
he had been so fond as a child, made a great impression 
upon his adolescent imagination.^ He thought of it 

^ According to a family tradition, it was when he heard of his 
father's death that Dostoyevsky had his first epileptic fit. We 
can only conjecture what his state of mind must have been, for 
all the correspondence with his brother Mihall which might 
have thrown some light on this period of his life has been destroyed. 
Later, the brothers never mentioned their father in their letters ; 
the subject was probably too painful to both of them. From 
certain sentences in the last letter before the murder of his father, 
we may infer that Dostoyevsky knew various circumstances of 
his life in the country. " Poor father I " he wrote to his brother 
Mihail, " what an extraordinary character. Ah ! what mis- 
fortunes he has had 1 What a pity it is that I cannot console 
him ! But do you know, our father has no idea of life. He has 
lived for fifty years, and has still the same idea of men as when 
he was thirty." As always, Dostoyevsky' s prescience made him 
divine the principal cause of his father's misfortunes. My 
grandfather indeed lived all his life as a Lithuanian, and never 
troubled to study the Russian character. He paid dearly for 
his ignorance. 



all his life, and pondered the causes of this dreadful 
end deeply. It is very remarkable that the whole of 
my grandfather's family looked upon his death as a 
disgrace, never mentioned it, and prevented Dos- 
toyevsky's literary friends, who knew the details of his 
life, from speaking of it in their reminiscences of my 
father. It is evident that my uncles and aunts had 
a more European idea of slavery than the Russians 
of the period. Crimes of vengeance committed by 
peasants were very frequent at the time, but no one 
blushed for them. The victims were pitied, the mur- 
derers denounced with horror. The Russians had a 
naive belief that masters might treat their serfs like 
dogs, and that the latter had no right to revolt. The 
Lithuanian family of my grandfather looked at the 
matter from a very different point of view. 

I have always thought that Dostoyevsky had his 
father in mind when he created the type of old Kara- 
mazov. It is not, certainly, an exact portrait. Fyodor 
Karamazov is a buffoon; my grandfather was always 
a dignified person. Karamazov was a profligate; 
Mihail Dostoyevsky loved his wife and was faithful to 
her. Old Karamazov forsook his sons, and took no 
interest in them; my grandfather gave his children a 
careful education. But certain traits are common to 
both. When creating the type of Fyodor Karamazov, 
Dostoyevsky perhaps remembered his father's avarice, 
which caused his young sons so much suffering and 
indignation at school, his drunkenness, and the physical 
disgust it provoked in his children. When he says that 
Aliosha Karamazov did not share this disgust, but 
pitied his unhappy father, Dostoyevsky probably recalls 
the moments of pity which succeeded to those of disgust 
in his own youthful heart. The great psychologist in 
embryo must have divined at times that his father was, 
after all, but a diseased and unhappy being. It must 


be understood that this Hkeness between my grandfather 
and the old Karamazov is merely a supposition on my 
part, for which there is no documentary evidence. Yet 
it may not be simply a coincidence that Dostoyevsky 
has given the name of Tchermashnia ^ to the village 
where old Karamazov sent his son Ivan just before 
his death. I am the more inclined to think this, 
because it is a tradition in our family that my father 
portrayed himself in the person of Ivan Karamazov. 
Thus did he conceive of himself at the age of twenty. 
It is curious to note Ivan's religious beliefs, his poem, 
The Grand Inquisitor ^ and his immense interest in the 
Catholic Church. It must not be forgotten that only 
some three or four generations intervened between 
Dostoyevsky and the Catholicism of his ancestors. The 
Catholic faith must have been still alive in his soul. It 
is still more curious to note that Dostoyevsky gave his 
own name, Fyodor, to old Karamazov, and made 
Smerdiakov say to Ivan : " You are the most like 
your father of all his sons." It is probable that Dos- 
toyevsky was haunted all his life by the bloody spectre 
of his father, and that he analysed his own actions 
minutely, fearing that he might have inherited his 
father's vices. This was far from being the case; 
Dostoyevsky's character was totally different. He did 
not like wine, and it disagreed with him, as with all 
persons of nervous temperament. He was kind and 
affectionate to every one around him, and far from 
being suspicious, was rather simple and confiding. 
Dostoyevsky has often been reproached for his inability 
to keep money. He could never refuse those who asked 
him for it, and gave all he possessed to others. He was 
moved to do so by charity, but also, no doubt, by 
dread of developing the avarice of his father. He feared 

1 As we have seen above, it was on his way to his property of 
Tchermashnia that my grandfather was murdered. 


this the more, because he saw this vice reproduced in 
his sister Barbara, and gradually taking the form of a 
veritable mania. Dostoyevsky, no doubt, said to himself 
that avarice, that moral malady, was hereditary in his 
family, and that each of them might be attacked by it 
if he were not careful. 

The alcoholism of my grandfather ravaged the lives 
of nearly all his children. His eldest son Mihail and 
his youngest son Nicolai inherited his disease. My 
uncle Mihail, though he drank, was at least able to 
work ; but the unhappy Nicolai, after a brilliant course 
of study, was never able to do anything, and remained 
a burden on his family all his life. My father's epilepsy, 
which caused him so much suffering, was probably due 
to the same cause. But the most miserable of the 
family was certainly my aunt Barbara. She married 
a well-to-do man, who left her considerable house- 
property in Moscow. The houses brought in a good 
income; my aunt's children were comfortably settled 
in life, and lacked nothing. She had therefore all 
that was necessary to ensure her comfort in her old 
age; but the unhappy woman was the victim of a 
sordid and diseased avarice. She opened her purse 
with a kind of despair; the smallest expenditure was 
torture to her. She finally dismissed her servants, to 
avoid paying their wages. She had no fires in her 
apartments and spent the winter wrapped in a cloak. 
She did no cooking; twice a week she went out and 
bought a little bread and milk. There was a great deal 
of gossip in the district where she lived about her 
inexplicable avarice. It was said that she must have a 
great deal of money, and that, like all misers, she kept 
it in her house. This gossip worked upon the mind of 
a young peasant, who acted as porter to my aunt's 
tenants. He came to an understanding with a vagabond 
who was prowling about in the neighbourhood; one 


night they got into the poor mad woman's dwelling and 
murdered her. The crime was committed long after 
my father's death. 

I conclude that my grandfather's alcoholism must 
have been hereditary, for his personal drunkenness 
could not have caused such disaster in our family. The 
disease persisted in my uncle MihaiTs family; the 
second and third generation were victims to it. My 
aunt Barbara's son was so stupid that his folly verged 
on idiocy. My uncle Andrey's son, a young and 
brilliant savant, died of creeping paralysis. The whole 
Dostoyevsky family suffered from neurasthenia. 



When he had comj^leted his studies at the Castle of 
the Engineers, Dostoyevsky obtained an appointment 
in the Department of Military Engineering. He did 
not keep it long and hastened to resign. His father 
was no longer there to force him to serve the State; 
he had no taste for military service, and longed more 
than ever to be a novelist. Young Grigorovitch fol- 
lowed his example. They determined to live together, 
set up in bachelors' quarters, and engaged a servant. 
Grigorovitch received money from his mother, who 
lived in the provinces. My father had an allowance 
from his guardian at Moscow, who sent him enough to 
live modestly. Unfortunately, my father always had 
very fantastic ideas concerning economy. All his life 
he was a Lithuanian Schliahtitch, who spent the money 
that was in his pocket without ever asking himself 
how he was to live the next day. Age failed to correct 
this. I remember a journey we made all together 
towards the end of his life, going to the Ukraine to spend 
the summer with my uncle Jean. We had to stay at 
Moscow a few days en route, and here, to the great 
indignation of my mother, Dostoyevsky insisted on put- 
ting up at the best hotel in the town, and took a suite of 
rooms on the first floor, whereas at Petersburg we had 
a very modest domicile. My mother protested in vain ; 
she never succeeded in curing her husband of his prodi- 
gality. When we had relations coming to dinner on 
some family festival, my father always offered to go 



and buy the hors d'oeuvre, which play such an important 
part in a Russian dinner, the fruit, and the dessert. If 
my mother were imprudent enough to consent, Dos- 
toyevsky went to the best shops in the town and bought 
of all the good things he found there. I always smile 
when I read how Dmitri Karamazov bought provisions 
at Plotnikov's, before starting for Mokro6. I seem 
to see myself at Staraya-Russa, in that selfsame shop, 
where I sometimes went with my father, and observed 
with all the interest of a greedy child his original manner 
of providing for himself. When I went with my 
mother, she would come out carrying a modest parcel 
in her hand. When I accompanied my father, we left 
the shop empty-handed, but several small boys preceded 
or followed us to our house, gaily bearing big baskets 
and reckoning on a good tip. Like a true Schliahtitch, 
my father never asked himself whether he was rich or 
poor. Formerly, in Poland and in Lithuania, the native 
nobility starved at home, and arrived at all public 
gatherings in gilt coaches and magnificent velvet coats. 
They lived crippled by debts, paying back only a tithe 
of what they had borrowed, never thinking of their 
financial position, amusing themselves, laughing and 
dancing. These racial defects take centuries to eradicate ; 
many a descendant of Dostoyevsky's will yet have to 
suffer for the mad prodigality of their ancestors. There 
was, however, one important difference between my 
father and the Lithuanian Schliahtitchi. They thought 
only of living merrily, and cared little for others. He 
gave alms to all the poor he encountered, and was never 
able to refuse money to those who came to tell him of 
their misfortunes and beg him to help them. The 
tips he gave to servants for the smallest services were 
fabulous and exasperated my poor mother. 

It is obvious that living in this manner my father 
spent more than his guardian could send him from 


Moscow. He got into debt, and, wishing to escape from 
the importunities of his creditors, he proposed to his 
guardian to barter his birthright for a comparatively- 
small sum of ready money. Knowing nothing of news- 
papers or of publishers, Dostoyevsky ingenuously hoped 
to make a living by his pen. His guardian agreed to the 
bargain, which he ought never to have entertained. 
My aunts argued that their brother Fyodor knew nothing 
of business, and that he could be made to accept the 
most disadvantageous terms. They tried to repeat the 
process later on, when the Dostoyevsky family inherited 
some further property, and the struggle on which my 
father was forced to enter with his sisters darkened the 
close of his life. I shall speak of this business more 
fully in the final chapters of my book. 

Having paid his debts, Dostoyevsky soon spent the 
little money he had left. He tried to make translations, ^ 
but of course this brought in very little. At this junc- 
ture his aunt Kumanin came to his assistance and 
made him an allowance. She was a sister of his mother's, 
who had made a rich marriage, and lived in a fine house 
in Moscow, surrounded by a horde of devoted servants, 
and waited on and amused by a number of lady com- 
panions, poor women who trembled before her, and 
gave way to all the caprices of their wealthy despot. 
She patronised her nephews and nieces, and was par- 
ticularly well disposed to my father, who was always 
her favourite. She alone of all the family appreciated 
his powers, and was always ready to come to his aid. 
My father was very fond of his old aunt Kumanin, 
though he made fun of her a little, like all her young 
nephews. He painted her in The Gambler, in the person 
of the old Moscow grandmother, who arrives in Germany, 
plays roulette, loses half her fortune and goes back to 

1 It was at this time that he made an excellent translation of 
Eugenie Grandet. 


Moscow as suddenly as she came. At the time when 
roulette was flourishing in Germany, my great-aunt was 
too old to travel. It may be, however, that she played 
cards at Moscow, and lost large sums of money. When 
he depicted her as coming to Germany and playing 
roulette at his side, Dostoyevsky perhaps meant to show 
us whence came his passion for gaming. 

It must not be supposed, however, that because my 
father spent a good deal of money he was leading a 
profligate life. Dostoyevsky's youth was studious and 
industrious. He went out very little, and would sit all 
day at his writing-table, talking to his heroes, laughing, 
crying, and suffering with them. His friend Grigoro- 
vitch, more practical than he, while working at his 
writing, tried to make acquaintances useful to his future 
career, got himself introduced into literary society, and 
then introduced his friend Dostoyevsky. Grigorovitch 
was handsome, gay and elegant; he made love to the 
ladies, and charmed every one. My father was awkward, 
shy, taciturn, rather ugly; he spoke little, and listened 
much. In the drawing-rooms they frequented the two 
friends met the young Turgenev, who had also come 
to embark upon the career of a novelist at Petersburg. 
My father admired him greatly. " I am in love with 
Turgenev,'' he wrote ingenuously to his brother 
Mihail, who, having completed his military studies was 
serving at Reval as an officer. " He is so handsome, 
so graceful, so elegant 1 " Turgenev accepted my 
father's homage with an air of condescension. He 
considered Dostoyevsky a nonentity. 

Grigorovitch succeeded in making the acquaintance 
of the poet Nekrassov, who proposed to start a literary 
review. Grigorovitch was eager to be connected with 
this review in one way or another. His first works were 
not quite finished — he was rather too fond of society — 
but he knew that my father had written a novel and was 


perpetually correcting it, fearing he had not been very 
successful. Grigorovitch persuaded him to entrust the 
manuscript to him and took it to Nekrassov. The latter 
asked Grigorovitch if he were familiar with the work of 
his comrade, and hearing that he had not yet found time 
to read it, proposed that they should go through two or 
three chapters together, to see if it were worth anything. 
They read this first novel of my father's through at a 
sitting.^ Dawn was stealing in at the windows when they 
finished it. Nekrassov was astounded. "Let us go 
and see Dostoyevsky," he proposed; "I want to tell 
him what I think of his work." " But he is asleep, it is 
not yet morning," objected Grigorovitch. " What does 
it matter ? This is more important than sleep ! " And 
the enthusiast set off, followed by Grigorovitch, to rouse 
my father at five o'clock in the morning, and inform 
him that he had an extraordinary talent. 

Later on the manuscript was submitted to the famous 
critic Belinsky, who, after reading it, desired to see 
the young author. Dostoyevsky entered his presence 
trembling with emotion. Belinsky received him with a 
severe expression. " Young man," he said, " do you 
know what you have just written? No, you do not. 
You cannot understand it yet." 

Nekrassov published Poor Folks in his Review, and it 
had a great success. My father found himself famous 
in a day. Everybody wished to know him. " Who is 
this Dostoyevsky ? " people were asking on every side. 

^ It was called Poor Folks. Before writing it my father began 
a tragedy, Mary Stuart, which he laid aside in order to write a 
drama, Boris Godimov. The choice of these subjects is very 
significant. It is probable that in Dostoyevsky's early youth, 
the Norman blood of his paternal ancestors was at war in his 
heart with the Mongolian blood of his Moscow ancestors. But 
the Slav strain was the strongest and overcame the Norman and 
Mongolian atavisms. Dostoyevsky abandoned Mary Stuart and 
Boris Godunov, and gave us Poor Folks, which is full of the 
charming Slav sentiment of pity. 


My father had only recently began to frequent literary 
society, and no one had noticed him particularly. The 
timid Lithuanian was always retiring into a corner, or 
the embrasure of a window, or lurking behind a screen. 
But he was no longer allowed to hide himself. He was 
surrounded and complimented ; he was induced to talk, 
and people found him charming. In addition to the 
literary salons, where those who aspired to be novelists, 
or those who were interested in literature were received, 
there were other more interesting salons in Petersburg 
where only famous writers, painters and musicians were 
admitted. Such were the salons of Prince Odoevsky, a 
distinguished poet, of Count Sollohub, a novelist of 
much taste, who has left us very penetrating descriptions 
of Russian life in the first half of the nineteenth century, 
and of his brother-in-law. Count Vieillegorsky, a russian- 
ised Pole. All these gentlemen hastened to make 
Dostoyevsky's acquaintance, invited him to their houses 
and received him cordially. My father enjoyed himself 
more especially with the Vieillegorsky, where there was 
excellent music. Dostoyevsky adored music. I do 
not think, however, that he had a musical ear, for he 
distrusted new compositions, and preferred to hear the 
pieces he knew already. The more he heard them, the 
more they delighted him. 

Count Vieillegorsky was a passionate lover of music ; 
he patronised musicians, and was accustomed to hunt 
them out in the most obscure corners of the capital. 
It is probable that some strange type, some poor, 
drunken, ambitious, jealous violinist, discovered by 
Count Vieillegorsky in a garret, and induced to play at 
his receptions, struck my father's imagination, for Count 
Vieillegorsky's house is the scene of his novel Netotchka 
Nesvanova. In this Dostoyevsky achieved a true 
masterpiece of feminine psychology, though, in his 
youthful inexperience, he may not have sufficiently 


explained it to his public. It is said that Countess 
Vieillegorsky was born Princess Biron. Now the Princes 
Biron, natives of Courland, always claimed to belong to 
the sovereigns, rather than to the aristocracy of Europe. 
If we read Netotchka Nesvanova attentively, we shall 
soon see that Prince S., who had offered hospitality to 
the poor orphan girl, is merely a man of good education 
and good society, whereas his wife is very haughty, and 
gives the air of a palace to her home. All those around 
her speak of her as of a sovereign. Her daughter Katia 
is a regular little " Highness," spoilt and capricious, now 
terrorising her subjects, now making them her favourites. 
Her affection for Netotchka becomes at once very 
passionate, even slightly erotic. The Russian critics 
rebuked Dostoyevsky very severely for this suggestion 
of eroticism. Now my father was perfectly truthful, 
for these poor German princesses, who can never marry 
for love, and are always sacrificed to interests of State, 
often suffer from such passionate and even erotic femi- 
nine friendships. The disease is hereditary among 
them, and might well have declared itself in their 
descendant, the little Katia, a precocious child. The 
Vieillegorsky had no daughter; the type of Katia was 
entirely created by my father, who depicted it after 
studying the princely household. In the portrait of this 
little neurotic Highness Dostoyevsky shows a knowledge 
of feminine psychology very remarkable in a shy young 
man, who scarcely dared to approach women. His 
talent was already very great at this period. Unfortun- 
ately, he lacked models. Nothing could have been paler 
or less distinctive than the unhappy natives of Peters- 
burg, born and bred in a swamp. They are mere copies 
and caricatures of Europe. "These folks have all been 
dead for a long time," said the Russian writer, Mihail 
Saltikov. " They only continue to live because the 
police have forgotten to bury the^ 



Dostoyevsky's friends, the young novelists who were 
beginning their Hterary careers, had not the strength of 
mind to accept his unexpected success. They became 
jealous, and were irritated by the idea that the timid 
and modest young man was received in the salons of 
celebrities, to which aspirants were not yet admitted. 
They would not appreciate his novel. Poor Folks 
seemed to them wearisome and absurd. They parodied 
it in prose and verse, and ridiculed the young author 
unmercifully.! To injure him in public opinion they 
invented grotesque anecdotes about him. They asserted 
that success had turned his head, that he had insisted 
that each page of his second novel, which was about to 
appear in Nekrassov's Review, should be enframed in a 
border to distinguish it from the other works in the 
Review. This was, of course, a lie. The Double 
appeared without any frame. They scoffed at his 
timidity in the society of women, and described how he 
had fainted with emotion at the feet of a young beauty 
to whom he had been presented in some drawing-room. 
My father suffered greatly as he lost his illusions con- 
cerning friendship. He had had a very different idea 
of it ; he imagined artlessly that his friends would rejoice 
at his success, as he would certainly have rejoiced at 
theirs. The malice of Turgenev, who, exasperated 
at the success of Poor Folks did his utmost to injure 
Dostoyevsky, was particularly wounding to my father. 
He was so much attached to Turgenev, and admired 
him so sincerely. This was the beginning of the long 
animosity between them, which lasted all their lives, 
and was so much discussed in Russia. 

When we pass in review all the friends my father had 
during his life we shall see that those of his early man- 
hood differ very markedly from those of his maturity. 

1 Turgenev wrote a burlesque poem, in which he made my 
father cut a ridiculous figure. 


Until the age of forty Dostoyevsky's relations were 
almost exclusively with Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Poles 
and natives of the Baltic Provinces. Grigorovitch, 
half Ukrainian, half French, was his earliest friend, and 
found a publisher for his first novel. Nekrassov, whose 
mother was a Pole, gave him his first success ; Belinsky, 
Polish or Lithuanian by origin, revealed his genius to the 
Russian public. It was Count Sollohub, the descendant 
of a great Lithuanian family, and Count Vieillegorsky, 
a Pole, who received him cordially in their salons. 
Later, in Siberia, we shall find Dostoyevsky protected by 
a Swede and natives of the Baltic Provinces. It seems 
that all these people recognised in him a European, a 
man of Western culture, a writer who shared their 
Slavo-Norman ideas. At the same time, all the Russians 
were hostile to him. His comrades in the School of 
Engineers ridiculed him cruelly; his young literary 
friends hated him, despised him, tried to make him a 
laughing-stock. It was as if they recognised in him 
something opposed to their Russian ideals. 

After the age of forty, when Dostoyevsky had defin- 
itively adopted the Russian attitude, the nationality of 
his friends changed. The Slavo-Normans disappeared 
from his life. The Russians sought his friendship and 
formed a body-guard around him. After his death they 
continued to guard him as jealously as in the past. 
Whenever I mention the Lithuanian origin of our family, 
my compatriots frown, and say : " Do forget that 
wretched Lithuania ! Your family left it ages ago. 
Your father was Russian, the most Russian of Russians. 
No one ever understood the real Russia as he did." 

I smile when I note this jealousy, which is, in its 
essence, love. I think that after all the Russians are 
right, for it was they who gave Dostoyevsky his mag- 
nificent talent. Lithuania formed his character and 
civilised his mind ; Ukrainia awoke poetry in the hearts 


of his ancestors; but all this fuel, gathered together 
throughout the ages, kindled only when Holy Russia 
fired it with the spark of her great genius. 

My father's first novel was certainly very well written, 
but it was not original. It was an imitation of a novel 
of Gogol's, who in his turn had imitated the French 
literature of his day. Les Miserables, with its marvellous 
Jean Valjean, is at the bottom of this new literary 
movement. It is true that Les Misirables was written 
later ; but the type of Valjean, a convict of great nobility 
of mind, had begun to appear in Europe. The demo- 
cratic ideas awakened by the French Revolution, led 
writers to raise poor folks, peasants, and small trades- 
people to the rank occupied by the nobles and the 
intellectuals of the upper middle class. This new trend 
in literature was very pleasing to the Russians, who, 
having never had any feudal aristocracy, were always 
attracted by democratic ideas. Russian writers, who 
at this period were polished and highly educated persons, 
would no longer describe the drawing-room ; they sought 
their heroes in the garret. They had not the least idea 
what such people were really like, and instead of describ- 
ing them as they were in reality, illiterate and brutalised 
by poverty, they endowed their new heroes with 
chivalrous sentiments, and made them write letters 
worthy of Madame de Sevign6. It was false and absurd, 
nevertheless, these novels were the origin of that magnifi- 
cent nineteenth-century literature which is the glory of 
our country. Writers gradually perceived that before 
describing a new world, one must study it. They set to 
work to observe the peasants, the clergy, the merchants, 
the townsfolk ; they gave excellent descriptions of Russian 
life, which was very little known. But this was much 
later. At the period of which I am writing, Russian 
novelists drew on their imagination, and have left us 
works full of absurdities. 


My father no doubt realised how false these novels 
were, for he tried to break away from this new literary 
genre in his second work. The Double is a book of far 
higher quality than Poor Folks. It is original, it is 
already " Dostoyevsky." Our alienists admire this 
little masterpiece greatly, and are surprised that a young 
novelist should have been able to describe the last days 
of a madman so graphically, without having previously 
studied medicine.^ 

Yet this second novel was not so successful as the 
first. It was too new; people did not understand that 
minute analysis of the human heart, which was so much 
appreciated later. Madmen were not fashionable; this 
novel without hero or heroine was considered uninterest- 
ing. The critics did not conceal their disappointment. 
"We were mistaken," they wrote; " Dostoyevsky's 
talent is not so great as we thought." If my father 
had been older, he would have disregarded the critics, 
he would have persisted in his new genre, would have 
imposed it on the public, and would have produced very 
fine psychological studies even then. But he was too 
young; criticism distressed him. He was afraid of 
losing the success he had achieved with his first novel, 
and he went back to the false Gogol manner. 

But this time he was not content to draw on his 
imagination. He studied the new heroes of Russian 
literature, went to observe the inhabitants of garrets in 
the little cafSs and drinking shops of the capital. He 
entered into conversation with them, watched them, and 
noted their manners and customs carefully. Feeling shy 
and uncertain how to approach them, Dostoyevsky 
invited them to play billiards with him. He was un- 

1 Dostoyevsky thought very highly of The Double. In a letter 
to his brother Mihail, written after his return from Siberia, my 
father said : " It was a magnificent idea ; a type of great social 
importance which I was the first to create and present." 


familiar with the game, and not at all interested in it, 
and he naturally lost a good deal of money. He did not 
regret this, for he was able to make curious observations 
as he played, and to note many original expressions.^ 

After studying this curious society, of which he had 
known nothing, for some months, Dostoyevsky began to 
describe the lower orders as they really were, thinking 
this would interest the public. Alas ! he was even less 
successful than before. The Russian public was ready 
to take an interest in the wretched, if they were served 
up d, la Jean Valjean. Their real life, in all its sordid 
meanness, interested no one. 

Dostoyevsky began to lose confidence in his powers. 
His health gave way, he became nervous and hysterical. 
Epilepsy was latent in him, and before declaring itself 
in epileptic seizures, it oppressed him terribly. ^ He 
now avoided society, would spend long hours shut up 
in his own room, or wandering about in the darkest and 
most deserted streets of Petersburg. He talked to 
himself as he walked, gesticulating, and causing passers- 
by to turn and look at him. Friends who met him 
thought he had gone mad. The colourless, stupid city 
quenched his talent. The upper classes were mere 

^ My father's friends relate in their reminiscences that he often 
invited strangers to visit him among tliose he met in the cajds, 
and that lie would spend whole days listening to their conversation 
and stories. My father's friends could not understand what 
pleasure he could take in talking to such uneducated people; 
later, when they read his novels, they recognised the types they 
had encountered. It is evident that, like all young men of talent, 
he could only paint from nature at this period. Later he did 
not need models, and created his types himself. 

2 Dr. Janovsky, whom my father liked very much, and con- 
sulted about his health, says that long before his convict-life 
Dostoyevsky already suffered from a nervous complaint, which was 
very like epilepsy. As I have mentioned above, my father's 
family declared that he had had his first attack when he heard 
of the tragic death of my grandfather. It is evident that he was 
already suffering from epilepsy at the age of eighteen, although 
it did not assume its more violent form until after his imprisonment. 


caricatures of Europeans ; the populace belonged to the 
Finno-Turkisk tribe, an inferior race, who could not give 
Dostoyevsky any idea of the great Russian people. He 
had not enough money to go to Europe, the Caucasus 
or the Crimea ; travelling was very costly at this period. 
My father languished in Petersburg and was only happy 
with his brother Mihail, who had resigned his com- 
mission and settled in the capital, meaning to devote 
himself to literature. He had married a German of 
Reval, Emilie Dibmar, and had several children. My 
father was fond of his nephews ; their childish laughter 
banished his melancholy. 

It is astonishing to find no woman in the life of 
Dostoyevsky at this period of early youth, which is the 
age of love for most men. No betrothed, no mistress, 
not even a flirtation I This extraordinary virtue can 
only be explained by the tardy development of his 
organism, which is not rare in Northern Russia. Russian 
law allows women to marry at the age of sixteen ; but 
quite recently, a few years before the war, Russian 
savants had begun to protest against this barbarous 
custom. According to their observations the Northern 
Russian woman is not completely developed until the 
age of twenty-three. If she marries before this, child- 
bearing may do her great harm and ruin her health 
permanently. It is to this evil custom that our doctors 
attribute the hysteria and nervous complaints that 
ravage so many Russian homes. If the savants are 
right, we must place the complete development of the 
Northern Russian male organism in the twenty-fifth 
year, as men always come to maturity later than women. 
A^ to abnormal organisms, those of epileptics, for in- 
stance, they must mature even more slowly. It is pos- 
sible that at this age, Dostoyevsky's senses were not 
yet awakened. He was like a schoolboy who admires 
women from afar, is very much afraid of them, and 


does not yet need them. My father's friends, as we 
have seen, ridiculed his timidity in the society of 
women. ^ His romantic period began after his imprison- 
ment, and he showed no timidity then. 

The heroines of Dostoyevsky's first novels are pale, 
nebulous, and lacking in vitality. He painted only 
two good feminine portraits at this period — those of 
Netotchka Nesvanova and the little Katia, children 
of from ten to twelve years old. This novel is, if we 
except The Double, his best work of this period. It has 
but one fault, which is common to all the novels written 
by Dostoyevsky before his imprisonment : the heroes 
are too international. They can live under any skies, 
speak all tongues, bear all climates. They have no 
fatherland, and, like all cosmopolitans, are pale, vague 
and ill-defined. To make them live, it was necessary to 
create a nationality for them. This Dostoyevsky was 
about to do in Siberia. 

^ Dr. Riesenkampf, who knew my father well at this period of 
his life, wrote in his reminiscences : " At the age of twenty young 
men generally seek a feminine ideal, and run after all young 
beauties. I never noticed anything of the sort with Dostoyevsky. 
He was indifferent to women, had even an antipathy to them." 
Riesenkampf adds, however, that Dostoyevsky was much inter- 
ested in the love-affairs of his comrades, and was fond of singing 
sentimental songs. This habit of singing songs that pleased him 
he retained to the end of his life. He generally sang in a low 
voice when he was alone in his room. 


It was at his unhappy period of his hfe that my 
father was involved in the Petrachevsky conspiracy. 
Those who were famihar with Dostoyevsky's monarchic 
principles in later life could never understand how he 
came to associate himself with revolutionaries. It is, 
indeed, inexplicable if my father's Lithuanian origin 
be ignored. He plotted against the Tsar, because he 
did not yet understand the real meaning of the Russian 
monarchy. At this period of his life Dostoyevsky knew 
little of Russia. He had spent his childhood in a kind 
of artificial Lithuania created by his father in the heart 
of Moscow. In his adolescence at the Castle of the 
Engineers he held aloof as far as possible from his 
Russian comrades. When he became a novelist he 
frequented the literary society of Petersburg, the least 
stable in the whole country. At that time Russia was 
practically unknown; our geographers and historians 
hardly existed as yet. Travelling was difficult and 
expensive. There were neither railways nor steamers 
in the country. The peasant-serfs worked their land 
and kept silence; the moujik was called "a sphynx." 
The Russian writers lived only by the mind of Europe, 
read only French, English and German books, and 
shared all the ideas of Europeans concerning liberty. 
Instead of informing Europe as to Russian ideas, our 
writers ingenuously asked Europe to explain to them 
what Russia was. Now if my compatriots knew little 
of Russia, Europe knew nothing of it. European 



writers, scientists, statesmen and diplomatists did not 
learn the Russian language, did not travel in Russia, 
did not take the trouble to go and study the moujik 
in his home. They were content to get their information 
from the political refugees who inhabited their towns. 
All these Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Armenians, Finns 
and Letts could not even speak Russian, and talked the 
most terrible jargon. This did not prevent them from 
addressing Europe in the name of the Russian people. 
They assured Europeans that the moujiks were groaning 
under the yoke of the Tsars, and were waiting impatiently 
for the nations of Europe to come and deliver them, in 
order to give them that European republic of which 
(according to the refugees) the moujik was dreaming 
day and night. Europe took their word for it. It has 
only been in our own days, when Europeans have seen 
" Tsarism " replaced by Bolshevism and defaitisme, 
that they have begun to understand how they have been 
deceived. It will be a long time yet before they 
understand the true Russia. Meanwhile the Russian 
Colossus has many rude awakenings and unpleasant 
surprises in store for them. 

At the time of the Petrachevsky conspiracy my father 
was more Lithuanian than Russian, and Europe was 
dearer to him than his fatherland. The novels he wrote 
before his imprisonment were all imitations of European 
works : Schiller, Balzac, Dickens, Georges Sand and 
Walter Scott were his masters. He believed in the 
European newspapers as one believes in the Gospels. 
He dreamed of going to live in Europe, and declared 
that he could only learn to write well there. He talked 
of this project in his letters to his friends, and lamented 
that lack of means prevented him from carrying it out. 
The thought that it might be well to go east instead of 
west, in order to become a great Russian writer, never 
entered his head. Dostoyevsky hated the Mongolian 


strain in the Russians ; he was a true Ivan Karamazov 
at this time of his hfe. 

The emancipation of the serfs was then imminent. 
Every one was talking of it, and every one reahsed the 
necessity for it. Our government, true to its tradition, 
hesitated to make the reform. The Russians, who 
understood their own slow and indolent national 
character knew that they had only to wait patiently 
for a year or two and they would obtain it. The Poles, 
the Lithuanians and the natives of the Baltic Provinces 
did not understand this delay, and believed that the 
Tsar would never give liberty to his people. They 
proposed to overthrow him in order to secure it them- 
selves for the peasants. Dostoyevsky shared their 
misgivings. He knew nothing of Oriental indolence; 
all his life he was active and energetic. When an idea 
seemed right to him he at once put it into practice ; he 
could not understand the dilatoriness of the Russian 
bureaucracy. He could not forget his father's tragic 
death, and he ardently desired the abolition of a system 
which made the masters cruel and incited the slaves to 
crime. In his then state of mind, the meeting with 
Petrachevsky was bound to have fatal results. 
Petrachevsky, as his name indicates, was of Polish 
or Lithuanian origin, and this was a bond of union 
between him and Dostoyevsky stronger than all the rest. 
Petrachevsky was eloquent and adroit ; he drew all the 
young dreamers in Petersburg around him and inflamed 
them. The idea of sacrificing oneself to the happiness 
of others is very attractive to young and generous 
hearts, especially when their own lives are as sad as was 
my father's at that time. During his lonely wanderings 
in the dark streets of Petersburg, he must often have 
said to himself that it would be better to die in a noble 
cause than to drag out a useless existence. 

The Petrachevsky trial is one of the most obscure of 


all Russian political trials. The secret documents which 
have been published give but a very commonplace 
picture of a political gathering, where young people met 
to repeat truisms about the new ideas which were arriving 
from Europe, to lend each other books forbidden by the 
Censor, and to declaim incendiary fragments from 
revolutionary pamphlets. Nevertheless, my father 
ahvays maintained that it was a political plot, the object 
of which was to overthrow the Tsar, and set up a republic 
of intellectuals in Russia. It is probable that Petrachev- 
sky, while preparing an army of volunteers, confided 
the secret aims of the enterprise only to a chosen few. 
Appreciating Dostoyevsky's mind, courage and moral 
force, Petrachevsky probably intended him to play a 
leading part in the future republic. ^ My uncle Mihail, 
was also interested in the society, but as he was married, 
and the father of a family, he thought it wise not to 
frequent the Petrachevsky gatherings too assiduously. 
He took advantage, however, of the library of forbidden 
books. My uncle was at this time a great admirer of 
Fourier, and a fervid student of his romantic theories. 
My uncle Andrey also attended the meetings. At this 
period he was a very young man, and had only just 
begun his higher courses of study. He was many years 
younger than his two elder brothers, and looked upon 
them rather as parents than as equals. The older men 
in their turn, treated him as a little boy. Such relations 
do not exist among Russians, but they are often found 

1 One of the members of the Petrachevsky association gave it 
as his opinion that Dostoyevsky was the only one of the band who 
was a typical conspirator. He was silent and reserved, not given 
to opening his heart to every one after the Russian fashion. 
This reticence persisted all his life. He maintained it even 
towards my mother, and in the early days of their marriage she 
fomid it very difficult to make him speak of his past life. Later, 
however, when Dostoyevsky realised how devoted his second wife 
was to him, he opened his heart to her, and had no more secrets 
from her. 


in Polish and Lithuanian families. My father never 
discussed politics with his younger brother, and my 
uncle Audrey was unaware of the part he was playing 
in Petrachevsky's society. Audrey Dostoyevsky had 
none of the literary talent of his brothers; but the 
family readings which my grandfather Mihail continued 
for the benefit of his younger sons gave him a great 
interest in literature. Later, when serving the State in 
various provincial towns, he always managed to draw 
all the intellectuals of the place round him. Having 
heard of the interesting gatherings that took place at 
Petrachevsky's house, he begged one of his comrades 
to introduce him. He attended several meetings without 
encountering my father. One evening, when my uncle 
Audrey was passing from group to group, listening with 
great interest to the political discussions of the young 
men, he suddenly found himself confronted by his brother 
Fyodor, whose face was white and drawn with anger. 

" What are you doing here? " he asked in a terrible 
voice. " Go away, go away at once, and let me never 
see you in this house again." 

My uncle was so alarmed by his elder brother's anger 
that he left Petrachevsky's reception immediately, and 
never returned. When the police discovered the plot 
later on, all three Dostoyevsky brothers were arrested. 
My uncle Audrey's ingenuous replies made it evident to 
the judges that he knew nothing of the conspiracy, and 
he was soon released. The anger of his brother had 
saved him. My uncle Mihail was kept in prison for 
some weeks. Dostoyevsky said later in the Journal of 
the Writer i that Mihail knew a great deal. It is probable 
that my father had no secrets from him. My uncle also 
knew how to hold his tongue, and he confessed nothing. 
He was able to prove easily that he rarely visited 
Petrachevsky and only went to his house to borrow 
books. He was eventually released, and Prince Gagarin, 


who was looking into his case, knowing the affection that 
existed between the two brothers, hastened to let my 
father know that his brother had been liberated, and that 
he need have no further fears on his account. My father 
never forgot this generous action on the part of Prince 
Gagarin, and he spoke of it later in the Journal of the 

Dostoyevsky was treated more harshly than his 
brothers. He had been sent to the Peter-Paul fortress, 
the terrible prison of political conspirators. Here he 
spent the most miserable months of his life. He did 
not like to speak of them ; he tried to forget. Strange 
to say, The Little Hero, the novel he wrote in prison, 
is the most poetic, the most graceful, the j^^oungest and 
freshest of all his works. As we read it we might suppose 
that Dostoyevsky was trying to evoke in his dark prison 
the scent of flowers, the poetic shade of the great parks 
with their centenarian trees, the joyous laughter of 
children, the beauty and grace of young women. Summer 
was reigning in Petersburg, but the sun barely glanced 
on the damp walls of the old fortress. 

The Petrachevsky trial dragged on as was usual in 
Russia. Autumn had already come when the Governor 
at last made up his mind to deal seriously with the 
conspirators. Our political cases were nearly always 
tried by the military courts; the chief among the 
generals who had to enquire into the Petrachevsky affair 
was General Rostovzov. Later, he was appointed 
President of the Commission for the emancipation of 
the serfs, and conducted a vigorous struggle with the 
great landowners who wished to emancipate the serfs, 
but to keep all the land for themselves. Rostovzov, 
supported by Alexander II, who had a great regard 
for him, gained the victory, and the peasants received 
their portions of land. General Rostovzov was an 
ardent patriot, and looked upon all pohtical conspiracies 



as crimes. He carefully studied all the documents 
the police had seized in the dwellings of Petrachevsky 
and of the young men who belonged to his party, and 
was probably surprised at the weakness of the evidence 
against them. Knowing something of Dostoyevsky's 
intellect and talent, he suspected him of being one of the 
leaders of the movement, and resolved to make him 
speak. On the day of the trial he was amiable and 
charming to my father. He talked to Dostoyevsky 
as to a young author of great gifts, a man of lofty 
European culture, who had unfortunately been drawn 
into a political plot without very well knowing the 
gravity of what he was doing. The General was 
obviously indicating to Dostoyevsky the part he ought 
to play to avoid severe punishment. My father was 
always very ingenuous and very confiding. He did 
not understand all this, was much attracted by the 
General, who treated him not as a criminal, but as a 
man of the world, and answered all his questions readily. 
Rostovzov must have let slip some unguarded word, 
for my father suddenly realised that he was being invited 
to buy his own liberty by selling his comrades. He was 
deeply indignant that such a proposal should have been 
made to him. His sympathy for Rostovzov changed 
to hatred. He became stubborn and cautious, fencing 
with each question put to him. The young man, 
though nervous and hysterical, and exhausted by long 
months of imprisonment, was stronger than the General. 
Seeing that his stratagem was detected, Rostovzov lost 
his temper; he quitted the court, leaving the inter- 
rogatory to the other members of the tribunal. Occasion- 
ally he opened the door of an adjoining room where he 
had taken refuge and asked : " Have they finished 
examining Dostoyevsky ? I won't come back into the 
court until that hardened sinnef has left it." 

My father could never forgive Rostovzov's hostile 


attitude. He called him a mountebank, and spoke of 
him with contempt all his life. He despised him the 
more, because at the time of the trial, Dostoyevsky 
believed himself to be in the right, and considered himself 
as a hero eager to save his country. The anguish my 
father endured during his examination made a deep 
impression on his mind. Later it found expression in 
Raskolnikov's duel with Porfiry, and Dmitri Kara- 
mazov's duel with the magistrates who came to interrogate 
him at Mokro6. 

The Generals, headed by Rostovzov, presented the 
death-sentence to Nicholas I. He refused to sign it. 
The Emperor was not cruel, but he was narrow-minded, 
and had no idea of psychology. This science was, 
indeed, very little known in Russia at this period. The 
Emperor did not desire the death of the conspirators, 
but he wished " to give the young men a good lesson." 
His advisers proposed a lugubrious comedy. The 
prisoners were told to prepare for death. They were 
taken to a public place, where the scaffold had been 
erected. They were made to mount it. One of the 
conspirators was bound to a post with his eyes bandaged. 
The soldiers made as if they were about to shoot the 
unhappy prisoners. ... At this moment a messenger 
arrived and announced that the Emperor had changed 
the death-sentence into that of hard labour. Memoirs 
of the time state that for fear of accidents the soldiers 
rifles were not even loaded, and that the messenger who 
was supposed to have come from the Palace was actually 
on the spot before the arrival of the conspirators. All 
this was, no doubt, true ; but the unfortunate young men 
knew nothing of it, and were making ready to die. If 
Nicholas I had been more subtly constituted, he would 
have realised that it would have been more generous to 
shoot the conspirators than to make them undergo such 
anguish. However, the Emperor acted in accordance 


with the manners of his time; our grandfathers had a 
great hking for scenes of false sentiment. Nicholas 
no doubt thought he would confer a great joy on the 
young men by giving them back their lives on the 
scaffold itself. Few among them were able to bear this 
joy; some lost their reason, others died young. It is 
possible that my father's epilepsy would never have 
taken such a terrible form but for this grim jest. 

Ill and enfeebled as he was, Dostoyevsky had mounted 
the scaffold boldly and had looked death bravely in the 
face. He has told us that all he felt at this moment was 
a mystic fear at the thought of presenting himself 
immediately before God, in his unprepared state. His 
friends who were gathered round the scaffold say he was 
calm and dignified. My father has described his emo- 
tions at this moment in The Idiot. Though he paints 
the anguish of one condemned to death, he tells us 
nothing of the joy he felt on learning his reprieve. It 
is probable that when the first rush of animal joy was 
over he felt a great bitterness, a deep indignation at 
the thought that he had been played with and tortured 
so cruelly. His pure soul, which was already aspiring 
heavenwards, perhaps regretted that it had to sink to 
earth again, and plunge once more into the mud in 
which we are all struggling. 

My father returned to the fortress. A few days later 
he left for Siberia in company of a police officer. He 
quitted Petersburg on Christmas Eve. As he passed in 
a sleigh through the streets of the capital, he looked at 
the lighted windows of the houses and said to himself : 
" At this moment they are lighting up the Christmas 
tree in my brother Mihail's house. My nephews are 
admiring it, laughing and dancing round it, and I am 
not with them. God knows if I shall ever see them 
again ! " Dostoyevsky regretted only his little nephews 
as he turned his back on that cold-hearted city. 


On arriving in Siberia my father had a visit at one 
of the first halts from two ladies. They were the wives 
of " Dekabrists," ^ whose self-appointed mission it was 
to meet newly arrived political prisoners, in order to 
say a few words of comfort to them, and give them some 
advice about the life that awaited them as convicts. 
They handed my father a Bible, the only book allowed 
in prison. Taking advantage of a moment when the 
police officer's back was turned, one of the ladies told 
my father in French to examine the book carefully 
when he was alone. He found a note for 25 roubles 
stuck between two leaves of the Bible. With this 
money he was able to buy a little linen, soap and tobacco, 
to improve his coarse fare, and get white bread. He had 
no other money all the time he was in exile. His 
brothers, his sisters, his aunt and his friends had all 
basely deserted him, terrified by his crime and its 

1 Persons implicated in a political plot against Nicholas I at the 
beginning of his reign. They made their attempt to overthrow 
autocratic rule in the month of December, whence their name of 
" Dekabrists." They were sent to a convict station ; their 
wives followed them. They enjoyed more liberty than their 
husbands, who at the time of the Petrachevsky conspiracy, had 
already served their sentence, but had still to remain in Siberia 
under police surveillance. The " Dekabrists " had wished to 
introduce an aristocratic republic in Russia, and apportion power 
among those who belonged to the union of hereditary nobles. 
The nobles always had a great respect for the " Dekabrists " and 
considered them martyrs. 



When a man is suddenly uprooted and finds himself 
obliged to spend years in a strange world, with people 
whose coarseness and lack of education are bound to 
distress him, he thinks out a plan by means of which 
he may avoid the worst blows to his susceptibilities, 
adopts an attitude, and resolves on a certain course 
of conduct. Some entrench themselves in silence and 
disdain, hoping to be left in peace; others become 
flatterers, and seek to purchase their repose by the 
basest adulation. Dostoyevsky, condemned to live 
for years in prison, in the midst of a redoubtable band 
of criminals, who, having nothing to lose, feared nothing 
and were capable of anything, chose a very different 
attitude; he adopted a tone of Christian fraternity. 
This was no new part to him; he had already essayed 
it when, as a child, he had approached the iron gate 
in his father's private garden and, risking a punishment, 
had entered into conversation with the poor patients 
of the hospital; again, when he had talked with the 
peasant-serfs of Darovoye, and tried to gain their affection 
by helping the poor women in their field-work. He 
adopted the same fraternal tone later when he studied 
the poor of Petersburg in the small cafes and drink- 
shops of the capital, playing billiards with them, and 
offering them their choice of refreshments the while 
he tried to surprise the secrets of their hearts. Dos- 
toyevsky realised that he would never become a great 
writer by frequenting elegant drawing-rooms, full of 



polite people in well-cut coats, with fashionable cravats, 
empty heads, anaemic hearts and colourless souls. 
Every writer depends on the people, on the simple souls 
who have never been taught the art of hiding their 
sufferings under a veil of trivial words. The moujiks 
of Yasnaia Poliana taught Tolstoy more than his Moscow 
friends could teach him. The peasants who accompanied 
Turgenev on his sporting expeditions gave him more 
original ideas than his European friends. Dostoyevsky 
in his turn depended on poor people, and from his child- 
hood, instinctively sought a means of approaching them. 
This science, which he had already acquired to some 
extent, was to prove of the greatest service to him in 

Dostoyevsky has not concealed from us his method 
of making himself beloved by his fellow-convicts. In 
his novel. The Idiot, he describes his first steps in detail. 
Prince Mishkin, the descendant of a long line of ancestors 
of European culture, is travelling on a cold winter's 
day. He is a Russian, but having spent all his youth 
in Switzerland, he knows little of his father]and. Russia 
interests and attracts him greatly; he longs to enter 
into her soul and discover her secrets. As the Prince 
is poor, he travels third class. He is no snob; his 
coarse, common fellow-travellers inspire no disgust in 
him. They are the first real Russians he has seen; 
in Switzerland he met only our intellectuals, who aped 
Europeans, and political refugees, who, speaking a 
horrible jargon they called Russian, posed as the repre- 
sentatives of the sacred dreams of our nation. Prince 
Mishkin realises that hitherto he had seen only copies 
and caricatures, he longs to know the originals at last. 
Looking sympathetically at his third-class companions, 
he waits only for the first sentence to enter into conver- 
sation with them. His fellow-travellers observe him 
with curiosity ; they had never seen such a bird at close 


quarters before. The Prince's polite manners and 
European dress seemed ridiculous to them. They 
entered into conversation with him to make a fool of 
him, that they might have some fun at his expense. 
They laughed rudely, nudging each other, at the Prince's 
first words; but gradually, as he went on speaking, 
they ceased to laugh. His charming courtesy, his 
freedom from snobbishness, his ingenuous manner of 
treating them as his equals, as people of his own world, 
made them realise that they were in the presence of 
an extremely rare and curious creature — a true Christian. 
The youthful Rogogin feels the attraction of this 
Christian kindness, and hastens to pour out the secret 
of his heart to this distinguished unknown, who listens 
to him with so much interest. Though illiterate, 
Rogogin is very intelligent ; he understands that Prince 
Mishkin is morally his superior. He admires and 
reverences him, but he sees clearly that the poor Prince 
is but a big child, an artless dreamer, who has no know- 
ledge of life. He knows how malicious and relentless 
the world is. The idea of protecting this charming 
Prince enters Rogogin's noble heart. " Dear Prince," 
he says, when he takes leave of him in the station at 
Petersburg, " Come and see me. I will have a good 
pelisse made for you, and I will give you money and 
magnificent clothes, suitable to your rank." 

Dostoyevsky arrived in Siberia on a cold winter's 
day. He travelled third-class, in company with thieves 
and murderers, whom the mother- country was sending 
away from her to the different convict-stations of 
Siberia. He observed his new companions with curiosity. 
Here it was at last, the real Russia which he had vainly 
sought in Petersburg ! Here they were, those Russians, 
a curious mixture of Slavs and Mongolians, who had 
conquered a sixth part of the world ! Dostoyevsky 
studied the gloomy faces of his fellow-travellers, and 


that second sight which all serious writers have more 
or less, enabled him to decipher their thoughts and read 
their child-like hearts. He looked sympathetically 
at the convicts who were walking by his side, and entered 
into conversation with them at the first opportunity. 
The convicts, for their part, glanced at him enquiringly, 
but not with friendliness. Was he not a noble, did he 
not come of that accursed class of hereditary tyrants, 
who treated their serfs like dogs, and looked upon them 
as slaves, condemned to toil all their lives that their 
masters might live riotously? They entered into con- 
versation with Dostoyevsky, hoping to laugh at him, 
and to amuse themselves at his expense. They nudged 
each other and mocked at my father, when they heard 
his first words ; but gradually, as he went on speaking, 
the jeers and laughter ceased. The moujiks saw before 
them their ideal — a true Christian, a wise and modest 
man, who placed God above all, who sincerely believed 
that neither rank nor education could open any real 
gulf between men, that all were equal before God, and 
that he who is so fortunate as to possess culture should 
seek to spread it round him, instead of priding himself 
upon it. This was the moujiks' idea of true nobles, true 
bard ; but alas ! they very seldom encountered any 
of this type. At each word Dostoyevsky spoke, the 
eyes of his companions opened more widely. 

When Dostoyevsky wishes to draw his own portrait 
in the person of one of his heroes, and to relate an epoch 
of his own life, he gives that hero all the ideas and 
sensations he himself had at the period. It seems some- 
what strange that Prince Mishkin (in The Idiot), who 
was not a criminal and had never been tried and sen- 
tenced should, on his arrival at Petersburg, talk of 
nothing but the last moments of a man condemned to 
death. We feel that he is entirely possessed by the 
idea. Dostoyevsky explains this eccentric behaviour 


by telling us that the director of the sanatorium to 
which the poor Prince had been sent by his family, had 
taken him to Geneva to see an execution. These Swiss 
seem to have had a strange idea of the treatment suitable 
for a nervous patient; it is not surprising that they 
were not able to cure the Prince. My father made use 
of this somewhat far-fetched explanation in order to 
hide from the general public that Prince Mishkin was, 
in reality, no other than that unhappy convict, the 
political conspirator, Fyodor Dostoyevsky,i who, through- 
out the first year of his prison life, was hypnotised by 
his recollection of the scaffold, and could think of nothing 
else. In The Idiot, Prince Mishkin describes all the 
impressions of the condemned man to the servant of 
the Epantchin family. When they question him later 
about the execution, the Prince replies : "I have 
already told your servant my impressions; I cannot 
talk about it any more." The Epantchin have great 
difficulty in making Mishkin speak on the subject. 
This was precisely Dostoyevsky's attitude; he described 
his sufferings to the convicts and refused to discuss 
them subsequently with the intellectuals of Petersburg. 
In vain they would question him eagerly ; Dostoyevsky 
would frown and change the subject. 

It is remarkable that Prince Mishkin, who falls in 
love with Nastasia Philipovna, does not become her 
suitor, and says to a young girl who loves him and is 
willing to marry him : "I am ill, I can never marry." 
This was probably Dostoyevsky's conviction in early 
manhood; he did not change his opinion until after 
his imprisonment. The resemblance between Dostoy- 
evsky and his hero extends to the smallest details. 

^ It is hardly necessary to say that in identifying himself with 
a prince, Dosloyevsky had no snobbish intention. He wanted 
to show what an immense moral influence a man of lofty hereditary 
culture might have upon the masses if he behaved to the people 
as a brother and a Christian, and not as a snob. 


Thus Prince Mishkin arrives at Petersburg without a 
portmanteau, carrying a small parcel containing a 
little clean linen. He has not a kopeck, and General 
Epantchin gives him twenty-five roubles. Dostoyevsky 
arrived in Siberia with a little parcel of linen which the 
police had allowed him to bring away; he had not a 
kopeck, and the wives of Dekabrists brought him twenty- 
five roubles, concealed between the pages of a Bible. 

His good reputation followed him to prison ; those of 
his travelling companions who were imprisoned with 
him at Omsk spoke to their new companions of this 
strange man, Dostoyevsky, who was to serve his sentence 
among them. Certain good-natured convicts were 
already considering how they could protect this young, 
sickly fellow, this dreamer, who had been so busy 
thinking of the heroes of his novels that he had had no 
time to study real life. The convicts said to themselves 
that if life was hard to them, inured as they were from 
childhood to fatigue and privation, how much harder 
it must be to Dostoyevsky, bred in comfort, and above 
all, thanks to his social position, accustomed to be treated 
with respect by every one. They tried to console him, 
telling him that life is long, that he was still young, that 
there was happiness in store for him after his release. 
They showed a delicacy of feeling peculiar to the Russian 
peasants. In The House of the Dead my father has 
described how when he was wandering sadly about the 
prison, the convicts would come and ask him questions 
about politics, foreign countries, the Court, the life in 
large cities. " They did not seem to take much interest 
in my replies," says my father; " I could never under- 
stand why they asked for such information." The 
explanation was, however, a very simple one; a kind- 
hearted convict noticed Dostoyevsky walking alone, 
in a kind of dream, staring into space. He was anxious 
to distract his thoughts. It seemed to his rustic mind 


impossible that a gentleman should be interested in 
vulgar things, and the ingenuous diplomatist accordingly 
spoke to my father of lofty subjects : politics, govern- 
ment, Europe. The answers did not interest him, 
but he attained his end. Dostoyevsky was roused, he 
talked with animation, his melancholy was exorcised. 

But the convicts saw more in my father than a sad 
and suffering young man. They divined his genius. 
These illiterate moujiks did not know exactly what a 
novel was, but with the infallible instinct of a great 
race they perceived that God had sent this dreamer on 
earth to accomplish great things. They realised his 
moral greatness and did what they could to tend him. 
Dostoyevsky has told in his Memoirs how one day, 
when the convicts were sent to bathe, one of them asked 
to be allowed to wash my father. This he did most 
carefully, supporting him like a child, lest he should 
slip on the wet boards. " He washed me as if I had been 
made of china," says Dostoyevsky, much astonished 
at all this care. My father was right. He was, in fact, 
a precious object to his humble comrades. They felt 
that he would render great services to the Russian 
community, and they all protected him. One day, 
exasperated by the bad food they were given, they made 
a demonstration, and demanded to see the Governor 
of the Fortress of Omsk. My father thought it his duty 
to take part in the manifestation, but the convicts 
would not allow him to join them.^ " Your place is 
not here," they cried, and they insisted on his returning 
to the prison. The convicts knew that they risked 
incurring a severe punishment for their protest, and they 
wished to spare Dostoyevsky. These humble moujiks 

1 I have mentioned above that Dostoyevsky took no part in 
any demonstrations at the Castle of the lingineers. In associating 
himself with that of the convicts, he showed that he had more 
respect for them than for the Russian nobles and intellectuals. 


had chivalrous souls. They were more generous to my 
father than his Petersburg friends, the mean and jealous 
writers who did all in their power to poison his youthful 

If the convicts protected my father, he, for his part, 
must have exercised a great moral influence over them. 
He is too modest to speak of this himself, but Nekrassov 
has proclaimed it. The poet was a man of great dis- 
crimination. In Poor Folks, which Nekrassov published 
so readily in his Review, he recognised Dostoyevsky's 
genius. When he made the young novelist's acquaintance 
he was struck by his purity of heart and nobility of mind' 
The narrow, jealous, intriguing circle in which the 
Russian writers of the period lived prevented Nekrassov 
from becoming my father's friend, but he never forgot 
him. When Dostoyevsky was sent to Siberia, Nekrassov 
often thought of him. This poet was distinguished 
from others by his profound knowledge of the souls 
of the peasants. He spent all his childhood on his 
father's small estate, and in later life went there every 
summer. Knowing the Russian people and knowing 
Dostoyevsky, he asked himself what the relations 
between the convicts and the young novelist would be. 
Poets think in song, and Nekrassov has left us an excel- 
lent poem. The Wretched, in which he depicts Dostoy- 
evsky's life among the criminals. He does not mention 
him by name — the Censorship, which was very strict 
at this period, would not have permitted this — but he 
told his literary friends, and later Dostoyevsky himself, 
who his hero was. 

The story is put into the mouth of a convict, formerly 
a man in good society, who had killed a woman in a fit 
of jealousy. In prison he associates with the vilest 
of the criminals, drinks and gambles with them in spite 
of his contempt for them. His attention is attracted 
by a prisoner who is unlike the rest. He is very weak. 


and has the voice of a child ; his hair is Hght and fine 
as down.i He is very silent, lives isolated from the 
others, and fraternises with no one. The convicts 
dislike him, because he has " white hands," that is to 
say, he cannot do heavy work. Seeing him toiling all 
day, but achieving little on account of his weakness, 
they jeer at him and call him " the Mole." They amuse 
themselves by hustling him, and laugh when they see 
him turn pale and bite his lips at the brutal orders of 
the warders. One evening in prison the convicts are 
playing cards and getting drunk. A prisoner who has 
been ill a long time, is dying; the convicts deride him 
and sing blasphemous requiems to him. " Wretches ! 
Do you not fear God ? " cries a terrible voice. The 
convicts look round in amazement. It is " the Mole" 
who spoke, and who now looks like an eagle. He orders 
them to be silent, to respect the last moments of the 
dying man, speaks to them of God, and shows them the 
abyss into which they are slipping. From this day forth 
he becomes the master of those whose conscience is 
not quite dead. They surround him in a respectful 
crowd, drinking in his words eagerly. This prisoner is a 
man of learning; he talks to the convicts of poetry, 
of science, of God, and, above all, of Russia. He is a 
patriot who admires his country, and foresees a great 
future for her. His speeches are not eloquent and are 
not distinguished by beauty of style; but he has the 
secret of speaking to the soul and touching the hearts 
of his pupils. In the poem the prisoner dies, surrounded 
by the respect and admiration of the convicts. They 
nurse him devotedly during his illness; they make a 
sort of litter, and carry him out daily into the prison 
yard that he may breathe the fresh air and see the sun 

1 In the description of Prince Mislikin, Dostoyevsky says he 
was very thin and looked ill, and that his hair was so fair that it 
was almost white. 


he loves. After his death his grave becomes a place 
of pilgrimage for all the inhabitants of the district. 

When my father came back from Siberia Nekrassov 
showed the poem to him and said : " You are the hero 
of it." Dostoyevsky was greatly touched by these 
words; he admired the poem very much, but when his 
literary friends asked him if Nekrassov had described 
him faithfully he answered smilingly : " Oh, no ! he 
exaggerated my importance. It was I, on the contrary, 
who was the disciple of the convicts." 

It is difficult to say which was right, Nekrassov or 
Dostoyevsky. The poem may have been only a poetic 
dream, but it shows what Nekrassov' s opinion of my 
father was. When he spoke of Dostoyevsky as he did 
in The Wretched, Nekrassov avenged him for all the 
base calumnies of his literary rivals. It is strange that 
none of Dostoyevsky' s Russian biographers, save 
Nicolai Strahoff, have mentioned Nekrassov' s poem, 
although they have faithfully reported all the ignoble 
slanders invented by young writers after the success 
of Poor Folks. Yet they cannot have been unaware 
that he was the hero of the poem, for Dostoyevsky 
himself recorded his conversation with Nekrassov 
on the subject in his Journal of the Writer. It is almost 
as if they had wished to conceal the Russian poet's 
conception of the novelist from the public. 



DosTOYEVSKY had some reason to declare that the 
convicts had been his teachers. As a fact, they taught 
him what it was above all things important for him to 
learn ; they taught him to know and to love our beautiful 
and generous Russia. When he found himself for the 
first time in his life in a truly national centre, he felt 
his mother's blood speaking more and more loudly in 
his heart. My father began to recognise that Russian 
charm which is indeed the strength of our country. It 
is not by fire and sword that Russia has conquered her 
enemies ; it is the heart of Russia that has formed the 
vast Russian Empire. Our army is weak, our poor 
soldiers are often beaten, but wherever they pass they 
leave imperishable memories. They fraternise with the 
vanquished instead of oppressing them ; open their hearts 
to them ; treat them as comrades ; and the vanquished, 
touched by this generosity, never forget them. ' ' Where 
the Russian flag has once flown, it will always fly," we 
say in Russia. My compatriots are conscious of their 

The Russian peasant, dirty, wild and ragged, is in 
fact, a great charmer. His heart is gentle, tender, gay 
/and childlike. He has no education, but his mind is 
\ broad, clear and penetrating. He observes a great deal 
and meditates on subjects that would never come into 
the head of a European bourgeois. He works all his 
life, but cares nothing for profit. His material wants 
are few, his moral needs much more extensive. He is a 



dreamer, his soul seeks for poetry. Very often he will 
leave his fields and his family to visit monasteries, to 
pray at the tomb of saints, or to travel to Jerusalem. 
He belongs to the Oriental race that gave the world 
a Krishna, a Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Mahommed. 
The Russian peasant is always ready to leave the world 
and go to seek God in the desert. He lives more in the 
beyond than in this world. He has a strong sense of 
justice: " Why quarrel and dispute? We should live 
according to the truth of God." Such phrases may often 
be heard from Russian peasants. This " truth of God " 
is much in their minds ; they try to live according to the 
Gospel. They love to caress little children, to comfort 
weeping women, to help the aged. It is not often one 
meets a " gentleman" in Russian cities, but there are 
plenty in our villages. 

Studying his convict companions, Dostoyevsky did 
justice to the generosity of their hearts and the nobility of 
their souls, and learned to love his country as she deserves 
to be loved. Russia conquered Dostoyevsky's Lithu- 
anian soul through the poor convicts of Siberia, and 
conquered it for ever. My father could do nothing by 
halves. He gave himself heart and soul to Russia, and 
served the Russian flag as faithfully as his ancestors had 
served the flag of the Radwan. Those who wish to 
understand the change in Dostoyevsky's ideas should read 
his letter to the poet Maikov, written from Siberia shortly 
after his release. It is a fervid hymn to Russia. " I am 
Russian, my heart is Russian, my ideas are Russian," he 
repeats in every line. When we read this letter it is 
easy to understand what was taking place in his heart. 
Every serious and idealistic young man tries to become 
a patriot, for only patriotism can give him strength to 
serve his country well. A young Russian is instinctively 
patriotic, but a Slav, whose paternal family comes from 
another country and who has been brought up in a 


different atmosphere, cannot possess this instinctive 
patriotism. Before offering his services to Russia, the 
young Lithuanian wished to know what her aims were. 
On leaving the School of Engineers, Dostoyevsky sought 
this explanation in the society of Petersburg, and failed 
to find it. In the drawing-rooms of Petersburg he found 
only people who were seeking their material advantage, 
or intellectuals who hated their fatherland and blushed 
to acknowledge that they were Russians. These languid 
and listless people could give my father no idea of the 
greatness of Russia. In the novel, The Adolescent, 
Dostoyevsky has drawn a curious type, the student 
Kraft, a Russian of German origin, who commits suicide 
because he is persuaded that Russia can play but a 
secondary part in human civilisation. It is very possible 
that in his youth Dostoyevsky had himself suffered from 
Kraft's disease, a disease to which all Russians of foreign 
extraction are more or less subject. My father often 
told his friends that he was on the verge of suicide, and 
that his arrest saved him. But if Petersburg could not 
teach Dostoyevsky patriotism, the Russian people he 
met in prison soon taught him the great Russian lesson 
of Christian fraternity, that magnificent ideal which 
has gathered so many races under our banners. Dazzled 
by its beauty, my father wished to follow their example. 
Was he the first Slavo-Norman who gave himself heart 
and soul to Russia? No. All the Moscovite Grand 
Dukes who founded Great Russia, who defended the 
Orthodox Church and fought valiantly against the 
Tartars, were also Slavo-Normans, the descendants of 
Prince Rurik. Thanks to their Norman perspicacity, 
these first Russian patriots understood our great Idea 
better even than the Russians themselves in their national 
infancy. It often happens that young nations serve 
their national idea instinctively, without understanding 
it very well, and thus their patriotism is never very 


profound. It is only when they mature that nations 
fully realise the idea they have been building up, and, 
understanding at last the services their ancestors have 
rendered to humanity, become proud of their country. 
Among races which are growing old, patriotism reaches 
its apogee, and often dazzles them. It is at this stage 
that Napoleons and Williams make their appearance; 
inordinately proud of their national culture, they desire 
to impose it on others. 

Having at last understood the Russian Idea, Dos- 
toyevsky eagerly followed the example of the illustrious 
Slavo-Normans whose history he knew so well, having 
studied it in his childhood in the works of Karamzin. 
Like the Moscovite Grand Dukes of old, Dostoyevsky 
explained the Russian Idea to his compatriots; like 
them, he cherished all that was original in Russia : our 
ideas, our beliefs, our customs and our traditions. He 
inaugurated his patriotic services by renouncing his 
republicanism. It had seemed very beautiful to him 
once, when he had expounded it in Petersburg drawing- 
rooms to an enthusiastic crowd of Poles, Lithuanians, 
Swedes from Finland, Germans from the Baltic Provinces, 
and young Russians. In Siberia, where he was in daily 
contact with representatives of the Russian people from 
every point of our huge country, the thought of intro- 
ducing the institutions of modern Europe into Holy Russia 
struck him as absurd. He saw that the Russian people 
were still in the stage of Byzantine culture, which had 
been arrested in its development by the Turkish conquest 
of Byzantium. The Orthodox clergy, who had propa- 
gated this culture among the peasants, had been unable 
to develop it, and the Russian people continue to live 
in the fifteenth century, retaining all the ingenuous 
mystical ideas of that period. It is obvious that the 
introduction of the European ideas of the nineteenth 
century among persons so ill-prepared to receive them 


could only produce a terrible anarchy, in which all the 
European civilisation introduced at immense cost by 
the descendants of Peter the Great would be submerged. 
When he took part in Petrachevsky's conspiracy, my 
father dreamed of substituting a republic of intellectuals 
for the monarchy. He now saw that this would be 
impossible, because the people hated the bare (nobles 
or intellectual bourgeois) with a fierce and implacable 
hatred. The peasants could not forget the cruelty of 
their masters, and they distrusted all nobles and all 
educated persons. Dostoyevsky realised that the only 
republic possible in Russia would be a peasant republic, 
that is to say, a reign of ignorance and brutality which 
would cut off our country from Europe more than 
ever. The Russians dislike Europeans, and reserve 
all their sympathies for Slavs and the Mongolian tribes 
of Asia, to which they are akin. The introduction of a 
republican regime would tend to transform Russia into 
a Mongolian country, and all the work of our Tsars 
and nobles would perish. At this period of his life 
Dostoyevsky loved Europe too much to wish to separate 
Russia from European influences. Rather than drag 
down his country into a gulf of ignorance and violence, 
he renounced his political ideas. This did not happen 
all at once. This is what Dostoyevsky says himself in 
the Journal of the Writer : ' ' Neither imprisonment nor 
suffering broke us.^ Something else changed our hearts 
and our ideas : union with the people, fraternity in 
misery. This change was not sudden ; on the contrary, 
it came about very gradually. Of all my political 
comrades, I was the one to whom it was easiest to embrace 
the Russian Idea, for I came of a patriotic and deeply 
religious stock. In our family we had been familiar 

1 AVhen he says " us " my father refers to comrades of the 
Petrachevsky cii'cle, some of whom also changed their political 
opinions after their imprisonment. 


with the Gospel from childhood. By the time that I 
was ten years old, I knew all the principal episodes 
of Karamzin's Russian history, which my father read 
aloud to us every night. Visits to the Kremlin and to 
the cathedrals of Moscow were always solemn events 
to me." 

Recognising that the European institutions of the 
nineteenth century were unsuitable to the Russian people, 
my father considered other means of ameliorating the 
civilisation of our country. He thought it would be well 
to work for the development of the Byzantine culture, 
which had taken root in the hearts and minds of our 
peasants. In its day, Byzantine culture had been of a 
higher order than the average culture of Europe. It 
was only when the Greek men of learning, fleeing from 
the Turks, had sought asylum in the great European 
towns, that the culture of Europe began to emerge from 
the mists of the Middle Ages. If Byzantine civilisation 
had helped to develop European culture, it might well 
do the same for Russia. Dostoyevsky accordingly 
began to study our Church, which had guarded this 
civilisation, and preserved it as it had been received from 
Byzantium. The last of the Moscovite patriarchs, 
more learned than their forerunners, were already 
beginning to develop this civilisation on Russian lines, 
when their work was interrupted by Peter the Great. 
At first my father had taken little interest in the Orthodox 
Church. There is no mention of it in any of the novels 
he wrote before his imprisonment. But after this the 
Church figures in every new book; Dostoyevsky's 
heroes speak of it more and more, and in his last novel, 
The Brothers Karamazov, the Orthodox monastery 
dominates the whole scene. My father now saw what 
an important part religion plays in Russia, and he began 
to study it with passion. Later, he visited the monas- 
teries and talked with the monks; he sought to be 


initiated into the traditions of the Orthodox rehgion; 
he became its champion and was the first who dared to 
say that our Church had been paralysed since the time 
of Peter the Great, to demand its independence, and to 
desire to see a Patriarch at its head. The Russian 
clergy hastened to meet his advances. Accustomed to 
being treated with scorn by Russian intellectuals, as a 
senile and senseless institution, they were touched by 
Dostoyevsky's sympathy, called him the true son of the 
Orthodox Church, and remain faithful to his memory. 

My father also studied the Russian monarchy, and 
at last realised that the Tsar, the so-called Oriental 
despot, was in the eyes of the Russian people simply 
the head of their great community, the only man in the 
whole country who is inspired by God. According to 
Orthodox belief, the coronation is a sacrament ; the Holy 
Spirit descends on the Tsar, and guides him in all his 
acts. Formerly all Europe shared such convictions; 
but as atheistical opinions gained ground they gradually 
disappeared, and now Europeans smile at them. The 
Russians, who are yet in the fifteenth century, still 
hold this faith religiously. Profoundly mystical, they 
need divine help and cannot live without it. The 
Russians will only obey a man crowned in a cathedral 
of Moscow by an Archbishop or a Patriarch. However 
intelligent a President of the Russian Republic might be, 
in the sight of our peasants he would be simply a 
ridiculous chatterer; the halo of the coronation would 
always be lacking to him. The people would distrust 
him; they are, unhappily, well aware how easy it is to 
buy a Russian official. It would be useless for our 
Presidents to sign treaties and promise the aid of Russian 
troops to Europeans ; they would never be able to honour 
their own drafts. It would only be necessary to spread 
a rumour that the President had been bought by Europe 
to provoke an epidemic of defaitisme. 


Realising the immense part played by the Tsar in 
Russia, and his moral power among the peasantry, 
thanks to his coronation, seeing that he alone could keep 
them united and preserve them from the anarchy which 
is always lying in wait for Mongolian races, my father 
became a monarchist. Great was the indignation of 
all our writers, of all the intellectual society of Petersburg 
which was hostile to Tsarism when they learned that 
Dostoyevsky had abjured his revolutionary creed. 
While my father had been studying the Russian people 
in prison, these gentlemen had been talking in drawing- 
rooms, drawing their knowledge of Russia from European 
books, and looking upon our peasants as idiots, who 
could be made to accept all laws and all institutions 
without discussion or question. The intellectuals could 
never understand the reasons for Dostoyevsky's change 
of mind, and could never forgive what they called " his 
betrayal of the holy cause of liberty." They hated my 
father throughout his life and continued to hate him 
after his death. Each new novel of Dostoyevsky's was 
greeted, not with the impartial criticism which analyses 
a work and gives its author the wise counsels eagerly 
looked for by a writer, but by attacks like those of a 
pack of mad dogs, throwing themselves on my father's 
masterpieces, and, under pretence of criticising, biting, 
tearing their prey, insulting and offending him cruelly. 
The moral influence exercised by my father on the 
students of Petersburg, which grew ever greater as his 
talents matured, infuriated the Russian writers. When 
Tretiakov ^ wished to include a portrait of my father in his 
collection of "Great Russian Writers," and commissioned 
a famous artist to paint it, the rage of Dostoyevsky's 
political enemies knew no bounds. " Go to the exhibi- 
tion and look at the face of this madman," they shrieked 

1 A rich merchant of Moscow, who bequeathed a fine gallery 
of national pictures to his native town. 


to the readers of their newspapers, " and you will realise 
at last who it is you love and listen to and read." 

This ferocious and implacable hatred wounded my 
father deeply. He wished to live in peace with other 
writers, and to work in concert with them, for the glory 
of his country. He could not retract opinions based on 
his profound study of the Russian people, begun in 
prison and continued throughout his life. He felt that 
he had no right to hide the truth from Russia; he was 
constrained to show them the abyss to which the Socialists 
and anarchists of Petersburg drawing-rooms were leading 
them. The sense of duty accomplished gave him 
strength to struggle, but his life was very hard. 
Dostoyevsky died without having been able to demon- 
strate that he was right. It is we, the hapless victims 
of the Russian Revolution, who now see all his predictions 
fulfilled, and have to expiate the irresponsible chatter 
of our Liberals. 

It was not only the Russian soul that my father 
studied in prison. He also made an earnest study of 
the Bible. We all profess to be Christians, but how 
many of us are familiar with the Gospels ? Most of us 
are content to hear them in church, and to retain some 
vague idea of their preparation for their first communion. 
Possibly my father in his youth knew the Bible after 
the fashion of the young men of his world — that is to say, 
very superficially. He says as much in the auto- 
biography of Zossima,^ which is to some extent his own : 
" I did not read the Bible," says Zossima, speaking of his 
youthful years, " but I never parted with it. I had a 
presentiment that I should want it some day." Accord- 
ing to his letters to his brother Mihail, Dostoyevsky 
began the study of the Bible at the Peter-Paul fortress. 
He continued it in Siberia, where for four years it was 
1 The Brothers Kamarazov. 


his only book. He studied the precious volume the 
wives of the Dekabrists had presented to him, pondered 
every word, learned it by heart and never forgot it. No 
writer of his time had had so profound a Christian culture 
as Dostoyevsky. All his works are saturated with it, 
and it is this which gives them their power. " What a 
strange chance that your father should have had only 
the Gospels to read during the four most important 
years of a man's life, when his character is forming 
definitively," many of his admirers have said to me. 
But was it a chance ? Is there such a thing as chance in 
our lives? Is not everything foreseen? The work of 
Jesus is not finished; in each generation He chooses 
His disciples, signs to them to follow Him, and gives 
them the same power over the human heart that He 
gave of old to the poor fishermen of Galilee. 

Dostoyevsky would never be without his old prison 
Testament, the faithful friend that had consoled him in 
the darkest hours of his life. He always took it with 
him on his travels and kept it in a drawer of his writing- 
table, within reach of his hand. He acquired a habit of 
consulting it in important moments of his life. He would 
open the Testament, read the first lines he saw, and take 
them as an answer to his doubts. 

Dostoyevsky wrote nothing while in his Siberian 
prison.^ And yet he left Omsk a much greater writer 
than he had been when he arrived. The young 
Lithuanian, who certainly loved Russia but understood 
very little about her, was transformed into a real Russian 
in prison. If all his life he retained the Lithuanian 
characteristics and culture of his forefathers, he only 
loved Russia the more deeply for this. He judged her 

1 All he did was to make a few notes of curious words and 
expressions used by the convicts, which were introduced by him 
later in The House of the Dead. He wi'ote them in a httle book he 
made himself, which is now in the Dostoyevsky Museum at 




from the standpoint of a benevolent Slav, conquered 
by the charm of Russia. Our faults did not alarm him ; 
he saw that they arose from the youthfulness of the 
nation, and believed they would disappear in time. A 
son of little Lithuania, which has had her hour of glory, 
but will probably have no more, Dostoyevsky wished to 
devote his talents to the service of Great Russia. Per- 
haps he felt that it was his mother's blood that had 
given them, and that therefore Russia had more right 
to them than Lithuania or Ukrainia. Moreover, the 
idea of breaking Russia up into a number of little 
countries, which finds so much favour at present, was 
non-existent then, and in working for Russia Dostoyevsky 
thought he would also be working for Lithuania and 

A reverent admirer and passionate disciple of Christ, 
with a beloved country to serve, Dostoyevsky was better 
equipped for his lofty work than before his imprisonment. 
It was no longer necessary for him to imitate the Euro- 
pean novelists; he had only to draw his subjects from 
Russian life, and to recall the confessions of the convicts, 
the ideas and beliefs of our moiijiks. This Lithuanian 
at last understood the Russian ideal, revered the Russian 
Church, and forgetting Europe, gave himself up whole- 
heartedly to painting the Slavo-Mongolian manners of 
our great country. 



Dostoyevsky's last year in prison was more tolerable 
than the first three. The brute who commanded the 
fortress of Omsk and poisoned the convicts was at last 
superseded. The new Commandant was an educated 
man of European culture. He took an interest in my 
father and tried to be of service to him. He was legally 
empowered to employ the literary convicts on the 
work of his Chancellory. He sent for my father, who 
passed through the town escorted by a soldier. The 
Commandant gave him some easy work to do, ordered 
good meals to be served to him, brought him books, 
showed him the newspapers, which my father devoured 
eagerly.i He had seen no newspaper for three years, and 
he knew nothing of what was happening in the world. 
He seemed to be born anew; he was soon to leave his 
" House of the Dead." " What a blessed moment ! " 
he exclaims in describing his release in his memoirs. 

Dostoyevsky's political comrade, Durov, was released 
at the same time. But alas ! the poor fellow had not 
the strength to rejoice in his liberty. " He went out 
like a candle," says my father. " He was young and 
handsome when he went into captivity. He came out 
half dead, grey-haired, bent, scarcely able to stand." 

^ My father never made any public reference to this Com- 
mandant, fearing to injure him in the sight of the Government, 
but he often talked of him to his relations. Though Dostoyevsky 
hated to speak of the sufferings he had endured during his 
captivity, he loved to recall those who had been good to him in 
his trials. 



And yet Durov was not an epileptic, like my father, 
and he was in excellent health at the time of his arrest. 
How, then, are we to explain the different manner in 
which these two conspirators faced the world after four 
years of prison life? We must, I think, look for this 
explanation in their nationality. Durov was a Rus- 
sian; he belonged to a nation still young, which soon 
expends its strength, loses courage at the first obstacle, 
and cannot sustain a struggle. Dostoyevsky was a 
Lithuanian, a scion of a much older race, and had Norman 
blood in his veins. Resistance has always been a joy to 
the Lithuanians. Vidunas, who knew his people so 
thoroughly, has spoken thus on this point : " Whatever 
may befall a Lithuanian, he is not discouraged. This is 
not to say that he is indifferent to his fate. His sensi- 
bility is too lively for this, but it has an elasticity and 
resilience of a remarkable quality. He can bear the 
inevitable with courage, and face new experiences 
steadily. The Lithuanian aspires involuntarily to the 
mastery of the different elements of life. This becomes 
very evident when he has to grapple with a difficulty. 
The tension of his mind is manifested in a very charac- 
teristic fashion; the greater the difficulty, the more he 
is disposed to accept all with serenity, and even with 
gaiety and jest." 

Dostoyevsky probably began this struggle for life on 
the very first day of his captivity. He struggled against 
despair by studying with interest the characters of the 
convicts, their manners, habits, ideas and conversation. 
Seeing in them the future heroes of his novels, he care- 
fully noted all the precious indications they were able 
to give him; no foreigner can form any idea of the 
just, penetrating and observant mind of the Russian 
peasant. When, on holidays, the convicts got drunk 
and were reduced to a state of bestiality, Dostoyevsky 
sought solace for his disgust in the Gospel. " I cannot 


see his soul; perhaps it is nobler than mine," he would 
say to himself, as he looked at some drunken convict 
reeling about, and shouting obscene songs. He soon 
realised that hard labour was an excellent remedy for 
despair. He looked upon it as a kind of sport, and set 
about it with the passionate energy he brought to bear 
on everything that interested him. In certain chapters 
of The House of the Dead we see clearly what pleasure 
he took in outdoor work or in grinding alabaster.^ 

Obhged to conceal from the convicts the anger, con- 
tempt and disgust certain of their acts excited in him, 
Dostoyevsky learned to discipline his nervous tempera- 
ment. Reality, harsh and implacable, cured him of 
his imaginary fears. " If you imagine that I am still 
nervous, irritable and obsessed by the thought of illness, 
as I used to be at Petersburg, you nmst get rid of this 
idea. There is not a vestige of that left," he wrote to 
his brother Mihail shortly after his release. 

Another and loftier idea sustained and consoled 
Dostoyevsky during his sojourn in the fortress. Deeply 
religious as he had always been, he must often have 
asked himself why God had punished him, the innocent 
martyr of a noble theory, so severely. At that time he 
considered himself a hero, and was very proud of the 
Petrachevsky conspiracy. The thought that this con- 
spiracy was a crime which might have plunged Russia 
into anarchy, the thought that a handful of young 
dreamers had no right to impose their will on an 
immense country never entered his head till much later, 
some ten years perhaps after his release. Believing 
himself blameless, knowing himself to be free from vice 
and inspired only by pure and lofty thoughts, he must 

^ Speaking of come work allotted to him in prison, he says : 
" I was obliged to turn the wheel ; it was difficult, but it served 
as an excellent gymnastic." Later he describes how he had to 
carry bricks on his back, and declares that he Uked this work, 
because it developed his physical strength. 


have asked in bewilderment how he could have deserved 
his terrible sufferings, by what action he could have 
incurred the wrath of a God he had always loved and 
reverenced. He then said to himself that God must 
have sent these miseries upon him not to punish, but 
to strengthen him and to make him a great writer, 
useful to his country and his people. The ignorant 
public often confounds the man of talent with his talent 
and cannot distinguish between them. But such men 
themselves do not fall into this error. They know that 
their talent is a gift apart which belongs to the com- 
munity rather than to themselves. If he be in any 
degree a believer, each writer, musician, painter or 
sculptor feels himself a Messiah, and accepts his cross. 
He has a very definite sense that in giving him a talent 
God did not mean to place him above the crowd, but 
rather to sacrifice him to the good of others, and make 
him the servant of humanity. The greater his gift, 
the more illuminating is this sense of sacrifice in the 
eyes of its possessor. Sometimes he rebels, and thrusts 
aside the bitter cup which destiny prepares for him. 
At other moments he is exalted by the thought that he 
has been chosen to make known the ways of God to 
men. As the man of genius meditates on his mission 
his anger and rebellion disappear. He soars above the 
crowd ; he feels himself nearer to God than other 
mortals, and his zeal for his mission increases daily. 
" Make me suffer, if so my talent and my influence may 
be increased," he prays courageously. " Spare me 
not ! I will bear all if only the work Thou sentest me 
to do be well done." When the man of genius has 
reached this stage of resignation nothing can terrify 
him any more, and his devotion to the cause of humanity 
has no limits. Later, after his return to Petersburg, 
Dostoyevsky said to his friends who denounced his 
punishment as unjust : " No, it was just. The people 


would have condemned us. I realised that in prison. 
And then, who knows, perhaps God sent me there that 
I might learn the essential thing, without which there 
is no life, without which we should only devour each 
other, and that I might bring that essential thing to 
others, even if but to a very few, to make them better, 
even if but a very little better. This alone would have 
made it worth while to go to prison." 

According to Russian law, Dostoyevsky's punishment 
was not at an end when he was released. He had to 
serve as a soldier in a regiment at the small Siberian 
town of Semipalatinsk until the time when he should 
have gained his commission as an officer and be restored 
to his status as a free man. But military service was 
almost liberty in comparison with what he had endured 
in the fortress. The officers of his regiment treated him 
rather as a comrade than as a subordinate. At this 
period the Siberians had a great respect for political 
prisoners. The Dekabrists, who belonged to the best 
families of the country, and who bore their punishment 
without complaint, and with much dignity, prepared 
the ground for the Petrachevsky conspirators. My 
father would have been received with open arms by 
the whole town, even if he had not been a writer. His 
novels, which were very much read in the provinces, 
increased the sympathy of the inhabitants of Semi- 
palatinsk for him. My father, for his part, sought 
their friendship. The close intimacy in which he had 
been obliged to live with the convicts had cured him 
of his Lithuanian aloofness. He no longer felt any 
Lithuanian scorn for the ignorant Moscovites ; he knew 
that lack of culture in the Russian is often combined 
with a heart of gold. He went into society, took part 
in the amusements of Semipalatinsk, and made him- 
self beloved by the whole town. The joy of life filled 


his being. Whereas poor Durov went out like a 
candle and died shortly after his release, Dostoyevsky 
took up life at the point where he had left it at the 
moment of his condemnation. He hastened to resume 
amicable relations with his kinsfolk at Moscow and 
Petersburg.^ He generously forgave them for having 
forsaken him in his prison; in his joy at being at last 
free, he called his sisters, who had been so cold-hearted 
to him, " the angels." He wrote to his literary friends 
in Petersburg, sent for their works, and showed much 
interest in what they had been doing during " my 
death." He formed friendships with officers and soldiers 
of his regiment.2 

On the occasion of the departure of one of his new 
friends, named Vatilianov, Dostoyevsky was photo- 
graphed with him by the unskilful practitioner of Semi- 
palatinsk. To this circumstance we owe the only 
existing portrait of Dostoyevsky as a young man. 

A few months after his release, Dostoyevsky met at 
Semipalatinsk a man of his own world, the young Baron 
Wrangel, who had come to Siberia on business con- 
nected with his ministry. He was a native of the 
Baltic Provinces, of Swedish descent, but completely 
russified, and a great admirer of my father's works. 
He proposed that they should live together, and Dos- 
toyevsky accepted his offer. It is curious that each 
time Dostoyevsky agreed to live with a comrade, it 
should have been with Russians of European origin : 
Grigorovitch, a Frenchman, and Wrangel, a Swede. It 
is probable that my father could never have endured 

^ My father was able to send his first letters to his brother 
Mihail, and receive a little money from him before his release, 
thanks to the kindness of the Commandant. 

2 Dostoyevsky tells us later, in the journal, Tlie Citizen, that 
he liked to read aloud to his comrades, the soldiers, in the evening 
when they were all assembled in the barrack-room. He admits 
that these readings and the discussions that followed them gave 
him great pleasure. 


the semi-Oriental habits of the true Russians, who 
sleep all day after playing cards all night. He wanted 
a regular life with a well-bred companion, who would 
respect his hours of work and meditation. He was 
happy with young Wrangel. They spent the winter in 
the town, and in summer they rented a rustic dwelling 
in the form of a villa, and amused themselves by 
growing flowers, of which they were both very 

Later, Baron Wrangel changed his ministry, and 
devoted himself to diplomacy. He was our charge 
d'affaires in the Balkans, lived there a long time, and 
knew many remarkable people. Nevertheless, at the 
close of his life he dwelt solely upon his friendship with 
Dostoyevsky. My compatriots who knew him in his 
last post as Russian Consul at Dresden used to tell me 
that whenever a Russian made his acquaintance. Baron 
Wrangel would always begin by telling him that he had 
been the friend of the great Dostoyevsky, and describing 
their life together at Semipalatinsk. " It became a 
veritable mania," said the Russians naively. They 
would have understood his enthusiasm had its object 
been a Duke or a Marquis — but a writer ! That was not 
much to boast of. The Baltic noble was more intelligent 
and more civilised than my snobbish compatriots. In 
his old age, looking back on his career, Baron Wrangel 
realised that the most beautiful page of his life had been 
the friendship of the great writer, and his greatest service 
to humanity the few months of tranquillity his delicacy 
and refinement had secured for a suffering man of genius, 
neglected by his friends, who needed rest after the terrible 
trial he had undergone. 

Baron Wrangel published his reminiscences of my 
father. He could not describe the intimate life of 
Dostoyevsky, for my father only spoke of this to his 
relatives or to friends of many years standing and of 


proved fidelity, but he gives an excellent account of the 
society of Semipalatinsk and of the part my father 
played in the little town. Baron Wrangel's reminis- 
cences are the only record we possess of this period of 
Dostoyevsky's life. 


dostoyevsky's first marriage 

The labour my father had to perform in prison was 
very hard, but it did him good by developing his body. 
He was no longer a sick creature, or an adolescent whose 
develoj)ment had been arrested. He had become a 
man, and he longed for love. Any woman rather more 
adroit than the rustic beauties of Semipalatinsk could 
have won his heart. Such an one was to appear a few 
months after his release. But what a terrible woman 
fate had allotted to my poor father ! 

Among the officers of the Semipalatinsk regiment 
there was a certain Captain Issaieff, a good fellow not 
overburdened with brains. He was in wretched health, 
and had been given up by all the doctors in the town. 
He was charming to my father, and often invited him 
to his house. Maria Dmitrievna, his wife, received 
Dostoyevsky with much grace, and exerted herself to 
please him and to tame him. She knew that she would 
soon be a widow and would have no means beyond the 
meagre pension which the Russian Government gave to 
the widows of officers, a sum barely sufficient to feed her 
and her son, a boy of seven years old. Like a good 
woman of business, she was already looking about for a 
second husband. Dostoyevsky seemed to her the most 
eligible parti in the town ; he was a writer of great talent, 
he had a rich aunt in Moscow, who had again begun to 
send him money from time to time. Maria Dmitrievna 
played the part of a poetic soul, misunderstood by the 
society of a small provincial town, and yearning for a 



kindred spirit, a mind as lofty as her own. She soon 
took possession of the ingenuous heart of my father, 
who, at the age of thirty-three, fell in love for the first 

This sentimental friendship was suddenly interrupted. 
The captain was ordered to Kusnetzk, a little Siberian 
town where there was another regiment belonging to 
the same division as that of Semipalatinsk. He took 
away his wife and child, and died a few months after- 
wards at Kusnetzk of the phthisis from which he 
had long been suffering. Maria Dmitrievna wrote to 
announce her husband's death to Dostoyevsky, and kept 
up a lively correspondence with him. While waiting 
for the Government to grant her little pension she was 
living in great poverty, and complained bitterly to my 
father. Dostoyevsky sent her nearly all the money he 
received from his relatives. He pitied her sincerely and 
wished to help her, but his feeling for her was rather 
sympathy than love. Thus when Maria Dmitrievna 
wrote that she had found a suitor at Kusnetzk and was 
about to marry again, he rejoiced ; far from being heart- 
broken, he was delighted to think that the poor woman 
had found a protector. He even made interest with his 
friends to procure for his rival some coveted appoint- 
ment. In fact, Dostoyevsky did not look upon Maria 
Dmitrievna' s future husband as a rival. At this period 
my father was not very sure that he should ever be able 
to marry, and considered himself in some degree an 
invalid. The epilepsy which had so long been latent 
in him began to declare itself. He had strange attacks, 
sudden convulsions which exhausted him and made him 
incapable of work. The regimental doctor who was 
treating him hesitated to diagnose the malady; it was 
not until much later that it was pronounced to be 
epilepsy. Meanwhile everybody — doctors, comrades, 
relatives, his friend Baron Wrangel, his brother Mihail 


— advised him not to marry, and Dostoyevsky resigned 
himself sadly to celibacy. He accepted the part of 
Prince Mishkin, who, though he loves Nastasia Philip- 
ovna, allows her to go away with Rogogin and keeps 
up amicable relations with his rival. 

Meanwhile Maria Dmitrievna quarrelled with her 
lover, and left the town of Kusnetzk. She had at 
length received her pension, but this pittance was quite 
insufficient for a capricious, idle and ambitious woman. 
My father was now an officer, and she came back to her 
first idea of a marriage with him. In the letters she now 
wrote with increasing frequency, she exaggerated her 
poverty, declared that she was weary of the struggle, 
and threatened to put an end to herself and to her child. 
Dostoyevsky became very uneasy; he wanted to see 
her, talk to her, and make her listen to reason. As a 
former political prisoner he had no right to quit 
Semipalatinsk.i His brother-officers, to whom he con- 
fided his desire to go to Kusnetzk, arranged to send him 
thither " on regimental business." The division which 
had its headquarters at Semipalatinsk dispatched to its 
regiment at Kusnetzk a wagon-load of ropes, which 
was bound by law to be escorted by armed soldiers and 
officers. It was not customary to send Dostoyevsky on 
such expeditions— he was always secretly protected by 
his officers — but this time he was glad enough to take 
advantage of the pretext, and he travelled some hundreds 
of versts seated upon the ropes which he was supposed 

* Dostoyevsky, however, was often detailed to escort scientific 
missions travelling in Siberia by order of the Government. Thus 
in one letter my father describes a visit to Barnaoul, a small 
town between Semipalatinsk and Kusnetzk, which he made in 
tlie company of M. P. Semenov and his friends, members of the 
Geographical Society. On hearing of their arrival, General 
Gerngross, governor of the town, invited all the mission to a ball 
at his house, and was particularly polite to my father. In the 
sight of this Baltic general Dostoyevsky, who had only just left 
a prison, was not a convict but a famous writer. 


to be giiardinfif. Maria Dniitricvna received liiin witli 
open arms and quickly regained her old inlluence over 
him, which had been somewhat weakened by a long 
separation. Touched by her complaints, her mis- 
fortunes, and her threats of suicide, Dostoyevsky forgot 
the counsels of his friends ; he asked her to marry him, 
promising to protect her and to love her little Paul. 
Maria Dmitrievna accepted his offer eagerly. My father 
returned to Semipalatinsk in his wagon, and asked 
his commanding ofliccr's permission to get married. It 
was granted, together with leave for a few weeks. He 
returned to Kusnetzk more comfortabl}', in a good 
post-chaise this time, meaning to bring back in it the 
new Madame Dostoyevsky and his future stepson. 
My father's leave was limited — the Government did not 
like to have its political prisoners circulating freely in 
the country — and he was obliged to be married a few 
days after his arrival at Kusnetzk. How joyful he 
was as he w^ent to church ! Happiness seemed at last 
about to smile on him, fate was about to compensate 
him for all his sufferings by giving him a gentle and 
loving wife, who would perhaps make him a father. 
^Vllile Dostoyevsky was dreaming thus, of what was 
his bride thinking? The night before her marriage 
^Nlaria Dmitrievna had spent with her lover, a handsome 
young tutor, whom she had discovered on her arrival at 
Kusnetzk, and whose mistress she had long been in 

This woman was the daughter of one of Napoleon's 
Mamelukes, who had been taken prisoner during the 

1 It is probable that the Kusnetzk suitor, whose name I do 
not know, had broken ofT his engagement with Maria Dmitrievna 
on diseoverinu her chindestine intrigue with the tutor. My 
father, who had only paid two short visits to Kusnetzk and 
knew no one there, had no opportunity of discovering the liaison, 
more especially as ISiaria Dmitrievna always played the part of 
the serious and virtuous woman in his presence. 


retreat from Moscow, and brought to Astrakhan on the 
Caspian Sea, where he changed his name and his rehgion 
in order to marry a young girl of good family who had 
fallen desperately in love with him. She made him join 
the Russian army ; he eventually became a colonel, and 
commanded a regiment in some provincial town. My 
father never knew him. By some freak of Nature, 
Maria Dmitrievna inherited only the Russian tj-pe of 
her mother. I have seen her portrait. Nothing about 
her betrayed her Oriental origin. On the other hand, 
her son Paul, whom I knew later, was almost a mulatto. 
He had a yellow skin, black glossy hair, rolled his eyes 
as negroes do, gesticulated extravagantly, and was 
malicious, stupid and insolent. 

At the time of his mother's second marriage he was a 
pretty, lively little boy whom my father petted to please 
Maria Dmitrievna. Dostoyevsky had no suspicion of the 
African origin of his wife, who concealed it carefully; 
he only discovered it much later. Cunning like all the 
women of her race, she played the model wife, gathered 
all the lettered society of Semipalatinsk round her and 
organised a kind of literary salon. She passed herself 
off as a Frenchwoman, spoke French as if it had been 
her mother-tongue, and was a great reader. She had 
been well educated in a Government estabhshment for 
the daughters of the nobility. The society of Semi- 
palatinsk took the newly married Madame Dostoyevsky 
for a woman of high character. Baron Wrangel speaks 
of her with respect in his memoirs, and says she was 
charming. And she continued to pay secret evening 
visits to her little tutor, who had followed her to Semi- 
palatinsk. It amused her vastly to deceive the world 
and her poor dreamer of a husband. Dostoyevsky knew 
the young man, as one knows every one in a small town. 
But the handsome youth was so perfectly insignificant 
that it never entered my father's head to suspect a rival 


in him. lie thought Maria Dmitrievna a faithful wife, 
entirely devoted to him. She had, however, a terrible 
temper, and gave way to sudden paroxysms of fury. 
My father attributed these to her bad health — she was 
somewhat consumptive — and forgave the violent scenes 
she was constantly making. She was a good house- 
keeper, and knew how to make a home comfortable. 
After the horrors of his prison, his house seemed a 
perfect paradise to Dostoyevsky. In spite of the fore- 
bodings of his friends and relatives, marriage suited him. 
He put on flesh, became more cheerful, and seemed 
happy. The Semipalatinsk photograph mentioned 
above shows us a man full of strength, hfe and energy. 
It is not in the least like the portrait of Prince Mish- 
kin in The Idiot, nor that of the convict-prophet in 
Nekrassov's poem. My father's epilepsy, which had at 
last declared itself, had calmed his nerves. He suffered 
greatly during his attacks, but on the other hand his 
mind was calmer and more lucid when they passed off. 
The sharp, dry, healthy air of Siberia, military service, 
which took the place of gymnastics, the peaceful life of 
a little provincial town, all combined to improve Dos- 
toyevsky's health. As always, he was absorbed by his 
novels. He performed his military duties conscien- 
tiously, but his heart was not in them. My father was 
longing for the moment when he might resign his com- 
mission and become a free and independent writer once 
more. During his sojourn at Semipalatinsk, Dostoyevsky 
wrote two books, The Uncle^s Dream and Selo Stepant- 
chikovo. The heroes of these new novels are no longer 
cosmopolites, as in his earlier works. They bear no 
resemblance to the pallid citizens of Petersburg; they 
inhabit the country or small provincial towns, they are 
very Russian and very vital. Reading these first works 
written after his release, we see that Dostoyevsky had 
finally broken with the tradition of Gogol, and had 


returned to the idea of The Double. In these new novels 

he paints abnormal types ; Prince K , a degenerate, 

who becomes imbecile, and Foma Opiskin, an adventurer 
who possesses a great hypnotic power. The books are 
gay and ironical, whereas those written before the 
author's imprisonment are nearly all melodramatic. 
It is evident that Dostoyevsky had arrived at that 
period of his existence when man no longer takes a 
tragic view of life, when he can jest a little at it, when 
he can look at it with a certain detachment, beginning 
to understand that it is but an episode in the long series 
of existences which the soul has to pass through. This 
irony increases as Dostoyevsky' s talent matures, and as 
he learns to know men and life more fully. It never 
becomes bitter or malicious, for love of humanity, and 
admiration for the Christian fraternity of the Gospel 
grows stronger and ever stronger in his heart. 

My father received permission to publish these two 
novels, but he was obliged to leave the manuscript of 
The House of the Dead in his portfolio. He had been 
working at it for a long time, fully conscious of its value, 
but it was impossible to publish it on account of the 
Censorship, which was very strict in all matters relating 
to the prisons. He was now at liberty to live in any 
town in Siberia, but not to go back to Russia. Never- 
theless, my father's one idea was to return to Petersburg, 
a place he hated. The nomad intellectuals of Lithuania 
have this strange peculiarity; they cannot live in the 
country or in the provinces; they must be on the spot 
where they can feel the pulses of civilisation beating 
most strongly. The great reforms which shed lustre on 
the reign of Alexander II were in preparation at Peters- 
burg. My father longed to be there amongst the other 
Russian writers. He feared that if he remained in 
Siberia he would not be in touch with the new ideas 
which were agitating our country. He sought fever- 


ishly for means of obtaining permission to return to 
Russia. He wrote innumerable letters, applied to all 
his former friends, and at last discovered a protector. 
The Crimean War had just come to an end. Everybody 
was talking of General Todleben, who had greatly 
distinguished himself, and had been created a Count. 
My father remembered the brothers Todleben, whom 
he had known at the School of Engineers. He wrote to 
them, begging them to intercede with the Government 
on his behalf. The Todlebens remembered their former 
comrade very well. He had never seemed so strange 
to them as to his Russian schoolfellows; they came 
from Courland, and their ancestors must have often 
encountered those of Dostoyevsky on the banks of the 
Niemen. They begged their distinguished brother to 
plead my father's cause. The Russian Government 
could refuse nothing to Count Todleben, whom every 
one called " The Defender of Sebastopol." Dostoyevsky 
soon received permission to live anywhere in Russia, 
with the exception of the two capital cities. My father 
chose the town of Tver on the Volga, a station on the 
railway line between Petersburg and Moscow. He 
resigned his commission joyfully, said farewell to his 
comrades and to the kindly people of Semipalatinsk 
who had received him so hospitably, and set out for 
Russia with his wife and stepson. To make this long 
journey Dostoyevsky bought a carriage which he sold 
on arriving at Tver; this was the way in which people 
travelled in those days. How happy he was as he 
traversed, free and independent, the road which ten 
years before he had passed along in custody of a police 
officer. He was about to see his brother Mihail again, 
to return to that literary world where he would be able 
to exchange ideas with his friends, to present his dear 
wife, who loved him, to his family. While Dostoyevsky 
was dreaming thus in his post-chaise, the handsome tutor, 


whom his mistress was bringing along with her hke a 
pet dog, was following them in a britshka one stage 
behind. At every halt she left him a hasty love-letter, 
informing him where they were to stay for the night, 
and ordering him to halt at the preceding station and 
not to overtake them. She must have been immensely 
amused on the way to note the naive delight of her poor 
romantic husband. 

When he was settled at Tver, my father soon became 
intimate with Count Baranov, the Governor. His wife, 
nSe Vassiletchikov, was a cousin of Count Sollohub, 
the writer, who had formerly had a literary salon in 
Petersburg. My father, who had been one of the 
habitues of this salon, had been presented to Mile. 
Vassiletchikov at the time of the success of his Poor 
Folks. She had never forgotten him, and when he 
arrived at Tver, she hastened to renew their acquaint- 
ance. She often invited him to her house, and induced 
her husband to interest himself in my father's affairs. 
Count Baranov did his utmost to obtain permission for 
Dostoyevsky to live at Petersburg. Having heard that 
the Minister of Police, Prince Dolgoruky, was opposed 
to this, the Count advised my father to write a letter 
to the Emperor. Like many other enthusiasts, Dostoyev- 
sky was at this time full of admiration for Alexander IT. 
He composed some verses on the occasion of his corona- 
tion, and hoped great things from his reign. He wrote 
a simple and dignified letter to the Emperor, recounting 
the miseries of his life, and asked his leave to return 
to Petersburg. The letter pleased the Emperor and he 
granted my father's request. Happy at the thought 
of being able at last to live in the literary world near 
his brother Mihail, Dostoyevsky at once set out for 
Petersburg with his wife and his stepson, whom he placed 
in a cadet school. He soon obtained permission to 
publish The House of the Dead. The times of Nicolas I 


were at an end. Those in power no longer feared the 
light; on the contrary, they sought it. The book had 
an immense success, and placed Dostoyevsky in the first 
rank of Russian writers. He never lost this proud 
position; each new work tended to confirm it. Life 
began to smile on my father. But fate had a new and 
cruel trial in store for him. 

The change of climate had not suited Maria Dmitrievna. 
The damp, marshy climate of Petersburg developed the 
disease which had long been lying in wait for her. In 
great alarm, she returned to Tver, which is healthier. 
It was too late ; the malady followed its normal course, 
and in a few months she had become unrecognisable. 
This woman, coughing and spitting blood, soon disgusted 
her young lover, who had hitherto followed her every- 
where. He fled from Tver, leaving no address. This 
desertion infuriated Maria Dmitrievna. My father had 
remained at Petersburg, busy with the publication of his 
novel, but he often went to visit his wife at Tver. In 
one of the scenes she made for his benefit, she confessed 
everything, describing her love-affair with the young 
tutor in great detail. With a refinement of cruelty she 
told Dostoyevsky how much it had amused them to 
laugh at the deceived husband, and declared that she 
had never loved him and had married him for mercenary 
motives. " No self-respecting woman," said this hussy, 
" could love a man who had worked for four years in a 
prison as the companion of thieves and murderers." 

My poor father listened with anguish to the outpour- 
ings of his wife. This, then, was the love and happiness 
in which he had been believing for years ! It was this 
fury whom he had cherished as a loving and faithful 
wife ! He turned from Maria Dmitrievna with horror, 
left her, and fled to Petersburg, seeking consolation from 
his brother, and among his nephews and nieces. He 
had arrived at the age of forty without having ever been 


loved. " No woman could love a convict," he said to 
himself, remembering the ignoble words of his wife. It 
was a thought worthy of the daughter of a slave, which 
could find no echo in the heart of a noble-minded 
European. But Dostoyevsky knew little of women at 
this period of his life. The thought that he would never 
have children or a home made him very unhappy. He 
put all his bitterness as a betrayed husband into the 
novel The Eternal Husband, which he wrote later. It is 
curious to note that he painted the hero of this story as a 
contemptible creature, old, ugly, vulgar and ridiculous. 
It is possible that he despised himself for his credulity 
and simplicity, for not having discovered the intrigue 
and punished the treacherous lovers. In spite of his 
sufferings and despair, Dostoyevsky continued to send 
money to Maria Dmitrievna, placed confidential servants 
with her, wrote to his sisters at Moscow, begging them to 
visit her at Tver, and later went himself several times to 
see if his wife had all she needed. Their marriage was 
shattered, but the sense of duty towards her who bore 
his name remained strong in Dostoyevsky's Lithuanian 
heart. Maria Dmitrievna was not softened by this 
generosity. She hated my father with the rancour of 
a true negress. Those who nursed her told later how 
she would pass long hours motionless in an arm-chair, 
lost in painful meditation. She would get up and walk 
feverishly through her rooms. In the drawing-room 
she would stand in front of Dostoyevsky's portrait, 
staring at it, shaking her fist at it, and exclaiming : 
" Convict, miserable convict ! " She hated her first 
husband too, and spoke of him contemptuously. She 
hated her son Paul and refused to see him. She had 
always been very ambitious, and she had greatly desired 
to place her son in the most aristocratic school in 
Petersburg. My father did what he could, but only 
succeeded in obtaining a nomination for the Cadet 


Corps, to which the boy was entitled as the son of an 
officer. Seeing that Paul was idle and would not work, 
Maria Dmitrievna was deeply mortified, and this 
mortification changed to hatred. Dostoyevsky inter- 
ceded in vain for the child; his mother refused to see 
him, and my father was obliged to send him to spend his 
holidays with my uncle Mihail's family. 



On his return from Siberia my father found his 
brother Mihail surrounded by a group of remarkable 
young writers. My uncle had distinguished himself in 
Russian literature by his excellent translations of 
Goethe and Schiller, and he loved to gather the authors 
of the period round him in his house. Seeing this, my 
father proposed that he should edit a newspaper. He 
was burning to reveal to our intellectuals the great 
Russian Idea which he had discovered in prison, but 
to which Russian society was deaf and blind. The 
paper was christened Vremya (Time), and the work 
was divided between the two brothers; my uncle 
undertook the editorial and financial business, my 
father the literary interests. He pubhshed his novels 
and his critical articles in Vremya. The paper was very 
successful; the new idea pleased its readers. The 
brothers invited the collaboration of very good writers, 
earnest men who appreciated my father. Instead of 
jeering at him, like his youthful literary associates of 
old, they became his friends and admirers. Two 
among them deserve special mention : the poet Apollo 
Maikov (whom Dostoyevsky had known shortly before 
his imprisonment), and the philosopher Nicolai Strahoff. 
Both remained faithful to Dostoyevsky all his life and 
were with him at his death. 

After The House of the Dead my father published 
The Insulted and Injured, his first long novel, which 
also had a great success. Dostoyevsky was much 



courted and complimented in the literary salons of 
Petersburg, which he again began to frequent. He 
also appeared in public. During his sojourn in Siberia, 
the Petersburg students, male and female, began to 
play an important part in Russian literature. In order 
to help their poorer comrades, they organised literary 
evenings, at which famous writers read extracts from 
their own works. The students rewarded them with 
frantic applause, and advertised them enormously, a 
service the ambitious sought to obtain by flattering the 
young people. My father was not of the number; he 
never flattered the students ; on the contrary, he never 
hesitated to tell them unpleasant truths. But the 
students respected him for it, and applauded him more 
than any of the other writers. Dostoyevsky's popu- 
larity was remarked by a young girl named Pauline 

N She represented the curious type of the " eternal 

student," which exists only in Russia. Pauline N 

came from one of the Russian provinces, where she had 
rich relations; they allowed her enough money to live 
comfortably in Petersburg. Every autumn regularly 
she enrolled herself as a student at the University,^ 
but she never presented herself for examination, and 
pursued no course of study. However, she frequented 
the University assiduously, flirting with the students, 
visiting them in their rooms, preventing them from 
working, inciting them to revolt, getting them to sign 
protests, and taking part in all political manifestations, 
when she would march at the head of the students, 
carrying a red flag, singing the Marseillaise, abusing 
and provoking the Cossacks, and beating the horses of 
the pohce. She in her turn was beaten by the police, 
and would spend the night in a police cell. On her 

^ At this period there were no higher courses for young girls in 
Russia. The Government allowed them provisionally to study 
at the University together with the male students. 


return to the University she was borne aloft in triumph 
by the students, and acclaimed as the glorious victim 
of " Tsarism." Pauline attended all the balls and all 
the literary soirees given by the students, danced and 
applauded with them and shared all the new ideas 
which were agitating youthful minds. Free love was 
then fashionable. Young and attractive, Pauline 
adopted this new fashion ardently, passing from one 
student to another, and serving Venus in the belief 
that she was serving the cause of European civilisation. 
Seeing Dostoyevsky's success, she hastened to share this 
latest passion of the students. She hovered about my 
father, making advances which he did not notice. She 
then wrote him a declaration of love. Her letter was 
preserved among my father's papers; it is simple, 
naive and poetic. She might have been some timid 
young girl, dazzled by the genius of the great writer. 
Dostoyevsky read the letter with emotion. It came at 
a moment when he needed love most bitterly. His 
heart was torn by the treachery of his wife ; he despised 
himself as a ridiculous dupe; and now a young girl, 
fresh and beautiful, offered him her heart. His wife 
had been wrong then ! He might still be loved, even 
after having worked in prison with thieves and mur- 
derers. Dostoyevsky grasped at the consolation offered 
him by fate. He had no idea of Pauline's easy morals. 
My father knew the lives of the students only from 
the rostrum whence he addressed them. They sur- 
rounded him in a respectful throng, talking of God, 
of the fatherland, of civilisation. The idea of initiating 
this distinguished writer, revered by all, into the squalid 
details of their private conduct was never entertained. 
Later, if they noticed Dostoyevsky's love for Pauline 
they were careful not to enlighten him as to her character. 
He took Pauline for a young provincial, intoxicated by 
the exaggerated ideas of feminine liberty which were 


then reigning in Russia. He knew that Maria Dmitri- 
evna was given up by the doctors, and that in a few 
months he would be free to marry PauHne. He had 
not the strength to wait, to repulse this young love, 
which offered itself freely, careless of the world and 
its conventions. He was forty years old, and no 
woman had ever loved him. . . . 

The lovers decided to spend their honeymoon abroad. 
My father had long been dreaming of a journey in 
Europe. Ivan Karamazow, the portrait of my father 
at twenty, also dreams of foreign travel. According to 
him, Europe is merely a vast cemetery; but he wished 
to make obeisance at the tombs of the mighty dead. 
Now that Dostoyevsky had at last money enough, he 
hastened to realise this dream of long standing. The 
date of departure drew near; at the last moment my 
father was detained in Petersburg by business connected 
with the newspaper Vremya. My uncle Mihail's drink- 
ing bouts were becoming more and more frequent, 
and Dostoyevsky was obliged to look after the whole 
of the work. Pauline started alone, promising to await 
him in Paris. A fortnight later he received a letter 
from her, in which she informed him that she loved a 
Frenchman whose acquaintance she had just made in 
Paris. " All is over between you and me I " she wrote 
to my father. "It is your fault : why did you leave 
me so long alone?" After reading this letter, Dos- 
toyevsky rushed off to Paris like a madman. He, on 
this his first journey in Europe, passed through Berlin 
and Cologne without seeing them. Later, when he 
visited the banks of the Rhine again, he begged pardon 
of the Cathedral of Cologne for not having noticed its 
beauty. Pauline received him coldly; she declared 
that she had found her ideal, that she did not intend to 
return to Russia, that her French lover adored her and 
made her perfectly happy. My father always respected 


the liberty of others, and made no distinction on this 
point between men and women. Paidine was not his 
wife. She had made no vows; she had given herself 
freely and therefore was free to take back her gift. 
My father accepted her decision and made no further 
attempt to see her or speak to her. Feeling that there 
was nothing for him to do in Paris, he went to London 
to see Alexander Herzen. In those days people went 
to England to see Herzen just as later they went to 
Yasnaia Poliana to see Tolstoy. My father was far 
from sharing Herzen's revolutionary ideas. But he 
was interested in the man, and he took this opportunity 
of making his acquaintance. He found London much 
more absorbing than Paris. He stayed there some 
time, studying it thoroughly, and was enthusiastic over 
the beauty of young Englishwomen. Later, in his 
reminiscences of travel, he says that they represent the 
most perfect type of feminine beauty. This admiration 
of Dostoyevsky's for young Englishwomen is very 
significant. The Russians who visit Europe arc, as 
a rule, more attracted by French, Italian, Spanish 
and Hungarian women. Englishwomen generally leave 
them cold; my countrymen consider them " too thin." 
Dostoyevsky's taste was evidently less Oriental, and 
the beauty of young Englishwomen touched some 
Norman chord in his Lithuanian heart.^ 

My father at last went back to Paris, and having 
heard that his friend, Nicolas Strahoff, was also going 
abroad, he arranged to meet him at Geneva, and pro- 
posed that they should make a tour in Italy together. 
There is a curious phrase in this letter : " We will walk 
together in Rome, and, who knows, perhaps we may 

^ Dostoj^evsky made a curious prediction as to the future of 
England. He thought the English would eventually abandon 
the island of Great Britain. " If our sons do not witness the 
exodus of the English from Europe, our grandsons will," he 


caress some young Venetian in a gondola." Such 
phrases are extremely rare in my father's letters. It 
is evident that at this period Dostoyevsky was longing 
for a romance of some sort with a woman to rehabilitate 
himself in his own eyes, to prove that he too could be 
loved. And yet there was no " young Venetian in a 
gondola" during this journey of the two friends; 
Dostoyevsky's heart was with Pauline. Yet he refused 
to return with Strahoff to Paris, where he might have 
encountered her, and went back alone to Russia. He 
described his impressions of this first journey to Europe 
in Vremija. 

Towards the spring, Pauline wrote to him from 
Paris, and confided her woes to him. Her French lover 
was unfaithful to her, but she had not the strength to 
leave him. She implored my father to come to her in 
Paris. Finding that Dostoyevsky hesitated to take this 
journey, Pauline threatened to commit suicide, the 
favourite threat of Russian women. Much alarmed, 
he at last went to Paris and tried to make the forsaken 
fair one listen to reason. Finding Dostoyevsky too 
cold, Pauline had recourse to heroic measures. One 
morning she arrived at my father's bedside at seven 
o'clock, and brandishing an enormous knife she had 
just bought, she declared that her French lover was a 
scoundrel, and that she intended to punish him by 
plunging this knife into his breast ; that she was on her 
way to him, but that she had wished to see my father 
first, to warn him of the crime she was about to commit. 
I do not know whether he was deceived by this vulgar 
melodrama. In any case, he advised her to leave her 
big knife in Paris, and to go to Germany with him. 
Pauline agreed ; this was just what she wanted. They 
went to the Rhineland, and established themselves 
at Wiesbaden. There my father played roulette with 
passionate^absorption, was^delighted^when he won, and 


experienced a despair hardly less delicious when he lost.^ 
Later, they went on to Italy, which had fascinated my 
father before, and visited Rome and Naples. Pauline 
flirted with all the men they encountered, and caused 
her lover much anxiety. My father described this 
extraordinary journey later in The Gambler. He placed 
it in other surroundings, but gave the name of Pauline 
to the heroine of the novel. 

Considering this phase of Dostoyevsky's life, we ask 
ourselves in amazement how it was that a man who 
had lived so irreproachably at twenty could have com- 
mitted such follies at forty. It can only be explained 
by his abnormal physical development. At twenty my 
father was a timid schoolboy ; at forty he passed through 
that youthful phase of irresponsibility, which most men 
experience. " He who has committed no follies at 
twenty will commit them at forty," says the proverb, 
which proves that this curious transposition of ages is 
not so rare as we suppose. In this escapade of Dos- 
toyevsky's there was the revolt of an honest man, of a 
husband who had been faithful to his wife, while she 
had been laughing at him with her lover. My father 
apparently wished to demonstrate to himself that he 
too could be unfaithful to his wife, lead the light life 
of other men, play with love, and amuse himself with 
pretty girls. There are many indications that this 
was the case. In The Gainhler, for instance, Dostoyevsky 
depicts himself in the character of a tutor. Rejected 
by the young girl he loves, this tutor goes at once in 
search of a courtesan whom he despises, and travels 
with her to Paris, in order to avenge himself on the 
young girl, whom he nevertheless continues to love. 

1 Dostoyevsky had made acquaintance with roulette during 
his first journey to Europe, and even won a considerable sum of 
money. At first gambling did not attract him much. It was 
not untU his second visit with Pauline that he developed a passion 
for roulette. 


But apart from the vengeance of a deceived husband, 
there was also real passion in this romance of Dos- 
toyevsky's. Hear the hero of The Gambler speaking 
of Pauline : " There were moments when I would have 
given half my life to be able to strangle her. I swear 
that could I have plunged a knife into her breast I 
would have done so exultantly. And yet I swear, too, 
by all that is sacred to me, if, at the summit of the 
Schlangenberg she had said to me : ' Throw yourself 
over that precipice,' I would have obeyed her, and 
even obeyed her joyfully." 

Yet while avenging himself with Pauline on Maria 
Dmitrievna, Dostoyevsky took all possible precautions 
to prevent his sick wife from hearing anything of the 
matter. He wanted to restore his own self-respect, but 
he did not wish to inflict pain on the unhappy sufferer. 
His precautions were so effectual, that only his relations 
and a few intimate friends knew anything of this 
episode. But it explains the characters of many of 
Dostoyevsky's capricious and fantastic heroines. Aglae 
in The Idiot, Lisa in The Possessed, Grushenka in the 
Brothers Karamazov and several others are more or less 
Paulines. It is in this love-story of my father's, I 
think, that we shall find the explanation of the strange 
hatred-love of Rogogin for Nastasia Philipovna. 

Dostoyevsky returned to Petersburg in the autumn 
and learned that his wife's illness had reached its final 
stage. Full of pity for the unhappy woman, ^ my father 
forgot his anger, started for Tver, and persuaded his 
wife to come with him to Moscow, where she could 
have the best medical care. Maria Dmitrievna's agony 
lasted all the winter. My father remained with her 

1 Throughout his haison with Pauhne, Dostoyevsky never 
ceased to provide for his sick wife. When he was traveUing in 
Italy, he often wrote to his brother Mihail, requesting him to 
send her the money due to him for articles in Vremya. 


and tended her unceasingly. He went out very little, 
for he was engrossed by his novel, Crime and Punish- 
ment, which he was writing at this time. When Maria 
Dmitrievna died in the spring, Dostoyevsky wrote a few 
letters to his friends to announce her death, mentioning 
her with respect. He admitted that he had not been 
happy with her, but pretended that she had loved him 
in spite of their disagreements. The honour of his 
name was always dear to Dostoyevsky, and led him to 
conceal his wife's treachery from his friends. Only his 
relatives knew the truth of this sad story. My father 
was further anxious to hide the truth on account of his 
stepson Paul, whom he had brought up in sentiments 
of respect for his dead parents. I remember on one 
occasion at a family dinner Paul Issaieff spoke con- 
temptuously of his father, declaring that he had been 
nothing but a " wet rag " in the hands of his wife. 
Dostoyevsky became very angry; he defended the 
memory of Captain Issaieff, and forbade his stepson 
ever to speak of his parents in such a manner. 

As I have already said, Dostoyevsky had intended to 
marry Pauline on the death of his wife. But since 
their travels in Europe his ideas about his mistress had 
undergone a change. Moreover, Pauline was not at all 
inclined towards this marriage, and wished to keep her 
liberty as a pretty girl. It was not my father she cared 
for, but his literary fame, and, above all, his success 
with the students. Directly Dostoyevsky ceased to be 
the fashion, Pauline abandoned him. My father soon 
began the publication of Crime and Punishment. As 
before, the critics fell upon the first chapters of this 
masterpiece, and barked their loudest. One of them 
announced to the public that Dostoyevsky had insulted 
the Russian student in the person of Raskolnikov.^ 

1 In his celebrated work Dostoyevsky showed most striking 
clairvoyance. A few days before the publication of the first 


This absurdity, like most absurdities, had a great success 
in Petersburg. The students who had been Dos- 
toyevsky's fervent admirers turned against him to a 
man. Seeing that my father was no longer popular, 
Pauline did not want him any more. She declared that 
she could not forgive his outrage on the Russian student, 
a being sacred in her eyes, and she broke with him. 
My father did not remonstrate; he had no longer any 
illusions as to this light o' love. 

chapter of Crime and Punishment, a murder similar to Ras- 
kolnikov's crime was committed. A student killed a usurer, 
believing that " all is lawful." My father's friends were greatly- 
struck by this coincidence, but his critics attached no importance 
to it. And yet Dostoyevsky's clairvoyance should have made 
them understand that, far from insulting our students, he merely 
showed what ravages the anarchist Utopias, with which Europe 
kept us abundantly supplied, wrought in their immature minds. 



With Pauline N the period of passion in Dostoyev- 
sky's life closed. It lasted altogether but ten years, from 
the age of thirty-three to that of forty-three. The African 
love of Maria Dmitrievna and the somewhat Oriental pas- 
sion of Pauline N had left no very pleasant memories, 

and in his maturity my father returned to the Lithuanian 
ideals of his forefathers. He began to seek for a pure 
and chaste young girl, a virtuous woman, who would be 
a faithful life companion. His two later romances 
were romances of the affections, and not of the senses. 
Let us consider the first of these. 

At the period in question a rich landowner, M. Korvin- 
Kronkovsky, was living in the heart of Lithuania. He 
belonged to the Lithuanian nobility, and claimed to 
be a descendant of Corvinus, the somewhat mythical 
King of heathen Lithuania. He was married and had 
two daughters whom he had educated very carefully. 
The younger of the two, Sophie, afterwards married 
M. Kovalevsky, and was Professor of Mathematics at the 
University of Stockholm, the first woman who had been 
admitted to such a position. ^ The elder, Anna, a pretty 
girl of nineteen, preferred literature. She was a great 
admirer of my father's, and had read all his works. 
The novel Crime and Pmiishment made a great impression 
upon her. She wrote Dostoyevsky a long letter about 

^ At the tiine of which I am writing Sophie was but fourteen, 
and she played no part in Dostoyevsky's hfe. 
I 113 


it which pleased him very much. He repHed promptly, 
and a correspondence followed, which extended over 
some months. Anna then begged her father to take her 
to Petersburg that she might make the acquaintance of 
her favourite writer. The whole family arrived in 
Petersburg and took a furnished flat. They at once 
invited my father to visit them, and were charming 
to him. Dostoyevsky was often at their hospitable 
house, and finally made an offer of marriage to Anna 
Kronkovsky. He was a widower, and tired of living 
alone. Maria Dmitrievna had accustomed him to a 
well-kept home and the material comfort only a woman 
can give to a house. He longed for children, and 
recognised with terror that he was leaving the years of 
his youth behind him. He was not in love with Anna, 
but he liked her as a well-brought-up, lively and amiable 
girl. Her Lithuanian family pleased him. Mile. 
Kronkovsky, on her side, did not love my father, but 
she had a great admiration for his talent. She consented 
joyfully to become his wife, but their engagement was, 
nevertheless, very brief. Their political opinions differed 
widely. Dostoyevsky was becoming more and more a 
Russian patriot and a monarchist; Anna Kronkovsky 
was a cosmopolite and an anarchist. As long as they 
talked literature, all was well; but as soon as they got 
on to political questions they began to quarrel and 
dispute. This often happens in Russia, where people 
have not yet learnt to talk politics calmly. The 
betrothed couple saw in time that their marriage would 
be an inferno, and they determined to break off their 
engagement. But they were not so ready to give up 
their friendship. After returning to the country, Anna 
continued to write to my father, and he replied as before. 
The following winter the Kronkovskys came to Peters- 
burg again, and Dostoyevsky was once more a frequent 


visitor at their house. My father's affection for Mile. 
Kronkovsky was at bottom but a literary friendship 
as necessary to a writer as love itself. When Dostoyevsky 
became engaged to my mother, Anna Kronkovsky was 
the first to congratulate him heartily. Shortly after his 
marriage, she went abroad with her parents and met in 

Switzerland a Frenchman, M. J. , an anarchist like 

herself. They spent delightful hours together, destroy- 
ing the whole world and reconstructing it on more 
harmonious lines. This occupation was so congenial 
to both that they ended by marrying. An opportunity 
for putting their anarchist theories into practice soon 
presented itself. The Franco-Prussian war broke out, 
Paris was besieged, and the Commune established. 
The two J — — 's took an active part in its proceedings. 
After having set fire to a precious art collection, which 
it was apparently necessary to destroy for the good of 

humanity, Madame J fled from Paris. Her husband 

was arrested and imprisoned. Moved by the despair of 
his daughter, who adored her husband, M. Korvin- 
Kronkovsky sold part of his estate and went to Paris, 
where he managed to procure his son-in-law's escape 
by spending 100,000 francs. For a long time the couple 
could not return to France. They settled at Petersburg, 

where Madame J continued to be my father's 

friend. Out of consideration for his former fiancee, 
Dostoyevsky received her Communard husband cordially, 
though he had nothing in common with him. Madame 

J in her turn became a friend of my mother's. Her 

only son, Georges J , was one of my childish play- 

I think my father portrayed Mile. Kronkovsky in 
Katia, Dmitri Karamazov's fiancSe. Katia is not 
Russian; she is a true Lithuanian girl, proud, chaste, 
and holding lofty ideas as to family honour, sacrificing 


herself to save that of her father, faithful to her engage- 
ment and to her mission of saving Dmitri Karamazov 
by correcting the faults of his character. Russian girls 
are much simpler. Oriental passion or Slav pity 
triumphs over all other considerations with them. 



About the time of the publication of my father's 
famous novel, Crime and Punishment, my uncle Mihail's 
affairs began to be much involved. The publication 
of the newspaper Vremya was prohibited on account of 
a political article which had been misunderstood by the 
Censorship. A few months later, Mihail Dostoyevsky 
obtained permission to bring out a new journal under the 
name Epoha, but, as often happens in Russia, the second 
venture was not so successful as the first, though my 
uncle secured the collaboration of the same writers. 
Epoha appeared for a few months, and finally became 
extinct for want of readers. It was a terrible blow for 
Mihail Dostoyevsky. His health, already undermined 
by alcoholism, gave way, and he died after a short 
illness. Like most of his compatriots, my uncle had 
lived lavishly, and had saved nothing, hoping to leave 
his children a newspaper which would bring in a hand- 
some income. His sons were still very young, and had 
not finished their education. They could not therefore 
help their mother. My uncle left large debts. Accord- 
ing to Russian law, these debts were cancelled by his 
death; his family, having inherited nothing, were not 
obliged to pay them. Every one was therefore greatly 
astonished when my father informed Mihail Dos- 
toyevsky's creditors that he considered himself respon- 
sible for all his brother's liabilities, and that he was going 
henceforth to work hard in order to pay them off as 
soon as possible. He further promised his sister-in-law 



to support her and her four children until her sons could 
earn their living. My father's friends were very much 
alarmed when they heard of his resolve ; they did their 
best to dissuade him from paying his brother's debts, 
for which he was not legally responsible. Dostoyevsky 
thought they were urging him to commit an infamous 
action. They failed to understand each other. My 
father's literary comrades argued as Russians, Dos- 
toyevsky thought as a Lithuanian. Much as he had 
learnt to admire Russia, he continued to live after the 
Lithuanian tradition. Reverence for the family was one 
of the ideas derived by his forefathers from the Teutonic 
Knights. In their more chivalrous age the family was 
a larger conception than with us. All who bore the same 
name were considered as members, and were responsible 
one for the other. The honour of the family was their 
supreme ideal; men and women lived entirely for this. 
On the death of the father the eldest son became the head 
of the family and ruled it. In the event of his premature 
death, the second son took his place and inherited all 
his obligations. Not for nothing did Dostoyevsky 
admire the Gothic beauty of Cologne Cathedral; his 
own soul was Gothic ! He thought it quite a matter of 
course that he should sacrifice himself for his brother's 
family, and assume responsibility for all his debts. On 
their side, my father's friends naturally looked upon 
such conduct as fantastic, for in the Byzantine civilisa- 
tion of Russia the idea of the family is almost non- 
existent. People exert themselves more or less on behalf 
of their children, but they are generally indifferent to 
the fate of their brothers and' sisters. " I did not incur 
these debts, why should I pay them? " every Russian 
would have said in my father's place, and every Russian 
would have considered his determination romantic to 
the verge of absurdity. Far from thinking himself in 
any way ridiculous, my father took his duties as head 


of the family very seriously. If he sacrificed his life to 
the memory of his brother Mihail, he expected that 
his nephews and nieces, for their part, should look up 
to him as their guide and protector and follow his 
advice. This attitude exasperated my uncle's children. 
They were quite ready to live at their uncle's expense, 
but were by no means inclined to obey him. They 
laughed at Dostoyevsky behind his back, and deceived 
him. One of his nieces, his favourite, had a student 
lover, a somewhat insignificant young man, who hated 
Dostoyevsky, " because he had insulted the Russian 
student in the person of Raskolnikov." One day 
when discussing political questions, he spoke most 
disrespectfully to my father. Dostoyevsky was very 
angry, and desired his sister-in-law not to receive the 
impertinent youth at her house in future. They 
pretended to obey, but they entertained the young 
man secretly. As soon as he had finished his studies 
at the University and obtained a post in one of the 
Ministries, he hastened to marry my cousin. The 
ungrateful girl took a delight in getting married 
clandestinely, without inviting my father to the wedding, 
at a time when Dostoyevsky was working like a slave to 
support her family. When she met him later at her 
mother's house, the bride laughed in his face, and treated 
him as an old imbecile. My father was cut to the heart 
by this ingratitude. He loved his niece Marie as if she 
had been his own daughter, caressing and amusing her 
when she was little, and later showing great pride in her 
musical talent ^ and in her girlish triumphs. Marie's 
husband soon realised the mistake he had made in 
quarrelling with the distinguished writer. Six or seven 

1 My cousin was one of Anton Rubinstein's best pupils. Very 
often when my father was invited to read at a literary and musical 
party, he begged to be allowed to bring her with him, and took 
more pleasure in her success than in his own. 


years later, when my parents came back from abroad, 
he tried to re-estabhsh friendly relations, and to interest 
my father in his numerous children. Dostoyevsky 
consented to receive his niece, but he could not give her 
back his affection, which was dead. 

The second girl of the family grieved Dostoyevsky 
still more deeply. She fell in love with a scientist of 
some repute, who had been forsaken by his wife. This 
woman, although she loved another man, would never 
agree to a divorce, which would have released her 
injured husband.^ My cousin braved public opinion 
and became the mistress, or, in the language of the day, 
" the civil wife " of the savant, who could not marry her. 
She lived with him till his death, over twenty years, 
and was looked upon by all his friends as his actual wife. 
In spite of the serious character of this connection, my 
father could never forgive it. It took place a few years 
after the marriage of my parents, and my mother told 
me later that Dostoyevsky sobbed like a child on hearing 
of his niece's " dishonour." " How could she dare to 
disgrace our fair name ? " repeated my father, weeping 
bitterly. He forbade my mother to have any dealings 
with the culprit, and I never saw that cousin. 

As may be supposed, my father was not happy among 
people so incapable of understanding him. He was one 
of those men, rare enough in these days, who die broken- 
hearted if their sons disgrace themselves, or their 
daughters turn out badly. The sentiment of honour 
dominated all others with him. His conduct was 
governed by the chivalrous ideas of his ancestors, 
whereas his nephews and nieces had forgotten the 
European culture of their family, and preferred the easy 
morality of the semi-Oriental civilisation of Russia. 
They had, moreover, inherited from their mother that 

^ At this time it was very difBeult to obtain a divorce in Russia. 
It could not be granted witiiout tlie mutual consent of the parties. 


hardness of heart which is often to be found among the 
Germans of the Baltic Provinces. 

Dostoyevsky had not only to provide for his brother's 
family, but for a younger brother, Nicolai", an unhappy 
dipsomaniac. My father pitied him greatly, and was 
always good to him, though he never had the strong 
affection for Nicolai that he had felt for Mihail. Nicolai 
was too uninteresting; he thought only of his bottle. 
Dostoyevsky also helped his sister Alexandra, the only 
one of his three sisters who lived in Petersburg; her 
invalid husband was unable to work. She showed no 
gratitude for his generosity, and was always quarrelling 
with him. Indeed, the behaviour of the whole family 
was abnormal. Instead of being proud to have a genius 
for their brother, they hated him because he had made 
his name famous. My uncle Andrey was the only one 
who was proud of his brother's literary gifts; but he 
lived in the country and very rarely came to Petersburg. 

Odious as Dostoyevsky's relations were, he forgave 
them much in memory of his mother, and of their 
common recollections of childhood and youth. He 
found it harder to endure the malice and perversity of 
his stepson, Paul Issaieff, to whom he was bound by no 
tie of blood. Idle and stupid, Paul had never worked at 
the military school where Dostoyevsky had placed him, 
and the school authorities had finally sent him away. 
This grandson of a slave fell a victim to his stepfather's 
literary glory; his head was turned by the success of 
Dostoyevsky's novels. His arrogance and conceit were 
no less marked than my father's modesty and simplicity. 
He treated every one superciliously, and talked unceas- 
ingly of his " papa," the famous novelist, though he was 
very insolent to his stepfather. He thought it unneces- 
sary to study and exert himself; his " papa " would give 
him money, and he had no hesitation in asking for it. 
Dostoyevsky had not brought up his stepson judiciously. 


Absorbed in his novels and his journahstic work, he was 
unable to give much time to little Paul, and seeing that 
Maria Dmitrievna was cruel and unjust to the child, 
he felt a great pity for the fatherless boy, and spoilt 
him. He gave him too many dainties and toys, and, 
later, much more pocket money than was usual for boys 
of his age. He thus accustomed him to idleness and 
luxury, and Paul Issaieff was never able to correct his 
faults. Dostoyevsky now recognised that he had 
brought the boy up unwisely. " Another stepfather 
would have been stricter, and would have made Paul 
a man capable of serving his country," he would say 
sadly to his friends, and he kept the good-for-nothing 
lad with him as a punishment sent by heaven for a 
neglected duty. 

When his Petersburg relatives tried him too severely, 

Dostoyevsky would go to Moscow to rest in the home of 

his sister Vera, who had married a native of Moscow, 

and had a large family. These children were simpler 

and less overbearing than the nephews and nieces at 

Petersburg. They did not understand their uncle's 

genius, but they loved him for his gaiety and freshness 

of mind. He has described these young people under 

the name of the Zahlebin family in his novel The 

Eternal Husband. He himself figures in it as Veltsha- 

ninov, a man of forty, who loves the young and enjoys 

playing games, dancing and singing with them. 

Dostoyevsky took a special interest in his young nieces. 

Marie was the favourite pupil of Nicolas Rubinstein, 

the Director of the Moscow Conservatoire. " If she 

had a head to match her fingers, what a great musician 

she might be 1 " he would often say of her. " The 

head " seems to have always kept her back, for Marie 

never became famous, though she was an accomplished 

pianist, and my father was never tired of listening to 

her brilliant playing. He was even fonder of his niece 


Sophie, an intelligent and serious girl. He believed, 
on what grounds I know not, that she had inherited his 
literary talent. My cousin Sophie talked a great deal 
about the novel she intended to write, but she could 
never find a subject to her taste. A few years after the 
marriage of my parents Sophie also married and gave 
up her literary ambitions. 

This somewhat mediaeval love for all the members of 
my father's large family distressed my mother con- 
siderably. Brought up in the Russian tradition, she 
thought that all the money her husband earned should 
be devoted to his wife and children, the more so as she 
did her utmost to help him in his literary labours. She 
could not understand why my father would deprive her 
of necessaries in order to help some member of his 
family who did not love him and who was jealous of his 
fame. It was not until later, when my brothers and I 
were growing up, that all Dostoyevsky's love was at last 
concentrated upon us. But even to the day of his 
death he helped his brother Nicolai and the worthless 
Paul Issaieff. 


MY mother's family AND ITS ORIGIN 

DosTOYEVSKY sooii learned what it was to have 
debts. Scarcely had he signed the papers taking over 
his brother's liabilities when the creditors, who ought 
to have been grateful to him for recognising obligations 
which the law declared null and void, became extremely 
insolent, insisting on the immediate payment of their 
claims, and threatening to throw him into prison. 
To satisfy the most inexorable of them, Dostoyevsky in 
his turn got into debt, undertook to pay interest at a 
very high rate, and fell into the clutches of an unscrupu- 
lous publisher, one Stellovsky, who bought the right 
to bring out a complete edition of his works for an 
absurdly small sum. Stellovsky further stipulated 
that my father should add to this edition a new novel 
of a certain number of pages. This was to be delivered 
on the 1st of November of the same year; if it should 
not be finished by that date, Dostoyevsky would lose 
his copyright and his works would become the property 
of Stellovsky. Harassed by his brother Mihail's 
creditors, my father was forced to accept these barbarous 
conditions. He laid aside Crime and Punishment ^ 

^ Stellovsky, who was a regular usurer, threatened to send my 
father to prison, and the police despatched one of their officers to 
inform him of these threats. My father received the man 
pleasantly and talked to him with so much candour of his unfortu- 
nate financial position that the police officer was deeply touched. 
Instead of helping Stellovsky to get my father imprisoned, he 
placed all his legal knowledge at Dostoyevsky's service, to enable 
him to escape from the usiurer's toils. He conceived a great 
admiration for my father, came to see him often and related to 
him many of the strange experiences he had had in the course of 
his career. It was thanks to this man that Dostoyevsky was 



the epilogue of which was not yet finished, and set to 
work feverishly to write The Gambler. He worked 
night and day till his eyesight was affected. He was 
obliged to consult an oculist, who forbade him to work, 
telling him that if he persisted in doing so he would 
become blind. 

My father was in despair. It was then the beginning 
of October, and there was nothing but a rough copy of 
the novel. Dostoyevsky's friends were very anxious 
about him, and tried to hit upon some way of helping 
him. " Why don't you engage a stenographer? " said 
A. Milinkoff to him. " You could have dictated your 
novel to him, and he could have written it for you." 
At this time stenography was still a novelty in Russia. 
A certain Ohlin had studied it abroad and had just 
started some courses, in which he hurriedly prepared 
the first Russian stenographers. My father went to see 
him, explained his case, and asked Ohlin to send him a 
good stenographer. " Unfortunately," said Ohhn, " I 
cannot recommend any of my pupils. I only began 
my classes in the spring, I had to close them for the 
summer holidays, and in these three months my pupils 
forgot the little they had learnt. I have only one good 
pupil, but she does not want money, and has taken 
up stenography rather as a pastime than as a means 
of livelihood. She is still quite a girl, and I don't know 
if her mother would allow her to go and work for a man. 
In any case, I will offer her your work to-morrow, 
and I will let you know what she says." 

The young girl of whom Ohlin spoke became in time 

able to treat the police element in Crime and Punishment in so 
masterly a manner. This episode illustrates my father's manner 
of making friends, and shows us why he was able to transform 
the most savage convicts into faithful servants. It also indicates 
that the character of Prince Mishkin in The Idiot, who had the 
same faculty of transforming his enemies into friends, was really 
Dostoyevsky's own portrait. 


my mother. Before relating Dostoyevsky's romance, 
I should like to say a few words about the family of his 
second wife, who was his guardian angel for the last 
fourteen years of his life. 

My maternal grandfather, Grigor Ivanovitch Snitkin, 
was of Ukrainian origin. His ancestors were Cossacks 
who settled on the banks of the Dnieper near the town 
of Krementshug. They were called Snitko. When 
Ukrainia was annexed by Russia, they came to live in 
Petersburg, and to show their fidelity to the Russian 
Empire, they changed their Ukrainian name of Snitko 
into the Russian Snitkin. They did this in all sincerity, 
with no thought of flattery or servility. To them 
Ukrainia always remained Little Russia, the younger 
sister of the Great Russia which they admired with all 
their hearts. In Petersburg my great-grandparents 
continued to live after the Ukrainian tradition. At this 
time Ukrainia was under the influence of the Catholic 
priests, who were reputed the best instructors of youth 
in the country. Accordingly, my great-grandfather, 
although he belonged to the Orthodox Church, placed 
his son Grigor in the Jesuits' College which had just 
been opened in Petersburg.^ 

My grandfather received an excellent education there, 
such as the Jesuits generally give, but throughout his life 
he was the least Jesuitical of men. He was a true Slav : 
weak, timid, kind, sentimental and romantic. In his 
youth he had a grand passion for the celebrated Asen- 
kova, the only classical tragic actress we have had in 
Russia. He spent all his evenings at the theatre, and 
knew her monologues by heart. At this period the 
managers of the Imperial theatres used to allow the 
admirers of the artists to go and visit them behind 
the scenes. My grandfather's timid and respectful boyish 

^ It was subsequently closed by order of the Russian Govern- 


passion pleased Asenkova, and she distinguished him 
in various Httle ways. It was to him she would hand 
her bouquet and her shawl when she went upon the stage 
to recite Racine and Corneille's beautiful verses ; it 
was his arm she would take to return, trembling and 
exhausted, to her dressing-room, while the delighted 
audience applauded the beloved artist frantically. 
Other admirers sometimes begged for these privileges, 
but Asenkova always declared that they belonged to 
Grigor Ivanovitch. Poor Asenkova was very ill and 
weak ; she was consumptive, and died very young. My 
grandfather's despair was unbounded; for years he 
could not enter the theatre, of which he had been a 
devotee. He never forgot the great actress, and often 
visited her grave. My mother told me that one day, 
when she was still a child, her father took her and her 
elder sister to the cemetery, made them kneel down by 
Asenkova's tomb, and said to them : " My children, 
pray to God for the repose of the soul of the greatest 
artist of our age." 

I had supposed that this passion of my grandfather's 
was known only to our own family. I was therefore 
much astonished to find it in an historical journal, 
related by an old theatre-goer. He asserted that my 
grandfather's passion was not the love of a young man 
for a pretty woman, but admiration for the talent of a 
great artist. We must suppose that such a passion is 
very rare in Russia, or it would not have so impressed 
the old chronicler. He added a detail which was un- 
known to me. Shortly after the death of Asenkova 
one of her sisters made her dibut as a tragic actress. 
On the evening of her first performance, my grandfather 
reappeared in the theatre where he had not been seen 
since the death of his idol. He listened attentively 
to the young dehutante, but her acting did not please him 
and he disappeared once more. 


My grandfather was of a type which ages very early. 
When he was thirty-five he had lost all his hair and most 
of his teeth. His face was lined and wrinkled, and he 
looked like an old man. It was, however, at this age 
that he married under somewhat strange circumstances. 

My maternal grandmother, Maria Anna Miltopeus, 
was a Swede of Finland. She said that her ancestors 
were English, but that in the seventeenth century they 
had left their country as a result of the religious troubles 
there. They settled in Sweden, married Swedes, and 
subsequently migrated to Finland, where they bought 
land. Their English name must have been Miltope — 
or perhaps Milton ! — for the termination " us " is 
Swedish. In Sweden men belonging to the learned 
professions — writers, scientists, doctors and clergymen — 
habitually added the syllable to their names. I do not 
know what was the calling of my great-grandfather 
Miltopeus; I only know that he had rendered such 
services to his country that he was buried in the Cathe- 
dral of Abo, the Westminster Abbey of Finland, and a 
marble tomb was raised to his memory. 

My grandmother lost her parents while she was still 
very young, and was brought up by her aunts, who did 
not make her happy. As she grew up, she became very 
beautiful, quite in the Norman style. Tall and slender, 
with features of classic regularity, a dazzling complexion, 
blue eyes, and magnificent golden hair, she was the 
admiration of all who saw her. Maria Anna had a 
lovely voice ; her friends called her " the second Christine 
Nilsson." Their compliments turned her head, and 
she determined to become a professional singer. She 
went to Petersburg, where her brothers were serving 
as officers in one of the regiments of the Imperial Guard, 
and disclosed her project to them. 

" You must be mad ! " exclaimed they. " Do you 
want to have us turned out of our regiment? Our 


brother officers would not allow us to remain in it if 
you were to become a professional singer." There has 
always been a very severe etiquette on such points 
in Russia : an officer was obliged to resign before marry- 
ing an artiste. Very probably in my grandmother's 
time no Russian officer had any relations on the stage. 
Maria Anna sacrificed her artistic ambitions to the 
military career of her brothers. She did so the more 
readily because, soon after her arrival in Petersburg, 
she fell in love with one of their comrades, a young 
Swedish officer. They became engaged and were about 
to be married, when war broke out ; the Swede was sent 
to the front, and was one of the first to fall. Maria 
Anna was too proud to show her grief, but her heart 
was broken. She went on living with her brothers, 
but was perfectly indifferent to men; they had ceased 
to exist for her. Her sisters-in-law found the presence 
of this beautiful girl, who was extremely headstrong 
and masterful, most irksome. In those days no single 
woman of good family could live alone ; she was obliged 
to make her home with her relatives. The only way of 
getting rid of her was to marry her. Her sisters-in-law 
accordingly set to work; they gave parties and invited 
young men. The beautiful Swede, who sang with so 
much feeling, was greatly admired. Several suitors 
presented themselves. Maria Anna rejected them all. 
" My heart is broken," she said to her relations. " I 
cannot love any one." The sisters-in-law were annoyed 
at such speeches, which seemed to them absurd, and 
they tried to make their romantic kinswoman listen 
to reason. One day, when they were urging her to 
accept an advantageous offer, Maria Anna lost her 
temper and exclaimed : " Really your protege disgusts 
me so, that if I were absolutely obliged to marry some 
one, I would rather take poor old Snitkin. He at least 
is sympathetic." Maria Anna attached no importance 


to these imprudent words. Her sisters-in-law fastened 
upon them eagerly. They sent devoted friends to my 
grandfather, who spoke to him eloquently of the passion 
he had inspired in the heart of Mile. Miltopeus. My 
grandfather was greatly astonished. He certainly 
admired the fair Swede, and listened with delight to 
her operatic airs, but it had never entered his head 
that he could possibly find favour with a beautiful girl. 
Maria Anna took no notice whatever of him ; she would 
smile abstractedly as she passed him, but rarely spoke 
to him. However, if she really loved him as they said, 
he was quite ready to marry her. 

Maria Anna's sisters-in-law laid my grandfather's 
proposal triumphantly before her. The poor girl was 
greatly alarmed. " But I won't marry that old gentle- 
man," she said. " I mentioned him by way of com- 
parison, to make you realise how odious the other suitor 
was to me." This explanation came too late. Maria 
Anna's relatives told her severely that a well-brought-up 
girl should never utter imprudent words; that it was 
permissible to refuse a suitor who made an offer without 
knowing how it would be taken, but that to refuse an 
offer after actually inviting it was to insult a worthy 
man who by no means deserved such treatment; that 
Maria Anna was twenty-seven years old, that her brothers 
could not keep her indefinitely with them, and that it 
was time to think seriously of her future. My grand- 
mother saw that her sisters-in-law had laid a trap for 
her, and resigned herself to the inevitable. Fortunately, 
" poor M. Snitkin " was not antipathetic to her. 

The marriage of these two dreamers did not turn out 
badly. My grandfather never forgot the famous Asen- 
kova, and my grandmother cherished the memory of 
her fair-haired lover who had fallen on the field of honour ; 
notwithstanding, they had several children. Their 
characters suited each other; my grandmother was 


masterful, her husband was timid; she ordered, he 
obeyed. Nevertheless, in matters he considered really 
important, he managed to enforce his will. He wished 
his wife to change her religion, for he thought their 
children could not be brought up as good Christians 
if their parents professed different creeds. My grand- 
mother became Orthodox, but continued to read the 
Gospel in Swedish. Later, when the children began 
to talk, my grandfather forbade his wife to teach them 
her native tongue. " It is unpleasant to me to hear 
you talking Swedish together, when I can't understand 
it," he said. This embargo was very disagreeable 
to my grandmother, who could never learn to speak 
Russian correctly. All her life she expressed herself 
in a picturesque idiom which made her friends smile. 
When something important had to be said, she preferred 
to speak German to her children. 

After their marriage my grandparents lived at first 
in lodgings, as people often did in Petersburg. But this 
manner of life did not please my grandmother, who 
had been accustomed to a more spacious existence in 
Finland. She persuaded her husband to buy a piece 
of land which was for sale on the other side of the Neva, 
in a lonely quarter not far from the Smolny monastery. 
There she had a large house built, and surrounded it 
with a garden. In the middle of Petersburg she lived 
as if she were in the country. She had her own flowers, 
fruit and vegetables. She did not like her husband's 
Ukrainian relatives, and received them only on family 
festivals. On the other hand, all the Swedes who came 
to Petersburg, and who were acquainted with one or 
the other of her numerous cousins in Finland, came to 
see her, lunched, dined, and sometimes stayed the night. 
The house was large and contained several guest- 
chambers. When they returned to Sweden, my grand- 
mother's friends invoked her good offices for their 


children, whom they had placed in the various Crown 
establishments : sons who were to become officers in 
the Russian army. On the festivals of Christmas and 
Easter the house and garden echoed with the laughter 
and the Swedish chatter of little schoolgirls, pupils 
of the Cadet Schools, and shy young officers who could 
not as yet speak Russian fluently and were happy to 
find a bit of Finland in the strange capital. Like all 
the women of Germanic origin, my grandmother cared 
very little for her new country, and thought only of 
the interests of those of her own race. 

This Finland which invaded the house of her parents 
found no favour with my mother. The Swedish ladies, 
with their severe profiles, stiff, ceremonious manners 
and unknown language, frightened her. The little 
Anna would take refuge with her father, whom she 
resembled, and whose favourite she was. He took her 
to church, and visited the religious houses of Petersburg 
with her. Every year she accompanied him on a pil- 
grimage to the famous monastery of Valaam, on the 
islands of Lake Ladoga. My mother had all her life 
tender memories of this kind, simple, sentimental soul. 
She became religious like him, and remained faithful 
to the Orthodox Church. The new religious ideas, which 
her friends eagerly adopted, gained no hold over her; 
my mother thought more highly of the wisdom of the 
early Fathers than of the fashionable writers. Like 
her father, she loved Russia passionately, and could 
never forgive her mother the indifference, verging on 
scorn, displayed by her towards her husband's country. 
My mother considered herself a thorough Russian. 
And yet she was but half a Slav ; her character was much 
more Swedish. The dreamy idleness of the Russian 
woman were unknown to my mother; she was very 
active all her life; I never saw her sitting with folded 
hands. She was always taking up fresh occupations, 


becoming absorbed in them and generally turning them 
to good account. She had nothing of the large-minded- 
ness of Russian women, which they generally increase 
by wide reading ; but she had the practical mind which 
most of her countrywomen lack. This disposition made 
a great impression upon her women friends; later, 
during her widowhood, they habitually consulted her 
in difficulties, and the advice she gave them was generally 
good. Together with the good qualities of her Swedish 
ancestors, my mother had inherited some of their 
faults. Her self-esteem was always excessive, almost 
morbid; a trifle would offend her, and she easily fell 
a victim to those who flattered her. She was something 
of a mystic, believed in dreams and presentiments, and 
had to some extent the curious gift of second sight 
possessed by many Normans. She was always pre- 
dicting in a jesting manner, without attaching any im- 
portance to what she was saying, and was the first to be 
astonished and almost alarmed when her predictions, 
often of a fantastic and improbable kind, were realised, 
as if by magic. This second sight left her completely 
towards her fiftieth year, together with the hysteria 
which ravaged her girlhood. Her health was always 
poor; she was anaemic, nervous and restless, and often 
had hysterical attacks. This neuroticism was aggravated 
by the characteristic indecision of the Ukrainians, 
which makes them hesitate between half a dozen 
possible courses, and leads them to transform the most 
trivial circumstances into dramas, and sometimes into 


MY mother's girlhood 

As their children grew up, two hostile camps were 
established in the house of my grandparents, as often 
happens when the father and the mother are of different 
races. The Swedish camp was composed of my grand- 
mother and her elder daughter, Maria, a very over- 
bearing young person; the Ukrainian camp contained 
my grandfather and his favourite child, Anna. The 
Swedes commanded and the Ukrainians obeyed grudg- 
ingly. My uncle Jean served as a link between the 
opponents. He had inherited the Norman beauty of 
his mother with the Ukrainian character of his father, 
and was equally beloved by both parents. 

My aunt Maria was a beautiful creature, tall and 
slender, with blue eyes and magnificent golden hair. 
She had a great success in society and innumerable 
suitors. She made a love-match in marrying Professor 
Paul Svatkovsky, to whom the Grand-Duchess Maria 
had confided the education of her orphan children, the 
Dukes of Leuchtenberg. At the time of my aunt's 
marriage the young princes had finished their studies, 
but M. Svatkovsky continued to live in the palace of 
the Grand Duchess as a friend. My aunt made her 
home there; she had aristocratic friends, beautiful 
dresses and fine carriages. When she visited her 
relations, her tone was more arrogant than ever. She 
treated her younger sister as a little schoolgirl, which 
was, perhaps, not to be wondered at, for my mother 
was still at the High School, Her morbid self-esteem 



was wounded by the authoritative tone of her elder 
sister. She was proud, and resented patronage, dreaming 
of independence. A great wave of Hberahsm was 
passing over Russia at the time. Young Russian girls, 
who had hitherto been brought up more or less on 
French lines, now refused to accept the husbands their 
parents chose for them, and to go into society. Their 
mothers had danced to excess; the daughters despised 
balls, and preferred literary gatherings or scientific 
lectures. They laughed at novels and were full of 
enthusiasm for the works of Darwin. They became 
careless in their dress, cut their hair short to save time, 
put on spectacles, and wore black dresses and men's 
blouses. It was their dream to go and study at the 
University. When parents opposed this wish, they ran 
away with idealistic students, who married them in 
order to save them from " the odious despotism of 
parents." These marriages were generally platonic; 
the couple lived apart and rarely met. But by way of 
compensation, the young wife would choose a lover 
among the students of the University and live with 
him in " civil marriage." Free love seemed the ideal 
love to these reckless young creatures. Some of them 
even went farther. Male and female students sub- 
scribed to hire large dwellings and found communes in 
which all the women belonged indiscriminately to all 
the men. They were very proud of this grotesque 
institution, which they ingenuously assumed to be the 
last word in human civilisation. They were not aware 
that they were, in fact, retrograding to the condition 
of those antediluvian tribes among whom marriage was 

Brought up as she had been, my mother could not, 
of course, participate in these follies. An obedient 
daughter of the Orthodox Church, she looked upon free 
love as a mortal sin. Short hair and spectacles seemed 


to her very ugly. She loved pretty clothes and graceful 
coiffures. She tried to read Darwin, but found him 
very wearisome; the idea of simian descent did not 
attract her. Her young imagination was fired only by 
the poems and novels of the Russian authors. She had 
no desire to be carried off by a student; she preferred 
to quit her parental home on her husband's arm, with 
the blessing of her father and mother. In all the new 
movement towards liberty, my mother chose only what 
was really good in it — work, and the independence it 
offers to all who take to it seriously. She studied 
diligently at school, and on leaving received a silver 
medal of which she was very proud. For a time she 
followed a course of higher studies, organised by the 
parents of her school-friends. The behaviour of the 
girl-students at the University was becoming so scan- 
dalous that many parents in alarm subscribed to form 
private classes, at which the professors gave lessons to 
their daughters, thus inducing them to continue their 
studies, while saving them from contamination. My 
grandmother was one of the subscribers; but higher 
studies had no attraction for my mother. She cared 
nothing for science, and did not see how it was to 
benefit her. Young Russians incline to vagueness in 
their aspirations : they study to develop their minds, 
to understand life better, to appreciate literature more 
fully. These abstract aims did not appeal to my 
mother's practical mind. What she wanted was to 
learn some craft by which she could earn money to 
buy books and theatre tickets, and later to travel. 
My grandmother, who controlled the purse-strings, was 
not fond of spending money on what she considered 
unnecessary things; my mother, for her part, disliked 
having to ask for every cent; she preferred to earn for 
herself. She saw in the papers M. Ohlin's advertisement, 
in which he promised those who made good progress in 


Iiis courses of stenography posts in the law-courts, at 
the meetings of learned societies, at congresses, and, in 
short, everywhere where rapid reporting was a de- 
sideratum. The idea pleased my mother. She joined 
the new classes and worked industriously. This purely 
mechanical science would have been distasteful to a 
girl of lively imagination ; my mother, who had singu- 
larly little, found it very interesting. At this time her 
father was seriously ill, and had been in bed for some 
months. When she came back from her lessons, she 
would go at once to see him. He would lie propped 
up on pillows, turning over her notebooks with trembling 
fingers, and asking her the meaning of all the mysterious 
signs. The poor invalid was delighted that his favourite 
had at last found a congenial occupation. He died a 
few weeks later ; my mother mourned him passionately, 
and devoted herself more than ever to her stenography 
to divert her thoughts from her sorrow. The interest 
her father had shown in her studies was a further 
incentive. When the holidays came and the classes 
ceased, my mother was afraid she might forget her 
stenography during the summer. She therefore pro- 
posed to M. Ohlin that she should make transcriptions 
from books and send them to him to correct. Ohlin, 
who had already begun to distinguish her from the 
other students, consented willingly. My mother worked 
a great deal throughout the summer, and in the autumn 
was at the top of her class. Thus she was the only 
stenographer Ohlin could recommend to Dostoyevsky. 
He rightly feared the opposition of my grandmother, 
who, like all the Swedes of her day, was a strict upholder 
of the proprieties. However, my father's literary fame 
saved the situation. 

Dostoyevsky, as it happened, was the favourite 
author of my grandfather, who had become one of his 
devotees on the appearance of his first novel, and had 


followed his literary career with great interest. When 
Dostoyevsky was condemned to penal servitude, my 
grandfather thought he had disappeared for ever. He 
remained faithful to his memory and often spoke of 
him to his children. " The modern authors are worth- 
less," he would say. " In my young days they were 
much more serious. Young Dostoyevsky, for instance ! 
What a magnificent talent, what a sublime soul he had ! 
What a pity that his literary career was cut short so 
soon ! " When Dostoyevsky began to write again, my 
grandfather's admiration revived. He subscribed to all 
the periodicals in which my father's works appeared, 
and read them with enthusiasm. His children, who 
had been infants at the time of Dostoyevsky's first 
works, now shared their father's admiration. The 
Insulted and Injured made a deep impression on their 
young imaginations. When the new number of the 
periodical was due, all the family watched feverishly 
for the arrival of the postman. My grandfather seized 
the review first of all, and carried it off to read it in 
his study. If he laid it down, my mother would creep 
in, and hiding it under her schoolgirl apron, would run 
off to read it in the garden, under the shade of her 
favourite tree. My aunt Maria, who was not yet married 
at the time, sometimes caught her sister in the act, 
and would take the book from her, invoking her rights 
as the elder of the two. The whole of my grandfather's 
family fought over The Insulted and Injured, weeping 
at the sorrows of Natalia and little Nelly, and following 
the evolution of the drama with anguish. My grand- 
mother alone showed no interest. She disliked novels 
and never read them; politics absorbed her entirely. 
I remember her later, when she was seventy years old, 
reading the newspaper through her spectacles. She 
followed the course of political events throughout 
Europe and talked of them continually. The marriage 


of Prince Ferdinand of Coburg occupied her thoughts 
a good deal. Would Princess Clementine find a 
good match for him among the princesses of Europe? 
This grave question disturbed my poor grandmother 
greatly. . . . 

My grandfather had always talked of Dostoyevsky 
as the writer of his youth, and my grandmother was 
convinced that his favourite author was a very old 
gentleman. When Ohlin proposed to my mother that 
she should work for Dostoyevsky, she was much flat- 
tered and agreed joyfully. My grandmother, looking 
upon the novelist as a distinguished old man, raised no 
objections. The day when the work was to begin, my 
mother dressed her hair demurely, and for the first 
time regretted that she had no spectacles to put on 
her nose. On her way to her employer's house, she 
tried to imagine what this first session would be like. 
" We shall work for an hour," she thought, " and then 
we shall talk of literature. I will tell him how I admire 
his genius, and which are my favourite heroines. I 
must not forget to ask him why Natalia does not marry 
Vania, who loved her so deeply. . . . Perhaps it would 
be well to criticise some of the scenes, so as to show 
Dostoyevsky that I am not a little goose, and that I 
know something about literature. ..." Unhappily, the 
event dispelled all my mother's artless day-dreams. 
Dostoyevsky had had an epileptic attack the night 
before ; he was absent-minded, nervous and peremptory. 
He seemed quite unconscious of the charms of his 
young stenographer, and treated her as a kind of 
Remington typewriter. He dictated the first chapter 
of the novel in a harsh voice, complained that she did 
not write fast enough, made her read aloud what he 
had dictated, scolded her, and declared she had not 
understood him. Feeling tired after his attack, he sent 
her away unceremoniously, telling her to come back 


the next day at the same hour. My mother was much 
hurt; she had been accustomed to very different 
treatment from men. Without being pretty, she was 
fresh, gay and amiable, and very attractive to the 
young men who frequented my grandmother's house. 
At nineteen she was, indeed, still a child. She did not 
reahse that a woman who works for money will never 
be treated in the same manner as an ingenue flirting with 
the guests in her mother's drawing-room. She went 
home in a rage, and resolved that evening to write a 
letter to Dostoyevsky next day, explaining that her 
delicate health would prevent her from continuing her 
stenographic work. After sleeping on the matter, she 
came to the conclusion, however, that when one has 
begun a task one ought to finish it; that her teacher 
might be annoyed if for mere caprice she refused the 
first post he had found her, and might not recommend 
her again; that The Gambler had to be finished by the 
1st of November, and that after this she would be 
under no obligation to continue working for the captious 
author. She got up, carefully copied what Dostoyevsky 
had dictated on the preceding day, and presented herself 
at his house at the appointed hour. She would have 
been very much alarmed if any one had predicted on 
that day that she would transcribe Dostoyevsky's 
novels for fourteen years. 



My mother owned one of those albums with pink, 
blue and green pages to which young girls confide the 
great events of their days each evening. My mother 
opened hers the more readily because she could record 
her impressions in shorthand, and thus write a good 
deal in a limited time. She kept this artless journal 
of her youth, and this enabled her later to recall the 
story of her betrothal and of her honeymoon almost 
day by day. These interesting souvenirs of hers were 
about to be published when the great war broke out, 
and it was necessary to put off their appearance to a 
more propitious season. I will not deprive my mother 
of the pleasure of describing this important period of 
her existence. I will content myself with tracing this 
phase of Dostoyevsky's life in broad outlines, and 
painting the romance of my parents from my own 
point of view, and from my own estimate of their 

Having recovered from the first wound to her vanity, 
my mother set to work valiantly, and went every day 
to take down The Gambler from my father's dictation. 
Dostoyevsky gradually became conscious that his 
Remington machine was a charming young girl, and 
an ardent admirer of his genius. The emotion with 
which she spoke of his heroes and heroines pleased the 
novelist. He found his young stenographer very 
sympathetic, and got into the habit of confiding his 
troubles to her, telling her of the manner in which his 



brother's creditors were harassing him, and of the 
complicated affairs of his large family. My mother 
listened in surprise and consternation. Her girlish 
imagination had pictured the distinguished writer 
surrounded by admirers who formed a kind of body- 
guard about him, preserving him from all dangers that 
might threaten his health or interfere with the creation 
of his masterpieces. In the place of this agreeable 
picture she saw a sick man, weary, badly fed, badly 
lodged, badly served, hunted down like a wild beast 
by merciless creditors, and ruthlessly exploited by 
selfish relatives. The great writer had only a few 
friends, who were content to give him their advice, but 
who never took the trouble to inform the Russian 
public or the Russian Government of the terrible straits 
to which this man of genius was reduced, and of the 
abyss which threatened to engulf his splendid talents. 
My mother's generous spirit was filled with indignation 
when she realised the neglect and indifference surround- 
ing the great Russian. She conceived the idea of 
protecting Dostoyevsky, of sharing the heavy burden 
he had taken upon his shoulders, saving him from his 
rapacious relatives, helping him in his work, and 
comforting him in his sorrows. She was not, indeed, 
in love with this man, who was more than twenty-five 
years her senior. But she understood Dostoyevsky's 
beautiful soul as quickly as her father had formerly 
understood the pure soul of Asenkova, and reverenced 
his genius as her father had reverenced that of the 
young tragedienne. Just as my grandfather had con- 
sidered Asenkova the greatest artist of our century, so 
my mother would never admit that there was any 
novelist equal to Dostoyevsky, not only in Russia, but 
in the whole world. In these two devotions, which were 
so closely akin, there was something of the Greek love 
of art, a rare sentiment in Russia, and one which the 


Ukrainians perhaps inherited from Greek colonists on 
the shores of the Black Sea. But my mother was only 
half an Ukrainian; she had also the Russian sense of 
pity, and she felt this holy pity of our race for this man 
of genius who was so kindly, so confiding, who never 
thought of self, and was so ready to give all he had 
to others. Young and strong, she desired to protect 
the famous writer, who was approaching his decline. 
His debts and his numerous obligations might have 
frightened a timid spirit. But my mother's Norman 
blood braced her for conflict; she was ready to do 
battle with her whole world. 

A Russian girl in my mother's position would have 
lost herself in the clouds, and would have passed her 
time dreaming of all the heroic circumstances in which 
she could give her life to Dostoyevsky. My mother, 
instead of dreaming, set to work energetically, and 
began by saving him from the clutches of his publisher. 
She begged Dostoyevsky to prolong their hours of 
dictation, spent the night copying out what she had 
taken down in the day, and worked with such goodwill 
that The Gambler was ready on the date fixed by Stel- 
lowsky, who was much chagrined to see that his prey 
had escaped from the trap he had prepared. Dos- 
toyevsky was fully sensible that he could not have 
written his novel so quickly but for my mother's help, 
and he was deeply grateful to her for the passionate 
interest she showed in his affairs. He could not bear 
the thought of parting with her, and proposed that they 
should work together at the last chapters of Crime and 
Punishment, which were not yet written. My mother 
agreed willingly. To celebrate the happy conclusion 
of their first undertaking, she invited my father to come 
to tea, and presented him to her mother. My grand- 
mother, who read her daughter's heart like an open 
book, and had long foreseen how her stenographic 


activities would end, received Dostoyevsky as a future 
son-in-law is received. That corner of Sweden trans- 
ported to Russia attracted my father; it must have 
reminded him of the Lithuanian corner transported by 
his father to Moscow in which he had spent his child- 
hood. Dostoyevsky saw in what an austere atmosphere 
his little stenographer had been reared, and how greatly 
she differed from the young girls of the day, who were 
leading the lives of prostitutes under the pretext of 
liberty. He began to think of marrying his young 
assistant, although he, again, was no more in love than 
was my mother. Like many Northerners, he had a 
somewhat cold temperament; it required the African 
devices of Maria Dmitrievna or the effrontery of Pauline 
to kindle passion in him. A well-brought-up young girl 
who never overstepped the limits of an innocent 
coquetry did not, of course, stir his senses. But he 
thought that this severely nurtured girl would be an 
excellent mother of a family, and it was this he had 
long been seeking. And yet he hesitated to make his 
proposal. The fact was that my mother seemed very 
childish to my father. She was about the same age as 
Anna Kronkovsky, but she was much less mature and 
self-confident than the young anarchist. Mile. Korvin- 
Kronkovsky's political, moral and religious ideas were 
all clearly defined. She was a severe critic of a world 
God had conceived so badly and executed so defectively, 
and was quite ready to correct the mistakes of the 
Creator. My mother bowed in reverence to God's will, 
and had no fault to find with His works. Her ideas 
of life were still very vague ; she acted rather by instinct 
than by reflection. When she was talking to Dostoyev- 
sky, she laughed and jested like the child she was. 
My father smiled as he listened to her, and thought to 
himself in alarm : " What should I do with such a 
baby to look after ? " This young girl, who only a year 


ago was still wearing a schoolgirl's apron, did not seem 
to him mature enough for marriage. It is probable 
that Dostoyevsky would have hesitated long, if a 
prophetic dream had not hastened his decision. He 
dreamed that he had lost some valuable object; he 
was seeking for it everywhere, turning out cupboards, 
impatiently throwing aside useless things, which were 
strewn on the floor of his room. All of a sudden he 
saw in the bottom of a drawer a very small diamond, 
which sparkled so brilliantly that it lighted up the 
whole room. He stared at it in amazement : how 
could the gem have got into that drawer? Who had 
put it there ? Suddenly, as often happens in dreams, 
my father understood that the little diamond which 
shone with such lustre was his little stenographer. He 
woke up very happy and deeply moved. " I will ask her 
in marriage to-day," he said. He never regretted his 
decision. . . . 

After his betrothal to my mother, Dostoyevsky went 
to see her every day, but did not hasten to announce 
his approaching marriage to his relatives. He knew 
too well how they would receive the news. His stepson 
was the first to discover the secret. He was filled with 
consternation at the " treachery " of his stepfather ! 
The idle rascal had arranged his life so satisfactorily ! 
His stepfather would work and he would amuse himself; 
later he would inherit Dostoyevsky's works and would 
live on the income they yielded. And now a young girl, 
whom his stepfather hardly knew, had upset all these 
agreeable plans ! Paul Issaieff was most indignant. 
He put on spectacles, as he always did when he wanted 
to look important, and told his stepfather that he 
wished to speak to him seriously. He warned him 
against the disastrous passions of old men,^ pointed 
out all the unhappiness this marriage with a young girl 
^ My father was then forty-five. 


would bring upon him, and admonished him severely 
as to the duties of a stepfather. " I, too, am thinking 
of marrying some day," he said ; "I shall probably 
have children; it will be your duty to work for them." 
My father was enraged, and turned the idiot out of the 
house. This was the usual ending to discussions 
between the stepfather and the stepson. 

Paul Issaieff hastened to warn the family of the 
danger which threatened their parasitical security. 
Dostoyevsky's nephews and nieces were greatly alarmed ; 
they, too, had counted on living all their lives at their 
uncle's expense; they, too, had looked forward to 
becoming his heirs. Dostoyevsky's sister-in-law, in her 
turn, wished to talk to him seriously. " Why do you 
want to marry again ? " she asked. " You had no 
children by your first marriage, when you were a young 
man. How can you hope to have any at your present 
age ? " This marriage with a young girl of nineteen 
seemed an absurdity, almost a vice, to my father's 
relatives. His literary friends were also somewhat 
surprised. They could not understand why Dostoyevsky, 
who, at the age of thirty-three, had married a woman 
of his own age, or perhaps older, now, when he was 
past forty, cared only for quite young girls. Anna 
Kronkovsky and my mother were about the same age 
when he asked them in marriage. I think this pecu- 
liarity may be explained by the treachery of Maria 
Dmitrievna, which produced a profound and ineradicable 
impression on my father's mind, and made him distrust 
all women of mature age. He could now only believe 
in the innocence of a young heart and a pure spirit, 
which a man of character would always be able to 
mould as he wished. ^ Dostoyevsky, after marrying my 

^ The Eternal Husband, it will be remembered, was also 
attracted only by young girls after the death of his unfaithful 


mother, carried on her moral education very carefully. 
He superintended her reading, keeping erotic books 
from her, took her to the museums, showed her beautiful 
pictures and statues, and tried to kindle in her young 
soul the love of all that is great, pure and noble. 

He was rewarded by the absolute fidelity of his wife, 
both during his life and after his death. 

Like most Lithuanians, Dostoyevsky was pure and 
chaste. " The Lithuanian despises indecency and de- 
bauchery," says Vidunas. " There is no obscenity in 
his folk-songs, and in Lithuania one does not find on 
walls and fences those pornographic scrawls so common 
in other countries." When he visited Paris, Dos- 
toyevsky frequented the cafes, and went to see the 
dancing in the casinos of the Champs ^^lysees. The 
gross songs he heard and the erotic dances he witnessed 
filled him with indignation; he spoke of them with 
disgust to his Russian friends. This was, perhaps, the 
reason why my father, when he took his young wife to 
Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria, did not visit 
France with her. Nevertheless, the disgust which 
Dostoyevsky had felt when studying Parisian life did 
not affect his admiration for French literature. He 
was one of the rare travellers who distinguish between 
the France that works and the France that amuses 


dostoyevsky's second marriage 

In spite of the opposition of his relations, Dostoyevsky 
married my mother on February 12th of that winter, 
five months after their first meeting. As he had no 
money, he could not take his young wife on a honey- 
moon journey. The couple took up their quarters in a 
lodging which my grandmother had furnished for them. 
Their decision to spend their honeymoon in Petersburg 
was very imprudent, and nearly brought about the 
wreck of their happiness. 

Having failed to prevent the marriage, Dostoyevsky's 
relations conceived the idea of estranging the husband 
and wife. They changed their tactics ; the enemies of my 
mother became her friends, and feigned an unbounded 
admiration for her. They invaded her home, and rarely 
left her alone with her husband. These people who had 
hitherto neglected my father, and had visited him but 
rarely, now spent the entire day with the newly married 
couple, lunching and dining at their table, and often 
staying till midnight. My mother was greatly surprised 
at this behaviour, but she did not venture to complain ; 
she had been taught from childhood to be amiable and 
polite to all her mother's guests, even to those she 
disliked. The artful relatives took advantage of her 
youthful timidity ; they overran her home and behaved 
as if it belonged to them. Pretending to give her good 
advice, they begged her not to disturb her husband too 
often, but to leave him in peace in his study. " You 
are too young for him at present," said these perfidious 
counsellors ; " your girlish talk cannot interest him. 



Your husband is a very serious man, he wants to think 
over his books a great deal." On the other hand, they 
would take my father aside and tell him that he was 
much too old for his young wife and that he bored her. 
" Listen how prettily she chatters and laughs with her 
young nephews and nieces," his sister-in-law would 
whisper. " Your wife needs the society of young 
people of her own age. Let her amuse herself with them, 
or she will begin to dislike you." My father was hurt 
when he was assured that he was too old for his wife; 
my mother was indignant at the thought that the great 
man she had married considered her silly and tiresome. 
They sulked, too proud to speak frankly to each other 
of their grievances. If my parents had been in love 
they would have ended by quarrelling and reproaching 
each other, and would thus have exposed the machina- 
tions of the mischief-makers ; but they had married on 
the strength of a mutual sympathy. This sympathy 
was capable of becoming ardent love under favourable 
circumstances; but it was also capable of turning to 
profound aversion. My mother saw with alarm how 
rapidly the admiration she had felt for Dostoyevsky 
before their marriage was diminishing. She began to 
think him very weak, very simple and very blind. " It 
is his duty as a husband to protect me from all these 
schemers, and to turn them out of the house," thought 
the poor bride. " Instead of defending me, he allows 
his relations to lord it over me in my own house, to eat 
my dinners and to make fun of my inexperience as a 
housekeeper." While my mother was crying in her 
bedroom, her husband was sitting alone in his study, 
and instead of working, was thinking sadly that his 
hopes of a happy married life were not very likely to be 
realised. " Can she not understand what a difference 
there is between me and my foolish nephews ? " he 
would say to himself in mute rebuke of his wife's 


supposed levity. His relations were delighted. Every- 
thing was going on as they wished. . . . 

The spring was approaching, and people began to 
make plans for the summer exodus. My father's sister- 
in-law proposed that they should take a large villa at 
Pavlovsk, in the neighbourhood of Petersburg. " We 
could all be together," she said to Dostoyevsky, "and 
we should have a delightful summer. We will make 
excursions and take your wife out with us all day. 
You can stay at home and work at your novel without 
any interruptions." These plans were not very attrac- 
tive to my father, and still less so to his wife. She 
told her husband that she would prefer to go abroad; 
she had long wished to visit Germany and Switzerland. 
My father, too, was eager to see once more the Europe 
he remembered with so much pleasure. He had already 
made three visits to foreign countries, the third mainly 
for the purpose of playing roulette. He thought he 
was now cured of the fatal passion, but he was mistaken. 
During his travels in Europe with my mother, he had 
several fresh attacks of the malady. It gradually weak- 
ened, however, and completely lost its hold upon him 
when he was approaching his fiftieth year. Like his 
passion for women, his passion for roulette lasted alto- 
gether only ten years. 

My father began to look about for money for the 
projected journey. He would not apply to his aunt 
Kumanin, for only a few months before she had given 
him ten thousand roubles, which were spent in publish- 
ing the newspaper Epoha. He preferred to go to M. 
Katkov, the publisher of an important Moscow review, 
in which Dostoyevsky's novels now appeared. My 
father went to see him at Moscow, described the plan 
of the new novel he was about to begin, and asked for an 
advance of a few thousand roubles. Katkov, who 
looked upon Dostoyevsky as the great attraction of his 


review, readily complied with his request. My father 
then announced to his family that he was shortly going 
abroad with his young wife. The schemers clamoured 
that if he intended to desert them for three months, he 
must at least leave them some money. Each produced 
a list of things required, and when my father had 
satisfied them all he had so little money left that he 
was obliged to give up the projected journey. 

My mother was in despair. " They will make mischief 
between me and my husband this summer ! " she cried, 
with tears, to her mother. " I feel it, I can see through 
all their schemes." My grandmother was much troubled ; 
her younger daughter's marriage did not promise well. 
She, too, feared a sojourn at Pavlovsk, and wanted her 
daughter to go abroad. Unfortunately, she was unable 
to advance the funds for the journey; the money my 
grandfather had left her had been invested in the build- 
ing of two houses close to her own, which she let. She 
lived on the income from these houses. She had been 
obliged to mortgage a part of her income in order to give 
her daughter a trousseau and to furnish her new home. 
It was therefore very difficult for her to find a consider- 
able sum of money immediately. After careful con- 
sideration, my grandmother advised her daughter to 
pledge her furniture. " In the autumn, when you come 
back to Petersburg, I shall be able to find the money to 
redeem it," she said. " Just now the essential thing is 
to get away as soon as possible, and to remove your 
husband from the fatal influence of all those schemers." 

Every bride is proud of her trousseau. She loves her 
pretty furniture, her silver, her dainty china and glass, 
even the resplendent pots and pans in her kitchen. 
They are the first things of her very own she has pos- 
sessed. To ask her to part with them after three months 
among them as a model housekeeper is positively cruel. 
But to do my mother justice she did not hesitate for a 


moment, and hastened to follow my grandmother's 
wise advice. Her conjugal happiness was more to her 
than all the silver plate in the world. She begged her 
mother to carry out the transaction and send the money 
to her abroad. With the small sum my grandmother 
was able to give her at once, my mother hurried away 
her husband, who was also very glad to go. They 
started three days before Easter, which was contrary to 
all my mother's religious habits. She was so afraid of 
some fresh manqeuvre on the part of the Dostoyevsky 
family that she could only breathe freely when they had 
crossed the frontier. My mother would have been very 
much startled if some one had told her that day that 
she would not cross it again for four years. 



The wedding journey of my parents is described in 
detail in my mother's journal. I refer my readers to 
this book, which will be published at no distant date, 
and I will say but a few words concerning their life 

After resting at Vilna and Berlin, my parents went 
to Dresden, and stayed there for two months. They 
left Petersburg in one of those snow-storms which are 
so frequent in Russia in April ; at Dresden they found 
the spring awaiting them. Here the trees were in blossom, 
the birds were singing, the sky was blue, all Nature 
seemed in holiday mood. This sudden change of 
climate made a great impression on my parents. They 
dined in the open air on the verandah at Bruhl's, listened 
to the music in the Grossen Garten, and explored the 
picturesque landscape of Saxon Switzerland. Their 
hearts expanded. Now that there were no longer any 
schemers to come between them, they understood each 
other much better than before. The sympathy they 
had felt for each other before marriage soon became 
love, and their real honeymoon began at last. My 
mother never forgot those enchanted months. Later, 
in her widowhood, when she was often obliged to go to 
Karlsbad or Wiesbaden to take the waters, she always 
completed her " cure " by spending a few weeks in 
Dresden. She visited all the places where she had 
been with my father, went to look at the pictures he had 
admired in the famous gallery, dined at the restaurants 



where they had taken their meals, and dreamed of the 
past, hstening to the music in the Grossen Garten. 
She said that the weeks at Dresden were the happiest 
of all those she spent in Europe. 

I could never understand this love of a young girl of 
nineteen for a man of forty-five, and I often asked my 
mother how she could have loved a husband more than 
double her age. " But he was young ! " she replied, 
smiling. " You can't imagine how young your father 
still was ! He would laugh and joke, and find amuse- 
ment in everything, like a boy. He was much gayer, 
much more interesting than the young men of that 
period, among whom it was the fashion to wear spectacles 
and to look like old professors of zoology." 

It is true that the Lithuanians preserve their youth- 
fulness of mind till late in life. When they are past 
fifty they will often amuse themselves like children; 
looking at them one says that in spite of years they will 
never grow old. This was the case with Dostoyevsky. 
He was fifty-nine when he died, but he was young to 
the end. His hair never turned grey, but always kept 
its light brown colour. On the other hand, my mother 
inherited the Swedish character of her ancestors. Now 
Swedish women have one quality which distinguishes 
them from all the other women of Europe : they cannot 
criticise their husbands. They see their faults and try 
to correct them, but they never judge them. It seems 
to me that the Swedish women are, so far, the only ones 
who have realised the beautiful ideal of S. Paul, that 
husband and wife are one flesh. " How can one criticise 
one's husband?" Swedes have answered indignantly, 
when I have discussed this national peculiarity. " He 
is too dear to be criticised." This was just my mother's 
point of view ; her husband was too dear to be criticised. 
She preferred to love him, and after all this was the 
surest way of being happy with him. All her life she 


spoke of Dostoyevsky as an ideal man, and when she 
became a widow she brought her children up to worship 
their father. 

In July, when it began to get very hot in Dresden, my 
parents left for Baden-Baden, It was an unfortunate 
idea; no sooner did my father see the roulette-tables 
again, than the gambling fever seized him like a disease. 
He played, lost, went through crises of exultation and of 
despair. My mother was greatly alarmed. When she 
had transcribed The Gambler she had not known that 
her husband had depicted himself in it. She wept and 
implored him to leave Baden-Baden; finally she suc- 
ceeded in getting him away to Switzerland. When they 
arrived at Geneva the madness left my father, and he 
cursed his unhappy passion. My parents liked Geneva, 
and decided to spend the winter there. They did not 
wish to return to Petersburg ; they were happy abroad, 
and they thought with horror of the intrigues of their 
relatives. My mother, moreover, was no longer able 
to take long journeys; she was enceinte, and this first 
pregnancy was not easy. She took a dislike to noisy 
hotels, and my father rented a small flat from two old 
maids, who were very kind to my mother. She spent 
most of her time in bed, only getting up to go and dine 
at the restaurant. After the meal she would come home 
and go to bed again, while her husband stayed to read 
the Russian and foreign newspapers. Now that he was 
living in Europe, he took a passionate interest in all 
European questions.^ 

My parents led a very solitary life in Geneva. At 
the beginning of their stay in Switzerland they met a 
Russian friend, who often came to see them. When he 
left for Paris they did not seek any further acquaint- 

^ His favourite newspaper was V Indipendance Beige, which 
he often mentions in his works. 


ances; they were preparing for the great event which 
was to transform their lives. 

My little sister was born in February, and was named 
Sophie after my father's favourite niece, my Aunt Vera's 
daughter. Dostoyevsky was very happy; at last he 
tasted the delights of fatherhood, of which he had so 
long dreamt. " It is the greatest joy a man can know 
here on earth," he wrote to a friend. He was immensely 
interested in the baby, observed the soul which looked 
at him through the child's dim eyes, and declared that 
she recognised him and smiled at him. Alas ! his joy 
was short-lived. 

My mother's first accouchement had caused her unusual 
suffering, and her anaemia had been much aggravated 
by it. She was unable to nurse the baby herself, and it 
was not possible to find a wet nurse at Geneva. The 
peasant women would not leave their homes, and ladies 
who wished to have their infants nursed were obliged 
to send them up into the mountains. My mother 
refused to part with her treasure, and determined to 
bring up little Sophie by hand. Like many first-born 
children, Sophie was very fragile. My mother knew 
little about the rearing of infants ; the kind old maids 
who helped her with her charge knew even less. The 
poor baby vegetated for three months, and then left 
this troublous world for another. 

The grief of my parents was overwhelming. My 
grandmother, who had just arrived from Petersburg to 
make the acquaintance of her new grandchild, comforted 
them as far as she could. Seeing that my mother spent 
all her time in the cemetery, sobbing on the little grave, 
my grandmother proposed that she should be taken 
away to Vevey. There the three spent a most melan- 
choly summer. My mother was constantly escaping 
from the house, and going by steamer to Geneva, to 
take flowers to her little lost one. She would come 


back in tears ; her health became worse and worse. My 
father, for his part, was uneasy in Switzerland. A denizen 
of the plains, he was accustomed to vast horizons ; the 
mountains round Lake Leman oppressed him. " They 
crush me, they dwarf my ideas," he would say; " I 
cannot write anything of value in this country." 

My parents accordingly decided to spend the winter 
in Italy; they hoped the southern sun might restore 
my mother's health. They went away alone; my 
grandmother remained in Switzerland with her Svatkov- 
sky grandchildren, who were to spend the winter in 
Geneva by the doctor's orders. 

My parents travelled across the Simplon by the 
diligence. My mother always recalled this journey with 
pleasure. It was the month of August and the weather 
was magnificent. The diligence went up slowly; the 
passengers preferred to walk, taking short cuts. My 
mother walked, leaning on my father's arm ; it seemed 
to her that she had left her sorrow on the other side of 
the Alps, and that in Italy life would smile upon her once 
again. She was barely twenty-one, and at that age 
the thirst for happiness is so great that the loss of a 
baby of three months old cannot darken one's days for 
very long. 

My parents' first sojourn in Italy was at Milan. My 
father was anxious to see the famous cathedral which 
had so greatly impressed his imagination on his first 
visit to Europe. He examined it thoroughly, stood lost 
in admiration before the fa9ade, and even went up on 
the roof to see the view which extends over the wide 
Lombard plain. When the autumn rains began, my 
parents left for Florence, and settled there for the winter. 
They knew no one in the city, and spent several months 
tete-a-tete. Dostoyevsky never cared for casual acquaint- 
anceship which leads no further. When a man pleased 
him, he gave him his heart, and remained his friend for 


life, but he could not offer his friendship to every 

My father was busily occupied in Florence; he was 
writing his novel, The Idiot, which he had begun at 
Geneva. My mother helped him, taking down the 
scenes he dictated to her in shorthand. She was 
careful, however, not to disturb him in his hours of 
meditation, and set herself to make a thorough study 
of Florence, its beautiful churches and its magnificent 
art collections. She habitually arranged to meet her 
husband in front of some famous picture ; when he had 
finished his writing, Dostoyevsky would join her in the 
Pitti Palace. He did not like to study pictures Baedeker 
in hand; on his first visit to a gallery he would single 
out certain pictures which pleased him, and would often 
come back to admire them, without looking at any 
others. He would stand for a long time before his 
favourites, explaining to his young wife the ideas these 
pictures evoked in him. Then they would take a walk 
along the Arno. On their way home they would often 
make a detour to see the doors of the Baptistry, which 
enchanted my father. In fine weather they would stroll 
in the Cascine or the Boboli Gardens. The roses bloom- 
ing there in the month of January struck their northern 
imaginations. At that time of the year they were 
accustomed to see rivers covered with ice, streets full of 
snow, and passers-by muffled in furs; the January 
blossoms seemed to them incredible. My father speaks 
of the Boboli roses in his letters to his friends, my 
mother speaks of them in her reminiscences. 

My parents were very happy in Florence; I think 
this was the most perfect moment of their wedding 
journey. Dostoyevsky loved Italy; he said the 
Italians reminded him of the Russians. There is, 
indeed, a good deal of Slav blood in Northern Italy. 
The Venetii who built Venice were of Slav origin and 


belonged to the same Slav tribe as the Russians, a tribe 
whose home was in the Carpathians. Intermarrying 
with Italians, the Venetii gave their Slav blood to the 
inhabitants of northern Italy. This blood flowed all 
over the plain of the Po, and descended along the Apen- 
nines. Russians travelling in Italy are often surprised 
to find in the depths of Tuscany or Umbria peasant- 
women of the same type as those they have seen at 
home. They have the same soft and patient look, the 
same endurance in work, the same sense of self-denial. 
The costume and the manner of knotting the handker- 
chief about the head are similar. Thus the Russians 
love Italy, and look upon it as to some extent their 
second country. 



Towards the spring my mother became enceinte for 
the second time. The news delighted my father; the 
birth of little Sophie had made him more eager than 
ever to be a father. As the climate of Florence suited 
my mother, my parents at first proposed to spend another 
year in Italy. But they changed their minds as the time 
for my mother's confinement approached. The fact 
was that in those days the hotels and furnished flats 
in Florence did not as yet possess any of those polyglot 
servants who speak all languages equally badly. The 
humble Florentine servants were content to speak good 
Italian. My mother soon learned to talk this language 
after a fashion, and acted as interpreter to my father, 
who was too busy with his novel to study Italian. Now 
that she was about to take to her bed, and perhaps be 
dangerously ill, how, she wondered, would her husband 
be able to manage among Italian servants and nurses. 
My father wondered also, and told his wife he would 
prefer to winter in a country where he could speak the 
language. Dostoyevsky at this time was beginning to 
feel an interest in the Slav question, which eventually 
absorbed him so entirely. He proposed to my mother 
that they should go to Prague, where he wished to study 
the Czechs. My parents left Florence at the end of the 
summer, and travelled by easy stages that my mother 
might not be tired, stopping at Venice, Trieste and 
Vienna. At Prague they had a great disappointment ; 
there were no furnished apartments to be had in the town. 



Dostoyevsky wanted to go back to Vienna, hoping to 
find there some Czech societies, hterary or otherwise; 
but my mother dishked Vienna. She proposed that they 
should return to Dresden, of which she had such happy 
memories. My father agreed; he, too, remembered 
their stay in Dresden with pleasure. 

My parents arrived in Dresden a fortnight before my 
birth. Dostoyevsky was very happy to have a little 
daughter to love once more. " I saw her five minutes 
after her arrival in the world," he wrote to one of his 
friends. " She is a beauty, and the image of me." My 
mother laughed heartily when she heard this. " You 
flatter yourself," she said to her husband. " Do you 
think you are handsome?" Dostoyevsky was never 
handsome, nor was his daughter; but she was always 
proud of being like her father. 

The landlord of the furnished rooms occupied by my 
parents came to warn Dostoyevsky that by the laws 
of the town of Dresden he must go at once to the police 
office to announce the birth of his daughter to the Saxon 

Dostoyevsky hastened to the office and declared to 
the officials that he was the happy father of a little girl 
called Aimee. The Saxons were not content with this, 
but made my father state his name, age, social position, 
date of birth. Having satisfied their curiosity on the 
subject of my father, they passed on to his wife, and 
asked what her maiden name was. 

Her maiden name ! The devil ! Dostoyevsky could 
not remember it ! He racked his brains in vain ! — he 
could not recall it. He explained matters to the police 
officers, and asked leave to go and consult his wife. 
The worthy Saxons looked at him with amazement; 
never had they encountered such an absent-minded 
husband ! They allowed Dostoyevsky to go. He came 
home in dudgeon. 



" What is your name ? " he asked his wife severely. 

"My name? Anna," rephed my mother, much 

" I know your name is Anna. I want to know your 
maiden name." 


" Oh ! it is not I who would know it, but the police 
here. These Germans are so inquisitive. They insist 
on knowing what you were called before your marriage, 
and I have completely forgotten ! " 

My mother instructed her husband, and advised him 
to write the name on a bit of paper. " Otherwise you 
will forget it again," she said laughingly. Dostoyevsky 
took her advice, and went off to show his bit of paper 
triumphantly to the Saxon authorities. ^ 

My mother's health had improved greatly in the 
Italian climate, and she was able to nurse me herself. 
She also engaged a German nurse for me, distrusting her 
own inexperience. My grandmother came to be with 
her daughter during her confinement, and watched over 
me carefully, fearing a second domestic calamity. How- 
ever, I was not at all like my elder sister. I was a sturdy 
Slavo-Norman, determined not to leave this planet until 
I had studied it thoroughly. 

My grandmother had not returned to Russia after 
the death of little Sophie. When she quitted Peters- 
burg for a few months, she had left the management of 
her house property in the hands of one of her relatives. 
Being much occupied with other business, he let all the 

1 My Russian name is Lubov. As it is rather difficult for 
foreigners to pronounce, we got into the habit of translating it 
by Aimee, which means very nearly the same thing. My father 
used to call me Liuba, which is the Russian diminutive of Lubov, 
and I figure in the Dresden letters under this name. As I grew 
older I preferred the pet name of Lila, which my grandmother 
gave me, and which was easier for my childish tongue. To please 
me, my parents also called me Lila, and it is thus that Dostoyevsky 
writes of me in all his later letters. 


houses on a long lease, without taking the trouble to 
consult my grandmother. As she could not return to 
her own house at Petersburg, my grandmother elected 
to stay near her daughter Anna, all the more willingly 
because her favourite daughter Marie was also spending 
the greater part of her time in Europe. Marie's husband 
managed the affairs of one of his former pupils, the 
Duke of Leuchtenberg, who lived abroad, and constantly 
visited the Duke either at Geneva or in Rome. My 
aunt, who was very intimate with the morganatic wife 
of the Duke, always accompanied her husband, and often 
took her children with her. My grandmother went from 
one daughter to another, and was very happy in Europe, 
which to her Swedish mind was much more interesting 
than Russia. But she felt the separation from her son, 
who at this time was studying agriculture at the Petrov- 
skoe Academy near Moscow. My mother was very fond 
of her brother Jean, and she, too, longed to see him after 
years of separation. They both wrote to my uncle and 
begged him to come and see them. He got leave, and 
arrived in Dresden, intending to stay only two months, 
but he was obliged to remain there over two years. A 
strange fatality seemed to pursue my mother's family 
in this connection : whenever any of them visited 
Europe intending to stay a few months, it always became 
necessary for them to remain several years. My Aunt 
Marie, indeed, never returned to Russia. She died in 
Rome two years after the time of which I am writing, 
and was buried there. 

My uncle Jean had at the Academy a friend whom he 
greatly loved and admired, called Ivanov. He was 
older than my uncle, whom he protected and looked after 
as if he had been a younger brother. When Ivanov 
heard that my grandmother wished to see her son, he 
urged my uncle strongly to accept the invitation of his 
relatives. Knowing the somewhat vacillating character 


of his young comrade, Ivanov went himself to see the 
Director of the Academy, persuaded him to grant my 
uncle leave of absence for two months, took steps to 
hasten the issue of his passport, and saw him off at the 
station. My uncle was somewhat surprised at this 
eagerness for his departure, but he attached no import- 
ance to it. When he arrived in Dresden he talked 
enthusiastically of his dear Ivanov, wrote him letters 
and awaited his answers impatiently. A few weeks 
later Ivanov was found murdered in the park surround- 
ing the Academy. The police set to work to track the 
murderer, and finally discovered a political plot, in 
which most of the students were implicated. These 
young fanatics had been working to overthrow the 
Government, instead of attending to their agricultural 
studies. Ivanov was one of the chief agitators; he 
thought better of it, however, began to have doubts, 
and finally gave notice to his comrades that he intended 
to leave the secret society. The young revolutionaries 
were furious at his defection, and determined to punish 
it by death ; they enticed him into a lonely part of the 
park one night, and there one of his comrades, named 
Netchaieff, killed him while the others held his arms. 
This political affair, which was known as the Netchaieff 
Case, made a great sensation in Russia; it is still 
remembered there. 

The curious part of this story is that my uncle, who 
was almost inseparable from Ivanov, knew nothing at 
all of the plot. It is probable that Ivanov, who was 
really attached to him, prevented his companions from 
drawing him into this dangerous business. My poor 
uncle felt his friend's death bitterly ; he understood now 
why Ivanov had been so anxious for him to go abroad. 
He knew, no doubt, the fate he had to expect from his 
comrades, and wished to place his young friend out of 
danger. My grandmother was greatly alarmed when 


she heard of the murder of Ivanov, and forbade her son 
to return to Russia, more especially as the Academy of 
Agriculture was closed by order of the Government. 
Throughout the proceedings, my uncle settled at Dresden 
with his mother. He afterwards married a young girl 
of the Russian colony in Dresden. 

The Netchaieff Case made a deep impression on 
Dostoyevsky, and provided the subject for his famous 
novel, The Possessed. His readers at once recognised 
the Netchaieff affair, though the action took place in 
different surroundings. The critics argued that my 
father, who was living abroad at the time of the 
Netchaieff Case, had not at all understood it. No one 
knew that he had had an opportunity of forming a very 
clear idea of the plot by questioning my uncle Jean, 
who was intimately connected with the victim, the 
murderer, and the other revolutionaries of the Academy, 
and was able to reproduce their conversation and their 
political ideas.^ 

Schatov, Verhovensky, and many other characters in 
The Possessed are portraits. Of course, Dostoyevsky 
could not tell his critics of his sources, for fear of com- 
promising his brother-in-law. My uncle's relations were 
truly thankful that the police had forgotten his existence, 
and had not ordered him to attend the trial as a witness. 
He might have been bewildered and have said something 
imprudent that would have endangered him. It is 
probable that his fellow-students followed Ivanov's 
example, and were careful not to commit my uncle, 
who was a general favourite. He was a delightful 

^ My uncle was very brave and very intelligent. He had 
inherited his father's religious and monarchical ideas and was not 
afraid to profess them openly. It was probably on this account 
that his comrades concealed the plot from him. If our revolu- 
tionaries were merciless to those who forsook them after sharing 
their faith, they did not molest those who had the courage of 
their opinions. 


creature, a true Christian. He treated all men as his 
brothers. People began by laughing at him and ended 
by loving him. Dostoyevsky was always much attached 
to his brother-in-law.i 

When the Russian colony heard that the famous 
novelist Dostoyevsky was living in Dresden with his 
family, many people wished to make his acquaintance. 
They came to see him and invited him to their houses. 
My mother might have led a much more cheerful life 
at Dresden than at Geneva or Florence, but she was 
very unhappy there. She was now suffering from home- 
sickness, that curious malady which often attacks young 
creatures who have been torn too abruptly from their 
native soil. She hated Germany, hated foreigners. 
Dresden, which she had thought so charming, now 
seemed odious to her. She had moments of despair, 
thinking that she would perhaps never see her dear 
Russia again. She suffered the more acutely because, 
now that her health was restored, her Norman nature 
asserted itself, and made her long for action and 
struggle. She pined in her furnished flat, between her 
husband and her child. She thought that at Petersburg 
she would certainly find a means of paying off the debts 
which were crushing her life. Moreover, her family 
affairs were causing her much anxiety. One of the 
houses belonging to my grandparents was to come to 
my mother, according to her father's will. The Russian 
law did not allow her to sell it before her brother was 

^ A curious thing happened to the novel The Possessed. When 
Dostoyevsky began it, he had taken Nicolai Stavrogin for the 
hero, but when he had nearly finished the book, he realised that 
Verhovensky was much more interesting, and decided that he 
must be the hero. He had to rewrite almost the whole of the 
book, and cut out several chapters in which he had developed 
his study of Stavrogin. My mother wanted to publish one of 
these chapters in the last edition, at the beginning of this century. 
But she asked the advice of several old friends of my father's, 
and they were opposed to its inclusion. 


of age. Jean was now just on the verge of his majority, 
and my mother hoped to sell her house and pay her 
husband's debts. The house-agent, who had taken all 
my grandmother's property on lease, paid her regularly 
for the first few months ; then he had ceased to pay, and 
did not answer the letters she wrote him. My mother 
wrote to friends at Petersburg and begged them to go 
and see him and inquire into the matter. They did so, 
but could never find him at home; the neighbours 
whom they questioned declared that his business was 
in a bad way, and that the police had paid him visits. 
All this alarmed my mother, and she implored my father 
to return to Russia. She no longer feared the machina- 
tions of his relatives; she knew that she had now her 
husband's entire confidence. Her character, moreover, 
had changed greatly; her school-friends scarcely recog- 
nised their gay companion. Privations, exile, the influ- 
ence of Europe, where life is more serious and difficult 
than the childish life of Russia, had prematurely aged 

Dostoyevsky was not home-sick, and felt very com- 
fortable abroad; his health had improved, his epileptic 
attacks occurred only at long intervals. Yet he, too, 
wanted to return to Petersburg; he feared that he 
would cease to understand Russia if he stayed any 
longer in Dresden. All his life he had this fear, in 
Germany as in Siberia. Probably Dostoyevsky was 
conscious that there was very little of the Russian in 
him. Turgenev and Count Alexis Tolstoy spent their 
whole lives abroad, yet this did not prevent them from 
giving their readers admirable types of Great Russia. 
They nearly always spoke French, yet they wrote most 
excellent Russian. These writers carried Russia with 
them in their blood, and remained eternally Russian, 
though they naively accounted themselves perfect 
Europeans. My father, who, on the other hand, gloried 


in being a Russian, was really much more European than 
they. He was capable of being absorbed by Europe; 
it was therefore more dangerous for him to go away from 
Russia. His mastery of the Russian language was also 
imperilled. It has often been made a reproach to my 
father that his style is heavy, incoherent and careless; 
this has been explained by the fact that he was obliged 
to work for his daily bread, and had not time to correct 
his manuscripts. But those who have a good style know 
that it is easy to write well at the first attempt. I think 
Dostoyevsky's faulty style may rather be accounted for 
as follows : he wrote Russian badly because it was not 
his ancestral tongue. 

During the second part of her stay in Dresden my 
mother became enceinte for the third time. She proposed 
at first to stay at Dresden for her confinement; then, 
fearing illness might keep her another year in Germany, 
she changed her mind, and made her husband start for 
home at once. We arrived at Petersburg a few days 
before the birth of my brother Fyodor. 



It was the month of July, and my parents found the 
city deserted ; all their friends had left for the country. 
The first to return was my father's stepson, Paul Issaieff, 
who had lately married a pretty middle-class girl. As 
my mother was still weak after her recent confinement, 
and could not run about looking for a flat, he offered his 
services. In the evening he would come and show my 
mother sketch-plans of the various places he had 
inspected during the day. 

" But why do you look at such large flats ? " she said 
to him. " Until our debts are paid, we must be content 
with four or five rooms at most." 

" Four or five rooms ! Then where will you put me 
and my wife? " 

" Were you thinking of living with us? " asked my 
mother, greatly surprised. 

" Of course. Would you have the heart to separate 
father and son ? " 

My mother was exasperated. " You are not my 
husband's son," she said severely. " You are not even 
related to him, as a fact. My husband took care of you 
when you were a child, but his duty now is to look after 
his own children. You are old enough now to work and 
to earn your own living." 

Paul Issaieff was overwhelmed by this plain speaking. 
He was not to consider himself the son of the famous 
Dostoyevsky ! Others had better claims than he on his 
" papa " ! What an infamous plot had been hatched 



against him ! He was furious, and so was his young 

" He promised me," she told my mother ingenuously, 
" that we should all live together, that you would keep 
house, and that I should have nothing to do. If I had 
known that he was deceiving me, I certainly would not 
have married him." 

This selfish little creature became, under the discipline 
of years and sorrows, an excellent wife and mother, 
respected by all who knew her. Poor woman ! her 
married life was a long martyrdom. 

Seeing that nothing could shake my mother's deter- 
mination, and that Dostoyevsky was of one mind with 
his wife on the subject, Paul Issaieff turned for sympathy 
to my father's relatives, complaining bitterly of the dark 
intrigues of his " stepmother," and her efforts to separate 
"father and son." Dostoyevsky's family had more 
sense than he. They realised that my mother's character 
had developed, that the timid girl-bride had become the 
energetic wife, able to protect her home from intruders. 
They made a virtue of necessity, and ceased to harass 
her. Their position, moreover, had greatly improved 
during the past four years. The sons had grown up 
and were able to work for their living; the girls had 
married, and their husbands helped their mother. My 
aunt Alexandra, now a widow, married a rich man. 
The only members of the family dependent on my father 
were my unhappy uncle Nicolai and the worthless Paul 

As soon as my mother's health was restored, she took 
a small flat and furnished it cheaply. Her own pretty 
furniture had all been sold. Paul Issaieff, who had 
undertaken to pay the interest of the loan on the furni- 
ture during my grandmother's absence, spent the money 
my parents had sent him for this purpose on himself. 
Another disappointment, of a more serious nature, 


awaited my mother on her return to Petersburg. My 
grandmother's house-property was sold by auction by 
order of the poHce, and changed owners several times. 
Thanks to a badly worded lease, the agent had been able 
to pass it off as his own. The only hope was in a lawsuit, 
and lawsuits are very expensive in Russia. My mother 
preferred to give up her share of the inheritance ; my 
grandmother followed her example, although she was 
now utterly ruined as a result of her unlucky sojourn 
in Europe. Fortunately, her son had made a rich 
marriage at Dresden. With his wife's fortune he bought 
a fine estate in the Government of Kursk, and set to 
work to apply the theories he had learnt at the Academy 
of Agriculture. My grandmother went to live with him 
and his family, and soon became absorbed in his agricul- 
tural experiments. Now that her favourite daughter 
was dead, she rarely came to Petersburg. Her relations 
with Dostoyevsky were always cordial, but she played a 
very small part in his life. 

H: H: 4: H^ ^ 4: 

When my uncle Mihail's creditors heard that 
Dostoyevsky had returned to Petersburg, they at once 
presented themselves, and again threatened him with 
imprisonment. My mother then entered upon the 
struggle, for which she had been bracing herself at 
Dresden. She lectured them and argued with them, and 
borrowed from money-lenders to pay off the most 
rapacious. Dostoyevsky was amazed at the facility with 
which his wife manipulated figures and talked the jargon 
of notaries. When publishers came to make proposals 
to him, he listened to them quietly, and said : "I cannot 
decide anything for the moment. I must consult my 
wife." People soon began to understand who it was 
that managed the business of the Dostoyevsky house- 
hold, and they addressed themselves directly to her. 
Thus my father was relieved of all wearisome details, 


and was able to devote himself entirely to his 

With a view to paying off the debts quickly, my 
mother introduced a rigid economy in her home. For 
many years we had to live in very modest dwellings; 
we had only two servants, and our meals were extremely 
frugal. My mother made her own dresses and her 
children's frocks. She never went into society, and very 
rarely to the theatre, in which she delighted. This 
austere life was unnatural at her age, and made her 
unhappy. She was often in tears; her melancholy 
disposition, which painted the future in the darkest 
colours, conjured up visions of an old, infirm husband, 
sick children, a poverty-stricken household. ^ She could 
not understand my father's serenity. " We shall never 
be without money," he would say, in tones of conviction. 
" But where is it to come from ? " she would ask, vexed 
at his confidence. My mother was still young. There 
are certain truths we only grasp after the age of forty. 
My father knew that we are all God's workers, and that 
if we perform our task faithfully, the Heavenly Master 
will not forsake us. Dostoyevsky had perfect faith in 
God, and never feared for the future of his family. He 
was right, for after his death we lacked nothing. 

To comfort his wife and lighten her heavy burden, 
my father accepted the post of sub-editor of the news- 
paper, The Citizen, edited by Prince Mestchersky, an 
absurd person who was the laughing-stock of all the 
other journalists. Mestchersky, who had been brought 
up by English nurses and French tutors, could not even 
speak Russian correctly ; my father had to be always on 
the watch to prevent him from publishing something 

1 My father's Aunt Kumanin could no longer help him. She 
died while we were in Eiu:ope, leaving her affairs in great disorder. 
Her heirs quarrelled over her property for years. We did not 
receive our share tUl after my father's death. 


ridiculous in the paper. His journalistic work exhausted 
him terribly, and directly the most pressing of the debts 
were paid, my father hastened to leave The Citizen and 
its fantastic editor to their fate. 

My mother, for her part, did not spend all her time 
in weeping. She prepared my father's novels which had 
appeared in reviews for publication in book form, which 
brought in a little money. Moreover, it gave her experi- 
ence ; she became an excellent editor in time, and after 
my father's death published several complete editions 
of his works. She was the first Russian woman to under- 
take work of this nature. Her example was followed by 
Countess Tolstoy, who came to Petersburg to make my 
mother's acquaintance and ask her advice. She gave 
all the necessary information, and thenceforward all 
Tolstoy's works were published by his wife. Long after- 
wards, when at Moscow, my mother showed the Countess 
the musuem she had organised in memory of her husband 
in one of the towers of the Historical Museum at Moscow. 
The idea appealed to Countess Tolstoy, and she asked the 
directors of the Museum to let her have a similar tower 
for a Tolstoy Museum. These two Europeans ^ were 
not content to be merely wives and mothers; they 
aspired to help their husbands to propagate their ideas, 
and they were anxious to place all relics of their great 
men in safe custody. Another friend of my mother's, 
Madame Shestakov, asked her advice in the organisation 
of a museum in memory of her brother, the famous 
composer. Glinka. My mother helped her considerably, 
and thus was the founder of one museum, and the 
inspirer of two others. 

My father lived a very retired life during the first years 
of his return to Russia; he went out very little, and 
received only a few intimate friends. He made few 

1 Countess Tolstoy was the daughter of Dr. Bers, a native of 
the Baltic Provinces. 


appearances in poUic; the Peteistwrrg students kept 
up their grudge agaxnst him, and rarely invited hrm to 
thdr literary gathezings. They had scarcdy begun to 
firrr^ ^bat Dostoyevsky had "igiHipH than in the 
p : :i. :i RaskoliiikDv, when he o&nded than still 
nzi^deepty. In his novel. The Pa tteard, he had jJainly 
Ti. — 7. 'z.±ni the foDy and madiipss of rertdntionary pso- 
p^.^^c^^ Our yoimg moi -wexe stnp^ed; they had 
lookfd upcMi the anarchists as Fhitarchian heroes. This 
Wnssian admiralioo for ineendiarieSj which is so «"*rf^f^ 
to Enn^ieaiis, is easify accoonted for by the Orkntal 
doth d my conopatziots. It is nmch eaao- to throw a 
bcxnb and mn away to a totaga coontry than to devote 
one's Kfe to the soviee of one's fa I lift lan d, after the 
fadwon of patriots dseirheze. 

Dostoyevsky attached no nnpoztaiieeto the dis|^easnre 
c^ the students, and wasted no regrets on his lost 
pc^pul^ty with them. He loc^jed upon than as mis- 
guided boys, and a man of his catilne has no need of 
youthfu l adolatiGn. The joy he felt in the (seatxHi of 
his mastripftc c cs ritjily rewarded his toil; popular 
aimiairyr could add nothing to it. I think my father 
was happter in these early years of his retnm to Peteis- 
boig titan lata-, in the agitated perioi :: Lis rr^^t 
soeoesses. ffis wife loved him, his chiMre' iz: -f f i '-'—. 
with their infantine {Hattie and laughtez': 
often viated him, ajMl he could PTrhange idc 
than. His health had imjHoved, his attars a€c^_...v 
were no hngez- frequent, and the mental disease which 
to dose his caieer had not vet declared itself. 



We used to spend the four summer months at Staraja 
Russa, a Httle watering-place in the Government of 
Novgorod, not far from the great Lake of Ilmen. The 
doctors advised my parents to go there for the sake of 
my health the first year after our return to Russia. The 
baths of Staraja Russa did me a great deal of good, and 
my parents returned yearly. The quiet, sleepy little 
town pleased Dostoyevsky ; he was able to work in peace 
there. We rented a little villa belonging to Colonel 
Gribbe, a native of the Baltic Provinces, serving in the 
Russian army. With the savings he had made during 
his military life, the old officer had built a small house 
in the German style of the Baltic Provinces, a house full 
of surprises : cupboards concealed in the walls ; planks 
which when lifted up revealed corkscrew staircases, dark 
and dusty. Everything in this house was on a small 
scale : the low rooms were furnished with old Empire 
furniture ; the green mirrors distorted the faces of those 
who had the courage to look into them. Paper scrolls, 
pasted on linen, hung on the walls, presenting to our 
childish eyes monstrous Chinese ladies with claw-like 
nails and feet squeezed into tiny shoes. A covered 
verandah with coloured glass panes was our delight, 
and the Chinese billiard-table, with its glass balls and 
little bells, amused us on the long rainy days so frequent 
during our northern summers. Behind the house was 
a garden with comical little flower-beds. All sorts of 
fruits grew in this garden, which was intersected by 



tiny canals. The Colonel had constructed these himself 
to protect his raspberries and currants from the spring 
inundations of the treacherous Pereritza river, on the 
banks of which his villa stood. In summer the Colonel 
retired into two rooms on the ground-floor, and let the 
rest of the house to visitors. This was the custom at 
Staraja Russa in those days, when there were no villas 
to be let for the summer season. Later, after the 
Colonel's death, my parents bought the little house for 
a song from his heirs. ^ My father spent all his summers 
there, except that of 1877, when we paid a visit to my 
uncle Jean in the Government of Kursk. The scene of 
The Brothers Karamazov is laid in the little town ; when 
I read it in later years I recognised the topography of 
Staraja Russa. Old Karamazov' s house is the villa, 
with slight modifications; the beautiful Grushenka is 
a young provincial whom my parents knew at Staraja 
Russa; the Plotnikov establishment was my father's 
favourite shop. The drivers of the troikas, Audrey and 
Timofey, were our favourite drivers, who took us every 
summer to the shores of the Lake of Ilmen, to the point 
where the steamers stopped. Sometimes one had to 
wait there several days, and the sojourn in a big village 
on the lake is described by Dostoyevsky in the last 
chapters of The Possessed. 

My father led a very secluded life at Staraja Russa. 
He rarely went to the Park and the Casino, the resort and 
rendezvous of the visitors. He preferred to walk on 
the banks of the river, in the more retired places. He 

1 Colonel Gribbe possessed four miniatures which he had bought 
from a soldier in his regiment, who had no doubt looted them in 
some Polish palace, on the occasion of one of the numerous 
Polish revolts. They represented four princes and a princess of 
the Lithuanian dynasty of the Jagellons. My father admired 
these miniatures greatly ; he bought them from the heirs of the 
old Colonel and hung them in his bedroom. He said that the 
young princess reminded him of his mother. 


invariably took the same road, and passed along with 
downcast eyes, lost in thought. As he always went out 
at the same hour, the beggars lay in wait for him, knowing 
that he never refused alms. Absorbed in his own 
meditations, he distributed these mechanically, without 
noticing that he repeatedly gave to the same persons. 
My mother, however, saw through the tricks of the 
beggars, and was much amused by her husband's 
absent-minded ways. She was young and fond of 
practical jokes. One evening, seeing him returning from 
his walk, she threw a shawl over her head, took me by the 
hand, and stood by the roadside. When he approached, 
she began to whine plaintively: "Kind gentleman, 
have pity on me. I have a sick husband and two children 
to support." Dostoyevsky stopped, glanced at my 
mother, and handed her some coins. He was very 
angry when she burst out laughing. " How could you 
play me such a trick — before the child, too ? " he said 

This eternal dreaminess, so characteristic of writers 
and men of science, was a great annoyance to my father, 
who considered it humiliating and ridiculous. He 
wished intensely to be like others. But great minds 
cannot manifest themselves after the fashion of common- 
place men. Dostoyevsky could not live like his fellows. 
All his life, as at the Engineers' School, he stood apart 
in the embrasure of a window, dreaming, reading and 
admiring Nature, while the rest of humanity laughed, 
wept, played, ran, and amused itself in crowds. A great 
writer hardly lives on this earth; he spends his days 
in the imaginary world of his characters. He eats 
mechanically, without noticing of what his dinner 
consists. He is astonished when the night comes; he 
had supposed that the day was still young. He does not 
hear the trivial things that are said around him; he 
walks in the streets, talking to himself, laughing and 


gesticulating, till passers-by smile, taking him for a 
madman. Suddenly he will stop, struck by the look of 
an unknown person, which stamps itself on his brain. 
A word, a phrase he overhears reveals to him a whole 
life, an ideal which will eventually find expression in 
his works. 

The little villa of Staraja Russa no longer exists. 
Built of poor wood bought at a low price by the old 
Colonel, it was unable to resist the annual inundations 
of the Pereritza, and at last fell to pieces, in spite of all 
efforts to save it. As long as it survived it attracted 
many visitors. All who came to Staraja Russa made 
a pilgrimage to the little house where Dostoyevsky spent 
the last summers of his life. They looked at the table 
on which he had written The Brothers Karamazov, the 
old arm-chairs in which he sat to read, the numerous 
souvenirs of him we had kept.i Among these pious 
pilgrims was the Grand Duke Vladimir, who came one 
day when he was in the neighbourhood holding a review 
of young soldiers. He told my mother how greatly 
he admired Dostoyevsky. " This is not the first domicile 
of his I have visited," he added. " Passing through 
Siberia, I stopped at Omsk to see the prison where he 
suffered so greatly. It is entirely changed now. The 
Memories of the House of the Dead effected a vast reform 
in all Siberian prisons. What a genius your husband 
was ! What a power of touching the heart he had ! " 
The Grand Duke Vladimir was the grandson of Nicholas 
I, who had condemned my father to penal servitude. 
Ideas change quickly in Russia, and grandchildren are 
ready to recognise the misdeeds of their grandparents. 

My father liked Staraja Russa so well, that my 
mother proposed we should spend a winter there in 
order to economise and pay off the debts more rapidly. 

^ These relics were all placed in a little museum we made in 
our new villa. 


They took another villa in the centre of the town, a 
larger and warmer house, and we spent several months 
there. In the course of this winter my brother Alexey 
was born. There had been some discussion as to his 
name. My mother wished to call him after her beloved 
brother, Jean. Dostoyevsky suggested Stepan, in 
honour of that Bishop Stepan who, according to him, 
was the founder of our Orthodox family. My mother 
was somewhat surprised at this, as my father rarely 
spoke of his ancestors. I imagine that Dostoyevsky, 
who felt an ever-increasing interest in the Orthodox 
Church, wished to show his gratitude to the first of our 
Lithuanian ancestors who had adopted Orthodoxy. 
However, my mother disliked the name Stepan, and my 
parents finally agreed to call the child Alexey. My 
mother's health had improved so much that the birth 
of this child caused her little suffering. Little Alexey 
seemed strong and healthy, but he had a curious forehead. 
It was oval, almost angular. His little head was like 
an egg. This did not make him an ugly baby ; it only 
gave him a quaint expression of astonishment. As he 
grew older, Alexey became my father's favourite. My 
brother Fyodor and I were forbidden to go into our 
father's room uninvited ; but this rule did not apply to 
Alexey. As soon as his nurse's back was turned he would 
escape from his nursery, and run to his father, exclaim- 
ing : " Papa, zizi ! " i 

Dostoyevsky would lay aside his work, take the child 
on his knee, and place his watch against the baby's 
ear, and Ahosha would clap his little hands, delighted 
at the ticking. He was very intelligent and lovable, 
and was deeply mourned by the whole family when he 
died, at the age of two and a half years, at Petersburg, 
in the month of May, just before our annual journey to 
Staraja Russa. Our boxes were packed, and the last 
1 i. e. tchassi, show. 


purchases were being made, when Aliosha was suddenly 
seized vrith convulsions. The doctor reassured my 
mother, telling her that this often happened to children 
of his age. AUosha slept well, awoke fresh and lively, 
and asked for toys to play with in his little bed. Suddenly 
he fell back in another con\'ulsion, and in an hour he 
was dead. It all happened so quickly that my brother 
and I were still in the room. Seeing my parents sobbing 
over the little lifeless body, I had a fit of hysterics. I 
was taken away to some friends, ^^^th whom I stayed for 
two days. I returned to my home for the funeral. 
Mv mother ^^^ished to burv her darling beside her father 
in the cemetery of Ochta, on the other side of the Neva. 
As the bridge which now connects the banks did not 
then exist, we had to make a long detour. We drove in 
a landau, with the httle coffin between us. We all 
wept, caressing the poor Uttle white, flower-decked coffin, 
and recalling the baby's pretty saWngs. After a short 
ser\4ce in the church, we passed to the burial-ground. 
How well I remember that radiant May day I All the 
plants were in blossom, the birds were singing in the 
branches of the old trees, and the htanies of the priest 
and the choir sounded melodiously in the poetic sur- 
roundings. Tears ran down my father's cheeks; he 
supported his sobbing wife, whose eyes were fixed on the 
little coffin as it gradually disappeared under the earth. 

The doctors explained to my parents that Alexey's 
death was due to the malformation of his skull, which 
had prevented liis brain from expanding. For my part, 
I have always thought that AUosha, who was very like 
my father, had inherited his epilepsy. But God was 
good to him, and took liim home at the first attack. 

During the winter preceding the death of Alexey, a 
celebrated Parisian fortune-teller had visited Petersburg, 
and there was a great deal of talk about her predictions 
and her clairvovance. Mv father, who was interested 


in all occult manifestations, went to see her with a 
friend, and was surprised at the accuracy with which she 
told him of events in his past life. Speaking of his 
future, she said : A great misfortune will befall you 
in the spring. Struck by these words, Dostoyevsky 
repeated them to his wife. My mother, who was super- 
stitious, thought of them a good deal in March and 
April, but, absorbed in her preparations for our departure, 
she had entirely forgotten them in May. How often my 
parents recalled that prediction during the melancholy 
summer after the death of Alexey ! 



At last all the debts were paid. My father was now 
free to devote himself to his art — its master, and not its 
slave ! He could now give his children some pleasures, 
and afford a few presents for his poor wife, who had 
sacrificed her youth to enable him to discharge his 
obligations. The first diamonds Dostoyevsky offered 
to my mother were very small, but his joy in giving them 
was great. 

Yet my father had no thought of enjoying the rest 
so hardly earned. Scarcely was he clear of debt than 
he threw himself into the public arena, and began to 
publish the Journal of the Writer,^ of which he had long 
been dreaming. Russian novelists cannot devote them- 
selves exclusively to art, after the manner of their 
European confreres ; the moment always comes when 
they have to be priests, confessors and educationists. 
Our poor paralysed Church and our horrible schools 
cannot function normally, and every really patriotic 
writer is obliged to take over part of their duties. After 
his return from abroad, Dostoyevsky saw with alarm 
how swiftly unhappy Russia was rolling towards the 
abyss in which she now lies, thirty-five years after his 
death. He had just spent three years in Italy and 
Germany, in the great flowering time of their patriotism. 
In Petersburg he found only malcontents, who hated 
their native land. The unhappy Russian intellectuals, 
educated in our cosmopolitan schools, had only one 

1 He also published under this title his articles for The Citizen. 



ideal : to transform our interesting and original Russia, 
a land full of genius and promise, into a grotesque 
caricature of Europe. This state of mind was the more 
dangerous because our masses continued to be strongly 
patriotic admirers of their own country, proud of their 
nationality and contemptuous of Europe. Dostoyevsky, 
who knew both worlds — that of our intellectuals and 
that of our peasantry — recognised the strength of the 
one and the weakness of the other. He realised that the 
intellectuals only existed by virtue of the Tsars; that 
on the day when they, in their blindness, pulled down 
the throne, the people would take the opportunity of 
vengeance on the bare,^ whom they despised and hated 
for their atheism and cosmopolitanism. Dostoyevsky' s 
prophetic spirit foresaw all the horrors of the Russian 

When he began the publication of the Journal of the 
Writer, Dostoyevsky hoped to reunite this handful of 
wrong-headed intellectuals with the great popular masses 
by awakening in them the sentiments of patriotism and 
religion.^ His ardent voice was not lost in the wilderness ; 
many Russians saw the danger of this moral abyss which 
separated our peasants from our intellectuals and tried 
to fill it in. The fathers were the first to respond to 
Dostoyevsky' s appeal. They came to see him, consulted 
him as to the education of their children, and wrote to 
him from the depths of the provinces, asking for advice. 
These conscientious fathers belonged to all classes of 
Russian society. Some were humble folks of the lower 
middle classes, who had deprived themselves to give 

* The name the Russian masses give to nobles and intellectuals. 

2 In his Journal of 1876 Dostoyevsky said : " The cure for our 
intellectual malady lies in our union with the people. I began 
my Journal of the Writer in order to speak of this remedy as often 
as possible." Thus my father returned to the propagation of 
the same idea he had formerly preached in the Vremya, with my 
uncle Mihail's help. 


their children a good education, and who saw with 
terror that they were becoming atheists and enemies of 
Russia. At the other end of the scale there was the 
Grand Duke Constantine Nicolaievitch, who begged my 
father to exercise his influence on his young sons, 
Constantine and Dmitri. He was an intelligent man, of 
wide European culture; he wished to see his sons 
patriots and Christians. My father's affection for the 
young princes lasted till his death ; he was fond of both, 
but especially of the Grand Duke Constantine, in whom 
he divined the future poet.^ After the fathers came the 
sons. No sooner did Dostoyevsky begin to speak of 
patriotism and religion than the boy and girl students 
of Petersburg flocked to him, forgetting their former 
grievances against him. Poor Russian youth ! Is there 
any other in the world so abnormal, so crippled ? Whereas 
in Europe parents try to evoke patriotism in the hearts 
of their children, and to make them good Frenchmen, 
good Englishmen, good Italians, Russian parents make 
their children the enemies of their fatherland. From 
their earliest years our little Russians hear their fathers 
insulting the Tsar, repeating scandalous stories about 
his family, laughing at priests and religion, and talking 
of our beloved Russia as of an offence against humanity. 
When at a later period our children go to school, they 
find their teachers professing the same hatred of their 
own country; whereas in other countries schoolmasters 
endeavour to cultivate patriotism in the hearts of young 
citizens, Russian professors teach our students to hate 
our Orthodox Church, the monarchy, our national flag, 
and all our laws and institutions. They inculcate 
admiration of the Internationale, which, according to 
them, will one day bring justice to Russia. They talk 

^ Later on, the Grand Duke Constantine published some 
charming poems and some dramas under th^ initials K. R. 
(Konstantin Romanov). 


to their pupils, with tears in their eyes, of that ideal 
nation which has neither fatherland nor religion, which 
speaks all languages equally badly, and whose leaders, 
the future great men of Russia, are being educated in 
the cafes of Paris, Geneva and Zurich ! Alas ! it was 
in vain that our Russian students waved the red flag 
in the streets of Petersburg and Moscow, and yelled 
the war-songs of the Internationale ! Despair was in 
their hearts; death chilled their souls and urged them 
to suicide. Can there be any happiness for those who 
hate their fatherland? These poor young men and 
maidens came to my father weeping and sobbing and 
opened their hearts to him. Dosto^'evsky received them 
as if they had been his sons and daughters, sympathised 
with all their sorrows, patiently answered all their 
artless questions as to the life beyond the grave. Our 
students are nothing but " children of a larger growth," 
and when they encounter a man who commands their 
respect, they listen to him as a master, and carry out 
his instructions to the letter. My father sacrificed his 
art to the publication of the Journal of the Writer^ but 
these years were certainly not lost for Russia. 

The Russian girl-students in particular were warm 
admirers of Dostoyevsky, for he always treated them with 
respect, and never gave them the kind of Oriental advice 
which many of our writers lavish on young girls : 
" What is the good of reading and studying? Marry 
early, and have as many children as possible." Dos- 
toyevsky never preached celibacy to them; but he 
told them that they should marry for love, and that 
meanwhile they ought to study, read, and think, so that 
later they might be enlightened mothers, capable of 
giving their children a European education. " I expect 
much from the Russian woman," he often said in his 
Journal. He realised that the Slav woman has a 
stronger character than the Slav man, that she can 


work harder and bear misfortune more stoically. He 
hoped that later, when the Russian woman was really 
emancipated (for so far, though she had pushed open the 
doors of her harem, she had not emerged from it), she 
would play a great part in her country. It may be said 
of Dostoyevsky that he was the first Russian feminist. 

The students now renewed their invitation to my 
father to read his work to them at their literary gather- 
ings. By this time the mortal disease to which he was 
to succumb had already declared itself. He was suffering 
from catarrh of the respiratory organs, and reading 
aloud fatigued him greatly. But he never refused to 
attend these meetings; he knew what an influence 
well-chosen literature may have on young minds. He 
liked especially to read them the monologue of Marme- 
ladov, a poor drunkard, who from the depths into which 
he has fallen always looks up to God, hoping humbly 
for pardon. The miserable creature dreams that at 
the Last Judgment God, after rewarding the good and 
faithful, will remember him. Humble and contrite, 
hiding behind others, he waits with downcast eyes for 
the Lord to say a word of pity to him. All the religious 
philosophy of our childlike people is contained in this 
chapter of Crime and Punishment. 

Dostoyevsky soon became a fashionable reader. 
He read admirably, and could always touch the hearts 
of his listeners. The public applauded him enthusiastic- 
ally and recalled him again and again. My father 
thanked them smilingly, but he had no illusions concern- 
ing his audience. " They applaud me but they don't 
understand me," he said sadly to his collaborators at 
these literary evenings. He was right. Our intel- 
lectuals felt instinctively that he knew the truth, but 
they were incapable of changing their own mentality. 
The Russian people had been so strong that they had 
endured three centuries of tyranny without losing their 


dignity. Our intellectuals were so weak that they had 
kept up a semblance of tyranny long after the emancipa- 
tion of the peasants. Their petty pride forbade them to 
share the ideas and traditions of the people. Unable to 
forget that their fathers had lorded it as masters of the 
serfs, they continued to treat the free peasants as slaves, 
trying to impose on them the Utopias they found in 
European literature. Just as my grandfather failed 
to understand the Russian people, and was killed by 
them, so our intellectual society lived in space, suspended 
between Europe and Russia, and was cruelly punished 
by the revolution. 

The favour of the students which Dostoyevsky now 
enjoyed again brought about an absurd, though not 
illogical, incident. One day when my mother was out, 
the maid announced that a lady had called, but had 
refused to give her name. Dostoyevsky was accustomed 
to receive unknown visitors, who came to unburden 
themselves to him, and he told the maid to show the 
lady in. A figure dressed in black and thickly veiled 
entered and sat down without uttering a word. My 
father looked at her in astonishment. 

" To what do I owe the honour of this visit? " he 

The lady replied by throwing back her veil and gazing 
at him with a tragic air. My father frowned. He 
disliked tragedy. 

"Will you tell me your name. Madam?" he said 

"What! You don't know me?" exclaimed the 
visitor in the tone of an offended queen. 

" No, I do not know you. Why will you not tell me 
your name? " 

"He does not know me!" sighed the lady. My 
father lost patience. 

" What is the meaning of this mystery? " he cried. 


" Please tell me the reason of your visit. I am very- 
much occupied at present, and have no time to waste." 

The unknown rose, pulled down her veil and left the 
room. Dostoyevsky followed her, much perplexed. 
She opened the front door, and ran hurriedly down the 
stairs. My father stood in the anteroom deep in thought. 
A distant memory began to dawn upon his mind. Where 
had he seen that tragic air ? Where had he heard that 
melodramatic voice? " Good Heavens," he said at last, 
" it was she — it was Pauline ! " 

Just then my mother returned, and Dostoyevsky 
dolefully described the visit of his former mistress. 

" What have I done ! " he repeated. " I have 
offended her mortally. She is so vain. She will never 
forgive me for not having recognised her. Pauline will 
know how dear the children must be to me. She is 
capable of killing them. Don't let them go out of the 
house ! " 

" But how was it you did not recognise her? " asked 
my mother. " Is she so much changed? " 

" No. Now I think of it, I see that she has changed 
very little. But you see, Pauline had passed from my 
mind altogether; she had ceased to exist for me." 

The brain of an epileptic is abnormal. He retains 
only facts that have impressed him in some way. Pauline 

N was probably one of those pretty women whom 

men love when they are with them, but forget as soon 
as they are out of sight. ^ 

1 When she was past fifty, Pauline N married a student 

of twenty, a great admirer of my father's. The young enthusiast, 
who afterwards became a distinguished author and journalist, 
was inconsolable because he had never known Dostoyevsky, and 
he determined at least to marry one whom his favourite writer 
had loved. It may easily be imagined how this extraordinary 
marriage ended. 



The Russian students are not very orderly in their 
habits. They interfered with my father's work by 
coming to see him at all hours of the day, and thus 
Dostoyevsky, who never refused to receive them, was 
obliged to sit up at night writing. Even before this, 
when he had any important chapters on hand, he 
preferred working at them when every one around him 
was asleep. This nocturnal toil now became a fixed 
habit. He would write until four or five in the morning, 
and would not get up till eleven o'clock. He slept on 
a sofa in his study. This was then the fashion in Russia, 
and our furniture-dealers used to stock Turkish sofas 
with a deep drawer, in which the pillows, sheets and 
blankets were hidden during the day. Thus the bed- 
room could be transformed into a study or drawing- 
room in a few minutes. On the wall over the sofa 
there was a large and beautiful photograph of the 
Sistine Madonna, which had been given to my father 
by friends who knew how he loved the picture. His 
first glance when he woke fell upon the sweet face of 
this Madonna, whom he considered the ideal of woman- 

When he rose, my father first did some gymnastic 
exercises; then he went to wash in his dressing-room. 
He made very thorough ablutions, using a great deal 
of water, soap and eau de Cologne. He had a perfect 
passion for cleanliness, though this is not a charac- 
teristically Russian virtue. It did not make its appear- 



ance in Russia before the second half of the nineteenth 
century.^ Even in our own days, it was not uncommon 
to see authentic old princesses with their nails in deep 
mourning. Dostoyevsky's nails were never in mourning. 
However busy he was he always found time to perform 
his manicure carefully. It was his habit to sing while 
he was washing. His dressing-room was next to our 
nursery, and every morning I used to hear him singing 
the same little song in a low voice : 

" Wake her not at early dawn ! 
Sweetly she sleeps in the morn ! 
Morning breathes upon her breast, 
Touches her cheeks with rose." 

My father then went back to his room and finished 
dressing. I never saw him in dressing-gown and slippers, 
which Russians habitually wear for the greater part of 
the day. From early morning he was always carefully 
dressed and shod, wearing a fine white shirt, with a 
starched collar. ^ He always wore good clothes; even 
when he was poor, he had them made by the best tailor 
in the town. He took great care of his clothes, always 
brushed them himself, and had the secret of keeping 
them fresh for a very long time. If he happened to 
spill a drop of grease on them when moving his candle- 
sticks, he at once took off his coat and asked the maid 
to remove the spot. " Stains offend me," he would 
say; "I cannot work when I know they are there. 
I think of them all the time, instead of concentrating 
on my writing." When he had finished dressing and 
said his prayers, Dostoyevsky would go into the dining- 
room to drink his tea. It was then we used to go and 
wish him good-morning, and chatter to him about our 

^ Our grandmothers used to tell us how in their youth yoimg 
girls who were going to a ball would send their servants to ask 
their mothers if they should wash their necks for a low, or only 
a slight decolletage. 

^ At this period only working men wore coloured shirts. 


childish affairs. He liked to pour out his tea himself, 
and always drank it very strong. He would drink two 
glasses of it, and carry away a third to his study, where 
he sipped it as he wrote. While he was breakfasting 
the maid cleaned and aired his room. There was very 
little furniture in it, and what there was, was always 
ranged along the walls, and had to be kept in place. 
When several friends came at the same time to see my 
father, and displaced his chairs, he always put them 
back in their places himself after the visitors had left. 
His writing-table was also very neat. The newspapers, 
the cigarette-box, the letters he received, the books 
he consulted, all had to be in their places. The slightest 
untidiness irritated him. Knowing what importance 
he attached to this meticulous order, my mother went 
every morning to see that her husband's writing-table 
was properly arranged. She would then take up her 
station beside it, and lay out her pencils and note- 
books on a small round table. When he had finished 
his breakfast my father returned to his room, and at 
once began to dictate to her the chapters he had com- 
posed the night before. My mother took them down 
in shorthand and transcribed them. Dostoyevsky cor- 
rected these transcriptions, often adding fresh details ; 
my mother copied them out again and sent them to 
the printers. In this manner she saved her husband 
an immense amount of work. He would not, perhaps, 
have written so many novels if his wife had never 
learnt stenography. My mother's handwriting was 
very beautiful; my father's was less regular, but 
more elegant. I called it " Gothic writing," because 
all his manuscripts were adorned with Gothic windows, 
delicately drawn with pen and ink. Dostoyevsky 
traced them mechanically as he pondered on his work; 
it seems as if his soul had craved for these Gothic lines, 
which he had admired so much in the cathedrals of 


Milan and Cologne. Sometimes he would sketch heads 
and profiles on his manuscripts, all very interesting and 
characteristic. 1 

When dictating his works to my mother, Dostoyevsky 
would sometimes stop and ask her opinion. My mother 
was careful not to criticise. The malicious criticisms 
in the newspapers were sufficiently wounding to her 
husband, and she was anxious not to add weight to 
them. Still, fearing that praise might become mono- 
tonous, she ventured on certain slight objections. If 
the heroine were dressed in blue, my mother was all 
for pink; if there were a cupboard on the left, she 
preferred to have it on the right; she would change 
the shape of the hero's hat, and sometimes cut off his 
beard. Dostoyevsky always made the suggested modi- 
fications eagerly, in the ingenuous behef that it was to 
please his wife. He saw through her devices no more 
clearly than he had seen through those of the Russian 
convicts in Siberia when, to distract his thoughts, they 
would talk politics to him, and question him on the life 
in European capitals. Dostoyevsky was so honest that 
it never occurred to him that any one could wish to 
deceive him. He himself never said anything untrue 
except on one day in the year — the first of April. 
" April fool " was a tradition, and my father loved 
traditions. One spring morning he came out of his 
bedroom with a face of consternation. " Do you know 
what has happened to me in the night ? " he said to 
my mother as he entered the dining-room. " A rat 
got into my bed. I strangled it. . . . Please tell the 
maid to go and take it away. I can't go back into my 
room while the rat is there. It horrifies me ! " and he 
hid his face in his hands. My mother called the maid 
and went with her into the master's room. My brother 
and I followed; we had never seen a rat, and we 

1 Drawing was very carefully taught at the Engineers' School. 


wondered what it would be like. The maid shook the 
sheets, pillows and blankets — then lifted up the carpet. 
Nothing ! The corpse of the rat had disappeared. 
"But where did you throw it?" asked my mother, 
returning to the dining-room, where my father was 
quietly drinking his tea. He began to laugh. " April 
fool ! " he cried, delighted with the success of his trick. 
When he had finished his dictation to my mother, 
Dostoyevsky would send for us, and give us some 
dainties for our luncheon. He was very fond of such 
delicacies, and in a drawer of his bookcase he kept 
boxes of dried figs, dates, nuts, raisins and those fruit 
pastes which are made in Russia. He liked to eat 
such things occasionally during the day, and even 
during the night. This " dastarhan " ^ was, I think, 
the only Oriental habit my father had inherited from 
his Russian ancestors ; perhaps his delicate constitution 
needed all these sweet things. When we came to his 
study he would give us a large share of his dainties, 
dividing it between me and my brother. As we grew 
older he became more severe, but he was very tender 
to us when we were little. I was a very nervous child, 
and cried a good deal. To cheer me up, my father 
would propose that I should dance with him. The 
furniture in the drawing-room was pushed back, my 
mother took her son for her partner, and we danced a 
country dance. As there was no one to play the piano, 
we all sang a kind of refrain by way of accompaniment. 
My mother would compliment her husband on the 
precision with which he executed the complicated steps 
of the country-dance. " Ah 1 " he would reply, 
mopping his forehead, " you should have seen how I 
used to dance the mazurka in my youth." ^ 

^ " Dastarhan " means the refreshment offered to a guest in 
the East. 

2 The mazurka is the national dance of Poles and Lithuanians, 


About four o'clock, my father went out for his daily- 
walk. He always took the same road, and, absorbed 
in his thoughts, never recognised the acquaintances he 
met on the way. Sometimes he would pay a visit to 
a friend, to discuss some literary or political question 
that interested him. When he had money, he would 
buy a box of bonbons from Ballet (the best confectioner 
in Petersburg), or pears and grapes from one of the 
famous fruiterers. He always chose the best, and had a 
great aversion from cheap, second-class goods. He 
would bring home his purchases himself, and have them 
served for dessert. At this period it was usual to dine 
at six, and to have tea at nine. Dostoyevsky devoted 
the interval to reading, and did not begin to work until 
after tea, when every one had gone to bed. He used 
to come into our nursery to bid us good-night, give us 
his blessing, and repeat with us a short prayer to the 
Virgin which his own parents had taught him to say 
when he was a child. He would then kiss us, return to 
his study, and begin to work. He disliked lamps, and 
wrote by the light of two candles. He smoked a good 
deal as he worked, and drank very strong tea. I do 
not think he could have stayed awake for so many 
hours without these stimulants. 

The same regular, monotonous life continued at 
Staraja Russa. My father was no longer able to spend 
all the summer with us; he had to go to Ems every 
year for a course of treatment. The waters there did 
him a great deal of good, but he disliked being in 
Germany. He counted the days till his return to 
Russia, and looked forward impatiently to the time 
when he should be rich enough to take all his family 
abroad with him. He thought wistfully of us when 
he saw the little Germans enjoying donkey-rides, and 
dreamed of giving his own children such pleasures. 
When he returned to Staraja Russa he would often 


tell us about the little German donkeys. There are no 
donkeys in Russia, and this unknown animal, which 
seemed to be so fond of children, had a mysterious 
attraction for my brother and me. We were never 
tired of questioning my father about the moral and 
physical attributes of the little long-eared beasts. 

My father used to bring us charming presents from 
abroad. These were generally serviceable and expensive 
things, chosen with much taste. He brought my 
mother a beautiful pair of opera-glasses, in painted 
china, an ivory fan very delicately carved, some Chan- 
tilly lace, a black silk dress, daintily embroidered linen ; 
for me there would be white piqu6 dresses for the 
summer, and little silk frocks trimmed with lace for 
the winter. Unlike the generality of parents, who 
dress their little girls in blue or pink, my father chose 
pale-green dresses; he was very fond of this colour, 
and often dressed the heroines of his novels in it. 

Dostoyevsky was very hospitable, and on family 
festivals he loved to collect his own relatives and my 
mother's round his table. He was always very pleasant 
to them, talking of things in which they were interested, 
laughing, jesting, and even playing cards, an amusement 
he disliked. In spite of his exertions and my mother's 
amiability, these gatherings generally ended unplea- 
santly, thanks to that black sheep, Paul Issaieff, who 
always expected an Invitation to such entertainments. 
He had no idea how to behave in society. Although he 
was the son of an officer of good family, a member of 
the hereditary nobility, had been educated in the Corps 
of Cadets with well-bred boys, and had spent his holidays 
in the house of my uncle Mihail, who received all the 
most distinguished writers of the day, Paul Issaieff 
conducted himself much as his maternal forefathers 
may have done in some oasis of the Sahara; I have 
rarely encountered such a curious case of atavism. 


Insolent and malicious, he offended every one by his 
impertinences. Our relations were indignant and com- 
plained to my father. Dostoyevsky would be angry, 
and would show his stepson the door ; but, metaphorically 
speaking, he always came back by the window. He 
clung closer than ever to his " papa," continued to live 
in idleness and to depend upon him for money. Dos- 
toyevsky' s friends hated his stepson, and never invited 
him to their houses. Hoping to rid my father of this 
parasite, they obtained excellent situations for him in 
private banks.^ Any sensible man would have tried to 
keep such situations, and provide for his future, but 
Paul Issaieff never stayed long anywhere. He treated 
not only his colleagues but his superiors like dirt, was 
always talking of his step-father, the famous writer, 
whose friends were Grand Dukes and Ministers, and 
threatening those who displeased him with his all- 
powerful vengeance. At first people laughed at his 
megalomania; when they got tired of it, they turned 
Paul Issaieff out, and he came back to Dostoyevsky 
like a bad penny. He was now the father of a numerous 
family. Faithful to the Mameluke tradition, he in- 
creased the population every year. He gave his children 
our names : Fyodor, Alexey, and Aimee, evidently with 
the idea of prolonging the imaginary relationship, and 
making them as it were the grandchildren of Dostoyev- 
sky. A parasite himself, he proposed to make them 
parasites in their turn, but happily he failed here. His 
children, who were very well brought up by their 
mother, turned out greatly superior to their father. 
Russia has absorbed them, and will gradually purge 
them of their " Mamelukism." Perhaps that African 
blood which proved so disastrous to Paul Issaieff and 
his mother may bestow some great gift on one of their 

1 As he had never finished a course in any Government school, 
he could not get a post in a Government office. 


descendants and make him a distinguished man. Such 
a development is not unknown in Russia. 

My mother always protested hotly against this 
spurious relationship. She protected our blond Slavo- 
Norman heads and would not allow that there was 
anything in common between them and the yellow skin 
of the unhappy mulatto. She was right, for Russian 
law recognises no kinship as between stepfather and 
stepson. On the other hand, the Orthodox Church 
admits a spiritual relation, and it is possible that 
Dostoyevsky, who was always a faithful servant of our 
Church, accepted her ruling on this point.^ But, in 
any case, he considered that the connection would die 
with him, for he never exhorted us to treat Paul Issaieff 
as our brother. We were forbidden to call him by his 
nickname, or to address him as " thou." But my 
brother Fyodor and I found him strangely attractive. 
He was never kind or amiable to us, but he amused us 
immensely. When he came to see his stepfather we 
would creep into the study, and, hiding behind the 
arm-chairs, we would note with delight his extraordinary 
gestures and strange attitudes, and drink in his ex- 
travagant conversation. To us he was a kind of Punch, 
representing the grotesque comedy that delights children 
of a certain age. 

But though we laughed at Paul Issaieff, Dostoyevsky 

^ My father thought himself responsible for his stepson's 
moral conduct more especially. Once when he had been making 
a long stay abroad, he suspected Paul Issaieff of having attempted 
a forgery. In a letter to Maikov he describes how this had 
distressed him, and how he had prayed to God that it might not 
happen. He rejoiced greatly to find that he had been mistaken. 
I do not, indeed, think that Paul Issaieff had any criminal pro- 
clivities. If he had been a rogue, he might easily have provided 
for himself during my father's lifetime, for Dostoyevsky, always 
absent-minded and confiding, would sign any paper presented 
to him without troubling to see to what it committed him. 
Many others took advantage of this disposition, but Paul Issaieff 
was not of the number. He was idle all his life, but honest after 
his fashion. 


never ridiculed his unhappy stepson. Whenever his 
friends or relatives had treated Paul with contempt, my 
father was full of pity for him, and would do all he could 
to comfort him. He would go to his house, caress his 
children, discuss their education with Madame Issaieff, 
and give her good advice by which she profited greatly 
later on. 

Paul Issaieff has been dead many years. On the 
ground that he poisoned Dostoyevsky's life, the Russian 
intellectuals would never do anything for his children. 
I think myself that they would have shown their ad- 
miration for my father better by a little kindness to 
this family, which was dear to him. After all, Paul 
Issaieff' s children, who were all very young when 
Dostoyevsky died, never did him any harm. On the 
contrary, they had to suffer for their father's perversity, 
and thus, as the victims of his defective education, had 
a claim to help and sympathy. 



It was very likely the spectacle of his grotesque 
stepson which caused Dostoyevsky to think seriously 
of his duties to my brother and myself. Having failed 
in the one instance, he was the more anxious to succeed 
in the other. He began our education very early, at 
an age when most children are still in the nursery. 
Perhaps he knew that his disease was mortal, and that he 
had little time in which to sow the good seed. He 
adopted to this end the same method his father had 
chosen before him : reading the works of great authors. 
In my grandfather's home the children were made to 
read aloud in turn, but Dostoyevsky was obliged to 
read to us, for we could scarcely do so at all when our 
literary seances began. The first of these impressed 
itself indelibly on my memory. One autumn evening 
at Staraja Russa, when the rain was coming down in 
torrents and the yellow leaves lay thickly on the ground, 
my father announced that he was going to read us 
Schiller's Robbers. I was then seven years old and my 
brother was just six. My mother came to listen to 
this first reading. Dostoyevsky read with fervour, 
stopping every now and then to explain some difficult 
expression. We listened open-mouthed ; this Germanic 
drama seemed very strange to our childish minds. What 
were we to think of that fantastic Germany, that far-off 
country to which my father went reluctantly every year 
by his doctor's orders, and where the good children rode 
about on little donkeys with long, long ears ? Alas ! 



there were no donkeys in The Robbers. But there was 
a very unpleasant father, who was always quarrelling 
with his sons; also a young girl who tried to reconcile 
them, and who was always crying. " No wonder, poor 
girl I " I thought, as I listened to my father's passionate 
declamation. " It must be dreadful to live with people 
who quarrel all day. And yet they ought to have been 
happy living in Germany, where there are so many little 
donkeys. Why, then, were they so miserable, and why 
did they quarrel all the time? Germans must have 
very bad tempers. . . ." 

If I could not understand the works of Schiller at the 
age of seven, I understood perfectly that this fantastic 
drama interested my father immensely, and that I must 
pretend to be interested in it too in order to please him. 
Cunning as most little girls are, I put on intelligent airs, 
nodded my head approvingly, and appeared highly 
appreciative of Schiller's genius. Feeling that sleep was 
getting the better of me as the brothers Moor plunged 
more desperately into crime, I tried with all my might 
to keep my childish eyes open ; my brother Fyodor went 
to sleep unconcernedly. . . . Seeing such an audience 
my father stopped, laughed, and began to reproach 
himself. ..." They can't understand, they are too 
young," he said sadly to his wife. Poor father ! He 
had hoped to experience afresh with us the emotion 
Schiller's dramas had once aroused in him ; he forgot that 
he must have been at least double our age when he had 
first enjoyed them. 

Dostoyevsky waited a few months before he resumed 
the literary evenings. This time he chose the old 
Russian legends which our rustic bards relate in the 
villages at evening gatherings. These unlettered Homers 
have extraordinary memories and can recite thousands 
of verses without hesitation. They repeat them 
rhythmically, with much taste and expression; they 


are indeed poets, and often add passages to the poems 
they recite. The chief subject of the legends is the hfe 
of the knights of Prince Vladimir, that Russian Arthur, 
who loved to assemble his warriors round him at his 
table. Our people, who have no idea of history, inter- 
mingle with these ninth- and tenth-century legends the 
more ancient myths of pagan times, and the knights of 
Vladimir's Slavo-Norman Court have to encounter 
giants and dwarfs, etc. The legends are written partly 
in Russian, partly in the early Slav language, which adds 
to their poetry. ^ They suited our childish imaginations 
better than Schiller's tragedies. We listened entranced, 
weeping over the misfortunes of the errant knights, and 
rejoicing at their victories. Dostoyevsky smiled at our 
emotion, and was himself full of enthusiasm for the 
popular poets of our race. Passing on from the legends, 
he read us Pushkin's stories, written in admirable 
Russian; Lermontov's Caucasian tales; and Gogol's 
Tar as Bulba, a magnificent romance of Cossack life 
in ancient Ukrainia. Having thus formed our literary 
taste a little, he began to recite to us the poems of Pushkin 
and of Alexis Tolstoy, two of his favourite poets. 
Dostoyevsky recited their verses admirably. There was 
one poem which always brought tears to his eyes — 
Pushkin's Poor Knight, a media3val legend. It is the 
story of a dreamer, a deeply religious Don Quixote, who 
wanders all his hfe in Europe and the East, upholding 
the creed of the Gospels. He has a vision in the course 
of his wanderings ; in a moment of supreme exaltation, 
he sees the Holy Virgin at the foot of the Cross. He lets 
down " a steel curtain " over his face, and, faithful to 
the Virgin, will never look again on any woman. In 

1 The Orthodox liturgy, the Gospel and the prayers are said 
in Old Slav in our churches, so that in Russia every one knows 
the ancient tongue more or less, even children, who with us begin 
to attend Mass at the age of two. 


The Idiot Dostoyevsky describes how one of his heroines 
recited this poem : "A spasm of joy passed over her 
face." This was just what happened to my father 
when he read it; his face was irradiated, his voice 
trembled, his eyes filled with tears. It was the story of 
his own soul. He, too, was a poor knight, without fear 
and without reproach, who fought all his life for great 
ideas. He, too, had a beatific vision; it was not the 
mediaeval Virgin who appeared to him, but Christ, Who 
came to him in his prison, and called him to follow Him. 
Although Dostoyevsky attached great importance to 
reading, he did not neglect the theatre. In Russia 
parents take their children very often to the Ballet. 
Dostoyevsky did not care for the Ballet, and preferred 
to take us to the Opera. Strange to say, he always 
chose the same, Russian and Ludmilla, which Glinka 
composed on a poem by Pushkin. My father seems to 
have wished to engrave the legend on our childish 
hearts. It is indeed very curious; it is a political 
allegory, prefiguring the destiny of the Slav nations. 
Ludmilla, the daughter of Prince Vladimir, represents 
the Western Slavs. Tchernomur, an Oriental magician, 
a hideous dwarf with a long beard, who personifies 
Turkey, arrives at Kiev when a great festival is in progress, 
plunges every one into a magic sleep, and carries off 
the fair Ludmilla to his castle. Two knights, Russian 
(Russia) and Farlaff (Austria), pursue the dwarf, and 
after many adventures arrive at Tchernomur's castle. 
Russian challenges him; Tchernomur accepts the 
challenge, but, before the combat, again plunges Ludmilla 
into a magic sleep. While they are fighting, the cunning 
Farlaff seizes the sleeping maiden and brings her back 
to Kiev to Prince Vladimir, who had promised her hand 
to the knight who should rescue her. Farlaff tries in 
vain to wake Ludmilla; she does not respond to his 
advances. Russian, having slain Tchernomur, takes his 


magic ring. Returning to Kiev, he puts it on Ludmilla's 
finger, and she at once awakes, throws herself into his 
arms, calls him her dear betrothed, and turns disdainfully 
away from Farlaff. Seeing that Ludmilla will have 
nothing to say to him, Farlaff leaves Kiev ignominiously. 

This fine opera, very splendidly put on the stage, 
delights children. My brother and I admired it greatly, 
though we were unfaithful to it on one occasion. On a 
certain evening when we arrived at the theatre we 
learned that one of the singers had been taken ill, and 
that Russian and Ludmilla could not be performed. 
The Bronze Horse, a very popular comic opera, had been 
substituted. My father was vexed and proposed to go 
home. We protested and began to cry ; he sympathised 
with our disappointment and allowed us to stay for this 
Chinese or Japanese spectacle. We were enchanted. 
There was so much noise, so many little bells jangling, 
and the great bronze horse, which figured in every act, 
struck our childish imaginations. Dostoyevsky was not 
very well pleased at our admiration. He evidently did 
not wish us to be dazzled by the wonders of the Far 
East. He wanted us to be faithful to his beloved 
Ludmilla. . . . 

When Dostoyevsky went to Ems, or was too busy 
to read to us himself, he begged my mother to read us 
the works of Walter Scott, and of Dickens, " that great 
Christian," as he calls him in the Journal of the Writer. 
During meals, he would question us concerning our 
impressions, and evoke episodes in the novels. He, 
who forgot his wife's name and the face of his mistress, 
could remember all the English names of the characters of 
Dickens and Scott which had fired his youthful imagina- 
tion, and spoke of them as if they were his intimate 

My father was very proud of my love of reading. 
I learned to read in a few weeks, and I devoured all 


the books I could lay hands on. My mother protested 
against this inordinate reading, which was, of course, 
very bad for a little nervous girl. Dostoyevsky, however, 
was indulgent to it, seeing in it a reflection of his own 
passion for books. He chose historical novels and the 
sentimental tales of Karamzin for me from his book- 
shelves, discussed them with me and explained the things 
I had not understood. I got into the habit of keeping 
him company while he breakfasted, and this was the 
happiest hour of my day. Thus our literary conversa- 
tions began, but, alas ! they did not continue long. 

The first book my father gave me was the History of 
Russia, by Karamzin, beautifully illustrated. He 
explained the pictures, which represented the arrival of 
Rurik at Kiev, the struggles of his son Igor against the 
nomad tribes who surrounded what was then the small 
Slav nation on every side, Vladimir introducing the 
Christian religion into his principality, Jaroslav pro- 
mulgating the first European laws, and other descendants 
of Rurik, who founded Muscovy, defending the infant 
Great Russia against the invading Tatars. The Slavo- 
Norman princes became my favourite heroes. I heard 
their songs and war-cries as in a dream. My favourite 
heroine was Rogneda, daughter of the Norman prince 
Rogvolod ; I liked to act her part in our childish plays. 
Later, when I began to travel in Europe, I sought the 
traces of my dear Normans everywhere. I was surprised 
to find Europeans talking always of Latin and Germanic 
culture, and forgetting that of the Normans. At the 
time when Europe was plunged in mediaeval barbarism, 
the Normans were already protecting liberty of con- 
science, and allowing the practice of all religions in their 
realms. Instead of worshipping power and riches they 
reverenced poets and men of learning, invited them to 
their courts, and even shared their labours. Thus in 
Sicily the Norman prince Roger II helped the learned 


Arab Edrizy to write the first geography under the artless 
title of The Joy of Him Who Loves to Travel. The 
civilisation of the Normans was so advanced for their 
period that it could not find admittance in barbarous 
Europe ; it could only subsist in small forgotten countries 
such as Lithuania and Sicily. And yet this fine civilisa- 
tion is not dead ; it lives on in souls of Norman descent, 
and manifests itself from time to time in some great 
poet or writer. 

One thing which struck me as strange at a later date, 
when I began to analyse this period of my life, was the 
fact that my father never gave me any children's books. 
Robinson Crusoe was the only work of this kind I read, 
and this my mother gave me. I suppose Dostoyevsky 
knew nothing about children's books. In his youth 
they did not exist as yet in Russia, and he must have 
begun to read the works of the great writers at the age 
of eight or nine. Another thing, still more curious, 
strikes me when I recall our conversations. Dostoyevsky, 
who spoke to me with so much pleasure of literature, 
never uttered a single word to me about his childhood. 
My mother told me of the smallest details in her life as 
a little girl, described her earliest impressions, and her 
affection for her brother, but I cannot recall a single 
detail of my father's childhood. He maintained the 
same reserve as his father before him, who would never 
tell his sons anything about their grandfather or their 
Ukrainian uncles. 

Dostoyevsky superintended our religious education, 
and liked to worship in company with his family. In 
Russia we communicate once a year, and we prepare for 
this solemn event by a week of prayer. My father 
performed his religious duties reverently, fasted, went 
to church twice a day, and laid aside all literary work. 
He loved our beautiful Holy Week services, especially 
the Resurrection Mass with its joyful hymns. Children 


do not attend this mass, which begins at midnight, and 
ends between two and three in the morning. But my 
father wislied me to be present at this wonderful 
ceremony when I was barely nine years old. He 
placed me on a chair, that I might be able to follow it, 
and with his arms around me, explained the meaning 
of the holy rites. 



Before passing on to my father's last years, I should 
like to say a few words about his relations with 
Turgenev and Tolstoy. In talking to Dostoyevsky's 
European admirers, I have always noticed that they 
were specially interested in these relations. 

My father's acquaintance with Turgenev began when 
they were both young, and both full of ambition, as 
young people beginning life generally are. They were 
as yet unknown to the Russian public ; their talent had 
hardly developed. They frequented the same literary 
salons, listened to the same critics, and worshipped the 
same masters — their favourite poets and novelists. 
Turgenev attracted my father greatly; Dostoyevsky 
admired him as one student admires another who is 
handsomer and more distinguished than himself, is a 
greater favourite with women, and seems to him an 
ideal man. However, as Dostoyevsky learned to know 
Turgenev better, his admiration gradually changed to 
aversion. Later he called Turgenev " that poseur.'" 
This opinion of Dostoyevsky's was shared by most of 
his literary colleagues. Later, when I myself questioned 
the older Russian writers about their relations with 
Turgenev, I always noted the somewhat contemptuous 
tone they adopted in speaking of him, which disappeared 
when they talked of Tolstoy. Turgenev had deserved 
their contempt to some extent. He was one of those 
men who cannot be natural, who always want to pass 
themselves off as something they are not. In his youth 



he posed as an aristocrat, a pose which had no sort of 
justification. The Russian aristocracy is very restricted ; 
it is rather a coterie than a class. It is composed of the 
few descendants of the ancient Russian and Ukrainian 
boyards, some chiefs of Tatar tribes assimilated by 
Russia, a few barons of the Baltic Provinces and a few 
Polish counts and princes. All these people are brought 
up in the same manner, know each other, are nearly all 
related, and have intermarried with the European 
aristocracies. They give magnificent entertainments 
to foreign ambassadors, and enhance the prestige of the 
Russian Court. They have very little influence on the 
politics of their country, which, since the second half of 
the nineteenth century, have been gradually passing into 
the hands of our hereditary nobility. This is perfectly 
distinct from the aristocracy, and has nothing in common 
with the feudal nobility of Europe. I have already 
explained its origin in describing the Lithuanian 
Schliahta. This union, primarily a martial one in 
Poland and Lithuania, was in Russia transformed into 
an agrarian union of rural proprietors. Catherine II 
protected them, desiring to create a sort of Third Estate 
in Russia. The landed proprietors in each province 
combined and chose a Marshal of the nobility to super- 
intend their affairs. He did this gratis, sometimes 
ruining himself by giving balls and sumptuous dinners 
to the nobles who had elected him. Nevertheless, the 
post of Marshal of the nobility was always greatly in 
request, for it conferred many privileges. The Emperor 
always bestowed the rank of Gentleman or Chamberlain 
on the elected Marshal, and invited him to all Court 
festivities. The Marshal of the nobility was quite 
independent of Ministers, and might ask for an audience 
of the Emperor at any time to speak of the affairs of 
the nobles in his province. Our Tsars always patronised 
these unions, and even attempted to represent them- 


selves as hereditary nobles. Thus Nicolas I declared 
that he was " the first noble of the Empire." The 
Grand Dukes bought estates in the provinces, fraternised 
with the members of the union, and signed telegrams 
addressed to the Marshal, " Hereditary Noble" instead 
of " Grand Duke." The Tsar readily accepted invita- 
tions from the nobles, and when he and his family 
lunched, dined or took tea at one of the provincial 
Assemblies, tried to ignore his Imperial dignity and to 
play the part of the noble, Romanov. I have been 
present at some of these Imperial visits, and I was 
surprised at the absence of etiquette and the patri- 
archal simplicity that obtained. The Russian aristocrats 
in their turn caused their names to be inscribed in the 
registers of the nobility, and manceuvred for election 
to the office of Marshal. They were by no means 
always successful. Very often at the elections a prince 
would be rejected, and a noble, more obscure, but more 
highly esteemed, would be chosen. The utmost equality 
reigned in the Assemblies ; the Russian nobility had no 
quarterings, and a recently ennobled member had the 
same rights as those belonging to the noblest families. 
The unions became very rich in time, for unmarried or 
childless members often bequeathed their fortunes, 
their estates and their houses to the nobility of their 
district. After the emancipation of the serfs most of the 
landowners were ruined and had to sell their properties. 
The unions of the nobles were wise enough not to forsake 
them; thanks to their wealth, they were able to grant 
pensions to widows, and allowances for the education of 
orphans. Russian parents are so improvident, and think 
so little of the future of their children, that without the 
union the latter, lacking the means of education, would 
have gradually lapsed into the state of the illiterate 
moujiks. By helping them, the unions maintained 
hereditary culture, the only culture which makes a man 


really civilised. We hereditary nobles are very proud 
of our union, for it has spent millions in order to intro- 
duce European culture into Russia. Better still, in 
introducing this it never dissociated itself from the 
Orthodox Church, and was always distinguished for 
its patriotism. This was why the Russian nobility 
became strong and influential, and soon all-powerful. 

Turgenev belonged to this hereditary nobility,^ as 
did Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and most of the writers 
of this period. With the exception of Gontsharov, who 
was the son of a merchant, and Belinsky, who belonged 
to the lower middle classes, all my father's literary 
contemporaries — Grigorovitch, Plesch^ev, Nekrassov, 
Soltikov, Danilevsky — were hereditary nobles. Some of 
them belonged to a much older nobility than Turgenev — 
the poet Maikov, for instance. This close friend of my 
father's came of such an ancient stock that he had even 
the honour of reckoning a saint among his ancestors — the 
famous Nil of Sorsk, canonised by the Orthodox Church. ^ 
Of course, Turgenev' s pretensions to a higher degree 
of nobility irritated his literary colleagues and seemed 
ridiculous to them. On the other hand, the Russian 
aristocrats smiled at his claims, and refused to treat 
him as a great personage when he appeared in their 
salons. He was mortified, and took his revenge on the 
Russian aristocracy by describing in his novel. Smoke, 
certain well-born adventurers, such as are to be found in 

^ The distinctive term " hereditary " is generally used in this 
connection, for there is in our country another nobility, known 
as " personal." It was introduced into Russia at the time when 
persons not belonging to the hereditary nobility could be con- 
demned to suffer corporal punishment. The title of " personal 
nobility " was conferred on citizens who had received the higher 
education of the universities, in order to secure their immunity 
from such punishments. The " personal " nobles could not be 
registered with the hereditary nobles, and enjoyed none of their 
privileges. After the abolition of corporal punishment, the 
distinction lost all meaning. 

2 The Orthodox Church does not canonise saints until three or 
four centuries after their death. 


all countries, but whom he represents as typical great 
Russian nobles. 

Turgenev's megalomania, which is not uncommon 
in Russia, would not have prevented my father from 
remaining his friend. Snobbery is a malady more 
insidious than influenza. If we were to ostracise all the 
snobs we know, we should hve in comparative solitude. 
Dostoyevsky would have pardoned Turgenev's weak- 
ness, as we forgive the lapses of those we love ; yet my 
father broke with him, and ceased to frequent literary 
salons some time before his arrest and his condemnation 
to death. To understand the situation as between 
Dostoyevsky and his friends, the younger writers, we 
must go back a little, 

Petersburg was never loved by the Russians. This 
artificial capital which Peter the Great created on 
the marshes, cold, damp, exposed to all the "vsinds of the 
north, and plunged in darkness for three-quarters of the 
year, was obnoxious to my compatriots, who preferred 
the peaceful, sun-bathed cities of central Russia. Seeing 
that the Russians would not come and settle in Peters- 
burg, our Emperors were obUged to people the new 
capital \\'ith Swedes and Germans of the Baltic Provinces. 
In the eighteenth century Petersburg was three-quarters 
German, and German society led the fashion there. 
Towards the beginning of the nineteenth century the 
Schillerian tone reigned in Germany, and passed thence 
into Russia. Every one became IjTical; men swore 
eternal friendship to each other ; women fell into swoons 
at the noble sentiments they uttered, young girls em- 
braced each other passionately, and -^Tote each other 
long letters full of lofty sentiments. PoUteness became 
so exaggerated that when ladies received visitors they 
had to smile the whole time, and laugh at every word 
they uttered. This tone of exalted sentimentaUty is 
to be found in all the novels of the period. 


When Moscow was burnt in 1812, many Moscowites 
fled to Petersburg and settled there. Other families 
followed their example, and Peter the Great' <^ favourite 
capital soon became Russian. When my father entered 
the Engineers' School, Russian society was giving the 
tone in Petersburg. My compatriots, who are simple and 
sincere, thought the Schillerian pose ridiculous, and they 
were not altogether wrong; but unfortunately, in their 
reaction against this over-sentimental attitude, they fell 
into the opposite extreme of brutality. They declared 
that a self-respecting man should always speak the 
truth, and, under the guise of frankness, they became 
impudent. My grandmother, a Swede, brought up her 
children in the Schillerian tradition, and my mother has 
often told me how difficult her life became when she 
grew up and began to visit in Russian families. " It 
was no use to be polite and amiable," she said: " I 
received insults on every side. I could not even protest, 
for I should have been considered ridiculous. I could 
only retort by similar rudenesses." By degrees my 
compatriots began to enjoy these incivilities, and con- 
tests in insolence became the fashion. In drawing- 
rooms, at receptions, and at dinner-parties two men or 
two women would begin to attack each other with gross 
impertinence,'and as they warmed to this vulgar display 
the spectators would listen with interest, taking sides, 
now for one and now for the other. At bottom of these 
conversational cock-fights we find the Mongolian coarse- 
ness which lurks in the heart of every Russian, and 
emerges when he is angry, surprised, or ill. " Scratch 
the Russian and you will find the Tatar," say the 
French, who must often have noticed how a Russian 
of European education and distinguished manners 
became coarse and brutal as a moujik in a moment of 

Dostoyevsky, brought up by a father who was half 


Ukrainian, half Lithuanian, knew nothing of this Tatar 
brutahty. If we may judge by the lyrical letters he 
wrote to his brother Mihail, and the extremely respectful 
epistles addressed to his father, the Schillerian tone must 
have reigned in my grandfather's family. Russian 
coarseness amazed Dostoyevsky when he first came in 
contact with it at the Engineers' School, and was, 
perhaps, the principal cause of his contempt for his 
schoolfellows. It astonished him still more when he 
encountered it in the literary salons of the period. As 
long as he remained obscure, he had not to suffer from 
it. He held his peace, and observed people ; Grigorovitch, 
with whom he lived, had been brought up in the French 
tradition, and was always well-mannered.^ But when 
the unexpected success of his first novel excited the 
jealousy of the younger writers, they avenged themselves 
by calumnies and insults. My father could not defend 
himself effectually, for he could not be insolent. He was 
nervous and excitable, as the children of drunkards 
generally are. Losing his self-control, Dostoyevsky 
said absurd things, and excited the laughter of his 
unfeeling companions. Turgenev in particular delighted 
in tormenting him. He was of Tatar origin, and showed 
himself to be even more cruel and malicious than the 
others. Belinsky, who was a compassionate soul, 
sought in vain to defend my father, reproved his rivals, 
and tried to make them listen to reason. Turgenev 
seemed to find a special pleasure in inflicting suffering 
on his sensitive and nervous confrere. One evening in 
Panaev's house, Turgenev began to tell my father that 
he had just made the acquaintance of a conceited 
provincial, who considered himself a genius, and 
elaborated a caricature of Dostoyevsky. Those present 

^ Baron Wrangel, with whom my father lived in Siberia, had 
been brought up in the German manner, that is to say in the 
Schillerian tone, which he retained till the end of his life. 


listened with amusement; they expected one of those 
cock-fights which, as I have said, were so much in favour 
at the time. They applauded Turgenev and awaited 
Dostoyevsky's counter-attack with curiosity. My father 
was not a game-cock, but a gentleman; his sense of 
honour was more highly developed than that of the 
Russians who surrounded him. Finding himself thus 
grossly insulted, he turned pale, rose, and left the house 
without saying good-bye to any one.^ The young 
writers were much astonished. They sought out my 
father, sent him invitations, wrote to him — but all 
in vain. Dostoyev^sky refused to frequent the literary 
salons. The young writers were alarmed. They 
were only starting on their literary career and had 
as yet no position. Dostoyevsky was the favourite 
of the public, and his young confreres feared that the 
public would take his part and would accuse them of 
jealousy and malice. They had recourse to calumny — 
a favourite device of the Russians, or rather of all 
societies still in their infancy. They went about clamour- 
ing against Dostoyevsky as a pretentious upstart, who 
thought himself superior to every one, and was a mass 
of selfishness and ill-humour. My father allowed them 
to say what they would. He was indifferent to public 
opinion, and all his life he scorned to refute calumnies. 
When he cut himself off from Belinsky's advice and the 
literary conversation of other writers, which was so 
necessary to him, he consoled himself with the thought 
that honour and dignity are a man's best friends, and 
can take the place of all others. But it is very difficult 
for a young man to turn hermit; the youthful mind 
requires the interchange of ideas for its development. 
Having renounced literary society, Dostoyevsky sought 

* " The Lithuanian Is very reticent, one may indeed say 
modest. But when he encounters insolence, he becomes extremely 
haughty," says Vidunas. 


that of other intellectuals, and unfortunately became 
involved with Petrachevsky. 

The aggressive tone of the conversational cock-fights 
I have described have disappeared now, at least in good 
society. My compatriots travelled much in Europe in 
the second half of the nineteenth century, observed the 
politeness that reigned there, and introduced it into 
Russia. Yet in 1878, in the Journal of the Writer, my 
father confessed to his readers that when he was going 
on a journey he always took plenty of books and news- 
papers, in order to avoid conversation with his travelling 
companions. He declared that such conversations 
always ended in gratuitous insults, uttered merely to 
wound the interlocutor. 

My father's uncompromising attitude made a great 
impression on the Russian writers. They realised that 
his sense of honour was more highly developed than that 
of his contemporaries, and that consequently they could 
not talk to him in the disrespectful manner usually 
adopted by writers to each other at that period. When 
he returned from Siberia, his new friends, the collaborators 
of the Vremya, treated him with consideration. My 
father, who asked nothing better than to live on friendly 
terms with his colleagues, but who would not sacrifice 
his dignity on the altar of friendship, became their 
sincere friend, and remained faithful to them until his 
death. Turgenev imitated the other writers, and was 
polite, and even amiable with my father, i They met 
very rarely. While my father was undergoing his 
sentence in Siberia, Turgenev had the misfortune to 

^ Turgenev was particularly agreeable to my father at the 
time when the brothers Dostoyevsky were publishing their paper. 
During one of his sojourns in Petersburg he gave a grand dinner 
to all the staff of the Vremya. Turgenev always managed his 
money affairs well, made friends witli the rich publishers and 
insisted on good terms for himself, whereas Dostoyevsky, who 
was obliged to ask his publishers for sums in advance, had all 
his life to take what they chose to give him, 


fall in love with a celebrated European singer. He 
followed her abroad and was at her feet all his life. He 
settled in Paris, and only came to Russia for the sporting 
season. His unhappy passion prevented him from 
marrying and having a family. In his novels he is fond 
of depicting the type of the weak-minded Slav, who 
becomes the slave of an evil woman and suffers, but is 
unable to throw off her yoke. Turgenev's character 
became embittered; misfortune developed his faults 
instead of correcting them. Seeing that the Russian 
aristocracy would not recognise him as the great noble 
he imagined himself to be, Turgenev changed his pose, 
and adopted the role of the European. He exaggerated 
the Paris fashions, took up all the manias of the French 
old beaus, and became more ridiculous than ever. He 
spoke disdainfully of Russia, and declared that if she 
were to disappear altogether, civilisation would not suffer 
in any appreciable degree. This new pose disgusted 
my father; he thought that if the first was ridiculous, 
the second was dangerous. Turgenev had, by adopting 
these opinions, become the leader of the Zapadniki 
(Occidentals), who had hitherto only had mediocrities 
in their ranks, and his incontestable talents gave them a 
certain prestige. Every time my father met Turgenev 
abroad, he tried to make him realise the wrong he was 
doing to Russia by his unjust contempt. Turgenev 
would not listen to reason, and their discussions generally 
ended in quarrels. When Dostoyevsky returned to 
Russia, after spending four years in Europe, he became 
one of the leaders of the Slavophils, the party opposed 
to the Occidentals. Seeing the disastrous influence the 
Occidentals were exercising upon the infant society of 
Russia, Dostoyevsky began to wage war upon them in 
his novel, The Possessed. In order to discredit them in 
the eyes of the Russian public, he caricatured their 
chief in his description of the celebrated writer 


Karmazinov, and his stay in a little Russian town. 
The Occidentals were indignant, and made a great outcry. 
They thought it quite legitimate for Turgenev to ridicule 
my father and caricature the heroes of his novels, but 
they declared it to be odious when Dostoyevsky adopted 
the same attitude to Turgenev. Such is justice, as 
understood by the Russian intellectuals. 

Although he opposed Turgenev and his political 
ideas, my father was all his life a passionate admirer 
of his contemporary's works. When he speaks of them 
in the Journal of the Writer, it is in terms of the warmest 
appreciation. Turgenev, on the other hand, would 
never admit that Dostoyevsky had any talent, and all 
his life ridiculed him and his works. He acted like a 
true Mongol, maliciously and vindictively. 



Dostoyevsky's relations with Tolstoy were very 
different. These two great Russian writers had a real 
sympathy and a real admiration for each other. They 
had a common friend, the philosopher Nicolas Strahoff, 
who lived at Petersburg in the winter and in the summer 
spent some months in the Crimea with his comrade 
Damlevsky, stopping at Moscow or at Yasnaia Poliana ^ 
to see Tolstoy. My father was very fond of Strahoff, 
and attached great importance to his criticism. Tolstoy 
also liked him and corresponded with him. " I have 
just read the Memoirs of the House of the Dead again," 
he wrote. " What a magnificent book I When you see 
Dostoyevsky tell him that I love him." Strahoff gave 
my father great pleasure by showing him this letter. 
Later, when a new book by Tolstoy appeared, Dosto- 
yevsky in his turn said to Strahoff : " Tell Tolstoy I am 
delighted with his novel." These two great writers 
complimented each other through Strahoff, and their 
compliments were sincere. Tolstoy admired Dosto- 
yevsky's works as much as my father admired his. And 
yet they never met, and never even expressed any desire 
to meet. Why was this? I believe they were afraid 
they would quarrel violently if they ever came together. 
They had a sincere admiration for each other's gifts, 
but their respective ideas and outlook upon life were 
radically opposed. 

Dostoyevsky loved Russia passionately, but this 

^ The name of an estate belonging to Tolstoy, in the govern- 
ment of Tula. 



passion did not blind him. He saw his compatriots' 
faults clearly and did not share their conceptions of life. 
Centuries of European culture separated my father from 
the Russians. A Lithuanian, he loved them as a man 
loves his younger brothers, but he realised how young 
they still were, and how much they needed to study and 
to work. European critics often make the mistake of 
Identifying Dostoyevsky with the heroes of his works.^ 
My father was a great writer, who painted his com- 
patriots from Nature. A moral chaos reigns in his 
novels, because such a chaos reigned in our Russia, a 
state still youthful and anarchical; but this chaos had 
no counterpart in Dostoyevsky's private life. His 
heroines forsake their husbands and run after their lovers ; 
but he wept like a child on hearing of the dishonour of 
his niece, and refused to receive her thenceforth. His 
heroes lead lives of debauchery and throw their money 
about recklessly; he himself worked like a slave for 
years in order to pay the debts of his brother, which he 
accepted as debts of honour of his own. His heroes are 
bad husbands and bad fathers; he was a faithful hus- 
band, conscientiously doing his duty towards his children, 
and superintending their education as very few Russian 
parents do. His heroes are unmindful of their civic 
duties ; he was a fervent patriot, a reverent son of the 
Church, a Slav devoted to the cause of the people of his 
race. Dostoyevsky lived like a European, looked upon 
Europe as his second country, and advised all those who 
consulted him to study and acquire the culture which 
most of my compatriots lack. 

Tolstoy's attitude was altogether different. He loved 
Russia as did Dostoyevsky, but he did not criticise her. 
On the contrary ! He despised European culture and 
considered the ignorance of the moujiks a supreme 
wisdom. He advised all the intellectuals who visited 
^ Russian critics never make this mistake. 


him to leave their studies, science and arts, and to return 
to the state of peasants. He gave the same advice to 
his own children. " I tell my sons that they must 
study, learn foreign languages, and become distinguished 
men, and their father tells them to leave their schools 
and go and work in the fields with the moujiks,^^ said 
Countess Tolstoy to my mother. The prophet of 
Yasnaia Poliana admired the faults of his compatriots 
and shared their absurd puerilities, their childish dreams 
of primitive communism. His ideal is the Oriental 
ideal of the Russian masses : to do nothing, to cross 
one's arms, and lie on one's back, yawning and dream- 
ing. An apostle of pacifism, he advised his disciples to 
lay down their arms before the enemy, and not to 
struggle against wrong but to let it invade the world, 
leaving its overthrow in the hands of God. He prepared 
the triumph of the Bolsheviks, and asserted ingenuously 
that he was preaching Christian ideas. He forgot that 
Jesus did not remain in a Yasnaia Poliana, but that He 
went from place to place, eating as He journeyed, sleeping 
little, appealing to all hearts, awaking all consciences, 
sowing the seeds of truth in every town He entered, 
training disciples and sending them to preach His doctrine 
in other lands, fighting against evil to His last breath. 

The difference between my father's ideas and those of 
Tolstoy manifested itself very clearly during the Russo- 
Turkish War. Dostoyevsky in his newspaper. The 
Journal of the Writer ^ demanded the liberation of the 
Slav nationalities, their independence, and the free 
development of their national ideal. He was indignant 
when he read how the Turks tortured the hapless Serbs 
and Bulgarians, and he incited the Russians to deliver 
these persecuted peoples by force of arms. He reiterated 
passionately that this was the duty of Russia, that she 
could not abandon people of her own race and religion. 
Tolstoy, on the other hand, thought Russia had nothing 


to do with Balkan affairs, and that she ought to leave 
the Slavs to their fate. He even asserted that the indig- 
nation of Russians at the Turkish atrocities was merely a 
pose, and that a Russian was not and could not be 
moved by descriptions of these cruelties. He confessed 
himself that he felt no pity. " How is it possible that 
he should feel no pity ? It is incomprehensible to me ! " 
wrote Dostoyevsky in The Journal of the Writer. 
Tolstoy's hostile attitude in the midst of the general 
enthusiasm for the Slav cause seemed so scandalous to 
his publisher, Katkov, that he refused to allow the 
epilogue to Anna Karenina, in which Tolstoy expounded 
his anti-Slav ideas, to appear in his paper. The epilogue 
was published as a separate pamphlet. As a leading 
Slavophil, Dostoyevsky thought it his duty to protest 
in his own journal against Tolstoy's strange attitude 
towards the unhappy victims of the Turks. In combat- 
ing Tolstoy, he did not adopt the same method as in his 
conflict with Turgenev. He had despised the cruel 
comrade of his youth, and had not spared him. But he 
loved Tolstoy and did not wish to give him pain. To 
take the sting out of his criticism, he exalted Tolstoy 
to a giddy height, proclaiming him the greatest of 
Russian writers, and declaring that all the rest, himself 
included, were merely his pupils. ^ 

Sucli reverent criticism could not anger Tolstoy, and 
did not affect his admiration for Dostoyevsky. When 
my father died Tolstoy wrote to Strahoff : " When I 

1 Dostoyevsky specially admired Tolstoy's powers of descrip- 
tion and his style, but he never looked upon him as a prophet. 
He thought indeed that Tolstoy did not understand our people. 
Often in talking to his friends my father said that Tolstoy and 
Turgenev could only paint truthfully the life of the hereditary 
nobility, which, according to him, was in its decline, and would 
soon be extinguished. This surprised his friends very much, 
but Dostoyevsky was right, for the Revolution has changed all the 
conditions of Russian life. He looked upon Tolstoy and Tur- 
genev as gifted historical novelists. 


heard of Dostoyevsky's death I felt that I had lost a 
kinsman, the closest and the dearest, and the one of 
whom I had most need." 

Tolstoy's European biographers generally describe him 
as a great aristocrat, and contrast him 'with Dostoyevsky, 
whom, I know not why. they beheve to be a plebeian. 
The better informed Russian biographers know that 
both belonged to the same union of hereditary nobles. 
I suppose it was Tolstoy's title of Count which misled 
European writers. In Russia the title was notliing; 
it was possible there to meet titled people, bearing 
historic names, who belonged to the middle classes, 
and others, who had no titles, but were members of the 
aristocracy. European biographers of Tolstoy who wish 
to understand his position in Russia should read the 
history of the Counts Rostov in War and Peace. In this 
family Tolstoy describes that of his paternal grand- 
father. Coimt Ilia Rostov lives in Moscow, and receives 
every one; but when he goes to Petersburg with his 
family he knows no one save an old Court lady, who is 
only able to procure them a single invitation to a ball 
in the great world, and even on this occasion cannot 
introduce any partners to the charming Xataha, because 
she knows no one herself. Count Rostov is very popular 
with the nobles of his own pro^dnce who chose him as 
their Marshal; but when he goes to incite a travelling 
aristocrat, Prince Volkonsky, to dinner, the Prince 
receives him insolently, and refuses his invitation. When 
Countess Bezuhov insists that Natalia should come to 
her party, all the Rostov family is much flattered by the 
graciousness of the great lady. And yet the Countess 
only invites her to please her brother, Prince Kouragin, 
who is in love with the fair Natasha and wants to carry 
her off. He is already secretly married, so he cannot 
mam* her; but he does not hesitate to compromise the 
girl, a villainy he would never have committed if she had 


belonged to his own world, for it would have ruined 
his career. Evidently, in the eyes of a Russian aristo- 
crat the Counts Rostov were hereditary nobles of no 
importance, whom they could treat cavalierly. In con- 
temporary times, the relations between the Russian 
aristocrats and the hereditary nobles were greatly 
modified, but in 1812 they were very cruel. In War and 
Peace Tolstoy carefully explained the position occupied 
by his grandfather and his father in Russia. But his 
mother was a Princess Volkonsky, a very ugly old maid, 
who, unable to find a husband in her own world, had 
married Count Nicolai Tolstoy for love. She was a 
provincial, but she must have had relations in Peters- 
burg, through whom Tolstoy could have gained admit- 
tance to the great world of the capital much more easily 
than Turgenev had been able to do. But he made no 
bid for such recognition. He was no snob, and had all 
that dignity and independence of spirit which have 
always characterised our Moscow nobility. He made 
an unambitious marriage with the daughter of Dr. Bers, 
and spent all his life in Moscow, receiving every one who 
was congenial to him without asking to what class of 
society his visitors belonged. Tolstoy had no love for 
the aristocrats. He shows his antipathy to them very 
plainly in War and Peace, Anna Kardnina and Resurrec- 
tion. He contrasts their opulent, luxurious and artificial 
existence with the simple, hospitable life of the Moscow 
nobihty. Tolstoy was right, for indeed the latter were 
very sympathetic. Their houses were not rich, but they 
were always open to their friends. The rooms were 
small and low, but there was always a corner for some 
old relative or invalid friend; they had a great many 
children, but they always managed to find a place 
among them for some poor orphan, who received the 
same education and treatment as the children of the 
house. It was in this hospitable, cheerful, kindly and 


simple atmosphere that Tolstoy was brought up, and 
it is this world that he describes in his novels. " Tolstoy 
is the historian and the poet of the lesser Moscow 
nobility," wrote Dostoyevsky in his Journal of the 

Tolstoy's European biographers, who have blamed his 
aristocratic luxury, are strangely ill-informed ; they can 
never have been either to Moscow or to Yasnaia Poliana. 
I remember one day going with my mother when we 
were in Moscow to call on Countess Tolstoy. I was 
struck by the poverty of her house ; not only was there 
no single good piece of furniture, no single artistic 
object, such as one might find in any Petersburg home, 
but there was absolutely nothing of the smallest value 
of any sort. The Tolstoys lived in one of those small 
houses between courtyard and garden which are so 
common in Moscow. Rich people build them of stone, 
poor people are content with wood. The Tolstoy house 
was of wood, and was built without any architectural 
pretensions. The rooms of these little houses are 
generally small, low, and ill-lighted. The furniture is 
bought in cheap shops, as was the case in the Tolstoys' 
home, or it is made by old workmen who were formerly 
serfs, as was that I saw in other houses in Moscow. 
The hangings are faded, the carpets threadbare, the 
walls are hung with family portraits, painted by some 
poor artist, to whom a commission was given to save him 
from starvation. The only luxury of these houses con- 
sists of a pack of dirty, ill-tempered old servants, who 
show their fidelity by meddling in the affairs of their 
masters and speaking impertinently to them, and In a 
couple of clumsy ill-matched horses, brought from the 
country in the autumn, and harnessed to some old- 
fashioned carriage. Tolstoy's " luxury " was indeed far 
from dazzling; any prosperous European who has a 
pretty villa and a smart motor-car lives more sumptu- 


ously than he. I do not even know whether it would 
have been possible for Tolstoy to surround himself with 
luxuries. He owned a great deal of land, but the land 
of central Russia does not represent much wealth. It 
yields little income, and absorbs a great deal of money. 
He could not sell it, for by Russian law, land inherited 
from a father must be transmitted to a son. Tolstoy 
had five sons; as they grew up and married, he was 
obliged to divide his estates between them, and it is 
probable that during the last years of his life he lived 
on the proceeds of his literary works. When Countess 
Tolstoy came to ask my mother's advice in the matter of 
publishing editions of her husband's books, it was in 
no rapacious spirit. She was probably in pressing need 
of money, and, like the honest woman she was, she 
wanted to work herself to increase her income. 

Not only were the Tolstoys never great Russian 
aristocrats, they are not even of Russian origin. The 
founder of the Tolstoy family was a German merchant 
named Dick, who came to Russia in the seventeenth 
century, and opened a store in Moscow. His business 
prospered, and he decided to settle in Russia. When 
he became a Russian subject he changed his name of 
Dick, which in German means " fat," to the Russian 
equivalent, Tolstoy. At that period this was obligatory, 
for the inhabitants of Moscow distrusted foreigners ; it 
was not until the time of Peter the Great that immi- 
grants found it possible to keep their European names 
when they established themselves in Russia. Thanks 
to their knowledge of the German language, the descend- 
ants of Dick-Tolstoy obtained employment in our 
Foreign Office. One of them found favour with Peter 
the Great, who liked to surround himself with foreigners ; 
he placed Peter Tolstoy at the head of his secret police. 
Later, the Emperor, in recognition of his services, 
bestowed on him the title of Count, a title Peter the 


Great had lately introduced in Russia, but which the 
Russian boyards hesitated to accept, thinking that it 
meant nothing. ^ 

Like all Germans, the descendants of Dick-Tolstoy 
were very prolific, and two centuries after his arrival in 
Moscow there were Tolstoys in all our Government 
offices, in the army and in the na\'y. They married the 
young daughters of our hereditary nobility, generally 
choosing such as were well dowered. They did not 
squander the fortunes of their %'v-ives, and in many cases 
increased them. They were good husbands and good 
fathers, with a certain weakness of character which often 
brought them under the domination of their wives or 
mothers. They were industrious and useful in their 
various offices, and generally made good positions for 
themselves. I have known several Tolstoy families who 
were not even acquainted, and said their relationship 
was so distant that it was practically non-existent. 
Nevertheless, I recognised in all these families the same 
characteristic traits; this shows how little the Dick- 
Tolstoys had been affected by the Russian blood of their 
marriages. With the exception of Count Fyodor Tolstoy, 
a talented painter, they never rose above mediocrity, 
and Leo Tolstoy was the first star of the family.^ 
Tolstoy's Germanic origin would explain many strange 
traits in his character, otherwise incomprehensible; 
his Protestant reflections upon the Orthodox Christ, 
his love for a simple and laborious life, which is very 
unusual in a Russian of his class, and his extraordinary 
insensibility to the sufferings of the Slavs under the 
Turks, which had so astonished my father. ^ This 

^ In Russia the title Count has the same value as the titles 
Marquis and Viscount in Japan. 

* The poet Alexis Tolstoy was, it is said, a Tolstoy only in 

^ The American writers who were in Germany at the beginning 
of the recent war, speak of the insensibUity of the Germans, not 


Germanic origin also explains Tolstoy's curious in- 
capacity to bow to an ideal accepted by the whole 
civilised world. He denies all the science, all the culture, 
all the literature of Europe. My Faith, My Confession, 
he headed his religious rodomontades, evidently with the 
hope of creating a distinct culture, a Yasnaia Poliana 
Kultur. Dostoyevsky, when he speaks of Germany, 
always calls it " Protestant Germany," and declares 
that it has ever protested against that Latin culture 
Ijequeathed to us by the Romans and accepted by the 
whole world. 

Tolstoy's Germanic origin may explain another pecu- 
liarity of his character, common to all the descendants 
of the numerous German families established in Russia. 
These families remain in our country for centuries, 
become Orthodox, speak Russian, and even sometimes 
forget the German language ; and at the same time they 
always retain their German souls, souls incapable of 
understanding and sharing our Russian ideas. Tolstoy 
is a typical example of this curious incapacity. Ortho- 
dox, he attacked and despised our Church. A Slav, 
he remained indifferent to the sufferings of other Slavs, 
sufferings which stirred the heart of every moujik. An 
hereditary noble, he never understood this institution, 
which has had such an immense importance in our 
culture.! A writer, he did not share the admiration of 

only to the sufferings of the Belgians and French, but also to 
those of their own compatriots. They describe the cruelty with 
which operations were performed on the wounded Germans, and 
the callousness with which the latter endured these. It is possible 
that the notorious brutalities of the Germans, of which so much 
was said during the war, were the result of a contempt for suffering 
produced by the severe discipline practised in Germany for 

^ In Anna Karinina Tolstoy relates how Levin (his o^vn por- 
trait) is persuaded by his friends to come to a provincial town 
for the triennial election of a new Marshal of the nobility. While 
his cousins and his brother-in-law, Stiva Oblonsky, are in great 
excitement around him, wishing to get rid of the former Marshal 


all his confreres for Pushkin, that father of Russian 
literature. Dostoyevsky gave up his "cure" at Ems 
in order to be present at the inauguration of the monu- 
ment to Pushkin at Moscow; Turgenev hurried home 
from Paris ; all the other writers, whatever their parties 
— Slavophils, or Occidentals — gathered fraternally round 
the monument to the great poet ; Tolstoy alone quitted 
Moscow almost on the eve of the inauguration. This 
departure created a sensation in Russia; the indignant 
public asserted that Tolstoy was jealous, and that the 
glorification of Pushkin annoyed him. I think this was 
all nonsense. Tolstoy was a gentleman, and the base 
sentiment of envy was unknown to him. All his life he 
was very sincere and very honest. Pushkin's patriotic 
verse touched no chord in his Germanic soul, and he 
would not pay lying compliments to his memory. In 
all our vast Russia Tolstoy could only love and under- 
stand the peasants ; but alas ! his moujiks did not love 
and understand him ! While our intellectuals were 
hurrying to Yasnaia Poliana to ask the prophet for 
guidance, the moujiks of that village distrusted him 
and his religion. Their grandiose instinct told them, 
perhaps, that the good old God of Yasnaia Poliana was 
only a wretched German imitation which was nothing 
to them. 

The famous Tolstoyism has much in common with the 
tenets of the German sects which have long existed in 
Russia. When they settled in Russia, the German 
colonists at once began to attack the Orthodox Church, 
which they could not understand. They founded reli- 
gious sects, the spirit of which was essentially Protestant, 

and to elect another who will understand the interests of the 
nobility better, Levin is perfectly indifferent, cannot imderstand 
their agitation and thinks only of one thing : how to get out of 
the town and return as quickly as possible to his village. He 
had evidently no inkling of his obligations to the nobles of his 


tried to propagate their ideas among our peasants, and 
sometimes made proselytes. The best known of these 
sects are : " Shtunda," " Dubohore," and " Molokane." 
Like a true German colonist, Tolstoy also founded a 
Protestant sect, the " Tolstoyans," and warred against 
our Church all his life. My compatriots were simple 
enough to take his religious ideas for Russian ideas, but 
foreigners were more clear-sighted. In their studies on 
Russia, many English and French writers have noted 
with surprise the affinity between Tolstoy's ideas and 
those of our different Germanic sects. The ignorance of 
my compatriots arises probably from the fact that in 
Russia no one attached any importance to the German 
origin of the Tolstoy family. Let us hope that there will 
yet be a biographer of the seer of Yasnaia Poliana, who 
will study him from the point of view of this origin. 
Then we shall get a real Tolstoy. 



The Writer's Journal had an immense success ; never- 
theless, my father ceased its pubUcation at the end of 
the second year, and began to write The Brothers Kara- 
mazov. Art claimed him, telling him that he was a 
novelist and not a publicist. The Brothers Karamazov^ 
which many critics consider the best of Dostoyevsky's 
novels, is one of those works which every writer bears 
in his heart and ponders for years, putting off the 
actual writing of it till the time when he shall have 
achieved perfection in his craft. My father did not 
believe he had reached this goal; he was too severe a 
judge to have thought so. But something told him 
that he had not much longer to live. " This will be 
my last book," he said to his friends when he told them 
he was going to write The Brothers Karamazov. 

Such novels, analysed, meditated upon, caressed, so 
to say, for years, are generally full of autobiographical 
details; we find in them the impressions of childhood, 
youth and maturity. This was the case with The 
Brothers Karamazov. As I have said above, Ivan 
Karamazov, according to a family tradition, is a por- 
trait of Dostoyevsky in his youth. There is also a 
certain likeness between my father and Dmitri Kara- 
mazov, who perhaps represents the second period of 
the author's life, that between his penal servitude and 
his long sojourn in Europe after his second marriage. 
Dmitri resembles my father in his Schilleresque, senti- 
mental and romantic characteristics, and his naivetS 



in his relations with women. Just such an one must 
Dostoyevsky have been when he took such creatures as 

Maria Dmitrievna and PauUne N for women worthy 

of respect. But his closest affinity with Dmitri comes 
out in the arrest, the interrogation, and the sentence 
of the young man. When he made this trial so im- 
portant a part of his book, Dostoyevsky evidently 
wished to record his own sufferings during the Petra- 
chevsky proceedings. 

There is also something of Dostoyevsky In the staretz 
Zossima. The autobiography of this character was, in 
fact, my father's biography, at least so far as it relates 
to his youth. Dostoyevsky placed Zossima in provincial 
surroundings, in a humbler rank of life than his own, 
and wrote his autobiography in that curious, somewhat 
old-fashioned language adopted by our monks and 
priests. Nevertheless, we recognise in it all the essential 
facts of Dostoyevsky's childhood : his love for his 
mother and his elder brother, the impression made 
upon him by the masses he had listened to as a child; 
the book, Four Hundred Bible Stories, which was his 
favourite book; his departure for the Military School 
in Petersburg, where, according to the staretz Zossima, 
he was taught to speak French and to behave properly 
in society, but where at the same time he imbibed so 
many false ideas that he became " a savage, cruel, 
stupid creature." This was probably my father's 
opinion of the education he had received at the 
Engineers' School. 

Although my father gave his own biography to 
Zossima, he was not content to create an imaginary 
staretz. He wished to study the type from nature, 
and before beginning The Brothers Karamazov he 
made a pilgrimage to the monastery of Optina Pustin, 
which is not very far from Moscow. This monastery 
was greatly venerated by my compatriots and looked 


upon as the centre of Orthodox civilisation ; its monks 
were renowned for their scientific attainments. My 
father visited it in company with his disciple, the future 
philosopher, Vladimir Solowiev. Dostoyevsky was 
much attached to him, and some persons supposed 
that he had described Solowiev in the person of Aliosha 
Karamazov.i The monks of Optina Pustin were in- 
formed of Dostoyevsky's proposed visit, and they 
received him very cordially. They knew that he 
intended to describe the monastery in his new novel, 
and each monk wished to make him the confidant of 
ideas and hopes for the regeneration of the Church by 
the re-establishment of the Patriarchate. It is obvious 
that my father merely gave a literary form to the 
speeches of Zossima, Father Paissy and Father losef. 
In such a momentous matter as a religious question he 
preferred to let the monks speak, since they could speak 
with authority and knowledge. The personality of 
the staretz Ambrosius, who was the original of Zossima, 
made a great impression on Dostoyevsky; he spoke 
of it with emotion after his return from his pilgrimage. 
The success of The Writer's Journal, the enthusiasm 
with which the inhabitants of Petersburg received 
Dostoyevsky at the literary soirees, the prestige he 
enjoyed among the students attracted the attention of 
people who felt more interest in the politics than in 
the literature of their country. These patriots saw no 
less clearly than Dostoyevsky the abyss between the 
Russian masses and the intellectuals, which was widening 
every day. They longed to fill it; they dreamed of 
establishing patriotic schools, to accustom our young 
people to devote themselves to the great Orthodox 
work, our heritage from dying Byzantium, instead of 
allowing themselves to be carried away by the socialistic 

^ I think myself that Ahosha represents my fatlier in early 


Utopias of Europe. A whole society of patriots 
gathered round my father, foremost among whom 
were Constantin Pobedonoszev and General Tcherniaev. 
Pob^donoszev was much liked and appreciated by the 
Emperor Alexander III, who kept him as his almost 
omnipotent Minister throughout his reign. Dostoyevsky 
did not share all the somewhat narrow views of his new 
friend, but he loved him for his fervid patriotism and 
his honesty, an uncommon quality in Russia. It was 
probably this quality which made Dostoyevsky choose 
him as the guardian of his children in the event of his 
premature death. Pobedonoszev accepted the respon- 
sibilities, and, in spite of his preoccupation with affairs 
of state, watched over us until my brother's majority, 
refusing to touch the money due to him as guardian. 
He had, however, never had any children of his own, 
and knew little about education, so he had not much 
influence upon us. 

General Tcherniaev was an ardent Slavophil. Touched 
by the sufferings of the Slav peoples, he went to Serbia, 
collected an army of volunteers and fought bravely 
against the Turks. His chivalrous exploits produced 
such enthusiasm in Russia that Alexander II was 
obliged to declare war on the Turks, and deliver the 
Slavs from the Turkish yoke. This war had just come 
to an end, and Tcherniaev returned to Russia. Later, 
he was appointed Governor-General of our provinces 
in Central Asia ; but in 1879 he was living in Petersburg 
with his family, and came to see Dostoyevsky every day. 
Whenever I went into my father's study I found the 
General seated in his usual place on the sofa, discussing 
the future confederation of the Slav peoples. My 
father took the deepest interest in this question. A 
Slav Benevolent Society had just been founded in 
Petersburg under the presidency of a great Russian 
patriot, Prince Alexander Vassiletehikov. My father 


was offered the vice-presidency, and he accepted it 
eagerly. He attached so much importance to his 
functions that he would deprive himself of sleep in order 
to attend the meetings of the society, which took place 
in the afternoon. Dostoyevsky had so accustomed 
himself to going to bed very late, that he was unable 
to sleep until five o'clock in the morning ; but he always 
insisted on being called at eleven on the days of the 

My father's biographers have often wondered why 
towards the end of his life he should have been so 
passionately interested in the Slav question, to which 
he had given so little thought in his youth. This 
ardour for the Slav cause awoke in Dostoyevsky after 
his long sojourn abroad. When Russians go to Europe 
for a few months they are generally dazzled by European 
civilisation; but when they remain for several years 
and study it methodically my compatriots are struck 
not so much by the culture of Europeans as by their 
senility. How old, how worn-out all the Germanic 
tribes of Franks, Anglo-Saxons and Teutons seem to 
them 1 The good qualities and the vices of these people 
are alike those of the aged. Their very children are 
born old. It is painful to listen to the anaemic reflec- 
tions of these little old men and women with bare legs. 
Europeans do not perceive this, because they are always 
living together; but we, who come from a youthful 
country, see it very plainly. It is evident that in a 
few centuries the trembling hands of the Germans will 
no longer be able to hold aloft the torch of civilisation 
handed to them by the dying Romans. The Slav 
race will pick up the fallen torch and in its turn give 
light to the world. The new world which all await 
impatiently will come from this race. True, the 
Germans themselves realise the urgent need of a new 
idea, and seek it feverishly, but they are incapable of 


finding it. We have lately witnessed one of these 
European attempts to make a new departure at last. 
For a whole winter we were regaled with talk of the 
League of Nations, which was to transform our planet 
into an earthly Paradise, and the result has been the 
conclusion of the most commonplace military treaty 
between France and England. The incapacity of the 
Germans to rejuvenate the world is easily explained; 
the whole of their culture is based upon the Latin 
civilisation of the ancient Romans, a civilisation mag- 
nificent, no doubt, but essentially pagan. Try as they 
may, the Germans will never free themselves from 
their aristocratic, feudal ideas. The Slavs, whose 
civilisation is more recent, knew nothing of the Latins. 
Their culture, received from the Orthodox Church of 
the East, was profoundly Christian from the beginning. 
We Slavs, a race of humble shepherds and modest 
husbandmen, have never had a feudal aristocracy. 
European capitalism is unknown among us. If by 
chance a Slav makes a great fortune, his children 
squander it. Their instinct tells them that capitalists 
are slaves, and they hasten to break the chains forged 
by unwise fathers. It would be easy for us to introduce 
into the world the new idea of Christian democracy 
which alone can calm the fever of socialist and anarchist 

Dostoyevsky, foreseeing the great mission which will 
some day be entrusted to the Slavs, earnestly desired 
their union in preparation for this solemn moment. 
He dreamed of a confederation of all the Slav nations, 
a pacific confederation, guiltless of any designs of 
conquest, or any desire to enslave the Germanic races. 
Each Slav country to keep its independence, its laws, 
its institutions, its government, but all to unite in ideas, 
science, literature and art. Whereas the Germanic 
nations organised Olympic games in order to show each 


other the strength of their mailed fists, we Slavs would 
organise more intelligent Olympiads, assembling in turn 
in our various capitals to admire the pictures and statues 
of our artists, listen to the music of our composers, and 
hear readings from our poets and men of letters. Instead 
of exhausting ourselves in fratricidal wars as the 
unhappy Germans have done, we would help, encourage, 
and fraternise with our fellows. Before offering the 
new law of Christian democracy to the world, we would 
begin by showing other nations an example of brother- 
hood and equality. This consummation seems very 
remote at present. The Slavs, but newly delivered 
from the yoke, are busy fixing the frontiers of their 
little states. They are right; before embarking on 
vast enterprises, it is well to consolidate one's own 
dwelling. But when all these houses — Russian, Serbian, 
Czech and others — have been solidly built, the masons 
will lift up their heads and begin to work out the great 
destiny of their race. 

And yet this Slav dream may be realised sooner than 
we think. The League of Nations, that last refuge of 
feudal Imperialism, may play a great part in the 
organisation of the Slav Confederation. The more 
tactless Europeans exasperate the Slavs, meddling in 
their domestic affairs and trying to bend them to their 
will, the sooner will the Slavs begin to build up their 
fraternal union. The League of Nations will soon be 
confronted by a formidable Slav Confederation, which 
will be followed, logically and inevitably, by a Con- 
federation of all the Germanic nations. The world is 
entering on a new phase of its civilisation. The ancient 
alliance between the countries of different races, the 
work of kings and diplomatists, has had its day. It 
was an anomaly, for the people in question generally 
hated each other the while they lavished compliments 
and marks of respect. The new confederations, based 


upon the fraternal sympathy of people of the same race, 
will be more durable. As they will be about equal in 
strength, these Slav, Germanic, Latin and Anglo-Saxon 
confederations will suppress war more surely than 
could a League of Nations, an antiquated expedient 
which was once adopted in Europe under the name of 
the Holy Alliance and lasted but a short time. When 
the Imperialistic countries feel the ground giving way 
beneath their feet, they league themselves together, 
hoping to arrest the popular movement by their united 
strength. Vain hope ! We can combat men, but not 
ideas. The peoples of to-day desire above all things 
to be free and independent. They will suffer no 
tutelage, no matter under what form it may be proposed. 



Among the literary salons of Petersburg frequented 
by Dostoyevsky in the last years of his life, the most 
remarkable was that of Countess Alexis Tolstoy, the 
widow of the poet Alexis Tolstoy. Her family was of 
Mongolian origin, and she had one of those incisive minds 
— ^" sharp as steel," as Dostoyevsky said — which in 
Russia are only to be met with among persons of such 
descent. The Slav mind is slower, and needs long pre- 
liminary reflection before it can grasp a subject. The 
Countess was one of those inspiring women who are 
incapable of creating themselves but can suggest fine 
themes to writers. Her husband had a great respect 
for her intellect, and never published an5d:hing before 
consulting her. When she became a widow she settled 
in Petersburg. She was rich and had no children, but 
she was greatly attached to a niece whom she had 
brought up and married to a diplomatist. This diplo- 
matist had been sent on a mission to Persia, and while 
awaiting his appointment to a more civilised post, the 
niece and her children made their home with the 
Countess. When Countess Tolstoy arrived in Peters- 
burg she received all her husband's former comrades, 
the poets and novelists of his day, and sought to extend 
her literary circle. After meeting my father, she invited 
him to her house, and was charming to him. My father 
dined with her, went to her evening receptions, and was 
persuaded to read some chapters of The Brothers 



Karamazov aloud in her drawing-room before their 
publication. He got into the habit of going to see 
Countess Tolstoy during his afternoon walk, to talk over 
the news of the day with her. My mother, who was 
of a rather jealous disposition, made no objection to 
these visits, for at this time the Countess was past the 
age of seduction. Dressed always in black, with a 
widow's veil over her simply arranged grey hair, she sought 
to please only by her intelligence and amiability. She 
rarely went out, and at four o'clock was always at 
home, ready to give Dostoyevsky his cup of tea. She 
was a highly educated woman, had read a great deal in 
all European languages, and often called my father's 
attention to some interesting article that had appeared 
in Europe. Dostoyevsky, absorbed in creative work, 
was unable to read as much as he would have liked to 
do. Count Alexis Tolstoy's health had been bad, and 
he had spent the greater part of his life abroad, making 
a great many foreign friends, with whom the Countess 
kept up a regular correspondence. They in their turn 
sent their friends who were visiting Petersburg to her, 
and they became familiar figures in her salon. Convers- 
ing with them, Dostoyevsky remained in contact with 
Europe, which he had always considered his second 
fatherland. The polished amenity that reigned in the 
Countess' salon was an agreeable change from the 
vulgarity of other interiors. Some of his former friends 
of the Petrachevsky circle had made fortunes, and were 
lavish of invitations to the illustrious writer. My father 
visited at their houses, but their ostentatious luxury was 
distasteful to him; he preferred the comfort and the 
subdued elegance of Countess Tolstoy's salon. 

Thanks to my father, this salon soon became the 
fashion and attracted numerous visitors. " When 
Countess Sophie invited us to her evenings, we went if 


we had no other invitations more interesting ; but when 
she added : Dostoyevsky has promised to come, we 
forgot all other engagements and hastened to her house," 
said an old lady of the great Russian world (now a 
refugee in Switzerland) to me the other day. Dos- 
toyevsky' s admirers in the higher circles of Petersburg 
applied to Countess Tolstoy to make them acquainted 
with him. She placed her good offices at their disposal, 
although the business was not always very easy. 
Dostoyevsky was no worldling, and he did not care to 
make himself agreeable to persons who were uncon- 
genial to him. When he met people of feeling, good and 
honest souls, he was so kind to them that they could 
never forget it, and twenty years later would repeat the 
words he had said to them. But when he found himself 
in the company of one of the numerous snobs who 
swarm in the drawing-rooms of a capital, he remained 
obstinately silent. In vain Countess Tolstoy would try 
to draw him out by adroit questions, my father would 
answer " Yes " or " No " abstractedly, and continue to 
study the snob as if he were some strange and in- 
jurious insect. Thanks to this uncompromising attitude 
he made many enemies; but this was never a matter 
he took very seriously. ^ 

It will perhaps be objected that a great writer like 
Dostoyevsky should have been more indulgent to stupid 
and ill-bred people. But my father was right to treat 
them with contempt, for snobbery, introduced among ua 
by the barons of the Baltic Provinces, was disastrous to 

^ This haughtiness was in strong contrast to the exquisite 
poHteness and amiabihty with which he would answer the letters 
of his provincial admirers. Dostoyevsky knew that his ideas and 
his counsels were sacred in the eyes of all these country doctors, 
schoolmistresses, and obscure parish priests, whereas the snobs 
of Petersburg were only interested in him because he was the 


Russia. Feudal Europe has been used for centuries 
to bow before titled persons, capitalists and highly- 
placed functionaries. The baseness of Europeans in this 
connection has often amazed me during my travels 
abroad. The Russian, with his ideal of fraternal 
equality, does not understand snobbery and is repelled 
by it. My compatriots look upon the haughty attitude 
of the snob as a provocation and an insult, which they 
never forget and are eager to avenge. Two centuries 
of Baltic snobbery brought about the disintegration of 
Russia. On the eve of the Revolution all our classes 
were at daggers drawn. The hereditary nobility hated 
the aristocracy, which encircled the throne like a great 
Wall of China ; the merchants were hostile to the nobles, 
who despised them and would not mix with them; the 
clergy were impatient of the humble position they 
occupied in the Empire; the intellectuals, who had 
sprung from the people, were indignant when they found 
that Russian society looked upon them as moujiks, in 
spite of their superior education. If all had followed 
Dostoyevsky's example and waged war against snobbery, 
the Russian Revolution might have followed a different 

In Countess Tolstoy's salon, as in the soireh of the 
students, Dostoyevsky had even more success with the 
women than with the men, and for the same reason : 
he always treated women with respect. The Russians 
have always retained their Oriental point of view with 
regard to women. Since the days of Peter the Great 
they have ceased to whip them ; they bow low to them, 
kiss their hands and treat them as queens, trying to 
live up to their European civilisation. But at the same 
time they consider women as big children, frivolous and 
ignorant, who must always be amused by jests and anec- 
dotes more or less witty. They decline to discuss serious 


subjects with them, and laugh at their pretensions to 
an interest in politics. There is nothing more exasper- 
ating to an intelligent woman than to see fools and 
ignoramuses posing as her superiors. Dostoyevsky 
never adopted such a tone ; he never tried to amuse or 
to fascinate women, but talked to them seriously, as to 
his equals. He would never follow the Russian fashion 
of kissing women's hands, he thought the practice 
humiliating to them. " When men kiss the hands of 
women they look upon them as slaves, and try to con- 
sole them for their servitude by treating them like 
queens," he often said. " When in the future they come 
to recognise them as equals, they will be content to shake 
hands with them, as they do with their own comrades." 
Such speeches astonished the inhabitants of Petersburg, 
who could not understand them. It was one of the 
many ideas Dostoyevsky had inherited from his Norman 
ancestors. The English do not kiss the hands of their 
women, but greet them by clasping their hands. And 
yet there is no country where the women have a freer 
and more independent position than England.* 

Dostoyevsky had a strong affection for Countess 
Tolstoy, who gave him that literary sympathy which 
all writers need ; but it was not to her he entrusted his 
family at his death. He had another friend, whom he 
saw less frequently, but for whom he had a greater 
veneration. This was Countess Heiden, nie Countess 
Zubov. Her husband was Governor-General of Fin- 
land, but she continued to live in Petersburg, where she 
founded a large hospital for the poor. There she spent 
her days tending the suffering, interesting herself in 

* Dostoyevsky's popularity with women may also have had 
another cause. According to one of his comrades in the Petra- 
chevsky conspiracy, my father was one of those men who, 
" though the most virile of males, yet have something of the 
feminine nature," as Michelet says. 


their affairs and trying to comfort them. She was a 
great admirer of Dostoyevsky. When they met they 
talked of religion; my father gave her his views on 
Christian education. Knowing the importance he 
attached to the moral training of his children, Countess 
Heiden became my mother's friend and tried to influence 
me for good. After her death, which left a great blank 
in my life, I understood all I owed to this saintly 

The literary soirees inaugurated by the students of 
Petersburg soon became fashionable in the great world. 
Instead of getting up tableaux vivants or amateur theatri- 
cals, the great Russian ladies who patronised charities 
organised literary gatherings in their salons. Our writers 
placed themselves at their disposal and promised their 
help in working for a good cause. As always, Dos- 
toyevsky was the great attraction of these evenings. As 
the public here was a very different one to that he met 
at the students' gatherings, he discarded the Marmeladov 
monologue in favour of other fragments from his works. 
Faithful to his idea of bringing the intellectuals and the 
masses together, he chose to read to these aristocratic 
assemblies the chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, 
where the staretz Zossima receives the poor peasant 
women who have come on pilgrimage. One of these 
women having lost her son of three years old, leaves her 
home and her husband and wanders from convent to 
convent, unable to find comfort in her grief. It was 
his own sorrow which Dostoyevsky painted in this 
chapter; he, too, could not forget his little Aliosha. 
He put so much feeling into the simple story of the poor 
mother that all the women in his audience were deeply 
moved. The Hereditary Grand Duchess Marie Fyodor- 
ovna, the future Empress of Russia, was present at 
one of these evenings. She, too, had lost a little son and 


could not forget it. As she listened to my father's 
reading, the Cesarevna ^ cried bitterly, When the read- 
ing was over, she spoke to the ladies who had organised 
the evening, and told them she wished to talk to my 
father. The ladies hastened to meet her wishes, but 
they cannot have been very intelligent persons. Know- 
ing Dostoyevsky's somewhat suspicious character, they 
feared he might refuse to be presented to the Cesarevna, 
and determined to bring about the interview by a 
stratagem. They went to my father and told him in 
mysterious tones that a very, very interesting person 
wished to talk to him about his reading. 

"What interesting person?" asked Dostoyevsky in 
surprise. " Oh ! you will see for yourself. Come 
with us ! " replied the young women laughingly, and 
they took him to a little boudoir, pushed him in and 
closed the door behind him. Dostoyevsky was astonished 
at these mysterious proceedings. The little room was 
dimly lighted by a shaded lamp; a young woman was 
quietly seated by a small table. At this time of his life 
my father no longer looked at young women ; he bowed 
to the lady, as one bows to a fellow-guest, and thinking 
some joke was being played upon him, went out by the 
opposite door. Dostoyevsky knew that the Cesarevna 
was to be at the party, but he believed, no doubt, that 
she had left, or perhaps, with his usual absence of mind, 
he had forgotten that she was among the audience. 
He returned to the large room, was immediately sur- 
rounded, and plunging into a discussion which interested 
him, entirely forgot the incident. A quarter of an hour 

^ Europeans often make a mistake in speaking of our Heredi- 
tary Grand Dukes as " Tsarevitch." This title belongs to the 
sons of the ancient Moscovite Tsars. The eldest son of the 
Emperor of Russia was the " Cesarevitch," and his wife the 
" Cesarevna." The word Tsar, which Europeans take for a 
Mongolian word, is only " Caesar " pronounced in the Russian 


later the two young women who had taken him to the 
door of the boudoir rushed up to him. 

" What did she say to you? " they asked eagerly. 

" Who do you mean? " asked my father. 

" Who? Why, the Cesarevna, of course." 

"The Cesarevna! But where was she? I never 
saw her." 

The Grand Duchess was not content with this futile 
interview ; knowing of the friendship between the Grand 
Duke Constantine and my father, she asked the former 
to present Dostoyevsky to her. The Grand Duke at once 
arranged a reception and invited Dostoyevsky, taking 
care to impress upon him whom he would meet. My 
father was rather ashamed of not having recognised the 
Cesarevna, whose portraits were to be seen in every 
shop window of the town. He went to the party bent 
on being amiable. He was delighted with the Cesarevna. 
She was a charming person, kindly and simple, who had 
the art of pleasing. Dostoyevsky made a great impres- 
sion on her ; she talked so much of him to her husband 
that the Cesarevitch also wished to make his acquaint- 
ance. Through the intermediary of Constantine Pobe- 
donoszev, he invited my father to come and see him. 
The future Alexander III interested all the Russophils 
and Slavophils of the Empire greatly. They expected 
great reforms from him. Dostoyevsky wished very much 
to know him, and to talk to him about his Russian and 
Slav ideas. He went to the Anitchkov Palace, the 
official dwelling of our Hereditary Grand Dukes. The 
imperial pair received him together and were charming 
to him. It is very characteristic that Dostoyevsky, who 
at this time was an ardent monarchist, disregarded Court 
etiquette and behaved in the palace as he was accus- 
tomed to behave in the salons of his friends. He spoke 
first, got up to go when he thought the conversation 


had lasted long enough, and after taking leave of the 
Cesarevna and her husband, left the room as he always 
left it, turning his face to the door. This was surely the 
first time in his life that Alexander III had been treated 
as a mere mortal. He was not in the least offended, and 
later spoke of my father with much esteem and sym- 
pathy. He saw so many bent backs in his life ! Perhaps 
he was not sorry to find in his vast empire one spine less 
supple than the rest. 



In June 1880 the inauguration of Pushkin's monu- 
ment at Moscow took place. This great national 
festival brought all political parties together : Slavo- 
phils and Occidentals alike laid flowers at the base of 
the monument and celebrated the greatest of Russian 
poets in their speeches. Pushkin satisfied every one. 
The Occidentals admired his European culture and his 
poems, the subjects of which were of English, German 
and Spanish origin ; the Slavophils exalted his patriotism 
and his magnificent Slav poems. All the Russian 
writers and intellectuals hastened to do him homage. 
Turgenev came from Paris and was given a great 
reception by his admirers. He had a most brilliant 
success at the literary soiries and eclipsed Dostoyevsky, 
but the balance was redressed on the following day at 
the meeting of the Society of Letters, which took place 
in the Assembly Room of the Moscow nobility. Here 
Dostoyevsky's success was so great that Pushkin's fete 
was transformed into a triumph for Dostoyevsky. The 
leader of the Slavophils, Aksakov, declared from the 
tribune that my father's speech was " an event." 
Senator Coni, who was present, gave me an account of 
it later. This distinguished jurist is also a writer of 
talent and a brilliant lecturer. His sympathies were 
perhaps with the Occidentals rather than with the 
Slavophils, so his enthusiasm for Dostoyevsky's speech 
is the more significant. " We were completely hyp- 
notised as we listened to him," he said to me. " I 



believe that if a wall of the building had fallen away 
at that moment, if a huge pyre had been discovered in 
the square and your father had said to us, ' Now let 
us go and die in that fire to save Russia,' we should have 
followed him to a man, happy to die for our country." 
Extraordinary scenes took place at the close of the 
speech. People stormed the platform to embrace him 
and clasp his hand. Young men fainted with emotion 
at his feet. Two old men approached him, hand in hand, 
and said : " We have been enemies for twenty years ; 
many attempts have been made to reconcile us, but we 
have always resisted. To-day, after your speech, we 
looked at each other and we realised that henceforth 
we must live as brothers." Turgenev, who had 
hitherto vouchsafed only a chilly bow when he met 
Dostoyevsky, was deeply moved, and, going up to my 
father, pressed his hand warmly. This action of Tur- 
genev's, and the reconciliation of the two old enemies, 
were the two incidents of the day which impressed 
Dostoyevsky most. He liked to talk of them at Staraja 
Russa on his return from Moscow. 

What magic words were there in this famous speech, 
which was looked upon as a great event by the whole of 
literary Russia, those who had been unable to be present 
at the festival having read it in the newspapers ? I give 
a r6sumi of what Dostoyevsky said to the intellectuals 
of his country : ^ 

" You are discontented, you suffer, and you ascribe 
your unhappiness to the system under which you live. 
You think you will become happy and contented if you 
introduce European institutions into Russia. You are 
mistaken. Your sufferings are due to another cause. 

* The speech, which is rather long, contains a very subtle 
analysis of Pushkin's poetry. The reader would do well to read 
the complete text. I only give my father's conception of the 
Russian people and its future. It was this new conception 
trhich had bo fired the imaginations of our intellectuals. 


Thanks to your cosmopolitan education, you are es- 
tranged from your people, you no longer understand 
them; you form a little clan, utterly foreign and anti- 
pathetic to the rest of the country, in the midst of a 
vast empire. You despise your people for their ignor- 
ance, and you forget that it is they who have paid for 
your European education, they who support by the 
sweat of their brows your universities and higher 
schools. Instead of despising them, try to study the 
sacred ideas of your people. Humble yourselves before 
them, work shoulder to shoulder with them at their 
great task; for this illiterate people from whom you 
turn in disgust bears within it the Christian word which 
it will proclaim to the old world when it is bathed in 
blood. Not by servile repetition of the Utopias of the 
Europeans, which lead them to their own destruction, 
will you serve humanity, but by preparing together 
with your people the new Orthodox idea." 

These golden words went to the hearts of my com- 
patriots, who were tired of despising their country. 
They were glad to think that Russia was no mere 
copy, no servile caricature of Europe, but that she in 
her turn might have a message for the world. Alas ! 
their joy was short-lived ! The curtain which hides 
the future, lifted by the hand of a man of genius, fell 
again, and our intellectuals returned to their fallacies. 
They worked obstinately for the introduction of the 
European republic into Russia, despising the people too 
much to ask their opinion, and believing ingenuously 
that eleven million intellectuals had a right to impose 
their will on a hundred and eighty million inhabitants. 
Taking advantage of the weariness produced by an 
interminable war, our intellectuals at last succeeded in 
introducing their long-desired republic into Russia. 
They soon realised how difficult it is to govern in Russia 
without the Tsar. The people at once showed their 


moral strength, which Dostoyevsky had long ago 
divined, and which his political adversaries persisted 
in ignoring. The pride of this people of great genius 
and of a great future was deeply wounded by the idea 
that a handful of dreamers and ambitious mediocrities 
proposed to reign over them, and impose their Utopias 
upon them. They struggled against them as they 
continue to struggle against the Bolsheviks. The people 
defend their ideal, their great Christian treasure which 
they are keeping for the future and which they will 
proclaim to the world later, when the old aristocratic 
feudal society finally disintegrates. Have our intel- 
lectuals understood the lesson the Russian people have 
just given them? Not in the least. They continue 
to take their dream for a reality; they believe the 
Bolsheviks have succeeded in demonstrating to the 
recalcitrant moujiks the excellence of the European 
regime brought by them from Zurich in their sealed 
railway carriage. For my part, I believe that the 
Bolsheviks have given the death-blow to the republican 
idea in Russia. Our peasants have long memories, 
and for centuries to come the word " Republic " will 
be to them the synonym of disorder, robbery and 
murder. They will come back to the monarchic idea, 
by virtue of which they founded their immense empire, 
but the new monarchy will be much more democratic 
than the old. The people have realised that their hare 
are feeble folks, easily intoxicated by Utopias, incapable 
of weighing their actions, and they will not confide 
the government of the country to them again. They 
will, no doubt, take them into their service, because 
they will have need of their knowledge; but at the 
same time they will send to the new Duma many more 
of their own representatives than before. These new 
deputies will have no European culture; but, possessed 
of the good sense and knowledge of life characteristic 


of the Russian people, they will vote laws which would 
have seemed cruel and barbarous to our former 

Russia has turned over a new page in her history. 
Dostoyevsky, who understood and foresaw the future 
so clearly, will become her favourite author. Hitherto, 
my compatriots had been content to admire him; now 
they are beginning to study him. 

* * * 41 « If 

It is curious enough that not one of the writers who 
gathered round Pushkin's monument and celebrated in 
prose and verse the great man's Russian poetry, his 
Russian heart, his Russian ideas and his Russian sym- 
pathies, made the slightest allusion to his negro origin, 
which is nevertheless of great interest. 

In the seventeenth century one of the small negro 
principalities of Africa, on the Mediterranean coast, 
was conquered by its neighbours. The king was killed, 
his harem and his sons were sold to pirates. One of 
the little princes, bought by the Russian ambassador, 
was sent to Peter the Great as a present. The Emperor 
gave the little blackamoor to his young daughters, who 
played with him as with a doll. Noticing the intelli- 
gence of the child, Peter the Great sent him to Paris, 
where the young Hannibal, as the Emperor called him^ 
received a brilhant education. Later he returned to 
Petersburg and served the Emperor with much devo- 
tion. Anxious to keep him in Russia, Peter the Great 
married him to the daughter of a hoyard, and ennobled 
him. His descendants remained in our country, mar- 
ried Russians, and at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century repaid Russia's hospitahty by giving her a 
great poet.^ Although he was a good deal fairer than 
his maternal ancestors, Pushkin had many characteristics 
of the negro type : black frizzly hair, thick Hps, and the 
^ Pushkin's mother was a Hannibal. 


vivacity, the passion and the ardour of the natives of 
Africa. This did not prevent him from being Russian 
in heart and mind. He formed our hterary language, 
and gave us perfect models of prose, poetry, and 
dramatic art. He is the true father of Russian literature. 
Still, there are many things in Pushkin's life and works 
which are explicable by the fact of his African origin. 
Why, then, did none of his admirers refer to it ? 

Probably, because at this time the idea of race- 
heredity was unknown to the Russians. I do not 
know if it even existed at all in Europe. It was intro- 
duced later by Count Gobineau, who, I believe, dis- 
covered it in Persia. Certain French writers assimilated 
it, and, exaggerating it a little, made it very fashionable. 
It is such a basic truth that it is impossible to write a 
good biography without taking it into account, and we 
ask ourselves in astonishment how it was that it was 
not discovered earlier. 

It was thanks to this ignorance of the idea of heredity 
that Dostoyevsky never attached much importance to 
his Lithuanian origin. Although he and his brothers 
habitually said, "We Dostoyevsky are Lithuanians," 
he sincerely considered himself a true Russian. This 
was also due to the fact that the former empire of 
Russia was much more united than is generally sup- 
posed. All those emigrants who at present demand 
the separation of their country from Russia have, as a 
fact, no solid following. The majority of the Lithu- 
anians established in the large Russian towns were 
sincerely attached to Russia. They were even more 
patriotic than the Russians, because they had inherited 
the idea of fidelity to their country from their civilised 
parents, whereas the sentiment has never been very 
strongly developed among the Russians. Our education 
tended to kill patriotism instead of stimulating it; its 
ideal was a pale and shadowy cosmopolitanism. On 


the other hand, the Lithuanians, with characteristic 
modesty, spoke so Uttle of themselves and of their 
country, that Russians came to beHeve Lithuania had 
been long dead. It is only since the war that Lithu- 
anians have begun to raise their heads timidly; but 
when we read the books they have published recently, 
we see very plainly that they know little of the history 
of their own country. Their intellectuals leave them 
year by year, migrating to Russia, Poland and Ukrania, 
and the Lithuanians who have remained in the country 
have gradually become a rustic society of peasants and 
small tradespeople, who have but a dim recollection of 
their ancient glory and do not understand its causes. 
They forget their Norman culture, declare they have 
nothing in common with the Slavs, and pride themselves 
on belonging to the tribe of Finno-Turks. The Finno- 
Turks are a fine race; it would ill become us to dis- 
parage them, for they are the ancestors of the Russians, 
the Poles and the Lithuanians. But intellectually they 
are inferior and have never produced a single man of 
genius. It was not until they were crossed with 
superior races that they emerged from their obscurity 
and began to count in history. The fusion of the 
Finno-Turks established on the banks of the Niemen 
with the Slavs who came down from the Carpathians 
produced the Lithuanian people, who later assimilated 
the genius of the Normans. As long as this Norman 
fire continued to burn in the race, Lithuania was a 
brilliant and civilised state ; when it began to die down, 
Lithuania gradually fell into oblivion, though it retained 
the Norman character which distinguished it from its 
Polish, Ukrainian and Russian neighbours. It was 
natural that Dostoyevsky should have felt little interest 
in his obscure and forgotten nation, and should have 
attributed greater importance to his Russian ante- 
cedents. And yet those who read his letters will see 


that all his life he was haunted by the idea that he was 
unlike his Russian comrades and had nothing in common 
with them. " I have a strange character ! I have an 
evil character ! " he often says in writing to his friends. 
He did not realise that his character was neither strange 
nor evil, but simply Lithuanian. " I have the vitality 
of a cat. I always feel as if I were only just beginning 
to live ! " he says, affirming that strength of character 
in himself which is natural to the Norman, but which 
he could not find in the Russians. " I happened to see 
Dostoyevsky in the most terrible moments of his life," 
says his friend Strahoff. " His courage never failed, 
and I do not think that anything could have crushed 
him." 1 If Dostoyevsky was surprised at his own 
strength, the childish weakness of his Russian friends 
was still more surprising to him. He was obliged to 
bring down all his own ideas to the level of their com- 
prehension, and even so, they were often at cross- 
purposes. Their puerile conceptions of honour astounded 
him. Thus one of his best friends, A. Miliukov, anxious 
to save him from the trap set for him by the publisher 
Stellovsky, proposed that all his literary friends should 
help him to complete the novel The Gambler by writing 
each one chapter, and that my father should sign the 
whole. Miliukov, in short, proposed that Dostoyevsky 

^ Dostoyevsky's biographers have laid too much stress on the 
eternal complaints in his letters to relations and intimate friends. 
These should not be taken too seriously, for neurotic people love 
to complain and to be consoled. I speak feelingly, for I have 
inherited this little weakness. My will is very strong; I think 
nothing could break my spirit or crush me, and yet any one 
reading my letters to my mother and my intimate friends would 
get the impression of a person in despair and on the verge of 
suicide. Doctors who specialise in nervous disorders could no 
doubt explain this anomaly. For my part, I think that persons 
may have both very strong wills and feeble nerves. In their 
actions they are guided by their strong wills, but from time to 
time they soothe their unhealthy nerves by cries and tears, and 
complaints to those of their friends who are indulgent to them. 


should commit a fraud, and was quite unconscious that 
he had done so. Later, when he described this incident 
to the pubUc, he gloried in having tried to save his 
illustrious friend. " I will never put my name to 
another man's work," my father replied indignantly. 

Another of Dostoyevsky's most characteristic ideas, 
his passionate interest in the Catholic Church, is also 
only to be explained by atavism. The Russians have 
never shown any interest in the affairs of the Vatican. 
The Pope is hardly known in Russia, no one ever thinks 
or speaks of him, hardly any %vriter has mentioned him. 
But Dostoyevsky has something to say about the 
Vatican in almost every number of The Writer's Journal, 
and discusses the future of the Catholic Church with 
fervour. He calls it a dead Church, declares that 
Catholicism has long ceased to be anything but idolatry, 
and yet we see plainly that this Church is still living in 
his heart. His Catholic ancestors must have been 
fervid believers; Rome must have played an immense 
part In their lives. Dostoyevsky's fidelity to the 
Orthodox Church is merely the logical sequence of the 
fidelity of his ancestors to the Catholic Church. " I 
could never understand why your father took such an 
Interest in that old fool the Pope," said a Russian 
^vriter and friend of my father's to me one day. Now 
to Dostoyevsky " that old fool " was the most interesting 
figure in Europe. 

The spiritual and moral isolation in which my father 
lived all his life was no unique phenomenon in our 
country. Nearly all our great writers have been of 
foreign descent, and have felt ill at ease in Russia. 
Pushkin was of African origin, the poet Lermontov 
was the descendant of a Scotch bard, Lermont, who 
came to Russia for some reason unknown to me; the 
poet Yukovsky was the son of a Turk, Nekrassov's 
mother was a Pole; Dostoyevsky was a Lithuanian, 


Alexis Tolstoy an Ukrainian, Leo Tolstoy of German 
blood. Only Turgenev and Gontsharov were true 
Russians. It is probable that young Russia is still 
incapable of producing great talents unaided. She can 
kindle them with the spark of her genius, but the pyre 
must be prepared by older or more highly civilised 
peoples. All these semi-Russians were never at home 
in Russia. Their lives were a series of struggles against 
the Mongolian society which surrounded and suffocated 
them. " The devil caused me to be born in Russia ! " 
cried Pushkin. "It is a dirty country of slaves and 
tyrants," said the Scottish Lermontov. " I am thinking 
of expatriating myself, of escaping from the ocean of 
odious baseness, of depraved indolence which threatens 
on all sides to engulf the little island of honest and 
laborious life I have created," wrote the German 
colonist Leo Tolstoy. In fact, the more prudent of 
the great Russian writers left the country : the poet 
Yukovsky preferred to live in Germany ; Alexis Tolstoy 
was attracted by the artistic treasures of Italy. Those 
who remained waged war on Russian ignorance and 
brutality and died young, vanquished by them, like 
Pushkin and Lermontov, who were killed in duels. 
Nekrassov lived among the Russians and died a most 
unhappy man ; Dostoyevsky himself records this in his 
obituary notice of Nekrassov. Tolstoy isolated himself 
as much as he could in his Yasnaia Poliana, but it is 
difficult to isolate oneself in Russia. His disciples, 
stupid Mongols, ended by taking advantage of the old 
man's enfeebled will and estranging him from his wife, 
the one person who really loved and understood him; 
they dragged him from his home to die by the wayside. 
. . . Poor great men, sacrificed by God for the civilisa- 
tion of our country ! 

All these writers of foreign origin shared my father's 
ideas about Russia. They loathed our so-called culti- 


vated society, and were only at their ease among the 
people. Their best types are drawn from the peasants, 
who in their eyes represented the future of our country. 
Dostoyevsky acts as interpreter to all these great men 
when he says to the Russian intellectuals : "You think 
yourselves true Europeans, and at bottom you have no 
culture. The people, whom you propose to civilise by 
means of your European Utopias, is much more civilised 
than you, through Christ, before whom it kneels and 
Who has saved it from despair." 



DosTOYEvsKY Came back in the guise of a conqueror 
to Staraja Russa, where we were settled for the summer. 
" What a pity you were not at the Assembly ! " he said 
to my mother. " How I regret that you did not see 
my success ! " Faithful to her rule of economy, my 
mother had decided not to accompany my father to 
Moscow; she now urged him to go to Ems as soon as 
possible for his usual cure, but Dostoyevsky had no 
idea of doing so. He was busy writing the single number 
of The Writer's Journal which appeared in 1880; it 
had an immense success. Dostoyevsky wished to 
consolidate the theory he had just enunciated at the 
Pushkin festival and reply to his opponents, who, 
after the first intoxication was over, tried to smother 
the new-born idea. He hoped to go to Ems in Sep- 
tember; then, exhausted by all the emotions of his 
triumph and his political struggle, he abandoned his 
foreign journey, thinking he should be able to do without 
Ems for once. Unhappily, he did not realise how worn 
out he was. His iron will, the ideal which was burning 
in his heart and filled him with enthusiasm deceived 
him concerning his physical strength, which was never 

He proposed to start again with the publication of 
The Writers Journal, for which the single number of 
1880 was to serve as programme. Now that The 
Brothers Karamazov was finished, he became a publicist 
again and threw himself once more into the political 



arena. The first, and, alas ! the only number of 1881, 
which appeared in January, contained a detailed pro- 
gramme. This testament of Dostoyevsky's proclaims 
truths which no one would believe in his lifetime, but 
which are being realised by degrees, and will be completely 
realised in the course of the twentieth century. This 
man of genius foresaw events from afar. ." Do not 
despise the people," he said to the Russian intellectuals ; 
" forget that they were once your slaves; respect their 
ideas, love what they love, admire what they admire; 
for if you persist in scorning their beliefs, and in trying 
to inoculate them with European institutions which 
they cannot understand and will never accept, the time 
will come when the people will repudiate you in their 
anger, will turn against you and seek other guides. 
You demand a European parliament, and you hope to 
sit in this and to pass laws without consulting the people. 
This parliament will be nothing but a debating society. 
You cannot direct Russia, for you do not understand it. 
The only possible parliament in our country is a popular 
assembly. Let the people meet and proclaim their 
will. As to you intellectuals, your task will be to listen 
respectfully to the humble words of the peasant dele- 
gates and try to understand them, in order to give 
juridical form to their plain pronouncements. If you 
direct Russia in accordance with the desires expressed 
by the people you will not blunder, and your country 
will prosper. But if you isolate yourselves in your 
European debating society you will sit in darkness, 
knocking one against the other ; instead of enlightening 
Russia, you will only be getting bruises on your fore- 
heads, i Increase the number of your elementary schools, 
extend the network of your railways, and, above all, 
try to have a good army, for Europe hates you and would 
fain seize your possessions. The Europeans know 
that the Russian people will always be hostile to their 


greedy capitalist dreams. They feel that Russia bears 
within her the new word of Christian fraternity which 
will put an end to their Philistine regime. Not with the 
Europeans but with the Asiatics should we work, 
for we Russians are as much Asiatics as Europeans. 
The mistake of our policy for the past two centuries 
has been to make the people of Europe believe that we 
are true Europeans. We have served Europe too well, 
we have taken too great a part in her domestic quarrels. 
At the first cry for help we have sent our armies, and our 
poor soldiers have died for causes that meant nothing 
to them, and have been immediately forgotten by those 
they had served. We have bowed ourselves like slaves 
before the Europeans and have only gained their hatred 
and contempt. It is time to turn away from ungrateful 
Europe. Our future is in Asia. True, Europe is our 
mother, but instead of mixing in her affairs we shall 
serve her better by working at our new orthodox idea, 
which will eventually bring happiness to the whole world. 
Meanwhile it will be better for us to seek alliances with 
the Asiatics. In Europe we have been merely intruders ; 
in Asia we shall be masters. In Europe we have been 
Tatars ; in Asia we shall be men of culture. Conscious- 
ness of our civilising mission will give us that dignity 
we lack as caricatures of Europeans. Let us go to 
Asia, to that ' land of holy miracles,' as one of our 
greatest Slavophils has called her, and let us try to make 
the name of the White Tsar greater and more venerated 
there than the name of the Queen of England, or the 
name of the Caliph." ^ 

^ The above is only a resume of the last number of The Writer s 
Journal, which deserves careful study as a whole. It makes 
manifest Dostoyevsky's Norman spirit, eager to fly to unknown 
regions, and to carry civilisation to the wildest places. This 
spirit is the more remarkable in him, because it is found in no 
other great Russian writer. Tolstoy, Turgenev and Gont- 
sharov breathe nothing of this pioneer spirit. The civilisation 
of the Mongols does not interest them. 


This, Dostoyevsky's last will and testament, was 
incomprehensible to his contemporaries. His far-seeing 
mind had outstripped theirs. Russian society was 
hypnotised by Europe and lived solely in the hope of 
becoming entirely European some day. This idea had 
been greatly strengthened by the adhesion of our rulers. 
Like all the Slavo-Normans, the Romanovs hated the 
Mongols and feared Asia. Our Tsars, who owned several 
palaces in Europe, had none in Siberia or Central Asia, 
which they rarely visited. When Oriental princes 
came to Petersburg they were received politely but 
coldly. Faithful to the traditions of Peter the Great, 
the Romanovs worked obstinately at the introduction 
of European institutions into Russia. All our Imperial 
Councils, Senate, Duma, Ministries and Chancellories 
were faithful copies of the European models. Our 
girls' schools were imitations of French convents, and 
our military schools reproduced those of Germany. 
The Russian spirit was banished from those establish- 
ments, and my young compatriots who were educated 
in them preferred to talk French to each other. If 
our sovereigns succeeded in europeanising our nobles, 
they were unable to carry out the process with the 
people. The Russian nobles and intellectuals were 
weak, but the people were strong and remained faithful 
to their historic mission. Deprived of their European 
government, they immediately began to apply their 
Russian policy. Barely two years after the abdication 
of Nicholas II, Colonel Semenov was proclaimed Grand 
Duke of Mongolia, the Russians began to negotiate with 
the Emirs of Afghanistan and Kurdistan, and the Hindus 
were sending deputations to Moscow. The fact is that 
the Slav blood is decreasing more and more in the veins 
of the Russians, whereas their Mongolian blood increases 
year by year. If the Slavs of the West do not send their 
nationals to help us to colonise Asia, in a century more 


the Russians will be completely mongolised. The idea 
of their Slav fraternity is already waning perceptibly. 
In 1877-8 all Russia fought to deliver the Serbs and 
Bulgarians, and in 1917 our soldiers threw down their 
arms, indifferent to the invasion of Serbia by the enemy. 
Forgetting the Slavs, our people are transferring their 
sympathies to the Mongolians. Formerly they fought 
to deliver their Slav brothers from the Turkish and 
Austrian yoke; now they dream of delivering their 
new brothers, the Oriental peoples, from their European 
oppressors. The Asiatic tribes in their turn are attracted 
to the Russians by their Mongolian blood, which becomes 
ever more apparent in our people. Russia has but to 
hold out her hand, and it is eagerly grasped by innumer- 
able brown paws ! The Asiatics have long been awaiting 
this gesture. They are weary of barbarism and yearn 
for civilisation; they aspire to play their part in the 
destinies of the world. The civilisation the English 
offer them is too lofty for them ; they cannot assimilate 
it, all the less because it is offered to them with scorn. 
The English are ready to construct canals and railways 
in India, but they refuse to mix with the natives and leave 
them to rot in their pagan superstitions. Yet nothing 
is so wounding to the Oriental as contempt, for nowhere 
is the sense of dignity so highly developed as in the East. 
The Oriental peoples will always be attracted to the 
Russians, for the bear is reputed a kindly, modest and 
generous beast. It is well known in the East that he 
is ready to give a fraternal salute to all the muzzles 
that offer themselves, regardless of their colour. He 
will gladly mate with the Mongolian and will love his 
yellow cubs as tenderly as his white cubs. Russia will 
give Mongolia her European culture, which is as yet 
small, and therefore easy to assimilate. She will pro- 
claim the Gospel to them and invite the Orientals to 
the banquet of the Lord. In former times, the days 


of the Moscovite Patriarchs and Tsars, the Christian 
mission was considered to be the sacred duty of Muscovy. 
When the Russians had vanquished some MongoUan 
tribe, they at once sent their missionaries into the 
conquered provinces. They built churches and con- 
vents, they attracted the young Oriental princes to 
Moscow, and dazzled them with the fetes of the Tsars, 
the splendour and the friendliness of the hoyards. The 
young Mongolians, fascinated by the first civilisation 
they had encountered, embraced Orthodoxy, together 
with all their tribe. The majority of our aristocrats 
and hereditary nobles are descended from these Mongolian 
princes, and are distinguished by their ardent patriotism. 
By suppressing the Patriarchate, Peter the Great put 
an end to this excellent Moscovite policy. His successors 
followed his example, and instead of sending missionaries 
to Asia, patronised the mosques, adorning them with 
splendid carpets from the Russian palaces ; they helped 
the Buddhists to construct their temples, to the great 
indignation of our clergy, who were always faithful 
to the Moscovite tradition. Future Russian patriarchs 
will renew their Christian effort in Asia. Europeans 
seek only mines of gold and of silver in the continent ; 
we Russians will find in this " land of holy miracles" 
other mines, of greater value to humanity. We will 
discover treasures of faith, eloquent apostles, capable 
of combating the atheism of Europe, and of curing this 
mortal malady. 

The Russian Revolution heralds the awakening of all 
Asia. The European phase of our history is at an end ; 
its Oriental phase is about to begin. The Russians will 
gradually lose all interest in European affairs and will 
become absorbed in those of Asia. They will help the 
other Oriental nations to shake off the European yoke 
and will take them under their protection. Dostoy- 
evsky's dream will be realised : the name of the White 


Tsar will be more venerated than that of the English 
king or that of the Caliph. 

Strange to say, the Europeans are actually promoting 
our conquest of Asia, which will deprive them of their 
rich Oriental colonies. Taking advantage of the present 
disorders in Russia, they are working feverishly to detach 
Lithuania, Ukrainia, Georgia, Finland, Esthonia and 
Livonia from her. They think thus to weaken our 
country, and do not see that as a fact they will strengthen 
her. The Lithuanians, the Ukrainians, the Georgians 
and the natives of the Baltic Provinces have always 
hated and despised the Mongolian blood of the Russians, 
and have done all they could to turn us away from Asia. 
More highly civilised than the Russians, they have had 
an immense influence on my compatriots, and have 
constituted the chief barrier to our fusion with the 
Asiatics. When there are no longer any Slavo-Norman 
and Georgian deputies in the Duma, the Russian deputies 
will agree better, and their Mongolian blood will draw 
them to the East. Europeans clamour for a democratic 
regime in Russia, and do not see that the more democratic 
Russia becomes, the more hostile will she be to Europe. 
Our aristocrats and nobles talked French and English 
to each other and looked upon Europe as their second 
fatherland; our middle classes and peasants do not 
learn foreign languages, do not read European authors, do 
not travel in Europe, and dislike foreigners. They will 
bear their new Tsars towards Asia, and these rulers, 
freed from the European influence of Baltic barons, 
Poles and Georgians, will no longer be able to oppose 
the will of the people. By creating a democratic regime 
in Russia, Europeans and Americans think they will 
prepare the way for the exploitation of our mineral and 
vegetable wealth. They are wrong, for our moujiks 
will be more tenacious guardians of the soil than our 
Europeanised nobles, who were ready to barter their 


possessions for the means to enjoy life on the terraces 
of Monte Carlo. The moujiks always initiate their 
strikes and insurrections by killing the European staff 
in mines and factories. The thought that foreigners 
are becoming millionaires by virtue of our national 
riches seems to them profoundly humiliating. Deceived 
by our emigres, Europeans and Americans know nothing 
of the real character of our peasants, and generally 
take them for idiots who can be easily ruled. The 
Europeans hesitate to fight against Bolshevism, hoping 
that disorder will weaken Russia; and meanwhile the 
Russians are consolidating their new friendship with the 
Orientals, which, based as it is on mutual sympathy, may 
become very strong. While Europe is changing her 
attitude to our country daily, uncertain what policy to 
follow, Russia, the bird of fire, will take flight definitively 
to the East. The blindness of Europe and America 
in this connection is almost comic, yet it is in the order 
of things. When God is about to proclaim a new truth 
to the world. He begins by blinding those who cling 
to the old idea which has become meaningless and useless. 

* 4c * * 4c 4: 

While thus occupied with the politics of his country, 
Dostoyevsky did not neglect his children, and he con- 
tinued to read the masterpieces of Russian literature 
to us in the evenings. During this last winter of his 
life he recited to us fragments of Griboiedov's celebrated 
play. The Misfortune of Being Too Clever. This witty 
comedy is full of phrases which have become proverbial 
among us. Dostoyevsky had a great admiration for 
this excellent satire on Moscow society, and liked to see 
it performed. He thought, however, that our actors 
misunderstood it, especially as to the part of Repetilov, 
in whom he saw the personification of the hberal party 
among the Occidentals. Repetilov does not appear 
until the end of the piece. He is invited to Famonsov's 


ball, but does not arrive till four o'clock in the morning, 
when all the other guests are leaving. He comes in 
rather drunk, supported by two footmen, and at once 
begins to declaim interminable speeches; the guests 
listen with smiles and gradually slip away, leaving their 
places to others. Repetilov does not notice that his 
audience is shifting and changing, and he talks on. 
Our actors represent Repetilov as a buffoon, but Dostoy- 
evsky considered the type intensely tragic. He was 
right, for the incapacity of our intellectuals to under- 
stand Russia and find useful work for her, their Oriental 
indolence which manifests itself in interminable talk, 
is a disease. Dostoyevsky had so often declaimed and 
explained this comedy to us that at last he wished to 
play the part himself, in order to show his conception of 
it. He expressed this wish to some friends, who pro- 
posed that he should get up private theatricals at their 
house, and give the final act of Griboiedov's famous 
work. This interesting project was much discussed in 
Petersburg. My father would not appear in public 
until he was well prepared, and rehearsed constantly 
to his children. As usual, he was fired by his new idea 
and acted seriously, walked in, stumbled, gesticulated 
and declaimed. We followed his impersonation admir- 
ingly. We had a little friend. Serge K , the only son 

of a rich widow, who spoiled him a good deal. In one 
of the rooms of her fiat she had a small stage built with 
a curtain and a little scenery, and there we acted for 
our parents, representing Krilov's fables or the poems 
of our great Russian writers. In spite of his many 
occupations, Dostoyevsky never missed our performances, 
and would encourage the young actors by applause. 
We began to have a passion for the theatre, and our 
father's performance interested us greatly. I have 
always regretted that Dostoyevsky' s death prevented 
him from appearing as an actor. He would have 


created an original and memorable type. This, indeed, 
was not the first time that the Ukrainian passion for the 
theatre had manifested itself in Dostoyevsky. When he 
first came out of prison he wrote a comedy. An Uncle's 
Dream, which he afterwards transformed into a novel. 
In one of his letters he says that he had laughed a good 
deal while writing this play. He declared that the hero, 

Prince K , was like himself, and indeed the naive and 

chivalrous character of the poor prince recalls that of 
my father. Later, when he returned to Petersburg, 
Dostoyevsky was fond of inventing speeches " in the 

manner of Prince K ," and he would declaim them to 

his friends, assuming the voice and gestures of the poor 
degenerate. This amused him very much, and he was 
able to give life to his hero. It is curious that my 
father twice represented himself as a prince — in The 
Idiot and An Uncle's Dream — and in each instance as 
a degenerate. 



Towards the end of January my aunt Vera came from 
Moscow to stay with her sister Alexandra. My father 
was dehghted to hear of her arrival, and hastened to 
invite her to dinner. He recalled with pleasure the 
numerous visits he had paid to her house and the cordial 
welcome he had received during his widowerhood. He 
looked forward to talking with her about his nephews 
and nieces, about his mother, and their childhood at 
Moscow and Darovoye. He had no suspicion that his 
sister was bent on a very different kind of conversation. 

The fact is that the Dostoyevsky had long been at 
daggers drawn concerning the heritage of their aunt 
Kumanin. When she died she left all her money to her 
husband's heirs ; but a tract of timber-land of some twelve 
thousand deciatin in the government of Riazan was 
to be divided between her Dostoyevsky nephews and 
nieces, and the children of another sister, or cousin. 
The numerous heirs could not agree, and wasted time 
in interminable disputes. These discussions went on at 
Moscow, and my father, who was but slightly acquainted 
with his aunt's relatives, took no part in them, and 
waited impatiently for them to come to some agreement 
and hand over his share of the bequest, which amounted 
to two thousand deciatin. It was a very considerable 
property; unfortunately, it was far from a railway and 
difficult of access, which diminished its value. Never- 
theless, Dostoyevsky set great store on it, for it was the 
only property he could leave to his family. And this 



heritage was suddenly called in question by his 

According to Russian law at that time, women might 
only inherit a fourteenth share of any real estate. My 
aunts, who were all rather avaricious, had counted a good 
deal upon their aunt's property, and were very much 
annoyed to find they were to receive a mere trifle. They 
then remembered how readily their brother Fyodor had 
given up his right to his parent's property in return for 
a small sum of ready money. They thought he would 
allow himself to be plundered a second time just as 
readily, and they asked him to resign his claim in favour 
of his three sisters, on the ground that he had already 
received much more from his aunt than any other member 
of the family. It is true that he was always the favourite 
of his aunt, who was also his godmother. But in the first 
place my great-aunt Kumanin had inherited her fortune 
from her husband, and was at liberty to dispose of it as 
she pleased ; and secondly, my father had spent most of 
the money given him by his aunt in providing for the 
needs of the Dostoyevsky family. In a letter to a friend 
my father told how he had sacrificed 12,000 roubles he 
had received from her in an effort to save the newspaper 
Epoha, which belonged to his brother Mihail. He had 
helped his brother Nicolai all his life, and his sister 
Alexandra during her husband's illness, to say nothing 
of my uncle Mihail' s children, who were dependent 
on him for years. Nevertheless, knowing the generosity 
of my father's nature, I am sure that he would have 
given up his share of the heritage to his sisters if he had 
not had to consider the superior claims of his wife and 
children. He had at last paid off his brother Mihail' s 
debts, but as he had to provide for three households — 
that of his brother Nicolai, that of his stepson Issaieff, and 
his own — he spent all he made and could save nothing. 
It is true that he had his works to leave us; but in 


Russia there is no security in such a heritage. It often 
happens that a writer who has been widely read during 
his hfe is completely forgotten after his death. At that 
time no one could have foreseen the huge place Dos- 
toyevsky was destined to fill, not only in Russia but 
throughout the world. He himself did not suspect it. 
The translation of his works into foreign languages had 
already begun, but he attached little importance to these 
translations. He thought himself a Russian, and 
declared that Europeans were incapable of understanding 
Russian ideas. He was right, for our great writers — 
Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Griboiedov, Gontsharov 
and Ostrovsky — never had any great success in Europe ; 
nor, indeed, had Turgenev, though his European friends 
advertised him zealously. Dostoyevsky was oblivious 
of his Norman spirit, which endeared him to the people 
of Europe, just as Tolstoy's Germanic spirit had ensured 
his fame abroad. There is scarcely any nation in Europe 
or America which has not some admixture of Norman 
blood in its veins. The passionate faith of the Normans 
and their prodigious perspicacity, which are manifested 
in Dostoyevsky' s works, appeal to Europeans, while his 
tender, generous, enthusiastic Slav soul attracts the 
Slavs. The Mongolian strain, which my father had 
inherited from his Moscovite grandfather, was, on the 
other hand, very weak in him ; this is perhaps why the 
Oriental peoples, including the Jews, have never loved 

My father could not reckon upon any Government 
pension for his wife and children. Pensions were only 
given to the widows of Government officials, and my 
father refused to serve the State, for he wished to remain 
free and independent. My mother was the first widow 
of a writer to whom the State awarded a pension,^ and 

^ The Government gave my mother the pension of 2000 roubles 
(£200) which is allotted to the widows of generals. She was 


it was a surprise to every one. My father felt that he 
had no right to take the bread of his children to give to 
his sisters, who, indeed, were better off than we were. 
My aunt Alexandra had a house in Petersburg, my aunt 
Barbara owned several in Moscow, my aunt Vera had 
kept Darovoye, her parents' estate, for herself. They 
had all married young, and at the time of which I am 
writing their children were grown up and able to earn 
their own living, while we were still very little. In 
vain did Dostoyevsky argue thus with his sisters ; they 
would not listen to reason. My aunt Alexandra 
quarrelled with her brother, and ceased to visit us; 
my aunt Barbara, more diplomatic, held aloof, and would 
not discuss the matter. Knowing how much attached 
Dostoyevsky was to his sister Vera's family, the other 
two sent her to my father to make a fresh attempt. 

The family dinner took place on Sunday, the 25th of 
Ja.nuary. It began gaily with jokes and reminiscences 
of the games and amusements of Dostoyevsky' s childhood. 
But my aunt was anxious to get to business, and she 
began to discuss the eternal question of the Kumanin 
estate which had poisoned the lives of all the Dostoyevsky. 
My father frowned; my mother tried to turn the con- 
versation by questioning her sister-in-law about her 
children. It was no use; my aunt Vera was the least 
intelligent of the whole family. Well coached by her 
cleverer and more cunning Sisters, she was afraid of 
forgetting their instructions, and continued to talk 
of her business, with growing excitement. In vain 

further offered two nominations for us in the Corps of Pages and 
the Smolny Institute, aristocratic Russian schools. She accepted 
these, but at the time we were too young to be sent to school. 
When we were older, the posthumous edition of my father's 
works was yielding such a good income that my mother placed 
us in other establishments and paid for our education herself. 
She explained to us that according to my father's ideas parents 
ought to provide for their children themselves and leave the 
nominations to orphans. 


Dostoyevsky explained his difficult financial position, 
and spoke of his duties as a father ; my aunt would not 
listen; she reproached my father for his " cruelty" to 
his sisters, and ended by bursting into tears. Dostoyevsky 
lost patience, and refusing to continue the painful 
discussion, left the table before the meal was finished. 
While my mother was escorting her sobbing sister-in-law, 
who insisted on going home at once, my father took 
refuge in his own room. He sat down at his writing- 
table, holding his head in his hands. He felt an extra- 
ordinary weariness creeping over him. He had looked 
forward so much to this dinner, and this cursed heritage 
had spoilt his evening. . . . Suddenly he felt a strange 
moisture on his hands; he looked at them; they were 
covered with blood. He touched his mouth and his 
moustache and withdrew his hand in horror. He had 
never had any haemorrhage before. He was terrified and 
called his wife. My mother hurried to him, and sent 
at once for the doctor; meanwhile she made us come 
into my father's room, tried to joke, and brought in a 
comic newspaper which had just arrived. My father 
regained his self-possession, laughed at the comic 
illustrations, and joked with us in his turn. The blood 
had ceased to flow from his mouth ; his face and hands 
had been washed. Seeing our father laughing and jesting, 
we could not understand why our mother had said that 
papa was ill and that we must try to amuse him. The 
doctor arrived at last, reassured my parents, declared 
that haemorrhage often occurred in cases of catarrh of 
the respiratory organs, but ordered my father to go to 
bed at once and to stay there for two days, keeping as 
quiet as possible. My father lay down obediently on 
his Turkish sofa, never to rise again. . . . 

The next morning he woke cheerful and comfortable. 
He had slept well, and only remained in bed because of 
the doctor's instructions. He wished to receive his 


intimate friends who visited him every day, and he 
spoke to them about the first number of The Writer's 
Journal of 1881 which was about to appear, and in 
which he was deeply interested. Seeing that my father 
attached no importance to his illness, his friends thought 
that it was a passing indisposition. In the evening,, after 
they had left, my father had another haemorrhage. As 
the doctor had told my mother that this would perhaps 
happen, she was not much alarmed. She was, however, 
greatly distressed on the following day, Tuesday, by 
the extreme prostration of her husband. Dostoyevsky 
had ceased to interest himself in his paper; he lay on 
his sofa with his eyes closed, astonished at the strange 
weakness which laid him low, for he had always been so 
energetic and so full of life, bearing all his sufferings 
without altering his daily routine or interrupting his 
work. The friends who came to see how he was were 
alarmed at his weakness, and advised my mother not 
to trust too much in Dr. Bretzel, our usual medical man, 
but to have another opinion. My mother sent for a 
specialist, who was unable to come till the evening. He 
explained that the weakness was the inevitable result 
of the two haemorrhages, and might pass off after a few 
days. But he did not conceal from my mother that the 
case was much more serious than Dr. Bretzel had 
supposed. " This night will decide everything," he 

Alas ! when my father woke in the morning after 
a very restless night, my mother realised that his hours 
were numbered. My father, too, realised it. As always 
in the crises of his life, he turned to the Gospel. He 
begged his wife to open his old prison Bible and to read 
the first lines on which her eyes should fall. Repressing 
her tears, she read aloud : " But John forbade Him, 
saying : I have need to be baptised of Thee, and comest 
Thou to me ? And Jesus answering said unto him : 



Hold me not back ^ for thus it becometh us to fulfil all 
righteousness." My father thought for a moment and 
then said to his wife : " Did you hear? Hold me not 
back. My hour has come. I must die." 

Dostoyevsky then asked for a priest, made his con- 
fession and received the Holy Sacrament. When the 
priest had left he made us come into his room, and taking 
our little hands in his, he begged my mother to read the 
parable of the Prodigal Son. He listened with his eyes 
closed, absorbed in his thoughts. " My children," he 
said in his feeble voice, " never forget what you have just 
heard. Have absolute faith in God and never despair 
of His pardon. I love you dearly, but my love is nothing 
compared with the love of God for all those He has 
created. Even if you should be so unhappy as to 
commit a crime in the course of your life, never despair 
of God. You are His children; humble yourselves 
before Him as before your father, implore His pardon, and 
He will rejoice over your repentance, as the father 
rejoiced over that of the Prodigal Son." 

He embraced us and gave us his blessing; we left 
the death-chamber, weeping. Friends and relations 
were assembled in the drawing-room, for the news of 
Dostoyevsky' s dangerous illness had spread through the 
city. My father made them all come in one after 
the other, and said an affectionate word to each. As the 
day wore on his strength diminished sensibly. Towards 
evening he had another haemorrhage, and began to lose 
consciousness. The doors of his room were then opened, 
and his friends and relatives came in to be present at 
his death. They stood round without speaking or 
weeping, careful not to disturb his agony. Only my 
mother wept silently, kneeling by the sofa on which her 

^ Thus in the Russian version apparently, as appears from the 
context. In the EngUsh version : Suffer it to be so now. — [Tr.] 


husband lay. A strange sound like the gurgling of 
water came from the throat of the dying man, his breast 
heaved, he spoke quickly in low tones, but what he said 
no one could understand. Gradually his breathing 
became quieter, his words less audible. At last he was 
silent. . . . 

I have since been present at the death of several 
friends and relatives, but none was so radiant as that of 
my father. His was a truly Christian death, such as 
the Orthodox Church desires for all her children — a death 
without pain and without shame. Dostoyevsky had 
only suffered from weakness ; he did not lose conscious- 
ness till the last moment. He saw death approaching 
without fear. He knew that he had not buried his 
talent, and that all his life he had been God's faithful 
servant. He was ready to appear before his Eternal 
Father, hoping that to recompense him for all he had 
suffered in this life God would give him another great 
work to do, another great task to accomplish. 

When a person dies in Russia, his body is immediately 
washed. He is then dressed in his finest linen and his 
best clothes and laid on a table covered with a white 
cloth until his coffin is ready. Tall candlesticks are 
brought from the nearest church, and a cloth of gold, 
which is laid over the body. Twice a day the priest 
comes to recite the panikida, or prayers for the dead, 
which he says accompanied by the choir of his church. 
The friends and relatives of the deceased attend, each 
holding a lighted taper. The rest of the day and all 
the night a lector of the church or a nun reads the 
Psalms aloud, standing at the foot of the coffin. The 
burial takes place on the third day, sometimes not until 
the fourth, if relations who wish to be present live in 
distant provinces and cannot come sooner. 


When after a feverish night I got up and went, my 
eyes red with crying, into my father's room, I found his 
body lying on the table, his hands crossed on his breast, 
supporting an icon which had just been laid upon them. 
Like many nervous children, I was afraid of the dead, and 
would not go near them ; but I had no fear of my father. 
He seemed to be sleeping on his cushion, smiling softly, 
as if he were looking at something beautiful. A painter 
was already installed by his side, drawing Dostoyevsky 
in his eternal sleep. The papers had announced my 
father's death that morning, and all his friends hastened 
to be present at the first panikida. Deputations of 
students from the various higher schools of Petersburg 
followed them. They arrived accompanied by the priest 
attached to their school, and he recited the prayers, the 
students chanting the responses. The tears ran down 
their cheeks ; they sobbed as they looked on the motion- 
less face of their beloved master. My mother was 
wandering in and out like a shadow, her eyes swollen 
with weeping. She realised what had happened so 
imperfectly that when a Court official came from the 
Emperor Alexander II to inform her that the State 
proposed to allow her a pension, and provide for the 
education of her children, she rose joyfully to go and tell 
her husband the good news. " It was not until this 
moment," she told me later, " that I realised that my 
husband was dead, and that henceforth I should live 
alone, without that friend to sympathise with my joys 
and sorrows." My uncle Jean, who, by a strange 
coincidence, arrived in Petersburg just at the time of 
Dostoyevsky's death, had to see to all the arrangements 
for the funeral. He asked his sister where she wished 
her husband to be buried. My mother then recalled a 
conversation she had had with Dostoyevsky on the day 
of the poet Nekrassov's funeral some years before, in 


the cemetery of Novodevitchie.i My father made a 
speech over the open grave of the poet and came home 
sad and depressed. " I shall soon follow Nekrassov," 
he said to my mother. " Pray bury me in the same 
place. I do not wish to sleep my last sleep at Volkovo 
among the Russian writers.^ They hated me and 
persecuted me all my life and made it very bitter to me. 
I should like to rest beside Nekrassov, who was always 
good to me, who was the first to tell me I had talent, and 
who did not forget me when I was in Siberia." 

My mother, seeing he was sad and unhappy tried to 
distract his thoughts by jesting, a method which she 
generally found successful. 

"What an idea!" she said gaily. " Novodevitchie 
is so dismal and lonely ! I would rather bury you at 
the Alexander Nevsky monastery." 

" I thought only generals were buried there," ^ said 
my father, trying to jest in his turn. 

' ' Well, and are you not a general of literature ? You 
certainly have a right to lie beside them. What a 
splendid funeral you shall have ! Archbishops shall 
celebrate your funeral mass, the choir of the Metropolitan 
shall sing it. An enormous crowd will follow your 
coffin, and when the procession approaches the monastery 
the monks will come out to salute you ! " 

" They only do that for the Tsar," said my father, 
amused by his wife's predictions. 

" They will do it for you too. Oh ! you shall have 
magnificent obsequies, such as have never been seen 
before in Petersburg." 

^ A convent for nuns. 

2 The majority of our writers are buried in the cemetery of 
Volkovo. There is a place in it called the Road of the Writers. 

^ The monastery of Alexander Nevsky, which contains the 
relics of the patron saint of Petersburg, is considered the aristo- 
cratic cemetery of the city. 


My father laughed, and told the friends who came to 
talk about Nekrassov's funeral of this fancy of his wife's. 
Later, many persons recalled this strange prediction 
which my mother had made in jest. 

Remembering this conversation, my mother begged 
my uncle Jean to go with their brother-in-law, M. Paul 
Svatkovsky, to the convent of Novodevitchie and buy 
a grave for my father near the tomb of the poet 
Nekrassov. She gave him all the money she had in the 
house that he might pay in advance for the grave and 
the funeral mass. As he was starting my uncle noticed 
how pale and mournful our childish faces were, and he 
asked his sister's leave to take us to the convent. " A 
drive in a sleigh will do them good," he said, looking 
pityingly at us. 

We ran to dress and climbed joyously into the sleigh. 
The fresh air and the wintry sun did us good indeed, and 
with the happy carelessness of children we forgot for a 
while the cruel loss we had suffered. The convent of 
Novodevitchie is on the outskirts of the city, close to the 
Arch of Narva. It was the first time I had ever been in a 
convent, and I looked curiously at the silent corridors, 
along which the nuns were gliding like shadows. We 
were shown into the reception-room; the Superior of 
the convent, an elderly lady dressed in black, with a long 
veil covering her head and her dress, entered, looking 
cold and haughty. M. Svatkovsky explained that the 
famous writer Dostoyevsky had expressed a wish to be 
buried beside the poet Nekrassov, and, knowing that 
the charges were rather high, he begged that we might 
be allowed to have the grave for as low a price as possible, 
in consideration of the small means left to us by my 
father. The Superior made a scornful gesture. " We 
nuns do not belong to the world," she said coldly, " and 
its celebrities are nothing to us. We have fixed prices 


for burial in our cemetery and we cannot change them 
for any one." And this humble servant of Jesus went 
on to name an exorbitant price, far in excess of the modest 
sum my mother could offer. In vain my uncle pleaded 
his sister's cause, asking that she might be allowed to 
pay the money by instalments in the course of the year. 
The Superior declared that the grave should not be dug 
until the full price had been paid. He had finally to 
get up and take leave of this saintly usurer. 

We returned, full of indignation, to tell my mother of 
the ill success of our mission. " How unfortunate ! " 
she said sadly. " I should like to have buried him in the 
place he himself chose. I suppose we must lay him 
beside our little Alexey at Ohta, but he never liked that 
place." It was agreed that my uncle should go to 
Ohta the following day to buy a grave and arrange with 
the priest for a funeral mass. 

Towards evening my mother was told that a monk 
had called and wished to speak to her. He came on 
behalf of the community of the monastery of Alexander 
Nevsky, who, he said, were great admirers of Dos- 
toyevsky. The monks wished the body of the famous 
writer to rest in the precincts of their monastery. They 
also undertook to provide the funeral mass, which they 
proposed to celebrate with great solemnity in their 
largest church. My mother joyfully accepted this 
generous offer. When the monk had gone, she went 
into her room and suddenly remembered her words 
to her husband some years before : "I will bury you 
in the monastery of Alexander Nevsky." 

The next day, Friday, the crowd of Dostoyevsky's 
admirers invaded our modest dwelhng from the morning 
onwards. It was very varied : writers, ministers, 
students, grand dukes, generals, priests, great ladies 
and poor women of the middle classes coming in turn to 


salute Dostoyevsky's body, and sometimes having to 
wait hours for their turn. The heat in the death-chamber 
was so great that the candles went out during the 
panikida. Magnificent wreaths of flowers adorned with 
ribbons bearing touching inscriptions, sent by the differ- 
ent ministries, societies and schools which were to figure 
in the funeral procession, were sent in such numbers that 
we did not know where to put them. The little wreaths 
and bouquets brought by Dostoyevsky's friends were 
placed close to the coffin in which my father's body had 
just been placed. His admirers kissed his hands, weeping 
and begging for a flower or a leaf to keep in memory of 
him. Aided by our little friends who had come to 
watch with us beside the coffin, my brother and I 
distributed flowers all day long to the unknown persons 
who crowded round us. 

On the Saturday an immense crowd filled the two 
streets at the angle of which our house stood. From 
our windows we looked down on a sea of human heads, 
undulating like waves, on which the wreaths and ribbons 
carried by the students floated. A hearse was in readi- 
ness to take the remains of Dostoyevsky tothe monastery. 
His admirers would not allow the coffin to be placed in 
it. They took it and carried it in relays to the burial- 
place. In accordance with the custom the widow and 
the orphans followed it on foot. As the way to the 
Alexander Nevsky monastery was long and our childish 
strength was soon exhausted, friends occasionally took 
us out of the cortege into carriages. " Never forget 
the splendid funeral Russia gave your father," they said 
to us. When at last the procession approached the 
monastery, the monks came out of the great door to 
meet my father, who was henceforth to rest in the midst 
of their community. This is an honour they reserve for 
the Tsars; but they also paid it to the famous Russian 


writer, the faithful and respectful son of the Orthodox 
Church. Once more my mother's prediction was 

It was too late to begin the funeral mass, and it was 
put off till the following day. The coffin was placed in 
the middle of the church of the Holy Spirit; after a 
short service we returned to our home, worn out with 
fatigue and emotion. My father's friends stayed for a 
time to keep watch over the crowd. Evening approached, 
it became dark; the crowd gradually dispersed, pre- 
paring to return the next day for the burial. Yet 
Dostoyevsky was not left in solitude. The students 
of Petersburg did not forsake him; they determined to 
watch with their adored master during his last night on 
earth. We heard afterwards what had happened that 
night from the Metropolitan of Petersburg, who, accord- 
ing to custom, lived in the Alexander Nevsky monastery. 
A few days after the funeral my mother went to see 
him, to thank him for the magnificent ceremony the 
monks had given to my father, and she took us with her. 
The Metropolitan blessed us, and then began to describe 
his impressions of the students' vigil. " On Saturday 
evening," he said, " I went to the Church of the Holy 
Ghost to salute Dostoyevsky' s body in my turn. The 
monks stopped me at the door, telling me that the 
Church, which I supposed to be empty, was full of 
people.^ I accordingly went up to the small chapel 
which is on the second floor of the adjacent church, its 
windows looking into the Church of the Holy Ghost. 
I spent part of the night there watching the students, 
without being seen by them. They were kneeling and 
praying, and as they prayed they wept and sobbed 
aloud. The monks began to read the Psalms at the foot 

1 The Russian Metropolitans are very great personages, and 
only appear in public on solemn occasions. 


of the coffin. The students took the book from them, 
and themselves read the Psalms in turn. Never have I 
heard them read in such a manner ! They read in voices 
trembling with emotion, putting their hearts into every 
word they uttered. And they tell me these young men 
are atheists, and that they hate our Church. What 
magic power had Dostoyevsky that he could thus bring 
them back to God?" 

The power was that which Jesus gave to all His 
disciples. The unhappy Russian Church, paralysed 
since the time of Peter the Great, had lost that sacred 
power. Now that she is at length deUvered from her 
bondage, and, since the Revolution, has been drowned 
in the blood of her martyrs, the priests and monks 
tortured and put to death by the Bolsheviks, she will 
rise to a new life and become as strong as in the times of 
the ancient Moscovite Patriarchs. 

On the day of the burial, Sunday, the 1st of February, 
all Dostoyevsky's admirers who were at work during 
the week took advantage of the holiday to come to the 
church and pray for the repose of his soul. Very early 
in the morning an enormous crowd invaded the peaceful 
monastery of Alexander Nevsky, which lies on the banks 
of the Neva and forms a little town of itself, with its 
numerous churches, its three burial-grounds, its gardens, 
its school, seminary and ecclesiastical academy. The 
monks, seeing the crowd increasing every moment, 
filling the gardens and cemeteries, and climbing up on 
the monuments and iron railings, were alarmed and 
appealed to the police, who at once closed the great 
gates. Those who came later took their stand on the 
square in front of the monastery, and remained there 
until the end of the ceremony, hoping to be able to get 
in by some means, or at any rate to hear the funeral 
chants as the coffin was being carried to the grave. 


Towards nine o'clock in the morning we drove up to the 
great gate, and were surprised to find it closed. My 
mother got out of the carriage, shrouded in her widow's 
veil, and holding us by the hand. A police officer 
barred the way. " No one else is to be admitted," 
he said severely. 

"What?" cried my mother in astonishment. "I 
am Dostoyevsky's widow, and they are waiting for me 
to begin the mass." 

" You are the sixth widow of Dostoyevsky who has 
tried to get in. No more lies ! I shall not allow any 
one else to pass." 

We looked at each other in perplexity, not knowing 
what to do. Fortunately, friends were on the watch 
for us ; they hastened to the gate and had us admitted. 
We had great difficulty in making our way through the 
crowd in the precincts, and still more in entering the 
church, which was full to overflowing. When at last 
we reached the place reserved for us, the mass began. 
It was celebrated by the Archbishop, who pronounced 
funeral orations, and chanted by the Metropolitan's 
choir. In the cemetery, it was the turn of the writers ; 
the speeches they delivered beside the open grave, 
according to custom, lasted several hours. My mother's 
prediction was Hterally fulfilled. Never had there been 
such a funeral in Petersburg.^ 

Yet one important detail of the funeral mass had been 
omitted. In Russia it is customary for the coffin to 
remain open during the mass; towards the end, the 
relatives and friends approach and give the corpse their 
farewell kiss. Dostoyevsky's coffin was closed. On the 
day of the funeral my uncle and M. Pobedonoszev, our 

1 Dostoyevsky had himself foreshadowed certain details ot 
his death and burial when he described the death of the staretz 
Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov. 


guardian, went to the monastery very early in the 
morning. They opened the coffin, and found Dostoy- 
evsky much changed. Fearing that the sight of his 
altered face would be very distressing to his widow and 
children, M. Pobedonoszev desired the monks not to 
open the coffin. My mother could never altogether 
forgive him for this. " What difference would it have 
made to me? " she said bitterly. " However changed, 
he would still have been my beloved husband. And he 
was laid in his grave without my farewell kiss and 

For my part, I was later deeply grateful to my 
guardian for having spared me the mournful sight. I 
was glad to have the memory of my father lying as if 
sleeping peacefully in his coffin, and smiling at some 
beautiful sight before him. Yet it might have been 
better for me to see his decomposing body. It would 
have destroyed the strange dream that obsessed me 
after the funeral, at first giving me much joy and later 
much pain. I dreamed that my father was not dead, 
that he had been buried in a lethargy, that he would soon 
wake, call on the keepers of the cemetery for help and 
return to us. I imagined our joy, our laughter and our 
kisses. I was the child of an imaginative writer, I had 
a desire to create scenes, gestures and words, and this 
childish make-believe gave me great pleasure. However, 
by degrees, as the days and weeks passed, reason awoke 
in my youthful brain and killed my illusions, telling me 
that a human being could not live long under the earth 
without air and food, that my father's lethargy was 
lasting very long, and that perhaps he was really dead. 
Then I suffered cruelly. . . . 

And yet I was right. My childish dream was not all 
illusion; my father was not dead. He came back later 
when I was old enough to read and study his works, and 


has never left me. Thanks to his dear presence, I 
have never been afraid in my life. I know that my 
father watches over me, intercedes for me with God, and 
that our Saviour will not refuse him what he asks. As 
I have written I have begged him to guide and inspire 
me, and above all to prevent me from saying things that 
would have displeased him. May he have heard my 
prayer ! 

Printed in Great Britain by 

RiOHAED Clay & Sons, Limited, 

Bdnoay, Suetolk. 


Abo, Cathedral of, 128 

Adolescent (The), Dostoyevsky, 74 

Agriculture, Academy of, 163-65 

Aksakov, 247 

Alexander II, reforms of, 57, 97 ; 
and Dostoyevsky, 99; war on the 
Turks, 233; pension to Madame 
Dostoyevsky, 276 

Ill, and Pobedonoszev, 233 ; 

and Dostoyevsky, 245-46 

Alexander Nevsky monastery, Dos- 
toyevsky buried at, 277 and note ^, 

Arabrosius, monk, 232 

America, Russian policy of, 264, 265 

American writers in Germany, im- 
pressions, 227 note ^ 

Andrey, character, 176 

the family name of, 16-17 

Anitchkov Palace, 245 

Anna Karenina, Tolstoy, 221, 223, 
227 note ^ 

Aristocracy, the Russian, 208-10, 

Ai-no, the, 158 

Artistes in Russia, customs regarding, 

Asenkova, the actress, 126-27, 142 

Asia, Russia in, Dostoyevsky's idea, 
259-60; Russia's oriental polic3% 

Astrakhan, 95 

Baden-Baden, 155 
Ballet, confectioner, 194 

the Russian, 202 

Balzac, 13, 31, 53 

Baranov, Count, 99 

Bards, rustic, 200-1 

Barnaoul, 93 note ^ 

Belinsky, critic, and Poor Folks, 42, 

46; friendship for Dostoyevsky, 

210, 213-14 
Berlin, 106, 153 
Bers, Dr., 173 note \ 223 
Bible, Dostoyevsky's study of the, 

Biron, the Princes, 44 
Boboli Gardens, Florence, 158 
Bolshevism, Tolstoy and, 220; 

Russia's struggle against, 250-51 ; 

European policy towards, 265 
Boris Godunov, Dostoyevsky, 42 note ^ 
Boyards, the Russian, 251, 263; 

flight to Lithuania, 2-3; and 

titles, 225-26 
Bretzel, Dr., 273 
Bronze Horse {The), opera, 203 
Brothers Karamazov {The), Dosto3'ev- 

sky, 2Snote'^, 34-35, 77, 80, 110, 

176, 178, 230-31, 238-39, 243, 258, 

283, note ^ 
Bruhls in Dresden, 153 
Byzantine culture, development in 

Russia, 75, 77 

Cascine, Florence, 158 

Catherine II, 208 

Catholic Church, Dostoyevsky's 

interest in the, 35, 255 
Clergy, influence on Dostoyev- 
sky, 11 ; as educationists, 14 note ^, 

20, 126 
Faith, retained by the Poles, 

5-6, 14 
Cesarevna, the title, 244 7iote ^ 
Champs Elysees, casinos, 147 
Children's books not given to the 

Dostoyevsky children, 205 
Citizen {The), 88 note'\ 172-73, 

182 note ^ 
Clementine, Princess, 139 
Cologne Cathedral, 106, 118, 192 
Communism in Russia, 135 
Coni, Senator, on Dostoyevsky's 

speech, 247-48 
Constantine, Grand Duke, 184 and 

note 1, 245-46 
Convicts, the, and Dostoyevsky, 67-7 1 
Corneille, 31, 127 
Corporal punishment, abolition of, 

210 note ^ 
Corps of Pages, 270 note ^ 
" Count," the title in Russia, 222, 

226 ajid note ^ 
Crime and Punishmeni, Dostoyevsky, 

111, 113, 12^ and note^, 125, 143, 

Crimean War, 98 
Czechs, the, 160 




Danilevsky, 210, 218 

Darovoye, estate of, 18, 19, 25, 26, 
32-34, 62, 271 

Darwin, works of, 135-36 

" Dastarhan," term used in the East, 
193 and note ^ 

Dekabrists, the, 61 and note ^ 67, 87, 

Dibmar, Emilie, 50 

Dick, ancestor of Tolstoy, 225 

Dickens, Charles, 53, 203 

Dick- Tolstoys, the, 225-26 

Divorce, Russian customs regarding, 
120 and note ^ 

Dmitri, Grand Duke, 184 

Dmitrievna, Madame Marie, mar- 
riage with Dostoyevsky, 91-102; 
illness, 110-11; otherwise men- 
iioned, 113, 144, 146, 231 

Dolgoruky, Prince, 99 

Donkeys, German, 194-95 

Dostoyeve, town of, 6 

Dostoyevsky, Aimee, birth, 161 ; 
names, 162 and note ^ 

Alexandra, 32, 121, 170, 268-69, 


Alexey, 179-81, 279 

Andrey, brother of Fyodor, 20, 

22, 25; school, 32; liis son, 37; 
and the Petrachevsky plot, 55-56 ; 
love for Fyodor, 121 

Andrey, great-grandfather, 9 

Barbara, 36-37, 271 

Fyodor, origin of family, 7-10 ; 

influences forming his character, 
10-11; temperament, 13; child- 
hood, 18-26; adolescence, 27-37; 
a Lithuanian Schliahtitch, 38-39; 
and Grigorovitch, 38, 41-42, 46; 
barters his birthright, 40-41 ; 
and Turgenev, 41, 45 and note^; 
friendships, 45-46; Lithuanian in- 
fluence, 46-47; epilepsy, 49 and 
note •^ ; attitude towards women, 
60-51, 185-86, 241-45; the Petra- 
chevsky conspiracy, 52-61 ; prison 
life, 62-71 ; reference to his 
memoirs, 68; association with 
the Convicts, 68-69; what the 
Convicts taught him, 72-82; a 
soldier, 83-90 ; on his punishment, 
86-87; a photograph, 88, 96; 
his first marriage, 91-102 ; develop- 
ment of the epilepsy, 92-93; 
efforts to return to Petersburg, 
98; and Pauline N , 104-6, 

108-9, 112; a literary friendship, 
113-16; pays his brother's liabili- 
ties, 117-18; as head of his 
family, 117-23; the first day with 
Anna Ivanovitch, 139-40; be- 
trothal, 140-^7; his second 
marriage, 148-52; travels in 
Europe, 153-68; wish to return 
to Petersburg, 167-68; reliance 
on his wife, 171-72; back in 
Petersburg, 174; the eternal 
dreaminess, 176-78; the first 
Russian feminist, 185-86; as a 
reader, 186-87; in his home, 
189-98; as a father, 199-206; 
and the theatre, 202-3; and the 
Russian manners, 212-13; and 
the literary salons, 213-15; his 
love of Russia, 218-19; and 
Tolstoy, 218-19; the moral chaos 
of his novels, 219; attitude to- 
wards the Turks, 220-21; the 
iSlavophil, 233-37 ; and Countess 
Alexis Tolstoy, 238-39; readings 
at her salon, 243-44; and the 
Cesarevna, 243-45; the Pushkin 
festival, 247-57; neglect of his 
Lithuanian origin, 253-54 ; his work 
in Russia, 256-57 ; death, 268-75. 
Works : — 
Adolescent (The), 74 
Boris Godunov, 42 note ^ 
Brothers Karanmzov, 28 note ^, 
34-35, 77, 80, 110, 176, 178, 
230-31, 238-39, 243, 258, 
283 note ^ 
Citizen, Journal, 88 note ^, 172- 

73, 182 note ^ 
Crime and Punishment, 111, 113, 

124-25, 143, 186 
Double {The), 45, 48 and note ^, 

51, 97 
Eternal Husband {The), 101, 122, 

146 note ^ 
Gambler {The), 40-41, 109-10, 
125, 140, 141, 143, 155, 254-55 
House of the Dead, 67, 81 note, 

85, 97, 99-100, 103, 218 
Idiot {The), 60, 63-67, 96, 110, 

124 note i, 158, 202, 267 
Insulted and Injured, 103-4, 138 
Jotirnal of the Writer, 22, 23 
note\ 56, 57, 71, 76-77, 
182 note \ 183, 185, 203, 215, 
217, 220, 221, 224, 230, 232, 
255, 258-60, 273 



Dostoyevsky, Works (contd.) — 

Little Hero {The), 57 

Mary Stuart, 42 note ^ 

Netotchka Nesvanova, 43, 44, 51 

Poor Folks, 42 and note S 43, 45, 
47, 69, 71, 99 

Possessed (The), 110, 165, 166 
note \ 174, 176, 216-17 

Selo Stepantchikovo, 96-97 

Uncle's Dream (The), 96-97, 267 

Fyodor, his son, birth, 168; 

and Paul, 197 
Madame, influence on her hus- 
band, 38-39, 55 note ^ ; character, 
132-33; girlhood, 134-39; be- 
trothal, 140-47; marriage, 148-52; 
journal, 153; travels in Europe, 
153-68; death of first baby, 
156-57; birth of second child, 
161 ; home sickness, 166-67 ; birth 
of Fyodor, 168; and Paul, 169, 
197; business qualities, 171-72; 
editorial work, 173; Alexey, 179- 
81; in the home, 191-93, 197; 
on the Russian manners of the 
time, 212; absence from the 
Pushkin festival, 258; pension. 
270-71; death and burial of 
Dostoyevsky, 272-85 

Marie, daughter of Mihail, 119 

and note ^ 

Mihail, brother of Fyodor, 11, 

13. 24 a?id note ^, 27 ; at Reval, 
28; correspondence with Fyodor, 
31, 33 note S 41, 48 note \ 80, 85, 
88 note\ 92-93, 213; drinking 
habits, 36-37, 106; his wife and 
family, 50, 119-20; and the 
Petrachevsky plot, 55-57, 60; 
Fyodor's affection for, 99, 101-2, 
110 note'^; the Vremya, 103; 
death, 117; his debts paid by 
Fyodor, 118-19, 171, 269; home 
of, 195; E-poha, 269. 

Mihail, father of Fyodor, 7, 9, 

13; home of, 18-20; education 
of his sons, 20-22; attitude 
towards Russia, 22-24; portrait, 
24-25 ; religion, 25-26 ; meanness, 
31-33; murder, 33 and note^, 34; 
likeness to the character of Fyodor 
Karamazov, 34-35; the family 
readings, 56 

Nicolai, 20, 32, 36, 121, 123, 

170, 269 
Sophie, 156 

Dostoyevsky Stepane, 8 

Vera, 24 note i, 32 ; her home 

in Moscow, 122; visit to Dostoyev- 
sky, 268, 271-72; her daughter 
Marie, 122-23; her daughter 
Sophie, 122-23, 156 

Dostoyevsky Museum, Moscow, 6, 
81 note \ 173 

Donhle (The), 45, 48 and note ^ 51, 97 

Dresden, 153-55, 161-67 

Duma, mixed blood in the, 264 

Durov, 83-84, 88 

Edrizy, 205 

Emigres, Russian, 265 

Ems, 194, 203, 228, 258 

Engineers School, 38, 68 ?io/ei, 98, 231 

England, colonising policy, 262; her 
future, Dostoyevsky's prophecy, 
107 note ^ 

Englishwomen, Dostoyevsky's opin- 
ion on, 107 

Epantchin, General, character, 66, 67 

Epileptics, cases of, 50-51 

Epoha, 117, 150, 269 

Eternal Husband (The), 101, 122, 
146 note ^ 

Europe, Russia and, Dostoyevsky's 
idea, 259-60 

Ferdinand of Coburg, 139 

Finno-Turks, the, 253 

Florence, 157, 158, 160 

Fontanka river, 29 

Four Hundred Bible Stories, 231 

Fourier, theories, 55 

France, Dostoyevsky's admiration 

for French literature, 20-21, 21 

note^, 147 
Franco-Prussian war, 115 
Free love, 105, 135-36 
Fyodorovna, Grand Duchess Marie, 


Gagarin, Prince, 57 

Gambler (The), Dostoyevsky, 40-41, 
109-10, 125, 140-41, 143, 155,254-55 

Geneva, 107, 155-57 

German characteristics, 227-28, atti- 
tude towards suffering, 227 note ^ ; 
sects in Russia, 228-29 

" German," use of the term, 3 note ^ 

Germanic conquest of Lithuania, 
5 and notes ^-^; nations, decay 
foretold, 234-36 

Gerngross, General, 93 7wtp ^ 



Glinka, the composer, 173, 202 

Gobineau, Count, 252 

Goethe, 31 

Gogol, style, 13, 47, 48, 96, 270; 

Taras Bulla, 201 
Golitzin, Lithuanian origin, 15 note ^ 
Gontsharov, 210, 256, 270 
Gothic lines, Dostoyevsky's craving 

for, 191-92 
Grand Dukes and the Russian 

nobility, 209 ; titles of, 244 note ^ 
Grand Inquisitor {The), 35 
Grandet, Eugenie, translations of, 

40 note ^ 
Greek influence in Ukrainia, 12 
Gribbe, Colonel, house of, 175-78 
Griboledov, 270; The Misfortune of 

Being Too Clever, 265-67 
Grigorovitch, friendship of, 31, 38, 

41-42, 46, 88, 210 
Grossen Garten, Dresden, 153-54 
Grushenka, character, 176 
Guedimin, Prince, 4 

d' Hauteville, Comtes, 15 
Heiden, Countess, 242-43 
Herzen, Alexander, 107 
Historical Museum, Moscow, 81 note ^, 

History of Russia, Karamzin, 22 and 

note 1, 75, 77, 204 
Holy Alliance, 237 
House of the Dead, Dostoyevsky, 67, 

81 note \ 85, 97, 99-100, 103, 218 

Idiot (The), Dostoyevsky, 60, 63-67, 
96, 110, 124 note^, 158, 202, 267 

Igor, son of Rurik, 204 

Ilmen, Lake of, 175, 176 

Immigrants, Russian, 225 

Imperial Guard, the, 27 

Theatres, rules, 126 

Independance BUge (U), 155 note''- 

Insulted and Injiired (The), 103-4, 138 

Intellectuals, speech of Dostoyevsky 
to the, 248-49, 256-57; his 
appeal in the Journal, 259-60 

Internationale, the, 184, 185 

losef. Father, 232 

Issaieff, Captain, 91, 92, 111 

Madame Paul, 198 

Paul, relations with Dostoyev- 
sky, 94, 95, 99, 101-2, 111, 121-23, 
269 ; and the marriage of Dostoy- 
evsky, 145-46; and Madame 
Dostoyevsky, 169-70; behaviour 
of, 195-97 

Ivan the Terrible, 3 

Ivanov, murder of, 163-66 

Ivanovitch, Jean, 38, 134; in Dres- 
den, 163-64; and the Netchaieff 
affair, 165 andnote^, 166; marriage, 
171; a visit to, 176; burial 
arrangements for Dostoyevsky, 
276-78, 283 

M., and Asenkova, 126-28, 

142; his marriage, 128-33; ad- 
miration for Dostoyevsky, 137-39; 
love for the little Anna, 138-39 

Mile. See Dostoyevsky, Mme. 

Mme., 128-33; and her 

daughter, 136-39, 143-44; finds 
money for the European journey, 
151-52; visit to Geneva, 156-57; 
to Dresden, 162-65; her home 
with Jean, 171 

J Georges, 115 

J Mme. See Korvin-Kronkov- 

sky, Anna 

JageUon, house of, 15 note ^ 

Janovsky, Dr., 49 note ^ 

Jaroslav, 204 

Jesuits, war on the Orthodox 
monastic houses, 5-6; influence, 
11, 26; college in Petersburg, 126 
and note ^ 

Jews, Dostoyevsky and, 270 

Journal of the Writer, Dostoyevsky, 
22, 23 note'-, 56, 57, 71, 76-77, 
182 note i, 183, 185, 203, 215, 217, 
220, 221, 224, 230, 232, 255, 258- 
60, 273 

Joy to Him Who Loves to Travel, 
Edrizy, 205 

K Prince, character, 267 

K Serge, 266 

Karamazov, Aliosha, character, 232 

Dmitri, character, 39, 59, 230; 

Katie, his fiancee, 115-16 

Fyodor, character, 34-35 

Ivan, character, 54, 106, 130 

Karamzin, works of, 22 and note ^, 
75, 77, 204 

Karlsbad, 153 

Karmazinov, 216-17 

Katkov, publisher, 150-51, 221 

Korvin-Kronkovsky, Anna, friend- 
ship with Dostoyevsky, 11.3-16, 
144, 146 

M., 113-16 

Sophie, 113 and note ^ 



Kotelenitsky, family of, 24 note ^ 
Vassil, 24 note ^ 

Kovalevsky, 113 
Kraft, character, 74 
Krementshug, 126 
Kremlin visits, 22, 77 
Krilov, fables of, 266 
Krivopichin, General, 29 note ^ 
Kumanin, Aunt, 40, 150, 172 note'^; 

estate of, 268, 271 
Kurbsky, Prince, 2-3 
Kusnetsk, 92-94 

Ladoga, Lake, 132 

Leman, Lake, 157 

Lermont, 255 

Lermontov, poet, 201, 255, 256, 270 

Les Miserahles, 47 

Letters, Society of, 247 

Leuchtenberg, Dukes of, 134, 163 

Lithuania, Norman influence, 1-3, 

3 note ^, 4 and note -^ ; German and 

Polish conquest, 5 and notes ^-- ; 

nomad intellectuals of, 13-14; 

emigration of the intellectuals, 

14-15; forests of, 23; origin of 

the Dostoyevsky, 46-47 
Lithuania Past and. Present, Vidunas, 

3, 8-9, 16, 22, 84, 147, 214 note ^ 
Lithuanian characteristics, shjTiess, 

22-23; elasticity, 84; regard for 

the family honour, 118-21; 

fidelity, 147; reticence, 214 note'^; 

the idea neglected by Dostoyevsky, 


Schliahta, the, 6, 19, 208 

Little Hero (The), Dostoyevsky, 57 
Luther, religion of, imposed on 

Lithuania, 6 

Maikov, letter from Dostoyevsky, 

73; relations with Dostoyevsky, 

103, 197 note \ 210 
Mamelukes, the, 94-95, 196 
Maria, Grand-Duchess, 134 
Marmeladov, monologue, 186 
Marriage customs, Russian, 50-51 ; 

civil marriages, 135 
Marseillaise, the, 104 
Marshal of the nobility, position in 

Russia, 208-9 
Mary Sttiart, Dostoyevsky, 42 note ^ 
Mestchersky, Prmce, 172-73 
Metropolitan of Petersburg and Mme. 

Dostoyevsky, 281 and note ^, 282 
Michelet quoted, 242 note ^ 

Mickiewicz, 14 note ^ 

Mihail Romanoff, Tsar, 2 ??o/e ^ 

Milan Cathedral, 157, 192 

Military Engineering, Department of, 

Military Engineers, School of, the 

Dostoyevsky at, 27-33 
Military School, Petersburg, 231 
Miliukov, A., 125; proposal to 

Dostoyevsky, 254-55 
Miltopeus, Mile. Maria Anna. See 

Ivanovitch, Mme. 
Minsk, Government of, Dostoyevsky 

family from, 6 
Misfortune of Being too Clever, 

Griboiedor, 265-67 
Mishkin, Prince, rhararter, 63, 65-67, 

70 note i, 93, 96, 124 note ^ 
Moki-o6, 39, 59 
Monarchy, the Russian, the idea of 

the people concerning, 78-79; 

Dostoyevsky a Monarchist. 79-80 
Monasteries, Orthodox, 77-78 
Mongolian influence in Russia, 261-65 
Moscow, the Dostoyevsky Museum 

at, 6, 81 note^, 173; University, 

7 ; visits to the cathedrals, 22, 

77; journey to Petersburg, 28; 

the retreat from, 95; the Pushkin 

festival, 228, 247-57 
Moujiks, emigration of, 14; and 

Tolstoy, 228 
Muscovy, founding of, 204; Musco- 
vite tradition, 263 

N. Pauline, the student, 104-6, 
108-13; and Dostoyevsky, 144, 
231; a visit from, 187-88, 188 
note ^ 

Naples, 109 

Napoleon, Mamelukes of, 94-95, 196 

Narva, Arch of, 278 

Nastasia Philipovna, character, 66, 
93, 110 

Nations, League of, 235-36 

Nekrassov, poet, and Dostoyevsky, 
41-42 ; publication of Poor Folks in 
his Review, 42, 45, 46, 69; The 
Wretched, 69-71 ; poems of, 96, 210 ; 
origm, 255-56; grave of, 276-77 

" Nemzi," term, 3 note ^ 

Netchaieff affair, 164-65, 165 7iofe i 

Netchaiev, Marie, married Mihail 
Dostoyevsky, 18, 20, 24; portrait, 
24-25; influence over her hus- 
band, 31-32 



Netotchka Nesvanova, Dostoyevsky, 

43-44, 51 
Nicolaievitch, Grand Duke Constan- 

tine, 184 
Nicolas I, 99-100, 178; and the 

death sentence, 59-60; and the 

nobUity, 209 

II, 261 

Nil of Sorsk, Saint, 210 

Nilsson, Christine, 128 

Nobility, Russian hereditary, 208-10 ; 

" personal," 210 note ^ 
Norman character, the, 270 

culture in Europe, 204-5 

influence in Lithuania, 1-3, 

3 note 1, 4 note ^, 15-16; in Russia, 

Nobility, nomad character, 15- 

Novinskoye, 24 note ^ 
Novodevitchie, cemetery of, 277-79 

Occidentals, Turgenev and the, 216- 
17 ; and Pushkin, 247 

Oehta, cemetery, 180, 279 

Odoevsky, Prince, salon of, 43 

Ohlin, pupils of, 125-26, 136-39 

Omsk, 67, 68, 81, 83, 178 

Opera, the, 202 

Optina Pustin, monastery, visit of 
Dostoyevsky, 231-32 

Orthodox Church in Lithuania, 5-6; 
laws of the, 8 note ^, 197 ; dig- 
nitaries of the, 10; Dostoyevsky 
and the, 77-78; Holy Week 
Services, 205-6 ; and the Union of 
the Nobility, 210; canonization 
in the, 210 note - ; Tolstoy and 
the, 228-29; spread towai-ds the 
East, 263-64; prayers for the 
dying, 274-75 

Ostrogesky, Prince, 5 

Ostrovsky, 270 

Paissy, Father, 232 

Pana6v, 213 

Paris, the Commune established, 115 

Parliament, Dostoyevsky's idea for 

Russia, 269 
Patriarchate, suppression, 232, 263 
Patriots, the, 232-33 
Paul, palace of, 29 and note ^ 
Pavlovsk, 150, 151 
Pensions, State, 270 and note ^ 
Pereritza river, 176, 178 
Peter the Great, 76-78, 211-12, 

251; and the Tolstoys, 225-26; 
and the Patriarchate, 263 

Peter-Paul fortress, 57, 80 

Petersburg, family goes to, 27; 
salons of, 43, 238 ; Jesuits'- college, 
126 and note ^ ; society at begin- 
ning of nineteenth century, 211-12 ; 
literary soirees, 232 

University, students, habits 

and customs, 104, 135-36; and 
Dostoyevsky, 174, 187; girl- 
students and Dostoyevsky, 185; 
soirees, 241, 243; and the burial 
of Dostoyevsky, 281-82 

Petrachevsky conspiracy, 52-61, 85, 
215 ; treatment of the conspirators, 

meeting with Dostoyevsky, 54 ; 

the circle, 76 and note ^ 

Petrovskoe Academy, 163-65 

Pinsk, 6 

Pitti Palace, Florence, 158 

Plescheev, 210 

Plotnikov, 39, 176 

Pobedonoszev, Constantin, 233, 245, 

Poles, conquest of Lithuania, 5-6; 
in Russia, 14 

Polozk, 1 

Poor Folks, Dostoyevsky, 42 and 
note, 43, 45, 47, 69, 71, 99 

Porfiry, character, 59 

Possessed (The), Dostoyevsky, 110, 
165, 166 note \ 174, 176, 216-17 

Prague, 160-61 

Prussian Junkers, 5 note ^ 

Pushkin, stories and poems, 27, 201, 
202, 270; Tolstoy and, 228; the 
monument at Moscow, 247-57; 
negro origin, 251-52 

Race-heredity, the idea of, 252 
Racine, 31, 127 
Radwan, the Lord of, 6 
Raskolnikov, character, 59, 111 and 

note\ 119, 174 
Resurrection, Tolstoy, 223 
Reval, 28, 31 and note S 41 
Revolution, the Russian, foreseen 

by Dostoyevsky, 183, 249-50; 

eifect of. 263-65 
Riazin, 268 

Riesenkampf, Dr., quoted, 51 note ^ 
Robinson Crusoe, 205 
Roger II of Sicily, 204 
Rogneda, Princess, 204 



Rogogin, character, 64, 93, 110 

Rogvolod, 1 

Romanoffs, Lithuanian origin, 2 note *, 
15 note ^ ; policy of the, 261 

Rome, 107, 109, 163 

Rostov, the Counts, history in War 
and Peace, 222-23 

Rostovzov, General, 57-59 

Roulette played by Dostoyevsky, 
108-9, 109 note S 150, 155 

Rubinstein, Anton, 119 note ^ 

Nicolas, 122 

Rurik, Prmce, 2 note ^ 74, 204 

Russia, relations with Lithuania, 
4-7; position of the priests in, 
9-10; acquisition of languages by 
the people, 11-12; immigration 
and emigration, 14, 15 note^; 
charm of the Russian character, 
72-73; the aristocracy and the 
hereditary nobles, 208-10, 222-23 ; 
laws relating to land, 225; Slav 
and Mongolian blood intermingled, 
260-62; missionary work in the 
East, 262-63 ; oriental policy, 263 ; 
effect of the Revolution, 263-65 

Russian Idea, the, explained by 
Dostoyevsky, 75-77, 103 

legends, 200-201 

Union of Hereditary Nobles, 6, 

19, 208-10, 222-23 

Russian and Ludmilla, opera, 202-3 

Russo-Turkish War, 220 

Saltikov, Mihail, quoted, 44 

Sand, Georges, 53 

Savelieff, General, 30 note ^ 

Schatov, character, 165 

Schidlovsky, 31 note ^ 

Schiller, 31, 53; Robbers, 199-201; 

Schillerian influence in Petersburg, 

Schlangenberg, the, 110 
Schliahetstvo, 19 note ■^ 
Schliahta, 6, 19, 208 
Schliatitchi, 6 

Scoropadsky, appeal of, 10 
Scott, Walter, 53, 203 
Selo Stepantchikovo, Dostoyevsky, 

Semenov, Colonel, 261 

M. R, 93 note ^ 

Semipalatinsk, 87-95 
Serfs, emancipation, 54, 57, 209 
Sevigne, Mme. de, 47 
Shestakov, Mme., 173 

Siberia, the journey to, 60-61 ; 

impressions, 64-65 
Simplon, the, 157 

" Sky," the termination, 14 and vote ^ 
Slav Benevolent Society, Dostoyev- 
sky vice-president, 233-34 
Confederation, the hope for 

Slavophils, Dostoyevsky and the 

160, 216-17, 220-21, 226, 233-37; 

and Pushkin, 247 
Slavs of the Dnieper, 2 note * ; in 

Italy, 158-59; Tolstoy and the, 

220, 221, 226; General Tcherniaev 

and the, 233 
Smoke, Turgenev, 210-11 
Smolny Institute, 270 note ^ 

monastery, 131 

Snitkin, Grigov Ivanovitch. See 

Ivanovitch, M, 
Snitko, name of, 126 
Snobbery, Russian attitude, 240-41 
Society, Russian, at beginning of 

nineteenth century, 211-12 
Sollohub, Count, salon, 43, 46, 99 
Solowiev, Vladimir, 232 
Soltikoffs, Lithuanian origin, 15 note * 
Soltikov, 210 
Staraja Russa, 39, 175-78, 194, 

248, 258 
State schools, 27 
Stavrogin, Nicolai, character, 166 

note ^ 
Stellovsky, publisher, 124, 254 
Stenography in Russia, 125 
Stepan, Bishop, 8-9, 179 
Stockholm University, 113 
Strahoff, Nicolai, biographer of 

Dostoyevsky, 21 7iote^, 71, 103, 

107-8, 218, 221, 254 
Suchard, French school, 19, 21 
Summer Garden, the, 29 
Svatkovsky, Marie, 134, 138, 163; 

children of, 157 

Professor Paul, 134, 278 

Swedish women, character, 154-55 

Tchermack, M., 21; school of, 21, 

Tchermashnia, 33, 35 and note ^ 
Tcherniaev, General, 233 
Tatar brutaUty, 212-13 
" Teuton " use of the name, 3 note ^ 
Teutonic Knights, influence, 26 
Theatre, the Ukrainian, 12 
Timofey, character, 176 



Todleben brothers, 98 

General, 98 

Tolstoy, Count Alexis, his Russian 
types, 167; poems of, 201, 226 
note 2, 238-39 ; origin, 256 

Count Fyodor, 226 

Count Leo, childhood, 20 ; and 

the moujiks, 63; popularity, 107; 
Dostoyevsky's relations with, 
207-8, 218-19; a hereditary 
noble, 210; attitude towards 
Russia, 219-20; and the Slavs, 
220-21, 226; Anna Karenina, 
221, 223, 227 note ^ ; social position, 
222-23; War and Peace, 222-23; 
Resurrection, 223 ; Germanic origin, 
225-28, 256; character, 227-28; 
and Pushkin, 228; and the 
Orthodox Church, 228-29 

Count Nicolai, 223 

Count Peter, 225-26 

Countess, publication of her 

husband's works, 173 and nofe^; 
225; advice to her sons, 220; 
home of, 224 

Countess Alexis, salon, 238-46 

Tolstoyism, 228-29 

Tretiakov, merchant, 79 and note ^ 

Trieste, 160 

Troika, the term, 19; journey by, 
28 note ^ 

Tsar, the Russian, his moral power, 
78-79; and the Russian nobility, 
208-9; the term, 244 notc^; 
necessity to Russia, 249-50 

Tsarevitch, meaning of term, 244 
7iote ^ 

Tula, government of, 18 

Turgenev, and Dostoyevsky, 41, 
45 and note^, 207-8, 213, 216-17; 
and the peasants, 63 ; his Russian 
types, 167; a hereditary noble, 
210; Smoke, 210-11; attacks on 
Dostoyevsky, 213-14; changed 
attitude, 215 and note ^ ; and the 
Pushkin festival, 228, 247-48; 
origin, 256 ; reputation, 270 

Tver on the Volga, 98-99; return 
of Mme. Dostoyevsky to, 100 

Ukrainia, connection with Lithuania 
severed, 4-5; the Dostoyevsky 

family in, 7; priests of, 9-10; 

language, 10 ; the people's theatre, 

12; poetry of. 12 
Uncle's Dream (The), Dostoyevsky, 

96-97, 267 
Union of Hereditary Nobles, 6, 19, 

208-10, 222-23 

Valaam, monastery of, 132 
Valjean, Jean, tyj)e, 40, 47 
Vassiletchikov, Mile., 99 

Prince Alexander, 233-34 

Vatihanov, 88 

Veltshaninov, character, 122 

Venice, 160 

Verhovensky, character, 165, 166 

note ^ 
Vevey, 156 
Vidiinas, W. St., Lithuania Past and 

Present, 3, 8-9, 16, 22, 84, 147, 

214 note ^ 
Vieillegorsky, Count, salon, 43, 46; 

his house the scene of Netotchka 

Nesvanova, 43-44 

Countess, 44 

Vienna, 160, 161 

Vilna, 153 

Vladimir, Grand Duke, 178 

Prince, legends of, 201-2 

Volkonsky, Princess, 223 
Volkovo cemetery, 277 and note - 
Vremya {The), 103, 106, 108, 110 

note 1, 117, 183 note -,215 and note ^ 

War and Peace, Tolstoy, 222-23 
Wiesbaden, 108-9, 153 
William the Conqueror, 15 
Witold, Grand Duke, 3, 4 
Women, Russian attitude toAvards, 

Wrangel, Baron, friendship with 

Dostoyevsky, 88-90, 92-93, 95, 

213 note ^ 
Wretched {The), Nekrassov, 69-71 

Yasnaia Poliana, 63, 107, 218, 220, 

224, 227, 228, 256 
Yukovsky, poet, 255, 256 

Zahleben family, characters, 122 
Zapadniki, Turgenev and the, 216-17 
Zossima, character, 80, 231 
Zubov, Countess. See Heiden,