Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev.

Tourguéneff and his French circle; online

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feiting you, but it is your own fault.

A thousand kind regards. Keep well, work, and
come to Baden.

Yours ever,



Bade, Thiergarten Strasse 3,

May 26, 1868.
My dear Friend, — I am very grateful to you
for having thought of writing to me. Your letter
was a very great pleasure to me, because it took up
the thread of our intercourse again, and because it
showed me that my book pleased you. There is
no longer any artist at the present time who is not
also a critic. The artist is very strong in you and
you know how much I admire and love him, but
I have also a high opinion of the critic, and his

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approval makes me very happy. I know well that
your friendship for me counts for something in it,
but I feel that a master has stood before my canvas,
looked at it, and nodded his head with a satisfied air.
Well, I say again that pleases me. I was very
sorry not to see you in Paris. I only stayed there
three days, and I am still more sorry that you did
not come to Baden this year. You were harnessed
to your novel — that's right. I am awaiting it with
the greatest impatience. But couldn't you give
yourself a few days' rest, whereby your friends here
might profit ?

Since the first time I saw you (in a kind of
hostelry on the other side of the Seine) I have been
conscious of a great drawing towards you. There
are few men, especially few Frenchmen, with
whom I feel so quietly at my ease, and so alive at
the same time. I feel as if I could talk to you for
whole weeks together ; moreover, we are moles
burrowing in the same direction. All this means
that I shall be very glad to see you. I start for
Russia in a fortnight's time, but I shall not
stay there long, and by the beginning of July I
shall be back again, and shall go to Paris to see my
daughter, who will probably have made me a
grandfather by that time. I shall be quite capable
of going to your own place to seek you out if you
are there. Or shall you be coming to Paris ?
Anyway I must see you. Meanwhile I wish you

GouvQWcnctt anft

good luck. That living and human truth which
you are pursuing with such indefatigable energy
only lets herself be caught on good days. You
have had them, and will have them again — many
of them. Keep well. Much love to you.
Your sincere friend,

Ivan Tourguéneff.


Bade, Thiergarten Strasse 3,

Tuesday y yuly 28, 1868.

My dear Friend, — It is very kind of you to
have thought of me and to give me your " pro-
gramme " as you call it. I have been here for four
days, but unfortunately I have not come back from
Russia alone. I have brought with me a fine
attack of gout, which first seized me at Macon and
again on my arrival at Baden. Here I am on the
sofa with all the inevitable miseries — oil of Indian
chestnuts, &c, &c. However, it is less violent than
last year, and I am not without hope of getting to
my baths towards the middle of next month, and
according to the programme I shall look you up in
your lair.

I confess that I am quite curious to make its

acquaintance. I have not seen Du Camp who

must be here. I haven't left my room since my

arrival. In a couple of days I shall, perhaps, be able


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to take short drives. Keep well and work quietly
and with zest. It's the best way.

Your affectionate friend,


Bade, Thiergarten Strasse 3,

Tuesday, August 18, 1868.

My dear Friend, — I have delayed till now in
answering your kind little note, because I was
always hoping to be able to announce my arrival,
but my fiendish gout persistently refuses to leave
me, and I cannot yet dream of taking this rather
long journey. It is a bore, but what can I do ?
I will come as soon as ever I can, meanwhile I send
you my love and I beg of you to present my com-
pliments to your mother, whom I shall be very
glad to meet.

Work hard till I come.


Paris, Rue Laffitte, Hôtel Byron,

Tuesday, November 24, 1868.
My dear Friend, — The cheese has just arrived,
and I am taking it to Baden, and at each mouthful
we shall think of Croisset and of the charming day
I spent there. Certainly I am conscious of a great
sympathy between us.


gontgtténefi anft

If all your novel is as strong as the fragments
you have just sent me, you will have achieved a
masterpiece. 1 Mark my words.

I don't know if you have read the little book 2
I am sending you. Anyway, put it on one of the
shelves of your library.

Present my compliments to your mother and my
best love to yourself.



P.S. — My address is Poste Restante, Carlsruhe.
It will be very nice of you if you would send me
your photograph. Here is mine, which looks very
— forbidding.

P. P.S. — Find another title — U Education Senti-
mentale is bad.


Carlsruhe, Hôtel Prince Max,

Monday^ January 25, 1869.
I really must have news of you, my dear friend.
Now in two words : Where are you, and how goes
the novel ? I am writing to you to Croisset, and
very likely you are in Paris in the thick of things.
In any case I don't suppose you'll stay there long.

1 This refers to L' Education Sentimentale.

- Probably Fumée, a novel translated into French by Prince
Galitzin, and published in March, 1868.


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I have not yet thanked you for the photograph,
which looks very military and well-groomed, but it
is yourself, and that is always good to see. Why
don't you have a really good one done ?

I have often thought of Croisset and said to
myself that it was a good nest for the hatching
of singing birds. As for me I have done hardly
anything. I have embarked upon a piece of work
which I dislike, and am wading sadly through it.
I can't give it up, but when it is finished I shall
heave a real sigh of relief.

Apart from some fragmentary stuff in the shape
of some literary memoirs, which I promised my
publisher, I have never worked at this sort of
thing, and it's not amusing. Oh, for two hours of
Sainte-Beuve ! I wonder if it amuses him much.

My best regards to your mother, who sounds to
me the best mother imaginable, and a good and
hearty handshake for yourself.




Hôtel Prince Max, Carlsruhe,

Sunday^ March 21, 1869.
My dear Friend, — Your letter, addressed
either to Stuttgard or to Baden, has only this
moment reached me here. I hasten to tell you
49 E

XTourguéneff anft

that I leave here for Paris on Wednesday, and
that I arrive there on Thursday at five o'clock
in the morning. I shall put up at the Hôtel
Byron, Rue Laffitte. I shall stay a week in
Paris. It is needless to say how glad I shall be
to see you. Meanwhile I send you my best love,


P.S. — Remember me to your mother.

Bade, Thiergarten Strasse 3,

Sunday, January 30.

My dear Friend, — In the first number of a
Russian review which comes out at St. Petersburg,
and which is called the Russian Messenger 1 (it is,
so to speak, the Russian Revue des Deux Mondes),
there is a tremendous article on your book - (only
the first part). It is analysed in the smallest detail
and the whole plot is told. Both the author and
his work are much praised. The article is called
"The New French Society." I tell you all this
because it may interest you, though your head is
full of something else just now.

I am leaving Baden in four or five days. I am
going to spend two months at Weimar. My
address is Hôtel de Russie, Grand Duchy of Saxe-

1 The real title of this periodical is the European Messenger.
3 This refers to L Education Sentimentale.

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Weimar. And I shall pass through Paris before
going back to Russia in the month of April. Give
me news of yourself. Are you working hard ?
Your Antoine often comes back to my mind. Last
night, as I was going to bed, I re-read the scene of
"Le Club de l'intelligence," and the Spaniard made
me laugh out loud. 1

Say a thousand things for me to Madame Sand,
to Du Camp, and to everybody else.

Yours most affectionately,



Hôtel de Russie, Weimar,

February 20, 1 8 70.
My dear Friend, — The article that M. Julian
Schmidt 2 has written on U Education Sentimentale
has not yet appeared in the Preussiche Tahrbucher ;
as soon as it is published I will send it you. If you
care about it I will ask him to send you his article
on Madame Bovary. It appeared last year. The
second number of the European Messenger, which
I have just received, contains the second and last
half of the article which I told you about, and which
is really more a detailed resume of the novel than
anything else.

1 Another allusion to U Education Sentimentale.

2 A celebrated German critic.


Xlourguéneg anft

Most people think that " woman " played too
great a part in Frederic's life, and wonder if all
young Frenchmen are like him. Yes, people
have certainly been unfair to you, but now is the
time to brace yourself up and to fling a masterpiece
at your readers' heads. Your Antoine 1 may perhaps
prove to be that very missile. Don't be too long over
it, is the burden of my song. You mustn't forget,
moreover, that men are measured according to the
measure they have given of themselves, and you are
bearing the burden of your past. You have plenty
of energy, and " El hombre debe ser feroz" says a
Spanish proverb — artists especially. If your book
had carried away only ten people of a certain worth,
that would have been enough in itself. You'll
understand that I am telling you all this, not to
comfort you, but to stimulate you.

I have been here ten days and my one thought has
been how to keep warm. The houses here are badly
built, and the iron stoves are useless. You'll see
a tiny thing of mine in the March number of the
Revue des Deux Mondes. It's a mere trifle. I am
working at something more "important," at least
I am getting ready to work.

I shall go to Paris before returning to Russia — it
will be towards the end of April. We shall see a
lot of each other. If you see Madame Sand, give

1 This refers to La Tentation de Sainte Antoine, which came out
four years later, in 1874.


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her a thousand kind messages from me. Remember
me to Du Camp and to the Husson family.

Best love, and cheer up ! After all you are
Flaubert ! Yours,

I. T.


1 6, Beaumont Street, Marylebone, London,

May 16, 187 1.

Happily, my dear friend, the news is absolutely
untrue. Madame V., whom I see every day, is no
more dead than she is 54 years old. If the news
had been true I don't think I could have answered
you. As it is I can tell you that your letter deeply
touched me. It is very good to feel that one has
a real friend, and I am grateful to you for having
proved it to me.

I have been here three weeks. I spent the end
of winter and the beginning of spring in Russia. I
am staying here till the 1st of August, and then I
am going to Baden. When I am crossing France
I shall stop in Paris, if there is any Paris left by
then, and I hope I shall see you. Perhaps you
will come to Baden where we shall be living for a
short time like moles hidden in their holes. And
you could hide yourself there with us ; but first of
all give me news of yourself.

Did you ever receive a letter I wrote you at the
beginning of the year ? What did you do with
yourself during that awful tumult ? Did you stay

ZEourguéneff ant»

at Croisset ? Was it possible even for you, I
wonder, with all your power of isolation and con-
centration, not to be tossed to and fro like those
little pieces of straw one sees blown about in so
dreary and aimless a fashion at the open doorway
of a barn ? Did you woik, or were you content to
drag out an empty and weary existence from hour
to hour, eh ? We have hard times to go through,
we, who are born onlookers. What about Antoine ?
It has rooted itself in my mind.

I am in England, not for the pleasure of being
there, but because my friends, 1 who have been
pretty well ruined by the war, have come here to
try and make a little money. Nevertheless, there
is some good in the English people ; but they all
of them, even the cleverest, lead such a hard life.
One has to get accustomed to it, as one has to their
climate, and besides where else is there to go ?

What is Madame Flaubert doing ? Remember
me very kindly to her. Have you any news of Du
Camp ? He has disappeared in the tumult like so
many others. Write me a few lines. Once more
I thank you for the affection you show me and send
you my best love.

Your friend,


P. S. — It is needless to tell you that I only re-
ceived your letter this very day.

1 The Viardot family.


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16, Beaumont Street, Marylebone, London,

June 13, 187 1.

My dear Friend, — If I have not answered your
letter sooner it is because I have not had the courage
to do so — the events in Paris have stupefied me. I
was silent, as one is silent in a train when it is going
through a tunnel — the fearful noise fills one's ears
and deadens one's brain. Now that it has almost
ceased I can tell you that most certainly I will come
to you and hear Antoine, in August, about the . . .
well between the 15th and the 20th. I have had
an invitation to Scotland for " le Grouse " at the
beginning of August ; but I shall be free on the
15th, and on my way back to Baden I will stop in
Paris or at Rouen, I mean at Croisset, if you are

I am so glad to hear you are half-way through
your book ; you would never risk anything by hurry-
ing yourself a little — quite the other way. I shall
listen with wide open ears, eyes, and brain. I am
pretty certain it will be very fine.

I shall not ask you again to come to Germany.
I well understand your dislike to putting your foot
inside it. I shall not tell you either all that is pass-
ing through my mind on the subject of France. I
should have to sum it all up in a few words, and
that I find impossible. When we meet we will

TEourgueneff an&

discuss the matter quietly and at length — the con-
clusion will not be lively, that's certain. I don't
know whether, as you say, it is Russia's place to
avenge you ; but Germany is very strong for the
present, and probably will be so as long as we live.

I had a letter telling me Madame Husson had
gone mad, and then, again, that she was dead. Is
this true ? I remember that my swimming-master
(he, too, was a Prussian), used to shout at me :
" Keep your mouth above water, schwere Noth ! "
So long as one's mouth is above water, one is still a
man !

You have remained a man all through this time,
because you have been working ; it will all be easier

Thank Madame Flaubert and your mother for
their kind remembrances. As for me, I send you
my love and say au revoir till the month of August.


Allsau House, Pitlochry, Scotland,

August 14, 1 87 1.
My dear Friend, — Your two notes caught me
here, in the heart of Scotland, where I am shooting
" le Grouse " with a friend. I am leaving here the
day after to-morrow, the 16th, and shall start again
from London and reach Paris on the 18th. I wish
you could be in Paris on that day, and that I need

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not go to Croisset, for my time is horribly short.
I shall stay in Paris at the Hôtel Byron, Rue
Laffitte. Please manage so that I may find a note
from you on my arrival. For greater safety I shall
copy this letter, and send the copy to Croisset.

My love to you all till our next meeting. Get
your Antoine ready !

Ever yours,


48, Rue Douai,

Sunday^ 10 a.m.
My dear Friend, — I hoped to be able to
look in on you to-day, but I find it impossible.
I shall be with you to-morrow punctually at one

It is not that existence itself gets more difficult,
but it becomes more and more difficult to get any-
thing done. Life seems to grow over our heads
like grass. Goodbye till to-morrow.

Your faithful old friend,


48, Rue de Douai,

Wednesday Morning.
My dear Friend,— I spoke to Madame V.
yesterday about the wish expressed by Madame E.


TEoutguéiteff anfr

Grisi * — unfortunately it is impossible. Madame V.
has had to make a rule never to sing at private

She is asked so often, that if she consented once
there would be no reason to refuse other people.
She is very sorry not to be able to do anything in
this particular instance. When she was younger
she could do it, but now she is obliged to take
great care of herself. There, my dear friend, now
you have the exact truth.

I shall certainly come on Sunday, perhaps sooner.
I shall probably go to-night to Princess Mathilde's.
Much love from yours,



Paris, 48, Rue de Douai,

November^ 1 87 1.

My dear Friend, — This is what has happened :

an uncle of mine, M. Nicolas Tourguéneff, 2 an

exceedingly good and worthy man, has died lately

in Paris, and I have just received a telegram from

1 A cousin of the famous Grisi, and a friend of Théophile Gautier's.

2 Nicolas Ivanovitch Tourguéneff, who is referred to in this letter,
was the well-known author of a book written in French, La Russie
et les Russes, and several other remarkable works. He was one of
the confidential advisers of the Emperor Alexander I., and did much
towards improving the lot of the peasants under that sovereign. But
being falsely accused of taking part in the rebellion of 1824 against
the Emperor Nicolas, he died, an exile, in France on the 10th of
November, 1871.


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St. Petersburg asking me to write an obituary
notice, which notice must be sent off to-morrow
night. I consented, and here I am tied to this
task. The good Antoine will therefore have to
wait till the day after to-morrow, as I must take
my article to the family at Bougival to-morrow, to
get various bits of information, &c. So goodbye
till Thursday.

Your note of the day before yesterday was not
left by your servant. He probably went to the
wrong house. No. 48, Rue de Douai is at the
corner of the Place Vintimille.

Much love,



Paris, 48, Rue de Douai,

Friday, ^January 19, 1872.
My gout has left me again, my dear friend. I am
greatly distressed at all these obstacles, and to have
given so much needless trouble; but, gracious Heaven,
it must come to an end sometime. Tell me, what
day would suit you ? Tuesday, Wednesday, or
Saturday ? and if I am not dead (as the limes
declares) I'll have myself carried to your house
rather than — oh, well, I await your reply.




Uourguéneff anfc


Moscow, June 26, 1872.

My dear Friend, — You have sent me your
plans for the summer — here are mine.

N.B. — For the time being I am in Moscow, seized
by a horrid attack of gout, which ties me to my sofa.
I was scarcely prepared for it after the violent seizure
of last October. It's getting too common, and people
congratulate me too much (giving me thereon a
certificate of long life, &c.) ; mercifully the attack
is not too severe, and I may hope to leave the capital
of all the Russias on Sunday or Monday — to-day is

I shall go straight as an arrow to Paris, then
from there to my daughter in Touraine, who is on
the point of making me a grandfather ; then from
there to Valery-sur-Somme, where I shall rejoin my
old friends the Viardots. I shall idle and I shall
work if I can. Then I shall go to Paris, in order
to meet there one Flaubert, whom I love much,
and with whom I shall go to his home at Croisset,
or to Madame Sand, at Nohant, as it appears she
wants to have us there. And then from October
onwards, Paris. There you are !

My dear friend, old age is a great sinister cloud

hovering over the future, the present, and even

over the past, which it saddens by blurring one's

memories. (I'm afraid this is very bad French,


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but no matter.) We have got to protect ourselves
from this cloud. It seems to me you are not doing
it enough.

I believe, as you do, that a visit to Russia alone
with me would do you good, but it should be
spent wandering about the paths of an old country
garden, steeped in rustic scents, and filled with
strawberries, birds, sunshine and shadow, all equally
sunk in sleep, and two hundred acres of waving
rye all around us. It used to be delicious. One
finds inertia stealing over one, together with a
sense of solemnity, vastness, and monotony ; a sense
which has something animal in it and something
divine. One comes out of it as if one had had
some strengthening bath, and takes up again the
ordinary mill of existence.

You must not let the author in you get dis-
couraged. He must go bravely on to the end. I
hear that you were at a delightful musical party at
Madame Viardot's ; people seem to have liked it.

You don't say anything about my picture, do
you dislike it, or have you not seen it ? Goodbye,
and au revoir, my dear friend. Let us hold our
heads high before the waves break over them.

Much love to you.




ZEomrguénetf anb


St. Valery-sur-Somme, Maison Ruhaut.
Tuesday, *July 30, 1872.

Where are you just now, my dear friend, and
what are you going to do between now and the
winter ? Please write me just one line. As for
me I have been a fortnight in this little den from
which I am writing, and I should be perfectly
happy here if it were not for this accursed gout
which has got me by the leg more tenaciously than
ever. It seized me six weeks ago at Moscow, and
won't leave me. I have had three or four relapses.

I had begun to walk with the help of crutches,
then with two sticks, then with one, and now
here I am again almost unable to move at all.
Old age is a horrible thing, pace Mr. Cicero.

I am here with the Viardots. I have a charming
room where nothing hinders me from working, but
of course, nothing comes ; the fact is, the springs
have got rusty. How is Antoine getting on ? Tell
me all about it.

This loan of 9, 12, even 15 milliards impresses
me like a great salvo of artillery. You are born
to astonish the world, you French, one way or

I have been a grandfather since the 18th. My
daughter has just had a little girl who's been called
Jeanne, and to whose christening I am going

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towards the end of August. I shall have to pass
through Paris on my way there and back. If you
are at Croisset then, I shall go as far as that to
look you up.

Well, keep in good health, and au revoir. Much
love. Yours,


48, Rue de Douai, Paris,

Monday^ October 7, 1 872.

My dear Friend, — Woe to him who should
venture to congratulate me on my gout, on the
score of its being a certificate of long life. He
would run serious risk of hearing bad language.

Only think ! I have been more than a fortnight
in Paris, and the very day of my arrival behold
me seized with a relapse (the 8th or 9th, I can't
count them any longer !) I have been a week in
bed unable to budge ! Last Thursday I made a
superhuman effort. I went to Nohant. The
whole Viardot family was there. I stayed one day
there, came back, and now here I am again, con-
fined to my room, limping like the poor devil that
I am, and seeing no end to it. Never mind ; I
am glad to have been to Nohant, and to have met
there Madame Sand, who is really the most agreeable
woman it's possible to imagine ; all her surroundings
too are charming.


ZTourQiieneff ant>

And now I must go to Croisset 1 — but when ?
That is precisely what I can't fix with any cer-
tainty. All I know is that I shall go as soon as I
have rested a little, very likely at the beginning of
next week. You shall be warned beforehand. I
am longing to see you, to talk to you, and to hear
the end of Antoine. And then we must chat and
gossip— that is an absolute necessity.

Meanwhile my love to you, and au revoir.


48, Rue de Douai, Paris,

Wednesday, December II, 1 872.
Well, here we are at the middle of December,
and no Flaubert ! Unfortunately I am not like
Mahomet. I can't go to the mountain. I can't
go anywhere, for it's now a fortnight since I left
my room, and Heaven knows how long it will
last. My gout is, at least, as obstinate as the
Versailles Assembly, and I believe it'll still be
going on when the other has either dissolved itself
or been dissolved. Come, now, make a little effort,
and come to Paris. In any case, write and tell

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Online LibraryIvan Sergeevich TurgenevTourguéneff and his French circle; → online text (page 4 of 16)