Pushkin's Biography

Страница 3

Meanwhile, Mme. Pushkina loved the attention which her beauty attracted in the highest society; she was fond of "coquetting" and of being surrounded by admirers, who included the Tsar himself. In 1834 Mme. Pushkina met a young man who was not content with coquetry, a handsome French royalist émigré in Russian service, who was adopted by the Dutch ambassador, Heeckeren. Young d'Anthes-Heeckeren pursued Mme. Pushkina for two years, and finally so openly and unabashedly that by autumn 1836, it was becoming a scandal. On November 4, 1836 Pushkin received several copies of a "certificate" nominating him "Coadjutor of the International Order of Cuckolds." Pushkin immediately challenged d'Anthes; at the same time, he made desperate efforts to settle his indebtedness to the Treasury. Pushkin twice allowed postponements of the duel, and then retracted the challenge when he learned "from public rumour" that d'Anthes was "really" in love with Mme. Pushkina's sister, Ekaterina Goncharova. On January 10, 1837, the marriage took place, contrary to Pushkin's expectations. Pushkin refused to attend the wedding or to receive the couple in his home, but in society d'Anthes pursued Mme. Pushkina even more openly. Then d'Anthes arranged a meeting with her, by persuading her friend Idalia Poletika to invite Mme. Pushkina for a visit; Mme. Poletika left the two alone, but one of her children came in, and Mme. Pushkina managed to get away. Upon hearing of this meeting, Pushkin sent an insulting letter to old Heeckeren, accusing him of being the author of the "certificate" of November 4 and the "pander" of his "bastard." A duel with d'Anthes took place on January 27, 1837. D'Anthes fired first, and Pushkin was mortally wounded; after he fell, he summoned the strength to fire his shot and to wound, slightly, his adversary. Pushkin died two days later, on January 29.

As Pushkin lay dying, and after his death, except for a few friends, court society sympathized with d'Anthes, but thousands of people of all other social levels came to Pushkin's apartment to express sympathy and to mourn. The government obviously feared a political demonstration. To prevent public display, the funeral was shifted from St. Isaac's Cathedral to the small Royal Stables Church, with admission by ticket only to members of the court and diplomatic society. And then his body was sent away, in secret and at midnight. He was buried beside his mother at dawn on February 6, 1837 at Svyatye Gory Monastery, near Mikhaylovskoe.

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