Commander Rezanov
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§ Return to Russia

The farewell letter of Nokolai Rezanov

“January 24th, 1807. Received with a messenger on 6th March, 1807.

At last I am in Irkutsk! No sooner saw I this city than I burst into tears. My sweet dearest friend is still living in my lonely heart. I have been crying all day long. Today is my wedding day, and I am thinking about my former happiness, looking at it all and crying. You will also shed a tear here. What shall we do, my dear friend, do it, pay this pleasant tribute to her. She loved you sincerely and so did you. I shall see her before you do and I shall tell her everything. My powers fail me. Day by day I am getting weaker and weaker. I don’t know whether I shall be able to trudge to your place. I shall settle up everything with myself in the future, and come what may, I still won’t die on my way to you. I think that the place in Znamenskoye, near her father, will be the most suitable for my last resting place. My mother and children’s letter, which I received with a messenger today, has tortured me so much. They are waiting for me for New Year’s Day, but they don’t know that we are unlikely to meet each other ever again.

My mother wrote me that Count N. P. (Minister of Commerce Nikolai Rumjantsev) is so merciful to her that he sends his people to call on my orphans, I am crying again and it is my gratitude to that man that caused it. My mother reproaches me that I became the reason why the earl is displeased at me, but that he promises to be favourable to me as it was before and that he wishes me every luck. I am sorry that my mother is worried — I am so sorry that Count didn’t condescend to my weakness. But I don’t blame Count, because he has no reason in doing me harm, but all the same, thank God, everything is over. Everybody has got their awards and only I don’t want anything because I don’t think about it and can’t feel anything. It seems to me I should stop writing here, as I am too prone to crying today.

26th of January.

However I wasn’t able to finish my letter, my moral sufferings have greatly effected my physique, all these days I am getting weaker and weaker. Meanwhile I have to meet people every day and you know that company in distress makes trouble less. Governor-general visits me every day, sometimes even twice a day and he spends his evenings at my place. The friendship of this honest and kind man delights me.

I don’t know whether you will accept my plan, for I didn’t spare my life for it. I am so much proud of it, that I don’t want anything else, besides the gratitude of the posterity. Patriotism made me wear out my powers; I had been sailing the seas like a duck, suffering from cold, starving, at the same time I greatly suffered the offence and all these sufferings were doubled by the wound to my heart feelings. What a nice lesson! It made me strong like a piece of flint, I became impatient. And though I used to live with the savages, but I must confess that my self-respect hasn’t disappeared yet. I saw that my happy life in itself led the whole peoples to their happiness, that I can spend myself on them. I have experienced that a line signed by me can make their life easier and it gives me so much pleasure which I couldn’t imagine before. And all this convinced me that my life isn’t useless, and it makes me proud of myself. But this pride is in the lookout of the inner rewards, not in the rewards from the Monarch.

Having arrived in Jakutsk, I enjoyed the gratitude of my countrymen, the whole town met me and everybody wanted to entertain me. Here, in Irkutsk, they showed more kindness to me, I was surrounded by congratulations. Eager to show my thankfulness, though without any pleasure, I had to go around the town and also wishing to show my gratitude I gave a dinner for 300 people in the building of the specialised school and I also gave a ball and a dinner, which cost me 2000 roubles.

By the special delivery from Tomsk I learnt that they prepared a house with servants for me in that town and everybody tried to invite me to their places. Mr Sitnikov let me in his excellently furnished house and gave me board, carriage and doesn’t let me pay the expenses. I have only to wish that my work were pleasing to the Monarch, believe me, that I don’t actually need anything. Don’t take it to your heart, my friend, that while describing the company in such a way I spared no efforts to expose their ill production. You are not to blame for this, but my work takes me so much to hide the triuth.

As a good merchant I looked deep into your trade, I didn’t think to be him, but the sivereign wanted me to become one and I spared no efforts to become worthy of this rank. I wished so much to write to you but really I am too exhausted, I have prepared 23 papers, but up to this day the post hasn’t been sent. And that’s why I have not written to my relatives yet. Let this message be for all of you.

Forgive me, my generous friend Michaylo Matvejevich, good-bye and believe me, that your devoted friend and brother N. P. loves you sincerely.

P. S. Do not think, my friend, judging by my letter from California, that I am light-minded. My love is in Nevsky in the marble tomb, but here there is the consequense of the enthusiasm and my new sacrifice to my Motherland. Consepsion is amiable like an angel, beautiful, kind-hearted, she loves me and I love her and I cry that there’s no place for her in my heart. Here, my friend, I am to blame. But you, as my confident, WILL KEEP this secret.“

This letter was addressed to the brother-in-law of Rezanov (his wife’s sister’s husband), a director of Russian-American Company Michael Matvejevich Buldakov.

Translated by Olga Popovina