Olga Shilova

The Career of Freedom. The “Cold Lightning” of the Decembrists, Mikhail Lunin

Published in: 29. The Career of Freedom

Note: unedited auto-translation

“Only one career is open for me – a career of freedom.”
Mikhail Lunin



Olga Shilova

Olga Shilova


The personality of the Decembrist Mikhail Sergeyevich Lunin, his eccentricity, intelligence and courage, wit and daring, the legends and jokes about his audacity with senior officialdom, attracted and aroused the sympathy of many of his contemporaries.

In 1835 A.S. Pushkin admitted to E.S. Uvarova that stores a lock of hair Lunin, a man he considered “truly remarkable.”1

There have been numerous studies and analyses of the biography of the Decembrist.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was interested in the personality of Lunin. Dostoevsky’s road to hard labor passed through the places where the Decembrists were exiled. The wives of the Decembrists and the Decembrists themselves took a lively interest in him. Dostoevsky, having heard about Lunin’s fearlessness, his neglect of dangers, in discussing the hero of the novel “Demons”, Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin, uses the figure of Lunin for important, incisive generalizations and characterizations.2

The image of Lunin was also of interest to L.N. Tolstoy3, who planned to write a novel about the Decembrists. Lev Nikolaevich met and corresponded with the Decembrists who returned from exile. Gathering material, he used what was printed, as well as many family notes, memoirs and letters that were entrusted to him. Lunin’s irrepressible energy and sarcasm amazed Lev Nikolaevich. Unfortunately, we won’t know what Lunin’s image would be if the work on this novel was completed. But on the other hand, in the novel War and Peace, one can see many references to Lunin: the campaign of 1805, the battle of the cavalry guards near Austerlitz, the death of a brother, the return home to a father and sister, the tricks of Dolokhov, in whom contemporaries recognized Lunin.

Memoirs have been written about Lunin (by D.I. Zavalishin and I. Ozhe, for instance). Notable books about Lunin include Leningrad professor S.B. Okun’s The Decembrist M.S. Lunin and Moscow writer N.Ya. Eidelman’s Lunin. The periodicals Literary Monuments and Polar Star published Lunin’s works and letters. E.S. Radzinsky wrote the play Lunin, or the death of Jacques, about the death of Lunin. The play has had stagings.


Mikhail Sergeyevich Lunin was born in 1787 in the family of the Tambov landowner Sergei Mikhailovich and his wife Fedosya Nikitichna, nee Muravyova.

Early, at the age of five, he lost his mother and spent all his childhood with his father. The future Decembrist was trained with the participation of his uncle, Mikhail Nikitich Muravyov, father of the Decembrists Nikita and Alexander Muravyev, educator of the Grand Dukes Alexander and Konstantin. Foreign teachers invited by his father were brought up by Michael, among whom were French, Swiss, English, Swedish, Russian. Misha grew up an educated, well-mannered boy, and Mikhail Nikitich in letters calls him “a little gentleman Mishenka”, “a little Aglinsky nobleman”.

Thanks to serious home schooling, which his father did not save on, Mikhail Sergeyevich “received a brilliant education considered at that time, adapted to the requirements of the great world”: he was fluent in French, English, German and Latin, knew mathematics, history, knew how to draw, excellent played the piano and versed in music, fencing, was a great rider and dancer.

And spending all his free time in the house of his uncle, Mikhail Nikitich Muravyov, a prominent historian, writer, public figure, talking there with a large circle of enlightened people of his time, possessing, by the recognition of M.S. Lunin, with “very good” abilities of the mind, having read a lot, he achieved, even in the absence of a systematic education, knowledge of an encyclopedic volume.

In 1803, sixteen-year-old Misha Lunin entered the service, first in the Life Guards Jaegers, and then in the Cavalier Guard regiment. He takes part in campaigns of 1805-1807, where he participates in almost all battles, having received the first baptism of fire near Austerlitz, in a battle where cavalry guards lost 40% of the officers and more than 33% of soldiers. In this battle, his younger brother Nikita was mortally wounded and died.

After the defeat of our army at Friedland, on the night of crossing the Neman, the young Michel Lunin was an orderly with the sovereign. He literally takes custody of the fallen emperor Alexander I and the Prussian king, who was in complete despair and constantly repeated that everything was lost. Lunin, thanks to his energetic actions, manages to arrange the overnight stay of royal persons in a single hut, already more than half taken to pieces for firewood for soldiers’ bonfires. For the rest of the night, he guards the sovereign from his own soldiers, hungry, frozen, trying to pull the remains of the hut and its roof to bonfires.

During the campaign, Lunin constantly shows courage, is noted by the highest authorities and “… for his truthfulness he earned the favor of the sovereign, who sometimes turned directly to him when he saw that he could not get the truth from anyone.” 4

The war ended in a derogatory Tilsit world for Russia. Bonaparte is ordered to be considered an ally. Lunin is eager to take revenge on the French for the shameful defeat at Austerlitz and Friedland. He expresses a desire to fight against Napoleon in Spain or any other place. “When the war ended in Paris, Lunin submitted a request to the Tsar of such a meaning that since peace was concluded and war could not be expected in Russia soon, he asked permission to join a foreign service where the war would happen, especially with the French. The sovereign was very dissatisfied with the trick. ” 5

P.F. Sokolov. Portrait of M. S. Lunin. Russia, 1822. Lithograph. State Hermitage Museum.

P.F. Sokolov. Portrait of M. S. Lunin. Russia, 1822. Lithograph. State Hermitage Museum.

In December 1807, Lunin, who returned to Russia, was promoted to lieutenant, and in September 1810 he became headquarters captain. But military success, apparently, did not interest him very much. It was at this time that Lunin committed acts that impeded his career advancement and caused dissatisfaction with Alexander I. 

Slim, tall, very slender, Lunin was considered a handsome man. The main adornment of his face with beautiful, regular features, reminiscent of an old portrait, were large, indefinite eyes with a velvety sheen, which seemed black. Their radiant gaze was distinguished by attractive force. There are countless stories about Lunin’s victories over the ladies, about his “beautiful eyes, wonderful hands” (a phrase from a letter from his beloved Lunin E. Glazenapp). 6

A war hero, a favorite of women, a constant duelist, a gambler, brave, witty, willing to take risks, daring with the highest authorities. This is how Lunin was often seen by people who communicated with him, but did not comprehend this complex and secretive nature.

According to the recollections of the Decembrist S.G. Volkonsky, a fellow soldier of Lunin’s Cavalier Guard regiment, upon their return to Russia, came “a completely different life, no longer full of military impressions, but simply hard life with fruite activities and empty in public life”, “general tendency to drunkenness, reckless life, to youth”, “Daily maneuver exercises, frequent squadron, occasionally regimental shows, shift teams, a little rest of a family-free life; walking along the promenade or along the boulevard from 3 to 4 hours; a common gang of diners in a tavern, always irrigated over the edge with wine, without leaving, however, out of decency; also a gang or separately in brothels, again a gang to the theater, in the evening to Levenwold or to Fedenka Uvarov, and here the dispute about the past, the dispute about the upcoming, but the dispute is without abuse, but just a conversation. The questions, past, forthcoming facts, our daily life with the impressions of everyone, a common sentence about the best beauty; and in a friendly conversation the punch poured, a little weighty head – and home. “7


Young officers were completely captured by the secular life of St. Petersburg. Lunin, by the definition of Decembrist D.I. Zavalishina, “showed a passion for youth (which was then a common disease) and a desire to attract attention to something special.” However, Zavalishin, as an observant person, comes to the conclusion that Lunin “was brave without frivolousness, was professional in service … and was not evasive when it was necessary to intercede for the truth before anyone else.” 8

This was a time when youth, mischief, and acting were considered among officers the highest virtues. Like all military youth of that time, Lunin was not averse to show off youthfulness and courage. He was the first among his comrades in all kinds of officer tricks. His behavior is typical of the “golden youth”: always to be in the center of attention of others and gain popularity.

“Courageous in words, he did not coward before the deed,” wrote I. Auger. – He was one of the instigators of indignation on December 14 and ended his life in Siberia. He was a wonderful person in every way, and it’s worth talking about him. ”

“Lunin was known for his extremely witty and original person. His subtle witticisms were distinguished by courage and sometimes cynicism, but he got away with it. ” 9

“Lunin in 1805 was already an officer. He was a desperate sacker and was wounded in every duel, so his body looked like a sieve; but in battles, where he was also calmly brave and desperately brave, he did not receive a single wound, ”recalled the Decembrist Yakushkin I.D. in Siberia 10

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of St. Petersburg in winter: Admiralteysky Prospekt to Palace Square, Bolshaya Katalnaya Gorka. Russia, St. Petersburg, 1836. Engraving by sketch, watercolor, white, varnish. State Hermitage Museum.

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of St. Petersburg in winter: Admiralteysky Prospekt to Palace Square, Bolshaya Katalnaya Gorka. Russia, St. Petersburg, 1836. Engraving by sketch, watercolor, white, varnish. State Hermitage Museum.

“His voice was sharp, piercing, the words as if by themselves broke from mocking lips and always hit the target. In disputes, he beat the enemy, inflicting wounds that never healed; the logic of his arguments was as irresistible as the taunt of jokes. He rarely spoke with a prejudiced intention, usually his thoughts, both serious and cheerful, poured in a free, inexhaustible stream, expressions were themselves, thoughtless, elegant and remarkably accurate. ” eleven

“Lunin was all afraid for his bold actions and words. He did not spare the vice, and sometimes his well-aimed witticisms were directed against dignitaries. They never went so far as to bring punishment upon him; they excited laughter, but sometimes they could offend. ” 12

“In his whole being, in posture, in conversation was manifested by innate nobility and sincerity. With a positive direction of the mind, he was not without some sentimentality that lived in him besides his knowledge: he did not try to cause it, but did not interfere with its manifestation. It was a dreamer, a knight, like Don Quixote, always ready to fight the windmill. ” thirteen

“There was still among us Mikhail Sergeyevich Lunin, a very lively mind with great education, but a lively youthful life, which at that time had a general inclination,” Decembrist Sergei G. Volkonsky recalled Lunin. “This person subsequently revealed, during his exile to Siberia, a remarkable consistency in thoughts and energy in actions.” 14

“We were both big hangers, and indeed, not only young people, but also other comrades, even squadron commanders, loved to play pranks and have fun.” fifteen

Tales of Lunin’s leprosy, bold antics, and its severity were passed from mouth to mouth.

“Lunin was constantly schooling. A rare day passed without his leprosy. His inseparable associate was an officer, distinguished only by his great growth and strength; his comrades called him in jest Sancho Panza. ” sixteen

“Being already an officer in the cavalry guard regiment, he bet he would gallop naked on horseback in Petersburg.” 17 And he galloped, completely naked.

Lunin and his comrades, again in a bet, changed the signs in all the shops of Nevsky Prospekt in one night. eighteen

Decembrist Sergei G. Volkonsky recalled how he and Lunin spent several weeks in the summer on the Black River, filming beautiful huts. In the tent, near the huts, they kept nine dogs and two live bears, causing panic to the locals. Serge and Michelle often amused themselves by frightening passers-by and passing bears. They taught one of the dogs, quietly told her, “Bonaparte,” to rush at a passerby and tear off his hat or hat.

On one of the days when Lunin and Volkonsky were apparently very bored, they “decided to start fireworks in broad daylight. Count Victor Pavlovich Kochubey lived in our neighborhood, and his aunt Natalya Kirillovna Zagryazhskaya, a very intelligent woman, was frightened by our dogs and bears. Frightened by the fireworks and worried, she sent us to say that the fireworks only start when it gets dark, and we answered her sent that we are pleased to let them go in broad daylight and that everyone has the right to do what he wants. This old prim and unbearable woman wanted to complain about us, but the count kept her from condescension and even protected us from the old woman’s indignation. “

Once, at the request of Lunin’s colleague, Prince Biron, dragging behind his cousin – Ekaterina Petrovna Lunina, at the moment when she was walking, an unexpected serenade was arranged for her entertainment. To do this, the entire noisy company of cavalry guards, each with an instrument on which he could play, climbed up the trees with which the river was planted and “a celestial concert hummed, to the extreme surprise of a passerby society”.

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of the Promenade des Anglais at the First Kryukov bridge. Russia. St. Petersburg, 1830-1840s Watercolor painted lithograph. State Hermitage Museum.

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of the Promenade des Anglais at the First Kryukov bridge. Russia. St. Petersburg, 1830-1840s Watercolor painted lithograph. State Hermitage Museum.

Having taken a taste, the company of cavalry guards led by Lunin and Volkonsky “decided to give a serenade to Empress Elizaveta Alekseevna, which all young people loved, especially from her bitter family life with Emperor Alexander. We took two boats, took what we could play with, and from the New Village, where there was our connection, sailed against Kamenny Island, where the sovereign and the empress were, and buzzed a serenade, but when we saw that they had launched a twelve-seater at us from a funny flotilla boat, we managed to sail at the mouth of the Black River, and as our boats were shallow, the boat could not reach us in shallow water, and we jumped out of our boats, God forbid, and our adventure ended with impunity. ” 19

A black boat with a black coffin is moving along the Black River. Singers with torches pull “with the saints repose”, everyone is intrigued – suddenly the music is fun, dozens of bottles pop out from the coffin, cavalry guards throw off mourning clothes and feast “in frock-coats without epaulettes”, in blue knitted woolen berets with silver tassels. ” 20

According to the recollections of the Decembrist Yakushkin I.D., recorded from his words N.A. Belogolov: “Lunin was a guard officer and stood in the summer with his regiment near Peterhof; the summer was hot, and officers and soldiers in their free time with great pleasure freshened up with a bath in the bay; the commander in chief, General Depreradovich, unexpectedly by order forbade swimming under strict punishment from now on, on the grounds that these baths occur near the carriageway and thereby offend decency; then Lunin, knowing when the general will be traveling on the road, a few minutes before that got into the water in full uniform, in a shako, uniform and jackboots, so that the general could still see from afar a strange sight of an officer floundering in the water, and when he came to a level, Lunin quickly jumped to his feet, immediately stretched out in the water and respectfully saluted him. The puzzled general called the officer to himself,

– “What are you doing here?”

“I’m swimming,” answered Lunin, “and in order not to violate the order of your Excellency, I try to do it in the most respectable form.” 21

They talked about another impudence of Lunin against the general. “Once upon a study, the good-natured General Depreradovich told Lunin:“ Staff captain Lunin, are you sleeping? ”

“My Excellency is to blame,” he slept and saw in a dream that you were raving, “Lunin answered. 22


Portrait of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich.

Portrait of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich.

A story was circulated among contemporaries about how Lunin challenged the heir to the throne, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, to a duel. Decembrist A.E. Rosen, in his Notes to the Decembrist, talks about the incident between Konstantin and Officer Koshkul. The hot-tempered Konstantin attacked Koshkul with a naked broadsword, but met resistance, as a result of which the broadsword was knocked out of his hands. Cooling down and changing his mind, and also recognizing himself wrong in his ardor, Konstantin apologizes to the officers, and if, he added, someone was not satisfied with this, then he was ready to give personal satisfaction. Konstantin is sure that no one will dare to accept the challenge of the heir to the throne. The entire officers began to assure him that everyone was satisfied. But at this moment, spurring a horse, Michel Lunin drives forward and declares: “No one can refuse such an honor.” Tsesarevich was delighted with Lunin, and the thing ended.23

Decembrist D.I. Zavalishin in his memoirs spoke of yet another case of Lunin tricks. Lunin then served in the retinue of Constantine in Poland. Once Lunin loudly declared that everything done for the picturesque form only impedes the freedom of the soldiers, and therefore, in combat conditions is absolutely unsuitable. Konstantin asked how Lunin could prove it.

Lunin asked: “But let me only command you for 10 minutes with your Uhlansky regiment (which was considered exemplary in relation to ceremoniality), and you will not recognize him.”

Mortgaged for a pound of sweets.

Cesarevich ordered: Take command from Colonel Lunin.

“Everything calmed down and focused on the lancer in anticipation of Lunin’s command. Suddenly a command was heard: “Down with the horse!” And as soon as the feet of the lancer touched the ground, a new command was heard: “Sit down!” Instantly, everything was disfigured; sprinkled everything that was too tight pulled tight; everything that was held not in a simple, natural, but artificial way curved and moved out of place. The tsesarevich laughed and turned everything as a joke.

– Your brother! He said, pointing to Lunin, “he knows all our things.” 24

“When there was no one to fight with, Lunin approached some unfamiliar officer and began the speech:“ Mr! Vous aves dit, que … ”-“ Mr, ”he answered,“ je n’ai rien dit ”. – “Comment? Vous soutenez donc, que j’ai menti! Je vous prie de me le prouver en ‘echangeant avec moi une paire de balles »»

[- “Gracious sir! You said … “

“Dear Sir, I have not told you anything.”

“How do you, therefore, say that I lied? Please prove this by exchanging a couple of bullets with me. ”] 25

A lot of noise was made at the time by his strange duel with Alexei Fedorovich Orlov. Several versions of stories have been preserved about how Lunin challenged Alexei Orlov, the future chief of the gendarmes, to a duel.

According to one version, “once someone reminded Lunin that he had never fought with Alexei Fedorovich Orlov. He went up to him and asked to be honored to exchange a couple of bullets with him. Orlov accepted the challenge. They fought very often in an arena that could be hired; the first shot was Orlova, who tore off Lunin’s left epaulet. Lunin at first also wanted to aim not for fun, but then he said: “After all, Aleksey Fedorovich is such a kind person that he is sorry for him,” and shot into the air. Orlov was offended and began to heal again; Lunin shouted to him: “Vous me manqueres de nouveau, en me visant de cette mani`ere. To the right, a little lower! Right, give a slip! Not this way! Not so! ”- Orlov fired, a bullet pierced Lunin’s hat.

“After all, I told you,” exclaimed Lunin, laughing, “that you will miss!” But I still don’t want to shoot you! ”- and he shot into the air. Orlov, angry, wanted to be charged again, but they were rooted. ” 26

Decembrist D.I. Zavalishin in his memoirs about Lunin also talks about this incident.

“The duel of Lunin with A.F. dates back to the same time. Orlov. Lunin was a comrade both in service and in the high society circle to Orlov, Levashov, partly Chernyshov, etc., and was even in friendly relations with both Orlovs. Once, during a political conversation, in a rather large society, Lunin heard that Orlov, having expressed his opinion, added that every honest person could not think otherwise. Hearing such an expression, Lunin, although the conversation was not with him, but with another, said Orlov:

– Listen, however, Alexei Fedorovich! You, of course, made a mistake using such a harsh expression; I advise you to take it back; I’ll tell you that you can be a completely honest person and, however, have a completely different opinion. I even know myself many honest people whose opinion does not at all agree with yours. I want to think that you just got carried away by the heated debate.

– Well, will you provoke me, or what? – said Orlov.

“I’m not a brater and I’m not looking to provoke anyone,” answered Lunin, “but if you take my words as a challenge, I will not refuse him if you do not refuse your words!”

The consequence of this was a duel; it was supposed to shoot up to three times, bringing the distance closer each time. Everyone knew that Lunin was a great shooter. Orlov carried the feather on Lunin’s hat with his first shot; Lunin shot into the air; Orlov got even more excited and shouted: “Well, what are you! Are you laughing at me? ”he came closer and, aiming for a long time, shot down an epaulet at Lunin with a second shot; Lunin shot a second time in the air, while not only he, but also a bad shooter, if he acted only in cold blood, and did not get excited, like Orlov, he could kill Orlov at such a short distance. Then Orlov came to his senses and, throwing his gun, rushed to Lunin’s neck. ” 27

According to the memoirs of P. Svistunov, this duel was stopped by Mikhail Fedorovich Orlov, who was a second with his brother. He “persuaded him to stop the unequal battle with an unarmed man, so as not to tarnish his conscience with murder.” 28

If Lunin usually shot into the air, then his opponents sometimes shot aiming and hit, so that Lunin’s body looked like a sieve. However, Lunin was not alone, since almost all his friends were also marked with wounds after the fights. Once Lunin “fought at six steps” with another famous bully – “black Uvarov”. And after the duel Uvarov, the “black” suddenly grabbed for Lunin’s sister Ekaterina Sergeevna. He received the consent of the bride’s father and became his brother-in-law Lunin. 29th

Once “Lunin decided to hire a boat in Kronstadt and go alone to the sea to film plans for fortifications. He was spotted in the telescope, caught up and arrested. The sovereign demanded that he explain this impudent act.

“Your Majesty,” he answered, “I am seriously interested in military art, and since I am currently studying Vauban, I wanted to compare his system with the system of your engineers.”

“But you could get permission;” you would not be denied a request.

“Guilty, sovereign: I did not want to be refused.”

“You set off alone in a boat in stormy weather: you were in danger.”

– Your Majesty, your ancestor Peter the Great knew how to deal with the elements. What if I discovered an unknown land in the Gulf of Finland? I would hoist the banner of your Majesty.

“They say you are not completely out of your mind, Lunin.”

“Your Majesty, they said the same thing about Columbus.”

– I forgive the crazy; but I ask that this not happen next time. ” thirty

Perhaps Alexander I regarded the words about Peter the Great, who knew how to deal with the elements, as a hint of him, the king, indecision. And the words about “didn’t want to be refused”, as a reminder that Lunin had already asked once to be released to Spain to fight against the French, but he was refused.

From now on, Lunin cannot make a serious military career.


In the first terrible days of 1812, when the Cavalier Guard regiment, together with the army, was retreating, not touching the enemy, to Smolensk, Lunin thought about self-sacrifice. As N.N. recalled Muravyov: “He constantly wrote something, and once he read me a letter prepared by him to the commander-in-chief, in which, expressing a desire to sacrifice himself to his fatherland, he asked that he be sent as a parliamentarian to Napoleon in order to plant the papers to the emperor of the French he has a dagger in his side, which he kept on this subject under the headboard. Lunin would surely have done this if he had been sent. ” 31

The murder of Napoleon, in his opinion, was a salvation from the tyrant, because of which there were all the disasters that fell on Russia.

On August 4-6, 1812, Lunin participated in battles near Smolensk. Very worried about the failures of the Russian army. As Nikolai Nikolayevich Muravyov recalled in his Notes, Mikhail Lunin took part in the battle with the enemy even when the cavalry guards were in reserve. So an unexpected meeting took place between Muravyov and Lunin returning from business. “He was wearing his white cavalry guard and helmet; he held a fitting in his hands; the servant carried a gun after him. Having said hello, I asked him where he was? “In battle,” he answered shortly. “What was he doing there?” “He shot and killed two.” He really was in the arrows and shot like an ordinary. Who knows the desperate head of Lunin, he will believe him, ”says N.N. Muravyov.” 32

About the same cases, writes PN Svistunov: “I mentioned his fearlessness, although this word does not fully express the property of the soul that nature has endowed with it. The peculiarity manifested in him that the feeling of danger was a pleasure for him. For example, in a campaign in 1812 he got off his horse in his cavalryguard’s white tunic, took a soldier’s gun and, with pleasure, became a chain of skirmishers. ” 33

This was also recalled by the Decembrist Yakushkin ID: “He served at one time in the cavalry guards and in battles, when his regiment was inactive, intervened in the crowd of shooters in his white tunic.” 34

Already on August 26, Lunin took part in the battle of Borodino, first at the Semenovsky flashes, and then at the Raevsky battery, where the cavalry guards took flight of the French cavalry. A horse was killed underneath, not a scratch on Lunin itself. For this battle, Lunin “was bestowed with a golden sword with the inscription” For courage “.” 35

Mikhail Lunin returns home after participating in the Patriotic War and the European campaign. He is the guard captain. He is twenty-six years old, he distinguished himself in all battles from Smolensk to Paris, he has three orders, a golden sword.

In the winter of 1815-1816, when the guard was in Vilna, Lunin was injured in another duel with some Pole, having received a bullet in his groin. His friends ask the Frenchman Hippolytus Auger to keep company with the wounded Lunin, since boredom is worse for him than a wound. Auger had already heard about Lunin before meeting.

Many years later, in his Notes, Auger will remember Mikhail Lunin in this way: “No matter how detailed I describe Lunin, still I am not able to give a complete idea about him: this many-sided bizarre nature was elusive in its manifestations, although in depth her one unchanging thought lay. “He purposely seemed empty, windy, to hide from everyone the secret spiritual work and the goal to which he was steadily striving.” 36 “He was a poet and musician and at the same time a reformer, political economist, statesman who studied social issues, familiar with all the truths and with all errors … I knew Alexander Dumas and when thinking about our works I could appreciate the enormous wealth of his imagination. But how much higher was Lunin than him, fantasizing about the future solution of the most important social problems. ” 37

Lunin shares with Auger the plan to resign. Hippolytus is amazed at this decision.

“- you? Cavalier Guard Colonel!

“I am even more visible: I have a ceremonial uniform in white and half-uniform red.”

– You will refuse all the benefits awaiting you in the service?

– It’s very profitable to go broke on horses and things like that! Even if I could go broke! But my father finds an opportunity to trim more and more his assigned content. I curse my position day and night.

“Indeed, you are sometimes thoughtful.”

– Of course you’ll think about it, my dear! They keep me hungry. You probably noticed how I lost weight.

– Yes, I find you are pale.

– Pale! You must be sorry for the words. Think something stronger. At the feast of life, they treat me with kvass. ”

One morning, Auger receives a note from Lunin’s sister, Ekaterina Uvarova, asking her to reassure Misha, who had a “terrible scene with his father.” Hippolytus visits Lunin in his father’s house, where Michel lived at that moment, finds him playing the piano.

Michael shared with Auger his experiences that have occupied him recently:

“- I tried to imagine with all the details the terrible situation of the cavalry guard Colonel, fighting off with weapons in his hands from the police, who appeared to arrest him for his debts!

“You are not the first and not the last.”

“All the worse, as soon as this is such an ordinary thing, it is no longer suitable for me, if such a misfortune happened, then you need to get out of it differently than others do.”

Further, Lunin, with humor, a change of gestures, intonations and a game of physiognomy, tells Ippolit how the day before he had a conversation with his father about debts to creditors that had to be paid, about his retirement and about his desire to leave for South America. He turned to his father with a proposal to pay his debts, more than 10,000 rubles. to creditors, give 5000 rubles. on the road from Russia, and in return he, Lunin, gives up his share of the inheritance in favor of his father, that is, gives up all claims to estates, capital, and so on. To his father’s indignation, his son, a cavalry guard colonel, who has a bright future, may resign, Lunin replies: “How can I serve in the cavalry guard with my worthless income, which you deprived me, and with debts that you don’t want to pay? So I’m resigning I’m going to South America and joining the ranks of the fellows there, who are now rebelling. In this way I prove my independence and risk nothing but life. Think! There’s nothing left for me anymore, since you want to deprive me of the assigned content. ”

After telling Hippolyta Auger about the tragicomic scene between him and his father, Lunin continued: “Only one career is open for me – a career of freedom, which in Spanish is called Libertad, and the titles in it do not make sense, no matter how loud they are. You say that I have great abilities, and you want me to bury them in some office because of the vain desire to receive ranks and stars, which the French rightly call spitting. How? I will receive a large salary and do nothing, or do nonsense, or worse – do everything in the world; at the same time I will need an idiot whom I will appease in order to shove him and sit down in his place? And you think that I am capable of such a miserable existence? Yes, I will suffocate, and this will be a fair retribution for the desecration of the spirit. Excessive strength will choke me.

No, no, I need freedom of thought, freedom of will, freedom of service! This is real life! Away from the duties of service, the existence of unnecessary creatures. I do not want to be dependent on my official position: I will benefit people in the way that my mind and heart inspire me. A citizen of the universe – better than this title is not in the world.

Liberty! Libertad! I’m leaving here … ”

A few days later, Lunin told Auger: “As a fatalist, I must be superstitious. Didn’t I tell you that I was at Lenormand in Paris?

“Well, what did the fortuneteller tell you?”

“She said they would hang me.” We must try to make the prediction come true. ” 38

Seven months have passed since he returned to his homeland from overseas campaigns, and Lunin submits to Alexander I a request for his transfer from the guard to the army. In his petition, Lunin refers to material difficulties. He does not have enough money for expenses. Father cuts him to a minimum, which is not enough even for the most necessary. So, according to the patrimonial records, during 1816-1817, “for the life of Mikhail Sergeyevich – 21 p. 10 k. ”, While the father spends 64,770 p. 40 K. 39

However, Konstantin in his response to the commander of the Guards Corps Miloradovich on Lunin’s petition for resignation does not give consent and instructs him to refuse.

Having been denied transfer to the army, Lunin submits a second report asking for sick leave. But “permission” did not follow, and instead of a vacation, Alexander I dismissed Lunin.

According to the memoirs of Hippolytus Auger: “His decision to resign was made with great pleasure: there were no obstacles, on the contrary, they hurried to settle everything as soon as possible.

The emperor was informed that the cavalry guard Colonel Lunin wishes to resign.

“This is the best he can do,” the emperor said.

– He asks permission to go abroad.

“I allow: with God!” 40

Auger dissuades Lunin from a trip to South America. Decide to go to Paris. To Paris so to Paris.


On September 10 (22), 1816, the French ship Fidelite (Loyalty) departed from Kronstadt for Le Havre with two passengers on board.

The old father gives goodbye a pound of candles made of pure wax, 25 bottles of porter, as many bottles of rum and many lemons. Lunin was somewhat moved and told Auger that he had not expected lemons at all, and now he sees that it was possible to get along with his father.

“Uvarov and his wife escorted us to the ship,” writes Hippolytus Auger. – Lunin-father, in a surge of parental tenderness, wanted to lead us to the ship.

When the ship left the harbor, we, standing with Lunin on the deck, sent last greetings to his father, who from the shaft sent us his blessing, dipping the cross on all four sides. ” 41

There are several more versions of Lunin’s departure from Russia to France.

According to one version, Lunin calls in to his sister, Ekaterina Uvarova, who is sleeping; he doesn’t tell her to wake her up … Fyodor Uvarov’s husband is escorting her to the ship that takes the traveler to Kronstadt. 

According to other recollections, the father gave his son his library of 3,000 volumes, and he played it in a lottery, distributed tickets among his comrades and earned about 1,200 rubles.

But even before leaving for France, somewhere in March-April 1816, Lunin learns from Nikita Muravyov, one of the founders of the Salvation Union, about the emergence of the Secret Society and takes an active part in its activities.

Later, on a questionnaire from the Investigation Commission, Mikhail Lunin will write: “I was not accepted by anyone into the secret society; but he himself joined him, using the general trust of the members, then in a small number of people. ” 42

Paris of that time was the center of intense political life. Perhaps Lunin went to Paris “for new liberal ideas,” or perhaps because there was an opportunity here, by his own labor, to earn a living, which was impossible for him in Russia without a family and public scandal, as for his son wealthy landowner, cavalry guard captain. 43

Auger recalled: “It should be noted that during the trip Lunin, a cavalry guard colonel belonging to high society, the heir to a great fortune, constantly thought about how he would get his daily bread on a foreign side.” 44

O.A. Kiprensky. Portrait of a retired captain M.S. Lunin. 1815-1821. State Historical Museum, Moscow.

O.A. Kiprensky. Portrait of retired captain M.S. Lunin. 1815-1821.State Historical Museum, Moscow.

They said that Lunin lived in the attic of one widow with five poor people, they all had one cloak and one umbrella, which they used in turn. As for this widow and other details of the Parisian life, still amusing stories have been preserved, later told by the Lunin comrades in Siberian custody themselves:

“He lived in a guesthouse with a certain Madame Michelle, who became attached to him. At the table, she gave him a place next to her – and what a table! Plates, knives, forks – all this was chained up – here for the first time Michelle came across them … He sometimes earned 10 francs a day by writing letters – he became a public scribe and drove his booth on wheels along the boulevards. He told how he happened to write love letters for grisettes. He then translated commercial letters from French into English. He wrote them, wrapped in a blanket, without firewood in his attic. ” 45

After some time, Hippolytus Auger notices the changes in Lunin, suspects secret plans, seeing those personalities who began to visit Michael.

On the eve of his return to his homeland, Lunin meets with Saint-Simon.

Lunin’s stay in Paris was interrupted by receiving a letter from his sister with news of his father’s death. Lunin became rich, but this did not please him, since it was not achieved by his labor and mind. He needed to return to his homeland, where he was waiting for business.

Lunin, explaining to Auger why he does not take him with him to Russia, says: “Do not think that my stay in France will remain without any benefit to Russia. If you were the kind of person I need, that is, if with your abilities and kind heart you had a certain share of ambition, I would forcefully take you with me, of course, not for the purpose that you would engage in all kinds of nonsense in St. Petersburg living rooms. But we could lay the foundation for mutual learning with you, and that would push us forward on the path of civilization, on which we are behind Europe. ” 46

Ten days passed in preparation for the departure.

The stroller was bought, a footman was hired for the money sent from St. Petersburg. One fine morning Auger escorts Lunin. At the outpost, Mikhail Lunin and Hippolytus Auger with tears in their eyes goodbye hug.


Lunin returned to Russia in the first half of 1817.

By this time, the charter of the Salvation Union has already been written (mainly by Pestel), the number of members of the organization has grown. The company is renamed the “Union of True and Faithful Sons of the Fatherland.” In the fall of 1817, following the tsar’s court and the guard, the “retired” Lunin also arrived in Moscow. He is present at the meetings where Yakushkin and Shakhovskoy volunteered to kill Alexander I. And although it was Lunin who was the first to put forward the idea of regicide, he did not support the proposals of Yakushkin and Shakhovsky, being sure that the Secret Organization was not ready to use the result of this act.

The time has come to engage a large number of new active members of society. And in Moscow, a new Decembrist Society is born – the Union of Welfare.

Along with vigorous activity in society, Lunin is busy with the estate. He inherited estates in the Tambov and Saratov provinces, and in addition to large debts, which also came to him from his father. By the spring of 1825, Lunin was able to completely clear the estates of debts, to increase the profitability of estates, to improve the situation of serfs. Luninsky courtyards received a larger month than the courtyards of other landowners, and the elderly received a pension. Lunin refused the usual sale of serf girls in marriage at that time, letting go of married women without any restriction or compensation, with the condition that it was “free and unconstrained by the girls consent to the choice of parents.” 47

Despite a lively participation in the establishment of the estate, Lunin during these years spent most of his time in St. Petersburg, where he was actively involved in the affairs of the Secret Society. Almost all the most important events in the life of the Welfare Union of these years took place with its direct participation. The Moscow Congress in early spring 1821 decided to dissolve the Union of Welfare. The decision to dissolve the Union of Welfare was considered fictitious (to deceive tracking spies, get rid of both weak and too hot members and form a new society). The best members of society are explained the fictitious dissolution of the Union. The initiative to create a new Secret Society in St. Petersburg belonged to Nikita Muravyov, Mikhail Lunin, Nikolai Turgenev, and they also hoped that Pavel Pestel would also join them.

Lukashevich. Portrait of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. 1830. State Hermitage Museum.

Lukashevich. Portrait of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. 1830. State Hermitage Museum.

In April-May 1821, Mikhail Lunin and Nikita Muravyov decided to return to service.

January 20, 1822 by the highest order, Lunin was enlisted with the rank of captain in the Polish Lancers Regiment in submission to Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. Lunin arrives at his regiment in Slutsk. Two years later, in May 1824, he was transferred to Warsaw by the commander of the 4th squadron of the Life Guards of the Grodno Hussars Regiment.

“- What, now letting go of leprosy? – asked the prince Lunin.

“Then we, Your Highness, were young, the latter answered, hinting at more than one past” (from Ulyanov’s notes). 48

In Warsaw, first with the rank of captain and then Lt. Col. Mikhail Lunin, he became adjutant to Grand Duke Konstantin and remained in the service until his arrest.

Lunin settled near Warsaw, in Wilanow. Outwardly, his life was not much different from the life of the aristocratic part of the guard officers. A huge house, which, in addition to a civil servant, was serviced by ten serfs, beautiful riding horses, an excellent harness, a big kennel – all this created the impression that those around him and those who didn’t know him were that Lunin was primarily a zealous servant and secular life-burner.

And now sometimes, as in cavalryguard times, there were jokes about Lunin’s “tricks”. So, they said that Lunin systematically went for a walk in the park, accompanied by a huge tame bear. The owner of Vilanova, trembling with fear, somehow turned to her restless tenant with a request to save her from the four-legged neighbor, to which Lunin gallantly answered her that if there were no traitors among the Poles, she “would not have displeasure to see in her palace neither two-legged nor four-legged bears. ” 49 Thanks to the old glory of the “naughty”, all this was perceived as yet another “leprosy”. Soon, Mikhail Lunin became his man in the Grand Ducal Palace, often fulfilling the duties of adjutant Constantine.

Lunin had a black mustache, and Konstantin, suspecting that they were fake, ordered him to ask if the officer had read the order banning the fabrication. “I read the order,” Lunin answered, “and why I have a black mustache, I can only explain when His Highness will explain why he has no nose” (the Grand Duke was a snub in his father, Paul I). fifty

“Once in Odessa in 1819, he talked on the balcony of the third floor with then-famous beauty Waleska. The conversation was about the disappearance of chivalry in men. Waleska cited the example that now none of them will rush from the balcony at the order of her beauty.

Lunin was indifferent to Waleska, but could not refuse the sensation of some danger. He boldly and deftly rushed from the balcony and safely reached the ground, since then the streets were not paved. All this did not prevent him from being a good, sweet comrade in cohabitation, and in society a cheerful, witty, amiable person. ” 51

The intended role was obviously played by Lunin with extraordinary perfection, and only when the investigation of the Decembrists began, did the Lunin colleagues understand how brilliant the actor was their green table partner and fellow zealous servant of the green serpent. “Being in our regiment,” wrote the author of the story of the Grodno hussars many years later about Lunin, “he deliberately seemed windy and empty in order to better hide from everyone the secret spiritual work and the goal that he aspired to, and I must tell the truth, not only with respect to the regiment he succeeded, but the Grand Duke was convinced of his innocence. ” 52

Talk about Lunin’s motivation only complemented his external image, disguising a fiery member of Southern society.

Lunin, apparently, had the closest ties with Pestel and his friends during this period, and they not without reason considered him a member of the Southern Society. The confirmation of this is the discussion at the Kiev Congress of the Southern Society (January 1823) of Pestel’s project on the creation of the “doomed detachment”, and later – the election of Lunin as a mediator for communication between the Southern Society and the Polish Patriotic Society.


The uprising of December 14, 1825 finds Lunin in Warsaw. He is among those officers who are against the abdication of Constantine, who are trying to prevent this. Already from the first official reports, Lunin understands that he is unlikely to escape the fate of his comrades. Between Nicholas I and Konstantin, a struggle broke out for Lunin. Konstantin for a long time defends his favorite and does not give him to the mercy of the St. Petersburg Commission. Nikolai is forced to send to Warsaw “question points” carefully prepared by the Committee for Lunin, because Konstantin so desires. Nikolay, of course, would like Lunin to answer these questions while in the Peter and Paul Fortress, and not in his mansion in Vilanovo.

Lunin, shutting himself in and not accepting anyone, 53slowly writes in his incredibly beautiful “Gothic” handwriting full of dignity and poison, extremely short, concise answers to them. Answering the questionnaires back in Warsaw, Lunin did not name and subsequently will not give a single name. In the future, he will adhere to the same tactics. The less information the investigation has, the better the defendants. From the first interrogation, Lunin begins to subtly mock the commission of inquiry and sovereign Nicholas I. Literally in his very first answer, he appoints Tsar Alexander I as the founder of a secret society, directly hinting at his speech at the opening of the Polish Sejm (March 15, 1818), where the sovereign spoke about the gradual preparation of Russia for the adoption of law-free institutions. The very term “institutions liberales” is from the speech of the king. Lunin during the investigation clearly leads one line: in rebellions and secret societies after 1822, is not involved; the constitutional convictions of him, Lunin, and the Union of Welfare cannot be considered criminal, for such were the convictions of Alexander I, according to his own words. In the future, in his subsequent answers, Lunin does not cease to constantly quote the late tsar: “Legally-free … Legally-free …”.

Question: “The Committee, having affirmative and many testimonies about your membership in the Secret Society and actions in the spirit of it, requires your frank and as thorough as possible testimony in the following:

When, where, and by whom were you accepted as a member of the Secret Society, and what reasons prompted you to join it? ”

Answer: “I was not accepted by anyone into the membership of the Secret Society, but I joined it myself, using the general confidence of the members, then in a small number of members.

– The formation of society, its goals and means to achieve them did not, in my opinion, contain harmful principles. I was seduced by the thought that this secret political society would limit its actions to a moral influence on the minds and would benefit from the gradual preparation of the people to accept law-free institutions, granted by the bounties of the late Emperor Alexander I to the Poles and to them prepared by us.

“These are the reasons that prompted me to join a secret society in Moscow in 1817 upon my return from foreign lands.”

Question: “As a former member of the Root Duma, do you know the time of the appearance of secret societies in Russia, as well as the gradual process of changing and spreading them; therefore, explain this with the greatest possible accuracy. ”

Answer: “The first secret political societies appeared in Russia in 1816. The gradual course of change and distribution thereof is not known to me in detail and with accuracy. ”

Question: about the reasons that “preceded and gave birth” to the idea of secret societies.

Answer: “As the enlightenment succeeded, they began to comprehend in Russia the benefits and benefits of constitutional or law-free boards; but the inability to achieve this political change clearly led to resort to secret means. Here, I believe, are the reasons that preceded and gave rise to the idea of founding secret political societies in Russia. ”

Question: “When, where and by whom was this society originally founded and under what name?”

Answer: “A secret society, later known as the Union of Welfare, was founded in Moscow in 1816. I cannot name the founders of this, for it is against my conscience and rules. ”

Question: “Who, when and for what society wrote the charters and in what spirit; explain the main features thereof. ”

Answer: “The charters of the Secret Society are generally written in a law-free spirit. The pursuit of the common good, the correctness of intentions and pure morality are the main features of these. When these charters are written – I will not remember with accuracy; all members participated in the compilation of these. ”

Question: “Who were the chairmen, guardians, and members of the Indigenous Duma?”

Answer: “I decided to myself the invariable rule not to call anyone by name.”

Question: “Which of the members most sought to disseminate and approve the opinions of society with advice, writings and personal influence on others?”

Answer: “All members of society equally competed in the pursuit of this goal.”

“Having stopped my relations with the Secret Society at the beginning of 1822, I lost sight of everything relating to it … I devoted all my time and all my efforts to the exact fulfillment of my duties in the service. As a result of this, I completely stopped all kinds of relations with the Secret Society, did not receive notifications of his further actions, and did not write to anyone, and did not want to write on this subject. Regarding my actions during the service, from 1822 to this day, I dare to refer to the opinion of the high authorities, under whom I have the good fortune to serve ” 

Question: “Since when did revolutionary thoughts and rules appear and become dominant in the minds of members of society?”

Answer: “Revolutionary thoughts and rules appeared in society, probably since 1822, because until that time there were no obvious signs of them.”

Question: “Who and when did you accept as a member of society?”

Answer: “During my stay in the Secret Society, I did not join a single member at any time, not finding it necessary both for the types of society and for the benefit of the new ones.”

Question: “What do you know about the intention of Captain Yakushkin in 1817 to encroach on the life in the Bose of the late emperor? What reasons led him to … who gave affirmative or negative opinions? ”

Answer: “G. Yakushkin is very little familiar to me … The criminal thought of his Secret Society was not unknown; but this atrocity, completely disagreeing with the purpose and spirit of society, was unanimously accepted as stemming from a breakdown in the abilities of his mind, Mr. Yakushkin, and none of the members believed that he should take measures to bring this criminal intent into execution, based on that Mr. Yakushkin (as everyone later knew) had seizures of insanity and, therefore, having forgotten about this, would not persist in his delusion. The consequences justified the opinion of society. ”

Question: “Which of the members of the society were in relations? ..”

Answer: “I can’t imagine the explanation of my personal relations with whom exactly, so as not to give a name.”

Question: “What was your meeting with Pestel in 1820 or 1821? .. Did Pestel read to you the prepared constitution“ Russian Truth ”?”

Answer: “Being always in friendly relations with Pestel, in 1821, on my way back to Odessa, I drove to Tulchin and stayed there for three days. There were no political meetings between us … The prescription of time prevents me from mentioning the subject of passages read to me by Pestel from his Russian Truth. But I remember that my opinion when reading these passages was approving, and I remember that they definitely deserved this opinion for their dignity and benefit, for the correctness of purpose and for the thoughtfulness of reasoning. “

Question: “In conclusion, add everything that you know about secret societies and persons to which they belong – beyond the questions set forth here.”

Answer: “Having informed the highest approved committee everything that I know about secret societies, I conclude my answers hereby, having nothing more to supplement my explanations.

Life Guards of the Grodno Hussars Regiment Lt. Col. Lunin the Third.

Warsaw, 1826, April 8th. ” 54


Lev Ivanovich Kiel. Portrait of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich by the fireplace in a palace in Warsaw, 1829-1830. Watercolor and varnish on paper. State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg.

Lev Ivanovich Kiel. Portrait of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich by the fireplace in a palace in Warsaw, 1829-1830. Watercolor and varnish on paper. State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg.

The next morning, Lunin was summoned to the palace of Grand Duke Constantine.

On April 9, obviously, Lunin’s last meeting with Konstantin took place.

“… Lunin, one of those personalities without fear, was loved and respected by the late Tsarevich Konstantin Pavlovich. After already on December 14, in Warsaw, Lunin comes to ask the Cesarevich to go to the Silesian border to hunt for bears. “But you will go and not return.” “Honestly, Your Highness.” “Tell Kuruta to write a ticket.” Kuruta does not agree to give a ticket and runs to Tsesarevich “Have mercy, Your Highness, we are waiting from hour to hour that they will send from St. Petersburg for Lunin, how can this be released?” “Listen, Kuruta,” replies Tsesarevich, “I will not go to bed with Lunin and I won’t advise you to lie with him, he will kill, but when Lunin gives his word of honor, he will restrain him. ” Indeed, Lunin returned to Warsaw when the courier was waiting for him the other day from St. Petersburg. When the investigative commission began to interrogate him, what he said about the extermination of the royal family, he replied that he never said, but thought about it. Lunin said that he would certainly send two thousand rubles to Rome, so that Dad would solemnly serve a funeral service for Cesarevich for ordering to feed his hounds and greyhounds after taking him under arrest. C’est une g’en’erosit’e de sa part. “

“Lunin was a zealous Catholic. When he converted to Catholicism and what prompted him to do so, it remained unknown to those closest to him. Only this era we believed the time of his stay in Warsaw. He was a great duelist in his youth and was dismissed from the cavalry guards for a duel. The father became angry with him and stopped his maintenance. Lunin left for Paris and lived there for some time, giving piano lessons. Returning to Russia, he wrote a letter to Cesarevich. K <onstanin> P <avlovich> did not like him before and always drove him away, but the power of attorney with which Lunin addressed him liked him, he accepted him into one of the Lancers of the Lithuanian corps with the captain (two ranks lower than the one he had). After that K <onstanin> P <avlovich> transferred him to one of the guards regiments in Warsaw, and Lunin became his favorite. When the order came to arrest Lunin, the Cesarevich called him and told him that he would not give him that he would be hanged in St. Petersburg, and told him that he was giving him a month for a term that he could use. Lunin did not want to avoid his fate, and was sent to Petersburg by secondary demand. ”55

The recollections of the Decembrist Zavalishin (with reference to Lunin) are preserved:

“This is what Lunin told about his last meeting with the prince.

“Now you blame yourself, Mikhail Sergeyevich,” the prince said to Lunin saying goodbye to him; I defended you for a long time and gave you time to retire abroad, but in Petersburg I can’t help you anymore! ”

“Nothing, Your Highness!” to run abroad, avoiding the fate that the comrades would suffer, would be cowardice … Now I ask you only about one thing: do not forbid my friends to take me to the first station; You will see how triumphantly I will leave Warsaw. ” 56

Whether the above phrase was actually uttered by the Grand Duke Constantine is not known, but there is no doubt that he gave Lunin time and the opportunity to hide.

Ahead of Lunin was waiting for the “St. Petersburg investigation.”

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of the arch of the General Staff Building from Palace Square. Russia, 1822. Drawing author: Rossi, Carlo. 1775-1849. Lithography, watercolor on paper. State Hermitage Museum.

Beggrov, Karl Petrovich. 1799-1875. View of the arch of the General Staff Building from Palace Square. Russia, 1822. Architect: Rossi, Carlo. 1775-1849. Lithography, watercolor on paper. State Hermitage Museum.

In St. Petersburg, as a result of the investigation, Lunin mockingly answers his former colleague, and now investigator General Chernyshev. In response to a demand to name the other conspirators, Lunin explains that to extradite comrades is immoral and that it is in the “interests of the authorities” to prevent such a fall in honor. 57

The first interrogation of Lunin, conducted by his former colleague Chernyshev, turned out to be completely inconclusive for Nicholas I. Chernyshev did not receive any new information from Lunin and could not confirm the information that the commission had at that moment. The committee, which had already prepared Lunin’s face-to-face confrontation, rejected this decision. Until the end of the investigation, Lunin did not have a single confrontation.

But Mikhail Lunin did not cheat on himself in the casemate. Two days later, on April 18, he, on his own initiative, sends to the Committee an addition to the evidence given in Warsaw. These additions can only be regarded as a subtle mockery of the “highly established” Investigative Committee. Additional evidence is written in the form of a “penitent letter”. And in it Mikhail Lunin, until now not having given a single surname, writes that after interrogation he found out that the persons belonging to the Company, as well as their actions, were “perfectly known”, and therefore he decided to “fulfill the will” of the Committee and lists immediately fourteen organizers and active participants in the Secret Society. One can easily imagine the reaction and expression of the persons of the members of the Committee, whom in the fifth month of their work Lunin calls Trubetskoy, Pestel, Sergei Muravyov, Nikita Muravyev, Yakushkin and others,

After this “confession”, Lunin was not bothered for two weeks: they did not call for interrogations, did not arrange confrontations and did not require written answers to additional questions.

“Colonel Lunin, known for his intelligence and energetic character, answered the question of regicide [60],“ Gentlemen, the Secret Society has never had an aim to regicide, since its purpose is more noble and lofty. But, by the way, as you know, this idea is nothing new in Russia – the examples are completely fresh! ”Two of the Committee members, Tatishchev and Kutuzov, were implicated in the bloody death of Paul. The answer hit the mark and the Committee was confused. ” 58

Lunin in 1826 was convicted of the plan of regicide in 1816. Not a single reason after 1822, the judges and Nicholas I were not found.

1826 divided Lunin’s life into before and after. But his sharp, extravagant actions, which over time will become the object of an enthusiastic semi-legendary and legendary description, are unchanged.

On July 12, 1826, the Supreme Criminal Court announced the conviction of the convict. The convicts are amazed to see Lunin, and even more to learn about his sentence. Lunin, like others ranked 2nd, is being replaced with twenty years of hard labor by fifteen years on the occasion of the coronation.

“At the place of execution, dressed in a jail caftan and, moreover, in red hussar leggings, Lunin, noting Count A.I. Chernysheva, shouted to him: “Yes, you come closer to enjoy the sight!” 59

Here are the recollections of the Decembrists Zebrikov and Annenkov:

“Mikhail Lunin … at the end of reading the maxim, turning to all the others, he loudly said:“ Il faut arroser le sentence ”(“ Gentlemen! A fine sentence must be sprinkled ”) – calmly fulfilled what was said. It would be great if Adjutant General Chernyshev saw this. ” 60

Rosen A.E. he recalled in Notes of the Decembrist: “When they read the sentence and Zhuravlev especially struck with his voice at the last words -“ to settle in Siberia forever ”, Lunin, out of habit, pulling his clothes up a step, remarked to the whole presence:“ It’s good forever – I’m already for fifty years old! ”(and as if after that instead of the words“ forever ”they began to write in sentences -“ for life ”). 61


October 21, 1826, at night, secretly, so that no one would know when and where, Lunin and several other Decembrists were sent to the Sveaborg fortress. Lunin himself called this period of his life “deep in the casemates.” Lunin’s stay in the Sveaborg and Vyborg fortresses took place in heavy solitary confinement. Of the books, only one was allowed – the New Testament, the rest was returned back to Lunin’s sister.

According to the memoirs of M.N. Volkonskaya about Lunin of that time:

“He also owns the following trick. During his initial imprisonment in a fortress, in Finland, Governor-General Zakrevsky, visiting a prison on official duty, asked him: “Do you have everything you need?” The prison was terrible: rain flowed through the ceiling, the roof was so bad. Lunin answered him, smiling: “I am quite pleased with everything, I am missing only an umbrella.” ” 62

An unknown author of Memoirs of Lunin, published in The Bell, also talks about the umbrella.

However, despite the terrible conditions in the casemates, Lunin, according to the memoirs of Zavalishin DI, claimed that the Vyborg fortress was “the happiest era in life”.

The Sveaborg commandant offers to arrange an escape for Lunin. Lunin refuses, “presenting him with the dangers into which his generosity will plunge himself and his family.” 63

Lunin served hard labor first in Chita, then in the Petrovsky plant.

“Gifted with this extraordinary firmness of character, he became at work a comforter and a support for the comrades who were weakened under the yoke of misfortune, never resenting any of them for their weakness.” 64

Lunin is preparing for the future struggle, reflects on the past, reads a lot, he is not oppressed by the hardships of existence.

Leo Tolstoy heard as if “a caretaker of hard labor … every day he left the inspection of work, laughing for a long time on the way. So Lunin knew how to make him laugh underground and chained to a wheelbarrow. ” 65

An unknown author of the Notes on Lunin, published in The Bell in 1859, tells such an anecdote about Lunin: “When he arrived in Chita (in 1830), he was sick from Shlisselburg life and lost almost all his teeth from sorrow. Meeting with his comrades in Chita, he told them: “Here, my children, I have only one tooth left against the government.” 66

In the early Chita months, the Decembrists were united by the thought of escape. The plan was to go down Ingoda to Argun and Amur, then to sail towards the Great Ocean in the direction of the river and escape to America.

“M.S. Lunin made all kinds of preparations for himself, took out a compass, accustomed himself to the most moderate food: he drank only brick tea, stocked up with money, but, having considered everything, he could not begin to execute: all the guards were near, both foot and horse, and there it was immeasurable, naked and hungry distance. In both cases, good luck and failure, all the same responsibility for new trials and for enhanced control for other comrades throughout Siberia. ” 67

With the refusal to escape, a thing left that would open another Lunin, the “cold lightning” – the daredevil of the past years.

In the summer of 1830, the Decembrists were transferred from Chita to the Petrovsky Plant. Translated in two batches. The first batch was led by parade ground major Lieutenant Colonel Leparsky, the commandant’s nephew, and the second party was the commandant himself; each party had a sufficient number of escort soldiers and Cossacks. Wagons were hired for things; only sick and wounded were allowed to go, like Fonvizin, Trubetskoy, Lunin, Volkonsky, Yakubovich, Shveikovsky, Mitkov, Davydov and Abramov.

The first detachment appeared on August 4, 1830, and the next day, the second.

The conductors and drivers from the drills did not have any bread or supplies, and twice a day they took turns leaving the camp, ran away into the woods for half an hour and were saturated with lingonberries there. Gradually, they began to draw closer to the Decembrists, several people knew Russian, served as interpreters, or translators, for their comrades. Based on the results of this transition, Nicholas I granted the chief Taisha of the Khorinsky Buryats, Dugarov, a “gold medal for diligence on the Anninsky ribbon”.

Knowing this, you can better evaluate the poison of one of the Lunin jokes: 

“Our comrade — M.S. Lunin: because of military injuries, he had permission to ride in a wagon that was closed; he slept in it and during the day did not leave her several transitions in a row; as soon as the detachment stops for the night or for a day, the crowd surrounded its wagon, waiting for the hours when it leaves or appears; but the leather curtains were drawn during the day, and there was no mystery person to be seen, in which they supposed to see the main criminal. Once he decided to show himself and asked what they needed? The translator announced on behalf of the coming that they wanted to see him and find out why he was exiled. “Do you know your Taisha?” – “We know.” Taisha is the main local chief of the Buryats. “Do you know Taisha, who is above your Taisha and can put him in my wagon or make him an ug (end)?” – “We know.” “Well, so know that I wanted to make the coals of his power, that’s why I was exiled. ” – “ABOUT! about! oh! ”came the whole crowd, and with low bows, slowly backing back, the savages withdrew from the wagon and its owner.”68

Decembrist Basargin recalled these days: “Lunin was in our party. In his original character, intelligence, education, and some experience gained in high society, he was a very wonderful and very pleasant person. Most of the temporary workers of that time were Chernyshev, Orlov, Benckendorf, etc. – were his workmates. With Karamzin, Batyushkov and many other remarkable persons, he was in the closest relationship. We listened with curiosity to his stories about the backstage events of the past reign and his judgments about the leaders of that time, put on undeserved pedestals. ” 69

In Petrovsky prison, Lunin spent six years. According to the recollections of the Decembrist A.E. Rosen, Lunin always, in the course of conversations, and during work, was in the center of attention. “When he comes to work with us, it was pleasant to look at his handsome camp, his cheeky gait, his neat clothes and the pleasure of listening to his smart, lively conversation.” 70

December 14, 1835 Lunin was released from hard labor.


Since the summer of 1836 he has been in a settlement in Urik, near Irkutsk. The Volkonskys, Trubetskoys, Nikita and Alexander Muravyov, Artamon Muravyev, Wolf and other Decembrists live with him and nearby in the settlement.

“Entering Siberia, he said:“ C’est ici que notre vie commence ” 71 (“ Here our life begins. ”(Translated from French)). Indeed, the situation of the Decembrists in Siberia was beyond ordinary vulgarity. Strong in spirit could concentrate in themselves to process, re-educate themselves. But Lunin remained unchanged, was pleased with himself. Strong in spirit could approve, support their weak gatherings and have a beneficial effect on their environment, soften their wild morals with their humanity.

“Here in Siberia, our life is just beginning,” Lunin says and begins “offensive actions”.

Lunin told his friends that he finds pleasure in teasing the “polar bear” (that is, the supreme power).

According to another version, he pointedly complained that “he could not shoot an eagle.” 72

“Subsequently, being in Siberia in a settlement, Lunin went alone to the forest with wolves, sometimes with a dagger, and from morning until late at night he enjoyed the sensation of danger consisting in an unkind meeting with either a bear or fugitive convicts.” 73

N.A. Bestuzhev. Mikhail Sergeevich Lunin. Watercolor. 1836. Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

N.A. Bestuzhev. Mikhail Sergeevich Lunin. Watercolor. 1836. Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

“At the end of hard labor, he was settled in Urik (Irkutsk province); there he opened a large library, studied and, despite the fact that he had little money, helped his comrades and new visitors, with whom the last reign inhabited Siberia. The Irkutsk governor visiting the province visited Lunin. Lunin, showing him 15 volumes of the Code of Laws and volumes 25 of the General Assembly, and then the French cozy Codex, added: “Here, Excellency, look how ridiculous these Frenchmen are. Imagine that they only have laws. It’s our business, how a person will look at these forty volumes, how can we not respect our legislation! ” 74

Decembrist S.P. Trubetskoy describes M.S. Lunin in Siberia: “Lunin was in constant correspondence with his sister Ekaterina Sergeevna Uvarova. In his letters, he constantly talked about various measures and orders taken by the government and did not spare the people who occupied the highest government seats, not touching, however, not the highest person, but on the contrary, sending her incense sometimes. Despite the fact that he was forbidden by the order from the Third Division to write for a whole year for “inappropriate reasoning and self-praise”. When the year of the ban passed, Lunin wrote again a letter to his sister and put it in an envelope addressed to gr. When writing to him, Benkendorf, the chief of the gendarmes, in which he explained that he, out of ignorance of what the government did not like in his previous letters, could again bring disgrace on himself, why he asks the count to take the trouble to personally look at his letters. He wrote this letter to Benckendorff in French in the most polite terms.

Of course, he received no answer and has since continued to write weekly to his sister. The letters were of the same content as those followed by the prohibition. ” 75

M.N. Volkonskaya in her memoirs of life in exile described M.S. Lunin and his repeated arrest, which ended in imprisonment in Akatuy:

“Lunin led a solitary life; Being a passionate hunter, he spent time in the forests, and only in winter lived more settled. He wrote a lot and was amused by the fact that he laughed at the government in letters to his sister. Finally, he took notes on the verdict on the participants in the Polish Revolution. The case was discovered, and one day, at midnight, his house was cordoned off by twelve gendarmes, and several officials came in to arrest him; having made him sound asleep, they did not bother to wake him, but were embarrassed at the sight of several rifles and pistols hanging on the wall; one of them expressed his fright; then Lunin, turning to the gendarme who stood beside him, said: “Don’t worry, such people are beaten, not killed.”

Lunin was taken away by all this military guard, armed against one man, and imprisoned in Akatuy, the most terrible prison, where criminals-repeat offenders who committed murders and robberies were kept. He could not long endure the infected and moist air of this last conclusion and died in it four years later. He was a man of strong will, a wonderful mind, always cheerful, infinitely kind, and deeply religious. His relocation made us very upset. I sent him several books, nutritious chocolate for his sore chest, and, under the guise of a medicine, powder ink with several steel feathers, since he was all taken from him under the strictest prohibition of writing and reading anything other than the Bible. ” 76

According to S.P. Trubetskoy: “Lunin was not at all surprised at his new arrest; he always expected to be put in jail again, and always said that he should end his life in jail, although, however, he really liked to roam freely with his gun through the forests and spent most of his life hunting. Once I was at his Christmas time, and he asked me what, in my opinion, would follow him for his letters to his sister. I replied that four months had already passed since he resumed correspondence, and if so far there have been no consequences, then probably there will not be any further. This angered him; he began to prove that this could not be and that he would certainly be locked up in prison, that he must end his life in prison. ” 77

1841-1845 Lunin spends in Akatuysky prison, the worst of the Siberian places of detention.

But even in this terrible place his sense of humor and optimism does not leave. And here about Lunin they make up stories and legends.

The Nerchinsk gendarmes find Lunin’s money hidden in a fur coat and ask why they didn’t find it in Irkutsk when sending him to the second penal servitude. And why didn’t he announce it there himself? To which Lunin mockingly and politely replied that he had not announced money, because “no one asked me about it.” 78 In the Nerchinsky factory – admitted, because they asked …

“With his, with well-known coloring, letters to his sister sent through the third division, and the distribution of manuscripts, he himself asked for imprisonment in Akatuya and was even glad of it, lived there coolly and, as in the living room, he quipped with visitors. He was brought to Akatuy March 27, 1841 – On Thursday at Holy Week S.G. Volkonsky saw him and wrote to I.I. Pushchin in Yalutorovsk that Lunin retains his usual gaiety. On December 30, 1845, on Sunday, the watchman who served Mikheil’s serge Sergeevich, who went up to his room, found him dead. He was on the eve of the bath and after that he felt good. He died from an apoplexy stroke. ” 79

Even being in the most terrible place, in Akatuya, Lunin remained all the same ironic. Senator Ivan Nikolaevich Tolstoy, familiar to many Decembrists, visited Lunin in Akatuy in March 1845.

“The senator who traveled around Eastern Siberia was the last person to see Lunin alive. Here he remained true to his character, and when the senator came in to him, with the air of a secular man, he said to him: “Permettez moi de vous faire les honneurs de mon tombeau” (“Let me take you to my grave”). ” 80

Treasures of the Past

Michel Lunin among colleagues and in society had a reputation as an experienced, known for his adventures and victories womanizer St. Petersburg and “the whole guard corps.” While serving in Poland, he did not change his habits.

After his arrest, he asks his sister Catherine to rescue his private correspondence from Warsaw, which could compromise a certain lady. Uvarova is unable to fulfill her brother’s request. His papers seized during the arrest were first kept in the office of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, and after 1830 the Warsaw papers of Lunin were archived in the II branch of the State Chancellery. 81

Among them are forty passionate letters of the wife of the Uhlan Colonel Glazenap, commander Lunin during his service in the Lancers (1822-1824). Correspondence ceases by the beginning of 1825, when, apparently, Lunin’s fascination with Natalia Pototskaya began. In one of the messages, Colonel E. Glazenap writes to Lunin: “You said that in order to achieve any goal you should only really wish for it, and all obstacles will be overcome. I follow your advice … “. 82

By the time of the arrest, Lunin’s romance with Glazenapp was already completed, and Lunin was carried away by Natalia Pototskaya.

Who was this Potock? The Polish girl whom Lunin loved, loved sincerely and strongly. She is a virgin of royal blood, the daughter of a Polish nobleman, owner of the Wilanow Palace, a descendant of Jan Sobieski, who liberated Vienna from a Turkish siege in 1683. Mother Natalia Pototskaya is the niece of the last king of Poland, Stanislav Augustus Ponyatovsky, a famous memoirist, Countess Anna Pototskaya-Vonsovich.

The beauty, mind, charm of Natalia Pototskaya preserved the memories of her contemporaries, according to which she was incredibly beautiful and had a noble and refined soul.

Anna Pototskaya-Vonsovich so wrote in her memoirs about her daughter: “On March 18, 1807 at three in the morning I gave birth to a lovely daughter – and this reached the peak of my desires. When I write these notes, my daughter is six years old. She has been charming since her birthday. Her childish features were correct, as in an antique statue, and I am sure that Elena, when she was born, was not more beautiful than her.

The more she developed, the more features of her face acquired classical correctness, which I completely attributed to my passionate love for works of art. Being constantly surrounded by wonderful art patterns, I delightedly plunged into the contemplation of the magnificent paintings in the castle of my father-in-law, so it is not surprising that my passion for art was reflected in my daughter … I gave her the name Natalia, which I really liked and how could not be better suited to her tiny, classically correct face.

From the cradle, splendor and brilliance did not seem to be the lot of a woman: Natalie was baptized in my room, without pomp and solemnity, and if someday she feels offended by this, then let her be the consolation of the great joy that her appearance brought me to the light, and the admiration that her beauty aroused in those around her. ” 83

Joseph Krihuber. Portrait of Natalia Pototskaya.

Joseph Krihuber. Portrait of Natalia Pototskaya.

Her beauty, according to the memoirs of her contemporaries, was unusual and preserved in the enthusiastic verses of the French poetess Delphine Gay: “Elle m’est apparue au milieu d’une fête / Comme l’être idéal que cherche le poète” (“She appeared to me in the middle of the holiday the ideal that the poet seeks … “). 84

In 1824, when their romance began, Natalia Pototskaya was seventeen, Mikhail Lunin thirty-seven.

Lunin is a Russian officer, he is rich, handsome, a favorite of Tsarevich Konstantin, a brilliant lieutenant colonel, a hussar. He was well aware that Natalie was no match for him: albeit of a good kind, but a simple Russian nobleman. Lunin’s condition is not bad, but for the Potocki, Polish magnates of royal blood, who have the most beautiful games for their daughter to choose from, this alliance was a mesalliance.

Natalia was fourteen years old when in 1821 her parents divorced. In 1823, Natalia’s father Alexander Pototsky was already married a second time, to a young, sixteen-year-old girl – the same age as his daughter. A year later, in 1824, his son was born from this marriage.

Among the papers of Lunin, selected during the arrest, several amiable notes, marked 1824 and 1825, were preserved – invitations from Anna Pototskaya, mother of Natalia. Anna Pototskaya was a smart, observant woman and guessed about her daughter’s feelings for Lunin. If Lunin decided to tie the knot with Natalia and would ask Anna Pototskaya for her hand, perhaps she could be on the side of lovers, as she knew what life is in a marriage without love, with an unloved husband and secret love outside of marriage.

“Marry, if you find yourself worthy, and I will be happy to come to the wedding,” wrote cousin Nikolai Aleksandrovich Lunin to Michel on August 7, 1824. 85 By 1824-1825, many of Lunin’s comrades in secret societies were happily married, most had children. After marriage and the birth of children, most of them left for their estates, moved away from participating in societies, completely immersed in family joys and problems.

After the Decembrist uprising on Senate Square, Lunin, knowing what awaited him, ceased to be in the Wilanow Palace, meetings with Natalia stopped. It is not known how Natalia Pototskaya transferred the news of the arrest, investigation and sentence to Lunin.

On May 16, 1829, three years after the arrest of Mikhail Lunin, at the age of twenty-two, Natalia Pototskaya married her cousin, Prince Roman Sangushko. He is a noble aristocrat, tycoon, a native of an ancient and rich princely family, the owner of many estates and tens of thousands of serfs in Galicia, Volyn and Kiev provinces.

The wedding of Natalia Pototskaya with Roman Sangushko was in Vienna and, according to Dolly Fikelmon, the newlyweds “did not make the impression of being in love with each other, but presented themselves as a couple full of goodwill and mutual trust.” 86

According to the memories of the groom’s mother, he married not out of love, but out of conviction that “Natalia Pototskaya was the most suitable woman for him. Love was born after the wedding, combined with respect, when Roman Sangushko saw that his wife combines unusual beauty with a beautiful character. ”

Ten months later, on March 30, 1830, their daughter Maria was born, and a few months after the birth, on November 17, 1830, twenty-three-year-old Natalya Pototskaya died.

Roman Sangushko took part in the Polish uprising of 1830-1831. Arrested by the Nikolaev authorities, he refused the opportunity to escape, explaining his participation in the uprising by despair after the death of his wife. Sangushko said that he joined the rebels “for the love of the homeland” in order to promote its revival. By personal order of Nicholas I, he was deprived of the nobility and all the rights of his fortune, sent to Siberia, and all the way had to go on foot in shackles. The little daughter from Natalia remained with his parents.

Together with the Decembrists and Polish rebels, the husband of Natalia Pototskaya was first in Siberia, and then an ordinary soldier in the Caucasus. But I didn’t meet with Lunin. 87

Being imprisoned in casemates, in hard labor and in exile, Mikhail Lunin did not forget Natalia. He does not know about her fate, does not know either about her marriage to Sangushko, or about the birth of her daughter, or that Natalia is no longer among the living.

Twelve years have passed since Lunin’s last meeting with Natalia. On April 9, 1837, in Urik, at the Volkonsky’s house, Lunin hears the singing of Marya Nikolaevna. Maria sings, and thoughts and feelings carry him to the memories of Natalia.

Returning home, Lunin writes: “I heard singing for the first time after ten years in prison. The music was familiar to me; but in it was the charm of novelty thanks to the contralt voice, and perhaps thanks to the one who sang. Aria Rossini made an impression that I did not expect. Music is more dangerous than words with the uncertainty of its expression. She adapts to everything, does not express anything positive and decorates everything that expresses. This is the language of the invisible world around us, often it is the language of those air forces with which we have to fight. St. Augustine finds that pleasant experiences of music enslave. When it happens, he says, that I am more touched by the singing itself than by the words that accompany it, I confess that I have sinned, and then I would rather not hear the singing. If there is evil in the singing that accompanies the psalms of the king-prophet,

Johann Nepomuk Ender. Portrait of Natalia Pototskaya-Sangushko. Canvas, oil. 1829. College of Europe, Natolin, Warsaw, Poland.

Johann Nepomuk Ender. Portrait of Natalia Pototskaya-Sangushko. Canvas, oil. 1829. College of Europe, Natolin, Warsaw, Poland.

However, the turmoil caused by what I heard continued. Despite the efforts of her thoughts to ascend into her characteristic areas of the ether, she wandered the earth. The imagination reproduced all kinds of visions: an old castle with battlements, a young owner of the castle with a azure look, her white veil fluttering in the air as a symbol, the sounds of serenade and clang of weapons that violated harmony. The crazy, criminal vanity of my youth!

But with evening prayer, the devilish obsessions dissipated. I thanked the gentlemen for showing me how weak I myself am and how strong I am with the help of someone who strengthens me … ” 

The memories of Natalia, the feelings that surged with renewed vigor after hearing the singing, do not leave Lunin. Nine days later, on April 18, 1837, on Easter, he writes in his diary: “We are endowed with the ability to love, which should be turned to our creator, and through him to his creations. Otherwise, the more capable we feel, the more miserable we are …

Turn my eyes away from perfection in your creations, so that my soul will not be hindered in striving for you. There are charms in your creations, which I, in my fall, cannot see without confusion; the devil is always there to use this moment. He roars like a roaring lion. ” 88

On May 1, 1837, two weeks later, Mikhail wrote in a letter to his sister: “After a long imprisonment in the casemates, memory only revives vague, colorless images, like planets reflecting the light of the sun without heat. But I still have treasures in the past. I remember a date in the gallery of Castle N, in the fall, on a cold rainy evening. She was wearing a black dress, a gold chain around her neck and a bracelet in her hand, showered with diamonds, with a portrait of the ancestor who had liberated Vienna. Her virgin gaze, wandering to and fro, as if watching the fantastic bends of silver threads on my hussar’s mentality. We walked silently through the gallery, but understood each other. She was thoughtful. Deep grief was visible in the splendor of youth and beauty, as the only sign of decay. Approaching the lancet window, we looked at the yellowish Vistula, which was dotted with foam of waves. Gray clouds stretched across the horizon the rain poured, the trees swayed. Excitement for no apparent reason from the outside: deep silence around us. The sound of the bell signified Vespers; the windows rattled.

Having said a prayer: ave Maria, she gave me a hand and disappeared. From that moment, the happiness that the world gives has disappeared. My fate, outraged by the storms, turned into a constant struggle with people and things. But the farewell prayer was fulfilled. A world that no one can take away followed me to the scaffold, to the dungeons, to exile. I do not regret the loss. Sometimes a descendant of a warrior appears to me in a dream, and a feeling that would be carried away only by it is strengthened and cleansed, spreading over the enemies. Goodbye. ” 89

Two years pass, on October 16, 1839, an entry appears in his “Notebook”: “The ideal of beauty begins to fade from my memory. In vain I seek it in books, in works of art, in the visible world surrounding me. In vain. Now beauty for me is just a ghostly myth, and the symbol of graces is an incomprehensible hieroglyph. In the casemate, my dream was full of poetic visions; now he is calm, but devoid of impressions and images. When I write, I find the right argument to prove the truth; but I can no longer find the Word persuading without evidence under my pen. That I crave a chord, a stroke, a paint, a word; I would like to destroy all these forms that interfere with the communication of minds and prove the sinfulness of our nature. To complete my life, I also lack excitement by danger. So many times in my face I saw death on the hunt, in fights, in battles and in political struggle, that it became my habit, something necessary for the development of my abilities. There are no dangers here. I am crossing the Angara in a shuttle, but her waters are calm. I meet robbers in the forests, but they just beg for alms … “90

In the same spirit, his letter was written to his sister, which is marked with the date December 3 / November 21, 1839: “Soon the fourth year of my exile will be fulfilled. I begin to feel the influence of Siberian deserts: the lack of education and the hostile effect of the climate. The type of grace is gradually erased from my memory. In vain I seek him in books, in works of art, in the visible world surrounding me. Beauty for me is a fabulous tradition; symbol of graces – inexplicable hieroglyph. In the depths of the casemates, my dream was filled with poetic dreams; now he is calm, but there are no visions and impressions … I wish … to end the journey, to go beyond the boundaries separating us from the glorified beings, to taste the peace that they enjoy in full knowledge of the truth. My earthly message has been fulfilled. Passing through the crowd, I said what my compatriots needed to know. ”91

In a letter to his sister dated December 13/1, 1839, sent with an opportunity through an intermediary, Lunin insistently asks: “Find out about the Potocki family from Warsaw: Alexander Pototsky, oberstalmeister, etc., etc., son of the famous patriot Stanislav Pototsky . His first wife, now Mrs. Vonsovich, his second wife, Isabella Pototskaya, his daughter – Natalia Pototskaya. I especially want to know what happened to this last one. How many times have I dealt with her! But you only talk about the women in your neighborhood who nobody cares. ” 92

Recalling his love for Natalia Pototskaya, Lunin wrote: “The Catholic religion is embodied, so to speak, apparently in women. It complements the charm of their nature, compensates for their shortcomings, decorates the ugly and beautiful, like dew decorates all the flowers. You can recognize a Catholic at first sight among thousands of women by posture, by conversation, by sight. There is something sweet, calm and bright in all of her personality, which indicates the presence of truth. Follow her to the Gothic temple where she will pray; kneeling before the altar, immersed in twilight, absorbed in a stream of harmony, she is those messengers of heaven who descended to earth to reveal to man his high calling. Only among Catholics Rafael could find the type of Madonna … ” 93

I do not regret the loss

A few days after the first letter with memories of Natalia, on June 27, 1837, in a letter to his sister, Lunin describes his walk with Maria Volkonskaya, the wife of his friend and former regimental colleague, who lived in a settlement in Urika at the same time as Lunin: “I was walking on the banks of the Angara with an exile, whose name is already in our patriotic annals. Her son, the beauty of Raphael, frolic in front of us and, tearing flowers, hurried to give them to mother. We passed part of the forest, rising higher, as a vast horizon unfolded, lined in the west with a chain of blue mountains and cut across the entire river, which curled like a silver snake under our feet. His invisible is visible through the consideration of creation. But the beauty of nature weakened at my companion. She existed the thought of the apostle and slender appearance and moral perfection. After a hard walk, we rested on the grass. The conversation touched on death – ordinary thoughts in turbulent fates … “94

In The Notebook, Lunin talks a lot about church dogmas, argues for Catholicism, trying to prove that political, civil and personal freedom are based on a Catholic worldview. Lunin adopted Catholicism, Maria Volkonskaya – the Orthodox faith. It is possible that under the impression of a walk along the banks of the Angara and talking about death, Lunin will write about Volkonskaya on July 1, 1837: “But when beings endowed with reason and feeling, capable of loving God, because of heresy are deprived of this happiness in earthly life and in the future, such a sight is very sad. At the cost of all the torment of life and purgatory, I would like to extract one of these souls from the darkness. ” 95

Ekaterina Uvarova knows Maria Volkonskaya not only from her brother’s letters. For several years, while Lunin, like other Decembrists, was forbidden to write letters to relatives and friends, the wives of the Decembrists did this for them. Marya Nikolaevna regularly corresponded with her sister Lunin for several years.

Five months later, on November 25, 1837, Lunin again wrote about Marya Nikolaevna in a draft of a letter to her sister: “After two weeks spent on the hunt, I went to NN. Was late. She usually lulls her little Nellie, holding her in her arms and singing in her young voice an old romance with the rurnetel. I heard the last stanzas from the living room and was saddened to be late. Maternal feeling guesses. She took a candle and showed me with a sign that I should follow her to the nursery. Nellie slept in a crib covered with white muslin curtains. Her neck was extended, the head slightly tilted. If it were not for the drooping eyelids and not the graceful calm that sleep gives to children, one would think that she was about to flutter like a dove from a nest. Mother, happy with her daughter’s relaxation, seemed by bed one of those spiritual beings, that are awake over the fate of children. “She almost always sleeps like that. Do not be afraid to wake her. I definitely know the moment of her awakening in the small movement preceding him. ” The omnipresent tempter told me: “to know and love is the whole man; you don’t know the feelings of your spouse and father: where is your happiness? ”But the word of the apostle scattered this instant obsession:“ But I want you to be without worries; the unmarried cares of the Lord, how to please the Lord ”… True happiness lies in knowledge and love of infinite truth. Everything else is only relative happiness that the heart cannot saturate, for it is not in harmony with our thirst for the infinite … ” “To know and love is the whole man; you don’t know the feelings of your spouse and father: where is your happiness? ”But the word of the apostle scattered this instant obsession:“ But I want you to be without worries; the unmarried cares of the Lord, how to please the Lord ”… True happiness lies in knowledge and love of infinite truth. Everything else is only relative happiness that the heart cannot saturate, for it is not in harmony with our thirst for the infinite … ” “To know and love is the whole man; you don’t know the feelings of your spouse and father: where is your happiness? ”But the word of the apostle scattered this instant obsession:“ But I want you to be without worries; the unmarried cares of the Lord, how to please the Lord ”… True happiness lies in knowledge and love of infinite truth. Everything else is only relative happiness that the heart cannot saturate, for it is not in harmony with our thirst for the infinite … “96

Lunin, apparently, was carried away by Maria Volkonskaya, but was able to overcome his attraction to the wife of an old friend, a colleague in the cavalry guard regiment, an ally in secret society, whom he deeply respected, appreciated. Until the end of his days, Marya Nikolaevna will remain for him only a revered “exile sister”, whom he loves as his own sister, Ekaterina. The Volkonskys take him to the terrible Akatuy, they will write letters to him, send parcels and take care of his mental and physical well-being.

Let us give the floor to Mikhail Sergeyevich himself, his letters to Akatuy to Volkonsky, because no one will say better about him and his attitude towards Marya Nikolaevna.

“Dear exile sister! I received both of your letters at once. I was even more moved by this evidence of your friendship because I accused you of forgetfulness and especially that you did not write my Charissima, who for her part complained about your silence. Send her one or two letters, just in case, to reassure her on my account. One word from you will produce more action than if I myself could write to her, for women understand each other better, they have the gift of comfort. The care you take on my poor Varca, on my things and household, proves sincere and active friendship. I am very grateful to you for it. In the same way, I thank you for the warm vest that I really needed, as well as for medicines that I do not need, since my iron health withstands all tests. If you can send books,

N.A. Bestuzhev. Portrait of Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya. Watercolor. 1837. Historical Museum. Moscow.

N.A. Bestuzhev. Portrait of Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya. Watercolor. 1837. Historical Museum. Moscow.

“Dear friend, I ask you to testify my deep respect to Madame and ask her to accept my congratulations on the day of her angel. This day is a happy one for everyone whom the Princess wishes to be interested in, and even for an unfortunate prisoner, the memory of which, in all probability, was erased from her memory. Be that as it may, I have continued devotion to her, and my wishes for her happiness will not yield to anyone. Greetings.”

“My dear friend! Books, things and provisions sent with the holy father came to me in the month of September 1842. I immediately recognized the candlesticks of my good exile sister. They gave me the same joy as if it were a letter – they have evoked so many memories of life in Urik. Thank her well for this proof of friendship … “

“… I happen to see in a dream the excellent dinners that I ate with you and with the Trubetskoys. In this region a piece of meat is a rarity. Tea without sugar, bread, water, sometimes porridge is my daily food. Goodbye, my dear and esteemed friend, bow from me to all of ours and believe in sincere friendship and deep gratitude to Michael, who has been devoted to you. ”

“Your letters, ma’am, come to me regularly and brighten up the severity of my imprisonment. “I love you no less than my sister, for this evidence of continued friendship …”

“Your letters, madam, as well as the news about you that I receive from visitors, brighten and delight my confinement. The project to send me Varca and your attempts in this direction are proofs of your friendship, with which I am deeply touched and which will never be erased from my memory. But it’s good that this project failed. For I do not know where to place, nor how to feed this poor animal. My dungeon is so damp that books and dresses are moldy; the food is so moderate that there is no more than to feed the cat. This is more than monastic life. ”

“I do not regret any of my losses!” 97

Liberated spirit

Freedom for Lunin is above all. He is not married, childless, nothing and no one distracts him, doesn’t interfere with his very existence to “tease a polar bear” and serve God. In the years 1836-1837 in the “Notebook” Lunin wrote: “We cannot live without desires: I want episcopal dignity, but more thirst to free myself [from the fetters] and be in Christ … My body is suffering from cold and deprivation in Siberia but the spirit, freed from these miserable fetters, wanders through the plains of Bethlehem, shares their vigil with the shepherds, and, together with the magi, asks the stars. Everywhere I find the truth and everywhere – happiness. ” 98

Thirty years later, Dostoevsky in “Demons” will write about Lunin, comparing him with Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin:

“I would probably compare it with other past gentlemen, about whom some legendary memories have survived in our society. They told, for example, about the Decembrist L [uni] that he had been purposely searching for danger all his life, reveled in her sensation, turned her into a need of his nature; in his youth went to a duel for no reason; in Siberia, he went with a knife to a bear, he liked to meet fugitive convicts in Siberian forests, who, in passing, are worse than a bear.

There is no doubt that these legendary gentlemen were able to feel, and even, perhaps, to a great extent, a sense of fear, otherwise they would be much calmer and a sense of danger would not turn into a need for their nature. But to overcome cowardice in themselves was what, of course, appealed to them. The constant rapture of victory and the awareness that there is no winner over you – that is what fascinated them.

This L [uni] n, even before his exile … was struggling with hunger and hard labor, was gaining bread for himself, solely because he never wanted to obey the demands of his rich father, which he found unjust. Consequently, he understood the struggle multilaterally; not with bears alone, and not only in duels, appreciated in himself stamina and strength of character. But nevertheless, many years have passed since then, and the nervous, exhausted and bifurcated nature of the people of our time does not even at all allow the needs of those immediate and integral sensations, which were then sought by other gentlemen of the good old times. ” 99

In “Letters from Siberia”, “Look”, “Analysis”, “Notebook” Lunin constantly addresses the problem of the historical mission of the Decembrists. The Notebook repeatedly mentions a secret society and its leaders. Lunin considers the issue of the actual guilt of the authorities, which provoked outrage with his shortsighted policies; writes about the nobility of Decembrist ideas:

“After a few years, those thoughts for which they sentenced me to political death will be a necessary condition for civil life.” 100

“Prominent people of the era found themselves in Siberian exile; insignificance is at the head of events, ”writes Lunin in his Notebook

“One can speak of the errors and transgressions of these Apostles of Freedom, as the Scripture speaks of the tribute that the apostles of faith gave to human weaknesses.” 101

The Apostles of Liberty – Lunin auto-characteristic and definition of the Decembrist movement as a whole.

“Yes, our vanguard was glorious and great! such personalities are not developed in vain among peoples ”, 102 – M.S. Lunin is his companion, the Decembrist, in “Memoirs of Lunin.”


1 Borichevsky I. Pushkin and the “unrepentant” Decembrists. // Star, 1940, No. 8-9. – S.262.

2 Dostoevsky F.M. Demons. // Full Sobr. cit .: In 30 vols .– L .: Nauka, 1974. – Vol. 10. – S.165.

3 Tolstoy L.N. Materials for the novel “Decembrists.” Notebooks. // Tolstoy L.N. Full Sobr. Op. – In 90 vols. – M.: Fiction, 1936 – T.17. – S. 463; Tolstoy L.N. Letters 1873-1879 // Tolstoy L.N. In the same place. – S. 45.

4 Zavalishin D.I. Decembrist M.S. Lunin // Historical Bulletin, 1880. – T. 1. – No. 1 – S.140–141.

5 Ulyanov I. Notes. // Russian Archive, 1868 .– S. 1025.

6 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. // Lunin M.S. Works, letters, documents / [Entry. Art. N.Ya. Adelman; Comment I.A. Zhelvakova, N.Ya. Adelman]. – Irkutsk: East-Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1988. – S.3–78. – p. 9.

7 Volkonsky S.G. Notes. – Irkutsk: East-Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1991. – P.128–129.

8 Zavalishin D.I. Decree. Op. – S.140-141.

9 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. // Russian archive, 1877. – Issue. 1-4. – S.260–261.

10 Yakushkin E.E. Decembrists in the settlement: From the Yakushkins’ archive / Prepared for print and provided approx. E. Yakushkin; [Foreword: S. Bakhrushin]. – M.: M. and S. Sabashnikovs, 1926. – P.127–128.

11 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 519.

12 Ibid. – S.534.

13 Ibid. – S.519.

14 Volkonsky S.G. Notes. – S. 97.

15 Ibid. – S.136.

16 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 43.

17 Zavalishin D.I. Decree. Op. – S. 140.

18 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin. – p. 43.

19 Volkonsky S.G. Notes. – S.136-137.

20 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 43.

21 White-headed N.A. Memories and other articles. – M .: tipo-lit. K.F. Alexandrova, 1898 .– p. 70.

22 Arkhipova-Khilkova P.N. Decembrist Mikhail Sergeevich Lunin. P .: Printing House Artistic Printing, 1917. – P.9.

23 Rosen A.E. Notes of the Decembrist / [Prep. and entry. Art., with. 3-57, G.A. Nevelev]. – Irkutsk: East-Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1984. – P. 92.

24 Zavalishin D.I. Decree. Op. – S. 148.

25 Yakushkin E.E. Decembrists in the settlement. – S. 128.

26 Ibid. – S.127–128.

27 Zavalishin D.I. Decree. Op. – S.139-149.

28 Regarding Notes by I.D. Yakushkina and articles about them P.N. Svistunova. // Russian Archive. – M., 1871. – No. 1. – Stb. 346.

29 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 45.

30 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 535.

31 Notes by N.N. Muravyova. // Russian archive, 1885 – No. 10. – S. 227.

32 Ibid. – S. 234.

33 Regarding … – St.346-347.

34 Yakushkin E.E. Decembrists in the settlement. – S.127–128.

35 TsGVIA, f.25, 1825, d.1, l.9 vol. – Cit. by Perch S.B. Decembrist M.S. Lunin. – L .: Publishing house of Leningrad State University, 1985. – P.18.

36 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 522.

37 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 58.

38 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 526-534.

39 Grekov B.D. Tambov estate M.S. Lunina of the first quarter of the XIX century.// Izv. USSR Academy of Sciences. – Series 7, 1932, No. 6. – S. 484.

40 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 534-535.

41 Ibid. – S.536.

42 Rise of the Decembrists. M; L., 1927, vol. III, p. 115.

43 Vigel F. Notes. – M., 1892, part V. – P.114.

44 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 55.

45 Lunin M.S. Works, letters, documents / [Entry. Art. N.Ya. Adelman; Comment I.A. Zhelvakova, N.Ya. Adelman]. – Irkutsk: East-Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1988. – P.376.

46 Auger I. From the notes. 1814-1817. – S. 64.

47 TsGIA, f. 1409, d.1408, part “M”, l. 55. – Cit. by Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S.116.

48 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 98.

49 Yelets Yu.L. History of the Life Guards of the Grodno Hussars / comp. the same regiment headquarters captain Yu. Yelets. – SPb: Printing House V.S. Balasheva, 1890-1897. – T.1. – S.81–82.

50 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – p. 9.

51 [Muravyov-Apostol M.I.?] Tales of the Decembrists recorded by an unknown person. // Russian Archive: History of the Fatherland in evidence and documents of the 18th – 20th centuries. Almanac. – M .: TRITE Studio; Grew up. Archive, 2004. – [T. XIII]. – S.165-172.

52 Yelets Yu. Decree. Op. – S. 52.

53 Ibid. – S. 54.

54 Investigation M.S. Lunin. “Rise of the Decembrists”, T.III, S.112-130

55 Memoirs of the Decembrists. Northern society. – M., 1981. – S. 261.

56 Zavalishin D.I. Decree. Op. – S. 149.

57 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – S.11.

58 Memoirs of the Decembrists. Northern society. – S.133-134.

59 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries: [Sat. Art.] / Comp., total. ed., entry Art. and comment. V.A. Fedorova. – M.: Publishing House of Moscow State University, 1988. – P.59.

60 Secret societies in Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. – M., 1926. – P.190.

61 Rosen A.E. Decree. Op. – S. 171.

62 From the “Notes” M.N. Volkonskaya. // Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – M.: Publishing House of Moscow State University, 1988. – S.320–335. – S.334.

63 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – S. 18.

64 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – S. 59.

65 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – S. 19.

66 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – S. 59.

67 Rosen A.E. Decree. Op. – S.241.

68 Ibid. – S. 244.

69 Basargin N.V. Memories, stories, articles. – Irkutsk: East-Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1988. – S.147-148.

70 Rosen A.E. Decree. Op. – S.176.

71 [Muravyov-Apostol M.I.?] – S.165–172.

72 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – p.21.

73 Regarding … – St. 346-347.

74 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – S.60.

75 Trubetskoy S.P. Comments on Notes by Decembrist V.I. Steingel. // Trubetskoy S.P. Materials about life and revolutionary activity. – T.1. – Ideological documents, memoirs, letters, notes. – Irkutsk: East. – Sib. Prince Publishing House, 1988. – P.301.

76 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – S.334.

77 Trubetskoy S.P. Notes on Decembrist’s Notes. – S.302.

78 Eidelman N.Ya. Lunin and his works. – p.22.

79 [Muravyov-Apostol M.I.?] – S.165–172.

80 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 391.

81 Lunin M.S. Decree. Op. – S. 391.

82 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 265.

83 A. Pototskaya. Memoirs of Countess Potocka, 1794-1820. – M.: Kuchkovo field, 2005. – P.304.

84 Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S.118.

85 TsGIA, f. 140, op. 1, No. 1408-L, l. 29. – Cit. by Adelman N.Ya. Lunin. – S. 117.

86 Fikelmon D. Diary 1829-1837. – M .: Past, 2009. – P.1002.

87 Lunin M.S. Decree. Op. – S.499.

88 Ibid. – S.208–210.

89 Ibid. – P.88.

90 Ibid. – S. 229.

91 Ibid. – S. 109.

92 Ibid. – S. 255–256.

93 Ibid. – S.204.

94 Ibid. – S.87-88.

95 Ibid. – S. 214.

96 Ibid. – S. 226.

97 Ibid. – S. 260-272.

98 Ibid. – S.195-200.

99 Dostoevsky F.M. Demons. – S.165.

100 Lunin M.S. Decree. Op. – S. 56.

101 Ibid. – S.231-232.

102 Decembrists in the memoirs of contemporaries. – S.60.

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