Things in Yasnaya Polyana, which remind us about England. Lev Tolstoy studies English, goes abroad, visits London. Lev Tolstoy comes to Herzen in England.
Commettee of Youth Affairs
Peter Pan Club
Essay: Lev Tolstoy and England.
1.Things in Yasnaya Polyana, which remind us about England.
Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya.
2.Lev Tolstoy studies English, goes abroad, visits London. Lev Tolstoy comes to Herzen in England.
3.English governesses and Tolstoy’s children. Hanna Tarsey.
4.Tolstoy’s descendants in Great Britain nowadays.
First when I came to Yasnaya Polyana I was 6 years old. I liked it very much. It was very quite there, everything all around was covered with snow: the garden, the alleys and the houses. There was a school,“Philipok,” organised in the estate-museum and we studied many things there, read Lev Tolstoy’s “Primer” for children, talked about his relatives and children. We had classes in Volkonsky’s House and I liked to climb the old staircase very much. We studied English there as well: we had puppet performances and played a lot learning knew English words and expressions. But most of all I liked the house where Lev Tolstoy lived. There were a lot of books there, many of which were written in English. The master read all of them in the original. There were a lot of pictures on the walls where we could see the writer and his children. They also read those books and knew many foreign languages. How had Lev Tolstoy and his children learnt English so well? It was interesting for me but I was a little boy then and was too shy to ask the teacher… Now in my report I’ll try to find the answer myself.
1. Tolstoy’s house and things, which remind us about England.
The first thing we see in the hall as we cross the threshold of Yasnaya Polyana house are the birchwood cases packed with books in many different languages on all manner of subjects. Books not only greet guests but accompany them all over the house. Many of the books are English. Lev Tolstoy read them in the original. John Galsworthy, Bernard Show and H.Wells sent him their books with their own granting signatures.
On the upper landing of the staircase we can see the 18-th century grandfather’s English clock that has a mahogany case with a turret on top. According to a family legend Tolstoy’s grandfather - Prince Nikolai Volconsky, bought it. The clock was made by the London firm of FArdley Norton and is still going. It has a very melodic chime and shows not only the hours, minutes and seconds, but the day of the month as well.
In the mornings Tolstoy liked to walk in the park Kliny that had been also planned according to his grandfather Prince Volconsky’s order and smoothly turned into English garden with a cascade of artificial ponds. There are ancient limes there planted very close to each other with narrow alleys between them. The crowns of the trees are interlaced so tight that even when the day is very hot there is always shade there and it’s rather cool in the park. It is called Kliny (“ Gores” in English) because the park consists of 8 gores. When Prince Volkonsky and his daughter took their morning walk, a serf orchestra played for them from the bandstand in the centre of the garden. Lev Tolstoy liked to work in the park as well: sometimes in summer he asked to bring his table and arm-chair in the park and wrote there. In the centre of the square formed by the gores, apple-trees were planted in Tolstoy’s lifetime, they had enough sunlight and bore fruit. Tolstoy often debated with Turgenev whose park is better and insisted that his own park was better of course.
One of the ponds in the English garden was used for swimming. Tolstoy’s son Sergey remembered how they caught tritons there being small boys. The same thing their grandchildren did since 50 years. Besides they caught grass-snakes in the garden, there were lots of them there. Tolstoy’s children played hide-and-seek in the low part of the park that was always quite and mysterious like a wild wood. According to a family legend that was the favourite spot of Tolstoy’s mother in the garden. There, sitting on the bench near the pond or in the summer-house, which rises in the very corner of the garden she often waited for arriving of her husband when he was away. She also liked to walk there with her children.
That was the reason why that part of the garden reminded Tolstoy about his mother. He lost his mother when he was less than 2 years old in 1830.
Lev Tolstoy’ mother Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya.
Lev Tolstoy’s parents knew many foreign languages. Besides French, German and Italian Maria Nicolaevna ( his mother) knew English very well. She read many books of her father and had about 160 books in her own library in Russian, French, German, English and Italian. She had many bilingual dictionaries as well. She not only read the books but made literary translations of some parts. Her best friends were two English sisters. She made good matches for them giving them unheard of dowries – one she gave 50 thousand and the other 75 thousand roubles. She wanted to give an estate with serfs and all to her English friend for a dowry. Maria Nikolaevna was a kind mistress with a good temper and a mind of her own. The family would not allow her to give away that estate and so she made her English friend a gift of 75 thousand roubles instead. Maria Nikolaevna died when she was about 40, no picture of hers was left, but only some things could remind the children about their mother and those translations among them.
2. Lev Tolstoy studies English.
Lev Tolstoy knew English very well. Among the main tasks, which he set himself in his youth, were to study English. ”Learn French, Russian, German, English, Italian and Latin”. Much of the programme was carried out. He took up English seriously and then read all Dickens’s novels in the original as well as many other English books.
In 1857 and 1860-61 Lev Tolstoy left for abroad to see how people lived there and what they taught the children in their schools. It was a long journey to the West. The schools were being reformed in Russia at the time. He dreamt of a different school, of the kind school that might be set up by the peasants themselves, a school that would not alienate the children from the patriarchal way of life. He taught a lot at schools himself.
Lev Tolstoy set out for the West convinced that the way of life of the Yasnaya Polyana peasants was the most correct in the world. He was to meet Alexander Herzen, a big man, who had lived for many years in the West. Tolstoy was going abroad to ask questions, draw comparisons and learn. What he wanted to learn was how to avert the grief of the morrow, how to keep Russia safe from imitating England with its machines, factories, child labour and colonies. Lev Tolstoy visited Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, England and Belgium.
Tolstoy visits London
Tolstoy attended one of the first lectures given by Charles Dickens. Dickens had a dark moustache, he brushed his hair back, wore varicoloured clothes. Tolstoy described Dickens as a powerful figure of a man: he saw him as such, and remembered him like that all his life. He also looked at London with Dickens’ eyes. Dickens had taught him to see the details and to single out the most important things: he showed what the chirping of a cricket and the sound of the kettle coming to the boil meant in an English home.
It is difficult to picture London as it was then. Ivan Goncharov thus described mid-nineteenth century London:
“I shall not forget the picture of this vast, gas-lit city as it appears to the traveller arriving there in the evening. The steam engine plunges into this ocean of brilliance and flies over the house roofs above the graceful chasms where, as in a kaleidoscope, an ant-hill moves along the sparkling, colourfully painted streets.”
To us, today, that “ocean of brilliance” would look like a dark abyss. The city was quite. Goncharove wrote:" One hears hardly any other noise save for the inevitable sounds made by horses and wheels. The city, a living creature, seems to be holding its breath and the beating of its pulse. There is no senseless shouting, no unnecessary movement, and as for singing, jumping or naughtiness there’s little of it even among the children. Everything seems to have been calculated, weighted and evaluated, as though taxes were levied on voices and mime as they were on windows and cart wheels. The carriages race at great speed but the drivers do not shout and, actually, there’s no need, as a pedestrian will never be caught off his guard. Everyone is in a hurry, everyone is running somewhere: there are no carefree or indolent figures except mine.”
Dickens lived in this city, illumined with yellow gas light, where even in the daytime the sun filtered through a film of smoke to shine down on the grass, on the smoke-shaded buildings, and the iridescent mud of the Thames, bristling with masts. This flashily dressed man who spoke loudly, described things vividly, picked out details from the darkness with his peculiar beam of light, exaggerated people’s characters, laughed, cried and invented- he was the real voice of the silently hurrying city.
Tolstoy comes to Herzen
Herzen lived in Putney, a suburb of London.
Tolstoy came to the two-storey house with a small front-garden. It was March. He came to the front door and rang. A footman opened the door, took in his card, and left him in the hall. He heard a quick footstep, and Herzen came running down the stairs. He turned out to be a short, fast-moving fat man full of energy.
Holding his flat cap in his hands, Herzen stood looking at his visitor. Tolstoy wore a fashionable long coat and was holding a new silk hat.
They went for a walk, and dropped in at a nearby pub.
“I have never seen anyone like him,” Tolstoy recalled. When Tolstoy spoke of Herzen in his recollections he said that for six weeks they met every day, though actually he spent only sixteen days in London. Those days must have been so important that the number of their meetings had become trebled in his memory in the course of almost fifty years.
Tolstoy remembered Herzen’s words:” If instead of saving the world, people tried to save themselves, and if instead of liberating mankind, they tried to liberate themselves, how much they could do for the saving of the world and the liberation of mankind.”
All Herzen’s daughter could remember of Tolstoy was that he spoke with her father about cockfights and also that there was something said about Sevastopol and a solders’ song.
Tolstoy thought Herzen an old but very powerful man with a mind of his own. Herzen thought Tolstoy a man who took everything by assault.
They came to know, understand and respect each other and though they did not make friends they remembered each other forever. Together with Herzen they thought about Russia, its future and the Decembrists as a movement. They talked about religion, about the social system of the future.
LEV TOLSTOY’S CHILDREN ( 1871 )
1 2 3 4 5
Sergei Tatiana Ilya Lev Maria
Born on born on born on born on born on
28 June, 4 October, 22 May, 20 May, 12 February,
1863 1864 1866 1869 1871
“The big ones” “ The little ones”
Tolstoy’s eldest daughter Tatyana said that she was grateful for her happy childhood to the three main persons:
1.father, who ruled their life and created special conditions for their development;
2.mother, who tried her best to make their life interesting and nice;
3. Hanna Tarsey, their English governess, who spent 6 years with Tolstoy’s children teaching them, loving them greatly and helping the little ones to understand what was good and what was bad.
Lev Tolstoy thought that the best literature for children was English so he wanted his children to study English to read books in the original. He invited Hanna Tarsey to come from England to teach and bring up his children. Hanna’s sister worked as a governess at the Tolstoys friends. The sisters came to Jasnaya Polyana when Lev Nikolaevich was in Moscow. His wife Sofja Andreevna did not speak English and was greatly confused. In her letter to Lev Tolstoy she told about her feelings at that moment, that she was really at a loss and described the English girl: “ Very young, rather nice, even pretty but we both don’t know each other’s native languages and it’s horrible”.
Little Tanya needed time to make friends with Hanna. First she used to run to her old baby-sitter and show her how ”jenglichanka” spoke imitating the unknown words and laughing. The old baby-sitter laughed too. Sometimes the girl quarrelled with Hanna, cried and went to her mother, pouting. But it was not because the governess was cruel but because the child was tired of trying to understand her foreign speech. But little by little they began to understand each other and liked each other. Tatyana repeated English words after Hanna all days long and the teacher was pleased. The little girl used to repeat words so much that began to repeat Russian words after her mother.
The mother of the family, Sofja Andreevna tried to make Hanna’s life in Jasnaya Polyana pleasant and interesting. She organised a special driving in a sledge for the kids and their governess. It was warm…Hanna was very happy and jumped with joy saying “ so nice” explaining that she loved Russia, Sofja Andreevna and the kids and that she was very happy.
Hanna and her sister Jenny were the daughters of a gardener of Windsor Palace in London. They were very good and honest girls. They knew their mother tongue very well, spoke English and wrote it perfectly. They were very industrious and were not afraid of any kind of work. More over, they were sure that work was necessary to be happy.
When Hanna left England and came to Russia she was 19 years old. She didn’t speak Russian at all. Tolstoy’s children and wife couldn’t speak English at the same time. Tatyana was almost a baby and she could hardly speak her own native Russian language at the moment. To understand each other they used smiles, gestures and tears and kisses – they are the same for every nation and language.
After coming to the Tolstoys Hanna tried to devote all her life completely to that Russian family as if she had left all her previous life far away. She was always gay, cheerful with some needlework in her hands. In winter and in summer she wore a clean light cotton dress and an apron. She was never in low spirits, she never complained about extraneous conditions of life and tried to find pleasant moments even in hard situations. The kids couldn’t even imagine that being a young pretty girl she could find her life in the Russian village rather dull and maybe sometimes she dreamt of some company of young people of her own nation. But she was rather proud to show such feelings to anybody if there were any of the kind…
Hanna brought some English traditions into Tolstoy’s family. She decided that it would be very good for the kids to have baths every day. She ordered a special bath for Tolstoy’s children from England that is still kept in Jasnaya Polyana. Then she paid attention to the floors and found out that in Russia floor was cleaned in the wrong way. So she ordered some brushes from England and cleaned and washed the floor in the kids’ nursery herself. And the most pleasant thing for the children was that skates from England were delivered and she taught the kids to skate. The skates were made of wood and only the blade and the screw were made of steel.
The children began to believe that Hanna was doing everything to make them good and happy. They always tried to obey her, though Tatyana and Ilya were very naughty by nature.
Sometimes Tolstoy’s daughter Tatyana said lies and Hanna was very pained by the fact. She herself never said lies as well as Sergey, Tolstoy’s eldest son. But Tanya was quite different – her mind was full of fantasies and sometimes she did not want to believe they were not real. But when she became an old woman she still remembered the moment Hanna burst into tears after the little girl said a lie to her. The tears made a great impression on the child like nothing else. Tatyana did not forget it even when she was over 60 years old. It was Hanna’s desert that the child stopped saying lies in the long run.
There were some funny moments in their life. Once some guests came to Jasnaya Polyana. It was already time to go to bed for the children, so Hanna took them to the nursery room. It was a rule to have a bath before going to bed. The eldest child Sergey was the first to have it and Tanya was the next. Hanna put the girl into the bathtub and soaped the girl’s head, then she turned back to take a jug of water and found out that the girl had disappeared. She looked all round the room but in vain because the girl was upstairs in the living room standing quite naked covered with soap crying cheerfully: ”Here is Tanya!” Her mother Sofia Andreevna was shocked, she grabbed the girl and brought her to the governess who was looking for Tanya following her wet footprints.
The children and Hanna lived on the ground floor of the house. The room they lived in was called the Vaulted Room. In ancient times it was used as a pantry for keeping food. There are big iron rings in the ceiling, in old times huge pieces of ham, bags with dry mushrooms and fruit were hanging there. But then the room was rebuilt and was used as the children’s nursery. It was very pleasant to stay there in hot summer as it was rather cool. The room consisted of two parts - the big one and the small one. Hanna lived in the small part of the room and the children (Sergey, Tanya and Ilya) lived in the big one.
The eldest child was Sergey. He was quite, serious, trustful and truthful. He was kind and open-hearted. Sometimes he was ashamed of showing his tender feelings. But for Tanya it was much more interesting to play with gay Ilya who had lively imagination and could understand all Tanya’s inventions. Sergey preferred to play alone. He had a doll with glittering porcelain hair and painted blue eyes. He called her Jenny after Hanna’s sister whom he loved very much. So he played with his Jenny always alone speaking to her in a low voice. Sometimes Tanya and Ilya tried to overhear what he was speaking but when he noted it he got ashamed, stopped talking, put Jenny aside and pretended not to pay attention to her.
Tanya was a very lively, naughty and gay girl, sometimes a great inventor and even a pretender. When she was a baby her cousins amused themselves in the following way: they knocked the baby slightly with her head against the wall and she put her hands to her eyes and pretended to be hurt and to be crying. She was squeaking so funny that the cousins laughed. The play continued till they knocked her really hard and she really began to cry.
Ilya was 1 year and a half younger than Tatyana. He was a healthy plump boy. Ilya was gay and hot-tempered but rather lazy and couldn’t make himself do or not to do anything which was prohibited. While walking he was always going far behind the others whimpering:” You didn’t wait for me-e-e-e!”
Three years later after Ilya Lev was born followed by Masha. These two children lived upstairs with their own nurse and were called “ the little ones”.
Sometimes Hanna went to her sister or to Tula to her English friends whom Lev Tolstoy found for her not to feel lonely in Russia. Tolstoy’s children lived in Jasnaya Polyana in summer and in winter. They were very close to nature and learnt to love it. They enjoyed their childhood in the country and were really happy to find the first green sweet-scented grass under a birch after long cold winter. Hanna understood their feelings and helped the kids to learn the names of all the trees and flowers in English.
Once in spring when snow was melting the children went for a walk with Hanna. It was March, the sun was shining brightly, larks were singing gaily in the blue sky, the ground was smelling nicely and grass just began to grow with little yellow flowers hiding in it. Tanya and Ilya always had what Englishman call “animal spirits”, sometimes they even lost control of themselves. And that was just the thing, which happened on that day. They did not obey Hanna and were galloping like young colts all around. They did not see puddles on the ground. When they reached their park they saw a small river there full of large pieces of ice and snow. The children ran up to the river and stepped together into it. Then they went along the river-bed against the flow. The water sometimes reached their chins, blocks of ice hit their breasts but they did not feel pain or tiredness and continued their journey. Only when Tanya got out of the river she felt how heavy and cold her clothes were. Her high boots were full of water. The children did not caught cold but were punished for their bad behaviour: it was prohibited for them to go for a walk for three days. They stayed at home and enjoyed talking about their wonderful experience.
Hanna took part in preparations for Christmas party. Together with children she was cooking a very large plum-pudding and making toys for decorating the fir-tree. They covered walnuts with cherry glue then put some stripes of golden paper on them and when they were ready the children put a pink ribbon around them as a loop and hang them on the branches of the fir - tree. Besides they made little baskets, cups, pans and boxes decorated with stars. The children’s mother Sofia Andreevna usually bought a lot of little wooden dolls before Christmas, she bought 100 as a rule or even more. Every child who came to the Tolstoys’ house on Christmas got such doll as a present.
The dolls did not have any clothes and Sofja Andreevna brought a big bundle of many-coloured rags to make them dresses. Hanna and the kids turned the dolls into girls and boys, angels, kings and queens. They turned them into Russian peasant women, Scots and Italians.
Sitting at the Christmas table the children felt very proud that they had taken part in the preparation of the plum-pudding helping Hanna to clean raisins, to shell nuts and crush them.
At the end of the party Sofja Andreevna and Hanna took toys and ginger-breads, apples and golden nuts and candies from the fir-tree and presented all the children with them including the peasant children from the Jasnaya Polyana village.
The Tolstoy children got some funny scent-bottles which looked like piglets, geese and goats.
Some days later when it was time to begin lessons the children looked as if they were ill because there was rash all over their faces and hands. Their mother and Hanna worried very much and put them streight into bed. But the children themselves did not feel as if they were ill and enjoyed drinking tea with raspberry jam and not doing their lessons. But at the same time it was a bit dull to stay in bed instead of running and skating and they jumped in their beds and were so naughty that Hanna lost patience at some moments and tried to convince Sofja Andreevna that the children were not ill at all. But their mother thought that they had caught some infection at the party from other children, maybe measles. They decided to call for a doctor. The doctor came from Tula. He examined the children, took their temperature, counted their pulse and asked them to show their tongues. Then he said that the children did not have measles and that it was not any kind of infection but some strange substance, which had contacted their skin. At that moment Tanya cried that the piglets, geese and goats were guilty and began to laugh. In the long run everybody understood that the scents from the funny bottles with which the children rubbed their faces and hands were the reason of the rash. The doctor ordered to throw away all the “piglets, geese and goats” immediately.
In winter (1872) Hanna felt ill. She had got some sad messages from England before. She was informed that her elder sister had died and her husband was left alone with 2 little daughters. Then her relatives wrote to her that her father was seriously ill. Hanna did not know what to do. She was going to come back to England. Sofja Andreevna was afraid that the children would be depressed after her departure and she did not want to part with Hanna because she was not only a very good governess for her children but her own trustful friend as well. Soon a new message from England came informing Hanna that her father had died. She was in great sorrow crying much. The children also cried about that unknown gardener of Windsor Palace whose daughter they loved so much.
Then some more letters came and the Tolstoys felt at a loss and even cross because Hanna dead sister’s husband asked her to come to England and merry him. And Hanna’s relatives in their letters asked her to do the same and take care of the orphans.
It was very difficult for Hanna to come to any decision. To leave the Tolstoy beloved children and hurt their souls and hearts by the departure was very hard for her. And she understood that it was her duty to be with the Tolstoy children, she had no right to break their little hearts. She stayed with the Tolstoys but her gloomy thoughts were harmful for her health and she felt worse and worse.
In the summer of 1872 the Kusminskys came to Jasnaya Polyana. It was a great holiday for the children because they loved their aunt and uncle and cousins very much. The cousins were two little girls Dasha and Masha and a tiny baby Vera. Tatjana Tolstaya loved her cousin Dasha most of all, she was her playmate though Dasha was 3 years younger. Dasha was a pretty little girl with dark eyes. When the Kuzminskys came Hanna felt a bit better in that big and merry company. All the children and adults went to pick up mushrooms and berries in the forest and swam in the Voronka. In August the Kuzminskys were going to leave Jasnaya Polyana and return back home to Caucasus. By the end of summer Hanna’s health got worse, Lev Tolstoy and Sofja Andreevna did not know what to do… At last it was decided to send Hanna to Caucasus with the Kuzminskys to improve her health in good climate.
Hanna hated to be idle and considered herself to be rather healthy to work so she decided to help the Kuzminskys to bring up their daughters Dasha and Masha.
Tolstoy’s children were very sad to stay without Hanna but they understood that it would be better for her and hoped to see their governess the next summer.
Still it was very hard for Tatnya and she felt lonely after Hanna’s departure and even cried speaking about her with mother. Tanya was 9 years old, her early childhood was over and she was entering her teens. Hanna was gone and Tanya’s happy childhood was gone with her too. Tatyana Tolstaya told that there were many happy moments after childhood in her life but she always remembered how happy she was living in the Vaulted nursery room with Hanna. She dreamt to hear again her governess’s calm voice: “Don’t grieve, child. Things are not so black as they seem to you”. Tanya envied her cousins Dasha and Masha.
At the same time the Tolstoys and the Kuzminskys sent letters to each other. Then suddenly Tanya received a big parcel from Caucasus. Hanna sent her a wonderful cashmere bonnet, Caucasus red boots and a letter. Hanna described her life in Caucasus. She was fond of 7 year old Dasha and little Masha. Tanya was delighted with the letter and the presents.
Perhaps the parents understood how lonely their little Tanya felt and decided to invite a new governess to Jasnaya Polyana. Lev Tolstoy went to Moscow and brought a photo of the future governess to the children. Tanya liked the photo and was looking forward to see her. The only thing which disturbed Lev Tolstoy was that the governess’s name was Dora and he had a dog – the setter named Dora who lived in the house. Lev Tolstoy was afraid to offend the girl and informed her about the fact before her arrival in Jasnaya Polyana. He got a very nice answer in return. She wrote that she loved animals especially dogs and would be glad to have such coincidence. Tanya liked the letter and she met the new girl friendly. Miss Dora was a short and pretty blond with long fair curls. Tanya treated her not as a governess but as a friend.
Tanya and Dora slept in the same room and their relations were rather good until Dora asked the girls to fulfil her demands. Dora was nice and kind but she could not make the little girl obey her. Instead of obeying her Tanya was rude and teased her governess. Their relations became worse and worse. In the long run Sofja Andreevna decided to part with Dora and try to find more serious governess.
When Hanna was living with Tolstoy’s children they always obeyed her. She never shouted at them, and what they valued most of all – she never complained to their parents about them. But poor Dora had nothing to do but to go to their mother and ask for help to rule the children and make them obey.
So poor Dora left the Tolstoy’s family. Sofja Andreevna wrote a letter to England to the pastor who had sent Hanna to Jasnaya Polyana asking to find a good governess for the children and he replied that he could recommend a rather nice girl Emily Tabor by name. He wrote that she was a distant relative to Hanna. She was the niece of Hanna brother’s wife and Tanya hoped that she would love her new governess as she was from the same family as her dear Hanna. The girl was looking forward to see her new teacher and maybe a friend. But she was disappointed when they met first. Emily was plain, silent and a bit crooked, she walked very slow and rarely smiled.
Their first weeks together were calm, then storms began. Tanya did not want to accept that she had to obey anyone but Hanna and her parents, she did not want to obey the strange girl who was given the right to order her. There were much of tears, many quarrels and troubles. Tanya was not afraid of the governess, she was not attached to Emily and did everything to make her angry. Emily also cried much.
Then Emily understood that it was not in her power to make Tanya love her and she gave all her energy and love to little weak Masha. Masha adored Emily so much that spent all her time with the governess and learnt English so well that forgot how to speak Russian. Sometimes when she forgot some Russian word she asked Emily to help her. Once little Masha made everybody laugh when during dinner she wanted to ask for an apple and asked Emily as usual:” Emily, how is яблоко in Russian?”. And only a burst of laugh made her understand that she had said the word in Russian herself. All the other children were taught English by the governess every day.
Tanya was waiting for summer. It was winter of 1872/73. The girl hoped to see Hanna in summer. Lev Tolstoy’s health was not good and he planned to go to Samara steppe to his estate to drink koumiss as a medicine. As Hanna had the same illness the Tolstoys invited her to join them there. She was sent the invitation with the description of the rout from the Caucasus to the Samara estate.
But in May (1873) they got a sad message from the Caucasus. Their 6 - year old cousin Dasha died. It was a great sorrow for the whole family. Tanya grieved that she had lost her best friend and playmate… The only thing that comforted her was that she would soon see Hanna in Samara.
Lev Tolstoy was preparing for the journey and bought everything beforehand. He went to Moscow, went shopping to the best stores and bought boots, travelling bags, cases and boxes, grey hats and grey travelling cloaks for his children. They began to pack. Their mother Sofja Andreevna draw and coloured special pictures to amuse the children during the travelling and made books of them. There were awful wolves catching children and bringing them to woods there, scenes of picking up mushrooms and swimming in rivers, fires with children helping grown-ups carrying buckets of water, hares steeling carrots and cabbages, fir-trees decorated with apples and candles and so on.
At last they left Jasnaya Polyana. The children enjoyed their journey travelling by many means : by cab, by train and by ship. There were 16 persons all together including 6 children and their English governess Emily as well. Tanya did not like the flat steppe at first and even decided to escape to Jasnaya Polyana. Everything was so dull all around, the sun was very hot, no shade at all, no tree, no flower, no puddle, the grass was dried and full of prickles. There were a lot of insects there, the water was bad and tasteless. But then the child postponed the escape till Hanna’s arrival. Tanya hoped that maybe Hanna would make their life in Samara steppe a bit like it had been in Jasnaya Polyana when they lived together with Sergey, Ilya and Hanna in the Vaulted Room.
On the 13th of June Hanna arrived from the Caucasus. The whole family was happy, they began to embrace and kiss her crying with joy. And Hanna found a tender word for everybody. They brought her things to the room where Tanya had been living alone till that moment. There they unpacked her luggage and put everything in the wardrobe.
Hanna came to the Tolstoys very weak from her illness and she was still in great sorrow because of her pupil’s death. Hanna had already managed to become attached to Dasha Kuzminskaya and was devoted to the little girl with all her heart. She said that Dasha was especially spiritually nice the last days of her life. And being together with Tanya they remembered Dasha sobbing low.
Hanna began to drink coumiss conscientiously and earnestly. She wanted to recover by all means in order to be able to help the Kuzminskyes. There was no reason to return to the Tolstoys as they had got already another governess and for Hanna the climate of the Caucasus was much better than the cold climate of Jasnaya Polyana. But the children still hoped that they would see Hanna every summer in Jasnaya Polyana together with the Kuzminskyes. Tanya thought that her lessons and other studies would help her to overcome winter and at that very moment she had to enjoy Hanna’s company and not to think about the parting.
Hanna’s coming changed all Tanya’s life. Hanna was interested in all around her and little Tanya felt the same being near her. Hanna explained to the child the peculiar beauty of the steppe. She said to Tanya: ”Look, these large flocks of sheep remind us of the Bible life. And our Bashkir Muhhamedshah looks like a Bible patriarch with his grey beard, long coloured clothes and his steady polite manners…”
Together with Hanna they went for long walks. Tanya and Hanna even climbed a mountain that was called Shishka. It was rather hard as the mountain was high and steep and they had to creep on their hands and knees to reach the top. There they felt a little breeze and saw the endless steppe all around them reaching the blue sky. On the slopes of the mountain they found many fossils of different shape.
Sometimes Tanya and Hanna went for a walk in the steppe at night. The steppe was very beautiful at night with thousands of stars shining from the vast sky dome. Tanya and Hanna felt themselves to be so tiny creatures compared with the infinity of the sky. The steppe was covered with feather-grass, which was white and light like fluff. Under the moonlight when it was swinging by wind it seemed that the steppe had silver coverlet upon it. Hanna and Tanya picked the grass, made bunches and decorated their room.
Sometimes by day Hanna and the children went to water-melon plantations where huge melons and water-melons were growing. An old man gave them the ripe fruit. They did not have knives with them and divided the water-melons dropping them on the ground.
In the evening they saw how reapers were returning home. They reaped very fast and came to another field leaving many spikes on the ground. Hanna was all against such wastefulness, she was always against any unnecessary expenditure. She said:” Waist is a great sin. Every thing demands a lot of human labour and we must not destroy it. Just think how many persons could be saved from hunger with these spikes lost in the field”. Hanna told about it to Lev Tolstoy and he asked her together with his children to collect as many sheaves as possible and then he would orange to thresh them. The children liked the idea and began to gather spikes. Hanna told that it also reminded her the Bible times when Ruth was gleaning.
Under the burning sun the children were gleaning and gathered several sheaves and then had them threshed. It appeared that each of them saved 100 kg of grain. The children and Hanna were delighted by the fact that they had been able to work so hard.
Once walking across the steppe with Hanna Tanya saw something white in the grass. She ran up and saw that it was a tiny white lamb. The girl was delighted and cried: “Hanna, just look! It’s a little lamb! May we take it? Perhaps some shepherds have lost it!”
“I think you may. Nobody will return to look for it I suppose. There are lots of them there and when one is lost shepherds often don’t notice it. But if its master is known we’ll return him his lamb,”- Hanna answered. Tatyana did not like the idea of returning the lamb but still she took the lamb and brought it home. The lamb was very tired and could hardly stand on its small legs when the girl put it on the floor. The girl asked for a saucer, poured some milk in it and was waiting to see how the baby would lap. But it was too little and could not drink itself. Hanna advised Tanya to wet her finger with the milk and offer the lamb to lick it. The girl followed the advice and was happy when the lamb took her finger into its mouth and began to suck waving its funny short little tail. Tanya called the lamb Moutka. It was not easy for the girl to grow up the baby lamb because she had to feed it every two hours by day and at night as well. When the girl was sleeping she suddenly felt that someone was pushing her. It was Moutka. The girl got up, kissed its nice pink little snout and poured some milk into the saucer then went to bed again and fell asleep while Moutka was drinking its milk wagging its short tail. By day the lamb followed Tanya everywhere like a dog. The lamb knew its name and always ran up to the girl knocking by its little hooves when she called it.
Once when Hanna and Tanya were walking across the steppe they met a very strange company: a lean Tatar in ragged clothes was going in front dragging a small cart behind him with a baby inside, there was a ragged all in dust Tatar woman by his side with a dirty shaggy – haired girl. The family looked hungry, dirty and sad. The man asked Hanna and Tanya if there was any work for him and his wife. Tanya knew that her father always tried to give work everybody who needed it and she showed the way to the house. Lev Tolstoy hired the man and his wife to work in the fields. The family settled in the open air and sometimes they moved to the shed. Hanna was full of pity for the Tatar children. She explained to the girl that they were always hungry and together with Tanya brought them food from Tolstoy’s house. First the Tatar girl was afraid of them but then became friendly and did not hide. She was as wild as a little animal. She could not talk or play like a child. The only thing she was interested in was food. She came up to Tanya’s and Hanna’s window and shouted asking for bread. When they gave her some flat cakes she never thanked them but began to eat rapidly. Tanya tried to play with the girl but in vain. Tanya made little gardens on the bottom of their dried pond sticking little branches into the ground, built roads between them and dug up holes and filled them with water as if they were lakes. The little Tatar girl watched her and then began to laugh widely and crushed all Tanya’s work. Then she found horrible tarantulas in their holes, picked them and showed to Tanya speaking her native language that Tanya did not understand. The family lived and worked there the whole summer and then went away.
The adults began to talk about returning to Jasnaya Polyana. Little Tanya troubled about her pet Moutka. She wanted to take him to Jasnaya Polyana very much. But she did not know if her parents would permit her because it would be a long journey. She thought she would manage to put him on her laps when they would ride to Samara but she did not know how to convey the lamb on board the ship and by train. She rejected the idea to leave the poor thing in the steppe because he would be eaten there as all the other sheep. Tanya cried much, then pulled herself together and went to her parents to ask for permission to take Moutka to Jasnaya Polyana. But they did not understand their daughter’s trouble and were very indifferent and stern. They prohibited to take the lamb thinking that it was nonsense to transport the sheep to their estate Jasnaya Polyana where there were enough sheep. The little girl had nothing to do but go to their cook Avdotja who was going to stay at the farm. Tanya gave her Moutka and asked the woman to look after the lamb and protect it from any danger. The cook gave her her word but Tanya was still not sure about the lamb’s future.
Tanya had one more trouble at that period of time. Hanna was going to leave them and return to the Caucasus. The little girl tried to calm herself hoping that Hanna would come with the Kuzminskyes to Jasnaya Polyana the next summer. It had been very good for Hanna to drink koumiss, she stopped coughing and put on some weight. She was going to the Caucasus full of energy to help Tatyana Kuzminskaya to overcome her deep sorrow. The Tolstoys said good bye to Hanna and little Tanya cried much parting with her dear governess. The little girl felt lonely after Hanna’s departure and could not sleep at night. The room where just some days ago they spent days and nights together began to look gloomy and empty. ” But she would come back again and we shall meet again”, Tanya whispered softly to herself.
The little girl did not know that she would never see her beloved Hanna any more.
Hanna returned to the Caucasus and continued to teach and bring up Masha and Vera Kuzminskye. In spite of the fact that Dasha’s death was a great shock for her she tried her best to give all her heart and soul to the little girls.
Hanna often sent letters to the Tolstoys. They did not notice any change in her way of describing her life and events. But in spring of 1874 they got a letter from Hanna’s sister Jenny informing the Tolstoys that Hanna was going to get married. Her fiance was Georgian Prince Matchuladze. The Tolstoys were greatly amazed. They had never thought about such probability. The children did not know weather to cry with joy or to sob and pity themselves. They sent Hanna their letters and Hanna replied and described them her engagement and invited the Tolstoys to visit her in Kutais. The Tolstoys also invited her and her husband to come to Jasnaya Polyana.
As the Tolstoys found out later Hanna was not happy in her married life at first. Her mother-in-law and her father-in-law were angry with their son that he had married the poor foreigner. The young Prince did not obey his parents and got married without their permission.
The old prince and princess stopped to give money to their son and the young couple had nothing to live on and was rather poor after their marriage. Besides Hanna grieved that she had parted her husband with his parents. But then Hanna gave birth to a child and the stern parents were happy to have a grandson and forgave their son and daughter-in-law. They made certain that Hanna was a good and modest young woman. The old prince and princess invited the young couple to their house and asked to stay and live with them. The old man and woman had their own business, it was production of sheep cheese. Hanna took an active part in the business and it was a success so her father- and mother-in law passed her all their business.
There in the Kutais estate Hanna spent the rest of her life. She sent the photo of her daughter to the Tolstoys. Hanna and her daughter were very much alike. After some years they got and sent letters more seldom but they never stopped their correspondence. Hanna wrote that she hoped to see “dear old Jasnaya” again and bring her daughter with her too.
Her dreams did not come true. Nobody from the Tolstoys except Sergey saw her again. When Sergey was already an old man he went to the Caucasus on business and came to see their old governess. Tanya envied him and was still hoping to see Hanna some day.
Then the Tolstoys got a message informing them that Hanna was seriously ill. Soon after that they came to know that she had died. She was not an old woman when she died, about 50 years old.
7. L.N.Tolstoy’s descendants in England nowadays .
There are many Tolstoy’s descendants abroad nowadays. They live in the USA, France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and England. Great Britain is not rich in Tolstoy’s descendants but still two girls – Lev Tolstoy’s great-great-great-granddaughters live there. Their names are Anastasia Vladimirovna Tolstaya and her sister Yekaterina Vladimirovna Tolstaya. Anastasia was born in Moscow on 1 February, 1984. Yekaterina was born in Moscow on 11 November, 1987. Their father Vladimir Tolstoy is the director of the estate-museum Yasnaya Polyana now. Their parents are divorced. The girls have been living with their mother in London for nearly 5 years. But they often visit their father in Yasnaya Polyana when they are on summer holidays. Their hobby is riding horses.
L.N.TOLSTOY’S DESCENDANTS IN ENGLAND ( 2000 )
Son Ilya Lvovoch
Grandson Vladimir Ilyich
Great grandson Ilya Vladimirovich
Great-great grandson Vladimir Ilyich
Great-great-great granddaughters Anastasia Yekaterina
1.Victor Shklovsky. LEV TOLSTOY. Progress Publishers Moscow, 1978 (in English)
2.Nikolai Puzin. THE LEV TOLSTOY HOUSE-MUSEUM IN YASNAYA POLYANA. Yasnaya Polyana Publishing House, 1998 (in English).
3.Т.Л.Сухотина-Толстая. ВОСПОМИНАНИЯ. Москва, «Художественная литература», 1981.
4.Илья Толстой. СВЕТ ЯСНОЙ ПОЛЯНЫ. Москва, «Молодая гвардия», 1986.
5.И.Грызлова, В.Лебедева. Литературный музей Толстого в Ясной Поляне. Очерк-путеводитель. Приокское книжное издательство. Тула, 1974.
6. Е.Кассина, Г.Расторгуева, В.Янкова. ЛЕВ ТОЛСТОЙ И ЯСНАЯ ПОЛЯНА. Издательство «Прогресс». Москва, 1980.
7.Интервью научного сотрудника Дома-музея Л.Н.Толстого Ясная Поляна Никериной Ирины Викторовны.
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