vich you are right, but as to Ustimovich--however, you spoke only of Aslanovich.--The parentheses within which you provoke me, as to my preference for limited personalities, that calls for only one answer: "tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are." And so logically--I, too, must be limited.--But Ustimovich is a strongly developed personality, besides being well educated and talented. Shchukarov, with whom I'm living, is intelligent and developed as well as being an original person; two or three former students--extremely nice fellows in the brain department--how I manage to breathe the atmosphere of these people and vice versa--they breathe my atmosphere--I cannot grasp, according to your opinion based on experience, [what you say] about my tendency toward limitation (experience because we've known each other for five years).--Undoubtedly my work will encounter prejudice from your side; this is natural because the active image of my personality sickens you.
As to my being swamped and having to be pulled out of the swamp, I say only this--if I have talent--I will not be swamped as long as my brain is stimulated--the more so, and if one has neither this nor that --is it worth while to pull a splinter from the mud? Speaking plainly, there was a time when I nearly went under, not musically, but morally --I crawled out; however, you will find out later what really happened--if our conversation should touch this matter--there was a female involved. In any case I know one thing, your letter was impelled by mistaken spite; it is time to stop looking at me as a child, who must be held up so he won't fall.
Here is the answer to your letter, Mili--heated and hasty as it was, but thanks for it; I was afraid that you would leave me without any answer.--I shall be in Peter soon.
February 13, 1861
. . . Could you write a little letter to Musorgsky immediately, asking him to go at once to Maria [Shilovskaya], fall on his knees before her, cry, tear his hair . . . anything, to force her by hook or crook to summon [Konstantin] Lyadov, and compel him to give the third entr'acte of Ruslan. This seems the only means of settling this matter for good--it's about time for it to be brought into order . . .