soil and of the whole Slavic world. And amidst your cares for that Great Russian worker, you have found in your lovely heart the possibility of giving me your good word and frank speech! I repeat: you have blessed me, dear little dove Ludmila Ivanovna, blessed me as artist and as human being.
With my whole soul devoted to you, MUSINKA
December 19, 1879
S.P-bg. Vas. Ostr. 5th l. No. 10 [ December, 1879]
MY DEAR FRIEND ARSENI,
Don't be displeased with me; since spring some strange illness has overtaken me, breaking out in November with such force that my doctor, who knows me well, gave me only 2 more hours to live. Now I'm a little better, but just a little. So I use this more or less satisfactory condition of my brain to talk with you.
I was extremely delighted about the publication of your poetic works and about the printing of Shuisky. In regard to the former I was very caressed by the sympathetic and occasionally clever reviews about the nature of your creative powers. The form is unanimously declared faultless; consequently the question of your problems and their realization arose: in this case you well know, dear friend, to what extent the benevolence of men is parceled out in relation to this or that creative problem, and you further very well know that almost always the inner, indefinable demand screens the accuracy of the criterion: as I'm not fond of such and such a subject--ergo: this poetic work leaves me unsatisfied, and vice versa. But aside from this inevitability, the reviews are led to an acknowledgement of that force that produces the flesh and blood of a genuine artistic work. And as for Shuisky! here's where some of them are caught. Not being able to stand resolutely in the realm of history, these few start a dispute about theatricality or non-theatricality, forgetting that the most common work can be fitted for the stage as far as the merely hollow external effect is concerned, and, vice versa, a drama that has been profoundly thought out and felt by a poet, without any pranking or screening itself behind good looks, carries within itself the very laws of the stage and cannot fail to find a response in the spectator who is even slightly