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Secrets of Pushkin’s fairy tales
There are a lot of unrevealed mysteries in Pushkin's fairy tales.
In June, 1827 Great Britain, France and Russia signed a Treaty of London and called for the autonomy of Greece. The coalition was ready to use force, if Greece didn’t accept its terms. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829 the Russian battle-ships surpassed foreign analogies, British in particular. “Paris”, a 110 gun ship, was the best during that war. The construction of a new battleship “Warsaw” started in a Russian shipyard on March 30, 1832.That 5000 ton vessel was considered to be the best ship and a real masterpiece.
England realized Russia could become a leading world power and surpass it: the Russian navy developed very fast and its technological level was very high. Britain couldn’t stand the loss of superiority at sea because it was a guarantee of its power in colonies all the world. British industry exported everything from its colonies, including minerals - there weren’t plenty of them on a small island - and foodstuff.
How could England preserve and increase its influence at sea and in colonies? It’s common knowledge national traditions are stronger in any country than philosophy. The British took into consideration the unique experience they had gained during the war with Spain to win the command of the sea. Two factors helped it to withstand the superior numbers of Spanish troops:
1. It led active reconnaissance against Spain and received vast information about it.
2. It employed sea pirates to state service, who had fought against the Spanish fleet.
Later those conquest methods transformed. Pirates weren’t employed to state service any longer in the 1820-s. They employed members of various secret Mason societies and revolutionary terrorists. Thus the nature of the British policy changed.
In 1823-1829 the British government allotted substantial amounts for the development of cryptography in England. It was supposed to become a world leader, so it had to be able to read all encrypted correspondence in the world, keeping its own secret.
Britain had also to develop its own communication systems – the main means to control British colonies and army.
Charles Babbage constructed mechanical cryptographic machines “Difference engine No 1” and “Difference engine No 2”. Their design cost the same as the construction of two battleships!
Nicholas I decided to activate the work of Russian intelligence. The Third Department of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery was established in the 1820-s. Foreign intelligence was one of its functions. The Foreign Affairs Department – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – was another foreign intelligence structure. It decrypted diplomatic encrypted correspondence, opened and inspected private mail and prepared analytical reports on international affairs.
The confrontation of Russia and England on the secret front started. All available means were used for that purpose. Servants were recruited and highest state officials were persuaded to cooperate. Art workers played a significant role in that fight, because they had access to first persons of the state and could influence them.
By the end of the Russian-Turkish war many English wanted to visit Russia. Russian history was attentively studied in England. Russia in its turn studied the history and all spheres of activities of European countries. It urgently started to protect its correspondence, since it was sure that not only England’s enemies but its friends as well would be interested in it. At the end of the 1820-s P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt designed a new cipher. It increased encryption capability of the Russian diplomatic correspondence. (See Annex N 1).
Here is a quotation from an article “Traveler Of Our Times” written by a Russian journalist Ivan Golovin. He described, who and how traveled in Europe and made a conclusion, that mostly Russians and Englishmen travel abroad among all cultured nations. They traveled so much and so often, that one can say other nations don’t travel at all. (Ivan Golovin. Traveler of our times. ”The Son of the Motherland”, 1838, v. V, September-October, Dep. I, p.. 69, "English Tourists".-- "Domestic notes", 1839, v. V, No 9, Dep. VIII, p. 99--108).
Ivan Golovin wrote: "Time has passed when foreigners spoke about Russia and were satisfied with ill-intentioned nonsense or took a Leclerk or Anselo on trust. Now they are studying our complicated state administration, from minor details to fundamental laws.” ("The Son of the Motherland ", 1839, v. II, dep. VII, p. 208).
The Third Department of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery registered an unusual activity of the English, who penetrated into Russian secrets. The Third Department covertly watched an Englishman Sanders in Petersburg. He was deported from Russia due to his activities in Orenburg and data, received from his correspondence.
English intelligence tried to penetrate into the highest Russian society. It wanted to influence Russian decision makers. England was aware that Paul I had planned to rule Europe together with Napoleon and even conquer India. So it organized the murder of Paul I and managed to control Russian emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I: both of them owed England for the Russian throne. No one knows, whether they could inherit the Russian throne if Paul I continued to rule the country.
Alexander I remembered for the rest of his life the following episode. Paul I found Voltaire’s tragedy “Brutus” on the table. It ended with the words “Rome is free! We thank the gods!” So he invited his son to his office, showed him the Decree of Peter I concerning his poor son Alexei Petrovich and asked, whether he knew the history of the tsar’s son. Not long before his death he asked his sons Alexander and Constantine to swear fealty to him in a church. Obviously he had solid grounds to doubt their loyalty.
Russian intelligence in its turn planned to penetrate into the European society, including British.
Lots of books about Russia were published in England at that time. Books by V. Wilson (1828), Grenville (1828), Sir Alexander (1829), A. Morton1830), Charles Colville Frankland (1797—1876) and many others were published. The first volume of detailed Russian history "Cabinet Cyclopaedia. History of Russia" was published in London in 1836. English travelers wrote about Alexander Pushkin as well.
An English traveler Thomas Raikes (1777-1848) wrote an interesting book and described his visit to the Russian capital ("A visit to St. Petersburg in the winter of 1829--1830". London, 1833). He analyzed the personality of Alexander Pushkin and his relations with the tsar and revolutionaries.
English intelligence paid attention at Pushkin in 1820. Pushkin met Captain George Willock, an official from the English mission in Iran, in June 1820 in the house of N. Rayevsky in Mineral Waters in the Caucasus. General A. Velyaminov, who replaced A.P. Yermolov at that time, presumed that G. Willock had arrived from Teheran to the Caucasus with a secret mission “to study the state of our military affairs in Chechnya and Dagestan”. So he ordered to “watch what G. Willock did, who visited him and how often.”
An interpreter worked with G. Willock. He was accused of recruiting deserters from the Russian Army, aiding and abetting defectors to Iran - Russian soldiers from the 42 yeger regiment, quartered in Karabakh. That “Persian interpreter” was also cited in the document mentioned above. It was an Armenian Sadik He was an Iranian official appointed by Iranian military to spy on the Englishman. That “interpreter” helped the deserters to cross the Russian-Iranian border.
Alexander Pushkin was irritated by the servility some Englishmen were sometimes treated in the times of Alexander I. He wrote in his diary in June 1824: "I’m tired to depend on the digestion of this or that official. I’m bored to be treated with less respect in my native country than the first (fool) English boy they met, who comes to us to demonstrate his stupidity, negligence and mumbling." (Pushkin, v. XI, с. 23, 531; v XIII, p. 95, French original).
Anything else could hardly be expected those days, when Alexander I owed everything to England. Everything changed, when Nicholas I started to rule Russia. He couldn’t forgive the English for the murder of his father. Nicholas I took Pushkin to his bosom and made him practically the main historian in Russia. He gave him access to state archives, including secret. In 1831 Alexander Pushkin was appointed to state service at the Foreign Affairs Department in the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Alexander Pushkin was not interested in the creative work of contemporary English poets up till 1831 and didn’t study it. Starting from 1831 he published literary works and some of their stories were taken from English literature. He translated a scene from a dramatic poem by John Wilton “The City of Plague”, reworked it and created his “Feast in time of plague”. He studied the poems by Barry Cornwell and wrote “Small tragedies”.
In 1831 he asked Pletnyov to send him books by G. Crabbe, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and of course, by William Shakespeare. Pushkin asked Dixon, a bookseller, to send him books with Shakespeares’ biography. He wanted to know who “William Shakespeare” was in reality. We can only guess, why he needed it. After Pushkin’s death L. Mobzalevsky made an inventory of Pushkin’s library. 170 books out of 1400 were written by English and American writers. Those were either originals or translations into Russian and French. There was the only book by an American writer Washington Irving.
Why Pushkin became so interested in English literature after 1831? No doubt, his interest was due to his work at the Foreign Ministry. It analyzed the political situation in European countries, France and England in the first place.
Probably it was not by chance that Pushkin got acquainted with James Edward Alexander (1803—1885), a descendant of an aristocratic Scottish family. He chose a military career – it was a family tradition. At the end of his military service (1881) he had a full General rank, the highest rank in the English army.
J. Alexander was a young officer, when he met Pushkin. He’d spent a few years in the army and worked as a diplomat in India and Iran. Then he returned to England and continued his education in Sandhurst. In Spring, 1829 he went to Russia to watch combat actions on the Russian-Turkish front. Sandhurst College was an official educational institution of the British army, which trained intelligence officers.
Pushkin and J. Alexander had rather unexpected mutual acquaintances from Persia and Caucasus, for example George Willock, the brother of Henry Willock, a British chargé d'affaires in Persia. J. Alexander was well acquainted with G. Willock. They served in India and Persia and accompanied his brother Henry Willock while he was traveling from Tebris to London (via Constantinople and Vienna) in September – December 1826.
It seemed British intelligence had learnt that Alexander Pushkin was the Emperor’s person in attendance and worked in the secret department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. S it tried to make friends with him. It’s hard to say, whether they succeeded or not. Probably Pushkin accomplished special missions and received information the secret department required about the political situation in England.
It’s a strange coincidence, but right at that time Nicholas I ordered P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt to undertake a scientific-technical reconnaissance in Europe. He had to get information about the technological level of England and France and their discoveries in the field of electric magnetism and methods of artificial magnet combination.
Till the end of his life Alexander Pushkin was a close friend of Arthur С. Magenis, a diplomat from the British Embassy in Petersburg. Not long before the duel the poet asked Arthur С. Magenis to be his second. On January 27, 1837 Arthur С. Magenis wrote Pushkin a letter on that subject. ( "From N.M. Smirnov’s memoranda " -- "The Russian Archive", 1882, book I, p. 248; P. Е. Shchegolev. Pushkin’s Duel and Death. 3-rd Edition, М.--L., 1928, p. 132--138. )
I. Panayev recollected that after Pushkin’s death he had spent the whole evening in the poet’s office, helping A. Krayevsky to put the poet’s books and papers in order. He found the by Arthur С. Magenis’s letter there.
"We were busy all the evening, -- Panayev recollected.—By the way, I found a note on the floor under the table. It was written by Magenis, who was a secretary at the British embassy in Petersburg. Pushkin asked him to be his second, but Magenis replied in that note that he refused to be his second. He said he couldn’t interfere in the affair like that due to his position. I gave the note to Krayevsky, who wanted to pass it over to Shukovsky. Magenis was right. But why did Pushkin address him? It seems only the closest people may be asked for such a favor..." ("Leterary Recollections". М., 1950, p. 97, 378).
Magenis’s letter is quoted in the volume with Pushkin’s correspondence. (Pushkin, volume XVI, p. 224--225). Was the English diplomat Pushkin’s bosom friend? There may be another presumption. Maybe there was a rule that only seconds could settle an argument between duelists? Maybe Alexander Pushkin hoped Arthur Magenis could settle it. Maybe that was why the poet was so calm during the duel and approached the barrier: he thought Magenis had settled the conflict with D’Anthes and the duel would be just a formality. Could English intelligence plan to kill the poet because he had knew it was planning to covertly penetrate into the Russian high society?
England was interested in the death of Paul I. It was afraid Russia’s coalition with France could help them to colonize India, the largest British colony (70 per cent of the population of the British Empire). After the Decembrists’ revolt Nicholas I investigated the plot. It’s interesting to analyze the correspondence between Nicholas I and the great duke Constantine Pavlovich.
Nicholas I to the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich
S. Petersburg, January 4, 1826
…The evidence Pestel has just given me is so important, that I think I’m obliged to urgently inform you about it. It will be clear to you, the case becomes more complicated due to the existence of branches abroad and because everything happening here is obviously a consequence or the result of foreign influence.
I am planning to finish with those rascals. They are of no importance in respect to the evidence they may give. But they are the first who have lifted their hands against their higher-ups, and they cannot be forgiven. Those are Bestuzhev and Shchepin from the Moscow regiment. I think they should be just prosecuted for their fault. The regiment court should trial them within 24 hours and they should be executed by the soldiers from their regiment. Obolensky, who was accused of the murder of Miloradovich, or at least of injuring him with a bayonet (Kakhovsky’s fault became known only in May-June 1826) should share the same destiny, but not so soon: he should confront most of those despicable accused men, because he is one of the leaders of their party or Duma, as they call it here.
I’d appreciate it very much if you come, no matter how difficult it will be to meet me. I’ll make no secret of the fact, that there is still a slight disturbance in the army, because they don’t see you. There are rumors that you are approaching Petersburg with a corps. Only your presence may bring order.»
It is mentioned in the letter that the meeting is necessary no matter how difficult it would be. Obviously the relations between the brothers were very tense: the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich was moving to Petersburg and there was a possibility if a coup. Naturally Nicholas I wanted to receive a confirmation from his brother that those were just rumors.
There’s a lot of information in the lLetter of Nicholas I to his mother.
Nicholas I to Maria Fyodorovna
Yelagin Island, May 24, 1826
«…I’m busy preparing for the trial. As soon as the preparations are over I’ll be happy to inform you about everything. There are a lot of unavoidable and terrible details in this case. My dear Mother, they make me sick.»
What kind of information could make him sick? He was well trained for military life from early childhood/ Probably the tsar’s persons in attendance participated in the plot. Nicholas I knew who had killed Paul I, his father, and how he was killed to enthrone Alexander I. His brother could seize power the same way. The Russian Emperor felt sick because he was afraid to be murdered in his bedroom! By the way Paul I didn’t ask his younger son Nicholas to swear fealty to him.
Nicholas I to Constantine Pavlovich
Yelagin Island, June 6, 1826
«…Here is a report of the Investigation commission and a list of persons to be brought before the Supreme Court. I think it will be interesting for you to read the inference, though the case is familiar to you. It’s well written, but in fact it’s disgusting. It’s not enough just to thank God, that He has saved us from all those horrors, which were in store for us. It’s most important that He has saved our angel. (The Decembrists intended to murder the son of Nicholas I - the future Emperor Alexander II). It seems God wished the events developed to such an extent, that all those horrors and absurdity got ripe. The ruling order is hard to eradicate but sooner or later it had to lead to such a result.
If there are still incorrigible people to be found, we’ll have the right and the advantage to assert the necessity for urgent and strict measures against any destructive attempts, hostile to order, established and honored by centuries of glory.»
Nicholas I wanted to conceal all the details of the revolt, because they could ruin the Empire and impose a new hostile order. It was another proof that England was involved in the Decembrist revolt and the assassination of Paul I. It prepared the Decembrist revolt, making a bet on the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich. He was supposed to become a tsar after the coup.
His imaginary refusal to become an Emperor was due to his morganatic marriage. In fact he had no legal right to throne. It was a completely different matter if the Decembrists murdered Nicholas I and all his family. Then the Great Duke Constantine Pavlovich could become an Emperor. People wouldn’t mind it, though it was a violation of the law.
It became clear during the interrogation that England participated in the revolt. The Great duke Constantine Pavlovich was indirectly involved in it.
P. I. Pestel was one of the main plotters. What evidence did he give during the investigation? He gave detailed answers to the questions and obviously counted on some high support. His estimation seemed to be correct. Nicholas I would learn who conducted the revolt. He would be afraid to pass a heavy sentence. The foreign roots of the revolt and the participation of the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich were more than evident. That’s why Nicholas I decided to write his brother about it and ordered to ask the prisoners about the details of the plot.
On January 13, 1826 Pestel faced the Highest committee and answered fifty five questions. Here are some of them:
Question No 15:
Is it true that England participated in the plans of European secret societies? To what extent did it assist those societies and financed them from England?
Question No 43:
In your answers you have briefly mentioned that you had heard from prince Yablonovsky and Grodetsky, that the Polish society was connected with the British government and received money from it. But you haven’t mentioned the details about their relations, in particular, who was involved. You’ve told Mr. Yushnevsky the “English cabinet” participated in the activities of the secret society and promised to help if it was necessary. Explain the relations between Polish societies and England. Who is prince Yablonovsky and prince Grodetsky? You’ve contacted them.
Pestel gave evasive answers to those questions.
The attitude of the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich towards Pestel’s position is also worth mentioning.
From Constantine Pavlovich to Nicholas I
Warsaw, June 14, 1826
«… There’s one matter I am very much surprised with. I’m leaving it to your discretion. It’s Orlov’s behavior. He’s come unscathed out of the battle and wasn’t brought before the bar. (Orlov’s older brother A.F. Orlov protected him. He came down on the side of Nicholas Ion December 14, 1825.) Pestel’s Russian truth was a real buffoonery, though the case was very serious. I thought he was cleverer and had more common sense, but he turned out to be a fool. His thoughts were chaotic and incomprehensible. One can only shrug his shoulders. God help you, dear brother, in the severe time like this!»
The plotter was called “a fool”, so that no one could take his evidence seriously! Everyone knows such a trick when the highest Russian statesmen become traitors! It’s better to burke the case, than to let anyone suspect the sacred authority. Almost all Russian rulers acted the same way, except Ivan the Terrible and I.V. Stalin. One shouldn’t wash his dirty linen in public and cast a shade on the inner circle, accusing it of espionage in favor of some other country. Emperors and General Secretaries of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, the tsars in the socialist society, could never allow it. It could defame their sacred essence or a communist’s impeccability.
The investigation commission received the evidence that the honor and interests of the royal family were at stake, and Nicholas I ordered to close the investigation commission urgently and hang five main plotters. The prestige of the tsar’s family was above all! That motto affected his descendant, Nicholas II: he abdicated and then he and all his family perished.
There was another important event during the reign of Nicholas I – the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829. Its political benefits were minor compared to large-scale brilliant military operations and the success of the Russian army. Why did diplomats bring the results Russian victories to naught? They were really great! At the end of the military campaign of 1829 the Russian army passed across the Balkan Mountains. The Commander in Chief General-adjutant Ivan Dibich destroyed disordered Turkish troops, though they outnumbered the Russian troops.
The Russian army stood three-days march from defenseless Constantinople. They entered Sofia and occupied Armenia. The centuries-old Russian dream to conquer Constantinople came true at last. All of a sudden Nicholas I decided to sign a Peace Treaty with Turkey. He signed agreements which were absolutely out of the key with the Russian military achievements. Why did it happen?
The peculiarity of that military campaign was the following. Only 12 per cent of the casualties were caused by military operations.The majority of soldiers died from wounds and hunger, because the Russian army was deprived of food and ammunition. Nicholas I commanded the Russian army at the beginning of the war. According to the Russian tradition the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich was his deputy at that time. He was responsible for army supplies, but left it without food, trying to avert the victory of the Russian army on the Black Sea. He even managed to make a lot of money at it. England, Russia’s formal ally in that war, had the same plans. It didn’t want Russia to strengthen its influence in that strategically important region.
Nicholas I had to return to the capita. The army supply was renewed. A new plot against Nicholas I was prepared in Russia, so the Emperor decided to stop the war as quickly as possible not to let the plotters - with The Great duke Constantine Pavlovich at the head - organize a revolt, like in December 1825.
Events happen to repeat in Russian history. The Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829 resembled the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905. Some members of the tsarist family tried to use the national tragedy to win the throne. They did their utmost to destroy the Russian army and navy to achieve their goals.
Only five ringleaders were executed after the Decembrist revolt. Emperor Nicholas I ordered to stop the investigation and didn’t unravel the plot tangle, because some members of his family were involved.
Later on he urgently stopped the investigation against D’Anthes, who killed Alexander Pushkin. The reason was obviously the same.
The Polish uprising (1830-1831) was another significant event in the reign of Nicholas I. The Great duke Constantine Pavlovich was the tsar’s governor-general in Poland. His maleficent inactivity helped the revolutionaries to capture Warsaw. It made it possible for the Polish Seym to take a decision to separate Poland from Russia.
Then England interfered into the revolt. It could hardly succeed if the Great duke Constantine Pavlovich wasn’t bribed. England knew that in case it couldn’t overthrow the Russian tsar and establish a regime it was able to control, it had to occupy Russian territories one by one. The revolt in Poland was crushed, and the Russian army occupied Warsaw.
In February 1832 the Polish Kingdom was annexed to Russia. The Seim and the Polish army was abolished. The former administrative subdivision was substituted for the subdivision into provinces. The Russian monetary system, the Russian system of measures and weights was introduced in Poland. Alexander Pushkin greeted the suppression of the Polish uprising in his poems «In front of the sacred tomb”, «To Slanderers of Russia» and «Borodino Anniversary», written in 1831.
P.Y. Chaadayev wrote Pushkin on September 18, 1831: «At last you are a national poet. You have at last found your mission. I can hardly express my gratification. I’d like to say: Dante has come at last».
P.A. Vyazemsky read those poems only on September 14, 1832. He wrote in his diary that day: «If we had freedom of press, Pushkin would never dare to glorify Paskevich’s victories… It’s funny to be happy at the sight of a lion putting its paw on a mice … And what a sacrilege it is to compare Borodino with Warsaw. Russia will cry out against such lawlessness”. P.A. Vyazemsky had long before become the national voice of Britain and called it “the shore of freedom”.
That was the time when Russian writers started political fight for the Russian minds. European countries, including England, didn’t grudge the expense to support Russian writers, who campaigned for the overthrow of the tsarist regime and the declaration of the constitution in Russia similar to the British. A.I. Gertsen was excited with England. Rothshieds helped him just in time and he accepted their help with gratitude. Thus he wrote new works, denouncing tsarism.
Probably that was the time, when Alexander Pushkin started to fight against the “island of freedom”, revealing secret British influence on the highest Russian society. Maybe his friend P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt asked him to do it, because he dealt with opening and inspecting British correspondence. Of course, he noticed English activities in Russia had intensified. He gave Pushkin a lot of British publications, such as "Edinburgh Review", "Quarterly Review", "Westminster Review and a lot of British newspapers.
In December 1834 Alexander Pushkin wrote “A Conversation with an Englishman”. No doubt he used information the Third Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received from their agents and from opened British correspondence. There was a highly professional characteristic of the British Parliament in the poem, the class relations in Britain and the life of the British proletariat. Only diplomats and highly professional intelligence agents could provide information like that.
Pushkin could scarcely learn about the terrible state of the British workers from his conversations with British travelers. Russian writers such as A. Gertsen and K.N. Batyushkov were bribed by the English, so theygave false information about the real state of affairs in England, portraying it in glowing and rosy terms. It is obvious from Batyushkov’s letter to D.P. Severin dated June 19, 1814. He wrote: «My dear friend, the flourishing land, which is full of treasures from all over the world, cannot support itself otherwise, but respecting morals, manners and civil and sacred laws.
Freedom and prosperity of new Karfagen is based on them. It’s a wonderful island. Luxury and simplicity, royal and civil rule are in the state of eternal fight, and it makes them balanced. I was astonished by that mixture of luxury and simplicity in the motherland of Elizabeth and Addison».
By the way, K.N. Batyushkov had a great influence on Pushkin’s lyrics, when the latter studied at the Liceum. When Pushkin was fifteen, he wrote a letter to Batyushkov, imitating the spirit and the style of his idol.
Let’s bear in mind, that Batyushkov called England “a misty Albion” and “a magnificent wonderful island”. Pushkin memorized Batyushkov’s definition. He was excited by his creative work and used Batyushkov’s picturesque definitions in his poems. (“The Tale of Tsar Saltan”)
Here the tsar said, in amaze:
"If but God prolong my days,
I shall visit this strange isle,
Guest with this Gvidon a while."
Maybe England was “the wonderful island”! I’ll try to prove it below.
Pushkin examined the confrontation between Russia and England and chose the correct civilian stand. Young writers guided by with Pushkin started to write realistic literary works about England, portraying its negative features. Pushkin had a friend, A. Khomyakov. Pushkin was five years older and helped him a lot in his creative activity. Here is a quotation from Khomyakov’s letter to A.V. Venevitinov dated May 22, 1828:
"If you meet Pushkin (and you probably will) give him my best regards, like those of an uncle to his nephew and salute him like a soldier to his colonel ".
It means Khomyakov thought their literary discussions were friendly but Pushkin’s instructions were obligatory like military orders. That was why Pushkin appreciated Khomyakov’s poem “The Island” very much.
Some lines of the poem were dedicated to England. The poet expressed his hope for the renaissance of Russia and the end of British might.
Pushkin played a leading role in upbringing young writers and in the formation of Russian political attitude towards Britain. The British government hated Pushkin for that. He was persecuted by writers, mainly by so-called democrats, hired in Britain.
After Pushkin’s death the influence of his literary works on the Russian society increased. Lies were told about his literary work and his historical research. Pisaryev was rude enough and mistaken calling the great poet “a versifier, who cannot analyze and understand great social and philosophic problems of our era ». V. О. Klyuchevsky thought Pushkin didn’t know much about Russian history, though he “kept an eye on contemporary historical scripts.”
Y.V. Tarle defined Pushkin’s role in portraying history most precisely: «Pushkin understood history and managed to find a special approach to it. None of our historians did it before. In order to understand Pushkin’s attitude towards history it’s important to bear in mind that he was a witness of those historical events, who wrote about them».
Let us try to analyze Pushkin’s “Tale of Tsar Saltan” bearing in mind Tarle’s statement. The Tale was written in 1831 after the Russian-Turkish war and the revolt in Poland, so obviously there was some allegory in it. It might be important for Pushkin, though he couldn’t write openly about certain facts. Of course, P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt helped Pushkin to use steganography and symbolism to conceal the real essence of Pushkin’s work. The explanation will be given below.
In his poem “What’s in my name for you?” (1830) Pushkin wrote:
There will it lie as dead among
names in your book, as the design
of someone’s epitaphic line
in some unfathomable tongue.
We may suppose Pushkin wrote his poems in a language no one understood, like ancient scripts in Egyptian tombs. The word “steganography” is of Greek origin and means “concealed writing”. It’s the science of writing concealed messages in such a way that no one suspects the existence of the message.
P.Y Chaadayev called Pushkin “Dante”. There are some mystical coincidences in the lives of those genius poets. Dante started to write “The Divine Comedy” in 1299, when he was 37. It happened 500 years before Pushkin’s birth. Pushkin died of a wound, when he was 37.
Pushkin read Dante with great interest and probably used allegories typical for Dante. Maybe there was a key in those allegories, which could decrypt the message of the fairy tale and help to understand its meaning.
There’s another important fact. Anna Akhmatova claimed the episode with Dvidon’s brothers had already been described in foreign folklore. The poet referred to the English (!) ballad "Lord Ingram and Chiel Wyet" (Child, The English and Scottish popular ballads, Boston, 1882-1891). Valery Allen’s research “Pushkin - Chaucer” is also interesting. He proved that the plot and the heroes of the tale (for example, Saltan) had been taken from one of Canterbury stories by an English writer Geoffrey Chaucer.
Now let’s proceed to the analysis of Pushkin’s poetic tale – “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”. It has all the attributes of a real detective story: kidnapping, deception, modern technologies for eavesdropping and spying, flying bugs watching the surroundings. These are the most modern Israeli designs aimed for anti-terrorist fight! Mail is secretly opened in the Tale. Gigantic guards are a powerful special mission unit. It protects important objects in the sea. There are lots of other interesting details in the Tale.
How could Pushkin know about it? How could he know that the tsar’s communication system was vulnerable? The tsar’s message was intercepted and that was the beginning of the intrigue. Of course, Pushkin’s friend, P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt, knew very well how to organize the tsar’s communication system. He was aware what could happen if plotters penetrated into it. P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt invented telegraph and other equipment, so he was could predict. what spy ware would be used for surveillance in future. Let’s see how Pushkin used that information in his Tale.
The spouse of the Russian monarch was the second person in the state. When a monarch died she could become the head of the state. Naturally, the Russian laws concerning the succession to the throne changed, but the Empress always played a great role in the political and social life in the country. Her influence was very strong. That was why correspondence between the tsar and his wife was always most important and highly classified. A person who opened it could be prosecuted or even executed.
Here’s a quotation from Pushkin’s Tale:
Like a mother eagle, she
Guarded him most jealously;
Sent the news of God's glad gift
To the tsar, by rider swift.
But the royal cook, and weaver,
And their mother, sly deceiver,
Sought to ruin her, so they
Had him kidnapped on the way,
Sent another in his stead.
Word for word, his message read:
"Your tsaritsa, sire, last night
Was delivered of a fright -
Neither son nor daughter, nor
Have we seen its like before."
The plotters, the royal cook and weaver, falsified the tsaritsa’s (Empress’s) letter and substituted the messenger, who probably he was tsaritsa’s proxy. If the tsar interrogated him he could give out the names of the plotters.
Cryptography has been used in Russia since the IX century. It was designed by Gorazd, the successor of Mephody. It was often used in important state messages, including tsars’ messages. Cryptography was rather simple at that time, but it was difficult to read for people, who didn’t know it. We may assume that the tsaritsa was illiterate, but the tsar surely knew his clerks’ handwriting. The plotters sent another messenger and falsified the clerk’s handwriting. Tsars usually checked ,whether seals on their letters were broken or not.
Peter I always checked the seals. He wrote: «Your letter has been safely received. Your cipher on the seal has been thoroughly checked”. Correspondence was protected with great care in Russia since ancient times: false orders could cause national revolts (A delation was called «a planted letter». Peter I calculated the losses caused by false information and decided that they were not worth the expense. On January 25, 1715 he issued a law "Against delations, about planted letters which were to be burnt in public in front of witnesses".
The tsar called most of planted letters insinuation. It was a way to pour poison under the mask of virtue. Thus he ordered: "The one who picks up such letter shouldn’t report about it. read or open it or tell anybody about it. He should immediately burn it right on the spot.)
At these words, the royal sire
Raved and raged in furious ire,
"Hang that messenger!" roared he,
"Hang him on the nearest tree!"
But, relenting, spared him, and
Sent him back with this command:
"From all hasty steps refrain
Till the tsar comes home again.
The tsar took a very wise decision, because he didn’t have enough evidence, that the letter was genuine. He decided to examine the matter personally.
Back the messenger rode fast,
Reached the city gates at last.
But the royal cook, and weaver,
With their mother, sly deceiver,
Made him drunk; and in his sleep
Stole the message from his keep
And, before he could recover,
They replaced it by another.
So, with feet unsteady, he
Reached the court with this decree:
"Have the queen and have her spawn
Drowned in secret ere the dawn."
The tsar’s message was substituted for a false one once again. Whom did the tsar order to wait for his return? It’s written in the poem it was the messenger, who was supposed to handle the message to some important official – the tsar’s deputy. That time the messenger was made drunk. He didn’t know, what the letter was about. So there was no use sending another messenger. The letter was probably encrypted, so the messenger couldn’t read it. The only answer he could give in case someone asked him was that didn’t know what was written in the letter.
The authorized official surely received the letter. The tsaritsa and her son could be executed only by his order. It means the royal cook and the weaver could secretly open the tsar’s letters, falsify and decrypt cryptography. Well really! It was a real plot! The plotters were well technically equipped. They could falsify the tsar’s classified information! It was no trifling matter, because the fate of the successor to the throne was at stake.
Solemnly the tsar's boyards
Told the queen of this ukaz,
Of the cruel doom which fate
So unkindly had in wait.
This unpleasant duty done,
Put the queen and put her son
In a cask, and sealed it fast;
Tarred it well, and then they cast
Cask and burden in the sea -
Such, forsooth, the tsar's decree.
Pushkin described the beginning of the coup in the country. At first the plotters captured the communication system (the messenger). The tsar used it to transfer his decrees. Then his decrees were falsified. As a result his faithful wife - the second person in the state – and his son was compromised and executed.
The tsar returned home and found out that no one waited for him to come and investigate, what had happened when his son was born. His wife and son were killed. Strange as it may seem, but the tsar wasn’t very much surprised and was rather calm.
A logic question arises: what did Pushkin mean by that? There’s the only answer: a coup happened in the country while the tsar was away at war. The tsar’s inner circle seized the power. He was just a nominal figure in the country. It was ruled by other people. There can’t be any other explanation, why the tsar could allow such a situation.
It is appropriate to mention here that Nicholas I said Decembrists had planned to kill his son Alexander. There was an attempt to falsify documents concerning the succession of the throne during the revolt of 1825.
The Great duke Constantine Pavlovich wanted to destabilize the situation in Russia and seize power. The same happened during the Russian-Turkish war in 1828-1829. Obviously the tsar’s decrees and documents were misinterpreted and thus there were so many casualties in the Russian army.
Let’s continue reading Pushkin’s fairy tale. A rich country heartily welcomed the heir of the Russian Emperor, exiled from his motherland. The child was given education there. He felt hostile towards his father and his country, which doomed him and his mother to suffering. There’s a happy end in the poem: the heir to the throne returned home.
It wasn’t without the reason that Shilling von Kanstadt, the Rosy-cross Knight, taught the great Russian poet. Maybe he prompted the plot of that “fairy tale for children”. Of course, Pushkin knew about the sad fate of Maria Stuart. The British Queen Elisabeth I was her ardent rival in the fight for the British throne. She secretly instructed the head of intelligence Sir Francis Walsingham to deal shortly with her so that nobody could suspect him. He executed the task professionally. His agent Thomas Phillips was a talented cryptanalyst and could skillfully falsify handwriting.
Phillips used Maria Stuart’s cipher and made such a remark in her letter that she was considered to be the main plotter. As a result she was executed.
We may assume that Pushkin borrowed the plot of the fairy tale from the English. Maybe there was some other message there, but the essence of the fairy tale was as follows. A plot was organized in Russia. The tsar’s inner circle falsified state documents, compromised the heir to the throne and made him leave the country. That country became his home for a while, but at last he returned to his motherland and soon became a monarch there.
Nevertheless he was always be grateful to the country, which had supported him and brought him up according to its traditions. That’s why he was devoted and obedient to it. Obviously, Pushkin wrote about England’s plot against Russia: it planned to overthrow the Russian Emperor and enthrone its authorized person. What a risk! That was why the poet narrated about it in a poetic fairy tale.
One may ask, why it was England. In fact “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” was written in 1831. At the same time the Third Department of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery registered that the number of English tourists coming to Russia increased. Some of them were deported from Russia for intelligence activities. It was evident Britain activated its efforts to gain strength in Russia and conquer its mineral resources it needed so urgently. Besides it planned to protect its main source of raw materials – India.
Pay attention at the name of the island in Pushkin’s poem. It is called “Buyan Island”. He wrote:
Past the island of Buyan,
Back to gracious Tsar Saltan
There is rather a big island in the Baltic sea on the territory of the present day Germany. In German it’s called “Rügen”, in Slavonic – Ruyan or Buyan. It’s written in the poem Tsar Saltan lived across the sea and the ocean, probably it was England.
“The Tale About Tsar Saltan” is not just a fairy tale. Pushkin described in detail the ways an emperor could be compromised and overthrown. Maybe the white swan was Victoria, the future British Queen.
The marriage of Alexander II and the British Queen Victoria was widely discussed in the British government those days. In the first place it was England which was very much interested in it. Obviously, it didn’t welcome the candidature of Nicholas I due to some reasons, so it intended to replace him, like Paul I. P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt and Pushkin knew diplomats of the two countries corresponded via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning that significant matter.
Shilling von Kanstadt’s Department could partially decrypt British letters, so it probably learnt about the real purpose of that marriage. In May 1839 tsesarevich (the son of the Emperor) visited England and had deep feelings towards Queen Victoria. The events developed according to the plan of the Prime-minister William Lamb 2nd Viscount Melbourne.
Queen Victoria confessed in her diary: «I’m so much fond of the Great Duke. He is so natural and joyful, and it’s so easy to be with him.». A while longer and they could be married, because the gracious and charming queen took Alexander’s fancy. Nicholas I, his father, interfered just in time. Shilling von Kanstadt decrypted the documents which revealed the purpose of that trap
He ordered to break the engagement. Он и дал указание расстроить возможную помолвку. The proud Queen of England could never forgive the Emperor. His fate was thus resolved.
In 1844 Nicholas I went to England. He was forced to agree with Britain that he would leave the Middle East khanates and make them a free zone – a border between Russia and India. That could protect Russian and British estates from dangerous contact". But Queen Victoria didn’t trust Nicholas I. She recollected the humiliation she had suffered from the Russian Emperor. The royal doctor M.M. Mandt came to Nicholas I and informed him his daughter was ill, though he could inform about it by telegraph.
M.M. Mandt was a famous homeopath and the tsar’s curing doctor. By the way, Nicholas I felt very much depressed after he his visit to England. Historians wrote he was a very healthy man. He didn’t smoke, drink and had healthy life-style. He fell illall of a sudden in 1855 during the Crimean war. Official sources informed he had a flu, but he was paralyzed and died after an apoplectic stroke. There were many other hypotheses about the causes of his death and there were a lot of rumors about it. They even said Nicholas I had committed a suicide. After his death Mandt left Russia and settled in Germany. What was he afraid of?
Probably he was afraid of a severe punishment, because he was involved in the Emperor’s death. It’s appropriate here to recollect Pushkin’s “Tale oft the Golden Cockerel”. Remember the death of tsar Dadon:
A golden bird, with feathers sleek,
Dive at the Tsar, piercing his head.
Dadon groans once, falls, and is dead.
Where's she who was to be his queen?
Vanished, as though she'd never been.
Probably Pushkin meant the stroke when he described the bird piercing the tsar’s head. The poet predicted the death of Nicholas I. When Pushkin and Shilling von Kanstadt were alive, they could warn Nicholas I about the threats in store for him and prevent them. Thus, the department Shilling von Kanstadt headed, was that Golden Cockerel, which warned the tsar about approaching enemies:
And so it proves: whenever threats
Appear, the faithful sentry sets
His crimson crest in that direction
Whence comes th'incipient insurrection.
«Kiri-ku-ku», he cries, «Hear me,
«And rule long years, from worry free.»
Discovered once, and caused to flee,
Then thrice more routed, th'enemy
Lose heart, respect again the will
Of Tsar Dadon, their master still.
Alexander Pushkin used allegory to tell that it was possible to protect the national borders and autocracy and win all wars decrypting the enemy’s information, opening and examining his correspondence! The informational shield and sward of Russia – this is the main weapon which can protect the state and terminate any enemy.
The tsar didn’t live long after the murder of the wizard. His in formation wasn’t protected any longer – the golden cockerel flew away!
P.L. Shilling von Kanstadt died just like Nicholas I. The cause of the death was the same – it was an apoplectic stroke. But maybe they died because the same doctor cured them – М.М. Mandt? Here are the appropriate lines from Pushkin’s tale:
Take nothing then,» Tsar Dadon said.
His sword-swipe smote the old man dead.
The crowd was dumbstruck; but the maid,
By this aggression undismayed,
Burst out in laughter, peal on peal,
As though by laughing to reveal
Her full involvement in the plan
To trick and then destroy a man.
Probably the British Queen was happy: the head of the secret organization and his deputy Alexander Pushkin were murdered in the same year. Russia lost its informational shield for many years. Its enemy controlled it. That was why it suffered defeat in so many wars.
Evidently there are steganographic encrypted messages in Pushkin’s tales, written after 1831, when he started to serve at the Department of Foreign Relations (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). These messages may pur light on unknown secrets of the Russian Empire.
Attn. Baron Shilling von Kanstadt
From Count Nesselrode
His Mahesty Emperor has most graciously granted your Excellency 1000 gulden in red gold for working out and designing new ciphers. That amount won’t be taxed and will be passed over to you in full.
Those who participated in that work, in particular the collegium counselor Nesterovich and the IV class Ivanov will be granted 2000 rubles in banknotes. The royal counselor Gesler is awarded with Saint Anne Order of the II Grade, decorated with the imperial crown. Titular counselor Gass and Bikov have received higher ranks. Titular counselor Rakhonin was awarded a diamond ring worth 1000 rubles.
Dear Sir, it’s a great pleasure for me to inform you about that highest monarch’s attention to your services and the services of the officials you are in charge of. I am asking Your Excellency to inform them about their rewards.