of life for me: not one hair of our head falls without His will. And the guiding principle of His will is only His infinite love for us, and so whatever may befall us, all is for our good.

“You ask whether we shall spend next winter in Moscow. In spite of all my desire to see you, I do not expect and do not wish to do so. And you will be surprised to hear that Bonaparte is responsible for this! I will tell you why: my father’s health is noticeably weaker, he cannot endure contradiction and is easily irritated. This irritability is, as you are aware, most readily aroused on political subjects. He cannot endure the idea that Bonaparte is treating on equal terms with all the sovereigns of Europe, especially our own, the grandson of the great Catherine! As you know, I take absolutely no interest in politics, but from my father and his conversations with Mihail Ivanovitch, I know all that goes on in the world, and have heard of all the honours conferred on Bonaparte. It seems that Bleak Hills is now the only spot on the terrestrial globe where he is not recognised as a great man—still less as Emperor of France. And my father cannot tolerate this state of things. It seems to me that my father shows a disinclination for the visit to Moscow, chiefly owing to his political views and his foreseeing the difficulties likely to arise from his habit of expressing his opinions freely with no regard for any one. All that he would gain from medical treatment in Moscow, he would lose from the inevitable discussions upon Bonaparte. In any case the matter will very soon be settled.

“Our home life goes on in its old way, except for the absence of my brother Andrey. As I wrote to you before, he has greatly changed of late. It is only of late, during this year that he seems to have quite recovered from the shock of his loss. He has become again just as I knew him as a child, good-natured, affectionate, with a heart such as I know in no one else. He feels now, it seems to me, that life is not over for him. But, together with this moral change, he has become very weak physically. He is thinner than ever and more nervous. I feel anxious about him and glad that he is taking this tour abroad, which the doctors prescribed long ago. I hope that it will cure him. You write to me that he is spoken of in Petersburg as one of the most capable, cultivated, and intellectual young men. Forgive me for the pride of family—I never doubted it. The good he did here to every one—from his peasants to the local nobility—is incalculable. When he went to Petersburg he was received as he deserved. I wonder at the way reports fly from Petersburg to Moscow, and especially such groundless ones as the rumour you wrote to me about, of my brother’s supposed engagement to the little Rostov girl. I don’t imagine that Andrey will ever marry any one at all, and certainly not her. And I will tell you why. In the first place, I know that though he rarely speaks of his late wife, the grief of his loss has penetrated too deeply into his heart for him ever to be ready to give her a successor, and our little angel a step-mother. Secondly, because, as far as I can ascertain, that girl is not one of the kind of women who could attract my brother Andrey. I do not believe that Andrey has chosen her for his wife; and I will frankly confess, I should not wish for such a thing. But how I have been running on; I am finishing my second sheet. Farewell, my sweet friend; and may God keep you in His holy and mighty care. My dear companion, Mademoiselle Bourienne, sends you kisses.


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