Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/170

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and you are humbly requested to forward this letter to A. N. R."

Such of my readers as may not have lived in the country, cannot imagine how captivating are these provincial young ladies. Brought up breathing the purest air under the shade of their orchard trees, they only draw their knowledge of life and of the world from books. Solitude, freedom, and their love of reading, develop in them early feelings and passions which are unknown to our worldly beauties. The very sound of a carriage-bell is an event to them; a sojourn in the neighbouring town is considered an epoch in their existence, and the visit of a guest leaves behind it long, and occasionally everlasting reminiscences. Everybody is, of course, at liberty to jeer at some of their peculiarities; but the ridicule of a superficial observer cannot do away with their existing good qualities, the chief of which is independence of character, without which, in Jean Paul's opinion, no human greatness exists. Women may possibly receive better education in the capitals, but intercourse with the world soon assimilates characters and renders their souls as uniform as their head-dresses. This is said neither in judgment nor in reproach; however, nota nostra manet, as has written an old commentator.

It is easy to imagine the impression produced by Aleksèy on our young ladies. It was he who first appeared before them gloomy and disenchanted; who first spoke to them of wasted joys, and of his withered youth; he also wore a mourning ring with a death's