Mr Talkenough, the distinguished Russian novelist

  • Patrick Waddington


England very nearly became the permanent home of the Viardots and, therefore, of their loyal Russian friend. The outcome of the Franco-Prussian War made it clear they could no longer live in Baden-Baden; and the Commune and its aftermath in France suggested they might not be able to return there either. At one point Turgenev could write: ‘They will stay here until August, then go to Baden for a few weeks. After that — it’s in the hands of the Lord! Probably they will come to London again. I will do the same.’ Finally, however, it was fixed that Paris should become their home once more. The forthcoming trip to Germany would be their last: they would go there merely to sell up. Turgenev’s readiness to stick with the Viardots to the end is seen in an amusing story told by Anny Thackeray. Mrs Benzon and her adopted daughter Lily called at Devonshire Place to say goodbye. ‘As they were reaching the door they saw a figure advancing, half hidden by countless white frills rising one above the other. It was no ghost, it was Tourguénieff carrying a clothes’-basket full of freshly ironed dresses, straight from some foreign laundry. The house was in confusion, he explained, the frocks were absolutely needed by the ladies, and as no one else could go he himself had been to fetch them home.’ Pauline Viardot’s dog’s-body! a Russian commentator might have growled; but not the gracious Lady Ritchie, who concluded, ‘so much for a born gentleman’s simplicity and natural dignity’. And it was true.


English Signature Permanent Home Daily Review Ancient Flag Adopted Daughter 
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  1. Pis’ma, II, 234, 292, VI, 340, VII, 127, VIII, 295, IX, 104, 110, 114; Sochineniya, I, 259, V, 372–3, X, 47, 127–8, XIII, 90, 356, 590, XV, 186, 202; Nouv. con. inidite, I, 195, 326, 11, 118; Litzmann, I, 253; La Mara, 274–5; Royal Library, Stockholm, letter of Pauline Viardot to Charlotte Valentin, 19 June 1871; Ritchie, Blackstick Papers, 244–5; Viardot (Louis), Souvenirs, 354, 360–2; Craven, 22–3, 27; Žekulin, 358–9, 365–7; Lockhart, 147, 150; Eliot, V, 144, 153, 164; Cross, III, 132; Wilson and MacArthur, 238–9; reports in the Scottish press, 10 Aug. 1871; Parturier, 182–3; Turgenevsky sbornik, I, 256–7; Rozanov, 63; Yatsimirsky, 509–10.Google Scholar
  2. Pis’ma, I, 276, 576, IX, 114, 117, 121, 125; Nouv. con. inidite, I, 194–6; Lettres inidites, 182; Marix-Spire, 220–1; Hudson, 296; Catalogue of the Scott Exhibition; Žekulin, 364–8; Scotsman, 10 Aug. 1871, 3–5; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 10 Aug., 6–8; Daily Review, Edinburgh, 10 Aug., 6; Reformer, Edinburgh, 12 Aug., 3; The Times, 10 Aug., 12; Daily News, 10 Aug., 5–6; Pall Mall Gazette, 10 Aug., 7; Glasgow Daily Herald, 10 Aug., 3; Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, February 1872, 328–30; Illustrated London News, 19 Aug. 1871, 151; Prothero with Bradley, II, 384, 402; Beets, 372, 389, 391; Orchestra, II Aug. 1871, 293; Cassell’s Family Magazine, 1875, 191; Athenaeum, 15 Sept. 1883, 338; Belgravia, 2nd series v, Oct. 1871, 386. A close comparison of the texts in the Courant and the Daily Review will demonstrate that Turgenev’s cutting was taken from the latter. The most noticeable difference is perhaps the Courant’s ‘tribute’ for an original ‘cultus’. An examination of the Scotsman’s text will likewise show that it cannot have been copied from Turgenev’s handwritten speech, as argued by Dr Žekulin, but was written down by a reporter.Google Scholar
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© Patrick Waddington 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Waddington
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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