The Russian Letters William Simpson found in the Crimea

The letters dated March 1855 that Simpson found were by a Russian soldier in St Petersburg, who had sent them (a little ironically) to his family in the Crimea.

Beloved Sister Nadinona,

Thank you beloved Sister for remembering our recent meeting. I am now enlisted in the artillery, such is the wish of almighty God, and with His help I will do my best to serve Czar and Fatherland. My comrades and I regret the death of the Czar, as it is by his goodness that our service in the Army has been reduced to 7 years! Pray God that it would come sooner. If possible, beloved Sister Nadinona, I will try to be posted to the Crimea -- so that may be the last time I will see you!

Excuse me, beloved Sister, if I offend you by asking favours. Last year my brother advised me to join the artillery when I stated my intention to enlist in the Army, and when I asked you for money you sent me 100 silver roubles. When I start my service they will pay me 300 silver roubles, but that will be too late because I must first equip myself, and the money you sent me last year will be too little, and I have spent it already anyway. Please, beloved Sister, if you presently have no money, try to get some for me somewhere — I shall pay you back as soon as I have my pay. I should ask my brother, as I am sure he would not refuse me. But I am already too indebted to him.

So pray, don't leave me in need, and understand that it is most difficult to undertake my service without money! Let me give you some examples: a saddle costs about 40 silver roubles, I must also have a uniform and overcoat, as well as at least 3 shorts and many other little things. If you can, send me at least 70 silver roubles, but if possible, more. And for this trouble I shall soon repay you. Please send before 15 May. Please don't be offended, Sister — I am already drowned in sorrow! Like they say in St Petersburg, 'When will this damned war be over?' But we hope that you will soon have peace. I fear that this letter may not reach you in the Crimea. Please Nadinka, don't tell my brother a word of this. Kiss all my relatives for me, my beloved. Adieu — I kiss thee.

Ivan Czerniawskoï



Beloved Sister Wieroska and Brother Michael Ivanowicz,

I feel very guilty that I did not fulfil my duty to see you before leaving the Crimea. I dare not ask for forgiveness, but I do hope you will excuse me. It is a great sorrow to me that Livinka has not gone to Kertsch because the English and French have come too soon. Pray God that we shall soon turn them out for our own happiness!

I am sorry that you, Wieroska and you, Michael Ivanowicz, are obliged to stay in that calamitous place, but you must know that Sebastopol will never be taken, and nor will Simferopol. Gorchakov himself assures us so in concert with Prince Menshikov . They will exterminate all the enemy if they don't retreat. Adieu once more, Your brother,

Ivan Czerniawsko•

PS. When you reply, you must seal the envelope with black wax because of the death of our father Imperator Nikolaï Ist. Otherwise it will not be received in the post.


Victorian Web Visual Arts Painting William Simpson

Last modified 12 December 2004