Mikhail Lermontov. Duel? Murder?
On July 15, 1841, at the beginning of the seventh evening, a shot rang out at the foot of Mashuk Mountain near Pyatigorsk. The bullet fired by Nikolai Martynov's hand struck Mikhail Lermontov. The shot was fatal. The poet was killed in a duel, just like the one he idolized - Alexander Pushkin. Immediately after the fight, the sky was covered with gloomy clouds and a terrible thunderstorm burst out. For several hours Lermontov's body lay in the pouring rain. Nature itself mourned and mourned an outstanding person who died so absurdly.
The death of Lermontov, who was called the successor and follower of Alexander Sergeevich, stunned his contemporaries, as a result, rumors and speculation about what had happened multiplied. And after a century and a half, disputes about the reasons for that ill-fated duel do not subside.
The reasons for the conflict between Lermontov and Martynov
Mikhail Lermontov and Nikolai Martynov knew each other from a young age. The poet's uncle's estate, where Mikhail liked to come to rest, was located a few kilometers from Martynov's estate. Families visited each other frequently. The young people were not friends - they were friends, as befits representatives of the same circle. But life has pitted them against each other more than once, as if “rehearsing” the last meeting that ended in tragedy.
One of the meetings took place in the cadet school, when the young men, in the fashion of that time, were already trying themselves in versification. But if Mikhail's unique gift was obvious, then Nikolai's abilities were limited to imitating other people's successful opuses. According to contemporaries, Martynov did not shine with an outstanding mind, but was extremely ambitious. Perhaps it was then, by virtue of character traits, that Martynov developed a persistent rejection of the more gifted. And it was pure hatred for a bright, non-standard personality and black envy for his unique talent.
The day before the duel
In May 1841, on his way to his duty station in the Tengin Infantry Regiment, Lermontov made a stop in Pyatigorsk to rest and improve his health. And at the same time visit an old friend Martynov. Young people spend their time at the resort in simple provincial entertainment, visiting the hospitable house of the Cossack general Verzilin, where social events are regularly held.
On the evening of July 13, the youth, as usual, entertained themselves with conversation, music and dancing. In a few seconds of silence - loud music suddenly fell silent - Lermontov's words, insulting Martynov, were clearly heard. And it was all about the ridiculous outfit of the Russian cavalry guard - a Circassian dress and a large dagger on his belt. At the end of the party, an enraged Martynov demanded satisfaction from the poet.
It was forbidden to talk or write about a duel for 30 years. After the "quarantine" expired, Martynov presented his "Confession" to the common people, in which he tried to justify and whitewash himself. In his presentation, Lermontov looked absurd and malicious, not missing an opportunity so as not to ridicule others. And he literally had no choice but to fight the willful poet in a duel. And at the same time, contemporaries unanimously declared that Mikhail Yuryevich was a kind and bright person, and all his bravado is only a defense against an unfair and sometimes very cruel world.
In this duel many strange and mysterious things were intertwined. Why were the merciless, almost deadly conditions chosen, leaving the participants no chance to survive - to shoot from ten steps, even in three attempts? And this is due to a trifling verbal quarrel.
Why later did the seconds go on an outright lie, claiming that the distance between the duelists was at least 15 steps? And why did they hide the fact that before the fight Lermontov announced his refusal to shoot at the opponent. That, in fact, he did - he was the first to shoot in the air. There were also discrepancies with the number of seconds - immediately after the duel it was about two, and only much later it turned out that there were four of them.
Why, according to eyewitnesses, was Lermontov completely calm and even cheerful before the duel? Hoping for the prudence of your opponent? Didn't believe that the irreparable would happen? And how did it happen that Martynov pulled the trigger after counting three, when, according to dueling laws, the duel is formally considered over? It is no longer possible to get unequivocal answers to these questions after centuries.
But in fact, it is not so important what the reasons for the duel are, and who was vitally interested in just such a final of the duel. Much more important are the consequences, terrible, tragic - an irreparable loss for Russian culture of the genius poet, who could create more than one worthy work.