Prince Peter Vyazemsky: biography

Prince Peter Andreevich Vyazemsky - statesman, poet, essayist, historian, translator and literary critic. In 1839, he became a member of the Russian Academy, in 1841, the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences, and in 1866 - Chairman of the Russian Historical Society. He was a close friend of Pushkin, their correspondence, according to D. S. Mirsky, was a treasure trove of wit, subtle criticism and real Russian language. And now about everything in order.


Peter Vyazemsky, whose brief biography will be reviewed today, came from an ancient princely family. His father, Prince Andrei Ivanovich, was a secret adviser to the governor of Nizhny Novgorod and Penza. Peter's mother was called Jenny O’Reilly. Later she became known as Evgeniya Ivanovka Vyazemskaya. Parents met in France during Andrei Ivanovich’s grand tour of Europe. At that time, Jenny was married, and she had to ask her husband - a French officer - for a divorce. Andrei Vyazemsky's parents were against such a marriage, but he was adamant.

On August 9, 1972, a son Peter was born to a newly-made couple.In honor of him, his father bought the village of Ostafyevo for 26 thousand rubles in the Moscow region. It was here from 1800 to 1807 that a two-storey manor was erected, in which the Russian Parnas Museum is now located. The Vyazemsky manor was at the beginning of the 19th century a place where the cultural Russian retinue was concentrated.

Peter Vyazemsky


Peter Vyazemsky was the only heir to parental wealth and occupied a brilliant position in the circles of the capital nobility. His half-sister, the illegitimate daughter of Andrei Ivanovich, in 1804 became the second wife of N. M. Karamzin. Thanks to this, Peter Vyazemsky from an early age was among the Moscow writers. After the death of his father, Karamzin was appointed guardian of Peter. In one of his poems, the young prince even called Karamzin "the second father."

Start of creative activity

Vyazemsky Peter Andreevich received a wonderful education at home. And in 1805, he entered the St. Petersburg Jesuit boarding school at the Pedagogical Institute. In the same year, Peter Vyazemsky, whose biography is very interesting, began serving as a cadet in the Land Survey Office. Quite early, he began to write poetry. The first famous work of the young poet was the tragedy "Elmira and Fanor", written in 1802 in French.And in 1808 in the “Bulletin of Europe” one could see the first publication of Vyazemsky - the poem “The Message to Zhukovsky to the Village”.

Since 1809, Prince Peter Vyazemsky began to publish regularly. In 1818, he gained wide popularity. In the early works of the poet, one could notice the strong influence of the leading Russian poets of the time: G. R. Derzhavin, I. I. Dmitriev and V. A. Zhukovsky, as well as representatives of "light" French poetry. Nevertheless, Vyazemsky managed to quickly develop a personal style, which, on the one hand, as A.F. Voyeikov, surprised contemporaries with Voltaire's sharpness, and on the other hand, caused associations with a lively and witty girl, as K. N. Batyushkin said.

Vyazemsky Peter Andreevich

Marriage and war

In 1811, Peter Vyazemsky married Vera Feodorovna Gagarina, whose marriage turned out to be very strong and happy. The couple had eight children.

In his youth, the prince happened to take part in the war with Napoleon. He voluntarily joined the ranks of the national militia and, with the rank of lieutenant, took part in the battle of Borodino. For his courage on the battlefield and, in particular, the salvation of the wounded General Bakhmetov, the prince was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the Fourth Degree.Many researchers believe that Vyazemsky's stories about the battle of Borodino were used by Leo Tolstoy in writing War and Peace.

In the period from 1813 to 1817, Peter Vyazemsky, whose poems were becoming more and more widespread, entrenched in the status of one of the most promising young Russian poets. He actively acted in various genres, ranging from a friendly message and an epigram, to satirical verses and fables. At this time, he joined the literary community "Arzamas" and made many friendly contacts with outstanding poets.


In 1817, with the help of friends, Peter Andreevich Vyazemsky, whose biography is the topic of our article, moved to Warsaw to become an interpreter at the Imperial Commissioner. There, the prince took part in the opening of the first Diet, translated the famous speech of Alexander I, famous for his liberal promises, and participated in the drafting of the “State charter of the Russian Empire.” In addition, he translated into Russian, edited and finalized the French-speaking draft constitution Peshar-Deshana. Vyazemsky's activities were highly valued in Warsaw.On March 28, 1819, he became the court counselor; on October 19 of the same year, he became a collegiate counselor. And this despite the fact that the term chinoproizvodstva usually was six years. Peter Vyazemsky was entering the courtyard of Alexander the First. With the emperor, he discussed the future constitution.

Peter Vyazemsky: biography

At that time, the liberal atmosphere reigned in Warsaw, which the easily fond prince took in very fervently. In 1818, he entered the Warsaw Masonic Lodge of the Northern Shield.

The experiences of Vyazemsky at that time were close to the moods of the Decembrists. In 1820, he became a member of the Society of Good Landowners and signed a note on the liberation of the peasants, filed by the emperor, Count Vorontsov. Alexander I refused from large-scale changes, which greatly upset such an ambitious reformer as Vyazemsky Peter Andreevich. The poems of the poet "Petersburg", "To the Ship" and "Resentment" reflected his thoughts on this subject. Acute poetry led to the fact that the prince was removed from service. When in June 1821 he came to Russia on vacation, he was forbidden to return to Poland. Then Peter Andreevich decided to resign and refused to court title, despite the discontent of the emperor.


In the period 1821 to 1828, the prince was in disgrace and lived under secret supervision in Moscow, occasionally leaving for Ostafyevo. In the period from the end of 1827 to the autumn of 1829, Vyazemsky with breaks was located near Saratov in the estate of the father-in-law, periodically visiting Penza and keeping in touch with Pushkin and Davydov.

The defeat of the Decembrist uprising, which took place on December 14, 1825, and the execution of five activists, three of whom knew Vyazemsky, was perceived by the poet as a personal insult and strongly condemned. In 1831, he even dared to condemn Pushkin and Zhukovsky, who published their odes about the defeat of the Polish uprising of 1830-1831. It is worth noting that in the future the prince will reconsider his assessments. In his old age, he will speak about the Decembrists without a hint of sympathy, and in 1863 will publish a brochure with a sharp anti-Polish attitude caused by the uprising of the Poles of 1863-1864.

In the 1830s, poetry faded into the background by Vyazemsky. In those days, he was actively engaged in journalism, became the founder of the Moscow Telegraph magazine, published a number of critical articles and reviews, translated into Russian two novels of his good friend Adam Mickiewicz. In those days, Peter Vyazemsky, whose poems began to be published much less frequently, became one of the five most popular poets in Russia.His wit was not once noticed by both critics and ordinary people. And the lines of his poems became folk songs.

Prince Peter Andreevich Vyazemsky

Communication with Pushkin

By 1820, Vyazemsky’s friendship with A. Pushkin belonged. They met in 1816 in Tsarskoye Selo and communicated well until the death of Pushkin. Alexander Sergeevich highly appreciated Vyazemsky's work, supported him in all his endeavors, dedicated poems to him, put his quotes as epigraphs to his works and even introduced him to “Eugene Onegin” as an actor. According to E.F. Rosen, A.S. Pushkin even tacitly forbade criticizing Vyazemsky in his presence.

Pyotr Andreyevich, in turn, did not stint on flattering words in the direction of Pushkin's work. In 1831 he made for him a translation of the novel "Adolf". Vyazemsky also acted as the publisher of the poem “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”. In his work, he was strongly influenced by Pushkin's stylistics.

At the same time, the value of Pushkin for Russian culture, Vyazemsky, apparently did not realize. In his old age, in his reflections on the Russian geniuses, he singled out three figures: Peter the Great, Lomonosov and Suvorov.Pushkin, he called nothing more than "high original talent."

Conflict with the government

The independent position of the prince, which was reflected in his journalistic activities, did not like the government. In 1827, a real campaign was launched against the poet. He was accused of bad influence on youth and depraved behavior. For the next two years, the prince tried to regain his innocence and even turned to Nicholas I for help. As a result, Pyotr Andreyevich had to leave Moscow Telegraph, apologize to the emperor and become an official at the Ministry of Finance. In connection with his appointment to the public service, the poet moved with his family to Petersburg.


The prince grew quite rapidly in the ranks, and by 1839 he became a full-time civil councilor. In parallel with this, he received the Order of St. Anna of the second degree and the Order of St. Stanislav of the first degree. The prince himself was quite ironic about his public service. He considered himself absolutely worthless in financial transactions. At times he behaved defiantly, for example, defiantly ignoring court ceremonies in the Winter Palace.

Vyazemsky Peter Andreevich: a brief biography

Nevertheless, the work of Vyazemsky in the Ministry of Finance was quite fruitful. During his career, he published several economic articles, participated in the organization of the Russian-English treaty of 1843, founded the library in the department of foreign trade and repeatedly replaced the director of the department in his absence. In 1831, Vyazemsky Peter Andreevich organized the Second All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition. In fact, for 13 years, Russian foreign policy has been based on Vyazemsky. He did not become a department director for a purely formal reason: since he was not a military man.

Tragedy strip

In the 1830s, in the life of Vyazemsky, a dark streak began, consisting of the deaths of children and many friends, among which Pushkin occupied a special place. Because of the experienced tragedies in the work of the poet, melancholicity bordering on gloom was increasingly seen. And by the 40s, religious motives even appeared in it. It was then that the official recognition of the poet's creative merit came - he became a member of the Russian Academy and the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences.

Gradually, Vyazemsky began to deviate from active literary activity. Until 1836, the poet was still planning to publish his own almanacs and magazines, but with the death of Pushkin his activity as a journalist and critic almost disappeared.

1840-1850 years

Systematically, the poet rejected liberalism in favor of conservatism and religiosity. In parallel, he was no longer perceived as a fashionable and relevant writer. The new generation of readers considered the work of Prince Vyazemsky obsolete, and critics did not disdain disdainful sharp phrases in their reviews about him. In the critical works “Languages-Gogol” and “A look at our literature in the decade after Pushkin’s death”, Vyazemsky strongly condemned the new generation of Russian writers. Of the writers close to him of that time, one can mention Zhukovsky, Gogol, Tyutchev and Pletnev. While traveling abroad, the poet met and began to communicate well with many European writers - Stendhal, Mickiewicz and de Saint-Beuve. Since the 1840s, Peter Andreevich began to actively promote Russian literature abroad, in which he achieved serious success.

Prince Peter Vyazemsky

In 1848, Vyazemsky addressed Nicholas I with a “Note on Censorship,” in which he proposed to reform the Russian censorship. In 1850, when the seventh child of Peter Andreevich died, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher to Jerusalem, and in the early 50s he was treated in Europe for an attack of nervous illness. The poet reacted to the events of the Crimean War with a cycle of patriotic poems that were widely distributed throughout Russia and some European countries.

Emperor change

When Alexander II came to dominate in Russia, with whom Vyazemsky always had good relations, the prince became a friend of the Minister of Public Education and headed the General Directorate of Censorship. At the end of the 1850s, he was a respected man at the court, and one of the closest beloved ones for Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Vyazemsky devoted quite a few poems to her, as well as other representatives of the ruling house. He again actively began to climb the career ladder and in 1866 became the head of the Imperial Court. In 1861, the 50th anniversary of the writing activity of Peter Andreevich was solemnly celebrated in the city of Petersburg.

In 1858, Vyazemsky ended his active official work, declaring that he preferred to fight censorship as a writer. Moreover, his authority at court remained unchanged. At the end of the 1810s, the prince began to suffer from a nervous disease, which eventually worsened. It was accompanied by painful insomnia and severe bouts of depression.


In the late 1850s, the poet spent most of his time in Europe. He dedicated his poems to many European cities. Arriving in Russia, he stayed in Moscow or Petersburg. In 1866, the prince founded the Russian historical community. In the summer of 1867, as part of the empress's retinue, he set out on a journey through the Crimea and Moldova, after which the poetic collection “Crimean Photos of 1867” was born.

Vyazemsky spoke mostly negatively about the Russian literature of 1850-1870. The works of Ostrovsky and Nekrasov strongly resent him. With some reservations, the poet took the works of Turgenev, Pisemsky, Goncharov, Tolstov and Maikov. Peter Vyazemsky himself, whose biography, unfortunately, is coming to an end, meanwhile, he was actively writing poems, not limiting himself to the limits of any particular genre.In October 1862, his collection “On the Road and at Home” was published, which included 289 poems. This edition was the first and last lifetime collection of the poet. Until the 1870s, the poet was actively published in the press.

Peter Vyazemsky poems

Late lyrics

In the last verses, Vyazemsky, Peter Andreevich, whose brief biography was the subject of our conversation today, developed the early themes and motives of his poetry. He sought to modernize the aesthetics of classical Russian poetry of the nineteenth century. From the 1950s, the influence of a young comrade in arms, Fyodor Tyutchev, was visible in his work. Contemporaries did not appreciate the late work Vyazemsky. They scoffed at his poems, parodied them, and perceived them as hopelessly archaic.

Gradually, the physical and psychological state of the prince deteriorated. November 10, 1878, he died of "old age weakness" in a hotel in the city of Baden-Baden. The body of the prince was transported to Russia. Peter Vyazemsky, whose photo was preserved in small numbers, was buried in the Tikhvin cemetery.

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