Alexander Sergeevich first saw Natalia Nikolaevna in December 1828 at one of the Moscow balls. She was only 16 years old, and she had just begun to be taken out into the world.
The girl so impressed the poet with her radiant beauty, grace and slimness that he confessed to friends: “From now on my fate will be connected with this young person.”
Less than six months later, Pushkin wooed Goncharova, but received a very vague answer from Tasha’s mother (as her relatives affectionately called her). They say she is too young for family life, and her two older sisters, Ekaterina and Alexandrina, are not married yet, they should not cross the road.
In fact, Natalia Ivanovna hoped to find a more profitable match for her beautiful daughter, because it is known that Alexander Sergeevich was not rich, and also recently returned from exile.
Two painful years passed before the poet decided to propose again on April 6, 1830. During this time, none of the more noble and wealthy suitors asked for the hand of Natalia Nikolaevna. And not at all because there were no takers – Goncharova was considered the first beauty in the world, but no one dared to cross the road to Pushkin.
No wonder Prince Pyotr Andreevich Vyazemsky noted in a letter to him: “You, our first romantic poet, should have married the first romantic beauty of the current generation.”
Pushkin got married and was happily married. This is evidenced by his numerous surviving letters to his wife and friends.
“I am married and happy,” he wrote to his friend Pyotr Pletnev. – My one wish is that nothing in my life has changed – I can’t wait for the best. This condition is so new to me that it seems I have been reborn.”
He dreamed of living with Natalia Nikolaevna in seclusion, so they left Moscow and settled in Tsarskoye Selo for the summer. But the secular public even came there on purpose just to see the poet walking arm in arm with his young wife.
The fame of the beauty of the young Pushkin spread instantly. However, in addition to the enthusiastic reviews, there were also envious ones. For a long time, Alexander Sergeevich’s wife was talked about as an empty, cold, soulless beauty. A similar opinion was held by some researchers even much later than her death! And only recent discoveries allow us to say that in fact Natalia Nikolaevna was very modest, pious, intelligent and well-read, and selflessly loved her husband.
Natalia Nikolaevna’s older brother Dmitry, who visited the Pushkin family in the summer of 1831, wrote to his grandfather: “Great friendship and harmony reigns between them; Tasha adores her husband, who also loves her; God grant that their bliss will not be violated in the future.”
And it is strange to assume that the subtle, astute Pushkin, whom the emperor called “the smartest man in Russia”, could fall in love with a dummy.
In-laws of the wife
In the summer of 1834, Natalia Nikolaevna, wanting to arrange the personal life of her older sisters, decides to move them from the Linen Factory to St. Petersburg and settle at home. Pushkin disapproved of this.
“Hey, wife! look… My opinion: the family should be alone under one roof: husband, wife, children, while they are small; parents, when they are already old; otherwise you will not have enough trouble, and there will be no family peace,” he warned. As if he was looking into the water!
After the sisters moved, the eldest of them, Catherine, was granted a maid of honor to the Empress, whose guard regiment was the Cavalry Regiment, where the future killer of Pushkin, Dantes, served. 25-year-old Ekaterina Goncharova, who stayed in the girls, got acquainted with a statuesque blue-eyed cornet, whom, unfortunately, she fell in love with recklessly.
The 22-year-old Frenchman Dantes was really good-looking, but in the light they also talked about the extraordinary unscrupulousness of the young officer.
Prince S. V. Trubetskoy noted: “Constant success in ladies’ society spoiled him: he treated ladies… bolder, more cheeky, more demanding, if you want, more impudent, more brazen than even accepted in our society.”
However, the Frenchman suddenly became seriously carried away by the most beautiful woman in the world – the wife of the poet Pushkin. And, realizing that Catherine is not indifferent to him, uses her as a screen, giving her signs of attention. But only for the sake of gaining the favor of her younger sister. Princess Vyazemskaya recalled: “Ekaterina Goncharova, having fallen in love with Dantes, specially arranged Natalia Nikolaevna’s dates with him, just to see the object of her secret passion.”
Alexandrina Goncharova wrote to her niece many years later: “The young Gekkern then began to pretend to take care of your aunt Katerina; he wanted to make a screen out of her, behind which he would achieve his goals. He took care of both sisters at once. But what was a game for him turned into a serious feeling for your aunt.”
The evil rumor was not long in coming. In 1836, in high society, with intoxicated gloating, they began to discuss the alleged love affair between Pushkin and Dantes.
For a long time it was believed that Natalia Nikolaevna cheated on her husband with a Frenchman, until almost 160 years after the poet’s death, Dantes’ letters were published, which were kept in his archive. In fact, he himself justified the honest name of Goncharova, emphasizing that he could not achieve her favor.
Everyone knows what a tragedy his obsessive courtship ended with.