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537
Section: History
"My Longing to Serve Society..."

"My Longing to Serve Society..."

It is amazing how historical evaluations that are accepted in everyday thinking tend to stick to various real things – be they associated with an event or a bright personality. Yet this amazement is always mixed with bitterness because such evaluations ultimately distort real life, banishing what can properly be described as “alive.”

Gerhard Friedrich Mueller — a Man and Scholar

This is always associated with ideology, since any ideology writes history according to itself. Meanwhile drops of water wear away a stone. A word repeated a thousand times becomes a stereotype. It is easier to deal with stereotypes – everything is arranged in orderly compartments, and all the blocks constitute a pleasant construction. It seems that nobody bothers that this construction is nothing more than a theoretical substitute for a living thing – the main aim is to preserve the semblance of logic. Real life is exchanged for a historical scheme which suits everybody. And the moments when you feel the unbearable falsity of these constructions, which look like physical murder of the real and living, … they are just moments, incomparable in their lastingness and “importance,” to hours, days and years of our inertial existence, which for us is inconceivable without convenient schemes and undoubted “laws.” All this is terrible…

However, my introduction is becoming drawn out and clad in suspicious rhetoric, and it is time now to move on to people. We will speak about the Russian historian Gerhard Friedrich Mueller (in Russia during his lifetime he was styled as “Feodor Ivanovich” — these linguistic calques are quite humorous). He did not escape the lot described above and that is why his place in the history of Russian science is so ambiguous. Indeed, he looks like a notable historian, whose merits are incontestable. He made the first attempt (and not at all without success) of creating a fundamental history of Russia; he formulated main methodological problems; he left an articulate system of proper historical quest, which was used by several generations of researchers; he is the “Father of Siberian history.” He made himself well known in various allied scientific fields, but with all this he still was considered “a German,” “a foreigner.” And another not very pleasant echo: in some sense he was also considered “an ill-wisher,” “an abuser,” and “a slanderer.” The image of his is split in two, but the average ear mostly perceives the latter. It is that same unbearable stereotype at work.

The roots of such an attitude towards Mueller are not difficult to discover. They extend to the polemics around his “Norse” theory and to the history of his animosity with Lomonosov. In order not to return to this “over-discussed” problem anymore, let us examine it right away and try to include all the accurate emphases.

In 1749 Schumacher, the “Grey Eminence” of the Imperial Academy, suggested that Mueller and Lomonosov prepare speeches for delivering at a grand scholarly assembly. The motivation for choosing the first speaker is both curious and illustrative (showing some aspects of Mueller’s personality). As Schumacher said, “He has relatively good Russian pronunciation, a loud voice, and a presence of mind very close to impudence.” Mueller, who had always been careful about his duties, composed a speech in Latin entitled “On the Genesis of the Rus’ Nation and Name,” where he marked the cornerstones of the so-called “Norse” theory, which is relatively well known. And today it is absolutely clear that it was not an experiment from the realm of science fiction, not a plain re-writing of history, but a well-founded historical hypothesis which required an even-minded discussion. Yet what followed after the composition of this “dissertation” least of all resembled such discussion. As Mueller himself diplomatically put it, “This composition was assigned for reading in a public academic assembly, but due to a special event there occurred an obstacle and this composition was not made public.”

What was this “special event” ? The fact is that Mueller’s “dissertation” was considered to contain slander of Russia. An “inquiry” session of the Academic Council was organized, with the agenda of investigating what issues objectionable for the Russian people were contained in Mueller’s “dissertation.” One can find the answer in the report of the session (it is always tempting to cite the documents of that time in length — in the documents’ rhythm, style, and in their entire epic context it is as if a once bubbling life, which seems to have long ago turned into a stone monument, now breaks through to us): “In the opinions handed over by the respected professors, some showed that due to lack of knowledge of the Russian language and history they cannot actually discuss the dissertation; others wrote that some things should be excluded from the dissertation; only Professor Trediakovsky judged the dissertation as being probable, whereas Lomonosov, Krasheninnikov, and Popov considered it reprehensible for the Russian people, in which the members of the Academic Chancellery agree with them. It is appropriate in this matter to prefer the opinion of native Russians to the opinion of foreign members, and since according to the decree of Peter the Great the matters should be solved by a majority vote, the dissertation is banned.”

Scholarly debate? Not in the least. There is only a tiny bit of scholarly debate in this story. Two subtleties play here a much more important role.

First of all, by the time the “dissertation” of Mueller was brought to light, the initially cold relations between Lomonosov and Mueller had turned into real hostility. And the reason for that was rather banal. Mueller, as a person who was punctual and devoted to subordination (certainly his German ancestry cannot be ignored , for “national type” is not an empty invention) had always thought that the title of academician should be treated with respect since it is the top of the academic ladder. In other words, if you are a student, you should respect and obey the associate professor; and if you are an associate professor, then you should respect and obey the full professor and academician. Otherwise devastation, chaos, and anarchy will result and one cannot even dream of any constructive work. Yet Lomonosov, with his breadth and ironic attitude toward authorities (if he thought they were puffed-up) would not consider this hierarchy worth a sixpence. The presence of Mueller in academic assemblies after his return from Siberia in 1743 already on the fifth (!) day was marked by the decision not to admit the associate professor Lomonosov to academic sessions anymore. A petition was sent to the Empress, “In the intolerable disgrace and unheard abuse which was committed against us by Lomonosov we ask for a due and just satisfaction.” Thus the rift which appeared between the two scholars only grew further, turning with time into a fully fatal abyss. This is where the well-known opinion of Lomonosov comes from, that in Mueller’s works “there is much windiness, often annoying and objectionable for Russia;” that Mueller “in his writings habitually sows thorny words, searches mostly for spots on the garment of the Russian body, passing by many of Russia’s true adornments.”

And Lomonosov’s opinion (though it is two centuries old!) in our country is akin to ultimate truth since for us Lomonosov is not simply a great scholar but a great Russian scholar, the first Russian scholar and everything is said in this. In general we have a set of “holy cows” which are better not to touch at all, but the situation when the worldview is based on such a set is extremely unpleasant since it testifies more to inferiority complexes than to real merits, for example inferiority complexes of a nation…

Yet Lomonosov was a live person – ingenious, energetic, fine, and very contradictory, and it is clear why in the first place a psychological conflict arose between him and Mueller. In the history of humanity we can often see such conflicts between extraordinary people. Two powerful personalities always find themselves crowded by each other: they tend not to quietly accept the point of view of the other, they are not flexible and comfortable in daily communication, they are marked with significant self-esteem. And these should not be ascribed as being shortcomings – they are a necessary condition, in which sublime work for the future is possible. Another thing is that then posterity makes a nice “movie” out of history, often substituting psychology for ideology — the same thing again…

Obviously the catalyst of the conflict also became a sharp feeling of nationality, without which one cannot conceive the personality of Lomonosov, and the wish to be proud of his own people, and a passionate (and in him everything was passionate) conviction in the originality of our history. And this is the second main subtlety.

In Russia the 1740s was the epoch of a distinctive “Russian renaissance.” The Empress, who did not speak Russian, had died and the granddaughter of Peter the Great ascended to the throne; the hateful Biron was exiled. Having found oneself amongst such “scenery,” most often “the guilty party” is sought among foreigners; in people’s consciousness all calamities are associated with a foreign stranglehold. And then nobody distinguishes between those who really fed on people’s misery, and those who sincerely felt for this misery. During the reign of the Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, those who had German ancestry were treated with greatest suspicion, and Mueller was German. One extreme changed into another, “they are execrators and ill-wishers, and now we will show them who is the real head of the house.” Undoubtedly this is some sort of insanity, although the national reaction to the foreign of the time is absolutely understandable; moreover, from the logical point of view it is apparently indispensable. We need to understand this, but we also need to understand that this had nothing to do with discovering the scholarly truth. Lomonosov — due to his capacity for great fascinations and his sharp sense of “Russianness,” due to his feeling of being a stranger among the foreigners in the Academy — was unlikely to have escaped the impact of his time.

Thus Mueller fell into the category of “ill-wishers.” Incidentally, it was at the same time that they wondered abroad why he was so dedicated to the “benefits of Russia.” They viewed matters soberly, evaluating a person according to his deeds, and not through the prism of exaggerations inherent in every national myth. And in the meantime this “ill-wisher” wrote that “Russian history is composed of chronicles, and this history is so full that no nation can boast of such treasure.” He tirelessly argued for the publication of Tatishchev’s historical work and interpreted the Nerchinsk treatise of 1689 in such a way that the priorities of Russia in the dispute on the borders with China became obvious. He wrote a conceptual work “On the launching of a war with the Chinese, that is on its lawful causes; ways of preparation; on actions and benefits.” He created a general map of Siberia, a postal map of the Russian Empire, a map of countries between the Caspian and the Black seas. In 1730, when the young Academy was in utter decline, Mueller left for Germany, England, and Holland “to refute the reprehensible rumors,” to not let them make the Academy “infamous in foreign states,” and also “to pursue new professors for accepting academic service and to conclude contracts with foreign booksellers about selling books printed through the efforts of the Academy.” Mueller brilliantly accomplished this mission. In 1752, to refute the accounts on Russia published by Delile in Paris, he composed in French “The Letter of the Officer of the Russian Fleet,” and published it in Berlin (later it was translated into English and German). During ten years spent in Siberia he covered 31,362 versts (1 verst equals 1.0668 km.). (“My Siberian travel, in which I ranged over all the lands of this vast country, in length and in breadth, from Nerchinsk to Yakutsk, lasted for almost ten years…”) With his diligent work in the archives zof Siberian towns he preserved for us our own past, without him it would have been simply lost. We should note that many things Mueller did on his own initiative. Thus in 1771 he started to publish the “Stepennaya Kniga” (The Book of Degrees), “persuading a certain friend that he use his own means for that, since neither the University nor the bookseller wanted to undertake the edition at their own expense.” There you have an “ill-wisher”!

When you browse through the materials concerning Mueller, you start to wonder about many things.

For example, there is an almost complete lack of “financial” topics, so common for that time. Somebody steals something; somebody thinks that he deserves more; somebody demands an increase of pay. Only two barely audible echoes from this realm exist in Mueller’s life. One is connected with not paying him an allowance for his trip abroad in the beginning of the 1730s. This allowance was promised verbally, but on Mueller’s return his relationship with Schumacher worsened and the matter came to a standstill. Mueller was not very insistent in asking for the reimbursement of his expenses, and then gave up. The second echo pertains to the end of the scholar’s life. Feeling that there were not many days of his life left and being concerned about the destiny of the richest collection which was gathered during his lifetime, through intermediaries Mueller suggested that the Empress acquire his library. At that he did not tell the price. According to the Senator A. M. Obreskov, who inspected the library, the scholar’s dreams did not reach further than “buying a small village of about 400 people not very far from Moscow” (thus making provision for the future of his wife and children). Eventually the decree on acquisition was signed by the Empress — for his treasure Mueller received 20,000 rubles.

Mueller always took good care of his family. Yet even so, the family, as it seems, had never been on the list of his main life priorities, but was one component of an externally required “social” way of life. A man traditionally should have a family — so the scholar had one too. He started a family, as a matter of fact, a bit in an offhand manner. In the summer of 1742 in Verkhoturie, Mueller became acquainted with the widow of a German surgeon who had practiced there and who had died not long before that. For five years Mueller had been suffering from a disease, whose attacks tortured him greatly from time to time. Gmelin, the companion of Mueller, thus reported to the President of the Academy Baron Korff on Mueller’s illness: “This disease consists of merciless heartthrob and great fear, which sometimes passes but sometimes continues for three or four days with such quickness of pulse that I often had fear of him fainting.” To Mueller’s misfortune in Verkhoturie, his illness worsened. The widow diligently cared for the scholar and finally he offered her his hand and heart. He chose his wife, as is customary for people of his type, probably on the basis of convenience. And it seems that he did not go wrong. The famous Schletzer, who lived for some time in Mueller’s house in St. Petersburg, thus wrote about her: “His wife took extreme care of Mueller when he fell deadly ill during his travel in Siberia but he married her not only out of sheer gratefulness (this “not only” does not sound too bad, does it? — A. P.) — she was an excellent woman, humble at that, and a perfect housekeeper. Her misfortune was that she was hard of hearing in one ear and in bad weather she could not communicate with others without an ear trumpet.” Perhaps the problems with hearing for Mueller’s wife even served his purpose, since there was no need for long conversations with her – he was always pressed for time. Besides his step-daughter, the historian had three children of his own, but unfortunately none of them inherited the talentsof their father…

One more of Mueller’s “peculiarities.” An unusual characteristic (quite attractive, to tell the truth) appears to be Mueller’s complete neglect of awards, and it was in the time when the pursuit of dignities and money was considered almost a bon ton. The autobiographical “Description of My Services” contains a very curious point: “I do not consider this to be my merit” – writes Mueller, “that certain foreign Academies and scholarly societies outside and inside the Empire number me among their own members. This honor should be based upon genuine experiments published on behalf of those societies, but till now my other offices did not allow me to offer such, except one treatise on fish glue (!!! — A. P.), which was required from me by the Paris Academy of Sciences and published in various foreign languages.”

That is, according to Mueller, any award should be well-deserved, and such an attitude towards visible signs of appreciation (alongside with financial disinterestedness) is totally uncharacteristic of the 18th century, so prone to external glance and trumpery, and not very scrupulous in the realm of social morals.

These are what are called “the shades” of the portrait of the scientist and man. And it is a shame that the above ideological “reticence,” “speculations,” and “suppositions” for a long time have veiled for us Mueller’s true personality and the image of a brightest representative of this amazing breed of people that totally unexpectedly appeared on the European historical scene in the 18th century.

These were men of action, passionaries in Gumilev’s terminology. It’s true that many came to Russia on the call of Peter, Elizabeth, and Catherine. Some, having gained dignities and money, returned home; some settled down getting Russian names (like Mueller became “Feodor Ivanovich”) and becoming undoubtedly russified. A certain diffusion took place — natural Russians, keeping their “soil” gained European gloss and erudition, but the former strangers, changing the environment, were in turn changed by it. Yet both remained passionaries, and we recognize the 18th century by high concentration of these. Four keywords describe their activity: curiosity, dedication, responsibility, and fearlessness. Having irrecognizably rebuilt the world, these ambitious people in waistcoats and wigs (a little comic for the modern taste) laid the foundations of modern civilization.

They put their hands to anything and laid down their lives to accomplish it. It is strange but sometimes the area where energy was applied did not play a great role — the main thing was to apply it. Later this time will be called the epoch of Enlightenment. Later its historical necessity will be proven; its merits and shortcomings will be described. Later they will tell us what the people of the time did not quite understand, what the narrow-mindedness of their historical outlook consisted of. Yet this sober systematization cannot cancel their “fineness.” This is why the 18th century draws to itself writers, artists, musicians: this is a sort of nostalgia for an absolutely sensible life, for certainty; ultimately, for a prac-tical result.

Mueller is one of the most worthy representatives of this community, which is similar to some kind of a special Order — with its own ideals, inner structure, and the laws of honor. He is a missionary of enlightenment. He is a universal specialist in the high sense of the word. Yes, he was one of the most important scholars, chiefly a historian, but Mueller took up history, strange as it is, almost by chance. After his first five years in Russia, he could not make a decisive choice of what he would be occupied with. Due to his everlasting love of books he expected to be a librarian of the Academy. The office was not bad since Schumacher, the librarian of that time, unofficially ran the show at the Academy. At first Schumacher favored Mueller. It seems, Schumacher’s daughter did as well. Thus a simple but rational plan matured: first to end up as one of Schumacher’s son-in-laws, and then to end up in his office. Destiny judged differently. After his return from a foreign trip in 1731, Mueller found an enemy in his former benefactor (and it is not yet quite clear why this happened). A safe plan for a future life was falling to pieces before his very eyes. And there appeared a sudden solution, as Mueller looked back: “I chose to pave another scholarly path — this was Russian history, which I intended not only to learn diligently myself, but also to make known to others in compositions on the basis of the best sources. A bold enterprise!”

Indeed, it was bold. Mueller did not yet know the Russian language, did not yet have elementary skills of historical analysis; however, he plunged himself into “the unfamiliar” as if he were diving into a whirlpool. And Mueller plunged. This was in his character. This was in the character of the members of his “Order.” He saw an uncultivated field and went on to plough it. At first it was not very successful. A funny fact of the type “practice makes perfect”: in 1732 Mueller started to publish a periodic Collection of Russian History, which later became famous. He started in the proper manner, ab ovo, — from the Russian Primary Chronicle. Due to his bad knowledge of Russian, The Primary Chronicle written by a monk of the Theodosius’ Monastery of the Caves was turned into an “ancient manuscript containing a Russian history by the abbot Theodosius of Kiev.” When the error was published, it spread. Thus, young Mueller introduced the fictitious historian Theodosius, who later proved to be the legendary Nestor. Not a few times did Mueller have to give irritated explanations about it.

Twenty years later, however, such mistakes in his professional activity were inconceivable. He rapidly gained experience. He was insatiable in his scientific amplitude. He turned to anything: was planning to write a history of the Kalmyk people, analyzed the phenomenon of the Cossacks. “In no other country can one write the history of Oriental peoples with such ease,” Mueller noted with delight. And he wrote. And enlightened. For the main thing here was to enlighten…

The evolution of a historian is obvious at that. If in the first issues of the Collection of Russian History (as well as in other projects of that time) Mueller’s aim was to get the Western andience familiarized with the new materials, later his focus shifted. During the course of his lifetime Mueller drifts in a certain direction — from Western reader to Russian reader. “The country of residence” becomes “the home country.” Just to mention the edition of the first Russian scholarly and literary journal Monthly compositions, serving for benefit and amusement, undertaken by Mueller in 1755. What a style! This was enlightenment according to Mueller. Probably without this enlightenment neither Novikov, nor Derzhavin, nor the amazing rise of Russian culture in the beginning of the 19th century would have been possible.

Mueller constantly searched for the new.

And when a real opportunity to go to Siberia appeared, he gave up everything and went. Gmelin, who was initially appointed to the Second Kamchatka expedition by the Academy, had fallen ill. The Academy suggested that Mueller substitute for him, and he agreed with joy: he was fascinated by the perspective of working with living material and not with second-hand stories. Then Gmelin recovered and they went traveling together. And it seems that the “Respected Professors” were not disappointed with this companionship.

Their Siberian trip, at least in its first years, is some turgid uninterrupted scientific feast. “We arrived in countries,” Mueller passionately wrote, “which by nature were endowed with advantages in comparison with other places, where almost everything new appeared to us. With joy we saw multitudes of herbs, mostly unknown; saw herds of Asiatic animals, the most rare; saw a great number of ancient tombs in which we found memorable things; in brief, we came to such countries in which nobody had ever been before us, who would be able to report to the world.” This sudden “landing” in virgin lands, where no foot of a civilized man had tread, I think, is comparable in its shocking effect with the triumphs of the 20th century: man’s first walk in space and flights to the moon. This shock sounds in the Siberian texts of Gmelin, Steller, and of our hero. You had to behave there like in the war, “according to circumstances.” The system of scientific quest was born “from scratch.” His scientific baptism Mueller received in Tobolsk where all doors were opened for him. He even found himself a bit at a loss, “But I should confess that I had not known yet what to demand or to ask about... Here I made a start in exploring Siberian archives…” Already in Tara a preliminary questionnaire appeared. This questionnaire was gradually updated and specified. “My questions then were not as general as those which I asked in other towns. Experience is the best teacher in such cases.” And Mueller never fled from experience; on the contrary, longed for it.

Naturally, not everything went smoothly in Siberia. There were hardships and sorrows, there was the opposition of the Irkutsk governor, there were clashes with the Head of the Expedition Bering (which led to Gmelin and Mueller’s decision not to go to Kamchatka), there was fatigue, “the same old” newness, diseases… It was especially difficult when the scholars realized that their trip was turning into captivity. They wanted to return to St. Petersburg, but were not allowed. In letters joy little-by-little gave place to sorrow, “The journey with difficult drives in such land,” as Mueller bitterly remarks, “should be on one’s own accord and on good will with self-desirous zeal, without any compulsion; and if this is not the case, there is no hope for science. The sorrow pours in from day to day, and with this, depression and laziness naturally multiply so much that they cannot be cast off or healed by anything but the hope of near return.”

Yet the very volume of what had been done by the scholars in Siberia shows that there was less depression than fruitful work—work that was passionate, to the point of forgetting oneself. And it was not the depression that played the leading role in this journey, not even in its final part. One should listen to the later evaluation of the journey given by Mueller himself, “Never afterwards,” he wrote, “did I have a reason to regret about my decision.”

Once he said to A. F. Buesching, “You know my character, that if I gave myself to some business, I gave myself entirely.” It’s true. Let us note the word “some” in this phrase. There is no definiteness. Mueller could do everything. Responsibly and absorbedly. In general Mueller (this is, in fact, the characterization of that very type of personality which was discussed above) was a “one-man band”, sometimes replacing entire chancelleries by himself. This happened in 1755 while publishing the mentioned Monthly compositions. As Mueller recalled, “it was decided that all the members of the Academy worked on those, each publishing in rotation for one month under my supervision, but excluding a very small amount of other people’s treatises, I did everything myself.” This happened in 1762, when he was assigned the management over the affairs of the Department of Geography at the Academy, since “those who are enrolled there, instead of working for common good with joint forces, make all kinds of obstacles to each other.” This happened in the end of the 1760s, when Mueller found himself “at the helm” of the Moscow archive.

By the way, Mueller considered his transfer to Moscow as a benefit. For him it meant the return from “war” (as he called treacherous squabbles at the Academy) into a peaceful and quiet life full of labors (here Pushkin’s “and sweet languor” suggests itself, but this line is not about Mueller).

There are several constants which every now and then appear in public and private texts by Mueller. These are “usefulness,” “service,” and “the welfare of the state.” Here for example, “The translation of Weissmann’s lexicon from German into Russian was made by my efforts, which, however, rather testifies to my longing to serve society than to the skill needed for it …” If we compose a certain image out of the mentioned constants, this image would most adequately express the credo of the whole life of the outstanding scholar. The credo formulated in this manner will not leave any holes for ambiguous interpretations.

Mueller lived a long life. His autobiographical Description of My Services, written in 1775 at the age of seventy, begins with a melancholic phrase, “Out of all those who were with me at the initial foundation of the Academy there are none alive but Respected Professor Bernoulli in Bazel.” Yet in this remark one should not see a tired sigh of an old man who outlived his contemporaries. It seems that Mueller did not know what old age was — with its illnesses, immobility, lack of the future, misapprehension of the present, stiff adherence to the past, with its impotence, and grumbling. But the opposite is also true — old age did not “know” Mueller. It is as if it did not even dare to approach him. Even in his seventies he remained greedy for work, light on his feet, collected and dedicated . In Mueller’s letter dated 1778 (the author was 73), we read: “I am still rather fresh and ready to work, although I have started to suffer from breathlessness, against which a change of air and movement should help. Pray to God! We will try.” And he tried. He set out on a trip in order to describe the towns of the Province of Moscow. He drove through Kolomna, Serghiev Posad, Dmitrov, Aleksandrov, Pereslavl-Zalesskii, Vyazma, Mozhaisk, Borisov, Ruza, Zvenigorod… We should not forget that the roads and the going were different in those times than now.

Mueller had five more years to live.

He did fantastically much. So much that not all his heritage has been studied yet. The Russian State Archive of Old Acts stores “Portfolios of G. F. Mueller.” This is part of Mueller’s collection which was bought by Catherine the Great for 20,000 rubles. In 1899, N. V. Golitzin published a book dedicated to the destiny of these “Portfolios.” An approach to describing the materials was offered. The book talked about the “shroud of mystery” which surrounded “Mueller’s portfolios.” This shroud, as Golitzin wrote, “forces some to make rather exaggerated speculations about the richness of their contents, while the bulk and variety of the material collected in them turn others away from more close familiarization by the enormity of work that should be applied to this task.” In the meantime after a hundred and odd years that have passed since the publication of Galitzin’s book, the indicated shroud of mystery has not disappeared: until this day legends and stories about the treasures which are kept in the “Portfolios” circulate. Someone allegedly found there the inscription copied from Andrei Rublev’s tombstone; another found none other than a copy of the The Lay of Igor’s Host. (The Tale of Igor’s Campaign).

Yet the attempts “to dissipate the fog” have not yet been very successful There exist objective difficulties for those who start working with this section of Mueller’s heritage. “Portfolios”are actually an archive within an archive; they contain hundreds of thousands of manuscript pages in Russian, German, Latin, Hebrew, Mongolian, and other European and Oriental languages. Even perfect knowledge of these languages does not guarantee that the researcher will be able to read the manuscript or at least have a general understanding of its contents. It is enough to say that those who can read Mueller’s German cursive script, abundant in abbreviations and elements of shorthand, can be counted on one hand.

Let us hope that all these difficulties can be overcome. One thing that is important here is to correspond with the subject of one’s research, that is, to catch Mueller’s “tireless zeal”, which is often remembered by those who closely knew the scholar. Golitzin wrote in 1899, “The task is to solve the mystery (“of the Portfolios” – A. P.), the necessity of which has long come to a head.” We will repeat the phrase with hope, because the solution of the problem will serve the necessary tribute to Mueller’s memory. And he has always been deprived of his share of tribute, and has been deprived absolutely undeservingly.

Illustrations to this article have been taken from the book by N. Semivsky “Most Recent, Curious and Trustworthy Narratives about East Siberia, Much of Which Had Been Unknown to Many People”. St. Petersburg, 1817

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