A. I. FEDUTA
“AN HONORABLE MAN’S FEAT”
(On the Source of Pushkin’s Formula)
“An honourable man’s feat” was the appraisal Pushkin gave Karamzin’s History of the Russian State. Scholars (e. g. V. E. Vacuro and Ia. L. Levkovich) have long speculated that this formula is a quotation, but the exact source of the quotation has not yet been shown, and it has been attributed without sufficient proof to the famed encyclopedist Abbot F. Galiani.
The attribution accepted in Pushkin scholarship merits skepticism. One possible source of the quotation is the ode On the Death of I. I. Shuvalov (1797), written by Prince Ivan Mixailovich Dolgorukov, whose poetry was well known at the turn of the nineteenth century. Dolgorukov writes, addressing himself to Shuvalov, the deceased grandee and patron: Ty podvig sovershil chestnogo cheloveka <...> (‘Yours is the feat of an honourable man’ or ‘Yours is the path of an honourable man’). In this article, evidence that Pushkin was familiar with Dolgorukov’s ode is brought to bear, and the meaning of the formula for Dolgorukov is decoded.