Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To N. A. Leikin.

MOSCOW, December 2, 1891.

I am writing to ask you a great favour, dear Nikolay Alexandrovitch. This is what it is. Until last year I have always lived with my university diploma, which by land and by sea has served me for a passport; but every time it has been vise the police have warned me that one cannot live with a diploma, and that I ought to get a passport from “the proper department.” I have asked everyone what this “proper department” means, and no one has given me an answer. A year ago the Moscow head police officer gave me a passport on the condition that within a year I should get a passport from “the proper department.” I can’t make head or tail of it! The other day I learned that as I have never been in the government service and by education am a doctor, I ought to be registered in the class of professional citizens, and that a certain department, I believe the heraldic, will furnish me with a certificate which will serve me as a passport for all the days of my life. I remembered that you had lately received the grade of professional citizen, and with it a certificate, and that therefore you must have applied somewhere and to someone and so, in a sense, are an old campaigner. For God’s sake advise me to what department I ought to apply. What petition ought I to write, and how many stamps ought I to put on it? What documents must be enclosed with the petition? and so on, and so on. In the town hall there is a “passport bureau.” Could not that bureau reveal the mystery if it is not sufficiently clear to you?

Forgive me for troubling you, but I really don’t know to whom to apply, and I am a very poor lawyer myself. . . .

Your “Medal” is often given at Korsh’s Theatre, and with success. It is played together with Myasnitsky’s “Hare.” I haven’t seen them, but friends tell me that a great difference is felt between the two plays: that “The Medal” in comparison with “The Hare” seems something clean, artistic, and having form and semblance. There you have it! Literary men are swept out of the theatre, and plays are written by nondescript people, old and young, while the journals and newspapers are edited by tradesmen, government clerks, and young ladies. But there, the devil take them! . . .


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