[From Tseikhgauz No. 13, 1/2001. Page 29.]

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Military in the PastAleksandr Val’kovich, section editor.


            Just this year (1882 – ed.) the military high schools [voennye gimnazii] were converted to cadet corps. Doing this was very simple: the Highest ukase was read to the students, and in a few days they were taken into their dormitories and directed that in place of their old kepis they were to try on forage caps for size, round with a red band and visor. Then colored belts appeared along with oil-paint letters on the shoulder straps.

“At the Turning Point (Cadets)” [“Na perelome (Kadety)”]


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“Cadet Mischief”

(Apropos of A.I. Kuprin’s tale “At the Turning Point (Cadets).”)


From the orders and journals of the 2nd Emperor Nicholas I Moscow Cadet Corps


13 August 1887.


            During a ball at the 1st Moscow Cadet Corps, when the cadets are allowed a comparatively greater degree of freedom, Cadet Kuprin of the 7th Class ordered wine, drank it himself and treated several of his comrades.

A majority of the committee has found that even with the greatest indulgence in relation to Kuprin, it can hardly be hoped that in the course of the coming academic year he will conduct himself so as to earn an additional two credits for conduct, without which, according to regulations, it is impossible to graduate him to Category I [I-i razryad]. The committee, while on the one hand not giving full credence to Kuprin’s repentance (prompted, by all appearances, by his mother’s urgings), and on the other hand not of the hope that Kuprin’s character, sufficiently revealed during his seven years in the corps, will allow him to have eight credits for conduct at the time of graduation, hereby directs: that Kuprin be released from the corps with transfer to service in the army with the rights of a volunteer of Category I.


RGVIA, F. 725, Op. 38, D. 324, L. 150.

Submitted by A. Kapitonov.



            In spite of this ominous sentence, this whole story ended happily for Kuprin. It appears that his mother, Lyubov’ Alekseevna, nevertheless convinced the authorities not to dismiss her son from the corps. For his family, living in greatly reduced circumstances, this would have been a fatal blow. In a year Kuprin finished at the corps and entered the 3rd Alexander Military School.


            By the end of his education in the cadet corps, Kuprin excelled in heavy drinking, as shown by his early work, little known to the general reader. Below we publish a piece of verse written by the 14-year old cadet in 1884.


Prayer of a Drunkard


O Bacchus in your celestial abode,

Comforter of the gods,

Descend to earth, I pray.

With your pure nectar

Fresh, fragrant,

Sweeten my life.


In nectar there is much

Of this and that:

There is Brandy, Port Wine,

There is Champagne,

There is Burgundy,

Sherry, Malaga, Rheinwein.


So descend more quickly,

Stop only to pick up

The older bottle to bring with you;

We will forget our grief,

Become friends,

And both wake up in the police station.


RGALI, F. 240, Op. 1, Yed. Kr. 106, L. 2.

Submitted by S.N. Tyapkov.



[ILLUSTRATION: 2nd-Class student of the army’s Teachers Seminary, student of the Vol’sk Military Preparatory School [Vol’skaya progimnaziya], and cadets of the 3rd and 2nd Moscow Cadet Corps, 1882. (Illyustrirovannoe opisanie peremen v obmundirovanii i snaryazhenii Imperatorskoi Rossiiskoi armii za 1881-1894 god, Plate No. 40.)


Translated by Mark Conrad, 2001.