My First Tutor

Conscientiously fulfilling his obligations, his he gave all his spare time to science, especially to astronomy and chemistry; and sometimes, for a rest, he worked at music, playing the violin or composing sacred canticles, some of which came to be very well known in Russia.

Several of these canticles, which had been composed in my presence, happened to hear many years later on the gramophone, for example, ‘O Thou Almighty God’, ‘Calm Light’, ‘Glory to Thee’, and others.

The dean often came to see my father, usually in the evenings when they were both free from their duties.

In order, as he said, ‘not to lead others into temptation’, he tried to make these visits inconspicuously, since he occupied very eminent position in the town and almost everyone knew him by sight, whereas my father was only simple carpenter.

During one of the talks which took place before me in my father’s workshop, the dean began to talk about me and my studies.
He said that he saw in me a very capable boy and that he considered it senseless for me to stay in school and drag out the eight-year period, merely in order to receive at the end a three-class certificate.

And, in fact, the arrangement of the municipal schools was then quite absurd. The school consisted of eight grades and one was compelled to attend each grade for a year, receiving a final certificate equivalent only to the first three classes in a higher school.

That is why Father Borsh advised my father so convincingly to take me away from school and have me taught at home, promising to give of me some of the lessons himself. He said that, if I should need certificate later on, I could simply take, in any school, the examination for the corresponding class.

After a family council this was settled. I left school and from then on Father Borsch undertook my education, teaching me some subjects himself and also providing other teachers for me.