Vasili Ivanovich Modestov (1839–1907), well-known as Latin scholar, etruscologist and the author of the capital «Introduction to the Roman History» (1902–1904) is less known for his opinion journalism. For his bold and competent criticism of the college reform (launched by D.A. Tolstoy in the early 1870s) he was removed from his chair for nine years. Convinced that the chosen educational policy would be perilous for the classical education, Modestov left Russia and settled in Rome, devoting himself completely to scholarly research. The author cites a number of unpublished letters by V.I. Modestov and I.V. Tsvetaev from the Manuscript Collection of the Russian State Library, Modestov’s articles and some other rarely cited sources.