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Thoughts Evoked by the Census of Moscow

And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do

likewise--LUKE iii. 10. 11.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust

doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than

raiment?--MATT. vi. 19-25.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall

we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the

evil thereof.--MATT. vi. 31-34.

For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a

rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.--MATT. xix. 24; MARK x.

25; LUKE xviii. 25.


What was its nature?

I had lived in the country, and there I was connected with the rustic poor. Not out of humility, which is worse than pride, but for the sake of telling the truth, which is indispensable for the understanding of the whole course of my thoughts and sentiments, I will say that in the country I did very little for the poor, but the demands which were made upon me were so modest that even this little was of use to the people, and formed around me an atmosphere of affection and union with the people, in which it was possible to soothe the gnawing sensation of remorse at the independence of my life. On going to the city, I had hoped to be able to live in the same manner. But here I encountered want of an entirely different sort. City want was both less real, and more exacting and cruel, than country poverty. But the principal point was, that there was so much of it in one spot, that it produced on me a frightful impression. The impression which I experienced in the Lyapinsky house had, at the very first, made me conscious of the deformity of my own life. This feeling was genuine and very powerful. But, notwithstanding its genuineness and power, I was, at that time, so weak that I feared the alteration in my life to which this feeling commended me, and I resorted to a compromise. I believed what everybody told me, and everybody has said, ever since the world was made,--that there is nothing evil in wealth and luxury, that they are given by God, that one may continue to live as a rich man, and yet help the needy. I believed this, and I tried to do it. I wrote an essay, in which I summoned all rich people to my assistance. The rich people all acknowledged themselves morally bound to agree with me, but evidently they either did not wish to do any thing, or they could not do any thing or give any thing to the poor. I began to visit the poor, and I beheld what I had not in the least expected. On the one hand, I beheld in those dens, as I called them, people whom it was not conceivable that I should help, because they were working people, accustomed to labor and privation, and therefore standing much higher and having a much firmer foothold in life than myself; on the other hand, I saw unfortunate people whom I could not aid because they were exactly like myself. The majority of the unfortunates whom I saw were unhappy only because they had lost the capacity, desire, and habit of earning their own bread; that is to say, their unhappiness consisted in the fact that they were precisely such persons as myself.

I found no unfortunates who were sick, hungry, or cold, to whom I could render immediate assistance, with the solitary exception of hungry Agafya. And I became convinced, that, on account of my remoteness from the lives of those people whom I desired to help, it would be almost impossible to find any such unfortunates, because all actual wants had already been supplied by the very people among whom these unfortunates live; and, most of all, I was convinced that money cannot effect any change in the life led by these unhappy people.

I was convinced of all this, but out of false shame at abandoning what I had once undertaken, because of my self-delusion as a benefactor, I went on with this matter for a tolerably long time,-- and would have gone on with it until it came to nothing of itself,-- so that it was with the greatest difficulty that, with the help of Ivan Fedotitch, I got rid, after a fashion, as well as I could, in the tavern of the Rzhanoff house, of the thirty-seven rubles which I did not regard as belonging to me.

Of course I might have gone on with this business, and have made out of it a semblance of benevolence; by urging the people who had promised me money, I might have collected more, I might have distributed this money, and consoled myself with my charity; but I perceived, on the one hand, that we rich people neither wish nor are able to share a portion of our a superfluity with the poor (we have so many wants of our own), and that money should not be given to any one, if the object really be to do good and not to give money itself at haphazard, as I had done in the Rzhanoff tavern. And I gave up the whole thing, and went off to the country with despair in my heart.

In the country I tried to write an essay about all this that I had experienced, and to tell why my undertaking had not succeeded. I wanted to justify myself against the reproaches which had been made to me on the score of my article on the census; I wanted to convict society of its in difference, and to state the causes in which this city poverty has its birth, and the necessity of combating it, and the means of doing so which I saw.

I began this essay at once, and it seemed to me that in it I was saying a very great deal that was important. But toil as I would over it, and in spite of the abundance of materials, in spite of the superfluity of them even, I could not get though that essay; and so I did not finish it until the present year, because of the irritation under the influence of which I wrote, because I had not gone through all that was requisite in order to bear myself properly in relation to this essay, because I did not simply and clearly acknowledge the cause of all this,--a very simple cause, which had its root in myself.

In the domain of morals, one very remarkable and too little noted phenomenon presents itself.

If I tell a man who knows nothing about it, what I know about geology, astronomy, history, physics, and mathematics, that man receives entirely new information, and he never says to me: "Well, what is there new in that? Everybody knows that, and I have known it this long while." But tell that same man the most lofty truth, expressed in the clearest, most concise manner, as it has never before been expressed, and every ordinary individual, especially one who takes no particular interest in moral questions, or, even more, one to whom the moral truth stated by you is displeasing, will infallibly say to you: "Well, who does not know that? That was known and said long ago." It really seems to him that this has been said long ago and in just this way. Only those to whom moral truths are dear and important know how important and precious they are, and with what prolonged labor the elucidation, the simplification, of moral truths, their transit from the state of a misty, indefinitely recognized supposition, and desire, from indistinct, incoherent expressions, to a firm and definite expression, unavoidably demanding corresponding concessions, are attained.

We have all become accustomed to think that moral instruction is a most absurd and tiresome thing, in which there can be nothing new or interesting; and yet all human life, together with all the varied and complicated activities, apparently independent, of morality, both governmental and scientific, and artistic and commercial, has no other aim than the greater and greater elucidation, confirmation, simplification, and accessibility of moral truth.

I remember that I was once walking along the street in Moscow, and in front of me I saw a man come out and gaze attentively at the stones of the sidewalk, after which he selected one stone, seated himself on it, and began to plane (as it seemed to me) or to rub it with the greatest diligence and force. "What is he doing to the sidewalk?" I said to myself. On going close to him, I saw what the man was doing. He was a young fellow from a meat-shop; he was whetting his knife on the stone of the pavement. He was not thinking at all of the stones when he scrutinized them, still less was he thinking of them when he was accomplishing his task: he was whetting his knife. He was obliged to whet his knife so that he could cut the meat; but to me it seemed as though he were doing something to the stones of the sidewalk. Just so it appears as though humanity were occupied with commerce, conventions, wars, sciences, arts; but only one business is of importance to it, and with only one business is it occupied: it is elucidating to itself those moral laws by which it lives. The moral laws are already in existence; humanity is only elucidating them, and this elucidation seems unimportant and imperceptible for any one who has no need of moral laws, who does not wish to live by them. But this elucidation of the moral law is not only weighty, but the only real business of all humanity. This elucidation is imperceptible just as the difference between the dull and the sharp knife is imperceptible. The knife is a knife all the same, and for a person who is not obliged to cut any thing with this knife, the difference between the dull and the sharp one is imperceptible. For the man who has come to an understanding that his whole life depends on the greater or less degree of sharpness in the knife,--for such a man, every whetting of it is weighty, and that man knows that the knife is a knife only when it is sharp, when it cuts that which needs cutting.

This is what happened to me, when I began to write my essay. It seemed to me that I knew all about it, that I understood every thing connected with those questions which had produced on me the impressions of the Lyapinsky house, and the census; but when I attempted to take account of them and to demonstrate them, it turned out that the knife would not cut, and that it must be whetted. And it is only now, after the lapse of three years, that I have felt that my knife is sufficiently sharp, so that I can cut what I choose. I have learned very little that is new. My thoughts are all exactly the same, but they were duller then, and they all scattered and would not unite on any thing; there was no edge to them; they would not concentrate on one point, on the simplest and clearest decision, as they have now concentrated themselves.


I remember that during the entire period of my unsuccessful efforts at helping the inhabitants of the city, I presented to myself the aspect of a man who should attempt to drag another man out of a swamp while he himself was standing on the same unstable ground. Every attempt of mine had made me conscious of the untrustworthy character of the soil on which I stood. I felt that I was in the swamp myself, but this consciousness did not cause me to look more narrowly at my own feet, in order to learn upon what I was standing; I kept on seeking some external means, outside myself, of helping the existing evil.

I then felt that my life was bad, and that it was impossible to live in that manner. But from the fact that my life was bad, and that it was impossible to live in that manner, I did not draw the very simple and clear deduction that it was necessary to amend my life and to live better, but I knew the terrible deduction that in order to live well myself, I must needs reform the lives of others; and so I began to reform the lives of others. I lived in the city, and I wished to reform the lives of those who lived in the city; but I soon became convinced that this I could not by any possibility accomplish, and I began to meditate on the inherent characteristics of city life and city poverty.

"What are city life and city poverty? Why, when I am living in the city, cannot I help the city poor?"

I asked myself. I answered myself that I could not do any thing for them, in the first place, because there were too many of them here in one spot; in the second place, because all the poor people here were entirely different from the country poor. Why were there so many of them here? and in what did their peculiarity, as opposed to the country poor, consist? There was one and the same answer to both questions. There were a great many of them here, because here all those people who have no means of subsistence in the country collect around the rich; and their peculiarity lies in this, that they are not people who have come from the country to support themselves in the city (if there are any city paupers, those who have been born here, and whose fathers and grandfathers were born here, then those fathers and grandfathers came hither for the purpose of earning their livelihood). What is the meaning of this: TO EARN ONE'S LIVELIHOOD IN THE CITY? In the words "to earn one's livelihood in the city," there is something strange, resembling a jest, when you reflect on their significance. How is it that people go from the country,--that is to say, from the places where there are forests, meadows, grain, and cattle, where all the wealth of the earth lies,--to earn their livelihood in a place where there are neither trees, nor grass, nor even land, and only stones and dust? What is the significance of the words "to earn a livelihood in the city," which are in such constant use, both by those who earn the livelihood, and by those who furnish it, as though it were something perfectly clear and comprehensible?

I recall the hundreds and thousands of city people, both those who live well and the needy, with whom I have conversed on the reason why they came hither: and all without exception said, that they had come from the country to earn their living; that in Moscow, where people neither sow nor reap,--that in Moscow there is plenty of every thing, and that, therefore, it is only in Moscow that they can earn the money which they require in the country for bread and a cottage and a horse, and articles of prime necessity. But assuredly, in the country lies the source of all riches; there only is real wealth,-- bread, and forests, and horses, and every thing. And why, above all, take away from the country that which dwellers in the country need,-- flour, oats, horses, and cattle?

Hundreds of times did I discuss this matter with peasants living in town; and from my discussions with them, and from my observations, it has been made apparent to me, that the congregation of country people in the city is partly indispensable because they cannot otherwise support themselves, partly voluntary, and that they are attracted to the city by the temptations of the city.

It is true, that the position of the peasant is such that, for the satisfaction of his demands made on him in the country, he cannot extricate himself otherwise than by selling the grain and the cattle which he knows will be indispensable to him; and he is forced, whether he will or no, to go to the city in order there to win back his bread. But it is also true, that the luxury of city life, and the comparative ease with which money is there to be earned, attract him thither; and under the pretext of gaining his living in the town, he betakes himself thither in order that he may have lighter work, better food, and drink tea three times a day, and dress well, and even lead a drunken and dissolute life. The cause of both is identical,--the transfer of the riches of the producers into the hands of non-producers, and the accumulation of wealth in the cities. And, in point of fact, when autumn has come, all wealth is collected in the country. And instantly there arise demands for taxes, recruits, the temptations of vodka, weddings, festivals; petty pedlers make their rounds through the villages, and all sorts of other temptations crop up; and by this road, or, if not, by some other, wealth of the most varied description--vegetables, calves, cows, horses, pigs, chickens, eggs, butter, hemp, flax, rye, oats, buckwheat, pease, hempseed, and flaxseed--all passes into the hands of strangers, is carried off to the towns, and thence to the capitals. The countryman is obliged to surrender all this to satisfy the demands that are made upon him, and temptations; and, having parted with his wealth, he is left with an insufficiency, and he is forced to go whither his wealth has been carried and there he tries, in part, to obtain the money which he requires for his first needs in the country, and in part, being himself led away by the blandishments of the city, he enjoys, in company with others, the wealth that has there accumulated. Everywhere, throughout the whole of Russia,--yes, and not in Russia alone, I think, but throughout the whole world,-- the same thing goes on. The wealth of the rustic producers passes into the hands of traders, landed proprietors, officials, and factory-owners; and the people who receive this wealth wish to enjoy it. But it is only in the city that they can derive full enjoyment from this wealth. In the country, in the first place, it is difficult to satisfy all the requirements of rich people, on account of the sparseness of the population; banks, shops, hotels, every sort of artisan, and all sorts of social diversions, do not exist there. In the second place, one of the chief pleasures procured by wealth-- vanity, the desire to astonish and outshine other people--is difficult to satisfy in the country; and this, again, on account of the lack of inhabitants. In the country, there is no one to appreciate elegance, no one to be astonished. Whatever adornments in the way of pictures and bronzes the dweller in the country may procure for his house, whatever equipages and toilets he may provide, there is no one to see them and envy them, and the peasants cannot judge of them. [And, in the third place, luxury is even disagreeable and dangerous in the country for the man possessed of a conscience and fear. It is an awkward and delicate matter, in the country, to have baths of milk, or to feed your puppies on it, when directly beside you there are children who have no milk; it is an awkward and delicate matter to build pavilions and gardens in the midst of people who live in cots banked up with dung, which they have no means of warming. In the country there is no one to keep the stupid peasants in order, and in their lack of cultivation they might disarrange all this.] {11}

And accordingly rich people congregate, and join themselves to other rich people with similar requirements, in the city, where the gratification of every luxurious taste is carefully protected by a numerous police force. Well-rooted inhabitants of the city of this sort, are the governmental officials; every description of artisan and professional man has sprung up around them, and with them the wealthy join their forces. All that a rich man has to do there is to take a fancy to a thing, and he can get it. It is also more agreeable for a rich man to live there, because there he can gratify his vanity; there is some one with whom he can vie in luxury; there is some one to astonish, and there is some one to outshine. But the principal reason why it is more comfortable in the city for a rich man is that formerly, in the country, his luxury made him awkward and uneasy; while now, on the contrary, it would be awkward for him not to live luxuriously, not to live like all his peers around him. That which seemed dreadful and awkward in the country, here appears to be just as it should be. [Rich people congregate in the city; and there, under the protection of the authorities, they calmly demand every thing that is brought thither from the country. And the countryman is, in some measure, compelled to go thither, where this uninterrupted festival of the wealthy which demands all that is taken from him is in progress, in order to feed upon the crumbs which fall from the tables of the rich; and partly, also, because, when he beholds the care-free, luxurious life, approved and protected by everybody, he himself becomes desirous of regulating his life in such a way as to work as little as possible, and to make as much use as possible of the labors of others.

And so he betakes himself to the city, and finds employment about the wealthy, endeavoring, by every means in his power, to entice from them that which he is in need of, and conforming to all those conditions which the wealthy impose upon him, he assists in the gratification of all their whims; he serves the rich man in the bath and in the inn, and as cab-driver and prostitute, and he makes for him equipages, toys, and fashions; and he gradually learns from the rich man to live in the same manner as the latter, not by labor, but by divers tricks, getting away from others the wealth which they have heaped together; and he becomes corrupt, and goes to destruction. And this colony, demoralized by city wealth, constitutes that city pauperism which I desired to aid and could not.

All that is necessary, in fact, is for us to reflect on the condition of these inhabitants of the country, who have removed to the city in order to earn their bread or their taxes,--when they behold, everywhere around them, thousands squandered madly, and hundreds won by the easiest possible means; when they themselves are forced by heavy toil to earn kopeks,--and we shall be amazed that all these people should remain working people, and that they do not all of them take to an easier method of getting gain,--by trading, peddling, acting as middlemen, begging, vice, rascality, and even robbery. Why, we, the participants in that never-ceasing orgy which goes on in town, can become so accustomed to our life, that it seems to us perfectly natural to dwell alone in five huge apartments, heated by a quantity of beech logs sufficient to cook the food for and to warm twenty families; to drive half a verst with two trotters and two men- servants; to cover the polished wood floor with rugs; and to spend, I will not say, on a ball, five or ten thousand rubles, and twenty-five thousand on a Christmas-tree. But a man who is in need of ten rubles to buy bread for his family, or whose last sheep has been seized for a tax-debt of seven rubles, and who cannot raise those rubles by hard labor, cannot grow accustomed to this. We think that all this appears natural to poor people there are even some ingenuous persons who say in all seriousness, that the poor are very grateful to us for supporting them by this luxury.] {12}

But poor people are not devoid of human understanding simply because they are poor, and they judge precisely as we do. As the first thought that occurs to us on hearing that such and such a man has gambled away or squandered ten or twenty thousand rubles, is: "What a foolish and worthless fellow he is to uselessly squander so much money! and what a good use I could have made of that money in a building which I have long been in need of, for the improvement of my estate, and so forth!"--just so do the poor judge when they behold the wealth which they need, not for caprices, but for the satisfaction of their actual necessities, of which they are frequently deprived, flung madly away before their eyes. We make a very great mistake when we think that the poor can judge thus, reason thus, and look on indifferently at the luxury which surrounds them.

They never have acknowledged, and they never will acknowledge, that it can be just for some people to live always in idleness, and for other people to fast and toil incessantly; but at first they are amazed and insulted by this; then they scrutinize it more attentively, and, seeing that these arrangements are recognized as legitimate, they endeavor to free themselves from toil, and to take part in the idleness. Some succeed in this, and they become just such carousers themselves; others gradually prepare themselves for this state; others still fail, and do not attain their goal, and, having lost the habit of work, they fill up the disorderly houses and the night-lodging houses.

Two years ago, we took from the country a peasant boy to wait on table. For some reason, he did not get on well with the footman, and he was sent away: he entered the service of a merchant, won the favor of his master, and now he goes about with a vest and a watch- chain, and dandified boots. In his place, we took another peasant, a married man: he became a drunkard, and lost money. We took a third: he took to drunk, and, having drank up every thing he had, he suffered for a long while from poverty in the night-lodging house. An old man, the cook, took to drink and fell sick. Last year a footman who had formerly been a hard drinker, but who had refrained from liquor for five years in the country, while living in Moscow without his wife who encouraged him, took to drink again, and ruined his whole life. A young lad from our village lives with my brother as a table-servant. His grandfather, a blind old man, came to me during my sojourn in the country, and asked me to remind this grandson that he was to send ten rubies for the taxes, otherwise it would be necessary for him to sell his cow. "He keeps saying, I must dress decently," said the old man: "well, he has had some shoes made, and that's all right; but what does he want to set up a watch for?" said the grandfather, expressing in these words the most senseless supposition that it was possible to originate. The supposition really was senseless, if we take into consideration that the old man throughout Lent had eaten no butter, and that he had no split wood because he could not possibly pay one ruble and twenty kopeks for it; but it turned out that the old man's senseless jest was an actual fact. The young fellow came to see me in a fine black coat, and shoes for which he had paid eight rubles. He had recently borrowed ten rubles from my brother, and had spent them on these shoes. And my children, who have known the lad from childhood, told me that he really considers it indispensable to fit himself out with a watch. He is a very good boy, but he thinks that people will laugh at him so long as he has no watch; and a watch is necessary. During the present year, a chambermaid, a girl of eighteen, entered into a connection with the coachman in our house. She was discharged. An old woman, the nurse, with whom I spoke in regard to the unfortunate girl, reminded me of a girl whom I had forgotten. She too, ten yeans ago, during a brief stay of ours in Moscow, had become connected with a footman. She too had been discharged, and she had ended in a disorderly house, and had died in the hospital before reaching the age of twenty. It is only necessary to glance about one, to be struck with terror at the pest which we disseminate directly by our luxurious life among the people whom we afterwards wish to help, not to mention the factories and establishments which serve our luxurious tastes.

[And thus, having penetrated into the peculiar character of city poverty, which I was unable to remedy, I perceived that its prime cause is this, that I take absolute necessaries from the dwellers in the country, and carry them all to the city. The second cause is this, that by making use here, in the city, of what I have collected in the country, I tempt and lead astray, by my senseless luxury, those country people who come hither because of me, in order in some way to get back what they have been deprived of in the country.] {13}


I reached the same conclusion from a totally different point. On recalling all my relations with the city poor during that time, I saw that one of the reasons why I could not help the city poor was, that the poor were disingenuous and untruthful with me. They all looked upon me, not as a man, but as means. I could not get near them, and I thought that perhaps I did not understand how to do it; but without uprightness, no help was possible. How can one help a man who does not disclose his whole condition? At first I blamed them for this (it is so natural to blame some one else); but a remark from an observing man named Siutaeff, who was visiting me at the time, explained this matter to me, and showed me where the cause of my want of success lay. I remember that Siutaeff's remark struck me very forcibly at the time; but I only understood its full significance later on. It was at the height of my self-delusion. I was sitting with my sister, and Siutaeff was there also at her house; and my sister was questioning me about my undertaking. I told her about it, and, as always happens when you have no faith in your course, I talked to her with great enthusiasm and warmth, and at great length, of what I had done, and of what might possibly come of it. I told her every thing,--how we were going to keep track of pauperism in Moscow, how we were going to keep an eye on the orphans and old people, how we were going to send away all country people who had grown poor here, how we were going to smooth the pathway to reform for the depraved; how, if only the matter could be managed, there would not be a man left in Moscow, who could not obtain assistance. My sister sympathized with me, and we discussed it. In the middle of our conversation, I glanced at Siutaeff. As I was acquainted with his Christian life, and with the significance which he attached to charity, I expected his sympathy, and spoke so that he understood this; I talked to my sister, but directed my remarks more at him. He sat immovable in his dark tanned sheepskin jacket,--which he wore, like all peasants, both out of doors and in the house,--and as though he did not hear us, but were thinking of his own affairs. His small eyes did not twinkle, and seemed to be turned inwards. Having finished what I had to say, I turned to him with a query as to what he thought of it.

"It's all a foolish business," said he.


"Your whole society is foolish, and nothing good can come out of it," he repeated with conviction.

"Why not? Why is it a stupid business to help thousands, at any rate hundreds, of unfortunate beings? Is it a bad thing, according to the Gospel, to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry?"

"I know, I know, but that is not what you are doing. Is it necessary to render assistance in that way? You are walking along, and a man asks you for twenty kopeks. You give them to him. Is that alms? Do you give spiritual alms,--teach him. But what is it that you have given? It was only for the sake of getting rid of him."

"No; and, besides, that is not what we are talking about. We want to know about this need, and then to help by both money and deeds; and to find work."

"You can do nothing with those people in that way."

"So they are to be allowed to die of hunger and cold?"

"Why should they die? Are there many of them there?"

"What, many of them?" said I, thinking that he looked at the matter so lightly because he was not aware how vast was the number of these people.

"Why, do you know," said I, "I believe that there are twenty thousand of these cold and hungry people in Moscow. And how about Petersburg and the other cities?"

He smiled.

"Twenty thousand! And how many households are there in Russia alone, do you think? Are there a million?"

"Well, what then?"

"What then?" and his eyes flashed, and he grew animated. "Come, let us divide them among ourselves. I am not rich, I will take two persons on the spot. There is the lad whom you took into your kitchen; I invited him to come to my house, and he did not come. Were there ten times as many, let us divide them among us. Do you take some, and I will take some. We will work together. He will see how I work, and he will learn. He will see how I live, and we will sit down at the same table together, and he will hear my words and yours. This charity society of yours is nonsense."

These simple words impressed me. I could not but admit their justice; but it seemed to me at that time, that, in spite of their truth, still that which I had planned might possibly prove of service. But the further I carried this business, the more I associated with the poor, the more frequently did this remark recur to my mind, and the greater was the significance which it acquired for me.

I arrive in a costly fur coat, or with my horses; or the man who lacks shoes sees my two-thousand-ruble apartments. He sees how, a little while ago, I gave five rubles without begrudging them, merely because I took a whim to do so. He surely knows that if I give away rubles in that manner, it is only because I have hoarded up so many of them, that I have a great many superfluous ones, which I not only have not given away, but which I have easily taken from other people. [What else could he see in me but one of those persons who have got possession of what belongs to him? And what other feeling can he cherish towards me, than a desire to obtain from me as many of those rubles, which have been stolen from him and from others, as possible? I wish to get close to him, and I complain that he is not frank; and here I am, afraid to sit down on his bed for fear of getting lice, or catching something infectious; and I am afraid to admit him to my room, and he, coming to me naked, waits, generally in the vestibule, or, if very fortunate, in the ante-chamber. And yet I declare that he is to blame because I cannot enter into intimate relations with him, and because me is not frank.

Let the sternest man try the experiment of eating a dinner of five courses in the midst of people who have had very little or nothing but black bread to eat. Not a man will have the spirit to eat, and to watch how the hungry lick their chops around him. Hence, then, in order to eat daintily amid the famishing, the first indispensable requisite is to hide from them, in order that they may not see it. This is the very thing, and the first thing, that we do.

And I took a simpler view of our life, and perceived that an approach to the poor is not difficult to us through accidental causes, but that we deliberately arrange our lives in such a fashion so that this approach may be rendered difficult.

Not only this; but, on taking a survey of our life, of the life of the wealthy, I saw that every thing which is considered desirable in that life consists in, or is inseparably bound up with, the idea of getting as far away from the poor as possible. In fact, all the efforts of our well-endowed life, beginning with our food, dress, houses, our cleanliness, and even down to our education,--every thing has for its chief object, the separation of ourselves from the poor. In procuring this seclusion of ourselves by impassable barriers, we spend, to put it mildly, nine-tenths of our wealth. The first thing that a man who was grown wealthy does is to stop eating out of one bowl, and he sets up crockery, and fits himself out with a kitchen and servants. And he feeds his servants high, too, so that their mouths may not water over his dainty viands; and he eats alone; and as eating in solitude is wearisome, he plans how he may improve his food and deck his table; and the very manner of taking his food (dinner) becomes a matter for pride and vain glory with him, and his manner of taking his food becomes for him a means of sequestering himself from other men. A rich man cannot think of such a thing as inviting a poor man to his table. A man must know how to conduct ladies to table, how to bow, to sit down, to eat, to rinse out the mouth; and only rich people know all these things. The same thing occurs in the matter of clothing. If a rich man were to wear ordinary clothing, simply for the purpose of protecting his body from the cold,--a short jacket, a coat, felt and leather boots, an under- jacket, trousers, shirt,--he would require but very little, and he would not be unable, when he had two coats, to give one of them to a man who had none. But the rich man begins by procuring for himself clothing which consists entirely of separate pieces, and which is fit only for separate occasions, and which is, therefore, unsuited to the poor man. He has frock-coats, vests, pea-jackets, lacquered boots, cloaks, shoes with French heels, garments that are chopped up into bits to conform with the fashion, hunting-coats, travelling-coats, and so on, which can only be used under conditions of existence far removed from poverty. And his clothing also furnishes him with a means of keeping at a distance from the poor. The same is the case, and even more clearly, with his dwelling. In order that one may live alone in ten rooms, it is indispensable that those who live ten in one room should not see it. The richer a man is, the more difficult is he of access; the more porters there are between him and people who are not rich, the more impossible is it to conduct a poor man over rugs, and seat him in a satin chair.

The case is the same with the means of locomotion. The peasant driving in a cart, or a sledge, must be a very ill-tempered man when he will not give a pedestrian a lift; and there is both room for this and a possibility of doing it. But the richer the equipage, the farther is a man from all possibility of giving a seat to any person whatsoever. It is even said plainly, that the most stylish equipages are those meant to hold only one person.

It is precisely the same thing with the manner of life which is expressed by the word cleanliness.

Cleanliness! Who is there that does not know people, especially women, who reckon this cleanliness in themselves as a great virtue? and who is not acquainted with the devices of this cleanliness, which know no bounds, when it can command the labor of others? Which of the people who have become rich has not experienced in his own case, with what difficulty he carefully trained himself to this cleanliness, which only confirms the proverb, "Little white hands love other people's work"?

To-day cleanliness consists in changing your shirt once a day; to- morrow, in changing it twice a day. To-day it means washing the face, and neck, and hands daily; to-morrow, the feet; and day after to-morrow, washing the whole body every day, and, in addition and in particular, a rubbing-down. To-day the table-cloth is to serve for two days, to-morrow there must be one each day, then two a day. To- day the footman's hands must be clean; to-morrow he must wear gloves, and in his clean gloves he must present a letter on a clean salver. And there are no limits to this cleanliness, which is useless to everybody, and objectless, except for the purpose of separating oneself from others, and of rendering impossible all intercourse with them, when this cleanliness is attained by the labors of others.

Moreover, when I studied the subject, I because convinced that even that which is commonly called education is the very same thing.

The tongue does not deceive; it calls by its real name that which men understand under this name. What the people call culture is fashionable clothing, political conversation, clean hands,--a certain sort of cleanliness. Of such a man, it is said, in contradistinction to others, that he is an educated man. In a little higher circle, what they call education means the same thing as with the people; only to the conditions of education are added playing on the pianoforte, a knowledge of French, the writing of Russian without orthographical errors, and a still greater degree of external cleanliness. In a still more elevated sphere, education means all this with the addition of the English language, and a diploma from the highest educational institution. But education is precisely the same thing in the first, the second, and the third case. Education consists of those forms and acquirements which are calculated to separate a man from his fellows. And its object is identical with that of cleanliness,--to seclude us from the herd of poor, in order that they, the poor, may not see how we feast. But it is impossible to hide ourselves, and they do see us.

And accordingly I have become convinced that the cause of the inability of us rich people to help the poor of the city lies in the impossibility of our establishing intercourse with them; and that this impossibility of intercourse is caused by ourselves, by the whole course of our lives, by all the uses which we make of our wealth. I have become convinced that between us, the rich and the poor, there rises a wall, reared by ourselves out of that very cleanliness and education, and constructed of our wealth; and that in order to be in a condition to help the poor, we must needs, first of all, destroy this wall; and that in order to do this, confrontation after Siutaeff's method should be rendered possible, and the poor distributed among us. And from another starting-point also I came to the same conclusion to which the current of my discussions as to the causes of the poverty in towns had led me: the cause was our wealth.] {14}


I began to examine the matter from a third and wholly personal point of view. Among the phenomena which particularly impressed me, during the period of my charitable activity, there was yet another, and a very strange one, for which I could for a long time find no explanation. It was this: every time that I chanced, either on the street on in the house, to give some small coin to a poor man, without saying any thing to him, I saw, or thought that I saw, contentment and gratitude on the countenance of the poor man, and I myself experienced in this form of benevolence an agreeable sensation. I saw that I had done what the man wished and expected from me. But if I stopped the poor man, and sympathetically questioned him about his former and his present life, I felt that it was no longer possible to give three or twenty kopeks, and I began to fumble in my purse for money, in doubt as to how much I ought to give, and I always gave more; and I always noticed that the poor man left me dissatisfied. But if I entered into still closer intercourse with the poor man, then my doubts as to how much to give increased also; and, no matter how much I gave, the poor man grew ever more sullen and discontented. As a general rule, it always turned out thus, that if I gave, after conversation with a poor man, three rubles or even more, I almost always beheld gloom, displeasure, and even ill-will, on the countenance of the poor man; and I have even known it to happen, that, having received ten rubles, he went off without so much as saying "Thank you," exactly as though I had insulted him.

And thereupon I felt awkward and ashamed, and almost guilty. But if I followed up a poor man for weeks and months and years, and assisted him, and explained my views to him, and associated with him, our relations became a torment, and I perceived that the man despised me. And I felt that he was in the right.

If I go out into the street, and he, standing in that street, begs of me among the number of the other passers-by, people who walk and ride past him, and I give him money, I then am to him a passer-by, and a good, kind passer-by, who bestows on him that thread from which a shirt is made for the naked man; he expects nothing more than the thread, and if I give it he thanks me sincerely. But if I stop him, and talk with him as man with man, I thereby show him that I desire to be something more than a mere passer-by. If, as often happens, he weeps while relating to me his woes, then he sees in me no longer a passer-by, but that which I desire that he should see: a good man. But if I am a good man, my goodness cannot pause at a twenty-kopek piece, nor at ten rubles, nor at ten thousand; it is impossible to be a little bit of a good man. Let us suppose that I have given him a great deal, that I have fitted him out, dressed him, set him on his feet so that the can live without outside assistance; but for some reason or other, though misfortune or his own weakness or vices, he is again without that coat, that linen, and that money which I have given him; he is again cold and hungry, and he has come again to me,- -how can I refuse him? [For if the cause of my action consisted in the attainment of a definite, material end, on giving him so many rubles or such and such a coat I might be at ease after having bestowed them. But the cause of my action is not this: the cause is, that I want to be a good man, that is to say, I want to see myself in every other man. Every man understands goodness thus, and in no other manner.] {15} And therefore, if he should drink away every thing that you had given him twenty times, and if he should again be cold and hungry, you cannot do otherwise than give him more, if you are a good man; you can never cease giving to him, if you have more than he has. And if you draw back, you will thereby show that every thing that you have done, you have done not because you are a good man, but because you wished to appear a good man in his sight, and in the sight of men.

And thus in the case with the men from whom I chanced to recede, to whom I ceased to give, and, by this action, denied good, I experienced a torturing sense of shame.

What sort of shame was this? This shame I had experienced in the Lyapinsky house, and both before and after that in the country, when I happened to give money or any thing else to the poor, and in my expeditions among the city poor.

A mortifying incident that occurred to me not long ago vividly reminded me of that shame, and led me to an explanation of that shame which I had felt when bestowing money on the poor.

[This happened in the country. I wanted twenty kopeks to give to a poor pilgrim; I sent my son to borrow them from some one; he brought the pilgrim a twenty-kopek piece, and told me that he had borrowed it from the cook. A few days afterwards some more pilgrims arrived, and again I was in want of a twenty-kopek piece. I had a ruble; I recollected that I was in debt to the cook, and I went to the kitchen, hoping to get some more small change from the cook. I said: "I borrowed a twenty-kopek piece from you, so here is a ruble." I had not finished speaking, when the cook called in his wife from another room: "Take it, Parasha," said he. I, supposing that she understood what I wanted, handed her the ruble. I must state that the cook had only lived with me a week, and, though I had seen his wife, I had never spoken to her. I was just on the point of saying to her that she was to give me some small coins, when she bent swiftly down to my hand, and tried to kiss it, evidently imaging that I had given her the ruble. I muttered something, and quitted the kitchen. I was ashamed, ashamed to the verge of torture, as I had not been for a long time. I shrank together; I was conscious that I was making grimaces, and I groaned with shame as I fled from the kitchen. This utterly unexpected, and, as it seemed to me, utterly undeserved shame, made a special impression on me, because it was a long time since I had been mortified, and because I, as an old man, had so lived, it seemed to me, that I had not merited this shame. I was forcibly struck by this. I told the members of my household about it, I told my acquaintances, and they all agreed that they should have felt the same. And I began to reflect: why had this caused me such shame? To this, something which had happened to me in Moscow furnished me with an answer.

I meditated on that incident, and the shame which I had experienced in the presence of the cook's wife was explained to me, and all those sensations of mortification which I had undergone during the course of my Moscow benevolence, and which I now feel incessantly when I have occasion to give any one any thing except that petty alms to the poor and to pilgrims, which I have become accustomed to bestow, and which I consider a deed not of charity but of courtesy. If a man asks you for a light, you must strike a match for him, if you have one. If a man asks for three or for twenty kopeks, or even for several rubles, you must give them if you have them. This is an act of courtesy and not of charity.] {16}

This was the case in question: I have already mentioned the two peasants with whom I was in the habit of sawing wood three yeans ago. One Saturday evening at dusk, I was returning to the city in their company. They were going to their employer to receive their wages. As we were crossing the Dragomilovsky bridge, we met an old man. He asked alms, and I gave him twenty kopeks. I gave, and reflected on the good effect which my charity would have on Semyon, with whom I had been conversing on religious topics. Semyon, the Vladimir peasant, who had a wife and two children in Moscow, halted also, pulled round the skirt of his kaftan, and got out his purse, and from this slender purse he extracted, after some fumbling, three kopeks, handed it to the old man, and asked for two kopeks in change. The old man exhibited in his hand two three-kopek pieces and one kopek. Semyon looked at them, was about to take the kopek, but thought better of it, pulled off his hat, crossed himself, and walked on, leaving the old man the three-kopek piece.

I was fully acquainted with Semyon's financial condition. He had no property at home at all. The money which he had laid by on the day when he gave three kopeks amounted to six rubles and fifty kopeks. Accordingly, six rubles and twenty kopeks was the sum of his savings. My reserve fund was in the neighborhood of six hundred thousand. I had a wife and children, Semyon had a wife and children. He was younger than I, and his children were fewer in number than mine; but his children were small, and two of mine were of an age to work, so that our position, with the exception of the savings, was on an equality; mine was somewhat the more favorable, if any thing. He gave three kopeks, I gave twenty. What did he really give, and what did I really give? What ought I to have given, in order to do what Semyon had done? he had six hundred kopeks; out of this he gave one, and afterwards two. I had six hundred thousand rubles. In order to give what Semyon had given, I should have been obliged to give three thousand rubles, and ask for two thousand in change, and then leave the two thousand with the old man, cross myself, and go my way, calmly conversing about life in the factories, and the cost of liver in the Smolensk market.

I thought of this at the time; but it was only long afterwards that I was in a condition to draw from this incident that deduction which inevitably results from it. This deduction is so uncommon and so singular, apparently, that, in spite of its mathematical infallibility, one requires time to grow used to it. It does seem as though there must be some mistake, but mistake there is none. There is merely the fearful mist of error in which we live.

[This deduction, when I arrived at it, and when I recognized its undoubted truth, furnished me with an explanation of my shame in the presence of the cook's wife, and of all the poor people to whom I had given and to whom I still give money.

What, in point of fact, is that money which I give to the poor, and which the cook's wife thought I was giving to her? In the majority of cases, it is that portion of my substance which it is impossible even to express in figures to Semyon and the cook's wife,--it is generally one millionth part or about that. I give so little that the bestowal of any money is not and cannot be a deprivation to me; it is only a pleasure in which I amuse myself when the whim seizes me. And it was thus that the cook's wife understood it. If I give to a man who steps in from the street one ruble or twenty kopeks, why should not I give her a ruble also? In the opinion of the cook's wife, such a bestowal of money is precisely the same as the flinging of honey-cakes to the people by gentlemen; it furnishes the people who have a great deal of superfluous cash with amusement. I was mortified because the mistake made by the cook's wife demonstrated to me distinctly the view which she, and all people who are not rich, must take of me: "He is flinging away his folly, i.e., his unearned money."

As a matter of fact, what is my money, and whence did it come into my possession? A portion of it I accumulated from the land which I received from my father. A peasant sold his last sheep or cow in order to give the money to me. Another portion of my money is the money which I have received for my writings, for my books. If my books are hurtful, I only lead astray those who purchase them, and the money which I receive for them is ill-earned money; but if my books are useful to people, then the issue is still more disastrous. I do not give them to people: I say, "Give me seventeen rubles, and I will give them to you." And as the peasant sells his last sheep, in this case the poor student or teacher, or any other poor man, deprives himself of necessaries in order to give me this money. And so I have accumulated a great deal of money in that way, and what do I do with it? I take that money to the city, and bestow it on the poor, only when they fulfil my caprices, and come hither to the city to clean my sidewalk, lamps, and shoes; to work for me in factories. And in return for this money, I force from them every thing that I can; that is to say, I try to give them as little as possible, and to receive as much as possible from them. And all at once I begin, quite unexpectedly, to bestow this money as a simple gift, on these same poor persons, not on all, but on those to whom I take a fancy. Why should not every poor person expect that it is quite possible that the luck may fall to him of being one of those with whom I shall amuse myself by distributing my superfluous money? And so all look upon me as the cook's wife did.

And I had gone so far astray that this taking of thousands from the poor with one hand, and this flinging of kopeks with the other, to those to whom the whim moved me to give, I called good. No wonder that I felt ashamed.] {17}

Yes, before doing good it was needful for me to stand outside of evil, in such conditions that I might cease to do evil. But my whole life is evil. I may give away a hundred thousand rubles, and still I shall not be in a position to do good because I shall still have five hundred thousand left. Only when I have nothing shall I be in a position to do the least particle of good, even as much as the prostitute did which she nursed the sick women and her child for three days. And that seemed so little to me! And I dared to think of good myself! That which, on the first occasion, told me, at the sight of the cold and hungry in the Lyapinsky house, that I was to blame for this, and that to live as I live is impossible, and impossible, and impossible,--that alone was true.

What, then, was I to do?


It was hard for me to come to this confession, but when I had come to it I was shocked at the error in which I had been living. I stood up to my ears in the mud, and yet I wanted to drag others out of this mud.

What is it that I wish in reality? I wish to do good to others. I wish to do it so that other people may not be cold and hungry, so that others may live as it is natural for people to live.

[I wish this, and I see that in consequence of the violence, extortions, and various tricks in which I take part, people who toil are deprived of necessaries, and people who do not toil, in whose ranks I also belong, enjoy in superabundance the toil of other people.

I see that this enjoyment of the labors of others is so arranged, that the more rascally and complicated the trickery which is employed by the man himself, or which has been employed by the person from whom he obtained his inheritance, the more does he enjoy of the labors of others, and the less does he contribute of his own labor.

First come the Shtiglitzy, Dervizy, Morozovy, the Demidoffs, the Yusapoffs; then great bankers, merchants, officials, landed proprietors, among whom I also belong; then the poor--very small traders, dramshop-keepers, usurers, district judges, overseers, teachers, sacristans, clerks; then house-porters, lackeys, coachmen, watch-carriers, cab-drivers, peddlers; and last of all, the laboring classes--factory-hands and peasants, whose numbers bear the relation to the first named of ten to one. I see that the life of nine-tenths of the working classes demands, by reason of its nature, application and toil, as does every natural life; but that, in consequence of the sharp practices which take from these people what is indispensable, and place them in such oppressive conditions, this life becomes more difficult every year, and more filled with deprivations; but our life, the life of the non-laboring classes, thanks to the co- operation of the arts and sciences which are directed to this object, becomes more filled with superfluities, more attractive and careful, with every year. I see, that, in our day, the life of the working- man, and, in particular, the life of old men, of women, and of children of the working population, is perishing directly from their food, which is utterly inadequate to their fatiguing labor; and that this life of theirs is not free from care as to its very first requirements; and that, alongside of this, the life of the non- laboring classes, to which I belong, is filled more and more, every year, with superfluities and luxury, and becomes more and more free from anxiety, and has finally reached such a point of freedom from care, in the case of its fortunate members, of whom I am one, as was only dreamed of in olden times in fairy-tales,--the state of the owner of the purse with the inexhaustible ruble, that is, a condition in which a man is not only utterly released from the law of labor, but in which he possesses the possibility of enjoying, without toil, all the blessings of life, and of transferring to his children, or to any one whom he may see fit, this purse with the inexhaustible ruble.

I see that the products of the people's toil are more and more transformed from the mass of the working classes to those who do not work; that the pyramid of the social edifice seems to be reconstructed in such fashion that the foundation stones are carried to the apex, and the swiftness of this transfer is increasing in a sort of geometrical ratio. I see that the result of this is something like that which would take place in an ant-heap if the community of ants were to lose their sense of the common law, if some ants were to begin to draw the products of labor from the bottom to the top of the heap, and should constantly contract the foundations and broaden the apex, and should thereby also force the remaining ants to betake themselves from the bottom to the summit.

I see that the ideal of the Fortunatus' purse has made its way among the people, in the place of the ideal of a toilsome life. Rich people, myself among the number, get possession of the inexhaustible ruble by various devices, and for the purpose of enjoying it we go to the city, to the place where nothing is produced and where every thing is swallowed up.

The industrious poor man, who is robbed in order that the rich may possess this inexhaustible ruble, yearns for the city in his train; and there he also takes to sharp practices, and either acquires for himself a position in which he can work little and receive much, thereby rendering still more oppressive the situation of the laboring classes, or, not having attained to such a position, he goes to ruin, and falls into the ranks of those cold and hungry inhabitants of the night-lodging houses, which are being swelled with such remarkable rapidity.

I belong to the class of those people, who, by divers tricks, take from the toiling masses the necessaries of life, and who have acquired for themselves these inexhaustible rubles, and who lead these unfortunates astray. I desire to aid people, and therefore it is clear that, first of all, I must cease to rob them as I am doing. But I, by the most complicated, and cunning, and evil practices, which have been heaped up for centuries, have acquired for myself the position of an owner of the inexhaustible ruble, that is to say, one in which, never working myself, I can make hundreds and thousands of people toil for me--which also I do; and I imagine that I pity people, and I wish to assist them. I sit on a man's neck, I weigh him down, and I demand that he shall carry me; and without descending from his shoulders I assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him, and that I desire to ameliorate his condition by all possible means, only not by getting off of him.

Surely this is simple enough. If I want to help the poor, that is, to make the poor no longer poor, I must not produce poor people. And I give, at my own selection, to poor men who have gone astray from the path of life, a ruble, or ten rubles, or a hundred; and I grasp hundreds from people who have not yet left the path, and thereby I render them poor also, and demoralize them to boot.

This is very simple; but it was horribly hard for me to understand this fully without compromises and reservations, which might serve to justify my position; but it sufficed for me to confess my guilt, and every thing which had before seemed to me strange and complicated, and lacking in cleanness, became perfectly comprehensible and simple. But the chief point was, that my way of life, arising from this interpretation, became simple, clear and pleasant, instead of perplexed, inexplicable and full of torture as before.] {18}

Who am I, that I should desire to help others? I desire to help people; and I, rising at twelve o'clock after a game of vint {19} with four candles, weak, exhausted, demanding the aid of hundreds of people,--I go to the aid of whom? Of people who rise at five o'clock, who sleep on planks, who nourish themselves on bread and cabbage, who know how to plough, to reap, to wield the axe, to chop, to harness, to sew,--of people who in strength and endurance, and skill and abstemiousness, are a hundred times superior to me,--and I go to their succor! What except shame could I feel, when I entered into communion with these people? The very weakest of them, a drunkard, an inhabitant of the Rzhanoff house, the one whom they call "the idler," is a hundred-fold more industrious than I; [his balance, so to speak, that is to say, the relation of what he takes from people and that which they give him, stands on a thousand times better footing than my balance, if I take into consideration what I take from people and what I give to them.] {18}

And these are the people to whose assistance I go. I go to help the poor. But who is the poor man? There is no one poorer than myself. I am a thoroughly enervated, good-for-nothing parasite, who can only exist under the most special conditions, who can only exist when thousands of people toil at the preservation of this life which is utterly useless to every one. And I, that plant-louse, which devours the foliage of trees, wish to help the tree in its growth and health, and I wish to heal it.

I have passed my whole life in this manner: I eat, I talk and I listen; I eat, I write or read, that is to say, I talk and listen again; I eat, I play, I eat, again I talk and listen, I eat, and again I go to bed; and so each day I can do nothing else, and I understand how to do nothing else. And in order that I may be able to do this, it is necessary that the porter, the peasant, the cook, male or female, the footman, the coachman, and the laundress, should toil from morning till night; I will not refer to the labors of the people which are necessary in order that coachman, cooks, male and female, footman, and the rest should have those implements and articles with which, and over which, they toil for my sake; axes, tubs, brushes, household utensils, furniture, wax, blacking, kerosene, hay, wood, and beef. And all these people work hard all day long and every day, so that I may be able to talk and eat and sleep. And I, this cripple of a man, have imagined that I could help others, and those the very people who support me!

It is not remarkable that I could not help any one, and that I felt ashamed; but the remarkable point is that such an absurd idea could have occurred to me. The woman who served the sick old man, helped him; the mistress of the house, who cut a slice from the bread which she had won from the soil, helped the beggar; Semyon, who gave three kopeks which he had earned, helped the beggar, because those three kopeks actually represented his labor: but I served no one, I toiled for no one, and I was well aware that my money did not represent my labor.


Into the delusion that I could help others I was led by the fact that I fancied that my money was of the same sort as Semyon's. But this was not the case.

A general idea prevails, that money represents wealth; but wealth is the product of labor; and, therefore, money represents labor. But this idea is as just as that every governmental regulation is the result of a compact (contrat social).

Every one likes to think that money is only a medium of exchange for labor. I have made shoes, you have raised grain, he has reared sheep: here, in order that we may the more readily effect an exchange, we will institute money, which represents a corresponding quantity of labor, and, by means of it, we will barter our shoes for a breast of lamb and ten pounds of flour. We will exchange our products through the medium of money, and the money of each one of us represents our labor.

This is perfectly true, but true only so long as, in the community where this exchange is effected, the violence of one man over the rest has not made its appearance; not only violence over the labors of others, as happens in wars and slavery, but where he exercises no violence for the protection of the products of their labor from others. This will be true only in a community whose members fully carry out the Christian law, in a community where men give to him who asks, and where he who takes is not asked to make restitution. But just so soon as any violence whatever is used in the community, the significance of money for its possessor loses its significance as a representative of labor, and acquires the significance of a right founded, not on labor, but on violence.

As soon as there is war, and one man has taken any thing from any other man, money can no longer be always the representative of labor; money received by a warrior for the spoils of war, which he sells, even if he is the commander of the warriors, is in no way a product of labor, and possesses an entirely different meaning from money received for work on shoes. As soon as there are slave-owners and slaves, as there always have been throughout the whole world, it is utterly impossible to say that money represents labor.

Women have woven linen, sold it, and received money; serfs have woven for their master, and the master has sold them and received the money. The money is identical in both cases; but in the one case it is the product of labor, in the other the product of violence. In exactly the same way, a stranger or my own father has given me money; and my father, when he gave me that money, knew, and I know, and everybody knows, that no one can take this money away from me; but if it should occur to any one to take it away from me, or even not to hand it over at the date when it was promised, the law would intervene on my behalf, and would compel the delivery to me of the money; and, again, it is evident that this money can in no wise be called the equivalent of labor, on a level with the money received by Semyon for chopping wood. So that in any community where there is any thing that in any manner whatever controls the labor of others, or where violence hedges in, by means of money, its possessions from others, there money is no longer invariably the representative of labor. In such a community, it is sometimes the representative of labor, and sometimes of violence.

Thus it would be where only one act of violence from one man against others, in the midst of perfectly free relations, should have made its appearance; but now, when centuries of the most varied deeds of violence have passed for accumulations of money, when these deeds of violence are incessant, and merely alter their forms; when, as every one admits, money accumulated itself represents violence; when money, as a representative of direct labor, forms but a very small portion of the money which is derived from every sort of violence,--to say nowadays that money represents the labor of the person who possesses it, is a self-evident error or a deliberate lie.

It may be said, that thus it should be; it may be said, that this is desirable; but by no means can it be said, that thus it is.

Money represents labor. Yes. Money does represent labor; but whose? In our society only in the very rarest, rarest of instances, does money represent the labor of its possessor, but it nearly always represents the labor of other people, the past or future labor of men; it is a representative of the obligation of others to labor, which has been established by force.

Money, in its most accurate and at the same the simple application, is the conventional stamp which confers a right, or, more correctly, a possibility, of taking advantage of the labors of other people. In its ideal significance, money should confer this right, or this possibility, only when it serves as the equivalent of labor, and such money might be in a community in which no violence existed. But just as soon as violence, that is to say, the possibility of profiting by the labors of others without toil of one's own, exists in a community, then that profiting by the labors of other men is also expressed by money, without any distinction of the persons on whom that violence is exercised.

The landed proprietor has imposed upon his serfs natural debts, a certain quantity of linen, grain, and cattle, or a corresponding amount of money. One household has procured the cattle, but has paid money in lieu of linen. The proprietor takes the money to a certain amount only, because he knows that for that money they will make him the same quantity of linen, (generally he takes a little more, in order to be sure that they will make it for the same amount); and this money, evidently, represents for the proprietor the obligation of other people to toil.

The peasant gives the money as an obligation, to he knows not whom, but to people, and there are many of them, who undertake for this money to make so much linen. But the people who undertake to make the linen, do so because they have not succeeded in raising sheep, and in place of the sheep, they must pay money; but the peasant who takes money for his sheep takes it because he must pay for grain which did not bear well this year. The same thing goes on throughout this realm, and throughout the whole world.

A man sells the product of his labor, past, present or to come, sometimes his food, and generally not because money constitutes for him a convenient means of exchange. He could have effected the barter without money, but he does so because money is exacted from him by violence as a lien on his labor.

When the sovereign of Egypt exacted labor from his slaves, the slaves gave all their labor, but only their past and present labor, their future labor they could not give. But with the dissemination of money tokens, and the credit which had its rise in them, it became possible to sell one's future toil for money. Money, with co- existent violence in the community, only represents the possibility of a new form of impersonal slavery, which has taken the place of personal slavery. The slave-owner has a right to the labor of Piotr, Ivan, and Sidor. But the owner of money, in a place where money is demanded from all, has a right to the toil of all those nameless people who are in need of money. Money has set aside all the oppressive features of slavery, under which an owner knows his right to Ivan, and with them it has set aside all humane relations between the owner and the slave, which mitigated the burden of personal thraldom.

I will not allude to the fact, that such a condition of things is, possibly, necessary for the development of mankind, for progress, and so forth,--that I do not contest. I have merely tried to elucidate to myself the idea of money, and that universal error into which I fell when I accepted money as the representative of labor. I became convinced, after experience, that money is not the representative of labor, but, in the majority of cases, the representative of violence, or of especially complicated sharp practices founded on violence.

Money, in our day, has completely lost that significance which it is very desirable that it should possess, as the representative of one's own labor; such a significance it has only as an exception, but, as a general rule, it has been converted into a right or a possibility of profiting by the toil of others.

The dissemination of money, of credit, and of all sorts of money tokens, confirms this significance of money ever more and more. Money is a new form of slavery, which differs from the old form of slavery only in its impersonality, its annihilation of all humane relations with the slave.

Money--money, is a value which is always equal to itself, and is always considered legal and righteous, and whose use is regarded as not immoral, just as the right of slavery was regarded.

In my young days, the game of loto was introduced into the clubs. Everybody rushed to play it, and, as it was said, many ruined themselves, rendered their families miserable, lost other people's money, and government funds, and committed suicide; and the game was prohibited, and it remains prohibited to this day.

I remember to have seen old and unsentimental gamblers, who told me that this game was particularly pleasing because you did not see from whom you were winning, as is the case in other games; a lackey brought, not money, but chips; each man lost a little stake, and his disappointment was not visible . . . It is the same with roulette, which is everywhere prohibited, and not without reason.

It is the same with money. I possess a magic, inexhaustible ruble; I cut off my coupons, and have retired from all the business of the world. Whom do I injure,--I, the most inoffensive and kindest of men? But this is nothing more than playing at loto or roulette, where I do not see the man who shoots himself, because of his losses, after procuring for me those coupons which I cut off from the bonds so accurately with a strictly right-angled corner.

I have done nothing, I do nothing, and I shall do nothing, except cut off those coupons; and I firmly believe that money is the representative of labor! Surely, this is amazing! And people talk of madmen, after that! Why, what degree of lunacy can be more frightful than this? A sensible, educated, in all other respects sane man lives in a senseless manner, and soothes himself for not uttering the word which it is indispensably necessary that he should utter, with the idea that there is some sense in his conclusions, and he considers himself a just man. Coupons--the representatives of toil! Toil! Yes, but of whose toil? Evidently not of the man who owns them, but of him who labors.

Slavery is far from being suppressed. It has been suppressed in Rome and in America, and among us: but only certain laws have been abrogated; only the word, not the thing, has been put down. Slavery is the freeing of ourselves alone from the toil which is necessary for the satisfaction of our demands, by the transfer of this toil to others; and wherever there exists a man who does not work, not because others work lovingly for him, but where he possesses the power of not working, and forces others to work for him, there slavery exists. There too, where, as in all European societies, there are people who make use of the labor of thousands of men, and regard this as their right,--there slavery exists in its broadest measure.

And money is the same thing as slavery. Its object and its consequences are the same. Its object is--that one may rid one's self of the first born of all laws, as a profoundly thoughtful writer from the ranks of the people has expressed it; from the natural law of life, as we have called it; from the law of personal labor for the satisfaction of our own wants. And the results of money are the same as the results of slavery, for the proprietor; the creation, the invention of new and ever new and never-ending demands, which can never be satisfied; the enervation of poverty, vice, and for the slaves, the persecution of man and their degradation to the level of the beasts.

Money is a new and terrible form of slavery, and equally demoralizing with the ancient form of slavery for both slave and slave-owner; only much worse, because it frees the slave and the slave-owner from their personal, humane relations.]


I am always surprised by the oft-repeated words: "Yes, this is so in theory, but how is it in practice?" Just as though theory were fine words, requisite for conversation, but not for the purpose of having all practice, that is, all activity, indispensably founded on them. There must be a fearful number of stupid theories current in the world, that such an extraordinary idea should have become prevalent. Theory is what a man thinks on a subject, but its practice is what he does. How can a man think it necessary to do so and so, and then do the contrary? If the theory of baking bread is, that it must first be mixed, and then set to rise, no one except a lunatic, knowing this theory, would do the reverse. But it has become the fashion with us to say, that "this is so in theory, but how about the practice?"

In the matter which interests me now, that has been confirmed which I have always thought,--that practice infallibly flows from theory, and not that it justifies it, but it cannot possibly be otherwise, for if I have understood the thing of which I have been thinking, then I cannot carry out this thing otherwise than as I have understood it.

I wanted to help the unfortunate only because I had money, and I shared the general belief that money was the representative of labor, or, on the whole, something legal and good. But, having begun to give away this money, I saw, when I gave the bills which I had accumulated from poor people, that I was doing precisely that which was done by some landed proprietors who made some of their serfs wait on others. I saw that every use of money, whether for making purchases, or for giving away without an equivalent to another, is handing over a note for extortion from the poor, or its transfer to another man for extortion from the poor. I saw that money in itself was not only not good, but evidently evil, and that it deprives us of our highest good,--labor, and thereby of the enjoyment of our labor, and that that blessing I was not in a position to confer on any one, because I was myself deprived of it: I do not work, and I take no pleasure in making use of the labor of others.

It would appear that there is something peculiar in this abstract argument as to the nature of money. But this argument which I have made not for the sake of argument, but for the solution of the problem of my life, of my sufferings, was for me an answer to my question: What is to be done?

As soon as I grasped the meaning of riches, and of money, it not only became clear and indisputable to me, what I ought to do, but also clear and indisputable what others ought to do, because they would infallibly do it. I had only actually come to understand what I had known for a long time previously, the theory which was given to men from the very earliest times, both by Buddha, and Isaiah, and Lao- Tze, and Socrates, and in a peculiarly clear and indisputable manner by Jesus Christ and his forerunner, John the Baptist. John the Baptist, in answer to the question of the people,--What were they to do? replied simply, briefly, and clearly: "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise" (Luke iii. 10, 11). In a similar manner, but with even greater clearness, and on many occasions, Christ spoke. He said: "Blessed are the poor, and woe to the rich." He said that it is impossible to serve God and mammon. He forbade his disciples to take not only money, but also two garments. He said to the rich young man, that he could not enter into the kingdom of heaven because he was rich, and that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He said that he who should not leave every thing, houses and children and lands, and follow him, could not be his disciple. He told the parable of the rich man who did nothing bad, like our own rich men, but who only arrayed himself in costly garments, and ate and drank daintily, and who lost his soul thereby; and of poor Lazarus, who had done nothing good, but who was saved merely because he was poor.

This theory was sufficiently familiar to me, but the false teachings of the world had so obscured it that it had become for me a theory in the sense which people are fond of attributing to that term, that is to say, empty words. But as soon as I had succeeded in destroying in my consciousness the sophisms of worldly teaching, theory conformed to practice, and the truth with regard to my life and to the life of the people about me became its conclusion.

I understood that man, besides life for his own personal good, is unavoidably bound to serve the good of others also; that, if we take an illustration from the animal kingdom,--as some people are fond of doing, defending violence and conflict by the conflict for existence in the animal kingdom,--the illustration must be taken from gregarious animals, like bees; that consequently man, not to mention the love to his neighbor incumbent on him, is called upon, both by reason and by his nature, to serve other people and the common good of humanity. I comprehended that the natural law of man is that according to which only he can fulfil destiny, and therefore be happy. I understood that this law has been and is broken hereby,-- that people get rid of labor by force (like the robber bees), make use of the toil of others, directing this toil, not to the common weal, but to the private satisfaction of swift-growing desires; and, precisely as in the case of the robber bees, they perish in consequence. [I understood that the original form of this disinclination for the law is the brutal violence against weaker individuals, against women, wars and imprisonments, whose sequel is slavery, and also the present reign of money. I understood that money is the impersonal and concealed enslavement of the poor. And, once having perceived the significance of money as slavery, I could not but hate it, nor refrain from doing all in my power to free myself from it.] {21}

When I was a slave-owner, and comprehended the immorality of my position, I tried to escape from it. My escape consisted in this, that I, regarding it as immoral, tried to exercise my rights as slave-owner as little as possible, but to live, and to allow other people to live, as though that right did not exist. And I cannot refrain from doing the same thing now in reference to the present form of slavery,--exercising my right to the labor of others as little as possible, i.e., hiring and purchasing as little as possible.

The root of every slavery is the use of the labor of others; and hence, the compelling others to it is founded indifferently on my right to the slave, or on my possession of money which is indispensable to him. If I really do not approve, and if I regard as an evil, the employment of the labor of others, then I shall use neither my right nor my money for that purpose; I shall not compel others to toil for me, but I shall endeavor to free them from the labor which they have performed for me, as far as possible, either by doing without this labor or by performing it for myself.

And this very simple and unavoidable deduction enters into all the details of my life, effects a total change in it, and at one blow releases me from those moral sufferings which I have undergone at the sight of the sufferings and the vice of the people, and instantly annihilates all three causes of my inability to aid the poor, which I had encountered while seeking the cause of my lack of success.

The first cause was the herding of the people in towns, and the absorption there of the wealth of the country. All that a man needs is to understand how every hiring or purchase is a handle to extortion from the poor, and that therefore he must abstain from them, and must try to fulfil his own requirements; and not a single man will then quit the country, where all wants can be satisfied without money, for the city, where it is necessary to buy every thing: and in the country he will be in a position to help the needy, as has been my own experience and the experience of every one else.

The second cause is the estrangement of the rich from the poor. A man needs but to refrain from buying, from hiring, and, disdaining no sort of work, to satisfy his requirements himself, and the former estrangement will immediately be annihilated, and the man, having rejected luxury and the services of others, will amalgamate with the mass of the working people, and, standing shoulder to shoulder with the working people, he can help them.

The third cause was shame, founded on a consciousness of immorality in my owning that money with which I desired to help people. All that is required is: to understand the significance of money as impersonal slavery, which it has acquired among us, in order to escape for the future from falling into the error according to which money, though evil in itself, can be an instrument of good, and in order to refrain from acquiring money; and to rid one's self of it in order to be in a position to do good to people, that is, to bestow on them one's labor, and not the labor of another.


[I saw that money is the cause of suffering and vice among the people, and that, if I desired to help people, the first thing that was required of me was not to create those unfortunates whom I wished to assist.

I came to the conclusion that the man who does not love vice and the suffering of the people should not make use of money, thus presenting an inducement to extortion from the poor, by forcing them to work for him; and that, in order not to make use of the toil of others, he must demand as little from others as possible, and work as much as possible himself.] {22}

By dint of a long course of reasoning, I came to this inevitable conclusion, which was drawn thousands of years ago by the Chinese in the saying, "If there is one idle man, there is another dying with hunger to offset him.

[Then what are we to do? John the Baptist gave the answer to this very question two thousand years ago. And when the people asked him, "What are we to do?" he said, "Let him that hath two garments impart to him that hath none, and let him that hath meat do the same." What is the meaning of giving away one garment out of two, and half of one's food? It means giving to others every superfluity, and thenceforth taking nothing superfluous from people.

This expedient, which furnishes such perfect satisfaction to the moral feelings, kept my eyes fast bound, and binds all our eyes; and we do not see it, but gaze aside.

This is precisely like a personage on the stage, who had entered a long time since, and all the spectators see him, and it is obvious that the actors cannot help seeing him, but the point on the stage lies in the acting characters pretending not to see him, and in suffering from his absence.] {23}

Thus we, in our efforts to recover from our social diseases, search in all quarters, governmental and anti-governmental, and in scientific and in philanthropic superstitions; and we do not see what is perfectly visible to every eye.

For the man who really suffers from the sufferings of the people who surround us, there exists the very plainest, simplest, and easiest means; the only possible one for the cure of the evil about us, and for the acquisition of a consciousness of the legitimacy of his life; the one given by John the Baptist, and confirmed by Christ: not to have more than one garment, and not to have money. And not to have any money, means, not to employ the labor of others, and hence, first of all, to do with our own hands every thing that we can possibly do.

This is so clear and simple! But it is clear and simple when the requirements are simple. I live in the country. I lie on the oven, and I order my debtor, my neighbor, to chop wood and light my fire. It is very clear that I am lazy, and that I tear my neighbor away from his affairs, and I shall feel mortified, and I shall find it tiresome to lie still all the time; and I shall go and split my wood for myself.

But the delusion of slavery of all descriptions lies so far back, so much of artificial exaction has sprung up upon it, so many people, accustomed in different degrees to these habits, are interwoven with each other, enervated people, spoiled for generations, and such complicated delusions and justifications for their luxury and idleness have been devised by people, that it is far from being so easy for a man who stands at the summit of the ladder of idle people to understand his sin, as it is for the peasant who has made his neighbor build his fire.

It is terribly difficult for people at the top of this ladder to understand what is required of them. [Their heads are turned by the height of this ladder of lies, upon which they find themselves when a place on the ground is offered to them, to which they must descend in order to begin to live, not yet well, but no longer cruelly, inhumanly; for this reason, this clear and simple truth appears strange to these people. For the man with ten servants, liveries, coachmen, cooks, pictures, pianofortes, that will infallibly appear strange, and even ridiculous, which is the simplest, the first act of--I will not say every good man--but of every man who is not wicked: to cut his own wood with which his food is cooked, and with which he warms himself; to himself clean those boots with which he has heedlessly stepped in the mire; to himself fetch that water with which he preserves his cleanliness, and to carry out that dirty water in which he has washed himself.] {24}

But, besides the remoteness of people from the truth, there is another cause which prevents people from seeing the obligation for them of the simplest and most natural personal, physical labor for themselves: this is the complication, the inextricability of the conditions, the advantage of all the people who are bound together among themselves by money, in which the rich man lives: My luxurious life feeds people. What would become of my old valet if I were to discharge him? What! we must all do every thing necessary,--make our clothes and hew wood? . . . And how about the division of labor?"

[This morning I stepped out into the corridor where the fires were being built. A peasant was making a fire in the stove which warms my son's room. I went in; the latter was asleep. It was eleven o'clock in the morning. To-day is a holiday: there is some excuse, there are no lessons.

The smooth-skinned, eighteen-year-old youth, with a beard, who had eaten his fill on the preceding evening, sleeps until eleven o'clock. But the peasant of his age had been up at dawn, and had got through a quantity of work, and was attending to his tenth stove, while the former slept. "The peasant shall not make the fire in his stove to warm that smooth, lazy body of his!" I thought. But I immediately recollected that this stove also warmed the room of the housekeeper, a woman forty years of age, who, on the evening before, had been making preparations up to three o'clock in the morning for the supper which my son had eaten, and that she had cleared the table, and risen at seven, nevertheless. The peasant was building the fire for her also. And under her name the lazybones was warming himself.

It is true that the interests of all are interwoven; but, even without any prolonged reckoning, the conscience of each man will say on whose side lies labor, and on whose idleness. But although conscience says this, the account-book, the cash-book, says it still more clearly. The more money any one spends, the more idle he is, that is to say, the more he makes others work for him. The less he spends, the more he works.] {25} But trade, but public undertakings, and, finally, the most terrible of words, culture, the development of sciences, and the arts,--what of them?

[If I live I will make answer to those points, and in detail; and until such answer I will narrate the following.] {25}



Last year, in March, I was returning home late at night. As I turned from the Zubova into Khamovnitchesky Lane, I saw some black spots on the snow of the Dyevitchy Pole (field). Something was moving about in one place. I should not have paid any attention to this, if the policeman who was standing at the end of the street had not shouted in the direction of the black spots, -

"Vasily! why don't you bring her in?"

"She won't come!" answered a voice, and then the spot moved towards the policeman.

I halted and asked the police-officer, "What is it?"

He said,--"They are taking a girl from the Rzhanoff house to the station-house; and she is hanging back, she won't walk." A house- porter in a sheepskin coat was leading her. She was walking forward, and he was pushing her from behind. All of us, I and the porter and the policeman, were dressed in winter clothes, but she had nothing on over her dress. In the darkness I could make out only her brown dress, and the kerchiefs on her head and neck. She was short in stature, as is often the case with the prematurely born, with small feet, and a comparatively broad and awkward figure.

"We're waiting for you, you carrion. Get along, what do you mean by it? I'll give it to you!" shouted the policeman. He was evidently tired, and he had had too much of her. She advanced a few paces, and again halted.

The little old porter, a good-natured fellow (I know him), tugged at her hand. "Here, I'll teach you to stop! On with you!" he repeated, as though in anger. She staggered, and began to talk in a discordant voice. At every sound there was a false note, both hoarse and whining.

"Come now, you're shoving again. I'll get there some time!"

She stopped and then went on. I followed them.

"You'll freeze," said the porters

"The likes of us don't freeze: I'm hot."

She tried to jest, but her words sounded like scolding. She halted again under the lantern which stands not far from our house, and leaned against, almost hung over, the fence, and began to fumble for something among her skirts, with benumbed and awkward hands. Again they shouted at her, but she muttered something and did something. In one hand she held a cigarette bent into a bow, in the other a match. I paused behind her; I was ashamed to pass her, and I was ashamed to stand and look on. But I made up my mind, and stepped forward. Her shoulder was lying against the fence, and against the fence it was that she vainly struck the match and flung it away. I looked in her face. She was really a person prematurely born; but, as it seemed to me, already an old woman. I credited her with thirty years. A dirty hue of face; small, dull, tipsy eyes; a button-like nose; curved moist lips with drooping corners, and a short wisp of harsh hair escaping from beneath her kerchief; a long flat figure, stumpy hands and feet. I paused opposite her. She stared at me, and burst into a laugh, as though she knew all that was going on in my mind.

I felt that it was necessary to say something to her. I wanted to show her that I pitied her.

"Are your parents alive?" I inquired.

She laughed hoarsely, with an expression which said, "he's making up queer things to ask."

"My mother is," said she. "But what do you want?"

"And how old are you?"

"Sixteen," said she, answering promptly to a question which was evidently customary.

"Come, march, you'll freeze, you'll perish entirely," shouted the policeman; and she swayed away from the fence, and, staggering along, she went down Khamovnitchesky Lane to the police-station; and I turned to the wicket, and entered the house, and inquired whether my daughters had returned. I was told that they had been to an evening party, had had a very merry time, had come home, and were in bed.

Next morning I wanted to go to the station-house to learn what had been done with this unfortunate woman, and I was preparing to go out very early, when there came to see me one of those unlucky noblemen, who, through weakness, have dropped from the gentlemanly life to which they are accustomed, and who alternately rise and fall. I had been acquainted with this man for three years. In the course of those three years, this man had several times made way with every thing that he had, and even with all his clothes; the same thing had just happened again, and he was passing the nights temporarily in the Rzhanoff house, in the night-lodging section, and he had come to me for the day. He met me as I was going out, at the entrance, and without listening to me he began to tell me what had taken place in the Rzhanoff house the night before. He began his narrative, and did not half finish it; all at once (he is an old man who has seen men under all sorts of aspects) he burst out sobbing, and flooded has countenance with tears, and when he had become silent, turned has face to the wall. This is what he told me. Every thing that he related to me was absolutely true. I authenticated his story on the spot, and learned fresh particulars which I will relate separately.

In that night-lodging house, on the lower floor, in No. 32, in which my friend had spent the night, among the various, ever-changing lodgers, men and women, who came together there for five kopeks, there was a laundress, a woman thirty years of age, light-haired, peaceable and pretty, but sickly. The mistress of the quarters had a boatman lover. In the summer her lover kept a boat, and in the winter they lived by letting accommodations to night-lodgers: three kopeks without a pillow, five kopeks with a pillow.

The laundress had lived there for several months, and was a quiet woman; but latterly they had not liked her, because she coughed and prevented the women from sleeping. An old half-crazy woman eighty years old, in particular, also a regular lodger in these quarters, hated the laundress, and imbittered the latter's life because she prevented her sleeping, and cleared her throat all night like a sheep. The laundress held her peace; she was in debt for her lodgings, and was conscious of her guilt, and therefore she was bound to be quiet. She began to go more and more rarely to her work, as her strength failed her, and therefore she could not pay her landlady; and for the last week she had not been out to work at all, and had only poisoned the existence of every one, especially of the old woman, who also did not go out, with her cough. Four days before this, the landlady had given the laundress notice to leave the quarters: the latter was already sixty kopeks in debt, and she neither paid them, nor did the landlady foresee any possibility of getting them; and all the bunks were occupied, and the women all complained of the laundress's cough.

When the landlady gave the laundress notice, and told her that she must leave the lodgings if she did not pay up, the old woman rejoiced and thrust the laundress out of doors. The laundress departed, but returned in an hour, and the landlady had not the heart to put her out again. And the second and the third day, she did not turn her out. "Where am I to go?" said the laundress. But on the third day, the landlady's lover, a Moscow man, who knew the regulations and how to manage, sent for the police. A policeman with sword and pistol on a red cord came to the lodgings, and with courteous words he led the laundress into the street.

It was a clear, sunny, but freezing March day. The gutters were flowing, the house-porters were picking at the ice. The cabman's sleigh jolted over the icy snow, and screeched over the stones. The laundress walked up the street on the sunny side, went to the church, and seated herself at the entrance, still on the sunny side. But when the sun began to sink behind the houses, the puddles began to be skimmed over with a glass of frost, and the laundress grew cold and wretched. She rose, and dragged herself . . . whither? Home, to the only home where she had lived so long. While she was on her way, resting at times, dusk descended. She approached the gates, turned in, slipped, groaned and fell.

One man came up, and then another. "She must be drunk." Another man came up, and stumbled over the laundress, and said to the potter: "What drunken woman is this wallowing at your gate? I came near breaking my head over her; take her away, won't you?"

The porter came. The laundress was dead. This is what my friend told me. It may be thought that I have wilfully mixed up facts,--I encounter a prostitute of fifteen, and the story of this laundress. But let no one imagine this; it is exactly what happened in the course of one night (only I do not remember which) in March, 1884. And so, after hearing my friend's tale, I went to the station-house, with the intention of proceeding thence to the Rzhanoff house to inquire more minutely into the history of the laundress. The weather was very beautiful and sunny; and again, through the stars of the night-frost, water was to be seen trickling in the shade, and in the glare of the sun on Khamovnitchesky square every thing was melting, and the water was streaming. The river emitted a humming noise. The trees of the Neskutchny garden looked blue across the river; the reddish-brown sparrows, invisible in winter, attracted attention by their sprightliness; people also seemed desirous of being merry, but all of them had too many cares. The sound of the bells was audible, and at the foundation of these mingling sounds, the sounds of shots could be heard from the barracks, the whistle of rifle-balls and their crack against the target.

I entered the station-house. In the station some armed policemen conducted me to their chief. He was similarly armed with sword and pistol, and he was engaged in taking some measures with regard to a tattered, trembling old man, who was standing before him, and who could not answer the questions put to him, on account of his feebleness. Having finished his business with the old man, he turned to me. I inquired about the girl of the night before. At first he listened to me attentively, but afterwards he began to smile, at my ignorance of the regulations, in consequence of which she had been taken to the station-house; and particularly at my surprise at her youth.

"Why, there are plenty of them of twelve, thirteen, or fourteen years of age," he said cheerfully.

But in answer to my question about the girl whom I had seen on the preceding evening, he explained to me that she must have been sent to the committee (so it appeared). To my question where she had passed the night, he replied in an undecided manner. He did not recall the one to whom I referred. There were so many of them every day.

In No. 32 of the Rzhanoff house I found the sacristan already reading prayers over the dead woman. They had taken her to the bunk which she had formerly occupied; and the lodgers, all miserable beings, had collected money for the masses for her soul, a coffin and a shroud, and the old women had dressed her and laid her out. The sacristan was reading something in the gloom; a woman in a long wadded cloak was standing there with a wax candle; and a man (a gentleman, I must state) in a clean coat with a lamb's-skin collar, polished overshoes, and a starched shirt, was holding one like it. This was her brother. They had hunted him up.

I went past the dead woman to the landlady's nook, and questioned her about the whole business.

She was alarmed at my queries; she was evidently afraid that she would be blamed for something; but afterwards she began to talk freely, and told me every thing. As I passed back, I glanced at the dead woman. All dead people are handsome, but this dead woman was particularly beautiful and touching in her coffin; her pure, pale face, with closed swollen eyes, sunken cheeks, and soft reddish hair above the lofty brow,--a weary and kind and not a sad but a surprised face. And in fact, if the living do not see, the dead are surprised.

On the same day that I wrote the above, there was a great ball in Moscow.

That night I left the house at nine o'clock. I live in a locality which is surrounded by factories, and I left the house after the factory-whistles had sounded, releasing the people for a day of freedom after a week of unremitting toil.

Factory-hands overtook me, and I overtook others of them, directing their steps to the drinking-shops and taverns. Many were already intoxicated, many were women. Every morning at five o'clock we can hear one whistle, a second, a third, a tenth, and so forth, and so forth. That means that the toil of women, children, and of old men has begun. At eight o'clock another whistle, which signifies a breathing-spell of half an hour. At twelve, a third: this means an hour for dinner. And a fourth at eight, which denotes the end of the day.

By an odd coincidence, all three of the factories which are situated near me produce only articles which are in demand for balls.

In one factory, the nearest, only stockings are made; in another opposite, silken fabrics; in the third, perfumes and pomades.

It is possible to listen to these whistles, and connect no other idea with them than as denoting the time: "There's the whistle already, it is time to go to walk." But one can also connect with those whistles that which they signify in reality; that first whistle, at five o'clock, means that people, often all without exception, both men and women, sleeping in a damp cellar, must rise, and hasten to that building buzzing with machines, and must take their places at their work, whose end and use for themselves they do not see, and thus toil, often in heat and a stifling atmosphere, in the midst of dirt, and with the very briefest breathing-spells, an hour, two hours, three hours, twelve, and even more hours in succession. They fall into a doze, and again they rise. And this, for them, senseless work, to which they are driven only by necessity, is continued over and over again.

And thus one week succeeds another with the breaks of holidays; and I see these work-people released on one of these holidays. They emerge into the street. Everywhere there are drinking-shops, taverns, and loose girls. And they, in their drunken state, drag by the hand each other, and girls like the one whom I saw taken to the station-house; they drag with them cabmen, and they ride and they walk from one tavern to another; and they curse and stagger, and say they themselves know not what. I had previously seen such unsteady gait on the part of factory-hands, and had turned aside in disgust, and had been on the point of rebuking them; but ever since I have been in the habit of hearing those whistles every day, and understand their meaning, I am only amazed that they, all the men, do not come to the condition of the "golden squad," of which Moscow is full, {26} [and the women to the state of the one whom I had seen near my house]. {27}

Thus I walked along, and scrutinized these factory-hands, as long as they roamed the streets, which was until eleven o'clock. Then their movements began to calm down. Some drunken men remained here and there, and here and there I encountered men who were being taken to the station-house. And then carriages began to make their appearance on all sides, directing their course toward one point.

On the box sits a coachman, sometimes in a sheepskin coat; and a footman, a dandy, with a cockade. Well-fed horses in saddle-cloths fly through the frost at the rate of twenty versts an hour; in the carriages sit ladies muffled in round cloaks, and carefully tending their flowers and head-dresses. Every thing from the horse- trappings, the carriages, the gutta-percha wheels, the cloth of the coachman's coat, to the stockings, shoes, flowers, velvet, gloves, and perfumes,--every thing is made by those people, some of whom often roll drunk into their dens or sleeping-rooms, and some stay with disreputable women in the night-lodging houses, while still others are put in jail. Thus past them in all their work, and over them all, ride the frequenters of balls; and it never enters their heads, that there is any connection between these balls to which they make ready to go, and these drunkards at whom their coachman shouts so roughly.

These people enjoy themselves at the ball with the utmost composure of spirit, and assurance that they are doing nothing wrong, but something very good. Enjoy themselves! Enjoy themselves from eleven o'clock until six in the morning, in the very dead of night, at the very hour when people are tossing and turning with empty stomachs in the night-lodging houses, and while some are dying, as did the laundress.

Their enjoyment consists in this,--that the women and young girls, having bared their necks and arms, and applied bustles behind, place themselves in a situation in which no uncorrupted woman or maiden would care to display herself to a man, on any consideration in the world; and in this half-naked condition, with their uncovered bosoms exposed to view, with arms bare to the shoulder, with a bustle behind and tightly swathed hips, under the most brilliant light, women and maidens, whose chief virtue has always been modesty, exhibit themselves in the midst of strange men, who are also clad in improperly tight-fitting garments; and to the sound of maddening music, they embrace and whirl. Old women, often as naked as the young ones, sit and look on, and eat and drink savory things; old men do the same. It is not to be wondered at that this should take place at night, when all the common people are asleep, so that no one may see them. But this is not done with the object of concealment: it seems to them that there is nothing to conceal; that it is a very good thing; that by this merry-making, in which the labor of thousands of toiling people is destroyed, they not only do not injure any one, but that by this very act they furnish the poor with the means of subsistence. Possibly it is very merry at balls. But how does this come about? When we see that there is a man in the community, in our midst, who has had no food, or who is freezing, we regret our mirth, and we cannot be cheerful until he is fed and warmed, not to mention the impossibility of imagining people who can indulge in such mirth as causes suffering to others. The mirth of wicked little boys, who pitch a dog's tail in a split stick, and make merry over it, is repulsive and incomprehensible to us.

In the same manner here, in these diversions of ours, blindness has fallen upon us, and we do not see the split stick with which we have pitched all those people who suffer for our amusement.

[We live as though there were no connection between the dying laundress, the prostitute of fourteen, and our own life; and yet the connection between them strikes us in the face.

We may say: "But we personally have not pinched any tail in a stick;" but we have no right, to deny that had the tail not been pitched, our merry-making would not have taken place. We do not see what connection exists between the laundress and our luxury; but that is not because no such connection does exist, but because we have placed a screen in front of us, so that we may not see.

If there were no screen, we should see that which it is impossible not to see.] {28}

Surely all the women who attended that ball in dresses worth a hundred and fifty rubles each were born not in a ballroom, or at Madame Minanguoit's; but they have lived in the country, and have seen the peasants; they know their own nurse and maid, whose father and brother are poor, for whom the earning of a hundred and fifty rubles for a cottage is the object of a long, laborious life. Each woman knows this. How could she enjoy herself, when she knew that she wore on her bared body at that ball the cottage which is the dream of her good maid's father and brother? But let us suppose that she could not make this reflection; but since velvet and silk and flowers and lace and dresses do not grow of themselves, but are made by people, it would seem that she could not help knowing what sort of people make all these things, and under what conditions, and why they do it. She cannot fail to know that the seamstress, with whom she has already quarrelled, did not make her dress in the least out of love for her; therefore, she cannot help knowing that all these things were made for her as a matter of necessity, that her laces, flowers, and velvet have been made in the same way as her dress.

But possibly they are in such darkness that they do not consider this. One thing she cannot fail to know,--that five or six elderly and respectable, often sick, lackeys and maids have had no sleep, and have been put to trouble on her account. She has seen their weary, gloomy faces. She could not help knowing this also, that the cold that night reached twenty-eight degrees below zero, {29} and that the old coachman sat all night long in that temperature on his box. But I know that they really do not see this. And if they, these young women and girls, do not see this, on account of the hypnotic state superinduced in them by balls, it is impossible to condemn them. They, poor things, have done what is considered right by their elders; but how are their elders to explain away this their cruelty to the people?

The elders always offer the explanation: "I compel no one. I purchase my things; I hire my men, my maid-servants, and my coachman. There is nothing wrong in buying and hiring. I force no one's inclination: I hire, and what harm is there in that?"

I recently went to see an acquaintance. As I passed through one of the rooms, I was surprised to see two women seated at a table, as I knew that my friend was a bachelor. A thin, yellow, old-fashioned woman, thirty years of age, in a dress that had been carelessly thrown on, was doing something with her hands and fingers on the table, with great speed, trembling nervously the while, as though in a fit. Opposite her sat a young girl, who was also engaged in something, and who trembled in the same manner. Both women appeared to be afflicted with St. Vitus' dance. I stepped nearer to them, and looked to see what they were doing. They raised their eyes to me, but went on with their work with the same intentness. In front of them lay scattered tobacco and paper cases. They were making cigarettes. The woman rubbed the tobacco between her hands, pushed it into the machine, slipped on the cover, thrust the tobacco through, then tossed it to the girl. The girl twisted the paper, and, making it fast, threw it aside, and took up another. All thus was done with such swiftness, with such intentness, as it is impossible to describe to a man who has never seen it done. I expressed my surprise at their quickness.

"I have been doing nothing else for fourteen years," said the woman.

"Is it hard?"

"Yes: it pains my chest, and makes my breathing hard."

It was not necessary for her to add this, however. A look at the girl sufficed. She had worked at this for three years, but any one who had not seen her at this occupation would have said that here was a strong organism which was beginning to break down.

My friend, a kind and liberal man, hires these women to fill his cigarettes at two rubles fifty kopeks the thousand. He has money, and he spends it for work. What harm is there in that? My friend rises at twelve o'clock. He passes the evening, from six until two, at cards, or at the piano. He eats and drinks savory things; others do all his work for him. He has devised a new source of pleasure,-- smoking. He has taken up smoking within my memory.

Here is a woman, and here is a girl, who can barely support themselves by turning themselves into machines, and they pass their whole lives inhaling tobacco, and thereby running their health. He has money which he never earned, and he prefers to play at whist to making his own cigarettes. He gives these women money on condition that they shall continue to live in the same wretched manner in which they are now living, that is to say, by making his cigarettes.

I love cleanliness, and I give money only on the condition that the laundress shall wash the shirt which I change twice a day; and that shirt has destroyed the laundress's last remaining strength, and she has died. What is there wrong about that? People who buy and hire will continue to force other people to make velvet and confections, and will purchase them, without me; and no matter what I may do, they will hire cigarettes made and shirts washed. Then why should I deprive myself of velvet and confections and cigarettes and clean shirts, if things are definitively settled thus? This is the argument which I often, almost always, hear. This is the very argument which makes the mob which is destroying something, lose its senses. This is the very argument by which dogs are guided when one of them has flung himself on another dog, and overthrown him, and the rest of the pack rush up also, and tear their comrade in pieces. Other people have begun it, and have wrought mischief; then why should not I take advantage of it? Well, what will happen if I wear a soiled shirt, and make my own cigarettes? Will that make it easier for anybody else? ask people who would like to justify their course. If it were not so far from the truth, it would be a shame to answer such a question, but we have become so entangled that this question seems very natural to us; and hence, although it is a shame, it is necessary to reply to it.

What difference will it make if I wear one shirt a week, and make may own cigarettes, or do not smoke at all? This difference, that some laundress and some cigarette-maker will exert their strength less, and that what I have spent for washing and for the making of cigarettes I can give to that very laundress, or even to other laundresses and toilers who are worn out with their labor, and who, instead of laboring beyond their strength, will then be able to rest, and drink tea. But to this I hear an objection. (It is so mortifying to rich and luxurious people to understand their position.) To this they say: "If I go about in a dirty shirt, and give up smoking, and hand over this money to the poor, the poor will still be deprived of every thing, and that drop in the sea of yours will help not at all."

Such an objection it is a shame to answer. It is such a common retort. {30}

If I had gone among savages, and they had regaled me with cutlets which struck me as savory, and if I should learn on the following day that these savory cutlets had been made from a prisoner whom they had slain for the sake of the savory cutlets, if I do not admit that it is a good thing to eat men, then, no matter how dainty the cutlets, no matter how universal the practice of eating men may be among my fellows, however insignificant the advantage to prisoners, prepared for consumption, may be my refusal to eat of the cutlets, I will not and I can not eat any more of them. I may, possibly, eat human flesh, when hunger compels me to it; but I will not make a feast, and I will not take part in feasts, of human flesh, and I will not seek out such feasts, and pride myself on my share in them.


But what is to be done? Surely it is not we who have done this? And if not we, who then?

We say: "We have not done this, this has done itself;" as the children say, when they break any thing, that it broke itself. We say, that, so long as there is a city already in existence, we, by living in it, support the people, by purchasing their labor and services. But this is not so. And this is why. We only need to look ourselves, at the way we have in the country, and at the manner in which we support people there.

The winter passes in town. Easter Week passes. On the boulevards, in the gardens in the parks, on the river, there is music. There are theatres, water-trips, walks, all sorts of illuminations and fireworks. But in the country there is something even better,--there are better air, trees and meadows, and the flowers are fresher. One should go thither where all these things have unfolded and blossomed forth. And the majority of wealthy people do go to the country to breathe the superior air, to survey these superior forests and meadows. And there the wealthy settle down in the country, and the gray peasants, who nourish themselves on bread and onions, who toil eighteen hours a day, who get no sound sleep by night, and who are clad in blouses. Here no one has led these people astray. There have been no factories nor industrial establishments, and there are none of those idle hands, of which there are so many in the city. Here the whole population never succeeds, all summer long, in completing all their tasks in season; and not only are there no idle hands, but a vast quantity of property is ruined for the lack of hands, and a throng of people, children, old men, and women, will perish through overstraining their powers in work which is beyond their strength. How do the rich order their lives there? In this fashion:-

If there is an old-fashioned house, built under the serf regime, that house is repaired and embellished; if there is none, then a new one is erected, of two or three stories. The rooms, of which there are from twelve to twenty, and even more, are all six arshins in height. {31} Wood floors are laid down. The windows consist of one sheet of glass. There are rich rugs and costly furniture. The roads around the house are macadamized, the ground is levelled, flower-beds are laid out, croquet-grounds are prepared, swinging-rings for gymnastics are erected, reflecting globes, often orangeries, and hotbeds, and lofty stables always with complicated scroll-work on the gables and ridges.

And here, in the country, an honest educated official, or noble family dwells. All the members of the family and their guests have assembled in the middle of June, because up to June, that is to say, up to the beginning of mowing-time, they have been studying and undergoing examinations; and they live there until September, that is to say, until harvest and sowing-time. The members of this family (as is the case with nearly every one in that circle) have lived in the country from the beginning of the press of work, the suffering time, not until the end of the season of toil (for in September sowing is still in progress, as well as the digging of potatoes), but until the strain of work has relaxed a little. During the whole of their residence in the country, all around them and beside them, that summer toil of the peasantry has been going on, of whose fatigues, no matter how much we may have heard, no matter how much we may have heard about it, no matter how much we may have gazed upon it, we can form no idea, unless we have had personal experience of it. And the members of this family, about ten in number, live exactly as they do in the city.

At St. Peter's Day, {32} a strict fast, when the people's food consists of kvas, bread, and onions, the mowing begins.

The business which is effected in mowing is one of the most important in the commune. Nearly every year, through the lack of hands and time, the hay crop may be lost by rain; and more or less strain of toil decides the question, as to whether twenty or more per cent of hay is to be added to the wealth of the people, or whether it is to rot or die where it stands. And additional hay means additional meat for the old, and additional milk for the children. Thus, in general and in particular, the question of bread for each one of the mowers, and of milk for himself and his children, in the ensuing winter, is then decided. Every one of the toilers, both male and female, knows this; even the children know that this is an important matter, and that it is necessary to strain every nerve to carry the jug of kvas to their father in the meadow at his mowing, and, shifting the heavy pitcher from hand to hand, to run barefooted as rapidly as possible, two versts from the village, in order to get there in season for dinner, and so that their fathers may not scold them.

Every one knows, that, from the mowing season until the hay is got in, there will be no break in the work, and that there will be no time to breathe. And there is not the mowing alone. Every one of them has other affairs to attend to besides the mowing: the ground must be turned up and harrowed; and the women have linen and bread and washing to attend to; and the peasants have to go to the mill, and to town, and there are communal matters to attend to, and legal matters before the judge and the commissary of police; and the wagons to see to, and the horses to feed at night: and all, old and young, and sickly, labor to the last extent of their powers. The peasants toil so, that on every occasion, the mowers, before the end of the third stint, whether weak, young, or old, can hardly walk as they totter past the last rows, and only with difficulty are they able to rise after the breathing-spell; and the women, often pregnant, or nursing infants, work in the same way. The toil is intense and incessant. All work to the extreme bounds of their strength, and expend in this toil, not only the entire stock of their scanty nourishment, but all their previous stock. All of them--and they are not fat to begin with--grow gaunt after the "suffering" season.

Here a little association is working at the mowing; three peasants,-- one an old man, the second his nephew, a young married man, and a shoemaker, a thin, sinewy man. This hay-harvest will decide the fate of all of them for the winter. They have been laboring incessantly for two weeks, without rest. The rain has delayed their work. After the rain, when the hay has dried, they have decided to stack it, and, in order to accomplish this as speedily as possible, that two women for each of them shall follow their scythes. On the part of the old man go his wife, a woman of fifty, who has become unfit for work, having borne eleven children, who is deaf, but still a tolerably stout worker; and a thirteen-year-old daughter, who is short of stature, but a strong and clever girl. On the part of his nephew go his wife, a woman as strong and well-grown as a sturdy peasant, and his daughter-in-law, a soldier's wife, who is about to become a mother. On the part of the shoemaker go his wife, a stout laborer, and her aged mother, who has reached her eightieth year, and who generally goes begging. They all stand in line, and labor from morning till night, in the full fervor of the June sun. It is steaming hot, and rain threatens. Every hour of work is precious. It is a pity to tear one's self from work to fetch water or kvas. A tiny boy, the old woman's grandson, brings them water. The old woman, evidently only anxious lest she shall be driven away from her work, will not let the rake out of her hand, though it is evident that she can barely move, and only with difficulty. The little boy, all bent over, and stepping gently, with his tiny bare feet, drags along a jug of water, shifting it from hand to hand, for it is heavier than he. The young girl flings over her shoulder a load of hay which is also heavier than herself, advances a few steps, halts, and drops it, without the strength to carry it. The old woman of fifty rakes away without stopping, and with her kerchief awry she drags the hay, breathing heavily and tottering. The old woman of eighty only rakes the hay, but even this is beyond her strength; she slowly drags along her feet, shod with bast shoes, and, frowning, she gazes gloomily before her, like a seriously ill or dying person. The old man has intentionally sent her farther away than the rest, to rake near the cocks of hay, so that she may not keep in line with the others; but she does not fall in with this arrangement, and she toils on as long as the others do, with the same death-like, gloomy countenance. The sun is already setting behind the forest; but the cocks are not yet all heaped together, and much still remains to do. All feel that it is time to stop, but no one speaks, waiting until the others shall say it. Finally the shoemaker, conscious that his strength is exhausted, proposes to the old man, to leave the cocks until the morrow; and the old man consents, and the women instantly run for the garments, jugs, pitchforks; and the old woman immediately sits down just where she has been standings and then lies back with the same death-like look, staring straight in front of her. But the women are going; and she rises with a groan, and drags herself after them. And this will go on in July also, when the peasants, without obtaining sufficient sleep, reap the oats by night, lest it should fall, and the women rise gloomily to thresh out the straw for the bands to tie the sheaves; when this old woman, already utterly cramped by the labor of mowing, and the woman with child, and the young children, injure themselves overworking and over-drinking; and when neither hands, nor horses, nor carts will suffice to bring to the ricks that grain with which all men are nourished, and millions of poods {33} of which are daily required in Russia to keep people from perishing.

And we live as though there were no connection between the dying laundress, the prostitute of fourteen years, the toilsome manufacture of cigarettes by women, the strained, intolerable, insufficiently fed toil of old women and children around us; we live as though there were no connection between this and our own lives.

It seems to us, that suffering stands apart by itself, and our life apart by itself. We read the description of the life of the Romans, and we marvel at the inhumanity of those soulless Luculli, who satiated themselves on viands and wines while the populace were dying with hunger. We shake our heads, and we marvel at the savagery of our grandfathers, who were serf-owners, supporters of household orchestras and theatres, and of whole villages devoted to the care of their gardens; and we wonder, from the heights of our grandeur, at their inhumanity. We read the words of Isa. v. 8: "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (11.) Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! (12.) And the harp and the viol, and tabret and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. (18.) Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope. (20.) Woe unto then that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (21.) Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight--(22.) Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink."

We read these words, and it seems to us that this has no reference to us. We read in the Gospels (Matt. iii. 10): "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire."

And we are fully convinced that the good tree which bringeth forth good fruit is ourselves; and that these words are not spoken to us, but to some other and wicked people.

We read the words of Isa. vi. 10: "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed. (11.) Then said I: Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate."

We read, and are fully convinced that this marvellous deed is not performed on us, but on some other people. And because we see nothing it is, that this marvellous deed is performed, and has been performed, on us. We hear not, we see not, and we understand not with our heart. How has this happened?

Whether that God, or that natural law by virtue of which men exist in the world, has acted well or ill, yet the position of men in the world, ever since we have known it, has been such, that naked people, without any hair on their bodies, without lairs in which they could shelter themselves, without food which they could find in the fields,--like Robinson[1] on his island,--have all been reduced to the necessity of constantly and unweariedly contending with nature in order to cover their bodies, to make themselves clothing, to construct a roof over their heads, and to earn their bread, that two or three times a day they may satisfy their hunger and the hunger of their helpless children and of their old people who cannot work.

Wherever, at whatever time, in whatever numbers we may have observed people, whether in Europe, in America, in China, or in Russia, whether we regard all humanity, or any small portion of it, in ancient times, in a nomad state, or in our own times, with steam- engines and sewing-machines, perfected agriculture, and electric lighting, we behold always one and the same thing,--that man, toiling intensely and incessantly, is not able to earn for himself and his little ones and his old people clothing, shelter, and food; and that a considerable portion of mankind, as in former times, so at the present day, perish through insufficiency of the necessaries of life, and intolerable toil in the effort to obtain them.

Wherever we have, if we draw a circle round us of a hundred thousand, a thousand, or ten versts, or of one verst, and examine into the lives of the people comprehended within the limits of our circle, we shall see within that circle prematurely-born children, old men, old women, women in labor, sick and weak persons, who toil beyond their strength, and who have not sufficient food and rest for life, and who therefore die before their time. We shall see people in the flower of their age actually slain by dangerous and injurious work.

We see that people have been struggling, ever since the world has endured, with fearful effort, privation, and suffering, against this universal want, and that they cannot overcome it...[2]


{1} The fine, tall members of a regiment, selected and placed together to form a showy squad.

{2} [] Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition printed in Russia, in the set of Count Tolstoi's works.

{3} Reaumur.

{4} A drink made of water, honey, and laurel or salvia leaves, which is drunk as tea, especially by the poorer classes.

{5} [] Omitted by the censor from the authorized edition published in Russia in the set of count Tolstoi's works. The omission is indicated thus . . .

{6} Kalatch, a kind of roll: baranki, cracknels of fine flour.

{11} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{12} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{13} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{14} Omitted by the Censor from the authorized edition.

{15} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{16} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition

{17} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{18} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{19} A very complicated sort of whist.

{20} The whole of this chapter is omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition, and is there represented by the following sentence: "And I felt that in money, in money itself, in the possession of it, there was something immoral; and I asked myself, What is money?"

{21} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{22} Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{23} The above passage is omitted in the authorized edition, and the following is added: "I came to the simple and natural conclusion, that, if I pity the tortured horse upon which I am riding, the first thing for me to do is to alight, and to walk on my own feet."

{24} Omitted in the authorized edition.

{25} Omitted in the authorized edition.

{26} "Into a worse state," in the authorized edition.

{27} Omitted in the authorized edition.

{28} Omitted in the authorized edition.

{29} Reaumur.

{30} In the Moscow edition (authorized by the Censor), the concluding paragraph is replaced by the following: --"They say: The action of a single man is but a drop in the sea. A drop in the sea!

"There is an Indian legend relating how a man dropped a pearl into the sea, and in order to recover it he took a bucket, and began to bail out, and to pour the water on the shore. Thus he toiled without intermission, and on the seventh day the spirit of the sea grew alarmed lest the man should dip the sea dry, and so he brought him his pearl. If our social evil of persecuting man were the sea, then that pearl which we have lost is equivalent to devoting our lives to bailing out the sea of that evil. The prince of this world will take fright, he will succumb more promptly than did the spirit of the sea; but this social evil is not the sea, but a foul cesspool, which we assiduously fill with our own uncleanness. All that is required is for us to come to our senses, and to comprehend what we are doing; to fall out of love with our own uncleanness,--in order that that imaginary sea should dry away, and that we should come into possession of that priceless pearl,--fraternal, humane life."

{31} An arshin is twenty-eight inches.

{32} The fast extends from the 5th to the 30th of June, O.S. (June 27 to July 12, N.S.)

{33} A pood is thirty-six pounds.


  1. Robinson Crusoe.
  2. Here something has been omitted by the Censor, which I am unable to supply.--TRANS.