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´╗┐Title: What to Do?
Author: Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What to Do?" ***

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Transcribed from the 1887 Tomas Y. Crowell edition by David Price, email








Books which are prohibited by the Russian Censor are not always
inaccessible.  An enterprising publishing-house in Geneva makes a
specialty of supplying the natural craving of man for forbidden fruit,
under which heading some of Count L. N. Tolstoi's essays belong.  These
essays circulate in Russia in manuscript; and it is from one of these
manuscripts, which fell into the hands of the Geneva firm, that the first
half of the present translation has been made.  It is thus that the
Censor's omissions have been noted, even in cases where such omissions
are in no way indicated in the twelfth volume of Count Tolstoi's
collected works, published in Moscow.  As an interesting detail in this
connection, I may mention that this twelfth volume contains all that the
censor allows of "My Religion," amounting to a very much abridged scrap
of Chapter X. in the last-named volume as known to the public outside of
Russia.  The last half of the present book has not been published by the
Geneva house, and omissions cannot be marked.


BOSTON, Sept. 1, 1887


The object of a census is scientific.  A census is a sociological
investigation.  And the object of the science of sociology is the
happiness of the people.  This science and its methods differ sharply
from all other sciences.

Its peculiarity lies in this, that sociological investigations are not
conducted by learned men in their cabinets, observatories and
laboratories, but by two thousand people from the community.  A second
peculiarity is this, that the investigations of other sciences are not
conducted on living people, but here living people are the subjects.  A
third peculiarity is, that the aim of every other science is simply
knowledge, while here it is the good of the people.  One man may
investigate a nebula, but for the investigation of Moscow, two thousand
persons are necessary.  The object of the study of nebulae is merely that
we may know about nebulae; the object of the study of inhabitants is that
sociological laws may be deduced, and that, on the foundation of these
laws, a better life for the people may be established.  It makes no
difference to the nebula whether it is studied or not, and it has waited
long, and is ready to wait a great while longer; but it is not a matter
of indifference to the inhabitants of Moscow, especially to those
unfortunates who constitute the most interesting subjects of the science
of sociology.

The census-taker enters a night lodging-house; in the basement he finds a
man dying of hunger, and he politely inquires his profession, his name,
his native place, the character of his occupation, and after a little
hesitation as to whether he is to be entered in the list as alive, he
writes him in and goes his way.

And thus will the two thousand young men proceed.  This is not as it
should be.

Science does its work, and the community, summoned in the persons of
these two thousand young men to aid science, must do its work.  A
statistician drawing his deductions from figures may feel indifferent
towards people, but we census-takers, who see these people and who have
no scientific prepossessions, cannot conduct ourselves towards them in an
inhuman manner.  Science fulfils its task, and its work is for its
objects and in the distant future, both useful and necessary to us.  For
men of science, we can calmly say, that in 1882 there were so many
beggars, so many prostitutes, and so many uncared-for children.  Science
may say this with composure and with pride, because it knows that the
confirmation of this fact conduces to the elucidation of the laws of
sociology, and that the elucidation of the laws of sociology leads to a
better constitution of society.  But what if we, the unscientific people,
say: "You are perishing in vice, you are dying of hunger, you are pining
away, and killing each other; so do not grieve about this; when you shall
have all perished, and hundreds of thousands more like you, then,
possibly, science may be able to arrange everything in an excellent
manner."  For men of science, the census has its interest; and for us
also, it possesses an interest of a wholly different significance.  The
interest and significance of the census for the community lie in this,
that it furnishes it with a mirror into which, willy nilly, the whole
community, and each one of us, gaze.

The figures and deductions will be the mirror.  It is possible to refrain
from reading them, as it is possible to turn away from the looking-glass.
It is possible to glance cursorily at both figures and mirror, and it is
also possible to scrutinize them narrowly.  To go about in connection
with the census as thousands of people are now about to do, is to
scrutinize one's self closely in the mirror.

What does this census, that is about to be made, mean for us people of
Moscow, who are not men of science?  It means two things.  In the first
place, this, that we may learn with certainty, that among us tens of
thousands who live in ease, there dwell tens of thousands of people who
lack bread, clothing and shelter; in the second place, this, that our
brothers and sons will go and view this and will calmly set down
according to the schedules, how many have died of hunger and cold.

And both these things are very bad.

All cry out upon the instability of our social organization, about the
exceptional situation, about revolutionary tendencies.  Where lies the
root of all this?  To what do the revolutionists point?  To poverty, to
inequality in the distribution of wealth.  To what do the conservatives
point?  To the decline in moral principle.  If the opinion of the
revolutionists is correct, what must be done?  Poverty and the inequality
of wealth must be lessened.  How is this to be effected?  The rich must
share with the poor.  If the opinion of the conservatives is correct,
that the whole evil arises from the decline in moral principle, what can
be more immoral and vicious than the consciously indifferent survey of
popular sufferings, with the sole object of cataloguing them?  What must
be done?  To the census we must add the work of affectionate intercourse
of the idle and cultivated rich, with the oppressed and unenlightened

Science will do its work, let us perform ours also.  Let us do this.  In
the first place, let all of us who are occupied with the census,
superintendents and census-takers, make it perfectly clear to ourselves
what we are to investigate and why.  It is the people, and the object is
that they may be happy.  Whatever may be one's view of life, every one
will agree that there is nothing more important than human life, and that
there is no more weighty task than to remove the obstacles to the
development of this life, and to assist it.

This idea, that the relations of men to poverty are at the foundation of
all popular suffering, is expressed in the Gospels with striking
harshness, but at the same time, with decision and clearness for all.

"He who has clothed the naked, fed the hungry, visited the prisoner, that
man has clothed Me, fed Me, visited Me," that is, has done the deed for
that which is the most important thing in the world.

However a man may look upon things, every one knows that this is more
important than all else on earth.

And this must not be forgotten, and we must not permit any other
consideration to veil from us the most weighty fact of our existence.  Let
us inscribe, and reckon, but let us not forget that if we encounter a man
who is hungry and without clothes, it is of more moment to succor him
than to make all possible investigations, than to discover all possible
sciences.  Perish the whole census if we may but feed an old woman.  The
census will be longer and more difficult, but we cannot pass by people in
the poorer quarters and merely note them down without taking any heed of
them and without endeavoring, according to the measure of our strength
and moral sensitiveness, to aid them.  This in the first place.  In the
second, this is what must be done: All of us, who are to take part in the
census, must refrain from irritation because we are annoyed; let us
understand that this census is very useful for us; that if this is not
cure, it is at least an effort to study the disease, for which we should
be thankful; that we must seize this occasion, and, in connection with
it, we must seek to recover our health, in some small degree.  Let all of
us, then, who are connected with the census, endeavor to take advantage
of this solitary opportunity in ten years to purify ourselves somewhat;
let us not strive against, but assist the census, and assist it
especially in this sense, that it may not have merely the harsh character
of the investigation of a hopelessly sick person, but may have the
character of healing and restoration to health.  For the occasion is
unique: eighty energetic, cultivated men, having under their orders two
thousand young men of the same stamp, are to make their way over the
whole of Moscow, and not leave a single man in Moscow with whom they have
not entered into personal relations.  All the wounds of society, the
wounds of poverty, of vice, of ignorance--all will be laid bare.  Is
there not something re-assuring in this?  The census-takers will go about
Moscow, they will set down in their lists, without distinction, those
insolent with prosperity, the satisfied, the calm, those who are on the
way to ruin, and those who are ruined, and the curtain will fall.  The
census-takers, our sons and brothers, these young men will behold all
this.  They will say: "Yes, our life is very terrible and incurable," and
with this admission they will live on like the rest of us, awaiting a
remedy for the evil from this or that extraneous force.  But those who
are perishing will go on dying, in their ruin, and those on the road to
ruin will continue in their course.  No, let us rather grasp the idea
that science has its task, and that we, on the occasion of this census,
have our task, and let us not allow the curtain once lifted to be
dropped, but let us profit by the opportunity in order to remove the
immense evil of the separation existing between us and the poor, and to
establish intercourse and the work of redressing the evil of unhappiness
and ignorance, and our still greater misfortune,--the indifference and
aimlessness of our life.

I already hear the customary remark: "All this is very fine, these are
sounding phrases; but do you tell us what to do and how to do it?"  Before
I say what is to be done, it is indispensable that I should say what is
not to be done.  It is indispensable, first of all, in my opinion, in
order that something practical may come of this activity, that no society
should be formed, that there should be no publicity, that there should be
no collection of money by balls, bazaars or theatres; that there should
be no announcement that Prince A. has contributed one thousand rubles,
and the honorable citizen B. three thousand; that there shall be no
collection, no calling to account, no writing up,--most of all, no
writing up, so that there may not be the least shadow of any institution,
either governmental or philanthropic.

But in my opinion, this is what should be done instantly: Firstly, All
those who agree with me should go to the directors, and ask for their
shares the poorest sections, the poorest dwellings; and in company with
the census-takers, twenty-three, twenty-four or twenty-five in number,
they should go to these quarters, enter into relations with the people
who are in need of assistance, and labor for them.

Secondly: We should direct the attention of the superintendents and
census-takers to the inhabitants in need of assistance, and work for them
personally, and point them out to those who wish to work over them.  But
I am asked: What do you mean by _working over them_?  I reply; Doing good
to people.  The words "doing good" are usually understood to mean, giving
money.  But, in my opinion, doing good and giving money are not only not
the same thing, but two different and generally opposite things.  Money,
in itself, is evil.  And therefore he who gives money gives evil.  This
error of thinking that the giving of money means doing good, arose from
the fact, that generally, when a man does good, he frees himself from
evil, and from money among other evils.  And therefore, to give money is
only a sign that a man is beginning to rid himself of evil.  To do good,
signifies to do that which is good for man.  But, in order to know what
is good for man, it is necessary to be on humane, i.e., on friendly terms
with him.  And therefore, in order to do good, it is not money that is
necessary, but, first of all, a capacity for detaching ourselves, for a
time at least, from the conditions of our own life.  It is necessary that
we should not be afraid to soil our boots and clothing, that we should
not fear lice and bedbugs, that we should not fear typhus fever,
diphtheria, and small-pox.  It is necessary that we should be in a
condition to seat ourselves by the bunk of a tatterdemalion and converse
earnestly with him in such a manner, that he may feel that the man who is
talking with him respects and loves him, and is not putting on airs and
admiring himself.  And in order that this may be so, it is necessary that
a man should find the meaning of life outside himself.  This is what is
requisite in order that good should be done, and this is what it is
difficult to find.

When the idea of assisting through the medium of the census occurred to
me, I discussed the matter with divers of the wealthy, and I saw how glad
the rich were of this opportunity of decently getting rid of their money,
that extraneous sin which they cherish in their hearts.  "Take three
hundred--five hundred rubles, if you like," they said to me, "but I
cannot go into those dens myself."  There was no lack of money.  Remember
Zaccheus, the chief of the Publicans in the Gospel.  Remember how he,
because he was small of stature, climbed into a tree to see Christ, and
how when Christ announced that he was going to his house, having
understood but one thing, that the Master did not approve of riches, he
leaped headlong from the tree, ran home and arranged his feast.  And how,
as soon as Christ entered, Zaccheus instantly declared that he gave the
half of his goods to the poor, and if he had wronged any man, to him he
would restore fourfold.  And remember how all of us, when we read the
Gospel, set but little store on this Zaccheus, and involuntarily look
with scorn on this half of his goods, and fourfold restitution.  And our
feeling is correct.  Zaccheus, according to his lights, performed a great
deed.  He had not even begun to do good.  He had only begun in some small
measure to purify himself from evil, and so Christ told him.

He merely said to him: "To-day is salvation come nigh unto this house."

What if the Moscow Zaccheuses were to do the same that he did?  Assuredly,
more than one milliard could be collected.  Well, and what of that?
Nothing.  There would be still greater sin if we were to think of
distributing this money among the poor.  Money is not needed.  What is
needed is self-sacrificing action; what is needed are people who would
like to do good, not by giving extraneous sin-money, but by giving their
own labor, themselves, their lives.  Where are such people to be found?
Here they are, walking about Moscow.  They are the student enumerators.  I
have seen how they write out their charts.  The student writes in the
night lodging-house, by the bedside of a sick man.  "What is your
disease?"--"Small-pox."  And the student does not make a wry face, but
proceeds with his writing.  And this he does for the sake of some
doubtful science.  What would he do if he were doing it for the sake of
his own undoubted good and the good of others?

When children, in merry mood, feel a desire to laugh, they never think of
devising some reason for laughter, but they laugh without any reason,
because they are gay; and thus these charming youths sacrifice
themselves.  They have not, as yet, contrived to devise any means of
sacrificing themselves, but they devote their attention, their labor,
their lives, in order to write out a chart, from which something does or
does not appear.  What would it be if this labor were something really
worth their while?  There is and there always will be labor of this sort,
which is worthy of the devotion of a whole life, whatever the man's life
may be.  This labor is the loving intercourse of man with man, and the
breaking-down of the barriers which men have erected between themselves,
so that the enjoyment of the rich man may not be disturbed by the wild
howls of the men who are reverting to beasts, and by the groans of
helpless hunger, cold and disease.

This census will place before the eyes of us well-to-do and so-called
cultivated people, all the poverty and oppression which is lurking in
every corner of Moscow.  Two thousand of our brothers, who stand on the
highest rung of the ladder, will come face to face with thousands of
people who stand on the lowest round of society.  Let us not miss this
opportunity of communion.  Let us, through these two thousand men,
preserve this communion, and let us make use of it to free ourselves from
the aimlessness and the deformity of our lives, and to free the condemned
from that indigence and misery which do not allow the sensitive people in
our ranks to enjoy our good fortune in peace.

This is what I propose: (1) That all our directors and enumerators should
join to their business of the census a task of assistance,--of work in
the interest of the good of these people, who, in our opinion, are in
need of assistance, and with whom we shall come in contact; (2) That all
of us, directors and enumerators, not by appointment of the committee of
the City Council, but by the appointment of our own hearts, shall remain
in our posts,--that is, in our relations to the inhabitants of the town
who are in need of assistance,--and that, at the conclusion of the work
of the census, we shall continue our work of aid.  If I have succeeded in
any degree in expressing what I feel, I am sure that the only
impossibility will be getting the directors and enumerators to abandon
this, and that others will present themselves in the places of those who
leave; (3) That we should collect all those inhabitants of Moscow, who
feel themselves fit to work for the needy, into sections, and begin our
activity now, in accordance with the hints of the census-takers and
directors, and afterwards carry it on; (4) That all who, on account of
age, weakness, or other causes, cannot give their personal labor among
the needy, shall intrust the task to their young, strong, and willing
relatives.  (Good consists not in the giving of money, it consists in the
loving intercourse of men.  This alone is needed.)

Whatever may be the outcome of this, any thing will be better than the
present state of things.

Then let the final act of our enumerators and directors be to distribute
a hundred twenty-kopek pieces to those who have no food; and this will be
not a little, not so much because the hungry will have food, but because
the directors and enumerators will conduct themselves in a humane manner
towards a hundred poor people.  How are we to compute the possible
results which will accrue to the balance of public morality from the fact
that, instead of the sentiments of irritation, anger, and envy which we
arouse by reckoning the hungry, we shall awaken in a hundred instances a
sentiment of good, which will be communicated to a second and a third,
and an endless wave which will thus be set in motion and flow between
men?  And this is a great deal.  Let those of the two thousand
enumerators who have never comprehended this before, come to understand
that, when going about among the poor, it is impossible to say, "This is
very interesting;" that a man should not express himself with regard to
another man's wretchedness by interest only; and this will be a good
thing.  Then let assistance be rendered to all those unfortunates, of
whom there are not so many as I at first supposed in Moscow, who can
easily be helped by money alone to a great extent.  Then let those
laborers who have come to Moscow and have eaten their very clothing from
their backs, and who cannot return to the country, be despatched to their
homes; let the abandoned orphans receive supervision; let feeble old men
and indigent old women, who subsist on the charity of their companions,
be released from their half-famished and dying condition.  (And this is
very possible.  There are not very many of them.)  And this will also be
a very, very great deal accomplished.  But why not think and hope that
more and yet more will be done?  Why not expect that that real task will
be partially carried out, or at least begun, which is effected, not by
money, but by labor; that weak drunkards who have lost their health,
unlucky thieves, and prostitutes who are still capable of reformation,
should be saved?  All evil may not be exterminated, but there will arise
some understanding of it, and the contest with it will not be police
methods, but by inward modes,--by the brotherly intercourse of the men
who perceive the evil, with the men who do not perceive it because they
are a part of it.

No matter what may be accomplished, it will be a great deal.  But why not
hope that every thing will be accomplished?  Why not hope that we shall
accomplish thus much, that there shall not exist in Moscow a single
person in want of clothing, a single hungry person, a single human being
sold for money, nor a single individual oppressed by the judgment of man,
who shall not know that there is fraternal aid for him?  It is not
surprising that this should not be so, but it is surprising that this
should exist side by side with our superfluous leisure and wealth, and
that we can live on composedly, knowing that these things are so.  Let us
forget that in great cities and in London, there is a proletariat, and
let us not say that so it must needs be.  It need not be this, and it
should not, for this is contrary to our reason and our heart, and it
cannot be if we are living people.  Why not hope that we shall come to
understand that there is not a single duty incumbent upon us, not to
mention personal duty, for ourselves, nor our family, nor social, nor
governmental, nor scientific, which is more weighty than this?  Why not
think that we shall at last come to apprehend this?  Only because to do
so would be too great a happiness.  Why not hope that some the people
will wake up, and will comprehend that every thing else is a delusion,
but that this is the only work in life?  And why should not this "some
time" be now, and in Moscow?  Why not hope that the same thing may happen
in society and humanity which suddenly takes place in a diseased
organism, when the moment of convalescence suddenly sets in?  The
organism is diseased this means, that the cells cease to perform their
mysterious functions; some die, others become infected, others still
remain in perfect condition, and work on by themselves.  But all of a
sudden the moment comes when every living cell enters upon an independent
and healthy activity: it crowds out the dead cells, encloses the infected
ones in a living wall, it communicates life to that which was lifeless;
and the body is restored, and lives with new life.

Why should we not think and expect that the cells of our society will
acquire fresh life and re-invigorate the organism?  We know not in what
the power of the cells consists, but we do know that our life is in our
own power.  We can show forth the light that is in us, or we may
extinguish it.

Let one man approach the Lyapinsky house in the dusk, when a thousand
persons, naked and hungry, are waiting in the bitter cold for admission,
and let that one man attempt to help, and his heart will ache till it
bleeds, and he will flee thence with despair and anger against men; but
let a thousand men approach that other thousand with a desire to help,
and the task will prove easy and delightful.  Let the mechanicians invent
a machine for lifting the weight that is crushing us--that is a good
thing; but until they shall have invented it, let us bear down upon the
people, like fools, like _muzhiki_, like peasants, like Christians, and
see whether we cannot raise them.

And now, brothers, all together, and away it goes!


   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

   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.


I had lived all my life out of town.  When, in 1881, I went to live in
Moscow, the poverty of the town greatly surprised me.  I am familiar with
poverty in the country; but city poverty was new and incomprehensible to
me.  In Moscow it was impossible to pass along the street without
encountering beggars, and especially beggars who are unlike those in the
country.  These beggars do not go about with their pouches in the name of
Christ, as country beggars are accustomed to do, but these beggars are
without the pouch and the name of Christ.  The Moscow beggars carry no
pouches, and do not ask for alms.  Generally, when they meet or pass you,
they merely try to catch your eye; and, according to your look, they beg
or refrain from it.  I know one such beggar who belongs to the gentry.
The old man walks slowly along, bending forward every time he sets his
foot down.  When he meets you, he rests on one foot and makes you a kind
of salute.  If you stop, he pulls off his hat with its cockade, and bows
and begs: if you do not halt, he pretends that that is merely his way of
walking, and he passes on, bending forward in like manner on the other
foot.  He is a real Moscow beggar, a cultivated man.  At first I did not
know why the Moscow beggars do not ask alms directly; afterwards I came
to understand why they do not beg, but still I did not understand their

Once, as I was passing through Afanasievskaya Lane, I saw a policeman
putting a ragged peasant, all swollen with dropsy, into a cab.  I
inquired: "What is that for?"

The policeman answered: "For asking alms."

"Is that forbidden?"

"Of course it is forbidden," replied the policeman.

The sufferer from dropsy was driven off.  I took another cab, and
followed him.  I wanted to know whether it was true that begging alms was
prohibited and how it was prohibited.  I could in no wise understand how
one man could be forbidden to ask alms of any other man; and besides, I
did not believe that it was prohibited, when Moscow is full of beggars.  I
went to the station-house whither the beggar had been taken.  At a table
in the station-house sat a man with a sword and a pistol.  I inquired:

"For what was this peasant arrested?"

The man with the sword and pistol gazed sternly at me, and said:

"What business is it of yours?"

But feeling conscious that it was necessary to offer me some explanation,
he added:

"The authorities have ordered that all such persons are to be arrested;
of course it had to be done."

I went out.  The policeman who had brought the beggar was seated on the
window-sill in the ante-chamber, staring gloomily at a note-book.  I
asked him:

"Is it true that the poor are forbidden to ask alms in Christ's name?"

The policeman came to himself, stared at me, then did not exactly frown,
but apparently fell into a doze again, and said, as he sat on the window-

"The authorities have so ordered, which shows that it is necessary," and
betook himself once more to his note-book.  I went out on the porch, to
the cab.

"Well, how did it turn out?  Have they arrested him?" asked the cabman.
The man was evidently interested in this affair also.

"Yes," I answered.  The cabman shook his head.  "Why is it forbidden here
in Moscow to ask alms in Christ's name?" I inquired.

"Who knows?" said the cabman.

"How is this?" said I, "he is Christ's poor, and he is taken to the

"A stop has been put to that now, it is not allowed," said the

On several occasions afterwards, I saw policemen conducting beggars to
the station house, and then to the Yusupoff house of correction.  Once I
encountered on the Myasnitzkaya a company of these beggars, about thirty
in number.  In front of them and behind them marched policemen.  I
inquired: "What for?"--"For asking alms."

It turned out that all these beggars, several of whom you meet with in
every street in Moscow, and who stand in files near every church during
services, and especially during funeral services, are forbidden to ask

But why are some of them caught and locked up somewhere, while others are
left alone?

This I could not understand.  Either there are among them legal and
illegal beggars, or there are so many of them that it is impossible to
apprehend them all; or do others assemble afresh when some are removed?

There are many varieties of beggars in Moscow: there are some who live by
this profession; there are also genuine poor people, who have chanced
upon Moscow in some manner or other, and who are really in want.

Among these poor people, there are many simple, common peasants, and
women in their peasant costume.  I often met such people.  Some of them
have fallen ill here, and on leaving the hospital they can neither
support themselves here, nor get away from Moscow.  Some of them,
moreover, have indulged in dissipation (such was probably the case of the
dropsical man); some have not been ill, but are people who have been
burnt out of their houses, or old people, or women with children; some,
too, were perfectly healthy and able to work.  These perfectly healthy
peasants who were engaged in begging, particularly interested me.  These
healthy, peasant beggars, who were fit for work, also interested me,
because, from the date of my arrival in Moscow, I had been in the habit
of going to the Sparrow Hills with two peasants, and sawing wood there
for the sake of exercise.  These two peasants were just as poor as those
whom I encountered on the streets.  One was Piotr, a soldier from Kaluga;
the other Semyon, a peasant from Vladimir.  They possessed nothing except
the wages of their body and hands.  And with these hands they earned, by
dint of very hard labor, from forty to forty-five kopeks a day, out of
which each of them was laying by savings, the Kaluga man for a fur coat,
the Vladimir man in order to get enough to return to his village.
Therefore, on meeting precisely such men in the streets, I took an
especial interest in them.

Why did these men toil, while those others begged?

On encountering a peasant of this stamp, I usually asked him how he had
come to that situation.  Once I met a peasant with some gray in his
beard, but healthy.  He begs.  I ask him who is he, whence comes he?  He
says that he came from Kaluga to get work.  At first he found employment
chopping up old wood for use in stoves.  He and his comrade finished all
the chopping which one householder had; then they sought other work, but
found none; his comrade had parted from him, and for two weeks he himself
had been struggling along; he had spent all his money, he had no saw, and
no axe, and no money to buy anything.  I gave him money for a saw, and
told him of a place where he could find work.  I had already made
arrangements with Piotr and Semyon, that they should take an assistant,
and they looked up a mate for him.

"See that you come.  There is a great deal of work there."

"I will come; why should I not come?  Do you suppose I like to beg?  I
can work."

The peasant declares that he will come, and it seems to me that he is not
deceiving me, and that he intents to come.

On the following day I go to my peasants, and inquire whether that man
has arrived.  He has not been there; and in this way several men deceived
me.  And those also deceived me who said that they only required money
for a ticket in order to return home, and who chanced upon me again in
the street a week later.  Many of these I recognized, and they recognized
me, and sometimes, having forgotten me, they repeated the same trick on
me; and others, on catching sight of me, beat a retreat.  Thus I
perceived, that in the ranks of this class also deceivers existed.  But
these cheats were very pitiable creatures: all of them were but
half-clad, poverty-stricken, gaunt, sickly men; they were the very people
who really freeze to death, or hang themselves, as we learn from the


When I mentioned this poverty of the town to inhabitants of the town,
they always said to me: "Oh, all that you have seen is nothing.  You
ought to see the Khitroff market-place, and the lodging-houses for the
night there.  There you would see a regular 'golden company.'" {21a}  One
jester told me that this was no longer a company, but a _golden
regiment_: so greatly had their numbers increased.  The jester was right,
but he would have been still more accurate if he had said that these
people now form in Moscow neither a company nor a regiment, but an entire
army, almost fifty thousand in number, I think.  [The old inhabitants,
when they spoke to me about the poverty in town, always referred to it
with a certain satisfaction, as though pluming themselves over me,
because they knew it.  I remember that when I was in London, the old
inhabitants there also rather boasted when they spoke of the poverty of
London.  The case is the same with us.] {21b}

And I wanted to have a sight of this poverty of which I had been told.
Several times I set out in the direction of the Khitroff market-place,
but on every occasion I began to feel uncomfortable and ashamed.  "Why am
I going to gaze on the sufferings of people whom I cannot help?" said one
voice.  "No, if you live here, and see all the charms of city life, go
and view this also," said another voice.  In December three years ago,
therefore, on a cold and windy day, I betook myself to that centre of
poverty, the Khitroff market-place.  This was at four o'clock in the
afternoon of a week-day.  As I passed through the Solyanka, I already
began to see more and more people in old garments which had not
originally belonged to them, and in still stranger foot-gear, people with
a peculiar, unhealthy hue of countenance, and especially with a singular
indifference to every thing around them, which was peculiar to them all.
A man in the strangest of all possible attire, which was utterly unlike
any thing else, walked along with perfect unconcern, evidently without a
thought of the appearance which he must present to the eyes of others.
All these people were making their way towards a single point.  Without
inquiring the way, with which I was not acquainted, I followed them, and
came out on the Khitroff market-place.  On the market-place, women both
old and young, of the same description, in tattered cloaks and jackets of
various shapes, in ragged shoes and overshoes, and equally unconcerned,
notwithstanding the hideousness of their attire, sat, bargained for
something, strolled about, and scolded.  There were not many people in
the market itself.  Evidently market-hours were over, and the majority of
the people were ascending the rise beyond the market and through the
place, all still proceeding in one direction.  I followed them.  The
farther I advanced, the greater in numbers were the people of this sort
who flowed together on one road.  Passing through the market-place and
proceeding along the street, I overtook two women; one was old, the other
young.  Both wore something ragged and gray.  As they walked they were
discussing some matter.  After every necessary word, they uttered one or
two unnecessary ones, of the most improper character.  They were not
intoxicated, but merely troubled about something; and neither the men who
met them, nor those who walked in front of them and behind them, paid any
attention to the language which was so strange to me.  In these quarters,
evidently, people always talked so.  Ascending the rise, we reached a
large house on a corner.  The greater part of the people who were walking
along with me halted at this house.  They stood all over the sidewalk of
this house, and sat on the curbstone, and even the snow in the street was
thronged with the same kind of people.  On the right side of the entrance
door were the women, on the left the men.  I walked past the women, past
the men (there were several hundred of them in all) and halted where the
line came to an end.  The house before which these people were waiting
was the Lyapinsky free lodging-house for the night.  The throng of people
consisted of night lodgers, who were waiting to be let in.  At five
o'clock in the afternoon, the house is opened, and the people permitted
to enter.  Hither had come nearly all the people whom I had passed on my

I halted where the line of men ended.  Those nearest me began to stare at
me, and attracted my attention to them by their glances.  The fragments
of garments which covered these bodies were of the most varied sorts.  But
the expression of all the glances directed towards me by these people was
identical.  In all eyes the question was expressed: "Why have you, a man
from another world, halted here beside us?  Who are you?  Are you a self-
satisfied rich man who wants to enjoy our wretchedness, to get rid of his
tedium, and to torment us still more? or are you that thing which does
not and can not exist,--a man who pities us?"  This query was on every
face.  You glance about, encounter some one's eye, and turn away.  I
wished to talk with some one of them, but for a long time I could not
make up my mind to it.  But our glances had drawn us together already
while our tongues remained silent.  Greatly as our lives had separated
us, after the interchange of two or three glances we felt that we were
both men, and we ceased to fear each other.  The nearest of all to me was
a peasant with a swollen face and a red beard, in a tattered caftan, and
patched overshoes on his bare feet.  And the weather was eight degrees
below zero. {24a}  For the third or fourth time I encountered his eyes,
and I felt so near to him that I was no longer ashamed to accost him, but
ashamed not to say something to him.  I inquired where he came from? he
answered readily, and we began to talk; others approached.  He was from
Smolensk, and had come to seek employment that he might earn his bread
and taxes.  "There is no work," said he: "the soldiers have taken it all
away.  So now I am loafing about; as true as I believe in God, I have had
nothing to eat for two days."  He spoke modestly, with an effort at a
smile.  A _sbiten_{24b}-seller, an old soldier, stood near by.  I called
him up.  He poured out his _sbiten_.  The peasant took a boiling-hot
glassful in his hands, and as he tried before drinking not to let any of
the heat escape in vain, and warmed his hands over it, he related his
adventures to me.  These adventures, or the histories of them, are almost
always identical: the man has been a laborer, then he has changed his
residence, then his purse containing his money and ticket has been stolen
from him in the night lodging-house; now it is impossible to get away
from Moscow.  He told me that he kept himself warm by day in the dram-
shops; that he nourished himself on the bits of bread in these drinking
places, when they were given to him; and when he was driven out of them,
he came hither to the Lyapinsky house for a free lodging.  He was only
waiting for the police to make their rounds, when, as he had no passport,
he would be taken to jail, and then despatched by stages to his place of
settlement.  "They say that the inspection will be made on Friday," said
he, "then they will arrest me.  If I can only get along until Friday."
(The jail, and the journey by stages, represent the Promised Land to

As he told his story, three men from among the throng corroborated his
statements, and said that they were in the same predicament.  A gaunt,
pale, long-nosed youth, with merely a shirt on the upper portion of his
body, and that torn on the shoulders, and a cap without a visor, forced
his way sidelong through the crowd.  He shivered violently and
incessantly, but tried to smile disdainfully at the peasants' remarks,
thinking by this means to adopt the proper tone with me, and he stared at
me.  I offered him some _sbiten_; he also, on taking the glass, warmed
his hands over it; but no sooner had he begun to speak, than he was
thrust aside by a big, black, hook-nosed individual, in a chintz shirt
and waistcoat, without a hat.  The hook-nosed man asked for some _sbiten_
also.  Then came a tall old man, with a mass of beard, clad in a great-
coat girded with a rope, and in bast shoes, who was drunk.  Then a small
man with a swollen face and tearful eyes, in a brown nankeen
round-jacket, with his bare knees protruding from the holes in his summer
trousers, and knocking together with cold.  He shivered so that he could
not hold his glass, and spilled it over himself.  The men began to
reproach him.  He only smiled in a woe-begone way, and went on shivering.
Then came a crooked monster in rags, with pattens on his bare feet; then
some sort of an officer; then something in the ecclesiastical line; then
something strange and nose-less,--all hungry and cold, beseeching and
submissive, thronged round me, and pressed close to the _sbiten_.  They
drank up all the _sbiten_.  One asked for money, and I gave it.  Then
another asked, then a third, and the whole crowd besieged me.  Confusion
and a press resulted.  The porter of the adjoining house shouted to the
crowd to clear the sidewalk in front of his house, and the crowd
submissively obeyed his orders.  Some managers stepped out of the throng,
and took me under their protection, and wanted to lead me forth out of
the press; but the crowd, which had at first been scattered over the
sidewalk, now became disorderly, and hustled me.  All stared at me and
begged; and each face was more pitiful and suffering and humble than the
last.  I distributed all that I had with me.  I had not much money,
something like twenty rubles; and in company with the crowd, I entered
the Lyapinsky lodging-house.  This house is huge.  It consists of four
sections.  In the upper stories are the men's quarters; in the lower, the
women's.  I first entered the women's place; a vast room all occupied
with bunks, resembling the third-class bunks on the railway.  These bunks
were arranged in two rows, one above the other.  The women, strange,
tattered creatures, both old and young, wearing nothing over their
dresses, entered and took their places, some below and some above.  Some
of the old ones crossed themselves, and uttered a petition for the
founder of this refuge; some laughed and scolded.  I went up-stairs.
There the men had installed themselves; among them I espied one of those
to whom I had given money.  [On catching sight of him, I all at once felt
terribly abashed, and I made haste to leave the room.  And it was with a
sense of absolute crime that I quitted that house and returned home.  At
home I entered over the carpeted stairs into the ante-room, whose floor
was covered with cloth; and having removed my fur coat, I sat down to a
dinner of five courses, waited on by two lackeys in dress-coats, white
neckties, and white gloves.

Thirty years ago I witnessed in Paris a man's head cut off by the
guillotine in the presence of thousands of spectators.  I knew that the
man was a horrible criminal.  I was acquainted with all the arguments
which people have been devising for so many centuries, in order to
justify this sort of deed.  I knew that they had done this expressly,
deliberately.  But at the moment when head and body were severed, and
fell into the trough, I groaned, and apprehended, not with my mind, but
with my heart and my whole being, that all the arguments which I had
heard anent the death-penalty were arrant nonsense; that, no matter how
many people might assemble in order to perpetrate a murder, no matter
what they might call themselves, murder is murder, the vilest sin in the
world, and that that crime had been committed before my very eyes.  By my
presence and non-interference, I had lent my approval to that crime, and
had taken part in it.  So now, at the sight of this hunger, cold, and
degradation of thousands of persons, I understood not with my mind, but
with my heart and my whole being, that the existence of tens of thousands
of such people in Moscow, while I and other thousands dined on fillets
and sturgeon, and covered my horses and my floors with cloth and rugs,--no
matter what the wise ones of this world might say to me about its being a
necessity,--was a crime, not perpetrated a single time, but one which was
incessantly being perpetrated over and over again, and that I, in my
luxury, was not only an accessory, but a direct accomplice in the matter.
The difference for me between these two impressions was this, that I
might have shouted to the assassins who stood around the guillotine, and
perpetrated the murder, that they were committing a crime, and have tried
with all my might to prevent the murder.  But while so doing I should
have known that my action would not prevent the murder.  But here I might
not only have given _sbiten_ and the money which I had with me, but the
coat from my back, and every thing that was in my house.  But this I had
not done; and therefore I felt, I feel, and shall never cease to feel,
myself an accomplice in this constantly repeated crime, so long as I have
superfluous food and any one else has none at all, so long as I have two
garments while any one else has not even one.] {28}


That very evening, on my return from the Lyapinsky house, I related my
impressions to a friend.  The friend, an inhabitant of the city, began to
tell me, not without satisfaction, that this was the most natural
phenomenon of town life possible, that I only saw something extraordinary
in it because of my provincialism, that it had always been so, and always
would be so, and that such must be and is the inevitable condition of
civilization.  In London it is even worse.  Of course there is nothing
wrong about it, and it is impossible to be displeased with it.  I began
to reply to my friend, but with so much heat and ill-temper, that my wife
ran in from the adjoining room to inquire what had happened.  It appears
that, without being conscious of it myself, I had been shouting, with
tears in my voice, and flourishing my hands at my friend.  I shouted:
"It's impossible to live thus, impossible to live thus, impossible!"  They
made me feel ashamed of my unnecessary warmth; they told me that I could
not talk quietly about any thing, that I got disagreeably excited; and
they proved to me, especially, that the existence of such unfortunates
could not possibly furnish any excuse for imbittering the lives of those
about me.

I felt that this was perfectly just, and held my peace; but in the depths
of my soul I was conscious that I was in the right, and I could not
regain my composure.

And the life of the city, which had, even before this, been so strange
and repellent to me, now disgusted me to such a degree, that all the
pleasures of a life of luxury, which had hitherto appeared to me as
pleasures, become tortures to me.  And try as I would, to discover in my
own soul any justification whatever for our life, I could not, without
irritation, behold either my own or other people's drawing-rooms, nor our
tables spread in the lordly style, nor our equipages and horses, nor
shops, theatres, and assemblies.  I could not behold alongside these the
hungry, cold, and down-trodden inhabitants of the Lyapinsky house.  And I
could not rid myself of the thought that these two things were bound up
together, that the one arose from the other.  I remember, that, as this
feeling of my own guilt presented itself to me at the first blush, so it
persisted in me, but to this feeling a second was speedily added which
overshadowed it.

When I mentioned my impressions of the Lyapinsky house to my nearest
friends and acquaintances, they all gave me the same answer as the first
friend at whom I had begun to shout; but, in addition to this, they
expressed their approbation of my kindness of heart and my sensibility,
and gave me to understand that this sight had so especially worked upon
me because I, Lyof Nikolaevitch, was very kind and good.  And I willingly
believed this.  And before I had time to look about me, instead of the
feeling of self-reproach and regret, which I had at first experienced,
there came a sense of satisfaction with my own kindliness, and a desire
to exhibit it to people.

"It really must be," I said to myself, "that I am not especially
responsible for this by the luxury of my life, but that it is the
indispensable conditions of existence that are to blame.  In truth, a
change in my mode of life cannot rectify the evil which I have seen: by
altering my manner of life, I shall only make myself and those about me
unhappy, and the other miseries will remain the same as ever.  And
therefore my problem lies not in a change of my own life, as it had first
seemed to me, but in aiding, so far as in me lies, in the amelioration of
the situation of those unfortunate beings who have called forth my
compassion.  The whole point lies here,--that I am a very kind, amiable
man, and that I wish to do good to my neighbors."  And I began to think
out a plan of beneficent activity, in which I might exhibit my
benevolence.  I must confess, however, that while devising this plan of
beneficent activity, I felt all the time, in the depths of my soul, that
that was not the thing; but, as often happens, activity of judgment and
imagination drowned that voice of conscience within me.  At that
juncture, the census came up.  This struck me as a means for instituting
that benevolence in which I proposed to exhibit my charitable
disposition.  I knew of many charitable institutions and societies which
were in existence in Moscow, but all their activity seemed to me both
wrongly directed and insignificant in comparison with what I intended to
do.  And I devised the following scheme: to arouse the sympathy of the
wealthy for the poverty of the city, to collect money, to get people
together who were desirous of assisting in this matter, and to visit all
the refuges of poverty in company with the census, and, in addition to
the work of the census, to enter into communion with the unfortunate, to
learn the particulars of their necessities, and to assist them with
money, with work, by sending them away from Moscow, by placing their
children in school, and the old people in hospitals and asylums.  And not
only that, I thought, but these people who undertake this can be formed
into a permanent society, which, by dividing the quarters of Moscow among
its members, will be able to see to it that this poverty and beggary
shall not be bred; they will incessantly annihilate it at its very
inception; then they will fulfil their duty, not so much by healing as by
a course of hygiene for the wretchedness of the city.  I fancied that
there would be no more simply needy, not to mention abjectly poor
persons, in the town, and that all of us wealthy individuals would
thereafter be able to sit in our drawing-rooms, and eat our five-course
dinners, and ride in our carriages to theatres and assemblies, and be no
longer annoyed with such sights as I had seen at the Lyapinsky house.

Having concocted this plan, I wrote an article on the subject; and before
sending it to the printer, I went to some acquaintances, from whom I
hoped for sympathy.  I said the same thing to every one whom I met that
day (and I applied chiefly to the rich), and nearly the same that I
afterwards printed in my memoir; proposed to take advantage of the census
to inquire into the wretchedness of Moscow, and to succor it, both by
deeds and money, and to do it in such a manner that there should be no
poor people in Moscow, and so that we rich ones might be able, with a
quiet conscience, to enjoy the blessings of life to which we were
accustomed.  All listened to me attentively and seriously, but
nevertheless the same identical thing happened with every one of them
without exception.  No sooner did my hearers comprehend the question,
than they seemed to feel awkward and somewhat mortified.  They seemed to
be ashamed, and principally on my account, because I was talking
nonsense, and nonsense which it was impossible to openly characterize as
such.  Some external cause appeared to compel my hearers to be forbearing
with this nonsense of mine.

"Ah, yes! of course.  That would be very good," they said to me.  "It is
a self-understood thing that it is impossible not to sympathize with
this.  Yes, your idea is a capital one.  I have thought of that myself,
but . . . we are so indifferent, as a rule, that you can hardly count on
much success . . . however, so far as I am concerned, I am, of course,
ready to assist."

They all said something of this sort to me.  They all agreed, but agreed,
so it seemed to me, not in consequence of my convictions, and not in
consequence of their own wish, but as the result of some outward cause,
which did not permit them not to agree.  I had already noticed this, and,
since not one of them stated the sum which he was willing to contribute,
I was obliged to fix it myself, and to ask: "So I may count on you for
three hundred, or two hundred, or one hundred, or twenty-five rubles?"
And not one of them gave me any money.  I mention this because, when
people give money for that which they themselves desire, they generally
make haste to give it.  For a box to see Sarah Bernhardt, they will
instantly place the money in your hand, to clinch the bargain.  Here,
however, out of all those who agreed to contribute, and who expressed
their sympathy, not one of them proposed to give me the money on the
spot, but they merely assented in silence to the sum which I suggested.
In the last house which I visited on that day, in the evening, I
accidentally came upon a large company.  The mistress of the house had
busied herself with charity for several years.  Numerous carriages stood
at the door, several lackeys in rich liveries were sitting in the ante-
chamber.  In the vast drawing-room, around two tables and lamps, sat
ladies and young girls, in costly garments, dressing small dolls; and
there were several young men there also, hovering about the ladies.  The
dolls prepared by these ladies were to be drawn in a lottery for the

The sight of this drawing-room, and of the people assembled in it, struck
me very unpleasantly.  Not to mention the fact that the property of the
persons there congregated amounted to many millions, not to mention the
fact that the mere income from the capital here expended on dresses,
laces, bronzes, brooches, carriages, horses, liveries, and lackeys, was a
hundred-fold greater than all that these ladies could earn; not to
mention the outlay, the trip hither of all these ladies and gentlemen;
the gloves, linen, extra time, the candles, the tea, the sugar, and the
cakes had cost the hostess a hundred times more than what they were
engaged in making here.  I saw all this, and therefore I could
understand, that precisely here I should find no sympathy with my
mission: but I had come in order to make my proposition, and, difficult
as this was for me, I said what I intended.  (I said very nearly the same
thing that is contained in my printed article.)

Out of all the persons there present, one individual offered me money,
saying that she did not feel equal to going among the poor herself on
account of her sensibility, but that she would give money; how much money
she would give, and when, she did not say.  Another individual and a
young man offered their services in going about among the poor, but I did
not avail myself of their offer.  The principal person to whom I
appealed, told me that it would be impossible to do much because means
were lacking.  Means were lacking because all the rich people in Moscow
were already on the lists, and all of them were asked for all that they
could possibly give; because on all these benefactors rank, medals, and
other dignities were bestowed; because in order to secure financial
success, some new dignities must be secured from the authorities, and
that this was the only practical means, but this was extremely difficult.

On my return home that night, I lay down to sleep not only with a
presentment that my idea would come to nothing, but with shame and a
consciousness that all day long I had been engaged in a very repulsive
and disgraceful business.  But I did not give up this undertaking.  In
the first place, the matter had been begun, and false shame would have
prevented my abandoning it; in the second place, not only the success of
this scheme, but the very fact that I was busying myself with it,
afforded me the possibility of continuing to live in the conditions under
which I was then living; failure entailed upon me the necessity of
renouncing my present existence and of seeking new paths of life.  And
this I unconsciously dreaded, and I could not believe the inward voice,
and I went on with what I had begun.

Having sent my article to the printer, I read the proof of it to the City
Council (_Dum_).  I read it, stumbling, and blushing even to tears, I
felt so awkward.  And I saw that it was equally awkward for all my
hearers.  In answer to my question at the conclusion of my reading, as to
whether the superintendents of the census would accept my proposition to
retain their places with the object of becoming mediators between society
and the needy, an awkward silence ensued.  Then two orators made
speeches.  These speeches in some measure corrected the awkwardness of my
proposal; sympathy for me was expressed, but the impracticability of my
proposition, which all had approved, was demonstrated.  Everybody
breathed more freely.  But when, still desirous of gaining my object, I
afterwards asked the superintendents separately: Were they willing, while
taking the census, to inquire into the needs of the poor, and to retain
their posts, in order to serve as go-betweens between the poor and the
rich? they all grew uneasy again.  They seemed to say to me with their
glances: "Why, we have just condoned your folly out of respect to you,
and here you are beginning it again!"  Such was the expression of their
faces, but they assured me in words that they agreed; and two of them
said in the very same words, as though they had entered into a compact
together: "We consider ourselves _morally bound_ to do this."  The same
impression was produced by my communication to the student-census-takers,
when I said to them, that while taking our statistics, we should follow
up, in addition to the objects of the census, the object of benevolence.
When we discussed this, I observed that they were ashamed to look the
kind-hearted man, who was talking nonsense, in the eye.  My article
produced the same impression on the editor of the newspaper, when I
handed it to him; on my son, on my wife, on the most widely different
persons.  All felt awkward, for some reason or other; but all regarded it
as indispensable to applaud the idea itself, and all, immediately after
this expression of approbation, began to express their doubts as to its
success, and began for some reason (and all of them, too, without
exception) to condemn the indifference and coldness of our society and of
every one, apparently, except themselves.

In the depths of my own soul, I still continued to feel that all this was
not at all what was needed, and that nothing would come of it; but the
article was printed, and I prepared to take part in the census; I had
contrived the matter, and now it was already carrying me a way with it.


At my request, there had been assigned to me for the census, a portion of
the Khamovnitchesky quarter, at the Smolensk market, along the Prototchny
cross-street, between Beregovoy Passage and Nikolsky Alley.  In this
quarter are situated the houses generally called the Rzhanoff Houses, or
the Rzhanoff fortress.  These houses once belonged to a merchant named
Rzhanoff, but now belong to the Zimins.  I had long before heard of this
place as a haunt of the most terrible poverty and vice, and I had
accordingly requested the directors of the census to assign me to this
quarter.  My desire was granted.

On receiving the instructions of the City Council, I went alone, a few
days previous to the beginning of the census, to reconnoitre my section.
I found the Rzhanoff fortress at once, from the plan with which I had
been furnished.

I approached from Nikolsky Alley.  Nikolsky Alley ends on the left in a
gloomy house, without any gates on that side; I divined from its
appearance that this was the Rzhanoff fortress.

Passing down Nikolsky Street, I overtook some lads of from ten to
fourteen years of age, clad in little caftans and great-coats, who were
sliding down hill, some on their feet, and some on one skate, along the
icy slope beside this house.  The boys were ragged, and, like all city
lads, bold and impudent.  I stopped to watch them.  A ragged old woman,
with yellow, pendent cheeks, came round the corner.  She was going to
town, to the Smolensk market, and she groaned terribly at every step,
like a foundered horse.  As she came alongside me, she halted and drew a
hoarse sigh.  In any other locality, this old woman would have asked
money of me, but here she merely addressed me.

"Look there," said she, pointing at the boys who were sliding, "all they
do is to play their pranks!  They'll turn out just such Rzhanoff fellows
as their fathers."

One of the boys clad in a great-coat and a visorless cap, heard her words
and halted: "What are you scolding about?" he shouted to the old woman.
"You're an old Rzhanoff nanny-goat yourself!"

I asked the boy:

"And do you live here?"

"Yes, and so does she.  She stole boot-legs," shouted the boy; and
raising his foot in front, he slid away.

The old woman burst forth into injurious words, interrupted by a cough.
At that moment, an old man, all clad in rags, and as white as snow, came
down the hill in the middle of the street, flourishing his hands [in one
of them he held a bundle with one little _kalatch_ and _baranki_" {39}].
This old man bore the appearance of a person who had just strengthened
himself with a dram.  He had evidently heard the old woman's insulting
words, and he took her part.

"I'll give it to you, you imps, that I will!" he screamed at the boys,
seeming to direct his course towards them, and taking a circuit round me,
he stepped on to the sidewalk.  This old man creates surprise on the
Arbata by his great age, his weakness, and his indigence.  Here he was a
cheery laboring-man returning from his daily toil.

I followed the old man.  He turned the corner to the left, into
Prototchny Alley, and passing by the whole length of the house and the
gate, he disappeared through the door of the tavern.

Two gates and several doors open on Prototchny Alley: those belonging to
a tavern, a dram-shop, and several eating and other shops.  This is the
Rzhanoff fortress itself.  Every thing here is gray, dirty, and
malodorous--both buildings and locality, and court-yards and people.  The
majority of the people whom I met here were ragged and half-clad.  Some
were passing through, others were running from door to door.  Two were
haggling over some rags.  I made the circuit of the entire building from
Prototchny Alley and Beregovoy Passage, and returning I halted at the
gate of one of these houses.  I wished to enter, and see what was going
on inside, but I felt that it would be awkward.  What should I say when I
was asked what I wanted there?  I hesitated, but went in nevertheless.  As
soon as I entered the court-yard, I became conscious of a disgusting
odor.  The yard was frightfully dirty.  I turned a corner, and at the
same instant I heard to my left and overhead, on the wooden balcony, the
tramp of footsteps of people running, at first along the planks of the
balcony, and then on the steps of the staircase.  There emerged, first a
gaunt woman, with her sleeves rolled up, in a faded pink gown, and little
boots on her stockingless feet.  After her came a tattered man in a red
shirt and very full trousers, like a petticoat, and with overshoes.  The
man caught the woman at the bottom of the steps.

"You shall not escape," he said laughing.

"See here, you cock-eyed devil," began the woman, evidently flattered by
this pursuit; but catching sight of me, she shrieked viciously, "What do
you want?"

As I wanted nothing, I became confused and beat a retreat.  There was
nothing remarkable about the place; but this incident, after what I had
witnessed on the other side of the yard, the cursing old woman, the jolly
old man, and the lads sliding, suddenly presented the business which I
had concocted from a totally different point of view.  I then
comprehended for the first time, that all these unfortunates to whom I
was desirous of playing the part of benefactor, besides the time, when,
suffering from cold and hunger, they awaited admission into the house,
had still other time, which they employed to some other purpose, that
there were four and twenty hours in every day, that there was a whole
life of which I had never thought, up to that moment.  Here, for the
first time, I understood, that all those people, in addition to their
desire to shelter themselves from the cold and to obtain a good meal,
must still, in some way, live out those four and twenty hours each day,
which they must pass as well as everybody else.  I comprehended that
these people must lose their tempers, and get bored, show courage, and
grieve and be merry.  Strange as this may seem, when put into words, I
understood clearly for the first time, that the business which I had
undertaken could not consist alone in feeding and clothing thousands of
people, as one would feed and drive under cover a thousand sheep, but
that it must consist in doing good to them.

And then I understood that each one of those thousand people was exactly
such a man,--with precisely the same past, with the same passions,
temptations, failings, with the same thoughts, the same
perplexities,--exactly such a man as myself, and then the thing that I
had undertaken suddenly presented itself to me as so difficult that I
felt my powerlessness; but the thing had been begun, and I went on with


On the first appointed day, the student enumerators arrived in the
morning, and I, the benefactor, joined them at twelve o'clock.  I could
not go earlier, because I had risen at ten o'clock, then I had drunk my
coffee and smoked, while waiting on digestion.  At twelve o'clock I
reached the gates of the Rzhanoff house.  A policeman pointed out to me
the tavern with a side entrance on Beregovoy Passage, where the census-
takers had ordered every one who asked for them to be directed.  I
entered the tavern.  It was very dark, ill-smelling, and dirty.  Directly
opposite the entrance was the counter, on the left was a room with
tables, covered with soiled cloths, on the right a large apartment with
pillars, and the same sort of little tables at the windows and along the
walls.  Here and there at the tables sat men both ragged and decently
clad, like laboring-men or petty tradesmen, and a few women drinking tea.
The tavern was very filthy, but it was instantly apparent that it had a
good trade.

There was a business-like expression on the face of the clerk behind the
counter, and a clever readiness about the waiters.  No sooner had I
entered, than one waiter prepared to remove my coat and bring me whatever
I should order.  It was evident that they had been trained to brisk and
accurate service.  I inquired for the enumerators.

"Vanya!" shouted a small man, dressed in German fashion, who was engaged
in placing something in a cupboard behind the counter; this was the
landlord of the tavern, a Kaluga peasant, Ivan Fedotitch, who hired one-
half of the Zimins' houses and sublet them to lodgers.  The waiter, a
thin, hooked-nosed young fellow of eighteen, with a yellow complexion,
hastened up.

"Conduct this gentleman to the census-takers; they went into the main
building over the well."  The young fellow threw down his napkin, and
donned a coat over his white jacket and white trousers, and a cap with a
large visor, and, tripping quickly along with his white feet, he led me
through the swinging door in the rear.  In the dirty, malodorous kitchen,
in the out-building, we encountered an old woman who was carefully
carrying some very bad-smelling tripe, wrapped in a rag, off somewhere.
From the out-building we descended into a sloping court-yard, all
encumbered with small wooden buildings on lower stories of stone.  The
odor in this whole yard was extremely powerful.  The centre of this odor
was an out-house, round which people were thronging whenever I passed it.
It merely indicated the spot, but was not altogether used itself.  It was
impossible, when passing through the yard, not to take note of this spot;
one always felt oppressed when one entered the penetrating atmosphere
which was emitted by this foul smell.

The waiter, carefully guarding his white trousers, led me cautiously past
this place of frozen and unfrozen uncleanness to one of the buildings.
The people who were passing through the yard and along the balconies all
stopped to stare at me.  It was evident that a respectably dressed man
was a curiosity in these localities.

The young man asked a woman "whether she had seen the census-takers?"  And
three men simultaneously answered his question: some said that they were
over the well, but others said that they had been there, but had come out
and gone to Nikita Ivanovitch.  An old man dressed only in his shirt, who
was wandering about the centre of the yard, said that they were in No.
30.  The young man decided that this was the most probable report, and
conducted me to No. 30 through the basement entrance, and darkness and
bad smells, different from that which existed outside.  We went
down-stairs, and proceeded along the earthen floor of a dark corridor.  As
we were passing along the corridor, a door flew open abruptly, and an old
drunken man, in his shirt, probably not of the peasant class, thrust
himself out.  A washerwoman, wringing her soapy hands, was pursuing and
hustling the old man with piercing screams.  Vanya, my guide, pushed the
old man aside, and reproved him.

"It's not proper to make such a row," said me, "and you an officer, too!"
and we went on to the door of No. 30.

Vanya gave it a little pull.  The door gave way with a smack, opened, and
we smelled soapy steam, and a sharp odor of spoilt food and tobacco, and
we entered into total darkness.  The windows were on the opposite side;
but the corridors ran to right and left between board partitions, and
small doors opened, at various angles, into the rooms made of uneven
whitewashed boards.  In a dark room, on the left, a woman could be seen
washing in a tub.  An old woman was peeping from one of these small doors
on the right.  Through another open door we could see a red-faced, hairy
peasant, in bast shoes, sitting on his wooden bunk; his hands rested on
his knees, and he was swinging his feet, shod in bast shoes, and gazing
gloomily at them.

At the end of the corridor was a little door leading to the apartment
where the census-takers were.  This was the chamber of the mistress of
the whole of No. 30; she rented the entire apartment from Ivan
Feodovitch, and let it out again to lodgers and as night-quarters.  In
her tiny room, under the tinsel images, sat the student census-taker with
his charts; and, in his quality of investigator, he had just thoroughly
interrogated a peasant wearing a shirt and a vest.  This latter was a
friend of the landlady, and had been answering questions for her.  The
landlady herself, an elderly woman, was there also, and two of her
curious tenants.  When I entered, the room was already packed full.  I
pushed my way to the table.  I exchanged greetings with the student, and
he proceeded with his inquiries.  And I began to look about me, and to
interrogate the inhabitants of these quarters for my own purpose.

It turned out, that in this first set of lodgings, I found not a single
person upon whom I could pour out my benevolence.  The landlady, in spite
of the fact that the poverty, smallness and dirt of these quarters struck
me after the palatial house in which I dwell, lived in comfort, compared
with many of the poor inhabitants of the city, and in comparison with the
poverty in the country, with which I was thoroughly familiar, she lived
luxuriously.  She had a feather-bed, a quilted coverlet, a samovar, a fur
cloak, and a dresser with crockery.  The landlady's friend had the same
comfortable appearance.  He had a watch and a chain.  Her lodgers were
not so well off, but there was not one of them who was in need of
immediate assistance: the woman who was washing linen in a tub, and who
had been abandoned by her husband and had children, an aged widow without
any means of livelihood, as she said, and that peasant in bast shoes, who
told me that he had nothing to eat that day.  But on questioning them, it
appeared that none of these people were in special want, and that, in
order to help them, it would be necessary to become well acquainted with

When I proposed to the woman whose husband had abandoned her, to place
her children in an asylum, she became confused, fell into thought,
thanked me effusively, but evidently did not wish to do so; she would
have preferred pecuniary assistance.  The eldest girl helped her in her
washing, and the younger took care of the little boy.  The old woman
begged earnestly to be taken to the hospital, but on examining her nook I
found that the old woman was not particularly poor.  She had a chest full
of effects, a teapot with a tin spout, two cups, and caramel boxes filled
with tea and sugar.  She knitted stockings and gloves, and received
monthly aid from some benevolent lady.  And it was evident that what the
peasant needed was not so much food as drink, and that whatever might be
given him would find its way to the dram-shop.  In these quarters,
therefore, there were none of the sort of people whom I could render
happy by a present of money.  But there were poor people who appeared to
me to be of a doubtful character.  I noted down the old woman, the woman
with the children, and the peasant, and decided that they must be seen
to; but later on, as I was occupied with the peculiarly unfortunate whom
I expected to find in this house, I made up my mind that there must be
some order in the aid which we should bestow; first came the most
wretched, and then this kind.  But in the next quarters, and in the next
after that, it was the same story, all the people had to be narrowly
investigated before they could be helped.  But unfortunates of the sort
whom a gift of money would convert from unfortunate into fortunate
people, there were none.  Mortifying as it is to me to avow this, I began
to get disenchanted, because I did not find among these people any thing
of the sort which I had expected.  I had expected to find peculiar people
here; but, after making the round of all the apartments, I was convinced
that the inhabitants of these houses were not peculiar people at all, but
precisely such persons as those among whom I lived.  As there are among
us, just so among them; there were here those who were more or less good,
more or less stupid, happy and unhappy.  The unhappy were exactly such
unhappy beings as exist among us, that is, unhappy people whose
unhappiness lies not in their external conditions, but in themselves, a
sort of unhappiness which it is impossible to right by any sort of bank-
note whatever.


The inhabitants of these houses constitute the lower class of the city,
which numbers in Moscow, probably, one hundred thousand.  There, in that
house, are representatives of every description of this class.  There are
petty employers, and master-artisans, bootmakers, brush-makers, cabinet-
makers, turners, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths; there are cab-drivers,
young women living alone, and female pedlers, laundresses, old-clothes
dealers, money-lenders, day-laborers, and people without any definite
employment; and also beggars and dissolute women.

Here were many of the very people whom I had seen at the entrance to the
Lyapinsky house; but here these people were scattered about among the
working-people.  And moreover, I had seen these people at their most
unfortunate time, when they had eaten and drunk up every thing, and when,
cold, hungry, and driven forth from the taverns, they were awaiting
admission into the free night lodging-house, and thence into the promised
prison for despatch to their places of residence, like heavenly manna;
but here I beheld them and a majority of workers, and at a time, when by
one means or another, they had procured three or five kopeks for a
lodging for the night, and sometimes a ruble for food and drink.

And strange as the statement may seem, I here experienced nothing
resembling that sensation which I had felt in the Lyapinsky house; but,
on the contrary, during the first round, both I and the students
experienced an almost agreeable feeling,--yes, but why do I say "almost
agreeable"?  This is not true; the feeling called forth by intercourse
with these people, strange as it may sound, was a distinctly agreeable

Our first impression was, that the greater part of the dwellers here were
working people and very good people at that.

We found more than half the inhabitants at work: laundresses bending over
their tubs, cabinet-makers at their lathes, cobblers on their benches.
The narrow rooms were full of people, and cheerful and energetic labor
was in progress.  There was an odor of toilsome sweat and leather at the
cobbler's, of shavings at the cabinet-maker's; songs were often to be
heard, and glimpses could be had of brawny arms with sleeves roiled high,
quickly and skilfully making their accustomed movements.  Everywhere we
were received cheerfully and politely: hardly anywhere did our intrusion
into the every-day life of these people call forth that ambition, and
desire to exhibit their importance and to put us down, which the
appearance of the enumerators in the quarters of well-to-do people
evoked.  It not only did not arouse this, but, on the contrary, they
answered all other questions properly, and without attributing any
special significance to them.  Our questions merely served them as a
subject of mirth and jesting as to how such and such a one was to be set
down in the list, when he was to be reckoned as two, and when two were to
be reckoned as one, and so forth.

We found many of them at dinner, or tea; and on every occasion to our
greeting: "bread and salt," or "tea and sugar," they replied: "we beg
that you will partake," and even stepped aside to make room for us.
Instead of the den with a constantly changing population, which we had
expected to find here, it turned out, that there were a great many
apartments in the house where people had been living for a long time.  One
cabinet-maker with his men, and a boot-maker with his journeymen, had
lived there for ten years.  The boot-maker's quarters were very dirty and
confined, but all the people at work were very cheerful.  I tried to
enter into conversation with one of the workmen, being desirous of
inquiring into the wretchedness of his situation and his debt to his
master, but the man did not understand me and spoke of his master and his
life from the best point of view.

In one apartment lived an old man and his old woman.  They peddled
apples.  Their little chamber was warm, clean, and full of goods.  On the
floor were spread straw mats: they had got them at the apple-warehouse.
They had chests, a cupboard, a samovar, and crockery.  In the corner
there were numerous images, and two lamps were burning before them; on
the wall hung fur coats covered with sheets.  The old woman, who had star-
shaped wrinkles, and who was polite and talkative, evidently delighted in
her quiet, comfortable, existence.

Ivan Fedotitch, the landlord of the tavern and of these quarters, left
his establishment and came with us.  He jested in a friendly manner with
many of the landlords of apartments, addressing them all by their
Christian names and patronymics, and he gave us brief sketches of them.
All were ordinary people, like everybody else,--Martin Semyonovitches,
Piotr Piotrovitches, Marya Ivanovnas,--people who did not consider
themselves unhappy, but who regarded themselves, and who actually were,
just like the rest of mankind.

We had been prepared to witness nothing except what was terrible.  And,
all of a sudden, there was presented to us, not only nothing that was
terrible, but what was good,--things which involuntarily compelled our
respect.  And there were so many of these good people, that the tattered,
corrupt, idle people whom we came across now and then among them, did not
destroy the principal impression.

This was not so much of a surprise to the students as to me.  They simply
went to fulfil a useful task, as they thought, in the interests of
science, and, at the same time, they made their own chance observations;
but I was a benefactor, I went for the purpose of aiding the unfortunate,
the corrupt, vicious people, whom I supposed that I should meet with in
this house.  And, behold, instead of unfortunate, corrupt, and vicious
people, I saw that the majority were laborious, industrious, peaceable,
satisfied, contented, cheerful, polite, and very good folk indeed.

I felt particularly conscious of this when, in these quarters, I
encountered that same crying want which I had undertaken to alleviate.

When I encountered this want, I always found that it had already been
relieved, that the assistance which I had intended to render had already
been given.  This assistance had been rendered before my advent, and
rendered by whom?  By the very unfortunate, depraved creatures whom I had
undertaken to reclaim, and rendered in such a manner as I could not

In one basement lay a solitary old man, ill with the typhus fever.  There
was no one with the old man.  A widow and her little daughter, strangers
to him, but his neighbors round the corner, looked after him, gave him
tea and purchased medicine for him out of their own means.  In another
lodging lay a woman in puerperal fever.  A woman who lived by vice was
rocking the baby, and giving her her bottle; and for two days, she had
been unremitting in her attention.  The baby girl, on being left an
orphan, was adopted into the family of a tailor, who had three children
of his own.  So there remained those unfortunate idle people, officials,
clerks, lackeys out of place, beggars, drunkards, dissolute women, and
children, who cannot be helped on the spot with money, but whom it is
necessary to know thoroughly, to be planned and arranged for.  I had
simply sought unfortunate people, the unfortunates of poverty, those who
could be helped by sharing with them our superfluity, and, as it seemed
to me, through some signal ill-luck, none such were to be found; but I
hit upon unfortunates to whom I should be obliged to devote my time and


The unfortunates whom I noted down, divided themselves, according to my
ideas, into three sections, namely: people who had lost their former
advantageous position, and who were awaiting a return to it (there were
people of this sort from both the lower and the higher class); next,
dissolute women, of whom there are a great many in these houses; and a
third division, children.  More than all the rest, I found and noted down
people of the first division, who had forfeited their former advantageous
position, and who hoped to regain it.  Of such persons, especially from
the governmental and official world, there are a very great number in
these houses.  In almost all the lodgings which we entered, with the
landlord, Ivan Fedotitch, he said to us: "Here you need not write down
the lodger's card yourself; there is a man here who can do it, if he only
happens not to be intoxicated to-day."

And Ivan Fedotitch called by name and patronymic this man, who was always
one of those persons who had fallen from a lofty position.  At Ivan
Fedotitch's call, there crawled forth from some dark corner, a former
wealthy member of the noble or official class, generally intoxicated and
always undressed.  If he was not drunk, he always readily acceded to the
task proposed to him, nodded significantly, frowned, set down his remarks
in learned phraseology, held the card neatly printed on red paper in his
dirty, trembling hands, and glanced round at his fellow-lodgers with
pride and contempt, as though now triumphing in his education over those
who had so often humiliated him.  He evidently enjoyed intercourse with
that world in which cards are printed on red paper, and with that world
of which he had once formed a part.  Nearly always, in answer to my
inquiries about his life, the man began, not only willingly, but eagerly,
to relate the story of the misfortunes which he had undergone,--which he
had learned by rote like a prayer,--and particularly of his former
position, in which he ought still to be by right of his education.

A great many such people were scattered over all the corners of the
Rzhanoff house.  But one lodging was densely occupied by them alone--both
men and women.  After we had already entered, Ivan Fedotitch said to us:
"Now, here are some of the nobility."  The lodging was perfectly crammed;
nearly all of the people, forty in number, were at home.  More
demoralized countenances, unhappy, aged, and swollen, young, pallid, and
distracted, were not to be seen in the whole building.  I conversed with
several of them.  The story was nearly identical in all cases, only in
various stages of development.  Every one of them had been rich, or his
father, his brother or his uncle was still wealthy, or his father or he
himself had had a very fine position.  Then misfortune had overtaken him,
the blame for which rested either on envious people, or on his own kind-
heartedness, or some special chance, and so he had lost every thing, and
had been forced to condescend to these surroundings to which he was not
accustomed, and which were hateful to him--among lice, rags, among
drunkards and corrupt persons, and to nourish himself on bread and liver,
and to extend his hand in beggary.  All the thoughts, desires, memories
of these people were directed exclusively to the past.  The present
appeared to them something unreal, repulsive, and not worthy of
attention.  Not one of them had any present.  They had only memories of
the past, and expectations from the future, which might be realized at
any moment, and for the realization of which only a very little was
required; but this little they did not possess, it was nowhere to be
obtained, and this had been ruining their whole future life in vain, in
the case of one man, for a year, of a second for five years, and of a
third for thirty years.  All one needed was merely to dress respectably,
so that he could present himself to a certain personage, who was well-
disposed towards him another only needed to be able to dress, pay off his
debts, and get to Orel; a third required to redeem a small property which
was mortgaged, for the continuation of a law-suit, which must be decided
in his favor, and then all would be well once more.  They all declare
that they merely require something external, in order to stand once more
in the position which they regard as natural and happy in their own case.

Had my mind not been obscured by my pride as a benefactor, a glance at
their faces, both old and young, which were mostly weak and sensitive,
but amiable, would have given me to understand that their misfortunes
were irreparable by any external means, that they could not be happy in
any position whatever, if their views of life were to remain unchanged,
that they were in no wise remarkable people, in remarkably unfortunate
circumstances, but that they were the same people who surround us on all
sides, and just like ourselves.  I remember that intercourse with this
sort of unfortunates was peculiarly difficult for me.  I now understand
why this was so; in them I beheld myself, as in a mirror.  If I had
reflected on my own life and on the life of the people in our circle, I
should have seen that no real difference existed between them.

If those about me dwell in spacious quarters, and in their own houses on
the Sivtzevy Vrazhok and on the Dimitrovka, and not in the Rzhanoff
house, and still eat and drink dainties, and not liver and herrings with
bread, that does not prevent them from being exactly as unhappy.  They
are just as dissatisfied with their own positions, they mourn over the
past, and pine for better things, and the improved position for which
they long is precisely the same as that which the inhabitants of the
Rzhanoff house long for; that is to say, one in which they may do as
little work as possible themselves, and derive the utmost advantage from
the labors of others.  The difference is merely one of degrees and time.
If I had reflected at that time, I should have understood this; but I did
not reflect, and I questioned these people, and wrote them down,
supposing, that, having learned all the particulars of their various
conditions and necessities, I could aid them _later on_.  I did not
understand that such a man can only be helped by changing his views of
the world.  But in order to change the views of another, one must needs
have better views himself, and live in conformity with them; but mine
were precisely the same as theirs, and I lived in accordance with those
views, which must undergo a change, in order that these people might
cease to be unhappy.

I did not see that these people were unhappy, not because they had not,
so to speak, nourishing food, but because their stomachs had been
spoiled, and because their appetites demanded not nourishing but
irritating viands; and I did not perceive that, in order to help them, it
was not necessary to give them food, but that it was necessary to heal
their disordered stomachs.  Although I am anticipating by so doing, I
will mention here, that, out of all these persons whom I noted down, I
really did not help a single one, in spite of the fact that for some of
them, that was done which they desired, and that which, apparently, might
have raised them.  Three of their number were particularly well known to
me.  All three, after repeated rises and falls, are now in precisely the
same situation in which they were three years ago.


The second class of unfortunates whom I also expected to assist later on,
were the dissolute women; there were a very great many of them, of all
sorts, in the Rzhanoff house--from those who were young and who resembled
women, to old ones, who were frightful and horrible, and who had lost
every semblance of humanity.  The hope of being of assistance to these
women, which I had not at first entertained, occurred to me later.  This
was in the middle of our rounds.  We had already worked out several
mechanical tricks of procedure.

When we entered a new establishment, we immediately questioned the
landlady of the apartment; one of us sat down, clearing some sort of a
place for himself where he could write, and another penetrated the
corners, and questioned each man in all the nooks of the apartment
separately, and reported the facts to the one who did the writing.

On entering a set of rooms in the basement, a student went to hunt up the
landlady, while I began to interrogate all who remained in the place.  The
apartment was thus arranged: in the centre was a room six _arshins_
square, {59} and a small oven.  From the oven radiated four partitions,
forming four tiny compartments.  In the first, the entrance slip, which
had four bunks, there were two persons--an old man and a woman.
Immediately adjoining this, was a rather long slip of a room; in it was
the landlord, a young fellow, dressed in a sleeveless gray woollen
jacket, a good-looking, very pale citizen. {60}  On the left of the first
corner, was a third tiny chamber; there was one person asleep there,
probably a drunken peasant, and a woman in a pink blouse which was loose
in front and close-fitting behind.  The fourth chamber was behind the
partition; the entrance to it was from the landlord's compartment.

The student went into the landlord's room, and I remained in the entrance
compartment, and questioned the old man and woman.  The old man had been
a master-printer, but now had no means of livelihood.  The woman was the
wife of a cook.  I went to the third compartment, and questioned the
woman in the blouse about the sleeping man.  She said that he was a
visitor.  I asked the woman who she was.  She replied that she was a
Moscow peasant.  "What is your business?"  She burst into a laugh, and
did not answer me.  "What do you live on?" I repeated, thinking that she
had not understood my question.  "I sit in the taverns," she said.  I did
not comprehend, and again I inquired: "What is your means of livelihood?"
She made no reply and laughed.  Women's voices in the fourth compartment
which we had not yet entered, joined in the laugh.  The landlord emerged
from his cabin and stepped up to us.  He had evidently heard my questions
and the woman's replies.  He cast a stern glance at the woman and turned
to me: "She is a prostitute," said he, apparently pleased that he knew
the word in use in the language of the authorities, and that he could
pronounce it correctly.  And having said this, with a respectful and
barely perceptible smile of satisfaction addressed to me, he turned to
the woman.  And no sooner had he turned to her, than his whole face
altered.  He said, in a peculiar, scornful, hasty tone, such as is
employed towards dogs: "What do you jabber in that careless way for?  'I
sit in the taverns.'  You do sit in the taverns, and that means, to talk
business, that you are a prostitute," and again he uttered the word.  "She
does not know the name for herself."  This tone offended me.  "It is not
our place to abuse her," said I.  "If all of us lived according to the
laws of God, there would be none of these women."

"That's the very point," said the landlord, with an awkward smile.

"Therefore, we should not reproach but pity them.  Are they to blame?"

I do not recollect just what I said, but I do remember that I was vexed
by the scornful tone of the landlord of these quarters which were filled
with women, whom he called prostitutes, and that I felt compassion for
this woman, and that I gave expression to both feelings.  No sooner had I
spoken thus, than the boards of the bed in the next compartment, whence
the laugh had proceeded, began to creak, and above the partition, which
did not reach to the ceiling, there appeared a woman's curly and
dishevelled head, with small, swollen eyes, and a shining, red face,
followed by a second, and then by a third.  They were evidently standing
on their beds, and all three were craning their necks, and holding their
breath with strained attention, and gazing silently at us.

A troubled pause ensued.  The student, who had been smiling up to this
time, became serious; the landlord grew confused and dropped his eyes.
All the women held their breath, stared at me, and waited.  I was more
embarrassed than any of them.  I had not, in the least, anticipated that
a chance remark would produce such an effect.  Like Ezekiel's field of
death, strewn with dead men's bones, there was a quiver at the touch of
the spirit, and the dead bones stirred.  I had uttered an unpremeditated
word of love and sympathy, and this word had acted on all as though they
had only been waiting for this very remark, in order that they might
cease to be corpses and might live.  They all stared at me, and waited
for what would come next.  They waited for me to utter those words, and
to perform those actions by reason of which these bones might draw
together, clothe themselves with flesh, and spring into life.  But I felt
that I had no such words, no such actions, by means of which I could
continue what I had begun; I was conscious, in the depths of my soul,
that I had lied [that I was just like them], {62} and there was nothing
further for me to say; and I began to inscribe on the cards the names and
callings of all the persons in this set of apartments.

This incident led me into a fresh dilemma, to the thought of how these
unfortunates also might be helped.  In my self-delusion, I fancied that
this would be very easy.  I said to myself: "Here, we will make a note of
all these women also, and _later on_ when we [I did not specify to myself
who "we" were] write every thing out, we will attend to these persons
too."  I imagined that we, the very ones who have brought and have been
bringing these women to this condition for several generations, would
take thought some fine day and reform all this.  But, in the mean time,
if I had only recalled my conversation with the disreputable woman who
had been rocking the baby of the fever-stricken patient, I might have
comprehended the full extent of the folly of such a supposition.

When we saw this woman with the baby, we thought that it was her child.
To the question, "Who was she?" she had replied in a straightforward way
that she was unmarried.  She did not say--a prostitute.  Only the master
of the apartment made use of that frightful word.  The supposition that
she had a child suggested to me the idea of removing her from her
position.  I inquired:

"Is this your child?"

"No, it belongs to that woman yonder."

"Why are you taking care of it?"

"Because she asked me; she is dying."

Although my supposition proved to be erroneous, I continued my
conversation with her in the same spirit.  I began to question her as to
who she was, and how she had come to such a state.  She related her
history very readily and simply.  She was a Moscow _myeshchanka_, the
daughter of a factory hand.  She had been left an orphan, and had been
adopted by an aunt.  From her aunt's she had begun to frequent the
taverns.  The aunt was now dead.  When I asked her whether she did not
wish to alter her mode of life, my question, evidently, did not even
arouse her interest.  How can one take an interest in the proposition of
a man, in regard to something absolutely impossible?  She laughed, and
said: "And who would take me in with my yellow ticket?"

"Well, but if a place could be found somewhere as cook?" said I.

This thought occurred to me because she was a stout, ruddy woman, with a
kindly, round, and rather stupid face.  Cooks are often like that.  My
words evidently did not please her.  She repeated:

"A cook--but I don't know how to make bread," said she, and she laughed.
She said that she did not know how; but I saw from the expression of her
countenance that she did not wish to become a cook, that she regarded the
position and calling of a cook as low.

This woman, who in the simplest possible manner was sacrificing every
thing that she had for the sick woman, like the widow in the Gospels, at
the same time, like many of her companions, regarded the position of a
person who works as low and deserving of scorn.  She had been brought up
to live not by work, but by this life which was considered the natural
one for her by those about her.  In that lay her misfortune.  And she
fell in with this misfortune and clung to her position.  This led her to
frequent the taverns.  Which of us--man or woman--will correct her false
view of life?  Where among us are the people to be found who are
convinced that every laborious life is more worthy of respect than an
idle life,--who are convinced of this, and who live in conformity with
this belief, and who in conformity with this conviction value and respect
people?  If I had thought of this, I might have understood that neither
I, nor any other person among my acquaintances, could heal this

I might have understood that these amazed and affected heads thrust over
the partition indicated only surprise at the sympathy expressed for them,
but not in the least a hope of reclamation from their dissolute life.
They do not perceive the immorality of their life.  They see that they
are despised and cursed, but for what they are thus despised they cannot
comprehend.  Their life, from childhood, has been spent among just such
women, who, as they very well know, always have existed, and are
indispensable to society, and so indispensable that there are
governmental officials to attend to their legal existence.  Moreover,
they know that they have power over men, and can bring them into
subjection, and rule them often more than other women.  They see that
their position in society is recognized by women and men and the
authorities, in spite of their continual curses, and therefore, they
cannot understand why they should reform.

In the course of one of the tours, one of the students told me that in a
certain lodging, there was a woman who was bargaining for her thirteen-
year-old daughter.  Being desirous of rescuing this girl, I made a trip
to that lodging expressly.  Mother and daughter were living in the
greatest poverty.  The mother, a small, dark-complexioned, dissolute
woman of forty, was not only homely, but repulsively homely.  The
daughter was equally disagreeable.  To all my pointed questions about
their life, the mother responded curtly, suspiciously, and in a hostile
way, evidently feeling that I was an enemy, with evil intentions; the
daughter made no reply, did not look at her mother, and evidently trusted
the latter fully.  They inspired me with no sincere pity, but rather with
disgust.  But I made up my mind that the daughter must be rescued, and
that I would interest ladies who pitied the sad condition of these women,
and send them hither.  But if I had reflected on the mother's long life
in the past, of how she had given birth to, nursed and reared this
daughter in her situation, assuredly without the slightest assistance
from outsiders, and with heavy sacrifices--if I had reflected on the view
of life which this woman had formed, I should have understood that there
was, decidedly, nothing bad or immoral in the mother's act: she had done
and was doing for her daughter all that she could, that is to say, what
she considered the best for herself.  This daughter could be forcibly
removed from her mother; but it would be impossible to convince the
mother that she was doing wrong, in selling her daughter.  If any one was
to be saved, then it must be this woman--the mother ought to have been
saved; [and that long before, from that view of life which is approved by
every one, according to which a woman may live unmarried, that is,
without bearing children and without work, and simply for the
satisfaction of the passions.  If I had thought of this, I should have
understood that the majority of the ladies whom I intended to send
thither for the salvation of that little girl, not only live without
bearing children and without working, and serving only passion, but that
they deliberately rear their daughters for the same life; one mother
takes her daughter to the taverns, another takes hers to balls.  But both
mothers hold the same view of the world, namely, that a woman must
satisfy man's passions, and that for this she must be fed, dressed, and
cared for.  Then how are our ladies to reform this woman and her
daughter? {66} ]


Still more remarkable were my relations to the children.  In my _role_ of
benefactor, I turned my attention to the children also, being desirous to
save these innocent beings from perishing in that lair of vice, and
noting them down in order to attend to them _afterwards_.

Among the children, I was especially struck with a twelve-year-old lad
named Serozha.  I was heartily sorry for this bold, intelligent lad, who
had lived with a cobbler, and who had been left without a shelter because
his master had been put in jail, and I wanted to do good to him.

I will here relate the upshot of my benevolence in his case, because my
experience with this child is best adapted to show my false position in
the _role_ of benefactor.  I took the boy home with me and put him in the
kitchen.  It was impossible, was it not, to take a child who had lived in
a den of iniquity in among my own children?  And I considered myself very
kind and good, because he was a care, not to me, but to the servants in
the kitchen, and because not I but the cook fed him, and because I gave
him some cast-off clothing to wear.  The boy staid a week.  During that
week I said a few words to him as I passed on two occasions and in the
course of my strolls, I went to a shoemaker of my acquaintance, and
proposed that he should take the lad as an apprentice.  A peasant who was
visiting me, invited him to go to the country, into his family, as a
laborer; the boy refused, and at the end of the week he disappeared.  I
went to the Rzhanoff house to inquire after him.  He had returned there,
but was not at home when I went thither.  For two days already, he had
been going to the Pryesnensky ponds, where he had hired himself out at
thirty kopeks a day in some procession of savages in costume, who led
about elephants.  Something was being presented to the public there.  I
went a second time, but he was so ungrateful that he evidently avoided
me.  Had I then reflected on the life of that boy and on my own, I should
have understood that this boy was spoiled because he had discovered the
possibility of a merry life without labor, and that he had grown unused
to work.  And I, with the object of benefiting and reclaiming him, had
taken him to my house, where he saw--what?  My children,--both older and
younger than himself, and of the same age,--who not only never did any
work for themselves, but who made work for others by every means in their
power, who soiled and spoiled every thing about them, who ate rich,
dainty, and sweet viands, broke china, and flung to the dogs food which
would have been a tidbit to this lad.  If I had rescued him from the
_abyss_, and had taken him to that nice place, then he must acquire those
views which prevailed in the life of that nice place; but by these views,
he understood that in that fine place he must so live that he should not
toil, but eat and drink luxuriously, and lead a joyous life.  It is true
that he did not know that my children bore heavy burdens in the
acquisition of the declensions of Latin and Greek grammar, and that he
could not have understood the object of these labors.  But it is
impossible not to see that if he had understood this, the influence of my
children's example on him would have been even stronger.  He would then
have comprehended that my children were being educated in this manner, so
that, while doing no work now, they might be in a position hereafter,
also profiting by their diplomas, to work as little as possible, and to
enjoy the pleasures of life to as great an extent as possible.  He did
understand this, and he would not go with the peasant to tend cattle, and
to eat potatoes and _kvas_ with him, but he went to the zoological garden
in the costume of a savage, to lead the elephant at thirty kopeks a day.

I might have understood how clumsy I was, when I was rearing my children
in the most utter idleness and luxury, to reform other people and their
children, who were perishing from idleness in what I called the den of
the Rzhanoff house, where, nevertheless, three-fourths of the people toil
for themselves and for others.  But I understood nothing of this.

There were a great many children in the Rzhanoff house, who were in the
same pitiable plight; there were the children of dissolute women, there
were orphans, there were children who had been picked up in the streets
by beggars.  They were all very wretched.  But my experience with Serozha
showed me that I, living the life I did, was not in a position to help

While Serozha was living with us, I noticed in myself an effort to hide
our life from him, in particular the life of our children.  I felt that
all my efforts to direct him towards a good, industrious life, were
counteracted by the examples of our lives and by that of our children.  It
is very easy to take a child away from a disreputable woman, or from a
beggar.  It is very easy, when one has the money, to wash, clean and
dress him in neat clothing, to support him, and even to teach him various
sciences; but it is not only difficult for us, who do not earn our own
bread, but quite the reverse, to teach him to work for his bread, but it
is impossible, because we, by our example, and even by those material and
valueless improvements of his life, inculcate the contrary.  A puppy can
be taken, tended, fed, and taught to fetch and carry, and one may take
pleasure in him: but it is not enough to tend a man, to feed and teach
him Greek; we must teach the man how to live,--that is, to take as little
as possible from others, and to give as much as possible; and we cannot
help teaching him to do the contrary, if we take him into our houses, or
into an institution founded for this purpose.


This feeling of compassion for people, and of disgust with myself, which
I had experienced in the Lyapinsky house, I experienced no longer.  I was
completely absorbed in the desire to carry out the scheme which I had
concocted,--to do good to those people whom I should meet here.  And,
strange to say, it would appear, that, to do good--to give money to the
needy--is a very good deed, and one that should dispose me to love for
the people, but it turned out the reverse: this act produced in me ill-
will and an inclination to condemn people.  But during our first evening
tour, a scene occurred exactly like that in the Lyapinsky house, and it
called forth a wholly different sentiment.

It began by my finding in one set of apartments an unfortunate
individual, of precisely the sort who require immediate aid.  I found a
hungry woman who had had nothing to eat for two days.

It came about thus: in one very large and almost empty night-lodging, I
asked an old woman whether there were many poor people who had nothing to
eat?  The old woman reflected, and then told me of two; and then, as
though she had just recollected, "Why, here is one of them," said she,
glancing at one of the occupied bunks.  "I think that woman has had no

"Really?  Who is she?"

"She was a dissolute woman: no one wants any thing to do with her now, so
she has no way of getting any thing.  The landlady has had compassion on
her, but now she means to turn her out . . . Agafya, hey there, Agafya!"
cried the woman.

We approached, and something rose up in the bunk.  It was a woman haggard
and dishevelled, whose hair was half gray, and who was as thin as a
skeleton, dressed in a ragged and dirty chemise, and with particularly
brilliant and staring eyes.  She looked past us with her staring eyes,
clutched at her jacket with one thin hand, in order to cover her bony
breast which was disclosed by her tattered chemise, and oppressed, she
cried, "What is it? what is it?"  I asked her about her means of
livelihood.  For a long time she did not understand, and said, "I don't
know myself; they persecute me."  I asked her,--it puts me to shame, my
hand refuses to write it,--I asked her whether it was true that she had
nothing to eat?  She answered in the same hurried, feverish tone, staring
at me the while,--"No, I had nothing yesterday, and I have had nothing to-

The sight of this woman touched me, but not at all as had been the case
in the Lyapinsky house; there, my pity for these people made me instantly
feel ashamed of myself: but here, I rejoiced because I had at last found
what I had been seeking,--a hungry person.

I gave her a ruble, and I recollect being very glad that others saw it.
The old woman, on seeing this, immediately begged money of me also.  It
afforded me such pleasure to give, that, without finding out whether it
was necessary to give or not, I gave something to the old woman too.  The
old woman accompanied me to the door, and the people standing in the
corridor heard her blessing me.  Probably the questions which I had put
with regard to poverty, had aroused expectation, and several persons
followed us.  In the corridor also, they began to ask me for money.  Among
those who begged were some drunken men, who aroused an unpleasant feeling
in me; but, having once given to the old woman, I had no might to refuse
these people, and I began to give.  As long as I continued to give,
people kept coming up; and excitement ran through all the lodgings.
People made them appearance on the stairs and galleries, and followed me.
As I emerged into the court-yard, a little boy ran swiftly down one of
the staircases thrusting the people aside.  He did not see me, and
exclaimed hastily: "He gave Agashka a ruble!"  When he reached the
ground, the boy joined the crowd which was following me.  I went out into
the street: various descriptions of people followed me, and asked for
money.  I distributed all my small change, and entered an open shop with
the request that the shopkeeper would change a ten-ruble bill for me.  And
then the same thing happened as at the Lyapinsky house.  A terrible
confusion ensued.  Old women, noblemen, peasants, and children crowded
into the shop with outstretched hands; I gave, and interrogated some of
them as to their lives, and took notes.  The shopkeeper, turning up the
furred points of the collar of his coat, sat like a stuffed creature,
glancing at the crowd occasionally, and then fixing his eyes beyond them
again.  He evidently, like every one else, felt that this was foolish,
but he could not say so.

The poverty and beggary in the Lyapinsky house had horrified me, and I
felt myself guilty of it; I felt the desire and the possibility of
improvement.  But now, precisely the same scene produced on me an
entirely different effect; I experienced, in the first place, a
malevolent feeling towards many of those who were besieging me; and in
the second place, uneasiness as to what the shopkeepers and porters would
think of me.

On my return home that day, I was troubled in my soul.  I felt that what
I had done was foolish and immoral.  But, as is always the result of
inward confusion, I talked a great deal about the plan which I had
undertaken, as though I entertained not the slightest doubt of my

On the following day, I went to such of the people whom I had inscribed
on my list, as seemed to me the most wretched of all, and those who, as
it seemed to me, would be the easiest to help.  As I have already said, I
did not help any of these people.  It proved to be more difficult to help
them than I had thought.  And either because I did not know how, or
because it was impossible, I merely imitated these people, and did not
help any one.  I visited the Rzhanoff house several times before the
final tour, and on every occasion the very same thing occurred: I was
beset by a throng of beggars in whose mass I was completely lost.  I felt
the impossibility of doing any thing, because there were too many of
them, and because I felt ill-disposed towards them because there were so
many of them; and in addition to this, each one separately did not
incline me in his favor.  I was conscious that every one of them was
telling me an untruth, or less than the whole truth, and that he saw in
me merely a purse from which money might be drawn.  And it very
frequently seemed to me, that the very money which they squeezed out of
me, rendered their condition worse instead of improving it.  The oftener
I went to that house, the more I entered into intercourse with the people
there, the more apparent became to me the impossibility of doing any
thing; but still I did not give up any scheme until the last night tour.

The remembrance of that last tour is particularly mortifying to me.  On
other occasions I had gone thither alone, but twenty of us went there on
this occasion.  At seven o'clock, all who wished to take part in this
final night round, began to assemble at my house.  Nearly all of them
were strangers to me,--students, one officer, and two of my society
acquaintances, who, uttering the usual, "_C'est tres interessant_!" had
asked me to include them in the number of the census-takers.

My worldly acquaintances had dressed up especially for this, in some sort
of hunting-jacket, and tall, travelling boots, in a costume in which they
rode and went hunting, and which, in their opinion, was appropriate for
an excursion to a night-lodging-house.  They took with them special note-
books and remarkable pencils.  They were in that peculiarly excited state
of mind in which men set off on a hunt, to a duel, or to the wars.  The
most apparent thing about them was their folly and the falseness of our
position, but all the rest of us were in the same false position.  Before
we set out, we held a consultation, after the fashion of a council of
war, as to how we should begin, how divide our party, and so on.

This consultation was exactly such as takes place in councils,
assemblages, committees; that is to say, each person spoke, not because
he had any thing to say or to ask, but because each one cudgelled his
brain for something that he could say, so that he might not fall short of
the rest.  But, among all these discussions, no one alluded to that
beneficence of which I had so often spoken to them all.  Mortifying as
this was to me, I felt that it was indispensable that I should once more
remind them of benevolence, that is, of the point, that we were to
observe and take notes of all those in destitute circumstances whom we
should encounter in the course of our rounds.  I had always felt ashamed
to speak of this; but now, in the midst of all our excited preparations
for our expedition, I could hardly utter the words.  All listened to me,
as it seemed to me, with sorrow, and, at the same time, all agreed in
words; but it was evident that they all knew that it was folly, and that
nothing would come of it, and all immediately began again to talk about
something else.  This went on until the time arrived for us to set out,
and we started.

We reached the tavern, roused the waiters, and began to sort our papers.
When we were informed that the people had heard about this round, and
were leaving their quarters, we asked the landlord to lock the gates; and
we went ourselves into the yard to reason with the fleeing people,
assuring them that no one would demand their tickets.  I remember the
strange and painful impression produced on me by these alarmed
night-lodgers: ragged, half-dressed, they all seemed tall to me by the
light of the lantern and the gloom of the court-yard.  Frightened and
terrifying in their alarm, they stood in a group around the foul-smelling
out-house, and listened to our assurances, but they did not believe us,
and were evidently prepared for any thing, like hunted wild beasts,
provided only that they could escape from us.  Gentlemen in divers
shapes--as policemen, both city and rural, and as examining judges, and
judges--hunt them all their lives, in town and country, on the highway
and in the streets, and in the taverns, and in night-lodging houses; and
now, all of a sudden, these gentlemen had come and locked the gates,
merely in order to count them: it was as difficult for them to believe
this, as for hares to believe that dogs have come, not to chase but to
count them.  But the gates were locked, and the startled lodgers
returned: and we, breaking up into groups, entered also.  With me were
the two society men and two students.  In front of us, in the dark, went
Vanya, in his coat and white trousers, with a lantern, and we followed.
We went to quarters with which I was familiar.  I knew all the
establishments, and some of the people; but the majority of the people
were new, and the spectacle was new, and more dreadful than the one which
I had witnessed in the Lyapinsky house.  All the lodgings were full, all
the bunks were occupied, not by one person only, but often by two.  The
sight was terrible in that narrow space into which the people were
huddled, and men and women were mixed together.  All the women who were
not dead drunk slept with men; and women with two children did the same.
The sight was terrible, on account of the poverty, dirt, rags, and terror
of the people.  And it was chiefly dreadful on account of the vast
numbers of people who were in this situation.  One lodging, and then a
second like it, and a third, and a tenth, and a twentieth, and still
there was no end to them.  And everywhere there was the same foul odor,
the same close atmosphere, the same crowding, the same mingling of the
sexes, the same men and women intoxicated to stupidity, and the same
terror, submission and guilt on all faces; and again I was overwhelmed
with shame and pain, as in the Lyapinsky house, and I understood that
what I had undertaken was abominable and foolish and therefore
impracticable.  And I no longer took notes of anybody, and I asked no
questions, knowing that nothing would come of this.

I was deeply pained.  In the Lyapinsky house I had been like a man who
has seen a fearful wound, by chance, on the body of another man.  He is
sorry for the other man, he is ashamed that he has not pitied the man
before, and he can still rise to the succor of the sufferer.  But now I
was like a physician, who has come with his medicine to the sick man, has
uncovered his sore, and examined it, and who must confess to himself that
every thing that he has done has been in vain, and that his remedy is
good for nothing.


This visit dealt the final blow to my self-delusion.  It now appeared
indisputable to me, that what I had undertaken was not only foolish but

But, in spite of the fact that I was aware of this, it seemed to me that
I could not abandon the whole thing on the spot.  It seemed to me that I
was bound to carry out this enterprise, in the first place, because by my
article, by my visits and promises, I had aroused the expectations of the
poor; in the second, because by my article also, and by my talk, I had
aroused the sympathies of benevolent persons, many of whom had promised
me their co-operation both in personal labor and in money.  And I
expected that both sets of people would turn to me for an answer to this.

What happened to me, so far as the appeal of the needy to me is
concerned, was as follows: By letter and personal application I received
more than a hundred; these applications were all from the wealthy-poor,
if I may so express myself.  I went to see some of them, and some of them
received no answer.  Nowhere did I succeed in doing any thing.  All
applications to me were from persons who had once occupied privileged
positions (I thus designate those in which people receive more from
others than they give), who had lost them, and who wished to occupy them
again.  To one, two hundred rubles were indispensable, in order that he
might prop up a failing business, and complete the education of his
children which had been begun; another wanted a photographic outfit; a
third wanted his debts paid, and respectable clothing purchased for him;
a fourth needed a piano, in order to perfect himself and support his
family by giving lessons.  But the majority did not stipulate for any
given sum of money, and simply asked for assistance; and when I came to
examine into what was required, it turned out that their demands grew in
proportion to the aid, and that there was not and could not be any way of
satisfying them.  I repeat, that it is very possible that this arose from
the fact that I did not understand how; but I did not help any one,
although I sometimes endeavored to do so.

A very strange and unexpected thing happened to me as regards the
co-operation of the benevolently disposed.  Out of all the persons who
had promised me financial aid, and who had even stated the number of
rubles, not a single one handed to me for distribution among the poor one
solitary ruble.  But according to the pledges which had been given me, I
could reckon on about three thousand rubles; and out of all these people,
not one remembered our former discussions, or gave me a single kopek.
Only the students gave the money which had been assigned to them for
their work on the census, twelve rubles, I think.  So my whole scheme,
which was to have been expressed by tens of thousands of rubles
contributed by the wealthy, for hundreds and thousands of poor people who
were to be rescued from poverty and vice, dwindled down to this, that I
gave away, haphazard, a few scores of rubles to those people who asked me
for them, and that there remained in my hands twelve rubies contributed
by the students, and twenty-five sent to me by the City Council for my
labor as a superintendent, and I absolutely did not know to whom to give

The whole matter came to an end.  And then, before my departure for the
country, on the Sunday before carnival, I went to the Rzhanoff house in
the morning, in order to get rid of those thirty-seven rubles before I
should leave Moscow, and to distribute them to the poor.  I made the
round of the quarters with which I was familiar, and in them found only
one sick man, to whom I gave five rubles.  There was no one else there to
give any to.  Of course many began to beg of me.  But as I had not known
them at first, so I did not know them now, and I made up my mind to take
counsel with Ivan Fedotitch, the landlord of the tavern, as to the
persons upon whom it would be proper to bestow the remaining thirty-two

It was the first day of the carnival.  Everybody was dressed up, and
everybody was full-fed, and many were already intoxicated.  In the court-
yard, close to the house, stood an old man, a rag-picker, in a tattered
smock and bast shoes, sorting over the booty in his basket, tossing out
leather, iron, and other stuff in piles, and breaking into a merry song,
with a fine, powerful voice.  I entered into conversation with him.  He
was seventy years old, he was alone in the world, and supported himself
by his calling of a rag-picker; and not only did he utter no complaints,
but he said that he had plenty to eat and drink.  I inquired of him as to
especially needy persons.  He flew into a rage, and said plainly that
there were no needy people, except drunkards and lazy men; but, on
learning my object, he asked me for a five-kopek piece to buy a drink,
and ran off to the tavern.  I too entered the tavern to see Ivan
Fedotitch, and commission him to distribute the money which I had left.
The tavern was full; gayly-dressed, intoxicated girls were flitting in
and out; all the tables were occupied; there were already a great many
drunken people, and in the small room the harmonium was being played, and
two persons were dancing.  Out of respect to me, Ivan Fedotitch ordered
that the dance should be stopped, and seated himself with me at a vacant
table.  I said to him, that, as he knew his tenants, would not he point
out to me the most needy among them; that I had been entrusted with the
distribution of a little money, and, therefore, would he indicate the
proper persons?  Good-natured Ivan Fedotitch (he died a year later),
although he was pressed with business, broke away from it for a time, in
order to serve me.  He meditated, and was evidently undecided.  An
elderly waiter heard us, and joined the conference.

They began to discuss the claims of persons, some of whom I knew, but
still they could not come to any agreement.  "The Paramonovna," suggested
the waiter.  "Yes, that would do.  Sometimes she has nothing to eat.  Yes,
but then she tipples."--"Well, what of that?  That makes no
difference."--"Well, Sidoron Ivanovitch has children.  He would do."  But
Ivan Fedotitch had his doubts about Sidoron Ivanovitch also.  "Akulina
shall have some.  There, now, give something to the blind."  To this I
responded.  I saw him at once.  He was a blind old man of eighty years,
without kith or kin.  It seemed as though no condition could be more
painful, and I went immediately to see him.  He was lying on a feather-
bed, on a high bedstead, drunk; and, as he did not see me, he was
scolding his comparatively youthful female companion in a frightful bass
voice, and in the very worst kind of language.  They also summoned an
armless boy and his mother.  I saw that Ivan Fedotitch was in great
straits, on account of his conscientiousness, for me knew that whatever
was given would immediately pass to his tavern.  But I had to get rid of
my thirty-two rubles, so I insisted; and in one way and another, and half
wrongfully to boot, we assigned and distributed them.  Those who received
them were mostly well dressed, and we had not far to go to find them, as
they were there in the tavern.  The armless boy appeared in wrinkled
boots, and a red shirt and vest.  With this my charitable career came to
an end, and I went off to the country; irritated at others, as is always
the case, because I myself had done a stupid and a bad thing.  My
benevolence had ended in nothing, and it ceased altogether, but the
current of thoughts and feelings which it had called up with me not only
did not come to an end, but the inward work went on with redoubled force.


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

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.]

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

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.] {96}

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

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.] {99}


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

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.] {108}


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.] {111}  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.]

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.] {116}

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 workingman, 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

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.] {122a}

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_ {122b} 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.] {122a}

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

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.] {135}

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

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.]

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.] {139}

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.] {140}

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

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.]
{142}  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.] {142}



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

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

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

"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

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

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,
{152a} [and the women to the state of the one whom I had seen near my
house]. {152b}

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.] {154}

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

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, {155} 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.

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. {161a}
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, {161b} 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 {165} 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 {167} 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 . . . {168}



. . . {169} The justification of all persons who have freed themselves
from toil is now founded on experimental, positive science.  The
scientific theory is as follows:--

"For the study of the laws of life of human societies, there exists but
one indubitable method,--the positive, experimental, critical method

"Only sociology, founded on biology, founded on all the positive
sciences, can give us the laws of humanity.  Humanity, or human
communities, are the organisms already prepared, or still in process of
formation, and which are subservient to all the laws of the evolution of

"One of the chief of these laws is the variation of destination among the
portions of the organs.  Some people command, others obey.  If some have
in superabundance, and others in want, this arises not from the will of
God, not because the empire is a form of manifestation of personality,
but because in societies, as in organisms, division of labor becomes
indispensable for life as a whole.  Some people perform the muscular
labor in societies; others, the mental labor."

Upon this doctrine is founded the prevailing justification of our time.

Not long ago, their reigned in the learned, cultivated world, a moral
philosophy, according to which it appeared that every thing which exists
is reasonable; that there is no such thing as evil or good; and that it
is unnecessary for man to war against evil, but that it is only necessary
for him to display intelligence,--one man in the military service,
another in the judicial, another on the violin.  There have been many and
varied expressions of human wisdom, and these phenomena were known to the
men of the nineteenth century.  The wisdom of Rousseau and of Lessing,
and Spinoza and Bruno, and all the wisdom of antiquity; but no one man's
wisdom overrode the crowd.  It was impossible to say even this,--that
Hegel's success was the result of the symmetry of this theory.  There
were other equally symmetrical theories,--those of Descartes, Leibnitz,
Fichte, Schopenhauer.  There was but one reason why this doctrine won for
itself, for a season, the belief of the whole world; and this reason was,
that the deductions of that philosophy winked at people's weaknesses.
These deductions were summed up in this,--that every thing was
reasonable, every thing good; and that no one was to blame.

When I began my career, Hegelianism was the foundation of every thing.  It
was floating in the air; it was expressed in newspaper and periodical
articles, in historical and judicial lectures, in novels, in treatises,
in art, in sermons, in conversation.  The man who was not acquainted with
Hegal had no right to speak.  Any one who desired to understand the truth
studied Hegel.  Every thing rested on him.  And all at once the forties
passed, and there was nothing left of him.  There was not even a hint of
him, any more than if he had never existed.  And the most amazing thing
of all was, that Hegelianism did not fall because some one overthrew it
or destroyed it.  No!  It was the same then as now, but all at once it
appeared that it was of no use whatever to the learned and cultivated

There was a time when the Hegelian wise men triumphantly instructed the
masses; and the crowd, understanding nothing, blindly believed in every
thing, finding confirmation in the fact that it was on hand; and they
believed that what seemed to them muddy and contradictory there on the
heights of philosophy was all as clear as the day.  But that time has
gone by.  That theory is worn out: a new theory has presented itself in
its stead.  The old one has become useless; and the crowd has looked into
the secret sanctuaries of the high priests, and has seen that there is
nothing there, and that there has been nothing there, save very obscure
and senseless words.  This has taken place within my memory.

"But this arises," people of the present science will say, "from the fact
that all that was the raving of the theological and metaphysical period;
but now there exists positive, critical science, which does not deceive,
since it is all founded on induction and experiment.  Now our erections
are not shaky, as they formerly were, and only in our path lies the
solution of all the problems of humanity."

But the old teachers said precisely the same, and they were no fools; and
we know that there were people of great intelligence among them.  And
precisely thus, within my memory, and with no less confidence, with no
less recognition on the part of the crowd of so-called cultivated people,
spoke the Hegelians.  And neither were our Herzens, our Stankevitches, or
our Byelinskys fools.  But whence arose that marvellous manifestation,
that sensible people should preach with the greatest assurance, and that
the crowd should accept with devotion, such unfounded and unsupportable
teachings?  There is but one reason,--that the teachings thus inculcated
justified people in their evil life.

A very poor English writer, whose works are all forgotten, and recognized
as the most insignificant of the insignificant, writes a treatise on
population, in which he devises a fictitious law concerning the increase
of population disproportionate to the means of subsistence.  This
fictitious law, this writer encompasses with mathematical formulae
founded on nothing whatever; and then he launches it on the world.  From
the frivolity and the stupidity of this hypothesis, one would suppose
that it would not attract the attention of any one, and that it would
sink into oblivion, like all the works of the same author which followed
it; but it turned out quite otherwise.  The hack-writer who penned this
treatise instantly becomes a scientific authority, and maintains himself
upon that height for nearly half a century.  Malthus!  The Malthusian
theory,--the law of the increase of the population in geometrical, and of
the means of subsistence in arithmetical proportion, and the wise and
natural means of restricting the population,--all these have become
scientific, indubitable truths, which have not been confirmed, but which
have been employed as axioms, for the erection of false theories.  In
this manner have learned and cultivated people proceeded; and among the
herd of idle persons, there sprung up a pious trust in the great laws
expounded by Malthus.  How did this come to pass?  It would seem as
though they were scientific deductions, which had nothing in common with
the instincts of the masses.  But this can only appear so for the man who
believes that science, like the Church, is something self-contained,
liable to no errors, and not simply the imaginings of weak and erring
folk, who merely substitute the imposing word "science," in place of the
thoughts and words of the people, for the sake of impressiveness.

All that was necessary was to make practical deductions from the theory
of Malthus, in order to perceive that this theory was of the most human
sort, with the best defined of objects.  The deductions directly arising
from this theory were the following: The wretched condition of the
laboring classes was such in accordance with an unalterable law, which
does not depend upon men; and, if any one is to blame in this matter, it
is the hungry laboring classes themselves.  Why are they such fools as to
give birth to children, when they know that there will be nothing for the
children to eat?  And so this deduction, which is valuable for the herd
of idle people, has had this result: that all learned men overlooked the
incorrectness, the utter arbitrariness of these deductions, and their
insusceptibility to proof; and the throng of cultivated, i.e., of idle
people, knowing instinctively to what these deductions lead, saluted this
theory with enthusiasm, conferred upon it the stamp of truth, i.e., of
science, and dragged it about with them for half a century.

Is not this same thing the cause of the confidence of men in positive
critical-experimental science, and of the devout attitude of the crowd
towards that which it preaches?  At first it seems strange, that the
theory of evolution can in any manner justify people in their evil ways;
and it seems as though the scientific theory of evolution has to deal
only with facts, and that it does nothing else but observe facts.

But this only appears to be the case.

Exactly the same thing appeared to be the case with the Hegelian
doctrine, in a greater degree, and also in the special instance of the
Malthusian doctrine.  Hegelianism was, apparently, occupied only with its
logical constructions, and bore no relation to the life of mankind.
Precisely this seemed to be the case with the Malthusian theory.  It
appeared to be busy itself only with statistical data.  But this was only
in appearance.

Contemporary science is also occupied with facts alone: it investigates
facts.  But what facts?  Why precisely these facts, and no others?

The men of contemporary science are very fond of saying, triumphantly and
confidently, "We investigate only facts," imagining that these words
contain some meaning.  It is impossible to investigate facts alone,
because the facts which are subject to our investigation are
_innumerable_ (in the definite sense of that word),--innumerable.  Before
we proceed to investigate facts, we must have a theory on the foundation
of which these or those facts can be inquired into, i.e., selected from
the incalculable quantity.

And this theory exists, and is even very definitely expressed, although
many of the workers in contemporary science do not know it, or often
pretend that they do not know it.  Exactly thus has it always been with
all prevailing and guiding doctrines.  The foundations of every doctrine
are always stated in a theory, and the so-called learned men merely
invent further deductions from the foundations once stated.  Thus
contemporary science is selecting its facts on the foundation of a very
definite theory, which it sometimes knows, sometimes refuses to know, and
sometimes really does not know; but the theory exists.

The theory is as follows: All mankind is an undying organism; men are the
particles of that organism, and each one of them has his own special task
for the service of others.  In the same manner, the cells united in an
organism share among them the labor of fight for existence of the whole
organism; they magnify the power of one capacity, and weaken another, and
unite in one organ, in order the better to supply the requirements of the
whole organism.  And exactly in the same manner as with gregarious
animals,--ants or bees,--the separate individuals divide the labor among
them.  The queen lays the egg, the drone fructifies it; the bee works his
whole life long.  And precisely this thing takes place in mankind and in
human societies.  And therefore, in order to find the law of life for
man, it is necessary to study the laws of the life and the development of

In the life and development of organisms, we find the following laws: the
law of differentiation and integration, the law that every phenomenon is
accompanied not by direct consequences alone, another law regarding the
instability of type, and so on.  All this seems very innocent; but it is
only necessary to draw the deductions from all these laws, in order to
immediately perceive that these laws incline in the same direction as the
law of Malthus.  These laws all point to one thing; namely, to the
recognition of that division of labor which exists in human communities,
as organic, that is to say, as indispensable.  And therefore, the unjust
position in which we, the people who have freed ourselves from labor,
find ourselves, must be regarded not from the point of view of common-
sense and justice, but merely as an undoubted fact, confirming the
universal law.

Moral philosophy also justified every sort of cruelty and harshness; but
this resulted in a philosophical manner, and therefore wrongly.  But with
science, all this results scientifically, and therefore in a manner not
to be doubted.

How can we fail to accept so very beautiful a theory?  It is merely
necessary to look upon human society as an object of contemplation; and I
can console myself with the thought that my activity, whatever may be its
nature, is a functional activity of the organism of humanity, and that
therefore there cannot arise any question as to whether it is just that
I, in employing the labor of others, am doing only that which is
agreeable to me, as there can arise no question as to the division of
labor between the brain cells and the muscular cells.  How is it possible
not to admit so very beautiful a theory, in order that one may be able,
ever after, to pocket one's conscience, and have a perfectly unbridled
animal existence, feeling beneath one's self that support of science
which is not to be shaken nowadays!

And it is on this new doctrine that the justification for men's idleness
and cruelty is now founded.


This doctrine had its rise not so very long--fifty years--ago.  Its
principal founder was the French _savant_ Comte.  There occurred to
Comte,--a systematist, and a religious man to boot,--under the influence
of the then novel physiological investigations of Biche, the old idea
already set forth by Menenius Agrippa,--the idea that human society, all
humanity even, might be regarded as one whole, as an organism; and men as
living parts of the separate organs, having each his own definite
appointment to serve the entire organism.

This idea so pleased Comte, that upon it he began to erect a
philosophical theory; and this theory so carried him away, that he
utterly forgot that the point of departure for his theory was nothing
more than a very pretty comparison, which was suitable for a fable, but
which could by no means serve as the foundation for science.  He, as
frequently happens, mistook his pet hypothesis for an axiom, and imagined
that his whole theory was erected on the very firmest of foundations.
According to his theory, it seemed that since humanity is an organism,
the knowledge of what man is, and of what should be his relations to the
world, was possible only through a knowledge of the features of this
organism.  For the knowledge of these qualities, man is enabled to take
observations on other and lower organisms, and to draw conclusions from
their life.  Therefore, in the fist place, the true and only method,
according to Comte, is the inductive, and all science is only such when
it has experiment as its basis; in the second place, the goal and crown
of sciences is formed by that new science dealing with the imaginary
organism of humanity, or the super-organic being,--humanity,--and this
newly devised science is sociology.

And from this view of science it appears, that all previous knowledge was
deceitful, and that the whole story of humanity, in the sense of self-
knowledge, has been divided into three, actually into two, periods: the
theological and metaphysical period, extending from the beginning of the
world to Comte, and the present period,--that of the only true science,
positive science,--beginning with Comte.

All this was very well.  There was but one error, and that was this,--that
the whole edifice was erected on the sand, on the arbitrary and false
assertion that humanity is an organism.  This assertion was arbitrary,
because we have just as much right to admit the existence of a human
organism, not subject to observation, as we have to admit the existence
of any other invisible, fantastic being.  This assertion was erroneous,
because for the understanding of humanity, i.e., of men, the definition
of an organism was incorrectly constructed, while in humanity itself all
actual signs of organism,--the centre of feeling or consciousness, are
lacking. {178}

But, in spite of the arbitrariness and incorrectness of the fundamental
assumption of positive philosophy, it was accepted by the so-called
cultivated world with the greatest sympathy.  In this connection, one
thing is worthy of note: that out of the works of Comte, consisting of
two parts, of positive philosophy and of positive politics, only the
first was adopted by the learned world,--that part which justifieth, on
new promises, the existent evil of human societies; but the second part,
treating of the moral obligations of altruism, arising from the
recognition of mankind as an organism, was regarded as not only of no
importance, but as trivial and unscientific.  It was a repetition of the
same thing that had happened in the case of Kant's works.  The "Critique
of Pure Reason" was adopted by the scientific crowd; but the "Critique of
Applied Reason," that part which contains the gist of moral doctrine, was
repudiated.  In Kant's doctrine, that was accepted as scientific which
subserved the existent evil.  But the positive philosophy, which was
accepted by the crowd, was founded on an arbitrary and erroneous basis,
was in itself too unfounded, and therefore unsteady, and could not
support itself alone.  And so, amid all the multitude of the idle plays
of thought of the men professing the so-called science, there presents
itself an assertion equally devoid of novelty, and equally arbitrary and
erroneous, to the effect that living beings, i.e., organisms, have had
their rise in each other,--not only one organism from another, but one
from many; i.e., that in a very long interval of time (in a million of
years, for instance), not only could a duck and a fish proceed from one
ancestor, but that one animal might result from a whole hive of bees.  And
this arbitrary and erroneous assumption was accepted by the learned world
with still greater and more universal sympathy.  This assumption was
arbitrary, because no one has ever seen how one organism is made from
another, and therefore the hypothesis as to the origin of species will
always remain an hypothesis, and not an experimental fact.   And this
hypothesis was also erroneous, because the decision of the question as to
the origin of species--that they have originated, in consequence of the
law of heredity and fitness, in the course of an interminably long
time--is no solution at all, but merely a re-statement of the problem in
a new form.

According to Moses' solution of the question (in the dispute with whom
the entire significance of this theory lies), it appears that the
diversity of the species of living creatures proceeded according to the
will of God, and according to His almighty power; but according to the
theory of evolution, it appears that the difference between living
creatures arose by chance, and on account of varying conditions of
heredity and surroundings, through an endless period of time.  The theory
of evolution, to speak in simple language, merely asserts, that by
chance, in an incalculably long period of time, out of any thing you
like, any thing else that you like may develop.

This is no answer to the problem.  And the same problem is differently
expressed: instead of will, chance is offered, and the co-efficient of
the eternal is transposed from the power to the time.  But this fresh
assertion strengthened Comte's assertion.  And, moreover, according to
the ingenuous confession of the founder of Darwin's theory himself, his
idea was aroused in him by the law of Malthus; and he therefore
propounded the theory of the struggle of living creatures and people for
existence, as the fundamental law of every living thing.  And lo! only
this was needed by the throng of idle people for their justification.

Two insecure theories, incapable of sustaining themselves on their feet,
upheld each other, and acquired the semblance of stability.  Both
theories bore with them that idea which is precious to the crowd, that in
the existent evil of human societies, men are not to blame, and that the
existing order of things is that which should prevail; and the new theory
was adopted by the throng with entire faith and unheard-of enthusiasm.
And behold, on the strength of these two arbitrary and erroneous
hypotheses, accepted as dogmas of belief, the new scientific doctrine was

Spencer, for example, in one of his first works, expresses this doctrine

"Societies and organisms," he says, "are alike in the following points:--

"1.  In that, beginning as tiny aggregates, they imperceptibly grow in
mass, so that some of them attain to the size of ten thousand times their
original bulk.

"2.  In that while they were, in the beginning, of such simple structure,
that they can be regarded as destitute of all structure, they acquire
during the period of their growth a constantly increasing complication of

"3.  In that although in their early, undeveloped period, there exists
between them hardly any interdependence of parts, their parts gradually
acquire an interdependence, which eventually becomes so strong, that the
life and activity of each part becomes possible only on condition of the
life and activity of the remaining parts.

"4.  In that life and the development of society are independent, and
more protracted than the life and development of any one of the units
constituting it, which are born, grow, act, reproduce themselves, and die
separately; while the political body formed from them, continues to live
generation after generation, developing in mass in perfection and
functional activity."

The points of difference between organisms and society go farther; and it
is proved that these differences are merely apparent, but that organisms
and societies are absolutely similar.

For the uninitiated man the question immediately presents itself: "What
are you talking about?  Why is mankind an organism, or similar to an

You say that societies resemble organisms in these four features; but it
is nothing of the sort.  You only take a few features of the organism,
and beneath them you range human communities.  You bring forward four
features of resemblance, then you take four features of dissimilarity,
which are, however, only apparent (according to you); and you thence
conclude that human societies can be regarded as organisms.  But surely,
this is an empty game of dialectics, and nothing more.  On the same
foundation, under the features of an organism, you may range whatever you
please.  I will take the fist thing that comes into my head.  Let us
suppose it to be a forest,--the manner in which it sows itself in the
plain, and spreads abroad.  1. Beginning with a small aggregate, it
increases imperceptibly in mass, and so forth.  Exactly the same thing
takes place in the fields, when they gradually seed themselves down, and
bring forth a forest.  2. In the beginning the structure is simple:
afterwards it increases in complication, and so forth.  Exactly the same
thing happens with the forest,--in the first place, there were only bitch-
trees, then came brush-wood and hazel-bushes; at first all grow erect,
then they interlace their branches.  3. The interdependence of the parts
is so augmented, that the life of each part depends on the life and
activity of the remaining parts.  It is precisely so with the forest,--the
hazel-bush warms the tree-boles (cut it down, and the other trees will
freeze), the hazel-bush protects from the wind, the seed-bearing trees
carry on reproduction, the tall and leafy trees afford shade, and the
life of one tree depends on the life of another.  4. The separate parts
may die, but the whole lives.  Exactly the case with the forest.  The
forest does not mourn one tree.

Having proved that, in accordance with this theory, you may regard the
forest as an organism, you fancy that you have proved to the disciples of
the organic doctrine the error of their definition.  Nothing of the sort.
The definition which they give to the organism is so inaccurate and so
elastic that under this definition they may include what they will.
"Yes," they say; "and the forest may also be regarded as an organism.  The
forest is mutual re-action of individuals, which do not annihilate each
other,--an aggregate; its parts may also enter into a more intimate
union, as the hive of bees constitutes itself an organism."  Then you
will say, "If that is so, then the birds and the insects and the grass of
this forest, which re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other,
may also be regarded as one organism, in company with the trees."  And to
this also they will agree.  Every collection of living individuals, which
re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other, may be regarded as
organisms, according to their theory.  You may affirm a connection and
interaction between whatever you choose, and, according to evolution, you
may affirm, that, out of whatever you please, any other thing that you
please may proceed, in a very long period of time.

And the most remarkable thing of all is, that this same identical
positive science recognizes the scientific method as the sign of true
knowledge, and has itself defined what it designates as the scientific

By the scientific method it means common-sense.

And common-sense convicts it at every step.  As soon as the Popes felt
that nothing holy remained in them, they called themselves most holy.

As soon as science felt that no common-sense was left in her she called
herself sensible, that is to say, scientific science.


Division of labor is the law of all existing things, and, therefore, it
should be present in human societies.  It is very possible that this is
so; but still the question remains, Of what nature is that division of
labor which I behold in my human society? is it that division of labor
which should exist?  And if people regard a certain division of labor as
unreasonable and unjust, then no science whatever can convince men that
that should exist which they regard as unreasonable and unjust.

Division of labor is the condition of existence of organisms, and of
human societies; but what, in these human societies, is to be regarded as
an organic division of labor?  And, to whatever extent science may have
investigated the division of labor in the cells of worms, all these
observations do not compel a man to acknowledge that division of labor to
be correct which his own sense and conscience do not recognize as
correct.  No matter how convincing may be the proofs of the division of
labor of the cells in the organisms studied, man, if he has not parted
with his judgment, will say, nevertheless, that a man should not weave
calico all his life, and that this is not division of labor, but
persecution of the people.  Spencer and others say that there is a whole
community of weavers, and that the profession of weaving is an organic
division of labor.  There are weavers; so, of course, there is such a
division of labor.  It would be well enough to speak thus if the colony
of weavers had arisen by the free will of its member's; but we know that
it is not thus formed of their initiative, but that we make it.  Hence it
is necessary to find out whether we have made these weavers in accordance
with an organic law, or with some other.

Men live.  They support themselves by agriculture, as is natural to all
men.  One man has set up a blacksmith's forge, and repaired his plough;
his neighbor comes to him, and asks him to mend his also, and promises
him in return either work or money.  A third comes, and a fourth; and in
the community formed by these men, there arises the following division of
labor,--a blacksmith is created.  Another man has instructed his children
well; his neighbor brings his children to him, and requests him to teach
them also, and a teacher is created.  But both blacksmith and teacher
have been created, and continue to be such, merely because they have been
asked; and they remain such as long as they are requested to be
blacksmith and teacher.  If it should come to pass that many blacksmiths
and teachers should set themselves up, or that their work is not
requited, they will immediately, as common-sense demands and as always
happens when there is no occasion for disturbing the regular course of
division of labor,--they will immediately abandon their trade, and betake
themselves once more to agriculture.

Men who behave thus are guided by their sense, their conscience; and
hence we, the men endowed with sense and conscience, all assert that such
a division of labor is right.  But if it should chance that the
blacksmiths were able to compel other people to work for them, and should
continue to make horse-shoes when they were not wanted, and if the
teachers should go on teaching when there was no one to teach, then it is
obvious to every sane man, as a man, i.e., as a being endowed with reason
and conscience, that this would not be division, but appropriation, of
labor.  And yet precisely that sort of activity is what is called
division of labor by scientific science.  People do that which others do
not think of requiring, and demand that they shall be supported for so
doing, and say that this is just because it is division of labor.

That which constitutes the cause of the economical poverty of our age is
what the English call over-production (which means that a mass of things
are made which are of no use to anybody, and with which nothing can be

It would be odd to see a shoemaker, who should consider that people were
bound to feed him because he incessantly made boots which had been of no
use to any one for a long time; but what shall we say of those men who
make nothing,--who not only produce nothing that is visible, but nothing
that is of use for people at large,--for whose wares there are no
customers, and who yet demand, with the same boldness, on the ground of
division of labor, that they shall be supplied with fine food and drink,
and that they shall be dressed well?  There may be, and there are,
sorcerers for whose services a demand makes itself felt, and for this
purpose there are brought to them pancakes and flasks; but it is
difficult to imagine the existence of sorcerers whose spells are useless
to every one, and who boldly demand that they shall be luxuriously
supported because they exercise sorcery.  And it is the same in our
world.  And all this comes about on the basis of that false conception of
the division of labor, which is defined not by reason and conscience, but
by observation, which men of science avow with such unanimity.

Division of labor has, in reality, always existed, and still exists; but
it is right only when man decides with his reason and his conscience that
it should be so, and not when he merely investigates it.  And reason and
conscience decide the question for all men very simply, unanimously, and
in a manner not to be doubted.  They always decide it thus: that division
of labor is right only when a special branch of man's activity is so
needful to men, that they, entreating him to serve them, voluntarily
propose to support him in requital for that which he shall do for them.
But, when a man can live from infancy to the age of thirty years on the
necks of others, promising to do, when he shall have been taught,
something extremely useful, for which no one asks him; and when, from the
age of thirty until his death, he can live in the same manner, still
merely on the promise to do something, for which there has been no
request, this will not be division of labor (and, as a matter of fact,
there is no such thing in our society), but it will be what it already
is,--merely the appropriation, by force, of the toil of others; that same
appropriation by force of the toil of others which the philosophers
formerly designated by various names,--for instance, as indispensable
forms of life,--but which scientific science now calls the organic
division of labor.

The whole significance of scientific science lies in this alone.  It has
now become a distributer of diplomas for idleness; for it alone, in its
sanctuaries, selects and determines what is parasitical, and what is
organic activity, in the social organism.  Just as though every man could
not find this out for himself much more accurately and more speedily, by
taking counsel of his reason and his conscience.  It seems to men of
scientific science, that there can be no doubt of this, and that their
activity is also indubitably organic; they, the scientific and artistic
workers, are the brain cells, and the most precious cells in the whole

Ever since men--reasoning beings--have existed, they have distinguished
good from evil, and have profited by the fact that men have made this
distinction before them; they have warred against evil, and have sought
the good, and have slowly but uninterruptedly advanced in that path.  And
divers delusions have always stood before men, hemming in this path, and
having for their object to demonstrate to them, that it was not necessary
to do this, and that it was not necessary to live as they were living.
With fearful conflict and difficulty, men have freed themselves from many
delusions.  And behold, a new and a still more evil delusion has sprung
up in the path of mankind,--the scientific delusion.

This new delusion is precisely the same in nature as the old ones; its
gist lies in secretly leading astray the activity of our reason and
conscience, and of those who have lived before us, by something external.
In scientific science, this external thing is--investigation.

The cunning of this science consists in this,--that, after pointing out
to men the coarsest false interpretations of the activity of the reason
and conscience of man, it destroys in them faith in their own reason and
conscience, and assures them that every thing which their reason and
conscience say to them, that all that these have said to the loftiest
representatives of man heretofore, ever since the world has existed,--that
all this is conventional and subjective.  "All this must be abandoned,"
they say; "it is impossible to understand the truth by the reason, for we
may be mistaken.  But there exists another unerring and almost mechanical
path: it is necessary to investigate facts."

But facts must be investigated on the foundation of scientific science,
i.e., of the two hypotheses of positivism and evolution, which are not
borne out by any thing, and which give themselves out as undoubted
truths.  And the reigning science announces, with delusive solemnity,
that the solution of all problems of life is possible only through the
study of facts, of nature, and, in particular, of organisms.  The
credulous mass of young people, overwhelmed by the novelty of this
authority, which has not yet been overthrown or even touched by
criticism, flings itself into the study of natural sciences, into that
sole path, which, according to the assertion of the reigning science, can
lead to the elucidation of the problems of life.

But the farther the disciples proceed in this study, the farther and
farther does not only the possibility, but even the very idea, of the
solution of the problems of life withdraw from them, and the more and
more do they become accustomed, not so much to investigate, as to believe
in the assertions of other investigators (to believe in cells, in
protoplasm, in the fourth condition of bodies, and so forth); the more
and more does the form veil the contents from them; the more and more do
they lose the consciousness of good and evil, and the capacity of
understanding those expressions and definitions of good and evil which
have been elaborated through the whole foregoing life of mankind; and the
more and more do they appropriate to themselves the special scientific
jargon of conventional expressions, which possesses no universally human
significance; and the deeper and deeper do they plunge into the _debris_
of utterly unilluminated investigations; the more and more do they lose
the power, not only of independent thought, but even of understanding the
fresh human thought of others, which lies beyond the bounds of their
Talmud.  But the principal thing is, that they pass their best years in
getting disused to life; they grow accustomed to consider their position
as justifiable; and they convert themselves physically into utterly
useless parasites, and mentally they dislocate their brains and become
mental eunuchs.  And in precisely the same manner, according to the
measure of their folly, do they acquire self-conceit, which deprives them
forever of all possibility of return to a simple life of toil, to a
simple, clear, and universally human train of reasoning.

Division of labor always has existed in human communities, and will
probably always exist; but the question for us lies not in the fact that
it has existed, and that it will exist, but in this,--how are we to
govern ourselves so that this division shall be right?  But if we take
investigation as our rule of action, we by this very act repudiate all
rule; then in that case we shall regard as right every division of labor
which we shall descry among men, and which appears to us to be right--to
which conclusion the prevailing scientific science also leads.

Division of labor!

Some are busied in mental or moral, others in muscular or physical,
labor.  With what confidence people enunciate this!  They wish to think
so, and it seems to them that, in point of fact, a perfectly regular
exchange of services does take place.

But we, in our blindness, have so completely lost sight of the
responsibility which we have assumed, that we have even forgotten in
whose name our labor is prosecuted; and the very people whom we have
undertaken to serve have become the objects of our scientific and
artistic activity.  We study and depict them for our amusement and
diversion.  We have totally forgotten that what we need to do is not to
study and depict them, but to serve them.  To such a degree have we lost
sight of this duty which we have taken upon us, that we have not even
noticed that what we have undertaken to perform in the realm of science
and art has been accomplished not by us, but by others, and that our
place has turned out to be occupied.

It proves that while we have been disputing, one about the spontaneous
origin of organisms, another as to what else there is in protoplasm, and
so on, the common people have been in need of spiritual food; and the
unsuccessful and rejected of art and science, in obedience to the mandate
of adventurers who have in view the sole aim of profit, have begun to
furnish the people with this spiritual food, and still so furnish them.
For the last forty years in Europe, and for the last ten years with us
here in Russia, millions of books and pictures and song-books have been
distributed, and stalls have been opened, and the people gaze and sing
and receive spiritual nourishment, but not from us who have undertaken to
provide it; while we, justifying our idleness by that spiritual food
which we are supposed to furnish, sit by and wink at it.

But it is impossible for us to wink at it, for our last justification is
slipping from beneath our feet.  We have become specialized.  We have our
particular functional activity.  We are the brains of the people.  They
support us, and we have undertaken to teach them.  It is only under this
pretence that we have excused ourselves from work.  But what have we
taught them, and what are we now teaching them?  They have waited for
years--for tens, for hundreds of years.  And we keep on diverting our
minds with chatter, and we instruct each other, and we console ourselves,
and we have utterly forgotten them.  We have so entirely forgotten them,
that others have undertaken to instruct them, and we have not even
perceived it.  We have spoken of the division of labor with such lack of
seriousness, that it is obvious that what we have said about the benefits
which we have conferred on the people was simply a shameless evasion.


Science and art have arrogated to themselves the right of idleness, and
of the enjoyment of the labor of others, and have betrayed their calling.
And their errors have arisen merely because their servants, having set
forth a falsely conceived principle of the division of labor, have
recognized their own right to make use of the labor of others, and have
lost the significance of their vocation; having taken for their aim, not
the profit of the people, but the mysterious profit of science and art,
and delivered themselves over to idleness and vice--not so much of the
senses as of the mind.

They say, "Science and art have bestowed a great deal on mankind."

Science and art have bestowed a great deal on mankind, not because the
men of art and science, under the pretext of a division of labor, live on
other people, but in spite of this.

The Roman Republic was powerful, not because her citizens had the power
to live a vicious life, but because among their number there were heroic
citizens.  It is the same with art and science.  Art and science have
bestowed much on mankind, but not because their followers formerly
possessed on rare occasions (and now possess on every occasion) the
possibility of getting rid of labor; but because there have been men of
genius, who, without making use of these rights, have led mankind

The class of learned men and artists, which has advanced, on the
fictitious basis of a division of labor, its demands to the right of
using the labors of others, cannot co-operate in the success of true
science and true art, because a lie cannot bring forth the truth.

We have become so accustomed to these, our tenderly reared or weakened
representatives of mental labor, that it seems to us horrible that a man
of science or an artist should plough or cart manure.  It seems to us
that every thing would go to destruction, and that all his wisdom would
be rattled out of him in the cart, and that all those grand picturesque
images which he bears about in his breast would be soiled in the manure;
but we have become so inured to this, that it does not strike us as
strange that our servitor of science--that is to say, the servant and
teacher of the truth--by making other people do for him that which he
might do for himself, passes half his time in dainty eating, in smoking,
in talking, in free and easy gossip, in reading the newspapers and
romances, and in visiting the theatres.  It is not strange to us to see
our philosopher in the tavern, in the theatre, and at the ball.  It is
not strange in our eyes to learn that those artists who sweeten and
ennoble our souls have passed their lives in drunkenness, cards, and
women, if not in something worse.

Art and science are very beautiful things; but just because they are so
beautiful they should not be spoiled by the compulsory combination with
them of vice: that is to say, a man should not get rid of his obligation
to serve his own life and that of other people by his own labor.  Art and
science have caused mankind to progress.  Yes; but not because men of art
and science, under the guise of division of labor, have rid themselves of
the very first and most indisputable of human obligations,--to labor with
their hands in the universal struggle of mankind with nature.

"But only the division of labor, the freedom of men of science and of art
from the necessity of earning them living, has rendered possible that
remarkable success of science which we behold in our day," is the answer
to this.  "If all were forced to till the soil, those _vast_ results
would not have been attained which have been attained in our day; there
would have been none of those _striking_ successes which have so greatly
augmented man's power over nature, were it not for these astronomical
discoveries _which are so astounding to the mind of man_, and which have
added to the security of navigation; there would be no steamers, no
railways, none of those _wonderful_ bridges, tunnels, steam-engines and
telegraphs, photography, telephones, sewing-machines, phonographs,
electricity, telescopes, spectroscopes, microscopes, chloroform, Lister's
bandages, and carbolic acid."

I will not enumerate every thing on which our age thus prides itself.
This enumeration and pride of enthusiasm over ourselves and our exploits
can be found in almost any newspaper and popular pamphlet.  This
enthusiasm over ourselves is often repeated to such a degree that none of
us can sufficiently rejoice over ourselves, that we are seriously
convinced that art and science have never made such progress as in our
own time.  And, as we are indebted for all this marvellous progress to
the division of labor, why not acknowledge it?

Let us admit that the progress made in our day is noteworthy, marvellous,
unusual; let us admit that we are fortunate mortals to live in such a
remarkable epoch: but let us endeavor to appraise this progress, not on
the basis of our self-satisfaction, but of that principle which defends
itself with this progress,--the division of labor.  All this progress is
very amazing; but by a peculiarly unlucky chance, admitted even by the
men of science, this progress has not so far improved, but it has rather
rendered worse, the position of the majority, that is to say, of the

If the workingman can travel on the railway, instead of walking, still
that same railway has burned down his forest, has carried off his grain
under his very nose, and has brought his condition very near to
slavery--to the capitalist.  If, thanks to steam-engines and machines,
the workingman can purchase inferior calico at a cheap rate, on the other
hand these engines and machines have deprived him of work at home, and
have brought him into a state of abject slavery to the manufacturer.  If
there are telephones and telescopes, poems, romances, theatres, ballets,
symphonies, operas, picture-galleries, and so forth, on the other hand
the life of the workingman has not been bettered by all this; for all of
them, by the same unlucky chance, are inaccessible to him.

So that, on the whole (and even men of science admit this), up to the
present time, all these remarkable discoveries and products of science
and art have certainly not ameliorated the condition of the workingman,
if, indeed, they have not made it worse.  So that, if we set against the
question as to the reality of the progress attained by the arts and
sciences, not our own rapture, but that standard upon the basis of which
the division of labor is defended,--the good of the laboring man,--we
shall see that we have no firm foundations for that self-satisfaction in
which we are so fond of indulging.

The peasant travels on the railway, the woman buys calico, in the _isba_
(cottage) there will be a lamp instead of a pine-knot, and the peasant
will light his pipe with a match,--this is convenient; but what right
have I to say that the railway and the factory have proved advantageous
to the people?

If the peasant rides on the railway, and buys calico, a lamp, and
matches, it is only because it is impossible to forbid the peasant's
buying them; but surely we are all aware that the construction of
railways and factories has never been carried out for the benefit of the
lower classes: so why should a casual convenience which the workingman
enjoys lead to a proof of the utility of all these institutions for the

There is something useful in every injurious thing.  After a
conflagration, one can warm one's self, and light one's pipe with a
firebrand; but why declare that the conflagration is beneficial?

Men of art and science might say that their pursuits are beneficial to
the people, only when men of art and science have assigned to themselves
the object of serving the people, as they now assign themselves the
object of serving the authorities and the capitalists.  We might say this
if men of art and science had taken as their aim the needs of the people;
but there are none such.  All scientists are busy with their priestly
avocations, out of which proceed investigations into protoplasm, the
spectral analyses of stars, and so on.  But science has never once
thought of what axe or what hatchet is the most profitable to chop with,
what saw is the most handy, what is the best way to mix bread, from what
flour, how to set it, how to build and heat an oven, what food and drink,
and what utensils, are the most convenient and advantageous under certain
conditions, what mushrooms may be eaten, how to propagate them, and how
to prepare them in the most suitable manner.  And yet all this is the
province of science.

I am aware, that, according to its own definition, science ought to be
useless, i.e., science for the sake of science; but surely this is an
obvious evasion.  The province of science is to serve the people.  We
have invented telegraphs, telephones, phonographs; but what advances have
we effected in the life, in the labor, of the people?  We have reckoned
up two millions of beetles!  And we have not tamed a single animal since
biblical times, when all our animals were already domesticated; but the
reindeer, the stag, the partridge, the heath-cock, all remain wild.

Our botanists have discovered the cell, and in the cell protoplasm, and
in that protoplasm still something more, and in that atom yet another
thing.  It is evident that these occupations will not end for a long time
to come, because it is obvious that there can be no end to them, and
therefore the scientist has no time to devote to those things which are
necessary to the people.  And therefore, again, from the time of Egyptian
and Hebrew antiquity, when wheat and lentils had already been cultivated,
down to our own times, not a single plant has been added to the food of
the people, with the exception of the potato, and that was not obtained
by science.

Torpedoes have been invented, and apparatus for taxation, and so forth.
But the spinning-whined, the woman's weaving-loom, the plough, the
hatchet, the chain, the rake, the bucket, the well-sweep, are exactly the
same as they were in the days of Rurik; and if there has been any change,
then that change has not been effected by scientific people.

And it is the same with the arts.  We have elevated a lot of people to
the rank of great writers; we have picked these writers to pieces, and
have written mountains of criticism, and criticism on the critics, and
criticism on the critics of the critics.  And we have collected picture-
galleries, and have studied different schools of art in detail; and we
have so many symphonies and orchestras and operas, that it is becoming
difficult even for us to listen to them.  But what have we added to the
popular _bylini_ [the epic songs], legends, tales, songs?  What music,
what pictures, have we given to the people?

On the Nikolskaya books are manufactured for the people, and harmonicas
in Tula; and in neither have we taken any part.  The falsity of the whole
direction of our arts and sciences is more striking and more apparent in
precisely those very branches, which, it would seem, should, from their
very nature, be of use to the people, and which, in consequence of their
false attitude, seem rather injurious than useful.  The technologist, the
physician, the teacher, the artist, the author, should, in virtue of
their very callings, it would seem, serve the people.  And, what then?
Under the present _regime_, they can do nothing but harm to the people.

The technologist or the mechanic has to work with capital.  Without
capital he is good for nothing.  All his acquirements are such that for
their display he requires capital, and the exploitation of the laboring-
man on the largest scale; and--not to mention that he is trained to live,
at the lowest, on from fifteen hundred to two thousand a year, and that,
therefore, he cannot go to the country, where no one can give him such
wages,--he is, by virtue of his very occupation, unfitted for serving the
people.  He knows how to calculate the highest mathematical arch of a
bridge, how to calculate the force and transfer of the motive power, and
so on; but he is confounded by the simplest questions of a peasant: how
to improve a plough or a cart, or how to make irrigating canals.  All
this in the conditions of life in which the laboring man finds himself.
Of this, he neither knows nor understands any thing,--less, indeed, than
the very stupidest peasant.  Give him workshops, all sorts of workmen at
his desire, an order for a machine from abroad, and he will get along.
But how to devise means of lightening toil, under the conditions of labor
of millions of men,--this is what he does not and can not know; and
because of his knowledge, his habits, and his demands on life, he is
unfitted for this business.

In a still worse predicament is the physician.  His fancied science is
all so arranged, that he only knows how to heal those persons who do
nothing.  He requires an incalculable quantity of expensive preparations,
instruments, drugs, and hygienic apparatus.

He has studied with celebrities in the capitals, who only retain patients
who can be cured in the hospital, or who, in the course of their cure,
can purchase the appliances requisite for healing, and even go at once
from the North to the South, to some baths or other.  Science is of such
a nature, that every rural physic-man laments because there are no means
of curing working-men, because he is so poor that he has not the means to
place the sick man in the proper hygienic conditions; and at the same
time this physician complains that there are no hospitals, and that he
cannot get through with his work, that he needs assistants, more doctors
and practitioners.

What is the inference?  This: that the people's principal lack, from
which diseases arise, and spread abroad, and refuse to be healed, is the
lack of means of subsistence.  And here Science, under the banner of the
division of labor, summons her warriors to the aid of the people.  Science
is entirely arranged for the wealthy classes, and it has adopted for its
task the healing of the people who can obtain every thing for themselves;
and it attempts to heal those who possess no superfluity, by the same

But there are no means, and therefore it is necessary to take them from
the people who are ailing, and pest-stricken, and who cannot recover for
lack of means.  And now the defenders of medicine for the people say that
this matter has been, as yet, but little developed.  Evidently it has
been but little developed, because if (which God forbid!) it had been
developed, and that through oppressing the people,--instead of two
doctors, midwives, and practitioners in a district, twenty would have
settled down, since they desire this, and half the people would have died
through the difficulty of supporting this medical staff, and soon there
would be no one to heal.

Scientific co-operation with the people, of which the defenders of
science talk, must be something quite different.  And this co-operation
which should exist has not yet begun.  It will begin when the man of
science, technologist or physician, will not consider it legal to take
from people--I will not say a hundred thousand, but even a modest ten
thousand, or five hundred rubles for assisting them; but when he will
live among the toiling people, under the same conditions, and exactly as
they do, then he will be able to apply his knowledge to the questions of
mechanics, technics, hygiene, and the healing of the laboring people.  But
now science, supporting itself at the expense of the working-people, has
entirely forgotten the conditions of life among these people, ignores (as
it puts it) these conditions, and takes very grave offence because its
fancied knowledge finds no adherents among the people.

The domain of medicine, like the domain of technical science, still lies
untouched.  All questions as to how the time of labor is best divided,
what is the best method of nourishment, with what, in what shape, and
when it is best to clothe one's self, to shoe one's self, to counteract
dampness and cold, how best to wash one's self, to feed the children, to
swaddle them, and so on, in just those conditions in which the working-
people find themselves,--all these questions have not yet been

The same is the case with the activity of the teachers of
science,--pedagogical teachers.  Exactly in the same manner science has
so arranged this matter, that only wealthy people are able to study
science, and teachers, like technologists and physicians, cling to money.

And this cannot be otherwise, because a school built on a model plan (as
a general rule, the more scientifically built the school, the more costly
it is), with pivot chains, and globes, and maps, and library, and petty
text-books for teachers and scholars and pedagogues, is a sort of thing
for which it would be necessary to double the taxes in every village.
This science demands.  The people need money for their work; and the more
there is needed, the poorer they are.

Defenders of science say: "Pedagogy is even now proving of advantage to
the people, but give it a chance to develop, and then it will do still
better."  Yes, if it does develop, and instead of twenty schools in a
district there are a hundred, and all scientific, and if the people
support these schools, they will grow poorer than ever, and they will
more than ever need work for their children's sake.  "What is to be
done?" they say to this.  The government will build the schools, and will
make education obligatory, as it is in Europe; but again, surely, the
money is taken from the people just the same, and it will be harder to
work, and they will have less leisure for work, and there will be no
education even by compulsion.  Again the sole salvation is this: that the
teacher should live under the conditions of the working-men, and should
teach for that compensation which they give him freely and voluntarily.

Such is the false course of science, which deprives it of the power of
fulfilling its obligation, which is, to serve the people.

But in nothing is this false course of science so obviously apparent, as
in the vocation of art, which, from its very significance, ought to be
accessible to the people.  Science may fall back on its stupid excuse,
that science acts for science, and that when it turns out learned men it
is laboring for the people; but art, if it is art, should be accessible
to all the people, and in particular to those in whose name it is
executed.  And our definition of art, in a striking manner, convicts
those who busy themselves with art, of their lack of desire, lack of
knowledge, and lack of power, to be useful to the people.

The painter, for the production of his great works, must have a studio of
at least such dimensions that a whole association of carpenters (forty in
number) or shoemakers, now sickening or stifling in lairs, would be able
to work in it.  But this is not all; he must have a model, costumes,
travels.  Millions are expended on the encouragement of art, and the
products of this art are both incomprehensible and useless to the people.
Musicians, in order to express their grand ideas, must assemble two
hundred men in white neckties, or in costumes, and spend hundreds of
thousands of rubles for the equipment of an opera.  And the products of
this art cannot evoke from the people--even if the latter could at any
time enjoy it--any thing except amazement and _ennui_.

Writers--authors--it appears, do not require surroundings, studios,
models, orchestras, and actors; but it then appears that the author needs
(not to mention comfort in his quarters) all the dainties of life for the
preparation of his great works, travels, palaces, cabinets, libraries,
the pleasures of art, visits to theatres, concerts, the baths, and so on.
If he does not earn a fortune for himself, he is granted a pension, in
order that he may compose the better.  And again, these compositions, so
prized by us, remain useless lumber for the people, and utterly
unserviceable to them.

And if still more of these dealers in spiritual nourishment are developed
further, as men of science desire, and a studio is erected in every
village; if an orchestra is set up, and authors are supported in those
conditions which artistic people regard as indispensable for
themselves,--I imagine that the working-classes will sooner take an oath
never to look at any pictures, never to listen to a symphony, never to
read poetry or novels, than to feed all these persons.

And why, apparently, should art not be of service to the people?  In
every cottage there are images and pictures; every peasant man and woman
sings; many own harmonicas; and all recite stories and verses, and many
read.  It is as if those two things which are made for each other--the
lock and the key--had parted company; they have sprung so far apart, that
not even the possibility of uniting them presents itself.  Tell the
artist that he should paint without a studio, model, or costumes, and
that he should paint five-kopek pictures, and he will say that that is
tantamount to abandoning his art, as he understands it.  Tell the
musician that he should play on the harmonica, and teach the women to
sing songs; say to the poet, to the author, that he ought to cast aside
his poems and romances, and compose song-books, tales, and stories,
comprehensible to the uneducated people,--they will say that you are mad.

The service of the people by science and art will only be performed when
people, dwelling in the midst of the common folk, and, like the common
folk, putting forward no demands, claiming no rights, shall offer to the
common folk their scientific and artistic services; the acceptance or
rejection of which shall depend wholly on the will of the common folk.

It is said that the activity of science and art has aided in the forward
march of mankind,--meaning by this activity, that which is now called by
that name; which is the same as saying that an unskilled banging of oars
on a vessel that is floating with the tide, which merely hinders the
progress of the vessel, is assisting the movement of the ship.  It only
retards it.  The so-called division of labor, which has become in our day
the condition of activity of men of science and art, was, and has
remained, the chief cause of the tardy forward movement of mankind.

The proofs of this lie in that confession of all men of science, that the
gains of science and art are inaccessible to the laboring masses, in
consequence of the faulty distribution of riches.  The irregularity of
this distribution does not decrease in proportion to the progress of
science and art, but only increases.  Men of art and science assume an
air of deep pity for this unfortunate circumstance which does not depend
upon them.  But this unfortunate circumstance is produced by themselves;
for this irregular distribution of wealth flows solely from the theory of
the division of labor.

Science maintains the division of labor as a unalterable law; it sees
that the distribution of wealth, founded on the division of labor, is
wrong and ruinous; and it affirms that its activity, which recognizes the
division of labor, will lead people to bliss.  The result is, that some
people make use of the labor of others; but that, if they shall make use
of the labor of others for a very long period of time, and in still
larger measure, then this wrongful distribution of wealth, i.e., the use
of the labor of others, will come to an end.

Men stand beside a constantly swelling spring of water, and are occupied
with the problem of diverting it to one side, away from the thirsty
people, and they assert that they are producing this water, and that soon
enough will be collected for all.  But this water which has flowed, and
which still flows unceasingly, and nourishes all mankind, not only is not
the result of the activity of the men who, standing at its source, turn
it aside, but this water flows and gushes out, in spite of the efforts of
these men to obstruct its flow.

There have always existed a true science, and a true art; but true
science and art are not such because they called themselves by that name.
It always seems to those who claim at any given period to be the
representatives of science and art, that they have performed, and are
performing, and--most of all--that they will presently perform, the most
amazing marvels, and that beside them there never has been and there is
not any science or any art.  Thus it seemed to the sophists, the
scholastics, the alchemists, the cabalists, the talmudists; and thus it
seems to our own scientific science, and to our art for the sake of art.


"But art,--science!  You repudiate art and science; that is, you
repudiate that by which mankind lives!"  People are constantly making
this--it is not a reply--to me, and they employ this mode of reception in
order to reject my deductions without examining into them.  "He
repudiates science and art, he wants to send people back again into a
savage state; so what is the use of listening to him and of talking to
him?"  But this is unjust.  I not only do not repudiate art and science,
but, in the name of that which is true art and true science, I say that
which I do say; merely in order that mankind may emerge from that savage
state into which it will speedily fall, thanks to the erroneous teaching
of our time,--only for this purpose do I say that which I say.

Art and science are as indispensable as food and drink and clothing,--more
indispensable even; but they become so, not because we decide that what
we designate as art and science are indispensable, but simply because
they really are indispensable to people.

Surely, if hay is prepared for the bodily nourishment of men, the fact
that we are convinced that hay is the proper food for man will not make
hay the food of man.  Surely I cannot say, "Why do not you eat hay, when
it is the indispensable food?"  Food is indispensable, but it may happen
that that which I offer is not food at all.  This same thing has occurred
with our art and science.  It seems to us, that if we add to a Greek word
the word "logy," and call that a science, it will be a science; and, if
we call any abominable thing--like the dancing of nude females--by a
Greek word, choreography, that that is art, and that it will be art.  But
no matter how much we may say this, the business with which we occupy
ourselves when we count beetles, and investigate the chemical
constituents of the stars in the Milky Way, when we paint nymphs and
compose novels and symphonies,--our business will not become either art
or science until such time as it is accepted by those people for whom it
is wrought.

If it were decided that only certain people should produce food, and if
all the rest were forbidden to do this, or if they were rendered
incapable of producing food, I suppose that the quality of food would be
lowered.  If the people who enjoyed the monopoly of producing food were
Russian peasants, there would be no other food than black bread and
cabbage-soup, and so on, and kvas,--nothing except what they like, and
what is agreeable to them.  The same thing would happen in the case of
that loftiest human pursuit, of arts and sciences, if one caste were to
arrogate to itself a monopoly of them: but with this sole difference,
that, in the matter of bodily food, there can be no great departure from
nature, and bread and cabbage-soup, although not very savory viands, are
fit for consumption; but in spiritual food, there may exist the very
greatest departures from nature, and some people may feed themselves for
a long time on poisonous spiritual nourishment, which is directly
unsuitable for, or injurious to, them; they may slowly kill themselves
with spiritual opium or liquors, and they may offer this same food to the

It is this very thing that is going on among us.  And it has come about
because the position of men of science and art is a privileged one,
because art and science (in our day), in our world, are not at all a
rational occupation of all mankind without exception, exerting their best
powers for the service of art and science, but an occupation of a
restricted circle of people holding a monopoly of these industries, and
entitling themselves men of art and science, and who have, therefore,
perverted the very idea of art and science, and have lost all the meaning
of their vocation, and who are only concerned in amusing and rescuing
from crushing _ennui_ their tiny circle of idle mouths.

Ever since men have existed, they have always had science and art in the
simplest and broadest sense of the term.  Science, in the sense of the
whole of knowledge acquired by mankind, exists and always has existed,
and life without it is not conceivable; and there is no possibility of
either attacking or defending science, taken in this sense.

But the point lies here,--that the scope of the knowledge of all mankind
as a whole is so multifarious, ranging from the knowledge of how to
extract iron to the knowledge of the movements of the planets, that man
loses himself in this multitude of existing knowledge,--knowledge capable
of _endless_ possibilities, if he have no guiding thread, by the aid of
which he can classify this knowledge, and arrange the branches according
to the degrees of their significance and importance.

Before a man undertakes to learn any thing whatever, he must make up his
mind that that branch of knowledge is of weight to him, and of more
weight and importance than the countless other objects of study with
which he is surrounded.  Before undertaking the study of any thing, a man
decides for what purpose he is studying this subject, and not the others.
But to study every thing, as the men of scientific science in our day
preach, without any idea of what is to come out of such study, is
downright impossible, because the number of subjects of study is
_endless_; and hence, no matter how many branches we may acquire, their
acquisition can possess no significance or reason.  And, therefore, in
ancient times, down to even a very recent date, until the appearance of
scientific science, man's highest wisdom consisted in finding that
guiding thread, according to which the knowledge of men should be
classified as being of primary or of secondary importance.  And this
knowledge, which forms the guide to all other branches of knowledge, men
have always called science in the strictest acceptation of the word.  And
such science there has always been, even down to our own day, in all
human communities which have emerged from their primal state of savagery.

Ever since mankind has existed, teachers have always arisen among
peoples, who have enunciated science in this restricted sense,--the
science of what it is most useful for man to know.  This science has
always had for its object the knowledge of what is the true ground of the
well-being of each individual man, and of all men, and why.  Such was the
science of Confucius, of Buddha, of Socrates, of Mahomet, and of others;
such is this science as they understood it, and as all men--with the
exception of our little circle of so-called cultured people--understand
it.  This science has not only always occupied the highest place, but has
been the only and sole science, from which the standing of the rest has
been determined.  And this was the case, not in the least because, as the
so-called scientific people of our day think, cunning priestly teachers
of this science attributed to it such significance, but because in
reality, as every one knows, both by personal experience and by
reflection, there can be no science except the science of that in which
the destiny and welfare of man consist.  For the objects of science are
_incalculable_ in number,--I undermine the word "incalculable" in the
exact sense in which I understand it,--and without the knowledge of that
in which the destiny and welfare of all men consist, there is no
possibility of making a choice amid this interminable multitude of
subjects; and therefore, without this knowledge, all other arts and
branches of learning will become, as they have become among us, an idle
and hurtful diversion.

Mankind has existed and existed, and never has it existed without the
science of that in which the destiny and the welfare of men consist.  It
is true that the science of the welfare of men appears different on
superficial observation, among the Buddhists, the Brahmins, the Hebrews,
the Confucians, the Tauists; but nevertheless, wherever we hear of men
who have emerged from a state of savagery, we find this science.  And all
of a sudden it appears that the men of our day have decided that this
same science, which has hitherto served as the guiding thread of all
human knowledge, is the very thing which hinders every thing.  Men erect
buildings; and one architect has made one estimate of cost, a second has
made another, and a third yet another.  The estimates differ somewhat;
but they are correct, so that any one can see, that, if the whole is
carried out in accordance with the calculations, the building will be
erected.  Along come people, and assert that the chief point lies in
having no estimates, and that it should be built thus--by the eye.  And
this "thus," men call the most accurate of scientific science.  Men
repudiate every science, the very substance of science,--the definition
of the destiny and the welfare of men,--and this repudiation they
designate as science.

Ever since men have existed, great minds have been born into their midst,
which, in the conflict with reason and conscience, have put to themselves
questions as to "what constitutes welfare,--the destiny and welfare, not
of myself alone, but of every man?"  What does that power which has
created and which leads me, demand of me and of every man?  And what is
it necessary for me to do, in order to comply with the requirements
imposed upon me by the demands of individual and universal welfare?  They
have asked themselves: "I am a whole, and also a part of something
infinite, eternal; what, then, are my relations to other parts similar to
myself, to men and to the whole--to the world?"

And from the voices of conscience and of reason, and from a comparison of
what their contemporaries and men who had lived before them, and who had
propounded to themselves the same questions, had said, these great
teachers have deduced their doctrines, which were simple, clear,
intelligible to all men, and always such as were susceptible of
fulfilment.  Such men have existed of the first, second, third, and
lowest ranks.  The world is full of such men.  Every living man propounds
the question to himself, how to reconcile the demands of welfare, and of
his personal existence, with conscience and reason; and from this
universal labor, slowly but uninterruptedly, new forms of life, which are
more in accord with the requirements of reason and of conscience, are
worked out.

All at once, a new caste of people makes its appearance, and they say,
"All this is nonsense; all this must be abandoned."  This is the
deductive method of ratiocination (wherein lies the difference between
the deductive and the inductive method, no one can understand); these are
the dogmas of the technological and metaphysical period.  Every thing
that these men discover by inward experience, and which they communicate
to one another, concerning their knowledge of the law of their existence
(of their functional activity, according to their own jargon), every
thing that the grandest minds of mankind have accomplished in this
direction, since the beginning of the world,--all this is nonsense, and
has no weight whatever.  According to this new doctrine, it appears that
you are cells: and that you, as a cell, have a very definite functional
activity, which you not only fulfil, but which you infallibly feel within
you; and that you are a thinking, talking, understanding cell, and that
you, for this reason, can ask another similar talking cell whether it is
just the same, and in this way verify your own experience; that you can
take advantage of the fact that speaking cells, which have lived before
you, have written on the same subject, and that you have millions of
cells which confirm your observations by their agreement with the cells
which have written down their thoughts,--all this signifies nothing; all
this is an evil and an erroneous method.

The true scientific method is this: If you wish to know in what the
destiny and the welfare of all mankind and of all the world consists, you
must, first of all, cease to listen to the voices of your conscience and
of your reason, which present themselves in you and in others like you;
you must cease to believe all that the great teachers of mankind have
said with regard to your conscience and reason, and you must consider all
this as nonsense, and begin all over again.  And, in order to understand
every thing from the beginning, you must look through microscopes at the
movements of amoebae, and cells in worms, or, with still greater
composure, believe in every thing that men with a diploma of
infallibility shall say to you about them.  And as you gaze at the
movements of these cells, or read about what others have seen, you must
attribute to these cells your own human sensations and calculations as to
what they desire, whither they are directing themselves, how they compare
and discuss, and to what they have become accustomed; and from these
observations (in which there is not a word about an error of thought or
of expression) you must deduce a conclusion by analogy as to what you
are, what is your destiny, wherein lies the welfare of yourself and of
other cells like you.  In order to understand yourself, you must study
not only the worms which you see, but microscopic creatures which you can
barely see, and transformations from one set of creatures into others,
which no one has ever beheld, and which you, most assuredly, will never
behold.  And the same with art.  Where there has been true science, art
has always been its exponent.

Ever since men have been in existence, they have been in the habit of
deducing, from all pursuits, the expressions of various branches of
learning concerning the destiny and the welfare of man, and the
expression of this knowledge has been art in the strict sense of the

Ever since men have existed, there have been those who were peculiarly
sensitive and responsive to the doctrine regarding the destiny and
welfare of man; who have given expression to their own and the popular
conflict, to the delusions which lead them astray from their destinies,
their sufferings in this conflict, their hopes in the triumph of good,
them despair over the triumph of evil, and their raptures in the
consciousness of the approaching bliss of man, on viol and tabret, in
images and words.  Always, down to the most recent times, art has served
science and life,--only then was it what has been so highly esteemed of
men.  But art, in its capacity of an important human activity,
disappeared simultaneously with the substitution for the genuine science
of destiny and welfare, of the science of any thing you choose to fancy.
Art has existed among all peoples, and will exist until that which among
us is scornfully called religion has come to be considered the only

In our European world, so long as there existed a Church, as the doctrine
of destiny and welfare, and so long as the Church was regarded as the
only true science, art served the Church, and remained true art: but as
soon as art abandoned the Church, and began to serve science, while
science served whatever came to hand, art lost its significance.  And
notwithstanding the rights claimed on the score of ancient memories, and
of the clumsy assertion which only proves its loss of its calling, that
art serves art, it has become a trade, providing men with something
agreeable; and as such, it inevitably comes into the category of
choreographic, culinary, hair-dressing, and cosmetic arts, whose
practitioners designate themselves as artists, with the same right as the
poets, printers, and musicians of our day.

Glance backward into the past, and you will see that in the course of
thousands of years, out of milliards of people, only half a score of
Confucius', Buddhas, Solomons, Socrates, Solons, and Homers have been
produced.  Evidently, they are rarely met with among men, in spite of the
fact that these men have not been selected from a single caste, but from
mankind at large.  Evidently, these true teachers and artists and learned
men, the purveyors of spiritual nourishment, are rare.  And it is not
without reason that mankind has valued and still values them so highly.

But it now appears, that all these great factors in the science and art
of the past are no longer of use to us.  Nowadays, scientific and
artistic authorities can, in accordance with the law of division of
labor, be turned out by factory methods; and, in one decade, more great
men have been manufactured in art and science, than have ever been born
of such among all nations, since the foundation of the world.  Nowadays
there is a guild of learned men and artists, and they prepare, by
perfected methods, all that spiritual food which man requires.  And they
have prepared so much of it, that it is no longer necessary to refer to
the elder authorities, who have preceded them,--not only to the ancients,
but to those much nearer to us.  All that was the activity of the
theological and metaphysical period,--all that must be wiped out: but the
true, the rational activity began, say, fifty years ago, and in the
course of those fifty years we have made so many great men, that there
are about ten great men to every branch of science.  And there have come
to be so many sciences, that, fortunately, it is easy to make them.  All
that is required is to add the Greek word "logy" to the name, and force
them to conform to a set rubric, and the science is all complete.  They
have created so many sciences, that not only can no one man know them
all, but not a single individual can remember all the titles of all the
existing sciences; the titles alone form a thick lexicon, and new
sciences are manufactured every day.  They have been manufactured on the
pattern of that Finnish teacher who taught the landed proprietor's
children Finnish instead of French.  Every thing has been excellently
inculcated; but there is one objection,--that no one except ourselves can
understand any thing of it, and all this is reckoned as utterly useless
nonsense.  However, there is an explanation even for this.  People do not
appreciate the full value of scientific science, because they are under
the influence of the theological period, that profound period when all
the people, both among the Hebrews, and the Chinese, and the Indians, and
the Greeks, understood every thing that their great teachers said to

But, from whatever cause this has come about, the fact remains, that
sciences and arts have always existed among mankind, and, when they
really did exist, they were useful and intelligible to all the people.
But we practise something which we call science and art, but it appears
that what we do is unnecessary and unintelligible to man.  And hence,
however beautiful may be the things that we accomplish, we have no right
to call them arts and sciences.


"But you only furnish a different definition of arts and sciences, which
is stricter, and is incompatible with science," I shall be told in answer
to this; "nevertheless, scientific and artistic activity does still
exist.  There are the Galileos, Brunos, Homers, Michael Angelos,
Beethovens, and all the lesser learned men and artists, who have
consecrated their entire lives to the service of science and art, and who
were, and will remain, the benefactors of mankind."

Generally this is what people say, striving to forget that new principle
of the division of labor, on the basis of which science and art now
occupy their privileged position, and on whose basis we are now enabled
to decide without grounds, but by a given standard: Is there, or is there
not, any foundation for that activity which calls itself science and art,
to so magnify itself?

When the Egyptian or the Grecian priests produced their mysteries, which
were unintelligible to any one, and stated concerning these mysteries
that all science and all art were contained in them, I could not verify
the reality of their science on the basis of the benefit procured by them
to the people, because science, according to their assertions, was
supernatural.  But now we all possess a very simple and clear definition
of the activity of art and science, which excludes every thing
supernatural: science and art promise to carry out the mental activity of
mankind, for the welfare of society, or of all the human race.

The definition of scientific science and art is entirely correct; but,
unfortunately, the activity of the present arts and sciences does not
come under this head.  Some of them are directly injurious, others are
useless, others still are worthless,--good only for the wealthy.  They do
not fulfil that which, by their own definition, they have undertaken to
accomplish; and hence they have as little right to regard themselves as
men of art and science, as a corrupt priesthood, which does not fulfil
the obligations which it has assumed, has the right to regard itself as
the bearer of divine truth.

And it can be understood why the makers of the present arts and sciences
have not fulfilled, and cannot fulfil, their vocation.  They do not
fulfil it, because out of their obligations they have erected a right.

Scientific and artistic activity, in its real sense, is only fruitful
when it knows no rights, but recognizes only obligations.  Only because
it is its property to be always thus, does mankind so highly prize this
activity.  If men really were called to the service of others through
artistic work, they would see in that work only obligation, and they
would fulfil it with toil, with privations, and with self-abnegation.

The thinker or the artist will never sit calmly on Olympian heights, as
we have become accustomed to represent them to ourselves.  The thinker or
the artist should suffer in company with the people, in order that he may
find salvation or consolation.  Besides this, he will suffer because he
is always and eternally in turmoil and agitation: he might decide and say
that that which would confer welfare on men, would free them from
suffering, would afford them consolation; but he has not said so, and has
not presented it as he should have done; he has not decided, and he has
not spoken; and to-morrow, possibly, it will be too late,--he will die.
And therefore suffering and self-sacrifice will always be the lot of the
thinker and the artist.

Not of this description will be the thinker and artist who is reared in
an establishment where, apparently, they manufacture the learned man or
the artist (but in point of fact, they manufacture destroyers of science
and of art), who receives a diploma and a certificate, who would be glad
not to think and not to express that which is imposed on his soul, but
who cannot avoid doing that to which two irresistible forces draw him,--an
inward prompting, and the demand of men.

There will be no sleek, plump, self-satisfied thinkers and artists.
Spiritual activity, and its expression, which are actually necessary to
others, are the most burdensome of all man's avocations; a cross, as the
Gospels phrase it.  And the sole indubitable sign of the presence of a
vocation is self-devotion, the sacrifice of self for the manifestation of
the power that is imposed upon man for the benefit of others.

It is possible to study out how many beetles there are in the world, to
view the spots on the sun, to write romances and operas, without
suffering; but it is impossible, without self-sacrifice, to instruct
people in their true happiness, which consists solely in renunciation of
self and the service of others, and to give strong expression to this
doctrine, without self-sacrifice.

Christ did not die on the cross in vain; not in vain does the sacrifice
of suffering conquer all things.

But our art and science are provided with certificates and diplomas; and
the only anxiety of all men is, how to still better guarantee them, i.e.,
how to render the service of the people impracticable for them.

True art and true science possess two unmistakable marks: the first, an
inward mark, which is this, that the servitor of art and science will
fulfil his vocation, not for profit but with self-sacrifice; and the
second, an external sign,--his productions will be intelligible to all
the people whose welfare he has in view.

No matter what people have fixed upon as their vocation and their
welfare, science will be the doctrine of this vocation and welfare, and
art will be the expression of that doctrine.  That which is called
science and art, among us, is the product of idle minds and feelings,
which have for their object to tickle similar idle minds and feelings.
Our arts and sciences are incomprehensible, and say nothing to the
people, for they have not the welfare of the common people in view.

Ever since the life of men has been known to us, we find, always and
everywhere, the reigning doctrine falsely designating itself as science,
not manifesting itself to the common people, but obscuring for them the
meaning of life.  Thus it was among the Greeks the sophists, then among
the Christians the mystics, gnostics, scholastics, among the Hebrews the
Talmudists and Cabalists, and so on everywhere, down to our own times.

How fortunate it is for us that we live in so peculiar an age, when that
mental activity which calls itself science, not only does not err, but
finds itself, as we are assured, in a remarkably flourishing condition!
Does not this peculiar good fortune arise from the fact that man can not
and will not see his own hideousness?  Why is there nothing left of those
sciences, and sophists, and Cabalists, and Talmudists, but words, while
we are so exceptionally happy?  Surely the signs are identical.  There is
the same self-satisfaction and blind confidence that we, precisely we,
and only we, are on the right path, and that the real thing is only
beginning with us.  There is the same expectation that we shall discover
something remarkable; and that chief sign which leads us astray convicts
us of our error: all our wisdom remains with us, and the common people do
not understand, and do not accept, and do not need it.

Our position is a very difficult one, but why not look at it squarely?

It is time to recover our senses, and to scrutinize ourselves.  Surely we
are nothing else than the scribes and Pharisees, who sit in Moses' seat,
and who have taken the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and will neither go
in ourselves, nor permit others to go in.  Surely we, the high priests of
science and art, are ourselves worthless deceivers, possessing much less
right to our position than the most crafty and depraved priests.  Surely
we have no justification for our privileged position.  The priests had a
right to their position: they declared that they taught the people life
and salvation.  But we have taken their place, and we do not instruct the
people in life,--we even admit that such instruction is unnecessary,--but
we educate our children in the same Talmudic-Greek and Latin grammar, in
order that they may be able to pursue the same life of parasites which we
lead ourselves.  We say, "There used to be castes, but there are none
among us."  But what does it mean, that some people and their children
toil, while other people and their children do not toil?

Bring hither an Indian ignorant of our language, and show him European
life, and our life, for several generations, and he will recognize the
same leading, well-defined castes--of laborers and non-laborers--as there
are in his own country.  And as in his land, so in ours, the right of
refusing to labor is conferred by a peculiar consecration, which we call
science and art, or, in general terms, culture.  It is this culture, and
all the distortions of sense connected with it, which have brought us to
that marvellous madness, in consequence of which we do not see that which
is so clear and indubitable.


Then, what is to be done?  What are we to do?

This question, which includes within itself both an admission that our
life is evil and wrong, and in connection with this,--as though it were
an exercise for it,--that it is impossible, nevertheless, to change it,
this question I have heard, and I continue to hear, on all sides.  I have
described my own sufferings, my own gropings, and my own solution of this
question.  I am the same kind of a man as everybody else; and if I am in
any wise distinguished from the average man of our circle, it is chiefly
in this respect, that I, more than the average man, have served and
winked at the false doctrine of our world; I have received more
approbation from men professing the prevailing doctrine: and therefore,
more than others, have I become depraved, and wandered from the path.  And
therefore I think that the solution of the problem, which I have found in
my own case, will be applicable to all sincere people who are propounding
the same question to themselves.

First of all, in answer to the question, "What is to be done?" I told
myself: "I must lie neither to other people nor to myself.  I must not
fear the truth, whithersoever it may lead me."

We all know what it means to lie to other people, but we are not afraid
to lie to ourselves; yet the very worst downright lie, to other people,
is not to be compared in its consequences with the lie to ourselves, upon
which we base our whole life.

This is the lie of which we must not be guilty if we are to be in a
position to answer the question: "What is to be done?"  And, in fact, how
am I to answer the question, "What is to be done?" when every thing that
I do, when my whole life, is founded on a lie, and when I carefully
parade this lie as the truth before others and before myself?  Not to
lie, in this sense, means not to fear the truth, not to devise
subterfuges, and not to accept the subterfuges devised by others for the
purpose of hiding from myself the deductions of my reason and my
conscience; not to fear to part company with all those who surround me,
and to remain alone in company with reason and conscience; not to fear
that position to which the truth shall lead me, being firmly convinced
that that position to which truth and conscience shall conduct me,
however singular it may be, cannot be worse than the one which is founded
on a lie.  Not to lie, in our position of privileged persons of mental
labor, means, not to be afraid to reckon one's self up wrongly.  It is
possible that you are already so deeply indebted that you cannot take
stock of yourself; but to whatever extent this may be the case, however
long may be the account, however far you have strayed from the path, it
is still better than to continue therein.  A lie to other people is not
alone unprofitable; every matter is settled more directly and more
speedily by the truth than by a lie.  A lie to others only entangles
matters, and delays the settlement; but a lie to one's self, set forth as
the truth, ruins a man's whole life.  If a man, having entered on the
wrong path, assumes that it is the true one, then every step that he
takes on that path removes him farther from his goal.  If a man who has
long been travelling on this false path divines for himself, or is
informed by some one, that his course is a mistaken one, but grows
alarmed at the idea that he has wandered very far astray and tries to
convince himself that he may, possibly, still strike into the right road,
then he never will get into it.  If a man quails before the truth, and,
on perceiving it, does not accept it, but does accept a lie for the
truth, then he never will learn what he ought to do.  We, the not only
wealthy, but privileged and so-called cultivated persons, have advanced
so far on the wrong road, that a great deal of determination, or a very
great deal of suffering on the wrong road, is required, in order to bring
us to our senses and to the acknowledgment of the lie in which we are
living.  I have perceived the lie of our lives, thanks to the sufferings
which the false path entailed upon me, and, having recognized the
falseness of this path on which I stood, I have had the boldness to go at
first in thought only--whither reason and conscience led me, without
reflecting where they would bring me out.  And I have been rewarded for
this boldness.

All the complicated, broken, tangled, and incoherent phenomena of life
surrounding me, have suddenly become clear; and my position in the midst
of these phenomena, which was formerly strange and burdensome, has
become, all at once, natural, and easy to bear.

In this new position, my activity was defined with perfect accuracy; not
at all as it had previously presented itself to me, but as a new and much
more peaceful, loving, and joyous activity.  The very thing which had
formerly terrified me, now began to attract me.  Hence I think, that the
man who will honestly put to himself the question, "What is to be done?"
and, replying to this query, will not lie to himself, but will go whither
his reason leads, has already solved the problem.

There is only one thing that can hinder him in his search for an
issue,--an erroneously lofty idea of himself and of his position.  This
was the case with me; and then another, arising from the first answer to
the question: "What is to be done?" consisted for me in this, that it was
necessary for me to repent, in the full sense of that word,--i.e., to
entirely alter my conception of my position and my activity; to confess
the hurtfulness and emptiness of my activity, instead of its utility and
gravity; to confess my own ignorance instead of culture; to confess my
immorality and harshness in the place of my kindness and morality;
instead of my elevation, to acknowledge my lowliness.  I say, that in
addition to not lying to myself, I had to repent, because, although the
one flows from the other, a false conception of my lofty importance had
so grown up with me, that, until I sincerely repented and cut myself free
from that false estimate which I had formed of myself, I did not perceive
the greater part of the lie of which I had been guilty to myself.  Only
when I had repented, that is to say, when I had ceased to look upon
myself as a regular man, and had begun to regard myself as a man exactly
like every one else,--only then did my path become clear before me.
Before that time I had not been able to answer the question: "What is to
be done?" because I had stated the question itself wrongly.

As long as I did not repent, I put the question thus: "What sphere of
activity should I choose, I, the man who has received the education and
the talents which have fallen to my shame?  How, in this fashion, make
recompense with that education and those talents, for what I have taken,
and for what I still take, from the people?"  This question was wrong,
because it contained a false representation, to the effect that I was not
a man just like them, but a peculiar man called to serve the people with
those talents and with that education which I had won by the efforts of
forty years.

I propounded the query to myself; but, in reality, I had answered it in
advance, in that I had in advance defined the sort of activity which was
agreeable to me, and by which I was called upon to serve the people.  I
had, in fact, asked myself: "In what manner could I, so very fine a
writer, who had acquired so much learning and talents, make use of them
for the benefit of the people?"

But the question should have been put as it would have stood for a
learned rabbi who had gone through the course of the Talmud, and had
learned by heart the number of letters in all the holy books, and all the
fine points of his art.  The question for me, as for the rabbi, should
stand thus: "What am I, who have spent, owing to the misfortune of my
surroundings, the year's best fitted for study in the acquisition of
grammar, geography, judicial science, poetry, novels and romances, the
French language, pianoforte playing, philosophical theories, and military
exercises, instead of inuring myself to labor; what am I, who have passed
the best years of my life in idle occupations which are corrupting to the
soul,--what am I to do in defiance of these unfortunate conditions of the
past, in order that I may requite those people who during the whole time
have fed and clothed, yes, and who even now continue to feed and clothe
me?"  Had the question then stood as it stands before me now, after I
have repented,--"What am I, so corrupt a man, to do?" the answer would
have been easy: "To strive, first of all, to support myself honestly;
that is, to learn not to live upon others; and while I am learning, and
when I have learned this, to render aid on all possible occasions to the
people, with my hands, and my feet, and my brain, and my heart, and with
every thing to which the people should present a claim."

And therefore I say, that for the man of our circle, in addition to not
lying to himself or to others, repentance is also necessary, and that he
should scrape from himself that pride which has sprung up in us, in our
culture, in our refinements, in our talents; and that he should confess
that he is not a benefactor of the people and a distinguished man, who
does not refuse to share with the people his useful acquirements, but
that he should confess himself to be a thoroughly guilty, corrupt, and
good-for-nothing man, who desires to reform himself and not to behave
benevolently towards the people, but simply to cease wounding and
insulting them.

I often hear the questions of good young men who sympathize with the
renunciatory part of my writings, and who ask, "Well, and what then shall
I do?  What am I to do, now that I have finished my course in the
university, or in some other institution, in order that I may be of use?"
Young men ask this, and in the depths of their soul it is already decided
that the education which they have received constitutes their privilege
and that they desire to serve the people precisely by means of thus
superiority.  And hence, one thing which they will in no wise do, is to
bear themselves honestly and critically towards that which they call
their culture, and ask themselves, are those qualities which they call
their culture good or bad?  If they will do this, they will infallibly be
led to see the necessity of renouncing their culture, and the necessity
of beginning to learn all over again; and this is the one indispensable
thing.  They can in no wise solve the problem, "What to do?" because this
question does not stand before them as it should stand.  The question
must stand thus: "In what manner am I, a helpless, useless man, who,
owing to the misfortune of my conditions, have wasted my best years of
study in conning the scientific Talmud which corrupts soul and body, to
correct this mistake, and learn to serve the people?"  But it presents
itself to them thus: "How am I, a man who has acquired so much very fine
learning, to turn this very fine learning to the use of the people?"  And
such a man will never answer the question, "What is to be done?" until he
repents.  And repentance is not terrible, just as truth is not terrible,
and it is equally joyful and fruitful.  It is only necessary to accept
the truth wholly, and to repent wholly, in order to understand that no
one possesses any rights, privileges, or peculiarities in the matter of
this life of ours, but that there are no ends or bounds to obligation,
and that a man's first and most indubitable duty is to take part in the
struggle with nature for his own life and for the lives of others.

And this confession of a man's obligation constitutes the gist of the
third answer to the question, "What is to be done?"

I tried not to lie to myself: I tried to cast out from myself the remains
of my false conceptions of the importance of my education and talents,
and to repent; but on the way to a decision of the question, "What to
do?" a fresh difficulty arose.  There are so many different occupations,
that an indication was necessary as to the precise one which was to be
adopted.  And the answer to this question was furnished me by sincere
repentance for the evil in which I had lived.

"What to do?  Precisely what to do?" all ask, and that is what I also
asked so long as, under the influence of my exalted idea of any own
importance, I did not perceive that my first and unquestionable duty was
to feed myself, to clothe myself, to furnish my own fuel, to do my own
building, and, by so doing, to serve others, because, ever since the
would has existed, the first and indubitable duty of every man has
consisted and does consist in this.

In fact, no matter what a man may have assumed to be his
vocation,--whether it be to govern people, to defend his
fellow-countrymen, to divine service, to instruct others, to invent means
to heighten the pleasures of life, to discover the laws of the world, to
incorporate eternal truths in artistic representations,--the duty of a
reasonable man is to take part in the struggle with nature, for the
sustenance of his own life and of that of others.  This obligation is the
first of all, because what people need most of all is their life; and
therefore, in order to defend and instruct the people, and render their
lives more agreeable, it is requisite to preserve that life itself, while
my refusal to share in the struggle, my monopoly of the labors of others,
is equivalent to annihilation of the lives of others.  And, therefore, it
is not rational to serve the lives of men by annihilating the lives of
men; and it is impossible to say that I am serving men, when, by my life,
I am obviously injuring them.

A man's obligation to struggle with nature for the acquisition of the
means of livelihood will always be the first and most unquestionable of
all obligations, because this obligation is a law of life, departure from
which entails the inevitable punishment of either bodily or mental
annihilation of the life of man.  If a man living alone excuses himself
from the obligation of struggling with nature, he is immediately
punished, in that his body perishes.  But if a man excuses himself from
this obligation by making other people fulfil it for him, then also he is
immediately punished by the annihilation of his mental life; that is to
say, of the life which possesses rational thought.

In this one act, man receives--if the two things are to be separated--full
satisfaction of the bodily and spiritual demands of his nature.  The
feeding, clothing, and taking care of himself and his family, constitute
the satisfaction of the bodily demands and requirements; and doing the
same for other people, constitutes the satisfaction of his spiritual
requirements.  Every other employment of man is only legal when it is
directed to the satisfaction of this very first duty of man; for the
fulfilment of this duty constitutes the whole life of man.

I had been so turned about by my previous life, this first and
indubitable law of God or of nature is so concealed in our sphere of
society, that the fulfilment of this law seemed to me strange, terrible,
even shameful; as though the fulfilment of an eternal, unquestionable
law, and not the departure from it, can be terrible, strange, and

At first it seemed to me that the fulfilment of this matter required some
preparation, arrangement or community of men, holding similar views,--the
consent of one's family, life in the country; it seemed to me disgraceful
to make a show of myself before people, to undertake a thing so improper
in our conditions of existence, as bodily toil, and I did not know how to
set about it.  But it was only necessary for me to understand that this
is no exclusive occupation which requires to be invented and arranged
for, but that this employment was merely a return from the false position
in which I found myself, to a natural one; was only a rectification of
that lie in which I was living.  I had only to recognize this fact, and
all these difficulties vanished.  It was not in the least necessary to
make preparations and arrangements, and to await the consent of others,
for, no matter in what position I had found myself, there had always been
people who had fed, clothed and warmed me, in addition to themselves; and
everywhere, under all conditions, I could do the same for myself and for
them, if I had the time and the strength.  Neither could I experience
false shame in an unwonted occupation, no matter how surprising it might
be to people, because, through not doing it, I had already experienced
not false but real shame.

And when I had reached this confession and the practical deduction from
it, I was fully rewarded for not having quailed before the deductions of
reason, and for following whither they led me.  On arriving at this
practical deduction, I was amazed at the ease and simplicity with which
all the problems which had previously seemed to me so difficult and so
complicated, were solved.

To the question, "What is it necessary to do?" the most indubitable
answer presented itself: first of all, that which it was necessary for me
to do was, to attend to my own samovar, my own stove, my own water, my
own clothing; to every thing that I could do for myself.  To the
question, "Will it not seem strange to people if you do this?" it
appeared that this strangeness lasted only a week, and after the lapse of
that week, it would have seemed strange had I returned to my former
conditions of life.  With regard to the question, "Is it necessary to
organize this physical labor, to institute an association in the country,
on my land?" it appeared that nothing of the sort was necessary; that
labor, if it does not aim at the acquisition of all possible leisure, and
the enjoyment of the labor of others,--like the labor of people bent on
accumulating money,--but if it have for its object the satisfaction of
requirements, will itself be drawn from the city to the country, to the
land, where this labor is the most fruitful and cheerful.  But it is not
requisite to institute any association, because the man who labors,
naturally and of himself, attaches himself to the existing association of
laboring men.

To the question, whether this labor would not monopolize all my time, and
deprive me of those intellectual pursuits which I love, to which I am
accustomed, and which, in my moments of self-conceit, I regard as not
useless to others? I received a most unexpected reply.  The energy of my
intellectual activity increased, and increased in exact proportion with
bodily application, while freeing itself from every thing superfluous.  It
appeared that by dedicating to physical toil eight hours, that half of
the day which I had formerly passed in the oppressive state of a struggle
with _ennui_, eight hours remained to me, of which only five of
intellectual activity, according to my terms, were necessary to me.  For
it appeared, that if I, a very voluminous writer, who had done nothing
for nearly forty years except write, and who had written three hundred
printed sheets;--if I had worked during all those forty years at ordinary
labor with the working-people, then, not reckoning winter evenings and
leisure days, if I had read and studied for five hours every day, and had
written a couple of pages only on holidays (and I have been in the habit
of writing at the rate of one printed sheet a day), then I should have
written those three hundred sheets in fourteen years.  The fact seemed
startling: yet it is the most simple arithmetical calculation, which can
be made by a seven-year-old boy, but which I had not been able to make up
to this time.  There are twenty-four hours in the day; if we take away
eight hours, sixteen remain.  If any man engaged in intellectual
occupations devote five hours every day to his occupation, he will
accomplish a fearful amount.  And what is to be done with the remaining
eleven hours?

It proved that physical labor not only does not exclude the possibility
of mental activity, but that it improves its quality, and encourages it.

In answer to the question, whether this physical toil does not deprive me
of many innocent pleasures peculiar to man, such as the enjoyment of the
arts, the acquisition of learning, intercourse with people, and the
delights of life in general, it turned out exactly the reverse: the more
intense the labor, the more nearly it approached what is considered the
coarsest agricultural toil, the more enjoyment and knowledge did I gain,
and the more did I come into close and loving communion with men, and the
more happiness did I derive from life.

In answer to the question (which I have so often heard from persons not
thoroughly sincere), as to what result could flow from so insignificant a
drop in the sea of sympathy as my individual physical labor in the sea of
labor ingulfing me, I received also the most satisfactory and unexpected
of answers.  It appeared that all I had to do was to make physical labor
the habitual condition of my life, and the majority of my false, but
precious, habits and my demands, when physically idle, fell away from me
at once of their own accord, without the slightest exertion on my part.
Not to mention the habit of turning day into night and _vice versa_, my
habits connected with my bed, with my clothing, with conventional
cleanliness,--which are downright impossible and oppressive with physical
labor,--and my demands as to the quality of my food, were entirely
changed.  In place of the dainty, rich, refined, complicated,
highly-spiced food, to which I had formerly inclined, the most simple
viands became needful and most pleasing of all to me,--cabbage-soup,
porridge, black bread, and tea _v prikusku_. {238}  So that, not to
mention the influence upon me of the example of the simple
working-people, who are content with little, with whom I came in contact
in the course of my bodily toil, my very requirements underwent a change
in consequence of my toilsome life; so that my drop of physical labor in
the sea of universal labor became larger and larger, in proportion as I
accustomed myself to, and appropriated, the habits of the laboring
classes; in proportion, also, to the success of my labor, my demands for
labor from others grew less and less, and my life naturally, without
exertion or privations, approached that simple existence of which I could
not even dream without fulfilling the law of labor.

It proved that my dearest demands from life, namely, my demands for
vanity, and diversion from _ennui_, arose directly from my idle life.
There was no place for vanity, in connection with physical labor; and no
diversions were needed, since my time was pleasantly occupied, and, after
my fatigue, simple rest at tea over a book, or in conversation with my
fellows, was incomparably more agreeable than theatres, cards, conceits,
or a large company,--all which things are needed in physical idleness,
and which cost a great deal.

In answer to the question, Would not this unaccustomed toil ruin that
health which is indispensable in order to render service to the people
possible? it appeared, in spite of the positive assertions of noted
physicians, that physical exertion, especially at my age, might have the
most injurious consequences (but that Swedish gymnastics, the massage
treatment, and so on, and other expedients intended to take the place of
the natural conditions of man's life, were better), that the more intense
the toil, the stronger, more alert, more cheerful, and more kindly did I
feel.  Thus it undoubtedly appeared, that, just as all those cunning
devices of the human mind, newspapers, theatres, concerts, visits, balls,
cards, journals, romances, are nothing else than expedients for
maintaining the spiritual life of man outside his natural conditions of
labor for others,--just so all the hygienic and medical devices of the
human mind for the preparation of food, drink, lodging, ventilation,
heating, clothing, medicine, water, massage, gymnastics, electric, and
other means of healing,--all these clever devices are merely an expedient
to sustain the bodily life of man removed from its natural conditions of
labor.  It turned out that all these devices of the human mind for the
agreeable arrangement of the physical existence of idle persons are
precisely analogous to those artful contrivances which people might
invent for the production in vessels hermetically sealed, by means of
mechanical arrangements, of evaporation, and plants, of the air best
fitted for breathing, when all that is needed is to open the window.  All
the inventions of medicine and hygiene for persons of our sphere are much
the same as though a mechanic should hit upon the idea of heating a steam-
boiler which was not working, and should shut all the valves so that the
boiler should not burst.  Only one thing is needed, instead of all these
extremely complicated devices for pleasure, for comfort, and for medical
and hygienic preparations, intended to save people from their spiritual
and bodily ailments, which swallow up so much labor,--to fulfil the law
of life; to do that which is proper not only to man, but to the animal;
to fire off the charge of energy taken win in the shape of food, by
muscular exertion; to speak in plain language, to earn one's bread.  Those
who do not work should not eat, or they should earn as much as they have

And when I clearly comprehended all this, it struck me as ridiculous.
Through a whole series of doubts and searchings, I had arrived, by a long
course of thought, at this remarkable truth: if a man has eyes, it is
that he may see with them; if he has ears, that he may hear; and feet,
that he may walk; and hands and back, that he may labor; and that if a
man will not employ those members for that purpose for which they are
intended, it will be the worse for him.

I came to this conclusion, that, with us privileged people, the same
thing has happened which happened with the horses of a friend of mine.
His steward, who was not a lover of horses, nor well versed in them, on
receiving his master's orders to place the best horses in the stable,
selected them from the stud, placed them in stalls, and fed and watered
them; but fearing for the valuable steeds, he could not bring himself to
trust them to any one, and he neither rode nor drove them, nor did he
even take them out.  The horses stood there until they were good for
nothing.  The same thing has happened with us, but with this difference:
that it was impossible to deceive the horses in any way, and they were
kept in bonds to prevent their getting out; but we are kept in an
unnatural position that is equally injurious to us, by deceits which have
entangled us, and which hold us like chains.

We have arranged for ourselves a life that is repugnant both to the moral
and the physical nature of man, and all the powers of our intelligence we
concentrate upon assuring man that this is the most natural life
possible.  Every thing which we call culture,--our sciences, art, and the
perfection of the pleasant thing's of life,--all these are attempts to
deceive the moral requirements of man; every thing that is called hygiene
and medicine, is an attempt to deceive the natural physical demands of
human nature.  But these deceits have their bounds, and we advance to
them.  "If such be the real human life, then it is better not to live at
all," says the reigning and extremely fashionable philosophy of
Schopenhauer and Hartmann.  If such is life, 'tis better for the coming
generation not to live," say corrupt medical science and its newly
devised means to that end.

In the Bible, it is laid down as the law of man: "In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread, and in sorrow thou shalt bring forth
children;" but "_nous avons change tout ca_," as Moliere's character
says, when expressing himself with regard to medicine, and asserting that
the liver was on the left side.  We have changed all that.  Men need not
work in order to eat, and women need not bear children.

A ragged peasant roams the Krapivensky district.  During the war he was
an agent for the purchase of grain, under an official of the commissary
department.  On being brought in contact with the official, and seeing
his luxurious life, the peasant lost his mind, and thought that he might
get along without work, like gentlemen, and receive proper support from
the Emperor.  This peasant now calls himself "the Most Serene Warrior,
Prince Blokhin, purveyor of war supplies of all descriptions."  He says
of himself that he has "passed through all the ranks," and that when he
shall have served out his term in the army, he is to receive from the
Emperor an unlimited bank account, clothes, uniforms, horses, equipages,
tea, pease and servants, and all sorts of luxuries.  This man is
ridiculous in the eyes of many, but to me the significance of his madness
is terrible.  To the question, whether he does not wish to work, he
always replies proudly: "I am much obliged.  The peasants will attend to
all that."  When you tell him that the peasants do not wish to work,
either, he answers: "It is not difficult for the peasant."

He generally talks in a high-flown style, and is fond of verbal
substantives.  "Now there is an invention of machinery for the
alleviation of the peasants," he says; "there is no difficulty for them
in that."  When he is asked what he lives for, he replies, "To pass the
time."  I always look on this man as on a mirror.  I behold in him myself
and all my class.  To pass through all the ranks (_tchini_) in order to
live for the purpose of passing the time, and to receive an unlimited
bank account, while the peasants, for whom this is not difficult, because
of the invention of machinery, do the whole business,--this is the
complete formula of the idiotic creed of the people of our sphere in

When we inquire precisely what we are to do, surely, we ask nothing, but
merely assert--only not in such good faith as the Most Serene Prince
Blokhin, who has been promoted through all ranks, and lost his mind--that
we do not wish to do any thing.

He who will reflect for a moment cannot ask thus, because, on the one
hand, every thing that he uses has been made, and is made, by the hands
of men; and, on the other side, as soon as a healthy man has awakened and
eaten, the necessity of working with feet and hands and brain makes
itself felt.  In order to find work and to work, he need only not hold
back: only a person who thinks work disgraceful--like the lady who
requests her guest not to take the trouble to open the door, but to wait
until she can call a man for this purpose--can put to himself the
question, what he is to do.

The point does not lie in inventing work,--you can never get through all
the work that is to be done for yourself and for others,--but the point
lies in weaning one's self from that criminal view of life in accordance
with which I eat and sleep for my own pleasure; and in appropriating to
myself that just and simple view with which the laboring man grows up and
lives,--that man is, first of all, a machine, which loads itself with
food in order to sustain itself, and that it is therefore disgraceful,
wrong, and impossible to eat and not to work; that to eat and not to work
is the most impious, unnatural, and, therefore, dangerous position, in
the nature of the sin of Sodom.  Only let this acknowledgement be made,
and there will be work; and work will always be joyous and satisfying to
both spiritual and bodily requirements.

The matter presented itself to me thus: The day is divided for every man,
by food itself, into four parts, or four stints, as the peasants call it:
(1) before breakfast; (2) from breakfast until dinner; (3) from dinner
until four o'clock; (4) from four o'clock until evening.

A man's employment, whatever it may be that he feels a need for in his
own person, is also divided into four categories: (1) the muscular
employment of power, labor of the hands, feet, shoulders, back,--hard
labor, from which you sweat; (2) the employment of the fingers and
wrists, the employment of artisan skill; (3) the employment of the mind
and imagination; (4) the employment of intercourse with others.

The benefits which man enjoys are also divided into four categories.
Every man enjoys, in the first place, the product of hard labor,--grain,
cattle, buildings, wells, ponds, and so forth; in the second place, the
results of artisan toil,--clothes, boots, utensils, and so forth; in the
third place, the products of mental activity,--science, art; and, in the
forth place, established intercourse between people.

And it struck me, that the best thing of all would be to arrange the
occupations of the day in such a manner as to exercise all four of man's
capacities, and myself produce all these four sorts of benefits which men
make use of, so that one portion of the day, the first, should be
dedicated to hard labor; the second, to intellectual labor; the third, to
artisan labor; and the forth, to intercourse with people.  It struck me,
that only then would that false division of labor, which exists in our
society, be abrogated, and that just division of labor established, which
does not destroy man's happiness.

I, for example, have busied myself all my life with intellectual labor.  I
said to myself, that I had so divided labor, that writing, that is to
say, intellectual labor, is my special employment, and the other matters
which were necessary to me I had left free (or relegated, rather) to
others.  But this, which would appear to have been the most advantageous
arrangement for intellectual toil, was precisely the most disadvantageous
to mental labor, not to mention its injustice.

All my life long, I have regulated my whole life, food, sleep, diversion,
in view of these hours of special labor, and I have done nothing except
this work.  The result of this has been, in the first place, that I have
contracted my sphere of observations and knowledge, and have frequently
had no means for the study even of problems which often presented
themselves in describing the life of the people (for the life of the
common people is the every-day problem of intellectual activity).  I was
conscious of my ignorance, and was obliged to obtain instruction, to ask
about things which are known by every man not engaged in special labor.
In the second place, the result was, that I had been in the habit of
sitting down to write when I had no inward impulse to write, and when no
one demanded from me writing, as writing, that is to say, my thoughts,
but when my name was merely wanted for journalistic speculation.  I tried
to squeeze out of myself what I could.  Sometimes I could extract
nothing; sometimes it was very wretched stuff, and I was dissatisfied and
grieved.  But now that I have learned the indispensability of physical
labor, both hard and artisan labor, the result is entirely different.  My
time has been occupied, however modestly, at least usefully and
cheerfully, and in a manner instructive to me.  And therefore I have torn
myself from that indubitably useful and cheerful occupation for my
special duties only when I felt an inward impulse, and when I saw a
demand made upon me directly for my literary work.

And these demands called into play only good nature, and therefore the
usefulness and the joy of my special labor.  Thus it turned out, that
employment in those physical labors which are indispensable to me, as
they are to every man, not only did not interfere with my special
activity, but was an indispensable condition of the usefulness, worth,
and cheerfulness of that activity.

The bird is so constructed, that it is indispensable that it should fly,
walk, peek, combine; and when it does all this, it is satisfied and
happy,--then it is a bird.  Just so man, when he walks, turns, raises,
drags, works with his fingers, with his eyes, with his ears, with his
tongue, with his brain,--only then is he satisfied, only then is he a

A man who acknowledges his appointment to labor will naturally strive
towards that rotation of labor which is peculiar to him, for the
satisfaction of his inward requirements; and he can alter this labor in
no other way than when he feels within himself an irresistible summons to
some exclusive form of labor, and when the demands of other men for that
labor are expressed.

The character of labor is such, that the satisfaction of all a man's
requirements demands that same succession of the sorts of work which
renders work not a burden but a joy.  Only a false creed, [Greek text
which cannot be reproduced], to the effect that labor is a curse, could
have led men to rid themselves of certain kinds of work; i.e., to the
appropriation of the work of others, demanding the forced occupation with
special labor of other people, which they call division of labor.

We have only grown used to our false comprehension of the regulation of
labor, because it seems to us that the shoemaker, the machinist, the
writer, or the musician will be better off if he gets rid of the labor
peculiar to man.  Where there is no force exercised over the labor of
others, or any false belief in the joy of idleness, not a single man will
get rid of physical labor, necessary for the satisfaction of his
requirements, for the sake of special work; because special work is not a
privilege, but a sacrifice which man offers to inward pressure and to his

The shoemaker in the country, who abandons his wonted labor in the field,
which is so grateful to him, and betakes himself to his trade, in order
to repair or make boots for his neighbors, always deprives himself of the
pleasant toil of the field, simply because he likes to make boots,
because he knows that no one else can do it so well as he, and that
people will be grateful to him for it; but the desire cannot occur to
him, to deprive himself, for the whole period of his life, of the
cheering rotation of labor.

It is the same with the _starosta_ [village elder], the machinist, the
writer, the learned man.  To us, with our corrupt conception of things,
it seems, that if a steward has been relegated to the position of a
peasant by his master, or if a minister has been sent to the colonies, he
has been chastised, he has been ill-treated.  But in reality a benefit
has been conferred on him; that is to say, his special, hard labor has
been changed into a cheerful rotation of labor.  In a naturally
constituted society, this is quite otherwise.  I know of one community
where the people supported themselves.  One of the members of this
society was better educated than the rest; and they called upon him to
read, so that he was obliged to prepare himself during the day, in order
that he might read in the evening.  This he did gladly, feeling that he
was useful to others, and that he was performing a good deed.  But he
grew weary of exclusively intellectual work, and his health suffered from
it.  The members of the community took pity on him, and requested him to
go to work in the fields.

For men who regard labor as the substance and the joy of life, the basis,
the foundation of life will always be the struggle with nature,--labor
both agricultural and mechanical, and intellectual, and the establishment
of communion between men.  Departure from one or from many of these
varieties of labor, and the adoption of special labor, will then only
occur when the man possessed of a special branch, and loving this work,
and knowing that he can perform it better than others, sacrifices his own
profit for the satisfaction of the direct demands made upon him.  Only on
condition of such a view of labor, and of the natural division of labor
arising from it, is that curse which is laid upon our idea of labor
abrogated, and does every sort of work becomes always a joy; because a
man will either perform that labor which is undoubtedly useful and
joyous, and not dull, or he will possess the consciousness of
self-abnegation in the fulfilment of more difficult and restricted toil,
which he exercises for the good of others.

But the division of labor is more profitable.  More profitable for whom?
It is more profitable in making the greatest possible quantity of calico,
and boots in the shortest possible time.  But who will make these boots
and this calico?  There are people who, for whole generations, make only
the heads of pins.  Then how can this be more profitable for men?  If the
point lies in manufacturing as much calico and as many pins as possible,
then this is so.  But the point concerns men and their welfare.  And the
welfare of men lies in life.  And life is work.  How, then, can the
necessity for burdensome, oppressive toil be more profitable for people?
For all men, that one thing is more profitable which I desire for
myself,--the utmost well-being, and the gratification of all those
requirements, both bodily and spiritual, of the conscience and of the
reason, which are imposed upon me.  And in my own case I have found, that
for my own welfare, and for the satisfaction of these needs of mine, all
that I require is to cure myself of that folly in which I had been
living, in company with the Krapivensky madman, and which consisted in
presupposing that some people need not work, and that certain other
people should direct all this, and that I should therefore do only that
which is natural to man, i.e., labor for the satisfaction of their
requirements; and, having discovered this, I convinced myself that labor
for the satisfaction of one's own needs falls of itself into various
kinds of labor, each one of which possesses its own charm, and which not
only do not constitute a burden, but which serve as a respite to one
another.  I have made a rough division of this labor (not insisting on
the justice of this arrangement), in accordance with my own needs in
life, into four parts, corresponding to the four stints of labor of which
the day is composed; and I seek in this manner to satisfy my

These, then, are the answers which I have found for myself to the
question, "What is to be done?"

_First_, Not to lie to myself, however far removed my path in life may be
from the true path which my reason discloses to me.

_Second_, To renounce my consciousness of my own righteousness, my
superiority especially over other people; and to acknowledge my guilt.

_Third_, To comply with that eternal and indubitable law of humanity,--the
labor of my whole being, feeling no shame at any sort of work; to contend
with nature for the maintenance of my own life and the lives of others.


I concluded, after having said every thing that concerned myself; but I
cannot refrain, from a desire to say something more which concerns
everybody, from verifying the deductions which I have drawn, by
comparisons.  I wish to say why it seems to me that a very large number
of our social class ought to come to the same thing to which I have come;
and also to state what will be the result if a number of people should
come to the same conclusion.

I think that many will come to the point which I have attained: because
if the people of our sphere, of our caste, will only take a serious look
at themselves, then young persons, who are in search of personnel
happiness, will stand aghast at the ever-increasing wretchedness of their
life, which is plainly leading them to destruction; conscientious people
will be shocked at the cruelty and the illegality of their life; and
timid people will be terrified by the danger of their mode of life.

_The Wretchedness of our Life_:--However much we rich people may reform,
however much we may bolster up this delusive life of ours with the aid of
our science and art, this life will become, with every year, both weaker
and more diseased; with every year the number of suicides, and the
refusals to bear children, will increase; with every year we shall feel
the growing sadness of our life; with every generation, the new
generations of people of this sphere of society will become more puny.

It is obvious that in this path of the augmentation of the comforts and
the pleasures of life, in the path of every sort of cure, and of
artificial preparations for the improvements of the sight, the hearing,
the appetite, false teeth, false hair, respiration, massage, and so on,
there can be no salvation.  That people who do not make use of these
perfected preparations are stronger and healthier, has become such a
truism, that advertisements are printed in the newspapers of
stomach-powders for the wealthy, under the heading, "Blessings for the
poor," {252} in which it is stated that only the poor are possessed of
proper digestive powers, and that the rich require assistance, and, among
other various sorts of assistance, these powders.  It is impossible to
set the matter right by any diversions, comforts, and powders, whatever;
only a change of life can rectify it.

_The Inconsistency of our Life with our Conscience_:--however we may seek
to justify our betrayal of humanity to ourselves, all our justifications
will crumble into dust in the presence of the evidence.  All around us,
people are dying of excessive labor and of privation; we ruin the labor
of others, the food and clothing which are indispensable to them, merely
with the object of procuring diversion and variety for our wearisome
lives.  And, therefore, the conscience of a man of our circle, if even a
spark of it be left in him, cannot be lulled to sleep, and it poisons all
these comforts and those pleasures of life which our brethren, suffering
and perishing in their toil, procure for us.  But not only does every
conscientious man feel this himself,--he would be glad to forget it, but
this he cannot do.

The new, ephemeral justifications of science for science, of art for art,
do not exclude the light of a simple, healthy judgment.  The conscience
of man cannot be quieted by fresh devices; and it can only be calmed by a
change of life, for which and in which no justification will be required.

Two causes prove to the people of the wealthy classes the necessity for a
change of life: the requirements of their individual welfare, and of the
welfare of those most nearly connected with them, which cannot be
satisfied in the path in which they now stand; and the necessity of
satisfying the voice of conscience, the impossibility of accomplishing
which is obvious in their present course.  These causes, taken together,
should lead people of the wealthy classes to alter their mode of life, to
such a change as shall satisfy their well-being and their conscience.

And there is only one such change possible: they must cease to deceive,
they must repent, they must acknowledge that labor is not a curse, but
the glad business of life.  "But what will be the result if I do toil for
ten, or eight, or five hours at physical work, which thousands of
peasants will gladly perform for the money which I possess?" people say
to this.

The first, simplest, and indubitable result will be, that you will become
a more cheerful, a healthier, a more alert, and a better man, and that
you will learn to know the real life, from which you have hidden
yourself, or which has been hidden from you.

The second result will be, that, if you possess a conscience, it will not
only cease to suffer as it now suffers when it gazes upon the toil of
others, the significance of which we, through ignorance, either always
exaggerate or depreciate, but you will constantly experience a glad
consciousness that, with every day, you are doing more and more to
satisfy the demands of your conscience, and you will escape from that
fearful position of such an accumulation of evil heaped upon your life
that there exists no possibility of doing good to people; you will
experience the joy of living in freedom, with the possibility of good;
you will break a window,--an opening into the domain of the moral world
which has been closed to you.

"But this is absurd," people usually say to you, for people of our
sphere, with profound problems standing before us,--problems
philosophical, scientific, artistic, ecclesiastical and social.  It would
be absurd for us ministers, senators, academicians professors, artists, a
quarter of an hour of whose time is so prized by people, to waste our
time on any thing of that sort, would it not?--on the cleaning of our
boots, the washing of our shirts, in hoeing, in planting potatoes, or in
feeding our chickens and our cows, and so on; in those things which are
gladly done for us, not only by our porter or our cook, but by thousands
of people who value our time?

But why should we dress ourselves, wash and comb our hair? why should we
hand chairs to ladies, to guests? why should we open and shut doors, hand
ladies, into carriages, and do a hundred other things which serfs
formerly did for us?  Because we think that it is necessary so to do;
that human dignity demands it; that it is the duty, the obligation, of

And the same is the case with physical labor.  The dignity of man, his
sacred duty and obligation, consists in using the hands and feet which
have been given to him, for that for which they were given to him, and
that which consumes food on the labor which produces that food; and that
they should be used, not on that which shall cause them to pine away, not
as objects to wash and clean, and merely for the purpose of stuffing into
one's mouth food, drink, and cigarettes.  This is the significance that
physical labor possesses for man in every community; but in our
community, where the avoidance of this law of labor has occasioned the
unhappiness of a whole class of people, employment in physical labor
acquires still another significance,--the significance of a sermon, and
of an occupation which removes a terrible misfortune that is threatening

To say that physical labor is an insignificant occupation for a man of
education, is equivalent to saying, in connection with the erection of a
temple: "What does it matter whether one stone is laid accurately in its
place?"  Surely, it is precisely under conditions of modesty, simplicity,
and imperceptibleness, that every magnificent thing is accomplished; it
is impossible to plough, to build, to pasture cattle, or even to think,
amid glare, thunder, and illumination.  Grand and genuine deeds are
always simple and modest.  And such is the grandest of all deeds which we
have to deal with,--the reconciliation of those fearful contradictions
amid which we are living.  And the deeds which will reconcile these
contradictions are those modest, imperceptible, apparently ridiculous
ones, the serving one's self, physical labor for one's self, and, if
possible, for others also, which we rich people must do, if we understand
the wretchedness, the unscrupulousness, and the danger of the position
into which we have drifted.

What will be the result if I, or some other man, or a handful of men, do
not despise physical labor, but regard it as indispensable to our
happiness and to the appeasement of our conscience?  This will be the
result, that there will be one man, two men, or a handful of men, who,
coming into conflict with no one, without governmental or revolutionary
violence, will decide for ourselves the terrible question which stands
before all the world, and which sets people at variance, and that we
shall settle it in such wise that life will be better to them, that their
conscience will be more at peace, and that they will have nothing to
fear; the result will be, that other people will see that the happiness
which they are seeking everywhere, lies there around them; that the
apparently unreconcilable contradictions of conscience and of the
constitution of this world will be reconciled in the easiest and most
joyful manner; and that, instead of fearing the people who surround us,
it will become necessary for us to draw near to them and to love them.

The apparently insoluble economical and social problem is merely the
problem of Kriloff's casket. {256}  The casket will simply open.  And it
will not open, so long as people do not do simply that first and simple
thing--open it.

A man sets up what he imagines to be his own peculiar library, his own
private picture-gallery, his own apartments and clothing, he accumulates
his own money in order therewith to purchase every thing that he needs;
and the end of it all is, that engaged with this fancied property of his,
as though it were real, he utterly loses his sense of that which actually
constitutes his property, on which he can really labor, which can really
serve him, and which will always remain in his power, and of that which
is not and cannot be his own property, whatever he may call it, and which
cannot serve as the object of his occupation.

Words always possess a clear significance until we deliberately attribute
to them a false sense.

What does property signify?

Property signifies that which has been given to me, which belongs to me
exclusively; that with which I can always do any thing I like; that which
no one can take away from me; that which will remain mine to the end of
my life, and precisely that which I am bound to use, increase, and
improve.  Now, there exists but one such piece of property for any

Hence it results that half a score of men may till the soil, hew wood,
and make shoes, not from necessity, but in consequence of an
acknowledgment of the fact that man should work, and that the more he
works the better it will be for him.  It results, that half a score of
men,--or even one man, may demonstrate to people, both by his confession
and by his actions, that the terrible evil from which they are suffering
is not a law of fate, the will of God, or any historical necessity; but
that it is merely a superstition, which is not in the least powerful or
terrible, but weak and insignificant, in which we must simply cease to
believe, as in idols, in order to rid ourselves of it, and in order to
rend it like a paltry spider's web.  Men who will labor to fulfil the
glad law of their existence, that is to say, those who work in order to
fulfil the law of toil, will rid themselves of that frightful
superstition of property for themselves.

If the life of a man is filled with toil, and if he knows the delights of
rest, he requires no chambers, furniture, and rich and varied clothing;
he requires less costly food; he needs no means of locomotion, or of
diversion.  But the principal thing is, that the man who regards labor as
the business and the joy of his life will not seek that relief from his
labor which the labors of others might afford him.  The man who regards
life as a matter of labor will propose to himself as his object, in
proportion as he acquires understanding, skill, and endurance, greater
and greater toil, which shall constantly fill his life to a greater and
greater degree.  For such a man, who sees the meaning of his life in work
itself, and not in its results, for the acquisition of property, there
can be no question as to the implements of labor.  Although such a man
will always select the most suitable implements, that man will receive
the same satisfaction from work and rest, when he employs the most
unsuitable implements.  If there be a steam-plough, he will use it; if
there is none, he will till the soil with a horse-plough, and, if there
is none, with a primitive curved bit of wood shod with iron, or he will
use a rake; and, under all conditions, he will equally attain his object.
He will pass his life in work that is useful to men, and he will
therefore win complete satisfaction.

And the position of such a man, both in his external and internal
conditions, will be more happy than that of the man who devotes his life
to the acquisition of property.  Such a man will never suffer need in his
outward circumstances, because people, perceiving his desire to work,
will always try to provide him with the most productive work, as they
proportion a mill to the water-power.  And they will render his material
existence free from care, which they will not do for people who are
striving to acquire property.  And freedom from anxiety in his material
conditions is all that a man needs.  Such a man will always be happier in
his internal conditions, than the one who seeks wealth, because the first
will never gain that which he is striving for, while the latter always
will, in proportion to his powers.  The feeble, the aged, the dying,
according to the proverb, "With the written absolution in his hands,"
will receive full satisfaction, and the love and sympathy of men.

What, then, will be the outcome of a few eccentric individuals, or
madmen, tilling the soil, making shoes, and so on, instead of smoking
cigarettes, playing whist, and roaming about everywhere to relieve their
tedium, during the space of the ten leisure hours a day which every
intellectual worker enjoys?  This will be the outcome: that these madmen
will show in action, that that imaginary property for which men suffer,
and for which they torment themselves and others, is not necessary for
happiness; that it is oppressive, and that it is mere superstition; that
property, true property, consists only in one's own head and hands; and
that, in order to actually exploit this real property with profit and
pleasure, it is necessary to reject the false conception of property
outside one's own body, upon which we expend the best efforts of our
lives.  The outcome us, that these men will show, that only when a man
ceases to believe in imaginary property, only when he brings into play
his real property, his capacities, his body, so that they will yield him
fruit a hundred-fold, and happiness of which we have no idea,--only then
will he be so strong, useful, and good a man, that, wherever you may
fling him, he will always land on his feet; that he will everywhere and
always be a brother to everybody; that he will be intelligible to
everybody, and necessary, and good.  And men looking on one, on ten such
madmen, will understand what they must all do in order to loose that
terrible knot in which the superstition regarding property has entangled
them, in order to free themselves from the unfortunate position in which
they are all now groaning with one voice, not knowing whence to find an
issue from it.

But what can one man do amid a throng which does not agree with him?
There is no argument which could more clearly demonstrate the terror of
those who make use of it than this.  The _burlaki_ {260} drag their bark
against the current.  There cannot be found a _burlak_ so stupid that he
will refuse to pull away at his towing-rope because he alone is not able
to drag the bark against the current.  He who, in addition to his rights
to an animal life, to eat and sleep, recognizes any sort of human
obligation, knows very well in what that human obligation lies, just as
the boatman knows it when the tow-rope is attached to him.  The boatman
knows very well that all he has to do is to pull at the rope, and proceed
in the given direction.  He will seek what he is to do, and how he is to
do it, only when the tow-rope is removed from him.  And as it is with
these boatmen and with all people who perform ordinary work, so it is
with the affairs of all humanity.  All that each man needs is not to
remove the tow-rope, but to pull away on it in the direction which his
master orders.  And, for this purpose, one sort of reason is bestowed on
all men, in order that the direction may be always the same.  And this
direction has obviously been so plainly indicated, that both in the life
of all the people about us, and in the conscience of each individual man,
only he who does not wish to work can say that he does not see it.  Then,
what is the outcome of this?

This: that one, perhaps two men, will pull; a third will look on, and
will join them; and in this manner the best people will unite until the
affair begins to start, and make progress, as though itself inspiring and
bidding thereto even those who do not understand what is being done, and
why it is being done.  First, to the contingent of men who are
consciously laboring in order to comply with the law of God, there will
be added the people who only half understand and who only half confess
the faith; then a still greater number of people who admit the same
doctrine will join them, merely on the faith of the originators; and
finally the majority of mankind will recognize this, and then it will
come to pass, that men will cease to ruin themselves, and will find

This will happen,--and it will be very speedily,--when people of our set,
and after them a vast majority, shall cease to think it disgraceful to
pay visits in untanned boots, and not disgraceful to walk in overshoes
past people who have no shoes at all; that it is disgraceful not to
understand French, and not disgraceful to eat bread and not to know how
to set it; that it is disgraceful not to have a starched shirt and clean
clothes, and not disgraceful to go about in clean garments thereby
showing one's idleness; that it is disgraceful to have dirty hands, and
not disgraceful not to have hands with callouses.

All this will come to pass when the sense of the community shall demand
it.  But the sense of the community will demand this when those delusions
in the imagination of men, which have concealed the truth from them,
shall have been abolished.  Within my own recollection, great changes
have taken place in this respect.  And these changes have taken place
only because the general opinion has undergone an alteration.  Within my
memory, it has come to pass, that whereas it used to be disgraceful for
wealthy people not to drive out with four horses and two footmen, and not
to keep a valet or a maid to dress them, wash them, put on their shoes,
and so forth; it has now suddenly become discreditable for one not to put
on one's own clothes and shoes for one's self, and to drive with footmen.
Public opinion has effected all these changes.  Are not the changes which
public opinion is now preparing clear?

All that was necessary five and twenty years ago was to abolish the
delusion which justified the right of serfdom, and public opinion as to
what was praiseworthy and what was discreditable changed, and life
changed also.  All that is now requisite is to annihilate the delusion
which justifies the power of money over men, and public opinion will
undergo a change as to what is creditable and what is disgraceful, and
life will be changed also; and the annihilation of the delusion, of the
justification of the moneyed power, and the change in public opinion in
this respect, will be promptly accomplished.  This delusion is already
flickering, and the truth will very shortly be disclosed.  All that is
required is to gaze steadfastly, in order to perceive clearly that change
in public opinion which has already taken place, and which is simply not
recognized, not fitted with a word.  The educated man of our day has but
to reflect ever so little on what will be the outcome of those views of
the world which he professes, in order to convince himself that the
estimate of good and bad, by which, by virtue of his inertia, he is
guided in life, directly contradict his views of the world.

All that the man of our century has to do is to break away for a moment
from the life which runs on by force of inertia, to survey it from the
one side, and subject it to that same standard which arises from his
whole view of the world, in order to be horrified at the definition of
his whole life, which follows from his views of the world.  Let us take,
for instance, a young man (the energy of life is greater in the young,
and self-consciousness is more obscured).  Let us take, for instance, a
young man belonging to the wealthy classes, whatever his tendencies may
chance to be.

Every good young man considers it disgraceful not to help an old man, a
child, or a woman; he thinks, in a general way, that it is a shame to
subject the life or health of another person to danger, or to shun it
himself.  Every one considers that shameful and brutal which Schuyler
relates of the Kirghiz in times of tempest,--to send out the women and
the aged females to hold fast the corners of the _kibitka_ [tent] during
the storm, while they themselves continue to sit within the tent, over
their _kumis_ [fermented mare's-milk].  Every one thinks it shameful to
make a week man work for one; that it is still more disgraceful in time
of danger--on a burning ship, for example,--being strong, to be the first
to seat one's self in the lifeboat,--to thrust aside the weak and leave
them in danger, and so on.

All men regard this as disgraceful, and would not do it upon any account,
in certain exceptional circumstances; but in every-day life, the very
same actions, and others still worse, are concealed from them by
delusions, and they perpetrate them incessantly.  The establishment of
this new view of life is the business of public opinion.  Public opinion,
supporting such a view, will speedily be formed.

Women form public opinion, and women are especially powerful in our day.


As stated in the Bible, a law was given to the man and the woman,--to the
man, the law of labor; to the woman, the law of bearing children.
Although we, with our science, _avons change tout ca_, the law for the
man, as for woman, remains as unalterable as the liver in its place, and
departure from it is equally punished with inevitable death.  The only
difference lies in this, that departure from the law, in the case of the
man, is punished so immediately in the future, that it may be designated
as present punishment; but departure from the law, in the case of the
woman, receives its chastisement in a more distant future.

The general departure of all men from the law exterminates people
immediately; the departure from it of all women annihilates it in the
succeeding generation.  But the evasion by some men and some women does
not exterminate the human race, and only deprives those who evade it of
the rational nature of man. The departure of men from this law began long
ago, among those classes who were in a position to subject others, and,
constantly spreading, it has continued down to our own times; and in our
own day it has reached folly, the ideal consisting in evasion of the
law,--the ideal expressed by Prince Blokhin, and shared in by Renan and
by the whole cultivated world: "Machines will work, and people will be
bundles of nerves devoted to enjoyment."

There was hardly any departure from the law in the part of women, it was
expressed only in prostitution, and in the refusal to bear children--in
private cases.  The women belonging to the wealthy classes fulfilled
their law, while the men did not comply with theirs; and therefore the
women became stronger, and continued to rule, and must rule, over men who
have evaded the law, and who have, therefore, lost their senses.  It is
generally stated that woman (the woman of Paris in particular is
childless) has become so bewitching, through making use of all the means
of civilization, that she has gained the upper hand over man by this
fascination of hers.  This is not only unjust, but precisely the reverse
of the truth.  It is not the childless woman who has conquered man, but
the mother, that woman who has fulfilled her law, while the man has not
fulfilled his.  That woman who deliberately remains childless, and who
entrances man with her shoulders and her locks, is not the woman who
rules over men, but the one who has been corrupted by man, who has
descended to his level,--to the level of the vicious man,--who has evaded
the law equally with himself, and who has lost, in company with him,
every rational idea of life.

From this error springs that remarkable piece of stupidity which is
called the rights of women.  The formula of these rights of women is as
follows: "Here! you man," says the woman, "you have departed from your
law of real labor, and you want us to bear the burden of our real labor.
No, if this is to be so, we understand, as well as you do, how to perform
those semblances of labor which you exercise in banks, ministries,
universities, and academies; we desire, like yourselves, under the
pretext of the division of labor, to make use of the labor of others, and
to live for the gratification of our caprices alone."  They say this, and
prove by their action that they understand no worse, if not better, than
men, how to exercise this semblance of labor.

This so-called woman question has come up, and could only come up, among
men who have departed from the law of actual labor.  All that is required
is, to return to that, and this question cannot exist.  Woman, having her
own inevitable task, will never demand the right to share the toil of men
in the mines and in the fields.  She could only demand to share in the
fictitious labors of the men of the wealthy classes.

The woman of our circle has been, and still is, stronger than the man,
not by virtue of her fascinations, not through her cleverness in
performing the same pharisaical semblance of work as man, but because she
has not stepped out from under the law that she should undergo that real
labor, with danger to her life, with exertion to the last degree, from
which the man of the wealthy classes has excused herself.

But, within my memory, a departure from this law on the part of woman,
that is to say, her fall, has begun; and, within my memory, it has become
more and more the case.  Woman, having lost the law, has acquired the
belief that her strength lies in the witchery of her charms, or in her
skill in pharisaical pretences at intellectual work.  And both things are
bad for the children.  And, within my memory, women of the wealthy
classes have come to refuse to bear children.  And so mothers who hold
the power in their hands let it escape them, in order to make way for the
dissolute women, and to put themselves on a level with them.  The evil is
already wide-spread, and is extending farther and farther every day; and
soon it will lay hold on all the women of the wealthy classes, and then
they will compare themselves with men: and in company with them, they
will lose the rational meaning of life.  But there is still time.

If women would but comprehend their destiny, their power, and use it for
the salvation of their husbands, brothers, and children,--for the
salvation of all men!

Women of the wealthy classes who are mothers, the salvation of the men of
our world from the evils from which they are suffering, lies in your

Not those women who are occupied with their dainty figures, with their
bustles, their hair-dressing, and their attraction for men, and who bear
children against their will, with despair, and hand them over to nurses;
nor those who attend various courses of lectures, and discourse of
psychometric centres and differentiation, and who also endeavor to escape
bearing children, in order that it may not interfere with their folly
which they call culture: but those women and mothers, who, possessing the
power to refuse to bear children, consciously and in a straightforward
way submit to this eternal, unchangeable law, knowing that the burden and
the difficulty of such submission is their appointed lot in life,--these
are the women and mothers of our wealthy classes, in whose hands, more
than in those of any one else, lies the salvation of the men of our
sphere in society from the miseries that oppress them.

Ye women and mothers who deliberately submit yourselves to the law of
God, you alone in our wretched, deformed circle, which has lost the
semblance of humanity, you alone know the whole of the real meaning of
life, according to the law of God; and you alone, by your example, can
demonstrate to people that happiness in life, in submission to the will
of God, of which they are depriving themselves.  You alone know those
raptures and those joys which invade the whole being, that bliss which is
appointed for the man who does not depart from the law of God.  You know
the happiness of love for your husbands,--a happiness which does not come
to an end, which does not break off short, like all other forms of
happiness, and which constitutes the beginning of a new happiness,--of
love for your child.  You alone, when you are simple and obedient to the
will of God, know not that farcical pretence of labor which the men of
our circle call work, and know that the labor imposed by God on men, and
know its true rewards, the bliss which it confers.  You know this, when,
after the raptures of love, you await with emotion, fear, and terror that
torturing state of pregnancy which renders you ailing for nine months,
which brings you to the verge of death, and to intolerable suffering and
pain.  You know the conditions of true labor, when, with joy, you await
the approach and the increase of the most terrible torture, after which
to you alone comes the bliss which you well know.  You know this, when,
immediately after this torture, without respite, without a break, you
undertake another series of toils and sufferings,--nursing,--in which
process you at one and the same time deny yourselves, and subdue to your
feelings the very strongest human need, that of sleep, which, as the
proverb says, is dearer than father or mother; and for months and years
you never get a single sound, unbroken might's rest, and sometimes, nay,
often, you do not sleep at all for a period of several nights in
succession, but with failing arms you walk alone, punishing the sick
child who is breaking your heart.  And when you do all this, applauded by
no one, and expecting no praises for it from any one, nor any
reward,--when you do this, not as an heroic deed, but like the laborer in
the Gospel when he came from the field, considering that you have done
only that which was your duty, then you know what the false, pretentious
labor of men performed for glory really is, and that true labor is
fulfilling the will of God, whose command you feel in your heart.  You
know that if you are a true mother it makes no difference that no one has
seen your toil, that no one has praised you for it, but that it has only
been looked upon as what must needs be so, and that even those for whom
your have labored not only do not thank you, but often torture and
reproach you.  And with the next child you do the same: again you suffer,
again you undergo the fearful, invisible labor; and again you expect no
reward from any one, and yet you feel the sane satisfaction.

If you are like this, you will not say after two children, or after
twenty, that you have done enough, just as the laboring man fifty years
of age will not say that he has worked enough, while he still continues
to eat and to sleep, and while his muscles still demand work; if you are
like this, your will not cast the task of nursing and care-taking upon
some other mother, just as a laboring man will not give another man the
work which he has begun, and almost completed, to finish: because into
this work you will throw your life.  And therefore the more there is of
this work, the fuller and the happier is your life.

And when you are like this, for the good fortune of men, you will apply
that law of fulfilling God's will, by which you guide your life, to the
lives of your husband, of your children, and of those most nearly
connected with you.  If your are like this, and know from your own
experience, that only self-sacrificing, unseen, unrewarded labor,
accompanied with danger to life and to the extreme bounds of endurance,
for the lives of others, is the appointed lot of man, which affords him
satisfaction, then you will announce these demands to others; you will
urge your husband to the same toil; and you will measure and value the
dignity of men acceding to this toil; and for this toil you will also
prepare your children.

Only that mother who looks upon children as a disagreeable accident, and
upon love, the comforts of life, costume, and society, as the object of
life, will rear her children in such a manner that they shall have as
much enjoyment as possible out of life, and that they shall make the
greatest possible use of it; only she will feed them luxuriously, deck
them out, amuse them artificially; only she will teach them, not that
which will fit them for self-sacrificing masculine or feminine labor with
danger of their lives, and to the last limits of endurance, but that
which will deliver them from this labor.  Only such a woman, who has lost
the meaning of her life, will sympathize with that delusive and false
male labor, by means of which her husband, having rid himself of the
obligations of a man, is enabled to enjoy, in her company, the work of
others.  Only such a woman will choose a similar man for the husband of
her daughter, and will estimate men, not by what they are personally, but
by that which is connected with them,--position, money, or their ability
to take advantage of the labor of others.

But the true mother, who actually knows the will of God, will fit her
children to fulfil it also.  For such a mother, to see her child overfed,
enervated, decked out, will mean suffering; for all this, as she well
knows, will render difficult for him the fulfilment of the law of God in
which she has instructed him.  Such a mother will teach, not that which
will enable her son and her daughter to rid themselves of labor, but that
which will help them to endure the toils of life.  She will have no need
to inquire what she shall teach her children, for what she shall prepare
them.  Such a woman will not only not encourage her husband to false and
delusive labor, which has but one object, that of using the labors of
others; but she will bear herself with disgust and horror towards such an
employment, which serves as a double temptation to her children.  Such a
woman will not choose a husband for her daughter on account of the
whiteness of his hands and the refinement of manner; but, well aware that
labor and deceit will exist always and everywhere, she will, beginning
with her husband, respect and value in men, and will require from them,
real labor, with expenditure and risk of life, and she will despise that
deceptive labor which has for its object the ridding one's self of all
true toil.

Such a mother, who brings forth children and nurses them, and will
herself, rather than any other, feed her offspring and prepare their
food, and sew, and wash, and teach her children, and sleep and talk with
them, because in this she grounds the business of her life,--only such a
mother will not seek for her children external guaranties in the form of
her husband's money, and the children's diplomas; but she will rear them
to that same capacity for the self-sacrificing fulfilment of the will of
God which she is conscious of herself possessing,--a capacity for
enduring toil with expenditure and risk of life,--because she knows that
in this lies the sole guaranty, and the only well-being in life.  Such a
mother will not ask other people what she ought to do; she will know
every thing, and will fear nothing.

If there can exist any doubt for the man and for the childless woman, as
to the path in which the fulfilment of the will of God lies, this path is
firmly and clearly defined for the woman who is a mother; and if she has
complied with it in submissiveness and in simplicity of spirit, she,
standing on that loftiest height of bliss which the human being is
permitted to attain, will become a guiding-star for all men who are
seeking good.  Only the mother can calmly say before her death, to Him
who sent her into this world, and to Him whom she has served by bearing
and rearing children more dear than herself,--only she can say calmly,
having served Him who has imposed this service upon her: "Now lettest
thou thy servant depart in peace."  And this is the highest perfection,
towards which, as towards the highest bliss, men are striving.

Such are the women, who, having fulfilled their destiny, reign over
powerful men; such are the women who prepare the new generations of
people, and fix public opinion: and, therefore, in the hands of these
women lies the highest power of saving men from the prevailing and
threatening evils of our times.

Yes, ye women and mothers, in your hands, more than in those of all
others, lies the salvation of the world!


{21a}  The fine, tall members of a regiment, selected and placed together
to form a showy squad.

{21b}  [] Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition printed in
Russia, in the set of Count Tolstoi's works.

{24a}  Reaumur.

{24b}  A drink made of water, honey, and laurel or salvia leaves, which
is drunk as tea, especially by the poorer classes.

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

{39}  _Kalatch_, a kind of roll: _baranki_, cracknels of fine flour.

{59}  An _arshin_ is twenty-eight inches.

{60}  A _myeshchanin_, or citizen, who pays only poll-tax and not a guild

{62}  Omitted in authorized edition.

{66}  Omitted by the censor in the authorized edition.

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

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

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

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

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

{113}  Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition

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

{122a}  Omitted by the Censor in the authorized edition.

{122b}  A very complicated sort of whist.

{124}  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?"

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

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

{139}  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."

{140}  Omitted in the authorized edition.

{142}  Omitted in the authorized edition.

{152a}  "Into a worse state," in the authorized edition.

{152b}  Omitted in the authorized edition.

{154}  Omitted in the authorized edition.

{155}  Reaumur.

{158}  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."

{161a}  An arshin is twenty-eight inches.

{161b}  The fast extends from the 5th to the 30th of June, O.S.  (June 27
to July 12, N.S.)

{165}  A pood is thirty-six pounds.

{167}  Robinson Crusoe.

{168}  Here something has been omitted by the Censor, which I am unable
to supply.--TRANS.

{169}  An omission by the censor, which I am unable to supply.  TRANS.

{178}  We designate as organisms the elephant and the bacterian, only
because we assume by analogy in those creatures the same conjunction of
feeling and consciousness that we know to exist in ourselves.  But in
human societies and in humanity, this actual sign is absent; and
therefore, however many other signs we may discover in humanity and in
organism, without this substantial token the recognition of humanity as
an organism is incorrect.

{238}  _v prikusku_, when a lump of sugar is held in the teeth instead or
being put into the tea.

{252}  In English in the text.

{256}  An excellent translation of Kriloff's Fables, by Mr. W. R. S.
Ralston, is published in London.

{260}  _Burlak_, pl. _burlaki_, is a boatman on the River Volga.

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