Labor, According to the Bible

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Labour: The Divine Command by Leo Tolstoy
Labor, According to the Bible

LABOR, ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE.

BY THE PEASANT BONDAREFF.

" In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread: dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." — Genesis, iii. ig.

Before undertaking to treat with all my en- ergy of the questions of labor and idleness, let me explain who I am. Am I not like those who, in pointing out to others the good path they should follow, wander themselves in that which is evil, and most opposed to equity and right- eousness ?

Up to the age of thirty-seven years I worked as a laborer on the estate of a pomestchik* on the Don, named TchernozouboflF. Every one knows how one in that condition of life is over- burdened with work. Later the pomestchik enrolled me as a soldier, and my five children, being under age, remained beneath his heavy, intolerable 3'oke.

When I arrived in Siberia, in 1857, with my wife and two children, we possessed only the clothes on our backs, and those had been given us by the State.

  • The proprietor of an estate.

42


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But within fourteen years I have acquired a small cottage with a bit of ground, so that I am as well off as though I had always remained a peasant.

And how did I accomplish this? Simply by cultivating the ground. And this is the way in which I labored. When they reaped the grain, where it takes two laborers to bind the sheaves after the reaper, I did it alone, in spite of my sixty-five years of age, and the work was well done, the sheaves strongly bound. God is my witness, reader, that I tell only the truth.

You will thus see that, while with you in the great world the superiority is given to the gen- eral, with us it is gained bv the good workman.

In strict justice, I should then have the right to be seated by the side of the general. By his side, do I say ? He ought to remain standing before me.

And why? asks the alarmed reader. Because the general eats the bread produced by my labor, since the reverse is not true : and this I will presently show in my justification.

The reader now knows who I am.

Have I then no reason to speak and write of labor and of idleness ? I have it truly, and will use it.

If, among the developments and reasonings that follow, any be found that seem useless or even hurtful, I desire they shall be ignored. They will not result from an evil intention ; it is


44 Labor.

that to the weakness of my mind, they have wrongfully seemed to contain some interest.

You, of the higher classes, write your thou- sands of books. Are they less mistaken or hurt- ful than mine? And yet yours a're approved and published.

But we, of the lower class, write this little essa)' for all time and in self-defence, and doubt- less you will reject it, as I have been assured you will, claiming that it possesses neither talent nor eloquence. It will be great injury to us, and even to God ; and I know with great certainty that Heaven will one day come to our side if you thus reject the bread of life, which is the truth. \jCan you deny this truth, and live without food ? No! In an hour you would stretch out 3'our hand to the tree of life which is forbidden to you, — to gather the bread earned by another's labor, and to carry it away with you. That deserves thoughtH

Therefore I pray you, reader, to have pity on yourself; give due thought to this question, and you will be reasonable. If others refuse to ex- amine it, you will not be responsible.

Do I expect a recompen^se for the trouble I am taking? Is it for that that I labor and write? No ; I expect but punishment for it, as the rich have assured me.

If you would address your reproaches, say they, to an inferior class, you would receive a recompense ; but since you stab to the quick


Labor. 45

persons ot importance, you will not escape pun- ishment any more than you will death itself.

But what may perhaps save you will be that tliey will destroy this work.

One must have an aim, 1 have replied. For the truth we profess we must be willing to suffer, and even to die. But it may be that their fault is the gravest, and that for them wia be the severest punishment, as we will show presently.

So I have answered the idle ones who have predicted for me terrible sufferings. It might be for my interest to speak in allegory, but I will not; be they angry or no, I will still take tlie straight path.

Many rich ones, having read my writings, are offended by them. " You write," they say, " not against the world, but against us only."

Therefore, in the name of the God of truth, I pray 30U, reader, not to imagine likewise. I have written, in the name of all laborers, against those, whoever and how many soever they may be, who do not produce the bread they eat by the labor of their own hands.

All my writings may be condensed in two sayings :

1. Why, according to the first commandment, do you not labor for the bread that you eat, instead of eating that which the labor of others has produced ?

2. Why, in both secular and theological books, are not the laborer and his work com-


4^ Labor.

mended, instead of being treated with extreme conten:ipt?

To state these questions ought to be enough. But as you contemn manual labor in every- way, I must write at greater length, on the sub- ject.

To conclude, I pray you, reader, not to eat for two days before judging my book.


The human race is divided into two classes: one is noble and honored, the other humble and despised. Those belonging to the first are richly clothed, possessing tables well furnished with exquisite dishes, and they are majestically seated in places of honor; but those belonging to the second are covered with rags, their strength exhausted by poor food and hard work, and they have an air of sorrowful humility, as they remain standing on the thresh- old : these are the poor laborers.

The truth of my words is confirmed by the parable in the Gospel. There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day : and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the ricli man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores." (St. Luke xvi. 19-21)

Well ! I will speak to my companions, the laborers who stand on the threshold: Why do


Labor. 47

you stay there always, as silent as so many quad- rupeds? Without doubt one should be silent before a man of greater merit, but we should know wherefore and to what extent we are to be silent, and not humble ourselves basely, or adore him as an idol.

Thus, in the name of this latter class, I address myself to the former, and I say : Reply to the questions I will ask.

1. Adam, for having infringed God's command,' " Ye shall not eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree," lost paradise not only for himself, but for all his race unto the end of the world. We see by that that he was guilty of a great sin, but we must not believe that his crime consisted merely in eating the forbidden fruit, that is, the apple.

2. Then he tried to hide himself among the trees of the garden, as the Scripture recites.

But from whom would he hide? Men did not yet exist. From God, then.

Behold, then, the madness in which sin had plunged man ! Could he hide from the eyes of God ? We see that, having recognized his fault, he waited to receive his punishment, and this is God's unexpected decree:

" For having disobeyed the command I gave vou, behold your punishment: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread : dust thou ait, and unto dust shalt thou return."

3. Ought not Adam, then, to have shed tears of gratitude towards God for the great mercy


48 ' Labor.

shown him? What was this punishment to that which he might hav^e looked to receive ?

4. — Ma}' we then believe tiiat Adam labored for nine hundred and thirty years, and that he eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, living by the work of his hands, although he w^as a noble, according to his time, since he is the father of the human race?

5. Did he desire dominion, or any power whatever? No. For though he listened in par- adise to the words of the serpent, who said to him and to his wnfe, "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil," — that is, you shall live like pomestchiks, and you will be the most in- telligent beings in the world, — they nevertheless so lost spirit as to seek concealment from God. .

Following the counsel of the serpent, Adam hoped to live in the world without labor; but he was, on the contrar)% condemned to seek his nourishment in the sweat of his face, and instead of being elevated to a supreme rank, he lost his birth-place, and in exile was poor and with- out shelter. Thus to him the serpent became a horrible creature, to whose frightful influence he owed his own loss and that of all his race.

6. Thus you will see, reader, what is the re- sult of this desire for possessions.

And what must we think of one who thus gains possessions, that is, who can be sheltered beneath an umbrella, having white hands, and who during all his life eats the bread that


Labor. 49

others have earned ? The solution of this enig- ma is beyond the limits of reason.

I know that you have already a crowd of ob- jections to make to my ideas, but do not criticise them, 1 pray, till you have heard me to the end.

7. Did Adam hope for a moment, by means of money that did not yet exist, or by any other subterfuges whatever, to turn over his labor to strange hands, to remain himself under an um- brella, and wait for the results of others' labor, like a beggar or a drone? Thus many do in these days, who regard it as a great crime to take from any one a blade of straw or a grain of corn, but who do not think it a crime to take and eat the food, earned by others, which is served at their tables.

8. But if our father Adam received a pun- ishment in proportion to his crime, and sub- mitted to it willingly, — in other words, if he labored with his hands to the end of his life, as is said, " Thou shalt return to the ground, whence thou wast taken," — we see that he is now innocent, and has atoned to God for his crime.

9. Holy Scripture again says : " For then Adam will stretch out his hand and eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and will live forever." It has been supposed this means literally the tree on which Christ was crucified. But that is an arbitrary supposition. Can we admit that to the merits of another, of Christ, that man, who


50 Labor.

has no merit of his own, obtains pardon for his sins? That notion was evidently invented to strengthen the hope that we may without labor, and while resting at ease, inherit eternal life.

But if this tree represents Adam's penance, and means the duty of laboring for bread, then a severe task is imposed on ourselves.

Is not, then, ray interpretation just, by which, if Adam ate the bread his own hands had earned, he should then, and then onl}', live throughout all ages ?

For example, if no one stretches out his hand towards the tree of life, that is, to labor for bread, what would become of most of us? In that case, could the world itself exist ?

We see, then, clearly that vvc, who are labor- ers, are near the tree of life, but you, who will not labor, are near the tree of death. Havel spoken justly ? One must, at least, acknowl- edge that my conclusions are trueli

ID. Thus it is evident that if Adam by his punishment has won forgiveness of his crime towards God, that penitence ought also to atone for the sins of his whole life.

But as man continues to sin against God as long as he lives, this chastisement is decreed : " To dust shalt thou return."

Is this just?

II. And you of the higher classes, which are but branches of the same trunk, why will you not, in all your existence, submit to this penance, and why must you eat several times in the


Labor. 5 ^

day ? Are you not as miserable as I am, and as are the laborers, ray companions?

But as you are above us, you are more intel- ligent and better educated, and yet you commit the greatest of all crimes in the sight of God and the world.

You say, We work harder than the laborer; and it is with the money gained by our labor that we buy bread."

We will speak of that presently.

12. We see by what has been said that we vainly consider how we should atone for our sins, for God knows what treatment should be prescribed for our illnesses or wrong-doings, and he has prescribed this ; only we should accept it with sincere ardor, and not use divers pre- texts to evade its application.

Is this true ?

13. But if we, x^dam's posterity, have inher- ited liis sin, and share in the penance attached to it, and if we are really more guilty than Adam, because he did not know all that we have been taught, then we ought not to try to escape that punishment, nor to evade the penance which God himself decreed for Adam and his posteri- ty. Each of us should labor to gain his bread with his own hands, whether he be rich or poor, and whatever may be his merit or rank, excus- ing only the sick or aged persons who are too feeble to work.

14. Doubtless, if we do not examiie manual labor attentively, the duty of earning our nour-


52 Labor.

ishment, and their respective merits, they will not seem of sufficient value to atone for all our sins, and to render us innocent in the sight of God. Because if we work only for ourselves, what recompense can we expect ?

I have already said what this recompense is, and I will repeat it.

But if the merit of labor seems to you insuffi- cient, you will be little disposed to accomplish it, even if an angel came down from heaven to explain it.

15. You see, then, how Adam atoned for the first sin. But it has been asserted that he was for that exiled to hell during five thousand five hundred years, and that he suffered there till Christ delivered him.

But this is certainly an interpretation con- trary to the law. And why do you assert what is not conformable to law? Is it to be delivered from " these abominable occupations," and to live like a pomestchik? But if it is just to be- lieve that Adam owes his deliverance to manual labor, then let us devote ourselves assiduously to J,hat duty. Is it just? j[T6. I ask, then, why God did not prescribe to Adam as a penance our most esteemed virtues, such as fasting, prayer, partaking of the sacra- ments, etc. Why did he, instead, direct this labor in which men of education can find no virtue, but .who regard it as almost a vice? Why is this rj

17. From the developments thus far reached,


Labor. 53

it would seem that Adam belonged to our class, to that which is inferior and ignorant : he knew not how to read, to write, nor to speak elegant- ly. God gave him an occupation which suited his spirit ; and he, being weak, submitted to it. But God orders now the same duty for men who are instructed in Scriptures and by the voice of conscience ; and these make a thousand objec- tions to it, which God himself would not know how to answer.

Ii8. Till now, we have spoken only of Adam's penance, and not that of Eve. Could not God in the beginning have created many thousands of people? Why did he create only these two, the husband and the wife, Adam and Eve? Evidently because in human life there are two principal affairs, two duties of equal value and importance: the one, that of motherhood ; the other, that of manual labor. God said to Eve : " 1 will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children." And he said to Adam : " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread ; and thou shalt return to the ground whence thou wast taken^

19. Now I ask why, in the woman's penance only, there is no hidden meaning or allegory, but it is accomplished literall}', as God pro- nounced it? The woman who lives in a poor hut and the empress on her throne, wearing a crown on her head, have the same destiny : they " bring forth children in sorrow." There


54 Labor.

is no difference between them. No : they bring forth children in such sorrow that it often costs them life itseh^ Is this true?

20. But the woman of the higher class may say : " I have not time for maternal duties. They would take me from urgent affairs of state, and occasion more loss than profit. And then, why should I descend to the level of the meanest peasant ? Let me rather pay another with gold to undertake this duty for me, or I will buy a new-born child which will belong to me as though it were my own." Can she do this, and carry out such plans? *

21. No, that cannot be done; we cannot cl^ige the order established by God.

^^u may give all the treasures in the world to purchase a child, but it will not then be your own. It never has been yours, and never can be. It belongs only to its own mother.

It is the same with the question of food. A man may neglect the duty of laboring for bread, he may buy a loaf with money ; but that loaf

  • Bondareff's ideas, as given above, have inspired several

passages in Tolstoi's What should he done.

" Thou shall earn thy bread, he says (page 216 of the French translation), in the sweat of thy face, and thou shall bring forth children in sorrow.

" But we have changed all that ! as exclaimed Moliere's rh.iracter, who proclaimed that the liver is on the left side. Men no longer must labor for food : that will be done by ina- rliinery; and women need no longer bear children. The woild will not now be overcrowded with people."


Labor. 55

still belongs to the person whose labor earned

For even as a woman cannot purchase moth- erhood with money or in any other way, so a man ought by the work of his own hands to pro- cure the necessary food for his own subsistence and that of his wife and children. He cannot elude the obligation by any means, whatever may be his rank or merit.

22. No species of animals, of birds, or of rep- tiles, nothing that lives in the air or on the earth, can escape the destiny God has planned for it. Man alone, the most educated and intel- ligent of being<^, attempts it. And how does he excuse the attempt? Will he have recourse anew to the falsehood : " I wgrk more than the laborer, and I buy my bread with the money I have earned by my work?" Let him abandon this excuse which is so false! For he may buy everything in the world with money excepting only bread.

23. I ask once more, why is the penance in- flicted on woman to be literally fulfilled, accord- ing to God's command, and only man's penance to be considered allegorical? What excuses, falsehoods, and pretexts can you offer that are not so many refutations in themselves of your views? "This command," says the educated and intelligent man, "does not say I must work in the field with scythe, harrow, or flail. I eat my bread in the sweat of my face. That suf- fices." And a simple, ignorant man like me will


$6 Labor.

believe that he is right and that he is perfect. And for the thij^^.time I ask for an answer to this question: \ Why is woman's penance to be taken literally, while man's is regarded as an al- legoryr {

24. Again, God says to the woman, according to the Scriptures : " I will greatly multiply thy sorrow." One sees here that there can be no other meaning for her penance. The sorrows of motherhood are beyond description ; the heart only can comprehend them, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Now all this occurs as it is written in the Scriptures. Then wh}^ if the duty of the laborer's wife is literally expressed, should it be regarded as alleggrical with the woman of the educated class ?

25. How I regret the want of eloquence ! I feel all the truth and value of this reasoning, and yet, for want of eloquence, I can only ex- press it weakly and obscurely. But this hope sustains me, that if gold can be rescued from the very mire, so much more shall bread won by labor be preserved, which is so much better known and so much dearer to us than gold.

26. God said to the woman : " Thou shalt not work to earn thy food, but thou shalt bring forth children in sorrow." Why, then, do our women work? Reader, while waiting till you have found an answer to this, I will myself re- ply to it.

You who eat in idleness the food we have


Labor. 57

worked for are, in Russia, of the number of about thirty millions ; but if our wives are not to work, as says the commandment, what would happen ? Just one thing : the world would perish with hunger.

So we see clearly and certainly that our wives vi'ork for you, and accomplish your task : you cat the fruit of their labor. I wonder that you do not fear the justice of God. But I forget that you buy your food with money.

Do you think that excuses you ?

27. If a woman should destroy her children, w^ould she not merit severe punishment for violating God's commandment against murder?

And should not men be equally punished for violating the command God has given them ? It has been said : if they will not work, neither should they eat. But no, they eat several times a da_f with avidity ; without that they could not live.

28. \A woman who has destroyed her child does penance all her life. From her soul she implores pardon of God, and to her dying hour she will fast and pray in penitence for her sin. 1 hus she may hope to obtain forgiveness from God for her crime.

But thou, reader, dost thou repent all thy life for having eaten the bread that another has earned ? Dost thou ask pardon of God and man ? No, thou dost not even think of it ; thou art only proud of thy wealth, thou livest well, and think- est to owe God nothing.


58 Labor.

29. T<3 woman, who is weaker than man, God has given an imperative duty. We also of the lower class, being weaker than thou in spirit, have an imperative duty.

But thou, being better educated and more intelligent than we are, dost as thou wilt in the matter. If thou choosest to do so, thou wilt labor with th}^ hands, but not otherwise ; and no one can compel thee to work.

Since thou knowest thy duty, and leavest it for others to fulfil, we may judge thee without mercy, for thou dost not act in ignorance. As for me, who have all my life eaten my own bread, and nourished others through my labors, 1 show perhaps a poor spirit, but I have thus gained God'sfyrgiveness.

30.^()ne may ask why this commandment which transcends in importance all others, should be unknown among men. •

I think the cause is as follows:

If it were given to laborers to explain the law, they would give it its full extent and meaning. Then all the emperors, kings, and princes would comprehend that the first and most sacred duty is that of laboring with one's hands. Then the lower classes, which are now so oppressed, could take breath, and could carry in their hearts the key of all laws, " Do not covet what belongs to thy neighbor."

r^. Those who explain our laws scarcely know what grain is, or how it is produced ; thus they


Labor. 59

have overlooked its value, and the labor required for its production :

Because, in the light of this law, all religious practices which are easy of accomplishment, and exact no labor, would lose their force and fall into disuse ;

And also because he who explains a law should exemplify it by his example, and in set- ting those white hands to work, they would be found incapable of such labor.

For all these reasons this law has slumbered, and has been, as it were, consigned to a living tomb, whence it will not be resurrected to the end of the woria7|

32. If this commandment, the first which God has given us, which promotes all the virtues, and whence we derive all eternal good, whether earthly or heavenly, were duly comprehended, men would so cherish the cultivation of the ground that a father would give this order to his son : " When I am at the point of death, carry me into the field of grain, that my soul may there leave my body ; and in that same field inter my remains."

But now, what happens?

The man who labors expects no recompense from God ; and he who uses the fruits of another's labor looks for no punishment.

33. If, I repeat, this commandment were com- prehended, how abl}^ you would assist your laborers in their work ! They would then do so


6o Labor.

well that one acre would produce what is to-day gathered from five.

But how shall we make you accept this law? If it were we who failed in obeying it, you could compel us to respect it ; but if it is you who have withdrawn from its obligation, as the prodigal son of the Gospel left his father's house, who is able to recall you to your duty ?

For we are, in your estimation, but as ciphers without units to give them value, as certain might}'^ ones have said of us.*

And why would you abase us in this way? Is it only because we nourish you ?

34.4God could certainly have found some other way to fertilize the ground and to make it pro- duce grain, but he has made this labor the pen- ance for our sins. In other words, man could not help sinning, and must labor for his own support, and it is by this labor that God permits us to atone for our sins.j

But you, neglecting tRis precious remedy, and burying it in a tomb, where the inhabitants of the earth may not find it, you decide that faith in God alone can save you.

Satan also believed in God, and obeyed him, as we see in the Book of Job, ii. 1-3.

  • It might be believed that we invented this, and that no one

had so spoken of us. But the appellation has been given us many times. It is thus we might reply to it:

You, then, are as the unit i, and we the cipher o. But as we are bound to your service, you must unite these figures, i and o. which make 10. Thus we are as nine to one. (Author's note.3


Labor. 6i

You have made labor for bread a secondary virtue ; and you will be severely punished by God, and judged without mercy, because for thousands of years vou have hidden this law under a bushel, and have slain a living thing. Read all the books in the world, and you will in them never find labor or the laborers held in the least esteem. They are classed below all else. And yet it is to the laborer that you must go to buy bread, and its productions depends on his good-will. Reflect on that.

35. All the crimes that are committed on the] earth, such as thefts, assassinations, frauds, pil-^ lage, exactions, etc., result from the concealment of this law from men.

The rich man will do all in the world to es- cape this odious occupation; the poor man is eager to throw it off. But explain to men its importance and virtue, and all crime will cease forever, while men will be delivered from poverty and misery, because every one will do his best to fulfil this duty to God.

I remember well that, fifty years ago, the money tax was four roubles a head, the custom- house dues were trifling, and the king's treasury was well filled.

To-day, the money tax is thirty-five roubles a head, and all others are ten times as much as formerly; the number of persons liable to be taxed is doubled, and yet they complain that the amounts collected are insufficient. Thus it may be foreseen that in fifty years more the tax will


62 Labor.

be increased to one hundred roubles a head, and the people will all be ruined.

And why? Because every one wishes to be elegantly attired, without working for it. On all sides you offend us in an insupportable man- ner. People have become tricky and given to intrigue; they love to deceive ; and thus, having no claim on the treasury for the least sum, they will assert that it owes them not five but ten thousand kopecks, and they will receive them.

In the last days of March 1883 I learned that capital punishment had been re-established. I trembled at this news. As one chops meat' with a blunted axe, so strikes the executioner. It is better to kill outright than to torture in this fashion. j

I asked myself often what was the best way' for the executioner to accomplish his duty.

If there is no other way, if we cannot by any possibility constrain men to do right, then we must, against our will, consent to shed their blood.

But there is a means, a decisive remedy for crime, to be found in God's most ancient law. For it was not without intention that God has not imposed any command before this, nor that he has not ordered us to avoid any vice ex- cept neglect of labor.

We thus see that labor embraces all virtues, while idleness and luxury, on the contrary, pro- duce all vices. If, then, a malefactor is found


Labor. 63

amonof laborers, it is because he does not observe this law.

We must not deny that other works have merit, but they are only to be considered after one has earned his nourishment with his own hands.

You have permitted the executioner to flog men, but what men? Evidently us only. He touches not the rich man, who has for his de- fence friends, eloquence, cunning, and, above all, money. We have no such advantages.

Of course the rich man must expiate his crime, if the affair reaches the ears of supreme au- thority. But it is usually smothered from the beginning. It is said in Deuteronomy': " Presents dazzle the judges' eyes."

Of all the petitions I would make to you the dearest to my heart is this: Do not crush the poor while sparing the rich. And if you must crush any, begin with the head rather than the tail. Think of my argument against your custom of shedding human blood. Let the exe- cutioner disappear from among men, and let even his name become unknown in all the world.

36. But will not the baser sort among the people say, Here are such and such ones who live on the labor of others, why may not I do likewise?

Then I will rob, slay, and exact the uttermost penny; I will live like a pomestchik, with my hands in my pockets; I will command, and no longer obey. For it is not by honest labor that you acquire your fine houses. " Honest labor


/64 Labor.

will not make you rich, but hunchbacked; if you do not sell your soul to the devil, you will not make money." *

And you will condemn such a man and exile him to Siberia, when you are yourselves the sole cause of his crimes.

f-' 37. You see now, reader, how much evil there is in this wrong, this neglect of labor for bread. You see the evil that white hands may do, and jthe good that labor-stained ones can cause to ispring from the earth. You see, in fine, the good result of making known this commandment.

Have good writers given themselves much trouble to explain and teach it? They should have shown how useful is its observance, how wrong its evasion. They should have en- deavored, by speech and writing and by relig- ious ceremonies, to exhort all the world to manual labor. That would be worth a thousand times more than founding a faith on the works and merits of Christ alone, and of abandoning the task prescribed by God. It would be well if writer and preacher should set the example ; but j how can we make people labor who find it so! great a fatigue to carry their food to their ', mouths?

38. If I were, in truth, a man who would avoid labor, and who knew nothing of it, and still sought to impose these opinions on others, every one would have the right to spit in my face, and

  • Russian proverb.


Labor. 65

to treat me with disdain. And if I had hitherto been held in esteem among men, I might well be henceforth treated as a nobody.

This is the reason why writers have never spoken of this commandment, nor ever will speak of it to the end of the world.

Adam committed a crime. God punished him according to the greatness of his fault, as we see in Holy Scripture, and he thus gained forgiveness from God. Why, then, should tradi- tion say that he was sent to hell for five thou- sand five hundred years?

The New Testament makes no allusion to this exile. Whence, then, comes the legend? If it is true, God, in imposing on him the penance of labor, deceived Adam by a false promise. For if this labor was of no utility to Adam, if, after enduring all its fatigues during his life, he was condemned after death to the torments of hell, every one would exclaim, " Is this the recom- pense God gives us for our labor?" If that be true, what can we do? How shall we act? How must we live ? by robbery and murder ?. . . .

And then you invent new laws, you have need of the executioner, you brand men with hot irons, you send them into exile, women remain widows, and orphans become in their turn a prey to vice and crime.

And whose is the fault ?

Evidently his who has concealed, and con- tinues to conceal, the law of labor.

39. If there were in the world a man having


66 Labor.

over you the same power that you hold over us, he might permit you — though with reluc- tance and much gnashing- of teeth— to live without manual labor. But you excite envy in the laborers; and in displaying the idleness of your life, you weaken the hands that are de- voted to labor. Instead of helping them, the sight of your idleness discourages their work, and even tempts them to commit crimes.

What a pity there is not such a man in au- thority over you ! For we hear the cry, " God is in heaven, and the Czar afar off."

40. We may see, by what has been said and by what follows, that the man who eats the bread he has earned by his own labor is happy in this world and blessed in the world to come.

But the contrary happens to him who con- sumes the results of another's labor. No other virtue can save him, because he has disobeyed the principal commandment, and obedience to others cannot supply a remedy.

41. All the products of the earth are bought and sold at their price, which is neither more nor less than is suitable, and each nieiit has its own recompense. But when our labor, that is, our bread, is taken from us for nothing, we are neither paid nor recompensed. Why is not our labor paid, you ask, reader? Must I, then, repeat the same thing ten times over.-^

42. Tell me, I pray you, conscientiously, will you labor for your bread as much as thirty days in the year ? Does that seem impossible to you ?


Labor. 6/

Is it because you cannot, or that you will not do this? Tell me sincerely.

43. Labor for bread is a sacred duty for each of us, and we should not make excuses to avoid it. The more a man is educated, the more he owes the example of labor, neither pretending to discover obstacles to it, nor abandoning it altogether.

44. Ought I to seek theological proofs because I desire your salvation ? No, but because only that theology offers good reasons in favor of labor ; and because, also, people of my class be- lieve firmly in God, in a future life, and in the Holy Scriptures. When they hear these words they will eagerly grasp this, and all other kinds of labor, like those who are dying of hunger and thirst.

45. Then the dark night will become to them as the bright day, the passing storm will reveal a serene sk}^, cold will become warmth, and old age will blossom into a flourishing youth.

Therefore I draw from the Holy Scriptures the arguments therein contained, but I do not address them to you.

Who will read these articles to the people ? You have not the right to do so. Must you persuade the laborers themselves to read them? That is impossible, for in so doing you will com- mit a grave error.

46. As the proverb says, " we have not every day a feast," but on the contrary it is alvva3^s Lent. We should always instruct others to be


68 Labor.

pleasing to God and useful to society. But the time has come when we have but to ask this question : Why do you teach others, when you cannot teach your own selves ? As is said in the same sense, You place upon the shoul- ders of men heavy burdens, that 3^ou would not so much as touch with your little finger." We must set the example of virtue, and encourage people to cultivate it, lest the scythe in cutting the grass shall become broken against a stone.

47. O ye who belong to the upper classes of society, reflect on this : If all the laborers in the world should abandon labor for bread as you do, then every one would die of hunger. Do you admit that we could do this with as much reason as you do?

We do not rest, you say, we work unceas- ingly. We do not eat food without paying for it with the money we have earned by our work, and we give the price that the lat)orer demands. We eat our bread in the sweat of our face.

And if we all work, where will the poor get their money ? We give it them, and they give us bread. We live by them, and they by us. We cannot govern and direct others, and at the same time labor with our hands.

The commandment given to Adam applies not only to labor for bread, but to all our other occupations. Even as we cannot live without bread, we cannot live without the things with which we occupy ourselves. God, in creating the world, intended that we should labor at dif-


Labor. 69

ferent sorts of work. Man amasses wealth to get rid of this uncongenial labor. In short, it is im- possible to be occupied with many affairs at once.

1 have no rest ; night and day I have my oc- cupations, I have scarcely the time to eat food already prepared. If we too must labor for bread, then the universe must of necessity per- ish. I have plenty of money, and I use it in great enterprises without labor, and yet you want me to go into the fields and torture myself for thirty kopecks a day ! I would be regarded as a simpleton. I prefer to work with my money at home.

But if all the world must labor, let those begin who are a hundred times richer than I !

48. These are the pretexts and objections that you make to the law ; these are the reasons why you who belong to the upper class would decline to labor for bread. If all of us laborers did the same, would you admit it as a justifica- tion when the plea is made by us?

No ; but with your absolute power, you would smother us and our reasons together.

But, I ask you, why do you look upon your excuses as legitimate ?

Bring together a number of men belonging to the great world, who waste their thoughts on its vanities, and ask them what answer you ought to make to this question. '49! Bread should be neither bought, nor sold, nor used in traffic. You cannot with bread heap up riches, for its value is beyond human es-


70 Labor.

timation. It is only in certain cases that it may be given away, as to hospitals, to orphanages, to prisoners, to countries ruined by bad harvests, to people deprived of everything in a fire, to widows, to orphans, to the infirm and aged, and to those who have no home^

50. This law is ignored in the world, as we have seen, and as I will show you further. They might have placed it among virtues of less importance, but they have not even accorded it that much honor.

Nature herself leads the laborer to seek the highest good; that is to say, bread.

But if, not content onl} to see that it is indeed an excellent thing, he can penetrate Nature's profound mysteries, he will then realize what has been said in the preceding article. It will no longer be said, " Give me bread," but rather, " Take of my bread," and I do not believe any man will enjoy eating the bread that another has prepared.

But at present, what must be done? You have put away this commandment as one plunges a stone into the depths of the sea, so that its name and its memory are lost to the world. God will judge between us and you.

51. Here are some objections that a rich man has made to me : " How can you say that it is forbidden to buy and sell bread, and to make a profit by the traffic ? Besides that which histor- ians relate, we see in the Holy Scriptures that bread was bought and sold and used in traffic,


Labor. 'JX

yet in spite of that, they sinned not against God. You maintain also that bread cannot be ex- changed for money ; that we must absohitely la- bor for it with our hands. It is an evident absur- dity. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other ancestors of the human race were rich, and had their slaves, both male and female. We must conclude that they did not work themselves, but ate bread produced by the labor of others ; and yet they were not for that reason held guilty before God.

52. And to prove more strongly the falsity of your assertions, the two great legislators, Moses and Jesus Christ, have never spoken of this commandment. When Moses wrote : " Knead thy bread in the sweat of thy face," he referred to all occupations. This must be the sense we are to give to his words, if we remember that Moses lived for forty years at the court of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, without working. During the following forty years, he herded sheep in the pastures of his father-in-law Jethro, in the land of Midian * ; but he did not labor for bread. During forty other years he commanded the Israelites in the Wilderness,without laboring. Thus he never labored. Nevertheless, God ac- cepted him, loved him, and placed him above all other prophets ; but, according to you, Moses was a parasite.

53. It is the same with Jesus Christ. He is

  • " Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the

priest of Midian." ' Exodus iii. i.'


']2 Labor.

himself God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and it was he who judged Adam in paradise ; but instead of " Knead thy bread in the sweat of thy face," he says in the Gospel, " Behold the fowls of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns ; but God feed- eth them."

Do you not, then, see that labor for bread is of slight benefit, nor has it in this life even util- ity? It is indeed the most useless of all labor, and God imposes it on the idle.

54. And furthermore, show me a laborer whom God has admitted into heaven for his work's sake. We do not know if the prophets were rich, but neither do we know that they were poor. But as their books were approved, we may conclude they were rich, because a poor man's book would never be approved, no mat- ter how useful it might be.

To this Sirach, a man inspired by God, bears witness \vhen he says : " The rich man uttereth a folly, and all are silent, his words are vaunted to the skies. The poor man speaks reasonably, and instead of approving him, they say, * Who art thou ? ' *

  • " If the rich man is deceived, every one helps him; if he

gpeaks insolently (if he reveals what should have been a secret), he is justified. But if the poor man is deceived, he is re- proached; if he speaks wisely, he is not listened to.

" When the rich man speaks, all are silent, and they vaunt his words to the skies. When the poor man speaks, they say, Who art thou? (they reproach him with his poverty, and force him to be silent.) And if he makes a mistake, they will pass it over." (Ecclesiasticus xiii. 26. Translated by Sacy.)


Labor. 73

It is true Jesus Christ calls the poor " his brethren," but this is only to encourage them, lest they fall into despair. The proof of this is that He himself frequented only the houses of the rich, and never entered those of the poor.

55. My adversary continues by saying : When Noah came into the world, his father Lamech said : " This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Genesis V. 29.)

And thus we are delivered from the curse of labor ; but you, the laborers, are still kept un- der it ; and it must be hoped that God will not condemn you, because our class has trampled you under its feet. And is that a sin in God's eyes ? No, for it has been God's will that it should be so.

56. It is further written in the Scriptures :

" Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

"Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

" Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

" Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

"The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke in all that thou settest thy hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly ; because of the


74 Labor.

wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me." (Deuteronomy xxviii. 16-20.)

The adjective cursed signifies unhappy. I ask, cries the rich man, to whom do these words apply? to the rich or to the poor? Certainly to the poor laborer, he adds. Do you see now, Bondareff, how many curses God sends upon the poor laborer, upon his goods, and even upon future generations ?

On such laws is founded the society of the world.

57. Have I told the truth ? he asks, and I have replied, yes.

Can I contradict him ? It would be useless. Could my arguments overcome him ?

I am content to say to myself, You speak falsely, sir ! You have not so much brains as you think, nor am I the fool you imagine me to be. On both points you deceive yourself greatly.

There are many distinguished persons who feel no horror of my poverty ; they can judge fairly between us.

58. The rich man says: If a man of your in- ferior class obtains some education, he will seek an occupation in which he may dispense with manual labor.

Thus if you were all educated, you would labor no more, but would imitate us.

But, I ask, what will we then eat?

We will live as Christ's commandment points out: "Behold the fowls of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap ; nor gather into


Labor. 75

barns; but God feedeth them." So he answers me.

All these arguments are absolutely opposed to the primitive and to the natural law.

I ask of the rich man: Which is the most immutable law? Is it the theological law that man has written upon paper, or the natural law that God has written in our hearts? Tru^y, neither is to be rejected, but I myself prefer the natural law, and I hope, reader, that you will agree with me.

59. Well, Bondareff, if you will present your propositions to the government, with mine by their side, my arguments will be approved, and recognized as true and praiseworthy, while yours will be rejected.

60. You see now, reader, how far I have carried my loyalty. I might have concealed these objections to my arguments, but I will not palter with the truth, because it is wrong to speak of this great and sacred duty of labor- ing for bread, and at the same time to disguise the truth under an ignoble flattery.

But if, in my answer, you find a bitterness that seems to you insupportable, clench your teeth and say nothing. I pray you, do not seek a quarrel with me.

You are so accustomed to listen to flatterers, that my frankness will seem to you intolerable.

61. Let us return to our question. How many thousand measures* of wheat, how many

  • The measure spoken of contains about i6 kilogrammes.


76 , Labor.

roubles, are taken from us each year for taxes and other exactions?*

Besides this revenue, the great lords, the pomestchiks, the merchants, and all the rich possess innumerable millions. But money is not given away. It must he earned by our arms of flesh and blood, according to the com- mandmefit I have given, and not by the pen or the tongue.

62. Your manner of living is to us a most cruel offence, and to yourselves a shame. I know you are a hundred times more educated and intelligent than I, and therefore you take my money and my bread. But since you are so intelligent, you should have pity on me who am weak. It is said, " Love thy neighbor as thyself," and I am your neighbor, as you are mine.

Why are we poor and clownish ? It is because we eat the bread of our own labor. Have we time to study and to be instructed ? You have taken both our bread and our intelligence from us by fraud or violence ; you have criminally appropriated all.


  • The taxes are not levied on us, but on the mines and

other works. The manufacturers, however, raise the prices of their merchandise, and so make us pay the amount of the taxes. And I ask you, whose hands have labored to earn this money? In truth they are ours. But in whose hands does the money remain ?

In your white hands, that you may enjoy your luxury.

In a word, tjie whole world is in our hands. {Author's note.]


Labor. 77

It is so, reader, whether you like it or not. It is not my fault that the truth is bitter.

63. The eagerness of your desire makes you ask of God for purity of air and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. It is well. But to whose hands do you owe this abundance? Who ought to cultivate the ground? Is it you, or some other one ?

Can it be I, with my white hands? you an- swer. Truly it is to you, laborers, that this work belongs. I would rather die of hunger than to gather a blade of straw or a grain of wheat.

64. You should ask, before meals, for a bless- ing upon your food, not from God, but from us, the laborers; and after 3^our repast you should thank us for it, and not God.

If God sent you manna from heaven as he did to the Israelites in the Wilderness, you should thank him ; but since it is from our hands that you receive your manna, you should thank us, because we nourish you as though you were infants or invalids.

65. When I had written this much, some laborers said to me: "All this is useless. Do you believe you can make the rich man labor for his bread ? If the prophets and the masters of all wisdom came to urge it upon him, he would not listen to them. If God should cry in his ears with the trumpet of doom, * You are about to die, and to present yourself to me for judgment, and your disobedience to my com-


78 Labor.

mand merits eternal punishment,' — even then the rich man will remain unmoved, for he pre- fers his wealth to all divine benefits. Laboring for bread is to him more horrible than torture. And you, who are but as the dust beneath his feet, would seek, by expressing 3'our own con- victions, to induce him to work !"

66. I know, 1 replied to them, that it is in- deed impossible.

But they may approve of my arguments, since they are taken from the chief divine laws ; and perhaps they may make them known to their laborers. For this good action alone God would greatly reward them. Then, like per- sons suffering from hunger and thirst, men will hasten to accomplish this work. They will not give themselves to other occupations till after- wards, for they all depend on labor for bread. Then the obscure night will be as the brightest day, and all will be easy. For this reason, amid all the cares and labors of my life, I have undertaken this task.

dj. And then the superior class will see our merit, which it had never before remarked or heard of. It will feel culpable towards God and man ; it will no longer depend on or oppress us as it does now. We are bought at half price, and sold for double the amount. When a rich man finds himself in a poor country, far from the cities and commercial centres, he meets no one with whom he can buy or sell. At each mouthful of bread men will ask, in spite of


Labor. 79

themselves : Whose hands have prepared this food ? And as for their conscience ! Wealth cannot silence it. It will compel men to be kinder to those who supply them with food. Hoping this, I have undertaken ray task.

68. And even if this commandment is graven but superficially in your hearts, O you of the educated class, you will not the less employ all your powers to eat only the bread of your own labor, and you will reason thus: Among the poor and the laborers, not only the strong men are Irboring for bread, but also feeble women, wlio have young children that are thus neglected. The new-born child, in its cradle, suffers from the hot air and the insects that torment it, while its body is scorched by the sun. (Children of seven years also labor so far as they have strength for it, and old men of seventy who cannot bend their backs when reaping the harvest, must do it on their knees. Thc^se things occur even yet; but for- merly, in the days of slavery, it was much worse. All these families live and die on the earth, following the precept, " Dust thou art, and unto dust must Ihou return." Think a little about this, ye educated men!

69. But among us, you will say, a man of thirty, in good health, continues all his life, even in summer, to whistle, with his hands in his pockets, while waiting for these poor martyrs to put his food between his teeth.

With us, the laborers, on the contrary, not


8o Labor,

only in summer, but even in winter, our gar- ments are soaked in the dews of labor.

Among all Christians, the first and most im- portant sacrament is baptism. But I ask you, which washes away the most sin? Is it the water of baptism, or the sweat which streams from our faces, while all our lives are conse- crated to laboring for bread ? There is a prov- erb often cited amongst us, " The peasant's frock is gray, but the devil has not devoured his reason." This proverb is not true, for 1 know certainly that I might ask questions for- ever without getting an answer. Conse- quently, the devil has devoured my reason! It is certain that we cannot discover with our nar- row minds the secrets of God's ways with the world, but we may believe that while you were washed in the water of baptism at your birth, that never since has any labor bathed your face in sweat.

For me, I have not been washed in the water of baptism ; thus must I all my life be bathed in sweat. Nevertheless, which is the cleaner of the two — you who have been baptized, or I who have not ?

You see, then, what your falsehood is worth. At each word, at each step, you have been com- pelled, against your will, to yield to me, who am but a feeble man. Possibly you may yet triumph over me through your power, which I

  • In other words, they look on me as an imbecile.


Labor. 8 1

cannot resist ; but you can never destroy my arguments, or prove them to be false.

During 6884 years* we have been silent be- fore you. Now we have spoken a word that you have never before heard, even in your dreams. I do not depend on you, but on your conscience. I hope it will come to my aid.

70. There are in the world many inventions that astonish the mind. To produce one ob- ject, of however little importance, machines have been invented. A labor that formerly re- quired the efforts of several men, is now done more perfectly by a machine than any hand of man could have accomplished it.

But the labor for bread has been done by peasants from time immemorial.

71. Would it not be easy for an inventor to say these simple words, " Make this or that," that men and beasts should be delivered from a wearisome labor?

No ! He would not come near the labor he abhors, or the people who perform it He would have no pity for the poor martyrs, — I mean the laborers, — nor even for the animals themselves, although he will several times in a day eat this bread — or rather the blood and tears of both beasts and men.

It is thus, O you of the upper class, that you offend us, and at the same time you disobey God's command.

  • This article was wrUten in 1884.


82 Labor.

Does not your conduct clearly show the ha- tred you feel towards God and your neighbor? Well, what answer have you to make to that? You cannot justify yourself before the peasant nor have you any excuse to offer.

72. Here are further facts to show that you debase and trample everything under your feet. If some one of you makes a discovery, you honor him with a medal bearing this inscrip- tion : " Honor to Labor and to Art." Has any one ever been rewarded for labor and art in gaining bread ? No. And if one were offered, it would be given to the proprietors who culti- vate a thousand acres of ground by the hands of others, but who would not themselves come near this shameful labor nor those who perform it. Behold, then, those who have always re- ceived all such recompense, and always will.

73. What occurs in the homes of the poor? The husband and wife must support not only

themselves, but perhaps a dozen children, be- sides their aged parents. And yet they sell you part of their bread, or rather they give it to you. But, though they have numbered several millions in each century, has even one of them had any reward whatever? Never! Far from being recompensed, they have instead received the name of " moujiks," which signifies a "beast."*

  • According to Fr. Michel, this meaning of the word mou-

jik was given to the French word msuchique about 1815, form- ing a souveniir of fhe Russian peasants.


Labor. 83

Is not this sufficient for you, O peasants ?

We see, then, that society regards labor for bread as the hardest work in the world. Am I not right, then, in proclaiming that these men love neither God nor their neighbor, but only themselves ?

It is painful to see a millionaire, who has re- ceived several medals for pure trifles, marching about with his hands in his pockets, and seeming to say, " Look at me !"

And what is his merit compared to ours ? It is but as ashes dispersed by the wind.

What shall we do ? " God is in heaven, and the Czar afar off !" If I may, I will write all my griefs in a memorial, and present it myself to the Czar, and having gained or lost every- thing, it would only remain for us to live or die. I have taken the right path. I will con- tinue to follow it till I die ; for I have no inter- est in deceiving myself. I have one foot on the earth, and the other in the grave, and I am al- ready more than sixty years old.

74. When they read my writings to a laborer who does not know a from b, he will well under- stand them. My words will sink deeply into his heart. How he will thank me for discover- ing the law of salvation ! How he will apply himself the more zealously to his work!

But he who would escape labor is like the dog who gnaws the stone that has been cast at him. He will criticise these reflections, and


84 Labor.

hate me for having written them ; and he will threaten me with future evil.

Why should there be such a difference be- tween these two men ? Because the laborer and his superiors are so far apart that their opinions can never be the same.

But what has God willed to do with me ?

He has given ns the law of labor for bread. This labor is not difficult, but easy and useful ; it is not long, but short and readily understood.

Then why are we not grateful to him for it?

And what happens in the world? One half of mankind seeks this labor, and the other half avoids it as though it were a mortal poison, while they conceal themselves in retired places that they may not behold it.

But who are these who thus fly and hide themselves? Are they ignorant? No; they are the most educated and intelligent of men ! Perhaps they do not believe in God ? No ; they are true believers.

75. Your principal objection to labor for bread is this: Whatever may be a man's occu- pation or mode of work, he obeys the command- ment, " Thou shalt knead thy bread in the sweat of thy face." This explanation cannot please God nor man.

It has been said, " Cursed is the ground for thy sake." Does this allude to your occupa- tions ? No.

And again : " In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." Here labor for bread is


Labor. 8$* '

less precisely designated. And ag-ain : " Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." Does this allude to your constant occupations?

And still further : " Thou shalt eat the herb of the field." Is there in this an allusion to your occupations? No.

And, finally : " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread : dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Well, the wise men find still a loophole ; they say, all this applies to the pen as well as to the plough, and they give solid reasons for saying so.

^6. But is it possible that God gave only to us the painful obligation of laboring in the ground, while he permits you to evade it by means of your money? v.

With me, says the rich man, money labors for\ bread. |

It is false ! Money has not sinned against \ God. Nor was the commandment set forth | against money. Besides that, money does not eat bread ; it is not, then, obliged to labor for it. < How, then, can you say. With me, money labors for bread ? Do you find yourself entirely just before God, and needing no commandment? But were you more holy than the Holy of Holies, you do not the less eat bread labored for by another.

In truth, you cannot escape alive out of the hands of an adversary like me.

)Here is another excuse that you give. If all


86 Labor.

the world were occupied in agriculture, the fac- tories and work-shops must stop, and the uni- verse would perish.— Nothing- could be more false. The universe need not perish for that. There are eighty festivals in the year, on which we are free from all labor, and men will spend eighty more in idleness. Do you think because a man and his wife shall labor in a piece of ground during thirty days, at different periods of the year, that the universe will perish ?

In all large cities, as in Moscow, where there is a great number of factories and workshops, there are about a million inhabitants. Where would you find land enough if all the world undertook agriculture? This is but another excuse to avoid labor.

I reply to this objection that the manufac- turers and work-people came of their own choice to the cities. But might not the factories be built in the midst of the country, so that the workmen could by turns labor for bread and in the factories? That could easily be arranged, if you desire to help the lower classes. But you only care to be concerned for your equals.

Do you refuse to labor for bread because, if all the world should be so occupied, there would not be enough land ? With more reasonableness, if you decided to labor, you would cultivate alone the whole earth !

For my part, I now cultivate a bit of ground; but if this revolution takes place, I must divide it with another. You, my friend, may work by


Labor. 87

my side, with your white hands, in frost or heat, in storms and snow, when you will tremble as with fever, and your hands will become like spiders' feet.

Is it right that we alone shall endure these evils?

79. If you are so convinced that we eat the bread which you have gained by your labor, why do you sell it to us? — We do not compel you to do so. You beg us to buy it. Is it, then, our fault?

If all laborers understood the primitive law, they would not sell their bread, nor even give it away, except in certain admissible cases. — Where, then, would they get money ? — They would know how to find it.

The idle man, like a door on its hinge, passes all his life lying on his bed. He has never seen how labor for bread is done. Thus he will scarcely have read ten articles in my book than he will throw it aside, saying, 'â– 'It is vitriol T This verdict appears to me profound and well merited.

It is not he who has found this word, but Providence has put it in his mouth, because to him the bread of his own labor would be as vitriol, while that gained by another's labor is sweeter than honey.

Do you see, my readers, how' deceit loves itself? And if it did not seem lovely to itself, to whom could it appear agreeable or virtuous ?


88 Labor.

80. I have asked myself, why do they give deceit the name of deceit?

They might have given it a better name, be- cause it is more veracious than even truth. It exposes and betrays itself.

It has been said: " The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Thus God spoke to Cain, that is, to the voice of deceit. If it cries to God, why is it silent to all the world ? " And God set a mark upon Cain," the token of the evil doer. Does he not to-day mark with this token all wicked ones, and with them the sluggard of whom I have spoken, he to whom I owe an eternal gratitude ?

81. You do not answer. Do you, then, ap- prove of what I have said ? You might, how- ever, make this answer, which is the objection you offer in reality against labor for bread : " I cannot do several things at once. If I am occupied in agriculture, I should have no time for other things."

But, I reply in turn : " I have, besides labor- ing for bread, many others things to do. How do I, who am an ignorant peasant, bring them all to completion ? If I were as educated and intelligent as you, I would occupy myself with many thousand affairs. Why, then, with your infinite spirit, can 3-ou attend to only one ?

82. When you fly from the labor for bread, or from the conscience which torments you, you say : " If we all labor for bread, where will the poor get their money, for they live by their


Labor. 89

labor ? They supply us with bread, and in return we give them money; and thus the pea- sants live by us, and we by them; one hand washes the other, and so both are clean."

No, your argument does not disconcert us. We are not as stupid as you believe, and you yourselves are not as intelligent as you think. Do not forget that I who speak am standing at the threshold of your palace (like Lazarus).

Half the people living do not labor for bread ; the other half, laboring for and not selling it, can scarce support themselves. But why should these last not know where to find money, if all the world labored for bread ?

Far from being useful, the sale of bread isi hurtful. This present year the harvest is good,! and the laborer sells his wheat to the rich man for thirty kopecks the measure. He thinks what he has left will suffice for his wants. But suppose that, next year, the harvest shall be bad, and we have a famine : the laborer will buy I his wheat from the same rich man for a rouble \ and fifty kopecks the measure ;and if he have not enough money to pay for it, he will sell his beasts at half price. And while he has not sup- plied his wants, he has sold his wheat, is de- prived of his cattle, and will become a beggar. Thus many are ruined by selling their wheat. Then how can you say that the peasants cannot live without selling their wheat, when by doing so they die of hunger ? The true conclusion is that it is you, not we, who live on others.


90 Labor.

Cultivate, then, according to the command ment, a piece of ground, and all will belong to you that you need.

83. Sometimes I have not a single kopeck for one or perhaps two months. However, when I am fatigued with my day's work, I make tiira.'^ I eat well — the tura seems to me better than all your dainty dishes are to you; and I return to my work singing.

But you, if you were for two months without my bread, what song would you sing?

Now consider well which of us two lives at the expense of the other, . Is it you or I ? It is you.

Then why do you not place yourself among my friends? Which of us should occupy the first place at the table ? It is surely I. But why have you taken it ? Who has given it to you, or accorded you this honor?

Defend yourself by valid excuses, or else do not eat our bread. Or, if you will, cultivate with your own hands a piece of ground, and then take your place at the table. Otherwise, be off with you !

84. I think your reply would be like this which the rich man made to me : I would labor, but I know not how. Once in my life I took up a scythe ; I raised it in the air with all my force, and it but glanced over the grass. Then I used more strength, and half buried it in the ground. Next I took a reaping-hook, and after

  • Bread crumbled and soaked in kvass.


Labor. 91

great efforts I had gathered half a sheaf, when I cut my hand. This is what happened to me one day that I was in the fields. And if I should take seriously to work, all my com- panions would laugh in beholding such an astonishing spectacle.

But how do you know how to eat? I asked him. When you were only two years old you could eat, but now, though already old, you do not know how to work ! Is this for want of strength, or because you do not wish to know ?

85. The rich man has also made me the fol- lowing excuses : ist. I would labor for bread, according to the commandment, but I am ashamed to do so; people would point their fingers at me. 2d. Is it proper for a rich man like me to labor with the poor ? 3d. All in- telligent and well-educated men would exclude me from their society. 4th. In laboring for bread, I would earn but 30 kopecks a day, while at home, with my pen, I can earn 10 roubles. Behold the reasoning by which the educated classes reject this labor in which they can see only loss and humiliation !

86. But, they add, are we for that reason culpable in God's eyes.? No ; for Jesus Christ, when dying for us, exhorted us not to commit sin, and not to fulfil this commandment, that is, not to labor for bread, in saying : " Behold the fowls of the air," etc. Therefore we do not, and never will, labor for bread.

87. But if you are thus redeemed, I repl}-,


92 Labor.

why, then, do you eat the product of another's labor? Can it be, that he has redeemed )^ou, and not us? If he had thus redeemed the whole human race, he should have arranged that wheat would be produced already kneaded into bread and baked to each one's taste, or he should have sent us manna from heaven, as was done to the Israelites in the Wilderness.

But we see clearly that he did not redeem men either from sin or from labor for bread. Each of us must redeem himself by good works, and not rely only on the merits even of Christ.

88. We sin, we disobey the divine precepts, and we incur all the maledictions pronounced in Deuteronomy. It is not so, according to you. Jesus Christ, you would say, takes on himself our sins, our impieties, and our maledic- tions. What a fine invention ! and how exact your calculation is ! No ; each one must re- deem himself by obeying the primitive com- mand, " Eat the bread of thy labor." There is no greater virtue ; and to fail in it is the most dangerous of crimes.

89. If you are rich, live in luxury as much as you can, be as haughty as 3'ou will, and aug- ment your dainty dishes, but instead of evading labor for bread, hasten to accomplish it.

90. There is always a great enmity between the rich and the poor. But when they are to- gether, they dissimulate. Who has created this hatred — the rich or the poor? Says Sirach : " What agreement is there between the hyena


Labor. 93

and the dog ? And what peace between the rich and the poor?

  • ' As the proud hate humility, so doth the rich

abhor the poor." (Ecclesiasticus xiii. 18-20.)

Whose is the fault? It is the rich man's, not the poor laborer's.

I ask you again, and still more loudly, not to forget that I who stand on the threshold of the rich man's palace, like Lazarus, address myself, in the name of all laborers, to the higher classes, and not only to the reader.

91. They say : We accomplish ten times more work than the laborer. Can we, then, be regarded as sluggards ?

On festivals the laborer works, while the rich man rests on his couch, serving neither himself, his neighbor, nor God. They say then, the idle man does his duty, while the laborer com- mits a crime, in breaking the fourth command- ment.

Is not that the position we occupy ?

During 330 days in the year do what you will; occupy yourself as it shall please you ; but during 35 days, at different times in the year, every man should labor for bread.

92. But why do I speak at such length, when a few words ought to suffice ? It is because I must oppose a solid barrier to the subterfuges behind which you entrench yourselves ; and for that, I must reply fully to your many argu- ments.

Can it be because there is neither a past nor


94 Labor.

a future for God, but all is to him as the present, that he has not comprehended that if man must always eat, he must also always labor? If he inflicted on you a penance for your sins, and said, Take a stone of a hundred pounds weight and carry it, you would reply: I can- not do it, Lord, for you have not given me strength sufficient. Or if he said, Fly in the air like a bird, you would answer: You have not given me wings, and it is impossible to obey your command. Such excuses would be legiti- mate.

But why can you not labor for bread ? In truth, you will reply, it is because of my con- dition in life. I have white and delicate hands, and the ears of corn will scratch my skin.

94. Again, you will evade labor for bread because you say that in occupying yourself in any work, you obey the commandment, "In the sweat of thy face shaft thou knead bread."

One will say : " I have written, to - day, nine hundred and ninety-one lines ; thus I have eaten my bread in the sweat of my face." Another says : " I have, to-day, given my orders to my people, I have seen that they labored well for me ; thus have I eaten my bread in the sweat of my face." A third says : " I have, to-day, been driven about the city in a rich carriage ; I have thus eaten my bread in the sweat of my face." A fourth says: "I have, to-day, sold damaged merchandise for good, and I have defrauded


Labor. 95

inexperienced men : I eat my bread in the sweat of my face."

And the thief says in his turn :

"I have not slept during the night, I have labored with my hands: I eat my bread, more truly than you, in the sweat of my face."

If it is not by truth, it is by cunning and eloquence that you gain your cause, as Kriloff has said.* " All the animals who are provided with claws and teeth are innocent, they are al-

  • Kriloff (Ivan Andreiewitch), the Russian fabulist, was born

in a small village of Orenburg in 1768, and died at St. Peters- burg in 1864. Attracted by the theatre, he composed in early- youth a farce called "The Coffee-pot" (1783), and several comedies and tragedies, of v?hich the principal ones are Cleo- patra and Philomela.

But this was not his real vocation. In 1808, by the advice of one of his friends, who foresaw his true talent, he translated two of La Fontaine's fables, The Maid and The Oak and the Reed. His translation was striking in its originality and its picturesque character.

Published in the Spectator cf Moscow, they obtained a great success. Kriloff then devoted himself exclusively to the com- position of fables, and became the La Fontaine of Russia.

Nevertheless, the pen of Kriloff gave all subjects a Russian aspect. He distinguished himself from La Fontaine and Lessing by his coarse pleasantry and cynical wit, which are qualities that are popular in Moscow.

His Fables form a considerable collection (St. Petersburg, 1847, 3 vols, in 8vo). Count Orloff published in Paris, in 1825, Russian Fables taken from M. Kriloff's Collection, and imi- tated in French and Italian Verse by several Authors (2 vols, in 8vo). M. A. Baugeault has translated in verse Kriloff's prin- cipal fables (Paris, 1852, 8vo). We must also mention the metrical version of Charles Parfait (Plon, 1867.) The fable re- ferred to by Bondareff is an imitation of The Animals Sick of the Plague, by La Fontaine.


96 Labor.

most holy; but they accuse the timid ox; the tigers and wolves cry out against him ; and they at once strangle and devour him."

It seems to me that Kriloff by the animals, meant the laborers, and intended the timid ox to personify the rich man. What do you think about it, reader ?

95. You who, here in Russia, eat the bread produced by our labor number about thirty millions, including Jews and Gipsies. How can we support you all, supplying you with fine clothes, good beds, and warm covei-ing?

It is for you that we must labor day and night, without rest, and endure great privations.

Is it not unjust? Is it not criminal on 3'our part ?

96. And as though you had not heard what I have been saying, you will ask: Of what injus- tice are you the victims, and what crime have we committed? We do not take your bread for nothing, but we buy it with the money we have earned by our own work.

And where did )'Ou get this money?

It was earned by working according to the commandment.

But with us our money does not accrue from our work. Money is not given for nothing; it must be earned by the body, by flesh and bones. And then, can you atone for sin with money ? Can you buy the law of God with money ?

Your excuse condemns you still further. You have the right to buy what you please with


Labor. 97

money, but bread cannot be bought at any price.

97. Do you think you are saved by the con- secrated wafer which you receive in church from the hands of the priest? But, you reply, it is not the wafer that saves me, it is my faith in Christ, whom I receive under the symbol of the wafer. No! faith without works, that is to say, without the commandment, is dead. You go to church, having one sin, and you return with two, because you have eaten the bread of an- other's labor. And where, do you ask? In church.

98. Not only, O ye rich, do you now live by the labor of others, but you hope in the future 1 life to obtain by the merits of another, who is Christ, eternal happiness. Thus you believe you have no duty to fulfil, and that you may enjoy at ease all the comforts of this world. You walk on a wide and spacious path, but whither will it lead you ? You know as well as I.

99. Often among you are found men who, when fortune deserts them and they lose all their wealth, being forced by circumstances to labor for their own bread, fall into despair, and become thieves and drunkards, and undertake all sorts of criminal enterprises. And usually they die a violent death, to escape labor for bread. But revive this commandment, whose life does not appear among you till you die, and the millionaire, finding himself in the same con-


98 Labor.

dition with us, will no longer seek to avoid this labor, but will turn to it eagerly.

100. Let us speak now, reader, of these three classes of men: the Jew, the Gipsy, and the educated European, who, like the others, eats the bread of another's labor. Which is most dis- pleasing to God and man ?

It is certainly the European, for we cannot consider the Gipsy, who is but a half-savage. As for the Jew, he was once master of the world, and compelled every one to labor for him ; but this is no longer so. To-day the Jew has gone from the head to the foot, and the European from the foot to the head, and, like the first mentioned, he also eats the bread of another's labor.

1 ask, which of these three is most displeasing to God and man ?

loi. I know the reader will say: Can I com- pare myself to a Jew or a Gipsy ? I who live by the truth, and they by falsehood and deceit ? — Yes, if you have the body of an angel and not that of a man. But when you eat the bread of another's labor, there is not in this food a particle of truth. It is but two hours since you have eaten, and you are thinking of again stretching out your hand towards the tree of life, to take the forbidden bread. How can you, then, boast that you live by the truth?

102. From all the preceding arguments, we may conclude that there is nothing in the world more evil and infamous than to eat the bread of


Labor. 99

another's labor. On the other hand, there is nothing more healthful and sacred than to eat the bread of one's own labor. I do not say this as a supposition, but in accord with God's fundamental law, with which our natural law also agrees.

103. I have said that, according to you, an idle and luxurious life is conformable to the laws of salvation. I did not at the moment an- swer this sufBciently. But I will now do so in a peremptory manner. (I do not speak of those who live from day to day, from hand to mouth.)

To gain eternal happiness, the servants of God retire to monasteries, deserts, mountains, and isles, where they lead a wandering life.

What do these men, who trample under foot God's law by eating the bread of other men's labor, seek in these places ?

Can they not be virtuous while accomplishing the labor God has blessed ?

104. When the harvest is bad, the poor man is sorrowful; but the rich man is content, be- cause, during a famine, he increases his riches. Thus he will call a famine a good harvest, while it is the chastisement of God. And if he joins in the prayers of the poor, do not believe him, for he is a hypocrite.

105. And you say the two classes are not at enmity with each other ! The rich man will at once make this excuse: What is my wcaltii ? There are many who are a hundred times richer


lOO Labor.

than I ; it is to them and not to me that 3'ou should attribute the evils of which you speak.

To that I reply : We must not measure wealth by figures, but b}^ the number of peasants who surround the rich man ; for, in the country, those who have each five thousand roubles are richer than the millionaire of Moscow.

If )'ou readers of the city could see the miser- ies that are inflicted on the poor by the rich in the country, you would take my arguments into consideration. Else you could never be- lieve me.

106. The poor man, the laborer, studies day and night, during all his life, for better ways to prepare the earth for wheat, or for duly caring for his implements and his cattle. He brings up his sons from infancy to the same labors. His efforts are crowned with success. And on the other side the rich man ponders day and night how to buy from the poor man at half price and to sell to him again at double rates, and he accustoms his sons from infancy to these speculations.

The first and last of God's laws concern la- bor, and the principal one is that of labor for bread ; but educated and intelligent people evade this labor, and live like pomestchiks, with their hands in their pockets. They have im- posed all labor upon the poor and weak, but these, in retaliation, do not sleep or lose their presence of mind ; they steal, kill, burn, and de- fraud each other, v


Labvr. ID I

It is well. As says the proverb, the master is for his bread (that is, his own interests), and the workman is not less cunning than his master ; for, if intelligent people put the candle under a bushel, there is no reason why we should watch it. Act, then, as you can, O laborer !

107. Nevertheless, the poor man is very hum- ble before thee, O rich man ! And if thou treat- est him with hypocrisy, he will fall alive into thy hands.

Thus the poor man goes in his poverty to the rich man's house, and returns half naked. Sirach says with reason: "Hunting lions is like hunt- ing savages in the desert ; so the poor are the prey of the rich." *

This is what often happens in a poor country where a single rich man is settled. The poor must sell to him, and must also buy of him.

And the rich man still says: I make fair and honest bargains. I buy and sell loyally. Every bargain has an amiable intent. Would you sell to me, or would you buy ? There is no sin in commerce. I do not sell by false weights or measures ; I do not deceive in my accounts. In a word, it is just to say that, according to the commandment, I eat my bread in the sweat of my face.

And now, to discuss this with him ! ' . : v

All that he has said is injurious to us. Hd^ does not understand the meaning of the com-

  • " As the wild ass is the lion's prey in the .wilderness : so

the rich eat up the poor." (Ecclesiasticus, xiii. 23.)


IG2 Labor.

mandment, although his conscience is beginning to awaken.

109. The rich also present this excuse : I give men money that they may work for me. It would be to my interest not to give them work, but still I do it. And I hope to be rewarded by God for my good work. And then without me, where would they get money for their neces- sities ?

I reply : You should employ in your good works treasures gained by your own labor, fol- lowing the commandment which I have given, that is to say, wash you with clean water, and not with that which is impure. But you pretend to help men with the product of their labor! Who, then, has earned the money that you give them ? Is it your money ? No, it belongs to the laborers. Then what reward can you look for?

1 10. It is said in the Law : " As is the laborer, so is the work ; as is the ground, so are the fruits." In other words, if we are but ignorant peasants and useless portions of society, why do you love our work, that is, our bread? Believe me, reader, if I were as educated and intelligent as you are, I would never eat bread at all, but only silver or gold.

111. They will tell you: I esteem with my tvhole heart all laborers, and I also love labor for bread, and I detest and scorn all sluggards. To this 1 reply, in the words of the proverb : " I hear the voice of Jacob, but it is Esau that draws near to me."


Labor. 103

112. We ought not to give away a single ear of wiieat. — Why is that? asks the reader. Be- cause one half of the world will not come near to cultivate the earth, and the other half work against their will, because they do not know where to take refuge, since all the corners of the earth are filled with sluggards. Where three or four men would suffice, ten or a dozen arrive ; and not having eaten for two or three days, they crowd one upon another. If one were driven away, he would become one of the most terrible and criminal of brigands.

113. I repeat, we should not give away one ear of wheat. We except only women who fulfil exactly the penance God gave to them, and which we have cited ; the aged, who labored formerly, but now have lost their strength. ; the infirm ; and the children, whose day of labor is. yet to come. O Heaven! hear my prayer! Grant us for them an abundance of the fruits of the earth.

114. "Do unto others as you would they should do unto you." This is the law. — Very good ; for my part, I do not think there are any other virtues. — But, I ask you, as you would not wish others to eat the bread of 3'our labors, why do you eat the bread of theirs? In other words, why do you do to others what you would not wish they should do to you?

I bu}' my bread with money.

Well, let us discuss that. You have always


I04 Labor.

the same song on your lips, and it sets my teeth on edge.

115. Have I not said openly that bread cannot be bought at any price, that it can only be bought with labor, because its value cannot be fixed by human reason ? In certain cases it can be given and received gratis. But you have arrived at such a result that in certain cities of Russia a loaf of bread costs no more than a piece of dried muck.

What ignominy ! I shudder at the remem- brance of this injury that we have received.

But for you, rich men, there is no better bargain than bread. All is for the best. This is what you call law.

1 16 Ah, have pity on us, O you of the upper classes! Do not destroy my words! If they are illegal, let my body perish, but let my work rest among the archives where you preserve what is most important to the State. Among the future generations one man may be found sufficiently just to publish it, I would perish gladly, if onlv my work ma}^ give to the millions of laborers who will come after me one great joy, and that they may obtain from it some solace in their labors !

117. Notwithstanding your close studying from infancy to extreme old age, consider what is the distance that separates you from the igno- rant laborer: it is but one step only! A man of elevated position, a functionary of but one degree inferior to yourself, and a man of our


Labor. 105

class, the starchina (the magistrate of a canton), will meet to make an inquiry in view of a pro- posed lawsuit. The canton gives the functionary some cases of wine, and he consents to arrange matters. He changes the statement of facts, and he presents a false report to his chief, who does not observe anything irregular in it, and signs it. Thus the innocent become guilty, and the guilty innocent; and this is through the complicity of the superior with the inferior.

118. But why have they deceived him? Not only because he does not labor himself, but because he knows nothing of how labor for bread is accomplished. If he had joined to his science this labor for bread, his intelligence would be so enlightened that he could not be deceived. See how many faults and errors are engendered by idleness!

1 19. Behold how the good writers act : if they must criticise a superior, they soften their terms, and soothe him, as in Kriloff's fable of the geese. " It would be easy," he says, " to make this fable still more intelligible ; but I am afraid of irritating the Geese."*

  • THE GEESE.

A long rod in his hand,

Peter drove on a band

Of geese to market bound ;

And being pressed for tin:ie, he was not overkind.

But hunted them and hurried them lest he should be behind ;

And would not let them stray, or straggle o'er the ground.

With rage the birds now gobbled, and in furious manner hissed,


io6 Labor.

In other words, they do not cast the truth into his face, but approach it by a by-path.

But I, whether from awkwardness or from love for the truth, I do irritate the geese. What do you think of it, reader? Shall they give me blows with their beaks, till death threatens to follow ? Never mind ; cost what it may, I will not be silent. I will not hypocritically conceal


Till the lad was fairly puzzled and his way to market missed. A man who chanced to pass that way, the gander soon espied, And then began his neck to stretch, as wrathfully he cried, (In the goose language,) " Look, kind sir, how cruelly we are

treated By this audacious peasant, who our tempers thus has heated. We're geese of noble lineage ; our ancestors were holy, And in the Roman capitol were worshipped all and solely. Karasmin and d'Hosier agree on this if nothing else." Said the stranger, " Worthy creatures, I do not doubt your

words. Your manners show me that you are most aristocratic birds." " Truly and of our ancestors we share the glorious name. And strive to live up to the deeds that won them endless

fame." " 'Tis well. Of your great deeds recount me some, I pray." " Our ancestors — " " I know that yarn for many a weary day. They saved great Rome by hissing ; but yourselves, what have

you done ?" " Our ancestors — " " Oh, bother them! what merits have you ?"

" None !"


Ah, if I chose to listen to the vauntings and the boast

Of geese who don't wear feathers and who are not good to

roast, What sermons I could preach! " Hush, hush ! I prithee, not

a word !" To-day shines forth the glorious bow of promise from the Lord.


Labor. I07

my thoughts. Since I have taken the right path I will follow it while I live, not deviating to the right nor to tiie left.

There is a book called The Civil Marriage. I have never read it ; but I know that the po- mestchik Novossesslky therein complains to his wife of a peasant: Would you believe," he says, " that this miserable servant has neglected to air my shirt ? " (I can scarcely help laughing in writing this ) " I have scolded him, and he replies : * I have always given your late father, the general, a damp shirt, and he never com- plained.' "

This characteristic confounds me ! Idleness has so taken possession of a man that he finds it an insupportable task to put on his own shirts. We must conclude that if he was shown the everlasting fire in which he and his descend- ants must burn eternally, according to the Christian doctrine, he would consent to be thrown into it, rather than gather one blade of straw or one grain of wheat.

Ah, in what a profound abyss are men plunged by idleness and luxury ! Talk to the rich of the divine commandment, and he will bring up eloquently a hundred arguments to prove that he eats his bread in the sweat of his face.

121. I would like to ask (if I knew whom to address) whether the pomestchiks do have their shirts put on them by their servants. It is true, comes the answer from all sides ; their


io8 Labor.

clothes are put on them like dead men's shrouds ! Then what do they do with their owft hands all the while ?

This is a feature of slothfulness no one could have imagined, if it had not been true.

122. How these peasant-slaves suffer! The very recollection of their sufferings grieves me. I shudder when I think of them. It would have been better for them never to have been born. Had I a thousand tongues, I could not tell all the fatal calamities which befall them, or the torments these martyrs endure.

Human lips could not express their sufferings. But I will tell you one outrage we undergo. It may be that you who listen are yourselves pomestchiks. I will not the less tell the truth, for I would not be accused of falsehood. And I have myself been a laborer with a pomestchik on the Don.

123, Three days in the week, the peasant labors for himself; the other three days he and all his family labor for the pomestchik. His wife, his children scarcely twelve years old, and the old men of sixty, work in their turn, and like beasts of burden. The implements of labor, the plough, the cart, the harrows, the scythes, the axes, etc., all must be bought by the peasant.

If he has involuntarily caused some waste in laboring for the pomestchik, he must repair it at his own expense. He must, besides, thrash the corn in a field far from all habitations, and there, notwithstanding the cold, he must work


Labor. r09

all day for the pomestchik. Many labor while half naked, and tortured with hunger ; but it matters not, they must labor for the pomestchik. Is it not a cruel punishment? And yet these people have neither defender nor protector.

124. Three days for himself and three days for the pomestchik ; in a word, one year for himself, and one year for the pomestchik: this is the peasant's life. But from the year in which he works for himself he must first deduct eighty days which are festivals, — for these people are very pious, — then eighty other days of idleness resulting from the accidents of labor. And, finally : the peasant is not a stone, he may fall ill, perhaps for fifty days in two years. There remain, then, only one hundred and fifty-five days in which he can labor for himself.

125. I ask if, in this case, he can, on one hun- dred and fifty-five days of work, supply all his wants for two years, that is, for this year and for the next (in which he labors for the benefit of the pomestchik). Consider that he must, besides, collect enough money to pay each year the fis- cal and personal taxes. If the husband or wife should die, there remain perhaps a dozen children under age : to-day they have the fu- neral, and to-morrow they must resume work for the pomestchik.

126. Besides that, the pomestchik takes from the peasants divers provisions, as chickens, geese, eggs, butter, etc. He keeps note of what is given, and with those who give nothing he


1 10 Labor.

will deal trickily, and they have no one to whom they can complain. Endeavor to speak to him of the commandment, and he will not let you utter a word. He will overwhelm you with arguments, and will prove to you that he follows the commandment, and that he is himself content to eat his bread in the sweat of his face, and that the peasants on the contrary are sluggards and parasites, etc.

Perhaps there are some good pomestchiks somewhere; but I insist that at least all those on the Don are such as I have described them,

127. Is it right, you ask, to thus insult the benefactors who nourish you, or, in other words, to return evil for good, and hatred for love?

But how can you always thus praise your- selves, and claim that no one is just or compas- sionate but yourself.?

128, They say : A pomestchik may be a vir- tuous man.

Well, without doubt he might if he labored for his own bread. That never has happened, nor ever will.

In the eyes of the true believer, the principal means of being absolved from sin is in receiv- ing the holy communion. But according to God's first commandment, the absolution gained by laboring for one's own bread is a thousand times more to be esteemed. But the million- aire has paid twenty kopecks the measure for wheat, and so he is free of the commandment.'


Labor. MI

129. It is claimed that the condition of the pomestchik's peasant-slaves is preferable to that of the peasants employed by the State. They say that, because they do not know us, for there are many thousand of us, and we can prove the contrary a thousands times. But the pomest- chik stands by himself, and he has but to say that the peasants under his protection are happier than those employed by the State, and his words will be believed.

130. All that is now over, and slavery is abolished ; but the sorrow that the sight of its infamies has caused me has not yet disappeared, and it will for a long time leave its traces on my soul.

Till the age of sixty, the peasant labors for the pomestchik ; deducting from this his thir- teen years of childhood, there remain forty-seven years, of which twenty-four are spent in labor- ing for the pomestchik, and the twenty-three which remain in laboring for himself.

Try now to hire a peasant who is employed by the State, and say to him : Labor for me one year with your wife, your children, and your cattle : maintenance, clothing, implements, etc., to be all at your own cost: if you waste any- thing while laboring for me, put it in the account against yourself. For what price would the peasant consent to labor thus for a year?

He would ask at least 500 roubles, which would amount in twenty-three years to 11,500 roubles.


1 1 2 Labor.

This is the sum that the pomestchik has stolen, if not in money, at least in labor, from the peasant who has given all his life to his ser- vice.

And this money the pomestchik has lost at cards, or has used to satisfy similar caprices.

Why, I ask, has he taken this money ? Did the peasant owe it to him ? No. Had he any reason for acting thus? Not one. Then why has he taken this large sum ? For nothing !

131. From the entire universe complaints are being made against God. If his goodness is infinite, whence comes the misery that over- whelms the poor ?

If God governs the world with justice, why is there this inequality among men? Why is vice happy, and virtue miserable?

But is it the fault of the mirror if our face is ugly ? In other words, is it God's fault if we re- ject the law that would establish equality among men?

132. Enforce this law which says that no one shall eat bread that another has labored for, ex- cept in legitimate cases, and then, if men are not yet equal, they will nevertheless approach more nearly to one another. Labor will cut the wings of those who would soar too loftily.

We are poor through your riches, but you are rich through our povert3\

133. Our great-grandfathers, say you, our grandfathers, our fathers, our ancestors in a word, have labored, and we also, as you see,


Labor. 115

labor till old age. All that they gained by their labor they left to their children, and these have transmitted it to theirs.

Then why am not I rich ? why can I not even practice the least economy ? I owe no more than my grandfather did, perhaps even less.

134. Is it that there are sluggards and drunk- ards in our family? No, my grandfather has said, never ! Have my goods been destroyed by fire or flood? No, nothing like that has happened.

135. Then what has become of my labor? What brigand has stolen my fortune ? Whence come your treasures, O rich man? Answer me faithfully.

136. Oh, if the wrong they do us were only temporary ! But it is eternal. As the genera- tions pass, those of to-day must still suffer misery. They will never have defender nor protector. But that is only because you have buried alive our father, that is to say, the com- mandment.

137. Here is what I have had a glimpse of all my life, and what I see clearly to-day, after having for a long time studied the meaning of this commandment : all the world over the peas- ants go into the fields and labor for bread, as- sisted by their little children. The newly born, who have not yet tasted bread, suffer for want of it. To see these people, would they not seem like bees flying over the fields and gathering honey by the way ?


114 Labor.

And in beholding men of the upper classes, I have compared them to drones, who are con- tent to buzz without working, and to live by the labor of others.

Every day robbers are arrested ; but are they really robbers, or merely rogues? I have found a robber, a real robber who has stolen from God and the Church ; he has taken away the primi- tive law which belongs to us laborers. I wish to show you this robber in person. He who does not labor with his own hands for bread, but eats the bread of another's labor, he is that robber : arrest and sentence him !

He has carefully hidden the commandment of God, and no one for 7390 years has been able to discover it. Furthermore, he has stolen innumerable millions from the poor, and he has left them and their infants, half naked and starving, while he has by this means exalted himself to the clouds.

138. The bees clip the wings of the drones, that they may not eat up the honey they have them- selves gathered. Your turn has come, ye para- sites, and we have clipped your wings, that you may not eat the bread of our labor. I know that you will not the less continue to eat it ; but when you lift the bread to your mouth, your con- science will take you by the throat, and nothing can deliver you from its grasp. If bread could be acquired by fraud, and if like all other things, it could be hidden in a secret place where it would remain in safety, all would go well. But


Labor. \\%

we cannot hide bread away ; it must be eaten at once.

That deserves reflection.

139. Now you of the upper classes, who have placed yourselves among the clouds, consider that you have imprisoned yourselves in the bonds of impiety, and that you have not the strength to break your chains.

Behold yourselves plunged in a profound abyss, whence you cannot come forth till God casts out of you the tyrant Idleness and his twin-brother Luxury.

We pray you, then, to surrender to us the treasure that God has created especially for our use, and which is the fundamental law of human- ity ; in other words, promulgate it everywhere. Then we will enrich you, and heap up gold for you, because, hoping henceforth for safety, not only labor for bread, but all other kinds of labor, will seem to us easy.

140. The most weak-minded men, and even children, would comprehend, in hearing this law proclaimed, that it is the first that God gave to the first man, and that it is more important than all other virtues or commandments put together. They will at once say to themselves : " I must labor more than ever; but I will pass my life willingly in the fields, to merit happiness in the next world.

Surrender to us, then, O ye rich, the treas- ure that you, or rather your ancestors, have stolen and concealed from us ; give up to us the


1 1 6 Labor.

most sacred of our goods, the gift we hold from God!

Above all authorities, the laws that are trans mitted by tradition have seemed to me most important. But now they are insignificant, because this one commandment, " Knead thy bread," etc, has filled my heart and mind.

It will result, if it is promulgated, in depriv- ing the priests of bread ; for now they eat it without laboring, and no one dare reproach them with their idleness. But then, every one will cast this truth in their face.

141. When I left my manuscript after having transcribed the preceding article (for I have taken six months to copy my work at odd mo- ments), the}^ came to ask us to lend bread to the city of Krasmoiarsk. The inhabitants of our village — veritable Jews — had by a vote taken in the communal assembly, accorded fifty- measures of wheat to the magazine of the Mir.'*' Why have they given so little? " Because the mare has eaten all the bread." f

Several persons congratulated the man who took the initiative in this proposition ; but many were angr3\ "Fifty measures! fifty measures ! But that is only twenty pounds to each house.

  • Or communal magazine, where each household should

contribute, for the use of the indigent, the tenth part of its harvest.

See, on this subject, A. Leroy-BeauHeu, Religion in Russia. Revue des Deux-Mondes, Sept. 15, 1888. i' 423.

f Russian proverb. It is a pretext employed to evade giv- ing this alms.


Labor. yvj

Why do you give only twenty pounds ? they say, at the communal assembly. You might as well have given nothing at all. If you under- take to give at all, you should at least contribute two or three measures from each house, or even two sacks."

142. You see what I predicted has happened. Bread must not be sold, but in certain admissi- ble cases it must be given gratis. And they give it, while you conceal the commandment of labor for bread. But if it had been made known to all men, without diminishing its importance, the burned city of Krasmoiarsk would have re- ceived from our district of Manoussinsk alone, several thousand measures of wheat, and each commune would cause the necessary succor to be distributed. It would be doaie in all cases, for no one knows what may "happen to himself to-morrow, or even to-day.

143. Ask instead for money. It will not be given: 1st, because the peasant rarely has any; 2d, because the commandment above cited di- rects the laborer to give bread, rather than anything else. Besides, money is a lifeless thing compared with bread ; it is as a mere stone. No one makes gifts in nione}' ; the more one has of it, the more the desire increases for it. Give all the money and treasures in the world to one person: will it make him happy? will it satisfy his cupidity? No. But what could he wish for more? why would he be dis contented ? He will cry, " I would hold the


lit Labor.

whole world in my hands, I would control all men, and behold in one glance the whole uni- verse! Whichever way I look, nothing is


mme


144. But, I will answer him ; you must for that live a thousand years, because, whatever may be your powers, you could never, in an ordinary life, absorb everything. You would be suffocated.

But bread is a thing absolutely opposed to money ; they are two enemies, even as the la- borer is the enemy of the idle man.

145. They say that henceforth taxes will be levied on the land ; that is, the amount will be proportioned to the area of the land we possess. Why do you say, on the land ? Ad- mit frankly that it is the laborers alone who pay the taxes. Here is some land that is not cultivated ; go and take thence the money and bread you need. "According to the decree of Him who created me, it will answer, I await some one's coming to cultivate me; if you come for any other purpose, depart, O parasite."

Permit me to ask why you exact taxes from those who nourish you with their bread, while from thos3 who never labor for bread you do not take a single kopeck. If the land were but free ! But the State has taken it to give to the pomcstchiks, and they exact from us ten times its value. Whether the wheat ripens or not, give us the money: and where shall we get "it?


Labor. II9

Although the law says : " Turn thy cheek to him who smites thee," when I consider the cry- ing injustice of which you are guilty towards us, I refuse (and I include all our class of labor- ers, the young, the old, and infants at their mothers' breasts), I refuse, I say, to grant you the right to wrangle over bread, and over the earth that produces it ; be contented to speak of the stones, and the land that only produces bitter wormwood.

If you had an earnest desire to labor, and could not do so for any reason, you would be pardonable; but you evade it from idleness. In this case, what pardon can you hope for.? I know you cannot answer these questions.

You will employ, you say, even violence to procure your food. But could you so live, could you swallow one mouthful of the bread that you had gained by violence ? No, no ! that mouth- ful would choke you, body and soul, no matter what rank you occupy.

Rich man, have pity on us! For how many thousand years have you, like a wild horse, galloped over our backs ! Consider, for how long a time you have torn the flesh from our bones ! .^

The bread you eat is our body, the wine you f drink is our blood. '^

146. When I had learned the first command- ment, notwithstanding my sixty-five years, my weakness and emaciation, I labored in the ground for a whole year (1881). I harrowed


126 Labor.

without any assistance eight acres of fallow ground ; I led the first plough-horse ; I culti- vated the same ground a second time ; I labored in the fields by day, and at night I took care of the horses. But, in spite of all that, I felt no fatigue. Then I gathered in the wheat and hay with the help of my son and my son's wife.

147. You see the effect that this commandment can have. Thanks to it, the old man becomes young, the feeble strong, the idle industrious, the imbecile intelligent, the drunkard sober, and the poor rich. Could I have done all that, could I have so labored in the earth, if I did not know I was digging where you had hidden the commandment ? If the poor knew their own strength, they would not submit to such out- rages. Man would then deliver himself from the indigence and misery which strangle him.

148. If God vSends an abundant harvest to the eight acres I have cultivated, I and my family will have more than enough to satisfy us. Know, also, O idle men, that I could support thirty men with the produce of my labor.

149. If you have an earnest desire to labor, and cannot for good reasons do so, you would be pardonable by God and man ; but it is from idleness that you do not work ; is it then possi- ble to esteem you? Never, in any degree. Hitherto a superior seemed to me a high per- sonage ; but now he is in my eyes the lowest of men. I would like to get this notion out of my


Labor. I2l

head ; but I cannot, it comes back in sp'le of me. I hear often that it is proposed to unite all men in one religion. Is it true? I know not. But if it is attempted, I declare that, instead of uniting men, they will remain divided in as many sects as ever, and the result will be more hurtful than useful. It was easy to influence men in ancient times, when they were still savage ; they could then be led by a mere thread, without fear of its breaking. But to-day you may bind them with a triple rope, and you will not lead them one step, first because of their own customs, and then because they have a pride which keeps them from submitting one to another.

Found religion, however, on the primitive law, without adding strange rules, and soon all the universe will be united. Otherwise it is impossible to obtain the union you dream of.

150. From poverty to riches is but a step; inversely the distance is even less. It is the same with the general and the soldier. A man knows not when his chariot may be overturned ; or, in other words, destiny may to-day give him a million, and to-morrow make him as poor as we are ; to day he may be a general, and to-mor- row our equal.

151. Behold, then, the path you should fol- low.

Hasten to teach the child, however noble ma}' be his family, the first commandment. When he has grown up, show him by example how to labor for bread. Then, should misfortune over-


1 22 Labor.

take him, he will not even sigh, as he hastens with ardor to labor for his own bread.

" For a long time," he will cr}', " I have wished to occup}'^ myself with this labor, but I could not withstand my fortune ; to-day I thank God for having delivered me from the burden which made me give way to sin." Turning back his sleeves and the lappets of his coat, he will take the plough in hand, which he already knows how to use, and will go singing to his work.

152. But what do we now see? When for- tune proves false to a man, and he is forced to earn his bread with his hands, he becomes dis- couraged, and even disgraces himself, bringing misfortune on all his race. And whose is the fault ? Yours, because you have hidden, and you still hide from him the divine commandment. It should not be the subjects who are condemned to enforced labor, but our rulers. And why ? they ask. Because you should not have con- cealed the law of God. The responsibility of this crime should rest on the priests and on the Israelitish Rabbi, and not on the civil and mili- tary authorities, who are not culpable in this !

153. You see now, readers, that all your books are of no value by the side of mine. Your eloquent subterfuges are empty nonsense compared with our simple language. All your precious labors for which you pay so generously, are as nothing compared to ours. Neither can )'Ou compare with us in merit. The treasures which fill your houses have no value compared


Labor. j 23

to the bread for which we labor. All your great intelligence is weak before our simple faith. Your millions have no more value than our poor possessions.

154. During all ages we have had the rich and the poor, but no one could see why there should be any difference in position between these two classes of men because one had a small capital, another's was twice as great, a third's three times as great, etc.; and each one points with his finger saying : " Is it I that am rich ? Such a one, or another, may indeed be called so."

It is these rich men of whom Jesus Christ has said : " It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (St. Mark x. 25.)

But I have seen a distance between the rich and poor like that between heaven and earth, or between the east and west. Between us and you, as has been said, is a great gulf fixed : we cannot come to you, nor you to us. >_

155. Suppose, for example, I gave a rich or an educated man this counsel: "You see on your side only baseness ; come over to ours. Do not labor for bread, since you never have done it, but, by the mere fact of coming to us, you will escape the insupportable reproaches of your conscience." " I cannot do it," he will reply; " I would rather die than join you."

156. Will it not be the same at the last judg- ment, as says the Holy Scriptures? In his


1 24 Labor.

merc)% God would welcome you, but for ver}* shame you will shrink from him. God, never- theless, will not withdraw his mercy, though you have scorned the labor for bread that he has prescribed, and trampled under foot those who have cultivated the ground.

157. For 7382 years your festival has lasted, while we have labored. Now, in 1882, com- mences our festival and your labor, if the com- mandment is comprehended b}' every peasant. What joy, what triumph this will be for our in- ferior class !

158. If you have occasion to remain some time in the country, you must borrow for some days the eyes of an animal, for you could not remain there, having human eyes. As much as we shall be elevated, you will be abased. No one, nevertheless, will reproach you openly ; ihey will give you to eat and to drink, but the reproaches that will follow your steps will be more painful than if they were made to your face.

159. If you earned your bread by labor- ing with your hands, and not by buying it with money, your feast would be the more com- plete. We are now your inferiors. We would then be still lower, for we labor under compul- sion and pressed by want, while you would be laboring in obedience to the commandment. Your merit would be but the greater and more estimable.

160. You occupy now, in spite of us, our


Labor. 125

place at the table ; and we remain standing so humbly before you that your conscience per- mits it. But then true justice will triumph. It may spare you, but it will no longer wrong us. You will not always have the place of honor, and we will not always take the foot of the table.

161. The sluggards say to me: If you had found out how to be rich and happy without labor, all the world would have thanked you for it. But when you invite us to a painful, wearisome, and humiliating task, who will give your words an}'- consideration? You would persuade the government that the primitive law is founded on labor for bread. But many well- educated people see the law only as through an obscure mist. Must we then deceive our- selves for bread ? What is the use of writing on a subject that is not worth the trouble ? Or of speaking, even, when for fifteen or twenty kopecks one may have a measure of grain ?

In fine, if this labor leads to salvation, all ed- ucated persons, and above all the priests, should hasten to undertake it. But thev' disdain it, and like better a life of ease. Then there is noth- ing in it of value to salvation. The theory you maintain is but as a tale in the Arabian Nights.

162. The principal scourge of our class, that which throws us in spite of ourselves into mis- ery, dejection, and all similar unhappiness, is the division of goods among brothers. It is impossible to speak of this evil in few words.


1 26 Labor.

The cause is alwa3S the same : they have hidden from the world the law of hibor. If this law was made known, a hundred men could live together. He who should command need not be haughty, and he who should obey need not be quick to take offence. If among this group a father or mother should die, the children would rest in this centre of cordial harmony, and the bereaved spouse would feel the blow less keenly. The orphans would find among them fathers, mo- thers, brothers, and sisters, in a word, many protectors and defenders.

Women are usually compassionate : they will care for orphans in preference to their own children. Thus this law carries with it all vir- tues and is opposed to all vices. It was not in vain that God said in creating the world : " Let there be light, for that is good." * You have taken away this gift of God in the sight of men, and you say softly to each other, " What fools these men are who nourish us and supply us with good clothes for nothing ! We give them orders, and they obey us !"

163. If a man speaks of a crime before a nu- merous society, he does not designate any one as its author, for he cannot look into the con- sciences of those present ; he speaks of the crime from a legal point of view, and touches no one's

  • Alluding to this passage in Genesis : " God made the sun;

he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth. And God saw that it was good."


Labor. 127

sensitiveness. But if he speaks of the primitive law, " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread," he cannot conceal the name of the criminal, because he bears the mark of Cain.

To disobey this commandment is the greatest of crimes ; and if it is committed by an inferior man it may not be noticed ; but as it is addressed to those who are elevated among the clouds, all the world sees their infringement of it.

I would rather praise men than criticise them, but here that would be impossible. In the pres- ence of the holiness of labor, would it become me to disguise my thoughts in cowardly adula- tion?

164. God gave two commandments to our an- cestors Adam and Eve. The first is, " Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth ;" the sec- ond, " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread." Why, I ask you, do you execute the first commandment of God with alacrity, and dis- dain the second, flying to conceal yourselves in different corners, while you say, I will employ a good workman to make my bread ?

You fulfil the first commandment personally ; why not the second ?

It is inadmissible to labor for bread by the hand of another, and it can only be done in cer- tain permitted cases. Tell me why you disdain one commandment more than the other. What if your wives should say to you : " We have ful- filled our commandment ; we bring forth chil-


1 2$ Labor.

dren in sorrow, and in death : and )"0u, why do you not keep the commandment which concerns you ? Give your children bread earned by )'our own labor."* In brief, you cannot reply to that, and you are left like a fish gasping on the sand.

165. How blind you are, O wise man! You search the Holy Scriptures with all your eyes, but you cannot see there the way to relieve yourself and the flock that God has confided to your care from the burden of sin. You do not see the path that will conduct you to life eternal. You are like the inhabitants of Sodom who were struck with blindness when they sought for Lot's door.f But these were in-

  • Compare these reflections of Bondareff's with Tolstoi's

ideas in the admirable chapter ' ' To Women !" which completes the book What should be done:

"This woman, who, with all the attraction of her personal charms, still evades her own duties under the law of mother- hood, becomes a fit companion for the man who has denied the obligations of his own law of labor; and they thus both lose the true meaning and intention of their existence.

"From this proceeds the astonishing folly called the rights of women. These rights we here formulate.

" ' Ah, you men,' says woman, ' you transgress your own law of labor, but you wish us to fulfil ours. Truly no ! As it is with you, it shall be with us. We will share your pre- ccnded labors at banks, universities, and academies ; and we will, like you, adopt the pretext of division of labor, and will have a hand in all the social and worldly occupations that we please.' " ( What should be done, page 372.)

f Alluding to Genesis xix. 10, 11: " But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of


Labor. 1 29

deed blinded ; while you, though sightless, believe that you see clearly, and that you know everything, and no one has the right to give you counsel. Your blindness is like that of Balaam, who did not see the angel of God that stood armed with a flaming sword in the path before him, while the ass that he was riding perceived it distinctly. I am the ass ; and you, who are Balaam, have ridden upon my back since my childhood.

166. From all that has been said, we see, as in a mirror, that man learns to read, not that he may do good, but evil. The proverb is not without reason which says : " If educated people should lose their eyes [and I, BondarefF, as well as they], and their horses should founder, we should then be the better."

I did not formerly believe in proverbs, but now I see that it is as though God himself had given them to us.

167. The world has a thousand religions, while there- should be but one faith, even as there is but one God.

The first commandment, " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou knead bread," would unite all religions. When men shall have compre- hended all its import, and shall have it graven upon their hearts, then, in one century, perhaps even in less time, all the world, from east to west, from north to south, will be united in one

the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door."


1 30 Labor.

faith, one church, and one love. (See article

35-)

168. Many people have asked me: Why do you regard those who avoid labor, not only without good will, but even with hatred? Whatever you feel in your heart, you should at least speak with gentleness and kindness.

This is my answer: Where could I find pa- tience and hypocrisy enough to speak with gentleness and kindness? How many millions oi people there are at this moment, how many there have been since the beginning of the world, and will be yet in the future, who have been and will be ignominiously wronged by you who are the masters of the world ! In this state of affairs, I do not say a man, but an angel even, could not bear such offences, and the recital alone of our miseries would " set his teeth on edge." * And I, who am but a man, have endured this wrong for a long time. Many times I would have spoken gently, but the moment I commence to write, I am so inflamed with indignation that I forget all my resolutions. And I have said to myself, I can die but once; I have started upon the right way, and I will go forward.

169. I address myself once more to you, O ye of the upper classes. I do not entreat, I do not ask, but I strongly require of you that you shall give us our due, that you shall teach us the primitive law that God himself gave to us la-

  • An expression often used in the Bible.


Labor. 131

borers when he created the world. You have taken it from us by fraud or by violence, and you have hidden it in the depths of the earth, like the slothful servant in the Gospel who hid his talent in the ground. Give it back to us now, without delay; give it back! We will take no excuse.

Those who preceded you had some reason to keep this law to themselves, because no one asked them for it ; the welfare of others matters little to strangers.

But, now, give us this law, or at least explain it to us.

170. You all give us the same excuse. It is not I who am to blame, says one; nor I, says another; nor I, says a third: and the nor I will never finish : but who will say. It is I? If we address the chief men of the State, they say also, we are not to blame. In a word, the universe has become, as it were, a perfect circle, where no one is on the circumference, and all the world are in the centre. Ask this one or that, and he answers invariabl}^ // is not I !

If the question were of boasting, of raising one- self to the clouds, or of riding on the backs of poor people, you will all cry, // is I! It is I! But if we speak of holding out the hand to the millions Avho are perishing in misery, // is not L you sa}' at once. Who among 3-011 will say // // Though our emperor, Alexander Nicolai'e witch, has delivered us from slavery, that has nothing


132 Labor.

to do, in my mind, with the question that occu- pies us ; it is quite another affair. p 171. We should, without doubt, persuade men

by good advice, and by divers warnings, but 

. never bv force. Print these counsels in primers \ and prayer-books, charge the priests of all I nations and of all religions, to preach this doc- trine unceasingly, by persuasion and not by force, and to recall to their flocks the qualities which \ distinguish before God and man him who care- • fully executes the primitive law of God, and, on ithe contrar}^ to point out the faults that charac- terize him who shamefully avoids its execution. /These are the means by which, to my mind, we I shall force men to labor, without emplojdng violence.

But excepting the government, who would have the power to do what I have said ? No one.

172. If all these counsels were inserted in the daily papers, and in other publications, under different forms, we might wait as many thou- sands of years as there are days in a century, and no profit would result. (See article 36.)

173. Implore, my soul! (and by my soul I mean the souls of all laborers) implore the gov- ernment as much as you will, shed all your tears, multiply your groanings, bend your knees to whom you will, but no one will be touched by your supplications, or moved by your tears. I know my double demand has been made in vain. If they had but said yes or no, I would


Labor. 133

have been more content; but they have said noth- ing! nothing!*

Ah! deign, O Eternal Father, from the height of heaven to cast one look upon the earth !

Behold! there is but one man, who by one single word can oppress millions of men !f

  • Compare these reflections of Bondareff's with those of the

celebrated sectary Soutalef. "If the Czar knew!" said Sou- talef to a throng of his followers. One day he departed for St. Petersburg ; he would inform the Czar. Vain task : they would not let him approach him. The unfortunate reformer was obliged to return to his own village, accusing himself of sin for failing in perseverance." (A. Leroy-Beaulieu, Revue des Deux-Mondes, Sept. 15, i883, page 426.)

f Probably alluding to the Czar.


APPENDICES.


Zo tbe /IDemor^ ot Bonbarett