Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/112

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78

THE LIFE OF TOLSTOY

later social ideas were conceived. In his note book of 1865 we find the following interesting observations:

"The historical mission of Russia consists in bringing before the world the idea of the socialisation of land.

"'La propriété c'est le vol' will remain a greater truth for humanity than that of the English constitution. It is an absolute truth, but there are relative truths as the outcome of its application. The first of these relative truths is the conception of property by the Russian people. The Russian people decry private ownership in land, which is the most fundamental form of property, least of all an outcome of work, and, more than any, barring the acquisition of property by other people. This is not a dream; it is a fact realised by the Russian peasants' communes and those of the Cossacks. This truth is equally well understood by the educated Russian and the peasant who says, 'Let the Government inscribe us as Cossacks, and the land will be free for us all.' This idea has a future, and on it only a Russian revolution may be based. Such a revolution will not be directed against the Tsar and despotism, but against private ownership in land, and the people will say 'Take from each what you like, but leave us the