Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
By Leo Tolstoy
(Russian novelist and reformer, 18281910. In this novel the greatest of modern religious teachers has presented his indictment of the government and church of his country. The hero is a Russian prince who in early youth seduces a peasant girl, and in after life meets her, a prostitute on trial for murder. He follows her to Siberia, in an effort to reclaim her. Near the end of his story Tolstoi introduces this scene. The Englishman may be said to represent modern science, which asks questions and accumulates futile statistics; while the old man voices the peculiar Christian Anarchism of the author, who at the age of eighty-two left his home and wandered out into the steppes to die)
IN one of the exiles wards, Nehlúdof [the prince] recognized the strange old man he had seen crossing the ferry that morning. This tattered and wrinkled old man was sitting on the floor by the beds, barefooted, wearing only a dirty cinder-colored shirt, torn on one shoulder, and similar trousers. He looked severely and inquiringly at the new-comers. His emaciated body, visible through the holes in his dirty shirt, looked miserably weak, but in his face was more concentrated seriousness and animation than even when Nehlúdof saw him crossing the ferry. As in all the other wards, so here also the prisoners jumped up and stood erect when the official entered; but the old man remained sitting. His eyes glittered and his brow frowned wrathfully.
What, hast thou come to see how Antichrist tortures men? Here, see. He has locked them up in a cage, a whole army of them. Men should eat bread in the sweat of their brow. But He has locked them up with no work to do, and feeds them like swine, so that they should turn into beasts.
The laws? he repeated with contempt. First Antichrist robbed everybody, took all the earth, and all rights away from themtook them all for himselfkilled all those who were against himand then He wrote laws forbidding to rob and to kill. He should have written those laws sooner.
Do thine own task and leave others alone. Every one for himself. God knows whom to execute, whom to pardon, but we do not know, said the old man. Be your own chief, then chiefs will not be wanted. Go, go, he added, frowning angrily, and looking with glittering eyes at Nehlúdof, who lingered in the ward. Hast thou not gazed enough on how the servants of Antichrist feed lice on men? Go! Go!