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examples you and me

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:49:52
Typefacelarge in Small
The second blow awaited me in the courtyard of the school. Peter Pavlovich,” the boys cried, here is another from the preparatory class in uniform!” What did that mean? It appeared that the preparatory school was a private affair, and its members were strictly forbidden to don the St. Paul uniform. Peter Pavlovich, the black-bearded monitor, explained to me that I must remove the badge, the braid and the belt-buckle, and must replace the buttons, which had an eagle stamped on them, with ordinary ones. This was my second misfortune.

I composed verses, feeble lines which perhaps showed my early love for words but certainly forecast no poetical future. My elder sister knew of my verses, through her my mother knew, and through my mother, my father. They would ask me to read my verses aloud before guests. It was painfully embarrassing. I would refuse. They would urge me, at first gently, then with irritation, finally with threats. Sometimes I would run away, but my elders knew how to get what they wanted. With a pounding heart, with tears in my eyes, I would read my verses, ashamed of my borrowed lines and limping rhymes.

A Russian revolutionary of the seventies stopped in Roumania in passing, on the very eve of the Russo-Turkish war; he was detained for a while by circumstances beyond his control; a few years later, under the name of Gherea, he had won far-reaching influence over the Roumanian intelligentsia, extending it later to the more advanced among the workers as well. Literary criticism on a social basis was Gherea’s chief medium for shaping the more advanced groups among the Roumanian intelligentsia. Then, from questions of aesthetics and personal ethics, he led them to scientific socialism. The majority of Roumanian politicians of almost every party passed through, at least in their younger days, a brief school of Marxism under Gherea’s guidance. It did not prevent them, however, from pursuing a policy of reactionary banditry in their riper age.

Just as I had thought. The Madrid police had received a telegram from the Paris prefecture: A dangerous anarchist, so-and-so, crossed the frontier at San Sebastian. Intends to settle down in Madrid.” So the Madrid police had been waiting for me, had looked everywhere for me, and were upset because they could not find me for a whole week. The French policemen had politely escorted me across the frontier; the admirer of Montaigne and Renan had even asked me: C’est fait avec discrétion, n’est-ce pas?” and then the same police had telegraphed to Madrid that a dangerous anarchist” had passed through Irun to San Sebastian!

There was no answer, nor did I expect one. But Miliukoff’s paper stepped in to defend the ambassador of an ally, and repeated the charge on its own behalf. I decided to brand the calumniators as solemnly as I could. The first all-Russian congress of Soviets was then in session. On June 5, the hall was full to the brim. At the dose of the meeting I rose to make a personal statement. Gorky’s paper, which was hostile to the Bolsheviks, next day reported my concluding words and the scene as a whole as follows:

On the twenty-eighth of January, 1898, there were mass arrests. Altogether, over two hundred people were taken. The police applied the scourge. One of those arrested, a soldier named Sokolov, was driven to throw himself from the second floor of the prison; he was merely badly bruised. Another, Levandovsky, went insane. There were still other victims.

The movement is no doubt irregular and crooked, but the tendency is constant. What every government does in turn in favor of revolution becomes inviolable; what is attempted against it passes over like a cloud: I enjoy watching this spectacle, in which I understand every single picture; I observe these changes in the life of the world as if I had received their explanation from above; what oppresses others, elevates me more and more, inspires and fortifies me; how can you want me then to accuse destiny, to complain about people and curse them? Destiny — I laugh at it; and as for men, they are too ignorant, too enslaved for me to feel annoyed at them.”


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