Sevastopol : Chapter 02
(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From : "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)
• "You are surprised that soldiers are taught that it is right to kill people in certain cases and in war, while in the books admitted to be holy by those who so teach, there is nothing like such a permission..." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
On the boulevard of the besieged city of Sevastopol, not far from the pavilion, the regimental band was playing, and throngs of military men and of women moved gayly through the streets. The brilliant sun of spring had risen in the morning over the works of the English, had passed over the bastions, then over the city, over the Nikolaevsky barracks, and, illuminating all with equal cheer, had now sunk into the blue and distant sea, which was lighted with a silvery gleam as it heaved in peace.
A tall, rather bent infantry officer, who was drawing upon his hand a glove which was presentable, if not entirely white, came out of one of the small naval huts, built on the left side of the Morskaya[C] street, and, staring thoughtfully at the ground, took his way up the slope to the boulevard.
The expression of this officer's homely countenance[Pg 40] did not indicate any great mental capacity, but rather simplicity, judgment, honor, and a tendency to solid worth. He was badly built, not graceful, and he seemed to be constrained in his movements. He was dressed in a little worn cap, a cloak of a rather peculiar shade of lilac, from beneath whose edge the gold of a watch-chain was visible; in trousers with straps, and brilliantly polished calfskin boots. He must have been either a German—but his features clearly indicate his purely Russian descent—or an adjutant, or a regimental quartermaster, only in that case he would have had spurs, or an officer who had exchanged from the cavalry for the period of the campaign, or possibly from the Guards. He was, in fact, an officer who had exchanged from the cavalry, and as he ascended the boulevard, at the present moment, he was meditating upon a letter which he had just received from a former comrade, now a retired land-owner in the Government of T., and his wife, pale, blue-eyed Natasha, his great friend. He recalled one passage of the letter, in which his comrade said:—
“When our Invalid[D] arrives, Pupka (this was the name by which the retired uhlan called his wife) rushes headlong into the vestibule, seizes the paper, and runs with it to the seat in the arbor, in the drawing-room (in which, if you remember, you and I passed such delightful winter evenings when the regiment was stationed in our town), and reads your heroic deeds with such ardor as it is impossible for you to imagine. She often speaks of you. ‘There is Mikhaïloff,’ she says, ‘he's such a love of a man. I am ready to kiss him when I see him. He fights on the bastions, and he will surely receive the Cross of St. George, and he will be talked about in the newspapers ...’ and so on, and so on ... so that I am really beginning to be jealous of you.”
In another place he writes:[Pg 42] “The papers reach us frightfully late, and, although there is plenty of news conveyed by word of mouth, not all of it can be trusted. For instance, the young ladies with the music, acquaintances of yours, were saying yesterday that Napoleon was already captured by our Cossacks, and that he had been sent to Petersburg; but you will comprehend how much I believe of this. Moreover, a traveller from Petersburg told us (he has been sent on special business by the minister, is a very agreeable person, and, now that there is no one in town, he is more of a resource to us than you can well imagine ...) well, he declares it to be a fact that our troops have taken Eupatoria, so that the French have no communication whatever with Balaklava, and that in this engagement two hundred of ours were killed, but that the French lost fifteen thousand. My wife was in such raptures over this that she caroused all night, and she declares that her instinct tells her that you certainly took part in that affair, and that you distinguished yourself.”
In spite of these words, and of the expressions which I have purposely put in italics, and the whole tone of the letter, Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff recalled, with inexpressibly sad delight, his pale friend in the provinces, and how she had sat with him in the arbor in the evening, and talked about sentiment, and he thought of his good comrade, the uhlan, and of how the latter had grown angry and had lost the game when they had played cards for kopek stakes in his study, and how the wife had laughed at them ... he recalled the friendship of these two people for himself (perhaps it seemed to him to lie chiefly on the side of his pale feminine[Pg 43] friend); all these faces with their surroundings flitted before his mind's eye, in a wonderfully sweet, cheerfully rosy light, and, smiling at his reminiscences, he placed his hand on the pocket which contained the letter so dear to him.
From reminiscences Captain Mikhaïloff involuntarily proceeded to dreams and hopes. “And what will be the joy and amazement of Natasha,” he thought, as he paced along the narrow lane, “... when she suddenly reads in the Invalid a description of how I was the first to climb upon the cannon, and that I have received the George! I shall certainly be promoted to a full captaincy, by virtue of seniority. Then it is quite possible that I may get the grade of major in the line, this very year, because many of our brothers have already been killed, and many more will be in this campaign. And after that there will be more affairs on hand, and a regiment will be entrusted to me, since I am an experienced man ... lieutenant-colonel ... the Order of St. Anna on my neck ... colonel!...” and he was already a general, granting an interview to Natasha, the widow of his comrade, who, according to his dreams, would have died by that time, when the[Pg 44] sounds of the music on the boulevard penetrated more distinctly to his ears, the crowds of people caught his eye, and he found himself on the boulevard, a staff-captain of infantry as before.
From : Gutenberg.org
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