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Thou shalt hear the fool's judgment...Pushkin

by Ivan Turgenev

 

'Thou shalt hear the fool's judgment....' You always told the truth, O great singer of ours. You spoke it this time, too.

'The fool's judgment and the laughter of the crowd' ... who has not known the one and the other?

All that one can, and one ought to bear; and who has the strength, let him despise it!

But there are blows which pierce more cruelly to the very heart.... A man has done all that he could; has worked strenuously, lovingly, honestly.... And honest hearts turn from him in disgust; honest faces burn with indignation at his name. 'Be gone! Away with you!' honest young voices scream at him. 'We have no need of you, nor of your work. You pollute our dwelling-places. You know us not and understand us not.... You are our enemy!'

What is that man to do? Go on working; not try to justify himself, and not even look forward to a fairer judgment.

At one time the tillers of the soil cursed the traveller who brought the potato, the substitute for bread, the poor man's daily food.... They shook the precious gift out of his outstretched hands, flung it in the mud, trampled it underfoot.

Now they are fed with it, and do not even know their benefactor's name.

So be it! What is his name to them? He, nameless though he be, saves them from hunger.

Let us try only that what we bring should be really good food.

Bitter, unjust reproach on the lips of those you love.... But that, too, can be borne....

'Beat me! but listen!' said the Athenian leader to the Spartan.

'Beat me! but be healthy and fed!' we ought to say.

February 1878.