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on the right. Through another open door we could see a red-faced, hairy
peasant, in bast shoes, sitting on his wooden bunk; his hands rested on
his knees, and he was swinging his feet, shod in bast shoes, and gazing
gloomily at them.

At the end of the corridor was a little door leading to the apartment
where the census-takers were. This was the chamber of the mistress of
the whole of No. 30; she rented the entire apartment from Ivan
Feodovitch, and let it out again to lodgers and as night-quarters. In
her tiny room, under the tinsel images, sat the student census-taker with
his charts; and, in his quality of investigator, he had just thoroughly
interrogated a peasant wearing a shirt and a vest. This latter was a
friend of the landlady, and had been answering questions for her. The
landlady herself, an elderly woman, was there also, and two of her
curious tenants. When I entered, the room was already packed full. I
pushed my way to the table. I exchanged greetings with the student, and
he proceeded with his inquiries. And I began to look about me, and to
interrogate the inhabitants of these quarters for my own purpose.

It turned out, that in this first set of lodgings, I found not a single
person upon whom I could pour out my benevolence. The landlady, in spite
of the fact that the poverty, smallness and dirt of these quarters struck
me after the palatial house in which I dwell, lived in comfort, compared
with many of the poor inhabitants of the city, and in comparison with the
poverty in the country, with which I was thoroughly familiar, she lived
luxuriously. She had a feather-bed, a quilted coverlet, a samovar, a fur
cloak, and a dresser with crockery. The landlady's friend had the same
comfortable appearance. He had a watch and a chain. Her lodgers were
not so well off, but there was not one of them who was in need of
immediate assistance: the woman who was washing linen in a tub, and who
had been abandoned by her husband and had children, an aged widow without
any means of livelihood, as she said, and that peasant in bast shoes, who
told me that he had nothing to eat that day. But on questioning them, it
appeared that none of these people were in special want, and that, in
order to help them, it would be necessary to become well acquainted with

When I proposed to the woman whose husband had abandoned her, to place
her children in an asylum, she became confused, fell into thought,
thanked me effusively, but evidently did not wish to do so; she would
have preferred pecuniary assistance. The eldest girl helped her in her
washing, and the younger took care of the little boy. The old woman
begged earnestly to be taken to the hospital, but on examining her nook I
found that the old woman was not particularly poor. She had a chest full
of effects, a teapot with a tin spout, two cups, and caramel boxes filled
with tea and sugar. She knitted stockings and gloves, and received
monthly aid from some benevolent lady. And it was evident that what the
peasant needed was not so much food as drink, and that whatever might be
given him would find its way to the dram-shop. In these quarters,
therefore, there were none of the sort of people whom I could render
happy by a present of money. But there were poor people who appeared to
me to be of a doubtful character. I noted down the old woman, the woman
with the children, and the peasant, and decided that they must be seen
to; but later on, as I was occupied with the peculiarly unfortunate whom
I expected to find in this house, I made up my mind that there must be
some order in the aid which we should bestow; first came the most
wretched, and then this kind. But in the next quarters, and in the next
after that, it was the same story, all the people had to be narrowly
investigated before they could be helped. But unfortunates of the sort
whom a gift of money would convert from unfortunate into fortunate
people, there were none. Mortifying as it is to me to avow this, I began
to get disenchanted, because I did not find among these people any thing
of the sort which I had expected. I had expected to find peculiar people
here; but, after making the round of all the apartments, I was convinced
that the inhabitants of these houses were not peculiar people at all, but
precisely such persons as those among whom I lived. As there are among
us, just so among them; there were here those who were more or less good,
more or less stupid, happy and unhappy. The unhappy were exactly such
unhappy beings as exist among us, that is, unhappy people whose
unhappiness lies not in their external conditions, but in themselves, a
sort of unhappiness which it is impossible to right by any sort of bank-
note whatever.


The inhabitants of these houses constitute the lower class of the city,
which numbers in Moscow, probably, one hundred thousand. There, in that
house, are representatives of every description of this class. There are
petty employers, and master-artisans, bootmakers, brush-makers, cabinet-
makers, turners, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths; there are cab-drivers,
young women living alone, and female pedlers, laundresses, old-clothes
dealers, money-lenders, day-laborers, and people without any definite
employment; and also beggars and dissolute women.

Here were many of the very people whom I had seen at the entrance to the
Lyapinsky house; but here these people were scattered about among the
working-people. And moreover, I had seen these people at their most
unfortunate time, when they had eaten and drunk up every thing, and when,
cold, hungry, and driven forth from the taverns, they were awaiting
admission into the free night lodging-house, and thence into the promised
prison for despatch to their places of residence, like heavenly manna;
but here I beheld them and a majority of workers, and at a time, when by
one means or another, they had procured three or five kopeks for a
lodging for the night, and sometimes a ruble for food and drink.

And strange as the statement may seem, I here experienced nothing
resembling that sensation which I had felt in the Lyapinsky house; but,
on the contrary, during the first round, both I and the students
experienced an almost agreeable feeling, - yes, but why do I say "almost
agreeable"? This is not true; the feeling called forth by intercourse
with these people, strange as it may sound, was a distinctly agreeable

Our first impression was, that the greater part of the dwellers here were
working people and very good people at that.

We found more than half the inhabitants at work: laundresses bending over
their tubs, cabinet-makers at their lathes, cobblers on their benches.
The narrow rooms were full of people, and cheerful and energetic labor
was in progress. There was an odor of toilsome sweat and leather at the
cobbler's, of shavings at the cabinet-maker's; songs were often to be
heard, and glimpses could be had of brawny arms with sleeves roiled high,
quickly and skilfully making their accustomed movements. Everywhere we
were received cheerfully and politely: hardly anywhere did our intrusion
into the every-day life of these people call forth that ambition, and
desire to exhibit their importance and to put us down, which the
appearance of the enumerators in the quarters of well-to-do people
evoked. It not only did not arouse this, but, on the contrary, they
answered all other questions properly, and without attributing any
special significance to them. Our questions merely served them as a
subject of mirth and jesting as to how such and such a one was to be set
down in the list, when he was to be reckoned as two, and when two were to
be reckoned as one, and so forth.

We found many of them at dinner, or tea; and on every occasion to our
greeting: "bread and salt," or "tea and sugar," they replied: "we beg
that you will partake," and even stepped aside to make room for us.
Instead of the den with a constantly changing population, which we had
expected to find here, it turned out, that there were a great many
apartments in the house where people had been living for a long time. One
cabinet-maker with his men, and a boot-maker with his journeymen, had
lived there for ten years. The boot-maker's quarters were very dirty and
confined, but all the people at work were very cheerful. I tried to
enter into conversation with one of the workmen, being desirous of
inquiring into the wretchedness of his situation and his debt to his
master, but the man did not understand me and spoke of his master and his
life from the best point of view.

In one apartment lived an old man and his old woman. They peddled
apples. Their little chamber was warm, clean, and full of goods. On the
floor were spread straw mats: they had got them at the apple-warehouse.
They had chests, a cupboard, a samovar, and crockery. In the corner
there were numerous images, and two lamps were burning before them; on
the wall hung fur coats covered with sheets. The old woman, who had star-
shaped wrinkles, and who was polite and talkative, evidently delighted in
her quiet, comfortable, existence.

Ivan Fedotitch, the landlord of the tavern and of these quarters, left
his establishment and came with us. He jested in a friendly manner with
many of the landlords of apartments, addressing them all by their
Christian names and patronymics, and he gave us brief sketches of them.
All were ordinary people, like everybody else, - Martin Semyonovitches,
Piotr Piotrovitches, Marya Ivanovnas, - people who did not consider
themselves unhappy, but who regarded themselves, and who actually were,
just like the rest of mankind.

We had been prepared to witness nothing except what was terrible. And,
all of a sudden, there was presented to us, not only nothing that was
terrible, but what was good, - things which involuntarily compelled our
respect. And there were so many of these good people, that the tattered,
corrupt, idle people whom we came across now and then among them, did not
destroy the principal impression.

This was not so much of a surprise to the students as to me. They simply
went to fulfil a useful task, as they thought, in the interests of
science, and, at the same time, they made their own chance observations;
but I was a benefactor, I went for the purpose of aiding the unfortunate,
the corrupt, vicious people, whom I supposed that I should meet with in
this house. And, behold, instead of unfortunate, corrupt, and vicious
people, I saw that the majority were laborious, industrious, peaceable,
satisfied, contented, cheerful, polite, and very good folk indeed.

I felt particularly conscious of this when, in these quarters, I
encountered that same crying want which I had undertaken to alleviate.

When I encountered this want, I always found that it had already been
relieved, that the assistance which I had intended to render had already
been given. This assistance had been rendered before my advent, and
rendered by whom? By the very unfortunate, depraved creatures whom I had
undertaken to reclaim, and rendered in such a manner as I could not

In one basement lay a solitary old man, ill with the typhus fever. There
was no one with the old man. A widow and her little daughter, strangers
to him, but his neighbors round the corner, looked after him, gave him
tea and purchased medicine for him out of their own means. In another
lodging lay a woman in puerperal fever. A woman who lived by vice was
rocking the baby, and giving her her bottle; and for two days, she had
been unremitting in her attention. The baby girl, on being left an
orphan, was adopted into the family of a tailor, who had three children
of his own. So there remained those unfortunate idle people, officials,
clerks, lackeys out of place, beggars, drunkards, dissolute women, and
children, who cannot be helped on the spot with money, but whom it is
necessary to know thoroughly, to be planned and arranged for. I had
simply sought unfortunate people, the unfortunates of poverty, those who
could be helped by sharing with them our superfluity, and, as it seemed
to me, through some signal ill-luck, none such were to be found; but I
hit upon unfortunates to whom I should be obliged to devote my time and


The unfortunates whom I noted down, divided themselves, according to my
ideas, into three sections, namely: people who had lost their former
advantageous position, and who were awaiting a return to it (there were
people of this sort from both the lower and the higher class); next,
dissolute women, of whom there are a great many in these houses; and a
third division, children. More than all the rest, I found and noted down
people of the first division, who had forfeited their former advantageous
position, and who hoped to regain it. Of such persons, especially from
the governmental and official world, there are a very great number in
these houses. In almost all the lodgings which we entered, with the
landlord, Ivan Fedotitch, he said to us: "Here you need not write down
the lodger's card yourself; there is a man here who can do it, if he only
happens not to be intoxicated to-day."

And Ivan Fedotitch called by name and patronymic this man, who was always
one of those persons who had fallen from a lofty position. At Ivan
Fedotitch's call, there crawled forth from some dark corner, a former
wealthy member of the noble or official class, generally intoxicated and
always undressed. If he was not drunk, he always readily acceded to the
task proposed to him, nodded significantly, frowned, set down his remarks
in learned phraseology, held the card neatly printed on red paper in his
dirty, trembling hands, and glanced round at his fellow-lodgers with
pride and contempt, as though now triumphing in his education over those
who had so often humiliated him. He evidently enjoyed intercourse with
that world in which cards are printed on red paper, and with that world
of which he had once formed a part. Nearly always, in answer to my
inquiries about his life, the man began, not only willingly, but eagerly,
to relate the story of the misfortunes which he had undergone, - which he
had learned by rote like a prayer, - and particularly of his former
position, in which he ought still to be by right of his education.

A great many such people were scattered over all the corners of the
Rzhanoff house. But one lodging was densely occupied by them alone - both
men and women. After we had already entered, Ivan Fedotitch said to us:
"Now, here are some of the nobility." The lodging was perfectly crammed;
nearly all of the people, forty in number, were at home. More
demoralized countenances, unhappy, aged, and swollen, young, pallid, and
distracted, were not to be seen in the whole building. I conversed with
several of them. The story was nearly identical in all cases, only in
various stages of development. Every one of them had been rich, or his
father, his brother or his uncle was still wealthy, or his father or he
himself had had a very fine position. Then misfortune had overtaken him,
the blame for which rested either on envious people, or on his own kind-
heartedness, or some special chance, and so he had lost every thing, and
had been forced to condescend to these surroundings to which he was not
accustomed, and which were hateful to him - among lice, rags, among
drunkards and corrupt persons, and to nourish himself on bread and liver,
and to extend his hand in beggary. All the thoughts, desires, memories
of these people were directed exclusively to the past. The present
appeared to them something unreal, repulsive, and not worthy of
attention. Not one of them had any present. They had only memories of
the past, and expectations from the future, which might be realized at
any moment, and for the realization of which only a very little was
required; but this little they did not possess, it was nowhere to be
obtained, and this had been ruining their whole future life in vain, in
the case of one man, for a year, of a second for five years, and of a
third for thirty years. All one needed was merely to dress respectably,
so that he could present himself to a certain personage, who was well-
disposed towards him another only needed to be able to dress, pay off his
debts, and get to Orel; a third required to redeem a small property which
was mortgaged, for the continuation of a law-suit, which must be decided
in his favor, and then all would be well once more. They all declare
that they merely require something external, in order to stand once more
in the position which they regard as natural and happy in their own case.

Had my mind not been obscured by my pride as a benefactor, a glance at
their faces, both old and young, which were mostly weak and sensitive,
but amiable, would have given me to understand that their misfortunes
were irreparable by any external means, that they could not be happy in
any position whatever, if their views of life were to remain unchanged,
that they were in no wise remarkable people, in remarkably unfortunate
circumstances, but that they were the same people who surround us on all
sides, and just like ourselves. I remember that intercourse with this
sort of unfortunates was peculiarly difficult for me. I now understand
why this was so; in them I beheld myself, as in a mirror. If I had
reflected on my own life and on the life of the people in our circle, I
should have seen that no real difference existed between them.

If those about me dwell in spacious quarters, and in their own houses on
the Sivtzevy Vrazhok and on the Dimitrovka, and not in the Rzhanoff
house, and still eat and drink dainties, and not liver and herrings with
bread, that does not prevent them from being exactly as unhappy. They
are just as dissatisfied with their own positions, they mourn over the
past, and pine for better things, and the improved position for which
they long is precisely the same as that which the inhabitants of the
Rzhanoff house long for; that is to say, one in which they may do as
little work as possible themselves, and derive the utmost advantage from
the labors of others. The difference is merely one of degrees and time.
If I had reflected at that time, I should have understood this; but I did
not reflect, and I questioned these people, and wrote them down,
supposing, that, having learned all the particulars of their various
conditions and necessities, I could aid them _later on_. I did not
understand that such a man can only be helped by changing his views of
the world. But in order to change the views of another, one must needs
have better views himself, and live in conformity with them; but mine
were precisely the same as theirs, and I lived in accordance with those
views, which must undergo a change, in order that these people might
cease to be unhappy.

I did not see that these people were unhappy, not because they had not,
so to speak, nourishing food, but because their stomachs had been
spoiled, and because their appetites demanded not nourishing but
irritating viands; and I did not perceive that, in order to help them, it
was not necessary to give them food, but that it was necessary to heal
their disordered stomachs. Although I am anticipating by so doing, I
will mention here, that, out of all these persons whom I noted down, I
really did not help a single one, in spite of the fact that for some of
them, that was done which they desired, and that which, apparently, might
have raised them. Three of their number were particularly well known to
me. All three, after repeated rises and falls, are now in precisely the
same situation in which they were three years ago.


The second class of unfortunates whom I also expected to assist later on,
were the dissolute women; there were a very great many of them, of all
sorts, in the Rzhanoff house - from those who were young and who resembled
women, to old ones, who were frightful and horrible, and who had lost
every semblance of humanity. The hope of being of assistance to these
women, which I had not at first entertained, occurred to me later. This
was in the middle of our rounds. We had already worked out several
mechanical tricks of procedure.

When we entered a new establishment, we immediately questioned the
landlady of the apartment; one of us sat down, clearing some sort of a
place for himself where he could write, and another penetrated the
corners, and questioned each man in all the nooks of the apartment
separately, and reported the facts to the one who did the writing.

On entering a set of rooms in the basement, a student went to hunt up the
landlady, while I began to interrogate all who remained in the place. The
apartment was thus arranged: in the centre was a room six _arshins_
square, {59} and a small oven. From the oven radiated four partitions,
forming four tiny compartments. In the first, the entrance slip, which
had four bunks, there were two persons - an old man and a woman.
Immediately adjoining this, was a rather long slip of a room; in it was
the landlord, a young fellow, dressed in a sleeveless gray woollen
jacket, a good-looking, very pale citizen. {60} On the left of the first
corner, was a third tiny chamber; there was one person asleep there,
probably a drunken peasant, and a woman in a pink blouse which was loose
in front and close-fitting behind. The fourth chamber was behind the
partition; the entrance to it was from the landlord's compartment.

The student went into the landlord's room, and I remained in the entrance
compartment, and questioned the old man and woman. The old man had been
a master-printer, but now had no means of livelihood. The woman was the
wife of a cook. I went to the third compartment, and questioned the
woman in the blouse about the sleeping man. She said that he was a
visitor. I asked the woman who she was. She replied that she was a
Moscow peasant. "What is your business?" She burst into a laugh, and
did not answer me. "What do you live on?" I repeated, thinking that she
had not understood my question. "I sit in the taverns," she said. I did
not comprehend, and again I inquired: "What is your means of livelihood?"
She made no reply and laughed. Women's voices in the fourth compartment
which we had not yet entered, joined in the laugh. The landlord emerged
from his cabin and stepped up to us. He had evidently heard my questions
and the woman's replies. He cast a stern glance at the woman and turned
to me: "She is a prostitute," said he, apparently pleased that he knew
the word in use in the language of the authorities, and that he could
pronounce it correctly. And having said this, with a respectful and
barely perceptible smile of satisfaction addressed to me, he turned to
the woman. And no sooner had he turned to her, than his whole face
altered. He said, in a peculiar, scornful, hasty tone, such as is
employed towards dogs: "What do you jabber in that careless way for? 'I
sit in the taverns.' You do sit in the taverns, and that means, to talk
business, that you are a prostitute," and again he uttered the word. "She
does not know the name for herself." This tone offended me. "It is not
our place to abuse her," said I. "If all of us lived according to the
laws of God, there would be none of these women."

"That's the very point," said the landlord, with an awkward smile.

"Therefore, we should not reproach but pity them. Are they to blame?"

I do not recollect just what I said, but I do remember that I was vexed
by the scornful tone of the landlord of these quarters which were filled
with women, whom he called prostitutes, and that I felt compassion for
this woman, and that I gave expression to both feelings. No sooner had I
spoken thus, than the boards of the bed in the next compartment, whence
the laugh had proceeded, began to creak, and above the partition, which
did not reach to the ceiling, there appeared a woman's curly and
dishevelled head, with small, swollen eyes, and a shining, red face,
followed by a second, and then by a third. They were evidently standing
on their beds, and all three were craning their necks, and holding their
breath with strained attention, and gazing silently at us.

A troubled pause ensued. The student, who had been smiling up to this
time, became serious; the landlord grew confused and dropped his eyes.
All the women held their breath, stared at me, and waited. I was more
embarrassed than any of them. I had not, in the least, anticipated that

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