The people are stupid. They won’t understand.
When the conflagration rages all around them, they will understand. Fire is a good teacher, old boy. Have you ever heard of Raphael?
No, I haven’t.
Well, when we are through with God, we’ll go for fellows like him. There are lots of them—Titian, Shakespeare, Byron. We’ll make a nice pile of the whole lot and pour oil over it. Then we’ll burn their cities.
Now, now you are joking. How is that possible? How can you burn the cities?
No, why should I be joking? All the cities. Look here, what are their cities? Graves, stone graves. And if you don’t stop those fools, if you let them go on making more, they will cover the whole earth with stone, and then all will suffocate—all.
The poor people will have a hard time of it.
All will be poor then. What is it that makes a man rich? His having a house and money, and the fact that he has surrounded himself with a fence. But when there are no houses, no money, and no fences—
That’s so. And there won’t be any legal papers either, no stocks, no bonds, no title-deeds. They will all have been burnt up.
No, there will be no legal papers. It’s work then—you’ll have to go to work even if you are a nobleman.
It’s funny. All will be naked as when coming out of a bath.
Are you a peasant, Kondraty?
Yes, I am a peasant, sure enough.
I am a peasant also. We have nothing to lose, brother. We can’t fare worse than we do now.
How could it be worse? But a great many people will perish, Mr. Tropinin.
It makes no difference. There’ll be enough left. It is the good-for-nothings that will perish, the fools to whom this life is like a shell to a crab. Those who believe will perish, because their faith will be taken away from them. Those who love the old will perish, because everything will be taken away from them. The weak, the sick, those who love quietness. There will be no quietness in the world, brother. There will remain only the free and the brave, those with young and eager souls and clear eyes that can embrace the whole universe.