I understood him—and, perhaps, I envied him; but let him also understand me and not condemn me—me, to whom his joys are inaccessible.
He strove to annihilate himself, his hated ego; but the fact that I do not pray does not arise from self-conceit.
My ego is, perchance, even more burdensome and repulsive to me than his is to him.
He found a means of forgetting himself ... and I find a means to do the same, but not so constantly.
He does not lie ... and neither do I lie.
WE SHALL STILL FIGHT ON!
What an insignificant trifle can sometimes put the whole man back in tune!
Full of thought, I was walking one day along the highway.
Heavy forebodings oppressed my breast; melancholy seized hold upon me.
I raised my head.... Before me, between two rows of lofty poplars, the road stretched out into the distance.
Across it, across that same road, a whole little family of sparrows was hopping, hopping boldly, amusingly, confidently!
One of them in particular fairly set his wings akimbo, thrusting out his crop, and twittering audaciously, as though the very devil was no match for him! A conqueror—and that is all there is to be said.
But in the meantime, high up in the sky, was soaring a hawk who, possibly, was fated to devour precisely that same conqueror.
I looked, laughed, shook myself—and the melancholy thoughts instantly fled. I felt daring, courage, a desire for life.
And let my hawk soar over me if he will....
“We will still fight on, devil take it!”
No matter what a man may pray for he is praying for a miracle.—Every prayer amounts to the following: “Great God, cause that two and two may not make four.”
Only such a prayer is a genuine prayer from a person to a person. To pray to the Universal Spirit, to the Supreme Being of Kant, of Hegel—to a purified, amorphous God, is impossible and unthinkable.
But can even a personal, living God with a form cause that two and two shall not make four?
Every believer is bound to reply, “He can,” and is bound to convince himself of this.
But what if his reason revolts against such an absurdity?
In that case Shakspeare will come to his assistance: “There are many things in the world, friend Horatio....” and so forth.
And if people retort in the name of truth,—all he has to do is to repeat the famous question: “What is truth?”
And therefore, let us drink and be merry—and pray.
THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE
In days of doubt, in days of painful meditations concerning the destinies of my fatherland, thou alone art my prop and my support, O great, mighty, just and free Russian language!—Were it not for thee, how could one fail to fall into despair at the sight of all that goes on at home?—But it is impossible to believe that such a language was not bestowed upon a great people!