The narration opens with a letter to a friend Alexei Mikhailovich Kutuzov, in which Radishchev explains his feelings that made him write this book. This is a kind of blessing for work.
Having said goodbye to friends, the author-narrator leaves, suffering from parting. He dreams that he is alone, but, fortunately, there was a rut, he woke up, and then drove up to the station.
Taking a roadway, our traveler goes to the commissar for horses, but they do not give horses, they say they do not, although there are about twenty nags in the stables. Twenty kopecks had an effect “on the coachmen”. Behind the back of the commissar, they harnessed the top three, and the traveler went on. The cabby pulls a melancholy song, and the traveler reflects on the character of the Russian man. If the Russian wants to disperse anguish, then he goes to the tavern; that is not on it, climbs into a fight. The traveler asks God why he turned away from people?
Reasoning about the disgusting road, which can not be overcome even in the summer rains. In the station hut, the traveler meets a loser, a writer, a nobleman, who wants to foist on his literary work “on the loss of privileges by noblemen.” The traveler gives him copper pennies, and “labor” offers to give the bearers weight, so that they use the paper for “wrapping”, since for another it is not suitable.
A traveler sees a peasant plowing on a holiday and is wondering if he is not a schismatic. An Orthodox peasant, but forced to work on Sunday, because six days a week goes to the corvee. The peasant says that he has three sons, and three daughters, the eldest is only the tenth year. To the family did not starve, he had to work at night. On himself, he works hard, but on the master – somehow. In the family he is one worker, but the master has a lot of them. The peasant envies the obvalient and state peasants, it is easier for them to live, then he reinserts the horses so that they can rest, and he works without rest. The traveler mentally curses all the landowners-exploiters and himself for having offended his Petrushka when he was drunk.
The traveler meets with a friend of the university Chelishchev, who spoke about his adventure in the raging Baltic, where he nearly died, because the official refused to send help, saying: “It’s not my job.”
Now Chelishchev leaves the city – “the lion’s collection”, so as not to see these villains.
The traveler was caught in the rain and asked to dry out. There he hears the husband’s story about an official who loves “oysters” (oysters). For the fulfillment of his whim – the delivery of oysters – he gives ranks, rewards from the state treasury. The rain was over. The traveler continued his journey with the traveling companion. The traveler tells his story of how he was a merchant, trusting dishonest people, came to court, his wife died in childbirth, which began because of emotions a month earlier. A friend helped this unfortunate man escape. A traveler wants to help a fugitive, in a dream he presents himself as an all-powerful ruler, to whom everyone admires. This dream shows him a stranger Pryamovzoru, she removes from his eyes the thorns that prevent to see the truth. The author claims that the tsar was known among the people as a “deceiver, a prude, an addictive comedian.” Radishchev shows the discrepancy between the words and deeds of Catherine; ostentatious splendor, the magnificent, decorative facade of the empire hides behind itself horrible pictures of oppression. Pryamovzor turns to the king with words of scorn and anger: “Believe that you… the first robber, the first traitor of the silence community, the enemy is the most furious, striving his anger on the inside of the weak.” Radishchev shows that there are no good kings, they pour out their mercy only on the unworthy.
The traveler meets with a young man going to Petersburg to study with his uncle. Here, the young man’s reasoning is given about the disastrous for the country lack of an education system. He hopes that the descendants will be happier in this regard, since they will be able to learn.
A traveler admires the city, recalling his heroic past and how Ivan the Terrible intended to destroy the Novgorod Republic. The author is indignant: what right did the king have to “appropriate Novgorod”?
The traveler goes on to his friend, Karp Dementyich, who married his son. All together sit at the table (the host, the young, the guest). The traveler draws portraits of the hosts. A merchant talks about his affairs. As “was launched around the world”, now the son is trading.
The traveler goes to the sacred hill and hears the terrible voice of the Most High: “The Post wanted to know the secret?” “Why are you looking for a foolish child?” Where once there was a “great city” a traveler sees only poor hovels.
The traveler meets his friend Krestiankin, who once served, and then retired. Peasant woman, very conscientious and cordial person, was the chairman of the criminal chamber, but left the post, seeing the futility of his efforts. Peasant woman tells of a certain nobleman who began his career as a court stoker, narrating about the atrocities of this unscrupulous man. The peasants could not stand the humiliation of the landlord family and killed everyone. Peasant women justified the “guilty”, brought to the death by the landlord. No matter how hard he fought for a just solution of this matter, Peasant woman, nothing happened. They were executed. And he retired, so as not to be an accomplice in this evil deed. The traveler receives a letter telling about a strange wedding between a “78-year-old boy and a 62-year-old boy”, a certain widow, engaged in pimping, and in her old age decided to marry a baron. He marries money, and she wants to be called “Your Highness” in her old age. The author says that without the Buryndins, the light would not stand for three days, he is outraged by the absurdity of what is happening.
Seeing the parting of the father with his sons going to the service, the traveler recalls that out of a hundred servants of the noblemen, ninety-eight “become slaves.” He grieves that he will soon have to part with his eldest son. The author’s reasoning leads him to the conclusion: “Tell the truth, the father of the child-loving, say, the true citizen! You will not want to kill your son, rather than let him go to the service? T. to. In the service everyone cares about his pocket, and not about the good of the motherland” . The landowner, summoning the travelers as witnesses how hard he is to part with his sons, tells them that they do not owe him anything, but must work for the good of the fatherland –
To do this, he raised and unwashed them, taught them and forced them to think. He instructs his sons not to stray from the path of the true, not to lose the soul clean and high.
Passing by the cemetery, the traveler sees a heartbreaking scene when the father, throwing himself on the coffin of his son, does not allow him to bury, crying that he does not bury him with his son in order to stop his torment. For he is guilty, that the son was born infirm and sick and how much he lived, suffered so much. The traveler mentally thinks that he probably gave his sons sickness with the vices of youth.
This ancient town is famous for the love affair of unmarried women. The traveler says that everyone knows “Valdai skirts and shameless girls.” Next, he tells the legend of a sinful monk, drowned in a storm in the lake, swimming to his beloved.
The traveler sees a lot of elegant women and girls. He admires their healthy appearance, reproaching noblewomen that they disfigure their figures, dragging themselves into corsets, and then die from childbirth, because they have corrupted their bodies for the sake of fashion for years. The traveler talks with Annushka, who at first keeps herself stern, and then, talking, she tells that her father is dead, she lives with her mother and sister, and wants to marry. But a groom is asked a hundred rubles. Vanyukha wants to go to St. Petersburg for work. But the traveler says: “Do not let him go there, he’ll learn how to drink, get out of peasant labor.” He wants to give money, but their family does not take them. He is struck by their nobility.
Written on behalf of another traveler, even more progressive in his views than Radishchev. Our traveler finds the papers left by his brother. Reading them, he finds reasoning similar to his thoughts about the perniciousness of slavery, the indignity of the landowners, and the lack of education.
The traveler admires the locks and man-made canals. He talks about the landlord, who treated the peasants as slaves. They worked for him all the days, and he gave them only meager food. The peasants did not have their allotments and cattle. A “barbarian” this flourished. The author calls on the peasants to destroy the property and tools of this non-human who treat them as oxen.
Vydropusk (again written on other people’s notes)
The author says that the kings imagined themselves to be gods, surrounded themselves by a hundred servants and imagined that they were useful to the fatherland. But the author is sure that this order should be changed. The future is for enlightenment. Only then will there be justice when people become equal.
A traveler meets with a person who wants to open a free printing house. Then follows the reasoning about the perniciousness of censorship. “What harm will it be if the books are printed without the stigma of a policeman?” The author claims that the benefits of this are obvious: “The rulers are not free to excommunicate the people from the truth.” The author in “A short narrative about the origin of censorship” says that censorship with the Inquisition has only roots. And tells the story of printing and censorship in the west. And in Russia… in Russia what happened to the censorship, promises to tell “another time.”
The traveler sees a dance of young women and girls. And then goes the description of the shameful public sale of the peasants. The 75-year-old man is waiting for someone to give it to him. His 80-year-old wife was the wet-nurse of the mother of a young master, mercilessly selling his peasants. Immediately, a 40-year-old woman, the wether of the master himself, and the entire peasant family, including the baby, who went under the hammer. It’s scary for a traveler to see this barbarity.
The traveler listens to the arguments of the tavern interlocutor “in the afternoon” about the poetry of Lomonosov, Sumarokov and Trediakovsky. The interlocutor reads excerpts from the ode “Liberty” Radishchev, allegedly written by him, which he is taking to Petersburg to publish. The traveler liked the poem, but he did not have time to tell the author about it, since he hurriedly left.
Here the traveler sees a recruitment set, hears the cries and weeping of the peasants, he learns about the many violations and injustices that occur while doing this. The traveler listens to the history of the courtyard Vanka, who was brought up and taught along with the young master, was called Vanyusha, was sent abroad not as a slave, but as a comrade. But the old gentleman complimented him, but the young man hated and envied success. The old man is dead. The young master married, and his wife hated Ivan, humiliated him in every way, and then decided to marry a dishonored courtyard girl. Ivan called the landowner “an inhuman woman,” then he was sent to the soldiers. Ivan is glad of such a fate. Then the traveler saw three peasants whom the landowner sold into recruits, since he needed a new coach. The author is struck by the lawlessness that is happening around him.
The traveler sees the warrior in the grenadier’s cap, who, demanding horses, threatens the elder with a whip. At the behest of the elder, the traveler was robbed of fresh horses and handed over to the grenadier. The traveler is outraged by this order of things. And what will you do?
The traveler listens to the sorrowful song of the blind man, and then gives him a ruble. The old man is surprised by the generous alms. He is more pleased with the holiday cake than money. For the ruble can lead someone into temptation, and it will be stolen. Then the traveler gives the old man his handkerchief from the neck.
The traveler treats the child with sugar, and his mother says to his son: “Take the master’s dish”. The traveler is surprised why this is a lordly meal. The peasant woman responds that she has nothing to buy sugar, and they use the bar, because they do not get the money themselves. The peasant woman is sure that these are tears of slaves. The traveler saw that the master’s bread consisted of three parts of chaff and one part of unredded flour. He looked around for the first time and was horrified by the miserable situation. With anger he exclaims: “Brutish landowner, look at the children of peasants who are subject to you!”, Calls on the exploiters to think better.
The traveler meets the wedding train, but is very sad, because under the wagon they go under the compulsion of the master.
The word about Lomonosov
The author, passing by the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, went into it, in order to honor with his presence the grave of the great Lomonosov. He recalls the life path of a great scientist, striving for knowledge. Lomonosov eagerly studied everything that could be learned at that time, was engaged in versification. The author comes to the conclusion that Lomonosov was great in all matters to which he touched.
And here is Moscow! Moscow.