We shall soon cease completely to understand the language of the people. Now we say: ‘The theory of progress,’ ‘the role of the individual in history,’ ‘the evolution of science’ and a peasant says: ‘You can’t hide an awl in a sack,’ and all theories, histories, evolutions become pitiable and ridiculous, because they are incomprehensible and unnecessary to the people. But the peasant is stronger than we; he is more tenacious of life, and there may happen to us what happened to the tribe of Atzurs, of whom it was reported to a scholar:
‘All the Atzurs have died out, but there is a parrot here who knows a few words of their language.’
Leo Tolstoy, quoted in Maxim Gorky, Reminiscences of Leo Nicolayevitch Tolstoi, (1919; English, 1920), S. S. Koteliansky and Leonard Woolf, translators.