Chapter 28

Levin was insufferably bored that evening with the ladies; he was stirred as he had never been before by the idea that the dissatisfaction he was feeling with his system of managing his land was not an exceptional case, but the general condition of things in Russia; that the evolving of some relation of the laborers to the soil which they would work, as with the peasant he had met halfway to the Sviiazhskys', was not a dream, but a problem which must be solved. And it seemed to him that the problem could be solved, and that he ought to try to solve it.

After saying good night to the ladies, and promising to stay the whole of the next day, so as to make an expedition on horseback with them to see an interesting gap in the crown forest, Levin went, before going to bed, into his host's study to get the books on the labor question that Sviiazhsky had offered him. Sviiazhsky's study was a huge room, by bookcases and with two tables in it - one a massive writing table, standing in the middle of the room, and the other a round table, covered with recent numbers of reviews and journals in different languages, ranged like the rays of a star round a lamp. On the writing table was a stand of drawers marked with gold labels, and full of papers of various sorts.

Sviiazhsky took out the books, and sat down in a rocking chair.

`What are you looking at there?' he said to Levin, who was standing at the round table looking through the reviews. `Oh, yes, there's a very interesting article here,' said Sviiazhsky, pointing to the review Levin was holding in his hand. `It appears,' he went on, with eager interest, `that Friedrich was not, after all, the person chiefly responsible for the partition of Poland. It is proved...'

And, with his characteristic clearness, he summed up those new, very important, and interesting revelations. Although Levin was engrossed at the moment by his ideas about the problem of the land, he wondered, as he heard Sviiazhsky: `What is there inside of him? And why, why is he interested in the partition of Poland?' When Sviiazhsky had finished, Levin could not help asking: `Well, and what then?' But there was nothing to follow. It was simply interesting that such and such had been `proved.' But Sviiazhsky did not explain, and saw no need of explaining, why it was interesting to him.

`Yes, but I was very much interested by your irritable neighbor,' said Levin, sighing. `He's a clever fellow, and said a lot that was true.'

`Oh, get along with you! An inveterate supporter of serfdom at heart, like all of them!' said Sviiazhsky.

`Whose marshal you are.'

`Yes, only I marshal them in the other direction,' said Sviiazhsky, laughing.

`I'll tell you what interests me very much,' said Levin. `He's right that our system, that is to say, of rational farming, doesn't answer; that the only thing that answers is the moneylender system, like that meek- looking gentleman's, or else the very simplest. Whose fault is it?'

`Our own, of course. Besides, it's not true that it doesn't answer. It answers with Vassilchikov.'

`A factory...'

`But I really don't know what it is you are surprised at. The people are at such a low stage of material and moral development, that obviously they're bound to oppose everything that's necessary to them. In Europe, a rational system answers because the people are educated; it follows that we must educate the people - that's all.'

`But how are we to educate the people?'

`To educate the people three things are needed: schools, and schools, and schools.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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