Chapter 10

Pestsov liked threshing an argument out to the end, and was not satisfied with Sergei Ivanovich's words, especially as he felt the injustice of his view.

`I did not mean,' he said over the soup, addressing Alexei Alexandrovich, `mere density of population alone, but in conjunction with fundamental ideas, and not by means of principles.'

`It seems to me,' Alexei Alexandrovich said languidly, and with no haste, `that that's the same thing. In my opinion, influence over another people is only possible to the people which has the higher development, which...'

`But that's just the question,' Pestsov broke in in his bass. He was always in a hurry to speak, and seemed always to put his whole soul into whatever he was saying; `of what are we to make higher development consist? The English, the French, the Germans - which is at the highest stage of development? Which of them will nationalize the other? We see the Rhine provinces have been turned French, yet the Germans are not at a lower stage!' he shouted. `There is another law at work there!'

`I fancy that the greater influence is always on the side of true civilization,' said Alexei Alexandrovich, slightly lifting his eyebrows.

`But what are we to lay down as the outward signs of true civilization?' said Pestsov.

`I imagine such signs are generally very well known,' said Alexei Alexandrovich.

`But are they fully known?' Sergei Ivanovich put in with a subtle smile. `It is the accepted view now that real culture must be purely classical; but we see most intense disputes on each side of the question, and there is no denying that the opposite camp has strong points in its favor.'

`You are for the classics, Sergei Ivanovich. Will you take red wine?' said Stepan Arkadyevich.

`I am not expressing my own opinion of either form of culture,' Sergei Ivanovich said, holding out his glass with a smile of condescension, as to a child. `I only say that both sides have strong arguments to support them,' he went on, addressing Alexei Alexandrovich. `My sympathies are classical from education, but in this discussion I am personally unable to arrive at a conclusion. I see no distinct grounds for classical studies being given a pre-eminence over scientific studies.'

`The natural sciences have just as great an educational value,' put in Pestsov. `Take astronomy, take botany, or zoology, with its system of general principles.'

`I cannot quite agree with that,' responded Alexei Alexandrovich. `It seems to me that one must admit that the very process of studying the forms of language has a peculiarly favorable influence on intellectual development. Moreover, it cannot be denied that the influence of the classical authors is in the highest degree moral, while, unfortunately, with the study of the natural sciences are associated the false and noxious doctrines which are the curse of our day.'

Sergei Ivanovich would have said something, but Pestsov interrupted him in his rich bass. He began warmly contesting the justice of this view. Sergei Ivanovich waited serenely to speak, obviously with a convincing reply ready.

`But,' said Sergei Ivanovich, smiling subtly, and addressing Karenin, `one must allow that to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of classical and scientific studies is a difficult task, and the question which form of education was to be preferred would not have been so quickly and conclusively decided if there had not been in favor of classical education, as you expressed it just now, its moral - disons le mot - antinihilist influence.'


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