Chapter 16

Sergei Ivanovich, being practiced in dialectics, did not reply, but at once turned the conversation to another aspect of the subject.

`Oh, if you want to learn the spirit of the people by arithmetical computation, of course it's very difficult to arrive at it. And voting has not been introduced among us, and cannot be introduced, for it does not express the will of the people; but there are other ways of reaching that. It is felt in the air, it is felt by the heart. I won't speak of those deep currents which are astir in the still ocean of the people, and which are evident to every unprejudiced man - let us look at society in the narrow sense. All the most diverse sections of the intelligent people, hostile before, are merged in one. Every division is at an end, all the public organs say the same thing over and over again, all feel the mighty torrent that has overtaken them and is carrying them in one direction.'

`Yes, all the newspapers do say the same thing,' said the Prince. `That's true. But so it is the same thing that all the frogs croak before storm. One can hear nothing for them.'

`Frogs or no frogs, I'm not the publisher of newspapers and I don't want to defend them; but I am speaking of the unanimity in the intellectual world,' said Sergei Ivanovich, addressing his brother. Levin would have answered, but the old Prince interrupted him.

`Well, about that unanimity, that's another thing, one may say,' said the Prince. `There's my son-in-law, Stepan Arkadyevich - you know him. He's got a place now on the committee of a commission and something or other, I don't remember. Only there's nothing to do in it - why, Dolly, it's no secret - and a salary of eight thousand! You try asking him whether his post is of any use - he'll prove to you that it's most necessary. And he's a truthful man, too, but one can't help but believe in the utility of eight thousand roubles.'

`Yes - he asked me to give a message to Darya Alexandrovna about the post,' said Sergei Ivanovich reluctantly, feeling the Prince's remark to be ill-timed.

`So it is with the unanimity of the press. That's been explained to me: as soon as there's war their incomes are doubled. How can they help believing in the destinies of the people and the Slavonic races - and all that sort of thing?...'

`I don't care for many of the papers, but that's unjust,' said Sergei Ivanovich.

`I would only make one condition,' pursued the old Prince. `Alphonse Karr said a capital thing before the war with Prussia: ``You consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who advocates war be enrolled in a special regiment of advance guards, for the vanguard of every assault, of every attack, to lead them all!''

`A nice lot the editors would make!' said Katavassov, with a loud roar, as he pictured the editors he knew in this picked legion.

`But they'd run,' said Dolly. `They'd only be in the way.'

`Oh, if they ran away, then we'd have grapeshot or Cossacks with whips behind them,' said the Prince.

`But that's a joke, and a poor one too, if you'll excuse me saying so, Prince,' said Sergei Ivanovich.

`I don't see that it was a joke, that... Levin was beginning, but Sergei Ivanovich interrupted him.

`Every member of society is called upon to do his own special work,' said he. `And men of thought are doing their work when they express public opinion. And the singlehearted and full expression of public opinion is the service of the press, and a phenomenon to rejoice us at the same time. Twenty years ago we should have been silent, but now we have heard the voice of the Russian people, which is ready to rise as one man and ready to sacrifice itself for its oppressed brethren; that is a great step and a proof of strength.'

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