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Anna Karenina 192


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youd never believe it--the drunkenness, the immorality! They keep chopping and changing their bits of land. Not a sight of a horse or a cow. The peasants dying of hunger, but just go and take him on as a laborer, hell do his best to do you a mischief, and then bring you up before the justice of the peace." "But then you make complaints to the justice too," said Sviazhsky. "I lodge complaints? Not for anything in the world! Such a talking, and such a to-do, that one would have cause to regret it. At the works, for instance, they pocketed the advance-money and made off. What did the justice do? Why, acquitted them. Nothing keeps them in order but their own communal court and their village elder. Hell flog them in the good old style! But for that thered be nothing for it but to give it all up and run away." Obviously the landowner was chaffing Sviazhsky, who, far from resenting it, was apparently amused by it. "But you see we manage our land without such extreme measures," said he, smiling: "Levin and I and this gentleman." He indicated the other landowner. "Yes, the things done at Mihail Petrovitchs, but ask him how its done. Do you call that a rational system?" said the landowner, obviously rather proud of the word "rational." "My systems very simple," said Mihail Petrovitch, "thank God. All my management rests on getting the money ready for the autumn taxes, and the peasants come to me, Father, master, help us! Well, the peasants are all ones neighbors; one feels for them. So one advances them a third, but one says: Remember, lads, I have helped you, and you must help me when I need it--whether its the sowing of the oats, or the haycutting, or the harvest; and well, one agrees, so much for each taxpayer--though there are dishonest ones among them too, its true." Levin, who had long been familiar with these patriarchal methods, exchanged glances with Sviazhsky and interrupted Mihail Petrovitch, turning again to the gentleman with the gray whiskers. "Then what do you think?" he asked; "what system is one to adopt nowadays?" "Why, manage like Mihail Petrovitch, or let the land for half the crop or for rent to the peasants; that one can do--only thats just how the general prosperity of the country is being ruined. Where the land with serf-labor and good management gave a yield of nine to one, on the half-crop system it yields three to one. Russia has been ruined by the emancipation!" Sviazhsky looked with smiling eyes at Levin, and even made a faint gesture of irony to him; but Levin did not think the landowners words absurd, he understood them better than he did Sviazhsky. A great deal more of what the gentleman with the gray whiskers said to show in what way Russia was ruined by the emancipation struck him indeed as very true, new to him, and quite incontestable. The landowner unmistakably spoke his own individual thought--a thing that very rarely happens--and a thought to which he had been brought not by a desire of finding some exercise for an idle brain, but a thought which had grown up out of the conditions of his life, which he had brooded over in the solitude of his village, and had considered in every aspect. "The point is, dont you see, that progress of every sort is only made by the use of authority," he said, evidently wishing to show he was not without culture. "Take the reforms of Peter, of Catherine, of Alexander. Take European history. And progress in agriculture more than anything else--the potato, for instance, that was introduced among us by force. The wooden plough too wasnt always used. It was introduced maybe in the days before the Empire, but it was probably brought in by force. Now, in our own day, we landowners in the serf times used various improvements in our husbandry: drying machines and thrashing machines, and carting manure and all the modern implements--all that we brought into use by our authority, and the peasants opposed it at first, and ended by imitating us. Now, by the abolition of serfdom we have been deprived of our authority; and so our husbandry, where it had been raised to a high level, is bound to sink to the most savage primitive condition. Thats how I see it." "But why so? If its rational, youll be able to keep up the same

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