Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
system with hired labor," said Sviazhsky.
"Weve no power over them. With whom am I going to work the
system, allow me to ask?"
"There it is--the labor force--the chief element in
agriculture," thought Levin.
"The laborers wont work well, and wont work with good
implements. Our laborer can do nothing but get drunk like a pig,
and when hes drunk he ruins everything you give him. He makes
the horses ill with too much water, cuts good harness, barters
the tires of the wheels for drink, drops bits of iron into the
thrashing machine, so as to break it. He loathes the sight of
anything thats not after his fashion. And thats how it is the
whole level of husbandry has fallen. Lands gone out of
cultivation, overgrown with weeds, or divided among the peasants,
and where millions of bushels were raised you get a hundred
thousand; the wealth of the country has decreased. If the same
thing had been done, but with care that..."
And he proceeded to unfold his own scheme of emancipation by
means of which these drawbacks might have been avoided.
This did not interest Levin, but when he had finished, Levin went
back to his first position, and, addressing Sviazhsky, and trying
to draw him into expressing his serious opinion:--
"That the standard of culture is falling, and that with our
present relations to the peasants there is no possibility of
farming on a rational system to yield a profit--thats perfectly
true," said he.
"I dont believe it," Sviazhsky replied quite seriously; "all I
see is that we dont know how to cultivate the land, and that our
system of agriculture in the serf days was by no means too high,
but too low. We have no machines, no good stock, no efficient
supervision; we dont even know how to keep accounts. Ask any
landowner; he wont be able to tell you what crops profitable,
and whats not."
"Italian bookkeeping," said the gentleman of the gray whiskers
ironically. "You may keep your books as you like, but if they
spoil everything for you, there wont be any profit."
"Why do they spoil things? A poor thrashing machine, or your
Russian presser, they will break, but my steam press they dont
break. A wretched Russian nag theyll ruin, but keep good
dray-horses--they wont ruin them. And so it is all round. We
must raise our farming to a higher level."
"Oh, if one only had the means to do it, Nikolay Ivanovitch!
Its all very well for you; but for me, with a son to keep at the
university, lads to be educated at the high school--how am I
going to buy these dray-horses?"
"Well, thats what the land banks are for."
"To get whats left me sold by auction? No, thank you."
"I dont agree that its necessary or possible to raise the level
of agriculture still higher," said Levin. "I devote myself to
it, and I have means, but I can do nothing. As to the banks, I
dont know to whom theyre any good. For my part, anyway,
whatever Ive spent money on in the way of husbandry, it has been
a loss: stock--a loss, machinery--a loss."
"Thats true enough," the gentleman with the gray whiskers chimed
in, positively laughing with satisfaction.
"And Im not the only one," pursued Levin. "I mix with all the
neighboring landowners, who are cultivating their land on a
rational system; they all, with rare exceptions, are doing so at
a loss. Come, tell us how does your land do--does it pay?" said
Levin, and at once in Sviazhskys eyes he detected that fleeting
expression of alarm which he had noticed whenever he had tried to
penetrate beyond the outer chambers of Sviazhskys mind.
Moreover, this question on Levins part was not quite in good
faith. Madame Sviazhskaya had just told him at tea that they had
that summer invited a German expert in bookkeeping from Moscow,
who for a consideration of five hundred roubles had investigated
the management of their property, and found that it was costing
them a loss of three thousand odd roubles. She did not remember
the precise sum, but it appeared that the German had worked it
out to the fraction of a farthing.
The gray-whiskered landowner smiled at the mention of the profits
of Sviazhskys famling, obviously aware how much gain his
neighbor and marshal was likely to be making.
"Possibly it does not pay," answered Sviazhsky. "That merely
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