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Anna Karenina 196

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

him to be doctored. I asked, Why, how does the wise woman cure screaming fits? She puts the child on the hen-roost and repeats some charm.... " "Well, youre saying it yourself! Whats wanted to prevent her taking her child to the hen-roost to cure it of screaming fits is just..." Sviazhsky said, smiling good-humoredly. "Oh, no!" said Levin with annoyance; "that method of doctoring I merely meant as a simile for doctoring the people with schools. The people are poor and ignorant--that we see as surely as the peasant woman sees the baby is ill because it screams. But in what way this trouble of poverty and ignorance is to be cured by schools is as incomprehensible as how the hen-roost affects the screaming. What has to be cured is what makes him poor." "Well, in that, at least, youre in agreement with Spencer, whom you dislike so much. He says, too, that education may be the consequence of greater prosperity and comfort, of more frequent washing, as he says, but not of being able to read and write..." "Well, then, Im very glad--or the contrary, very sorry, that Im in agreement with Spencer; only Ive known it a long while. Schools can do no good; what will do good is an economic organization in which the people will become richer, will have more leisure--and then there will be schools." "Still, all over Europe now schools are obligatory." "And how far do you agree with Spencer yourself about it?" asked Levin. But there was a gleam of alarm in Sviazhskys eyes, and he said smiling: "No; that screaming story is positively capital! Did you really hear it yourself?" Levin saw that he was not to discover the connection between this mans life and his thoughts. Obviously he did not care in the least what his reasoning led him to; all he wanted was the process of reasoning. And he did not like it when the process of reasoning brought him into a blind alley. That was the only thing he disliked, and avoided by changing the conversation to something agreeable and amusing. All the impressions of the day, beginning with the impression made by the old peasant, which served, as it were, as the fundamental basis of all the conceptions and ideas of the day, threw Levin into violent excitement. This dear good Sviazhsky, keeping a stock of ideas simply for social purposes, and obviously having some other principles hidden from Levin, while with the crowd, whose name is legion, he guided public opinion by ideas he did not share; that irascible country gentleman, perfectly correct in the conclusions that he had been worried into by life, but wrong in his exasperation against a whole class, and that the best class in Russia; his own dissatisfaction with the work he had been doing, and the vague hope of finding a remedy for all this--all was blended in a sense of inward turmoil, and anticipation of some solution near at hand. Left alone in the room assigned him, lying on a spring mattress that yielded unexpectedly at every movement of his arm or his leg, Levin did not fall asleep for a long while. Not one conversation with Sviazhsky, though he had said a great deal that was clever, had interested Levin; but the conclusions of the irascible landowner required consideration. Levin could not help recalling every word he had said, and in imagination amending his own replies. "Yes, I ought to have said to him: You say that our husbandry does not answer because the peasant hates improvements, and that they must be forced on him by authority. If no system of husbandry answered at all without these improvements, you would be quite right. But the only system that does answer is where laborer is working in accordance with his habits, just as on the old peasants land half-way here. Your and our general dissatisfaction with the system shows that either we are to blame or the laborers. We have gone our way--the European way--a long while, without asking ourselves about the qualities of our labor force. Let us try to look upon the labor force not as an abstract force, but as the _Russian peasant_ with his instincts, and we shall arrange our system of culture in accordance with that. Imagine, I ought to have said to him, that you have the same system as the old peasant has, that you have found means of making your laborers take an interest in

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