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Anna Karenina 224


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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." Sergey Ivanovitch would have said something, but Pestsov interrupted him in his rich bass. He began warmly contesting the justice of this view. Sergey Ivanovitch waited serenely to speak, obviously with a convincing reply ready. "But," said Sergey Ivanovitch, 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--anti-nihilist influence." "Undoubtedly." "If it had not been for the distinctive property of anti-nihilistic influence on the side of classical studies, we should have considered the subject more, have weighed the arguments on both sides," said Sergey Ivanovitch with a subtle smile, "we should have given elbow-room to both tendencies. But now we know that these little pills of classical learning possess the medicinal property of anti-nihilism, and we boldly prescribe them to our patients.... But what if they had no such medicinal property?" he wound up humorously. At Sergey Ivanovitchs little pills, everyone laughed; Turovtsin in especial roared loudly and jovially, glad at last to have found something to laugh at, all he ever looked for in listening to conversation. Stepan Arkadyevitch had not made a mistake in inviting Pestsov. With Pestsov intellectual conversation never flagged for an instant. Directly Sergey Ivanovitch had concluded the conversation with his jest, Pestsov promptly started a new one. "I cant agree even," said he, "that the government had that aim. The government obviously is guided by abstract considerations, and remains indifferent to the influence its measures may exercise. The education of women, for instance, would naturally be regarded as likely to be harmful, but the government opens schools and universities for women." And the conversation at once passed to the new subject of the education of women. Alexey Alexandrovitch expressed the idea that the education of women is apt to be confounded with the emancipation of women, and that it is only so that it can be considered dangerous. "I consider, on the contrary, that the two questions are inseparably connected together," said Pestsov; "it is a vicious circle. Woman is deprived of rights from lack of education, and the lack of education results from the absence of rights. We must not forget that the subjection of women is so complete, and dates from such ages back that we are often unwilling to recognize the gulf that separates them from us," said he. "You said rights," said Sergey Ivanovitch, waiting till Pestsov had finished, "meaning the right of sitting on juries, of voting, of presiding at official meetings, the right of entering the civil service, of sitting in parliament..." "Undoubtedly." "But if women, as a rare exception, can occupy such positions, it seems to me you are wrong in using the expression rights. It would be more correct to say duties. Every man will agree that in doing the duty of a juryman, a witness, a telegraph clerk, we feel we are performing duties. And therefore it would be correct to say that women are seeking duties, and quite legitimately. And one can but sympathize with this desire to assist in the general labor of man." "Quite so," Alexey Alexandrovitch assented. "The question, I imagine, is simply whether they are fitted for such duties." "They will most likely be perfectly fitted," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "when education has become general among them. We see this..." "How about the proverb?" said the prince, who had a long while been intent on the conversation, his little comical eyes twinkling. "I can say it before my daughter: her hair is long, because her wit is..." "Just what they thought of the negroes before their emancipation!" said Pestsov angrily. "What seems strange to me is that women should seek fresh duties," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "while we see, unhappily, that men usually try to avoid them." "Duties are bound up with rights--power, money, honor; those are what women are seeking," said Pestsov. "Just as though I should seek the right to be a wet-nurse and feel injured because women are paid for the work, while no one will take me," said the old prince. Turovtsin exploded in a loud roar of laughter and Sergey Ivanovitch

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