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Anna Karenina 337

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

up at the marsh. "I dont understand you," said Levin, sitting up in the hay; "how is it such people dont disgust you? I can understand a lunch with Lafitte is all very pleasant, but dont you dislike just that very sumptuousness? All these people, just like our spirit monopolists in old days, get their money in a way that gains them the contempt of everyone. They dont care for their contempt, and then they use their dishonest gains to buy off the contempt they have deserved." "Perfectly true!" chimed in Vassenka Veslovsky. "Perfectly! Oblonsky, of course, goes out of _bonhomie_, but other people say: Well, Oblonsky stays with them...." "Not a bit of it." Levin could hear that Oblonsky was smiling as he spoke. "I simply dont consider him more dishonest than any other wealthy merchant or nobleman. Theyve all made their money alike--by their work and their intelligence." "Oh, by what work? Do you call it work to get hold of concessions and speculate with them?" "Of course its work. Work in this sense, that if it were not for him and others like him, there would have been no railways." "But thats not work, like the work of a peasant or a learned profession." "Granted, but its work in the sense that his activity produces a result--the railways. But of course you think the railways useless." "No, thats another question; I am prepared to admit that theyre useful. But all profit that is out of proportion to the labor expended is dishonest." "But who is to define what is proportionate?" "Making profit by dishonest means, by trickery," said Levin, conscious that he could not draw a distinct line between honesty and dishonesty. "Such as banking, for instance," he went on. "Its an evil--the amassing of huge fortunes without labor, just the same thing as with the spirit monopolies, its only the form thats changed. _Le roi est mort, vive le roi_. No sooner were the spirit monopolies abolished than the railways came up, and banking companies; that, too, is profit without work." "Yes, that may all be very true and clever.... Lie down, Krak!" Stepan Arkadyevitch called to his dog, who was scratching and turning over all the hay. He was obviously convinced of the correctness of his position, and so talked serenely and without haste. "But you have not drawn the line between honest and dishonest work. That I receive a bigger salary than my chief clerk, though he knows more about the work than I do--thats dishonest, I suppose?" "I cant say." "Well, but I can tell you: your receiving some five thousand, lets say, for your work on the land, while our host, the peasant here, however hard he works, can never get more than fifty roubles, is just as dishonest as my earning more than my chief clerk, and Malthus getting more than a station-master. No, quite the contrary; I see that society takes up a sort of antagonistic attitude to these people, which is utterly baseless, and I fancy theres envy at the bottom of it...." "No, thats unfair," said Veslovsky; "how could envy come in? There is something not nice about that sort of business." "You say," Levin went on, "that its unjust for me to receive five thousand, while the peasant has fifty; thats true. It is unfair, and I feel it, but..." "It really is. Why is it we spend our time riding, drinking, shooting, doing nothing, while they are forever at work?" said Vassenka Veslovsky, obviously for the first time in his life reflecting on the question, and consequently considering it with perfect sincerity. "Yes, you feel it, but you dont give him your property," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, intentionally, as it seemed, provoking Levin. There had arisen of late something like a secret antagonism between the two brothers-in-law; as though, since they had married sisters, a kind of rivalry had sprung up between them as to which was ordering his life best, and now this hostility showed itself in the conversation, as it began to take a personal note. "I dont give it away, because no one demands that from me, and if I wanted to, I could not give it away," answered Levin, "and have no one to give it to." "Give it to this peasant, he would not refuse it." "Yes, but how am I to give it up? Am I to go to him and make a deed of conveyance?" "I dont know; but if you are convinced that you have no right..." "Im not

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