Well, what is one to make of it? For mercys sake, do explain to me, Sergey Ivanovitch, where are all those volunteers going, whom are they fighting with, asked the old prince, unmistakably taking up a conversation that had sprung up in Levins absence.
But the prince is not speaking of help, said Levin, coming to the assistance of his father-in-law, but of war. The prince says that private persons cannot take part in war without the permission of the government.
Oh, my theorys this: war is on one side such a beastly, cruel, and awful thing, that no one man, not to speak of a Christian, can individually take upon himself the responsibility of beginning wars; that can only be done by a government, which is called upon to do this, and is driven inevitably into war. On the other hand, both political science and common sense teach us that in matters of state, and especially in the matter of war, private citizens must forego their personal individual will.
You dont put the matter in its true light. There is no question here of a declaration of war, but simply the expression of a human Christian feeling. Our brothers, one with us in religion and in race, are being massacred. Even supposing they were not our brothers nor fellow-Christians, but simply children, women, old people, feeling is aroused and Russians go eagerly to help in stopping these atrocities. Fancy, if you were going along the street and saw drunken men beating a woman or a childI imagine you would not stop to inquire whether war had been declared on the men, but would throw yourself on them and protect the victim.
I dont know. If I saw that, I might give way to my impulse of the moment, but I cant say beforehand. And such a momentary impulse there is not, and there cannot be, in the case of the oppression of the Slavonic peoples.
Possibly for you there is not; but for others there is, said Sergey Ivanovitch, frowning with displeasure. There are traditions still extant among the people of Slavs of the true faith suffering under the yoke of the unclean sons of Hagar. The people have heard of the sufferings of their brethren and have spoken.
Here am I too, said the old prince. Ive been staying abroad and reading the papers, and I must own, up to the time of the Bulgarian atrocities, I couldnt make out why it was all the Russians were all of a sudden so fond of their Slavonic brethren, while I didnt feel the slightest affection for them. I was very much upset, thought I was a monster, or that it was the influence of Carlsbad on me. But since I have been here, my minds been set at rest. I see that there are people besides me whore only interested in Russia, and not in their Slavonic brethren. Heres Konstantin too.
Oh, papa! how can you say that? And last Sunday in church? said Dolly, listening to the conversation. Please give me a cloth, she said to the old man, who was looking at the children with a smile. Why, its not possible that all
But what was it in church on Sunday? The priest had been told to read that. He read it. They didnt understand a word of it. Then they were told that there was to be a collection for a pious object in church; well, they pulled out their halfpence and gave them, but what for they couldnt say.
The people cannot help knowing; the sense of their own destinies is always in the people, and at such moments as the present that sense finds utterance, said Sergey Ivanovitch with conviction, glancing at the old beekeeper.
The handsome old man, with black grizzled beard and thick silvery hair, stood motionless, holding a cup of honey, looking down from the height of his tall figure with friendly serenity at the gentlefolk, obviously understanding nothing of their conversation and not caring to understand it.
Here, then, ask him. He knows nothing about it and thinks nothing, said Levin. Have you heard about the war, Mihalitch? he said, turning to him. What they read in the church? What do you think about it? Ought we to fight for the Christians?
What should we think? Alexander Nikolaevitch our Emperor has thought for us; he thinks for us indeed in all things. Its clearer for him to see. Shall I bring a bit more bread? Give the little lad some more? he said addressing Darya Alexandrovna and pointing to Grisha, who had finished his crust.
I dont need to ask, said Sergey Ivanovitch; we have seen and are seeing hundreds and hundreds of people who give up everything to serve a just cause, come from every part of Russia, and directly and clearly express their thought and aim. They bring their halfpence or go themselves and say directly what for. What does it mean?
It means, to my thinking, said Levin, who was beginning to get warm, that among eighty millions of people there can always be found not hundreds, as now, but tens of thousands of people who have lost caste, neer-do-weels, who are always ready to go anywhereto Pogatchevs bands, to Khiva, to Servia
I tell you that its not a case of hundreds or of neer-do-weels, but the best representatives of the people! said Sergey Ivanovitch, with as much irritation as if he were defending the last penny of his fortune. And what of the subscriptions? In this case it is a whole people directly expressing their will.
That word people is so vague, said Levin. Parish clerks, teachers, and one in a thousand of the peasants, may-be, know what its all about. The rest of the eighty millions, like Mihalitch, far from expressing their will, havent the faintest idea what there is for them to express their will about. What right have we to say that this is the peoples will?