Part 22 out of 22
thoughts (he could not yet disentangle them) as in his spiritual
condition, unlike anything he had experienced before.
The words uttered by the peasant had acted on his soul like an
electric shock, suddenly transforming and combining into a single
whole the whole swarm of disjointed, impotent, separate thoughts
that incessantly occupied his mind. These thoughts had
unconsciously been in his mind even when he was talking about the
He was aware of something new in his soul, and joyfully tested
this new thing, not yet knowing what it was.
"Not living for his own wants, but for God? For what God? And
could one say anything more senseless than what he said? He said
that one must not live for one's own wants, that is, that one
must not live for what we understand, what we are attracted by,
what we desire, but must live for something incomprehensible, for
God, whom no one can understand nor even define. What of it?
Didn't I understand those senseless words of Fyodor's? And
understanding them, did I doubt of their truth? Did I think them
stupid, obscure, inexact? No, I understood him, and exactly as
he understands the words. I understood them more fully and
clearly than I understand anything in life, and never in my life
have I doubted nor can I doubt about it. And not only I, but
everyone, the whole world understands nothing fully but this, and
about this only they have no doubt and are always agreed.
"And I looked out for miracles, complained that I did not see a
miracle which would convince me. A material miracle would have
persuaded me. And here is a miracle, the sole miracle possible,
continually existing, surrounding me on all sides, and I never
"Fyodor says that Kirillov lives for his belly. That's
comprehensible and rational. All of us as rational beings can't
do anything else but live for our belly. And all of a sudden the
same Fyodor says that one mustn't live for one's belly, but must
live for truth, for God, and at a hint I understand him! And I
and millions of men, men who lived ages ago and men living now--
peasants, the poor in spirit and the learned, who have thought
and written about it, in their obscure words saying the same
thing--we are all agreed about this one thing: what we must live
for and what is good. I and all men have only one firm,
incontestable, clear knowledge, and that knowledge cannot be
explained by the reason--it is outside it, and has no causes and
can have no effects.
"If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a
reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the
chain of cause and effect.
"And yet I know it, and we all know it.
"What could be a greater miracle than that?
"Can I have found the solution of it all? can my sufferings be
over?" thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, not noticing
the heat nor his weariness, and experiencing a sense of relief
from prolonged suffering. This feeling was so delicious that it
seemed to him incredible. He was breathless with emotion and
incapable of going farther; he turned off the road into the
forest and lay down in the shade of an aspen on the uncut grass.
He took his hat off his hot head and lay propped on his elbow in
the lush, feathery, woodland grass.
"Yes, I must make it clear to myself and understand," he thought,
looking intently at the untrampled grass before him, and
following the movements of a green beetle, advancing along a
blade of couch-grass and lifting up in its progress a leaf of
goat-weed. "What have I discovered?" he asked himself, bending
aside the leaf of goat-weed out of the beetle's way and twisting
another blade of grass above for the beetle to cross over onto
it. "What is it makes me glad? What have I discovered?
"I have discovered nothing. I have only found out what I knew.
I understand the force that in the past gave me life, and now too
gives me life. I have been set free from falsity, I have found
"Of old I used to say that in my body, that in the body of this
grass and of this beetle (there, she didn't care for the grass,
she's opened her wings and flown away), there was going on a
transformation of matter in accordance with physical, chemical,
and physiological laws. And in all of us, as well as in the
aspens and the clouds and the misty patches, there was a process
of evolution. Evolution from what? into what?--Eternal evolution
and struggle.... As though there could be any sort of tendency
and struggle in the eternal! And I was astonished that in spite
of the utmost effort of thought along that road I could not
discover the meaning of life, the meaning of my impulses and
yearnings. Now I say that I know the meaning of my life: 'To
live for God, for my soul.' And this meaning, in spite of its
clearness, is mysterious and marvelous. Such, indeed, is the
meaning of everything existing. Yes, pride," he said to himself,
turning over on his stomach and beginning to tie a noose of
blades of grass, trying not to break them.
"And not merely pride of intellect, but dulness of intellect.
And most of all, the deceitfulness; yes, the deceitfulness of
intellect. The cheating knavishness of intellect, that's it," he
said to himself.
And he briefly went through, mentally, the whole course of his
ideas during the last two years, the beginning of which was the
clear confronting of death at the sight of his dear brother
Then, for the first time, grasping that for every man, and
himself too, there was nothing in store but suffering, death, and
forgetfulness, he had made up his mind that life was impossible
like that, and that he must either interpret life so that it
would not present itself to him as the evil jest of some devil,
or shoot himself.
But he had not done either, but had gone on living, thinking, and
feeling, and had even at that very time married, and had had many
joys and had been happy, when he was not thinking of the meaning
of his life.
What did this mean? It meant that he had been living rightly,
but thinking wrongly.
He had lived (without being aware of it) on those spiritual
truths that he had sucked in with his mother's milk, but he had
thought, not merely without recognition of these truths, but
studiously ignoring them.
Now it was clear to him that he could only live by virtue of the
beliefs in which he had been brought up.
"What should I have been, and how should I have spent my life, if
I had not had these beliefs, if I had not known that I must live
for God and not for my own desires? I should have robbed and
lied and killed. Nothing of what makes the chief happiness of my
life would have existed for me." And with the utmost stretch of
imagination he could not conceive the brutal creature he would
have been himself, if he had not known what he was living for.
"I looked for an answer to my question. And thought could not
give an answer to my question--it is incommensurable with my
question. The answer has been given me by life itself, in my
knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. And that knowledge
I did not arrive at in any way, it was given to me as to all
men, GIVEN, because I could not have got it from anywhere.
"Where could I have got it? By reason could I have arrived at
knowing that I must love my neighbor and not oppress him? I was
told that in my childhood, and I believed it gladly, for they
told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not
reason. Reason discovered the struggle for existence, and the
law that requires us to oppress all who hinder the satisfaction
of our desires. That is the deduction of reason. But loving
one's neighbor reason could never discover, because it's
And Levin remembered a scene he had lately witnessed between
Dolly and her children. The children, left to themselves, had
begun cooking raspberries over the candles and squirting milk
into each other's mouths with a syringe. Their mother, catching
them at these pranks, began reminding them in Levin's presence of
the trouble their mischief gave to the grown-up people, and that
this trouble was all for their sake, and that if they smashed the
cups they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that
if they wasted the milk, they would have nothing to eat, and die
And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary incredulity with
which the children heard what their mother said to them. They
were simply annoyed that their amusing play had been interrupted,
and did not believe a word of what their mother was saying. They
could not believe it indeed, for they could not take in the
immensity of all they habitually enjoyed, and so could not
conceive that what they were destroying was the very thing they
"That all comes of itself," they thought, "and there's nothing
interesting or important about it because it has always been so,
and always will be so. And it's all always the same. We've no
need to think about that, it's all ready. But we want to invent
something of our own, and new. So we thought of putting
raspberries in a cup, and cooking them over a candle, and
squirting milk straight into each other's mouths. That's fun,
and something new, and not a bit worse than drinking out of
"Isn't it just the same that we do, that I did, searching by the
aid of reason for the significance of the forces of nature and
the meaning of the life of man?" he thought.
"And don't all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by
the path of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to
bring him to a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows
so certainly that he could not live at all without it? Isn't it
distinctly to be seen in the development of each philosopher's
theory, that he knows what is the chief significance of life
beforehand, just as positively as the peasant Fyodor, and not a
bit more clearly than he, and is simply trying by a dubious
intellectual path to come back to what everyone knows?
"Now then, leave the children to themselves to get things alone
and make their crockery, get the milk from the cows, and so on.
Would they be naughty then? Why, they'd die of hunger! Well,
then, leave us with our passions and thoughts, without any idea
of the one God, of the Creator, or without any idea of what is
right, without any idea of moral evil.
"Just try and build up anything without those ideas!
"We only try to destroy them, because we're spiritually provided
for. Exactly like the children!
"Whence have I that joyful knowledge, shared with the peasant,
that alone gives peace to my soul? Whence did I get it?
"Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life
filled with the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me,
full of them, and living on those blessings, like the children I
did not understand them, and destroy, that is try to destroy,
what I live by. And as soon as an important moment of life
comes, like the children when they are cold and hungry, I turn to
Him, and even less than the children when their mother scolds
them for their childish mischief, do I feel that my childish
efforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me.
"Yes, what I know, I know not by reason, but it has been given to
me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the
chief thing taught by the church.
"The church! the church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned
over on the other side, and leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing
into the distance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river.
"But can I believe in all the church teaches?" he thought, trying
himself, and thinking of everything that could destroy his
present peace of mind. Intentionally he recalled all those
doctrines of the church which had always seemed most strange and
had always been a stumbling block to him.
"The Creation? But how did I explain existence? By existence?
By nothing? The devil and sin. But how do I explain evil?...
"But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has
been told to me and all men."
And it seemed to him that there was not a single article of faith
of the church which could destroy the chief thing--faith in God,
in goodness, as the one goal of man's destiny.
Under every article of faith of the church could be put the faith
in the service of truth instead of one's desires. And each
doctrine did not simply leave that faith unshaken, each doctrine
seemed essential to complete that great miracle, continually
manifest upon earth, that made it possible for each man and
millions of different sorts of men, wise men and imbeciles, old
men and children--all men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and
kings to understand perfectly the same one thing, and to build up
thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth living, and
which alone is precious to us.
Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky.
"Do I not know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a
round arch? But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight,
I cannot see it not round and not bounded, and in spite of my
knowing about infinite space, I am incontestably right when I see
a solid blue dome, and more right than when I strain my eyes to
see beyond it."
Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to
mysterious voices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly
"Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his
happiness. "My God, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his
sobs, and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his
Levin looked before him and saw a herd of cattle, then he caught
sight of his trap with Raven in the shafts, and the coachman,
who, driving up to the herd, said something to the herdsman.
Then he heard the rattle of the wheels and the snort of the sleek
horse close by him. But he was so buried in his thoughts that he
did not even wonder why the coachman had come for him.
He only thought of that when the coachman had driven quite up to
him and shouted to him. "The mistress sent me. Your brother has
come, and some gentleman with him."
Levin got into the trap and took the reins. As though just
roused out of sleep, for a long while Levin could not collect his
faculties. He stared at the sleek horse flecked with lather
between his haunches and on his neck, where the harness rubbed,
stared at Ivan the coachman sitting beside him, and remembered
that he was expecting his brother, thought that his wife was most
likely uneasy at his long absence, and tried to guess who was the
visitor who had come with his brother. And his brother and his
wife and the unknown guest seemed to him now quite different from
before. He fancied that now his relations with all men would be
"With my brother there will be none of that aloofness there
always used to be between us, there will be no disputes; with
Kitty there shall never be quarrels; with the visitor, whoever he
may be, I will be friendly and nice; with the servants, with
Ivan, it will all be different."
Pulling the stiff rein and holding in the good horse that snorted
with impatience and seemed begging to be let go, Levin looked
round at Ivan sitting beside him, not knowing what to do with his
unoccupied hand, continually pressing down his shirt as it puffed
out, and he tried to find something to start a conversation about
with him. He would have said that Ivan had pulled the
saddle-girth up too high, but that was like blame, and he longed
for friendly, warm talk. Nothing else occurred to him.
"Your honor must keep to the right and mind that stump," said the
coachman, pulling the rein Levin held.
"Please don't touch and don't teach me!" said Levin, angered by
this interference. Now, as always, interference made him angry,
and he felt sorrowfully at once how mistaken had been his
supposition that his spiritual condition could immediately change
him in contact with reality.
He was not a quarter of a mile from home when he saw Grisha and
Tanya running to meet him.
"Uncle Kostya! mamma's coming, and grandfather, and Sergey
Ivanovitch, and someone else," they said, clambering up into the
"Who is he?"
"An awfully terrible person! And he does like this with his
arms," said Tanya, getting up in the trap and mimicking
"Old or young?" asked Levin, laughing, reminded of someone, he
did not know whom, by Tanya's performance.
"Oh, I hope it's not a tiresome person!" thought Levin.
As soon as he turned, at a bend in the road, and saw the party
coming, Levin recognized Katavasov in a straw hat, walking along
swinging his arms just as Tanya had shown him. Katavasov was
very fond of discussing metaphysics, having derived his notions
from natural science writers who had never studied metaphysics,
and in Moscow Levin had had many arguments with him of late.
And one of these arguments, in which Katavasov had obviously
considered that he came off victorious, was the first thing Levin
thought of as he recognized him.
"No, whatever I do, I won't argue and give utterance to my ideas
lightly," he thought.
Getting out of the trap and greeting his brother and Katavasov,
Levin asked about his wife.
"She has taken Mitya to Kolok" (a copse near the house). "She
meant to have him out there because it's so hot indoors," said
Dolly. Levin had always advised his wife not to take the baby to
the wood, thinking it unsafe, and he was not pleased to hear
"She rushes about from place to place with him," said the prince,
smiling. "I advised her to try putting him in the ice cellar."
"She meant to come to the bee house. She thought you would be
there. We are going there," said Dolly.
"Well, and what are you doing?" said Sergey Ivanovitch, falling
back from the rest and walking beside him.
"Oh, nothing special. Busy as usual with the land," answered
Levin. "Well, and what about you? Come for long? We have been
expecting you for such a long time."
"Only for a fortnight. I've a great deal to do in Moscow."
At these words the brothers' eyes met, and Levin, in spite of the
desire he always had, stronger than ever just now, to be on
affectionate and still more open terms with his brother, felt an
awkwardness in looking at him. He dropped his eyes and did not
know what to say.
Casting over the subjects of conversation that would be pleasant
to Sergey Ivanovitch, and would keep him off the subject of the
Servian war and the Slavonic question, at which he had hinted by
the allusion to what he had to do in Moscow, Levin began to talk
of Sergey Ivanovitch's book.
"Well, have there been reviews of your book?" he asked.
Sergey Ivanovitch smiled at the intentional character of the
"No one is interested in that now, and I less than anyone," he
said. "Just look, Darya Alexandrovna, we shall have a shower,"
he added, pointing with a sunshade at the white rain clouds that
showed above the aspen tree-tops.
And these words were enough to reestablish again between the
brothers that tone--hardly hostile, but chilly--which Levin had
been so longing to avoid.
Levin went up to Katavasov.
"It was jolly of you to make up your mind to come," he said to
"I've been meaning to a long while. Now we shall have some
discussion, we'll see to that. Have you been reading Spencer?"
"No, I've not finished reading him," said Levin. "But I don't
need him now."
"How's that? that's interesting. Why so?"
"I mean that I'm fully convinced that the solution of the
problems that interest me I shall never find in him and his like.
But Katavasov's serene and good-humored expression suddenly
struck him, and he felt such tenderness for his own happy mood,
which he was unmistakably disturbing by this conversation, that
he remembered his resolution and stopped short.
"But we'll talk later on," he added. "If we're going to the
bee house, it's this way, along this little path," he said,
addressing them all.
Going along the narrow path to a little uncut meadow covered on
one side with thick clumps of brilliant heart's-ease among which
stood up here and there tall, dark green tufts of hellebore,
Levin settled his guests in the dense, cool shade of the young
aspens on a bench and some stumps purposely put there for
visitors to the bee house who might be afraid of the bees, and he
went off himself to the hut to get bread, cucumbers, and fresh
honey, to regale them with.
Trying to make his movements as deliberate as possible, and
listening to the bees that buzzed more and more frequently past
him, he walked along the little path to the hut. In the very
entry one bee hummed angrily, caught in his beard, but he
carefully extricated it. Going into the shady outer room, he
took down from the wall his veil, that hung on a peg, and putting
it on, and thrusting his hands into his pockets, he went into the
fenced-in bee-garden, where there stood in the midst of a closely
mown space in regular rows, fastened with bast on posts, all the
hives he knew so well, the old stocks, each with its own history,
and along the fences the younger swarms hived that year. In
front of the openings of the hives, it made his eyes giddy to
watch the bees and drones whirling round and round about the same
spot, while among them the working bees flew in and out with
spoils or in search of them, always in the same direction into
the wood to the flowering lime trees and back to the hives.
His ears were filled with the incessant hum in various notes, now
the busy hum of the working bee flying quickly off, then the
blaring of the lazy drone, and the excited buzz of the bees on
guard protecting their property from the enemy and preparing to
sting. On the farther side of the fence the old bee-keeper was
shaving a hoop for a tub, and he did not see Levin. Levin stood
still in the midst of the beehives and did not call him.
He was glad of a chance to be alone to recover from the influence
of ordinary actual life, which had already depressed his happy
mood. He thought that he had already had time to lose his temper
with Ivan, to show coolness to his brother, and to talk
flippantly with Katavasov.
"Can it have been only a momentary mood, and will it pass and
leave no trace?" he thought. But the same instant, going back to
his mood, he felt with delight that something new and important
had happened to him. Real life had only for a time overcast the
spiritual peace he had found, but it was still untouched within
Just as the bees, whirling round him, now menacing him and
distracting his attention, prevented him from enjoying complete
physical peace, forced him to restrain his movements to avoid
them, so had the petty cares that had swarmed about him from the
moment he got into the trap restricted his spiritual freedom; but
that lasted only so long as he was among them. Just as his
bodily strength was still unaffected, in spite of the bees, so
too was the spiritual strength that he had just become aware of.
"Do you know, Kostya, with whom Sergey Ivanovitch traveled on his
way here?" said Dolly, doling out cucumbers and honey to the
children; "with Vronsky! He's going to Servia."
"And not alone; he's taking a squadron out with him at his own
expense," said Katavasov.
"That's the right thing for him," said Levin. "Are volunteers
still going out then?" he added, glancing at Sergey Ivanovitch.
Sergey Ivanovitch did not answer. He was carefully with a blunt
knife getting a live bee covered with sticky honey out of a cup
full of white honeycomb.
"I should think sol You should have seen what was going on at the
station yesterday!" said Katavasov, biting with a juicy sound
into a cucumber.
"Well, what is one to make of it? For mercy's 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 Levin's absence.
"With the Turks," Sergey Ivanovitch answered, smiling serenely,
as he extricated the bee, dark with honey and helplessly kicking,
and put it with the knife on a stout aspen leaf.
"But who has declared war on the Turks?--Ivan Ivanovitch Ragozov
and Countess Lidia Ivanovna, assisted by Madame Stahl?"
"No one has declared war, but people sympathize with their
neighbors' sufferings and are eager to help them," said Sergey
"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."
"Kostya, mind, that's a bee! Really, they'll sting us!" said
Dolly, waving away a wasp.
"But that's not a bee, it's a wasp," said Levin.
"Well now, well, what's your own theory?" Katavasov said to Levin
with a smile, distinctly challenging him to a discussion. "Why
have not private persons the right to do so?"
"Oh, my theory's 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."
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had their replies ready, and both
began speaking at the same time.
"But the point is, my dear fellow, that there may be cases when
the government does not carry out the will of the citizens and
then the public asserts its will," said Katavasov.
But evidently Sergey Ivanovitch did not approve of this answer.
His brows contracted at Katavasov's words and he said something
"You don't 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
child--I 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."
"But I should not kill them," said Levin.
"Yes, you would kill them."
"I don't know. If I saw that, I might give way to my impulse of
the moment, but I can't 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
"Perhaps so," said Levin evasively; "but I don't see it. I'm one
of the people myself, and I don't feel it."
"Here am I too," said the old prince. "I've been staying abroad
and reading the papers, and I must own, up to the time of the
Bulgarian atrocities, I couldn't make out why it was all the
Russians were all of a sudden so fond of their Slavonic brethren,
while I didn't 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 mind's been
set at rest. I see that there are people besides me who're only
interested in Russia, and not in their Slavonic brethren. Here's
"Personal opinions mean nothing in such a case," said Sergey
Ivanovitch; "it's not a matter of personal opinions when all
Russia--the whole people--has expressed its will."
"But excuse me, I don't see that. The people don't know anything
about it, if you come to that," said the old prince.
"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, it's not possible that all..."
"But what was it in church on Sunday? The priest had been told
to read that. He read it. They didn't 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 couldn't 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 bee-keeper.
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.
"That's so, no doubt," he said, with a significant shake of his
head at Sergey Ivanovitch's words.
"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. It's
clearer for hint 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 don't need to ask," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "we have seen and
are seeing hundreds and hundreds of people who give up everything
to sense 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, ne'er-do-wells, who are always ready to go
anywhere--to Pogatchev's bands, to Khiva, to Serbia..."
"I tell you that it's not a case of hundreds or of
ne'er-do-wells, 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, maybe, know what
it's all about. The rest of the eighty millions, like Mihalitch,
far from expressing their will, haven't the faintest idea what
there is for them to express their will about. What right have
we to say that this is the people's will?"
Sergey Ivanovitch, being practiced in argument, did not reply,
but at once turned the conversation to another aspect of the
"Oh, if you want to learn the spirit of the people by
arithmetical computation, of course it's very difficult to arrive
at it. And voting has not been introduced among us and cannot be
introduced, for it does not express the will of the people; but
there are other ways of reaching that. It is felt in the air, it
is felt by the heart. I won't speak of those deep currents which
are astir in the still ocean of the people, and which are evident
to every unprejudiced man; let us look at society in the narrow
sense. All the most diverse sections of the educated public,
hostile before, are merged in one. Every division is at an end,
all the public organs say the same thing over and over again, all
feel the mighty torrent that has overtaken them and is carrying
them in one direction."
"Yes, all the newspapers do say the same thing," said the prince.
"That's true. But so it is the same thing that all the frogs
croak before a storm. One can hear nothing for them."
"Frogs or no frogs, I'm not the editor of a paper and I don't
want to defend them; but I am speaking of the unanimity in the
intellectual world," said Sergey Ivanovitch, addressing his
brother. Levin would have answered, but the old prince
"Well, about that unanimity, that's another thing, One may say,"
said the prince. "There's my son-in-law, Stepan Arkadyevitch,
you know him. He's got a place now on the committee of a
commission and something or other, I don't remember. Only
there's nothing to do in it--why, Dolly, it's no secret!--and a
salary of eight thousand. You try asking him whether his post is
of use, he'll prove to you that it's most necessary. And he's a
truthful man too, but there's no refusing to believe in the
utility of eight thousand roubles."
"Yes, he asked me to give a message to Darya Alexandrovna about
the post," said Sergey Ivanovitch reluctantly, feeling the
prince's remark to be ill-timed.
"So it is with the unanimity of the press. That's been explained
to me: as soon as there's war their incomes are doubled. How can
they help believing in the destinies of the people and the
Slavonic races...and all that?"
"I don't care for many of the papers, but that's unjust," said
"I would only make one condition," pursued the old prince.
"Alphonse Karr said a capital thing before the war with Prussia:
'You consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who
advocates war be enrolled in a special regiment of
advance-guards, for the front of every storm, of every attack, to
lead them all!'"
"A nice lot the editors would make!" said Katavasov, with a loud
roar, as he pictured the editors he knew in this picked legion.
"But they'd run," said Dolly, "they'd only be in the way."
"Oh, if they ran away, then we'd have grape-shot or Cossacks with
whips behind them," said the prince.
"But that's a joke, and a poor one too, if you'll excuse my
saying so, prince," said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"I don't see that it was a joke, that..." Levin was beginning,
but Sergey Ivanovitch interrupted him.
"Every member of society is called upon to do his own special
work," said he. "And men of thought are doing their work when
they express public opinion. And the single-hearted and full
expression of public opinion is the service of-the press and a
phenomenon to rejoice us at the same time. Twenty years ago we
should have been silent, but now we have heard the voice of the
Russian people, which is ready to rise as one man and ready to
sacrifice itself for its oppressed brethren; that is a great step
and a proof of strength."
"But it's not only making a sacrifice, but killing Turks," said
Levin timidly. "The people make sacrifices and are ready to make
sacrifices for their soul, but not for murder," he added,
instinctively connecting the conversation with the ideas that had
been absorbing his mind.
"For their soul? That's a most puzzling expression for a natural
science man, do you understand? What sort of thing is the soul?"
said Katavasov, smiling.
"Oh, you know!"
"No, by God, I haven't the faintest idea!" said Katavasov with a
loud roar of laughter.
"'I bring not peace, but a sword,' says Christ," Sergey
Ivanovitch rejoined for his part, quoting as simply as though it
were the easiest thing to understand the very passage that had
always puzzled Levin most.
"That's so, no doubt," the old man repeated again. He was
standing near them and responded to a chance glance turned in his
"Ah, my dear fellow, you're defeated, utterly defeated!" cried
Levin reddened with vexation, not at being defeated, but at
having failed to control himself and being drawn into argument.
"No, I can't argue with them," he thought; "they wear
impenetrable armor, while I'm naked."
He saw that it was impossible to convince his brother and
Katavasov, and he saw even less possibility of himself agreeing
with them. What they advocated was the very pride of intellect
that had almost been his ruin. He could not admit that some
dozens of men, among them his brother, had the right, on the
ground of what they were told by some hundreds of glib volunteers
swarming to the capital, to say that they and the newspapers were
expressing the will and feeling of the people, and a feeling
which was expressed in vengeance and murder. He could not admit
this, because he neither saw the expression of such feelings in
the people among whom he was living, nor found them in himself
(and he could not but consider himself one of the persons making
up the Russian people), and most of all because he, like the
people, did not know and could not know what is for the general
good, though he knew beyond a doubt that this general good could
be attained only by the strict observance of that law of right
and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he
could not wish for war or advocate war for any general objects
whatever. He said as Mihalitch did and the people, who had
expressed their feeling in the traditional invitations of the
Varyagi: "Be princes and rule over us. Gladly we promise
complete submission. All the labor, all humiliations, all
sacrifices we take upon ourselves; but we will not judge and
decide." And now, according to Sergey Ivanovitch's account, the
people had foregone this privilege they had bought at such a
He wanted to say too that if public opinion were an infallible
guide, then why were not revolutions and the commune as lawful as
the movement in favor of the Slavonic peoples? But these were
merely thoughts that could settle nothing. One thing could be
seen beyond doubt--that was that at the actual moment the
discussion was irritating Sergey Ivanovitch, and so it was wrong
to continue it. And Levin ceased speaking and then called the
attention of his guests to the fact that the storm clouds were
gathering, and that they had better be going home before it
The old prince and Sergey Ivanovitch got into the trap and drove
off; the rest of the party hastened homewards on foot.
But the storm-clouds, turning white and then black, moved down so
quickly that they had to quicken their pace to get home before
the rain. The foremost clouds, lowering and black as soot-laden
smoke, rushed with extraordinary swiftness over the sky. They
were still two hundred paces from home and a gust of wind had
already blown up, and every second the downpour might be looked
The children ran ahead with frightened and gleeful shrieks.
Darya Alexandrovna, struggling painfully with her skirts that
clung round her legs, was not walking, but running, her eyes
fixed on the children. The men of the party, holding their hats
on, strode with long steps beside her. They were just at the
steps when a big drop fell splashing on the edge of the iron
guttering. The children and their elders after them ran into the
shelter of the house, talking merrily.
"Katerina Alexandrovna?" Levin asked of Agafea Mihalovna, who met
them with kerchiefs and rugs in the hall.
"We thought she was with you," she said.
"In the copse, he must be, and the nurse with him."
Levin snatched up the rugs and ran towards the copse.
In that brief interval of time the storm clouds had moved on,
covering the sun so completely that it was dark as an eclipse.
Stubbornly, as though insisting on its rights, the wind stopped
Levin, and tearing the leaves and flowers off the lime trees and
stripping the white birch branches into strange unseemly
nakedness, it twisted everything on one side--acacias, flowers,
burdocks, long grass, and tall tree-tops. The peasant girls
working in the garden ran shrieking into shelter in the servants'
quarters. The streaming rain had already flung its white veil
over all the distant forest and half the fields close by, and was
rapidly swooping down upon the copse. The wet of the rain
spurting up in tiny drops could be smelt in the air.
Holding his head bent down before him, and struggling with the
wind that strove to tear the wraps away from him, Levin was
moving up to the copse and had just caught sight of something
white behind the oak tree, when there was a sudden flash, the
whole earth seemed on fire, and the vault of heaven seemed
crashing overhead. Opening his blinded eyes, Levin gazed through
the thick veil of rain that separated him now from the copse, and
to his horror the first thing he saw was the green crest of the
familiar oak-tree in the middle of the copse uncannily changing
its position. "Can it have been struck?" Levin hardly had time
to think when, moving more and more rapidly, the oak tree
vanished behind the other trees, and he heard the crash of the
great tree falling upon the others.
The flash of lightning, the crash of thunder, and the
instantaneous chill that ran through him were all merged for
Levin in one sense of terror.
"My God! my God! not on them!" he said.
And though he thought at once how senseless was his prayer that
they should not have been killed by the oak which had fallen now,
he repeated it, knowing that he could do nothing better than
utter this senseless prayer.
Running up to the place where they usually went, he did not find
They were at the other end of the copse under an old lime-tree;
they were calling him. Two figures in dark dresses (they had
been light summer dresses when they started out) were standing
bending over something. It was Kitty with the nurse. The rain
was already ceasing, and it was beginning to get light when Levin
reached them. The nurse was not wet on the lower part of her
dress, but Kitty was drenched through, and her soaked clothes
clung to her. Though the rain was over, they still stood in the
same position in which they had been standing when the storm
broke. Both stood bending over a perambulator with a green
"Alive? Unhurt? Thank God!" he said, splashing with his soaked
boots through the standing water and running up to them.
Kitty's rosy wet face was turned towards him, and she smiled
timidly under her shapeless sopped hat.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself? I can't think how you can be so
reckless!" he said angrily to his wife.
"It wasn't my fault, really. We were just meaning to go, when he
made such a to-do that we had to change him. We were just..."
Kitty began defending herself.
Mitya was unharmed, dry, and still fast asleep.
"Well, thank God! I don't know what I'm saying!"
They gathered up the baby's wet belongings; the nurse picked up
the baby and carried it. Levin walked beside his wife, and,
penitent for having been angry, he squeezed her hand when the
nurse was not looking.
During the whole of that day, in the extremely different
conversations in which he took part, only as it were with the top
layer of his mind, in spite of the disappointment of not finding
the change he expected in himself, Levin had been all the while
joyfully conscious of the fulness of his heart.
After the rain it was too wet to go for a walk; besides, the
storm clouds still hung about the horizon, and gathered here and
there, black and thundery, on the rim of the sky. The whole
party spent the rest of the day in the house.
No more discussions sprang up; on the contrary, after dinner
every one was in the most amiable frame of mind.
At first Katavasov amused the ladies by his original jokes, which
always pleased people on their first acquaintance with him. Then
Sergey Ivanovitch induced him to tell them about the very
interesting observations he had made on the habits and
characteristics of common houseflies, and their life. Sergey
Ivanovitch, too, was in good spirits, and at tea his brother drew
him on to explain his views of the future of the Eastern
question, and he spoke so simply and so well, that everyone
Kitty was the only one who did not hear it all--she was summoned
to give Mitya his bath.
A few minutes after Kitty had left the room she sent for Levin to
come to the nursery.
Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting the interesting
conversation, and at the same time uneasily wondering why he had
been sent for, as this only happened on important occasions,
Levin went to the nursery.
Although he had been much interested by Sergey Ivanovitch's views
of the new epoch in history that would be created by the
emancipation of forty millions of men of Slavonic race acting
with Russia, a conception quite new to him, and although he was
disturbed by uneasy wonder at being sent for by Kitty, as soon as
he came out of the drawing room and was alone, his mind reverted
at once to the thoughts of the morning. And all the theories of
the significance of the Slav element in the history of the world
seemed to him so trivial compared with what was passing in his
own soul, that he instantly forgot it all and dropped back into
the same frame of mind that he been in that morning.
He did not, as he had done at other times, recall the whole train
of thought--that he did not need. He fell back at once into the
feeling which had guided him, which was connected with those
thoughts, and he found that feeling in his soul even stronger and
more definite than before. He did not, as he had had to do with
previous attempts to find comforting arguments, need to revive a
whole chain of thought to find the feeling. Now, on the
contrary, the feeling of joy and peace was keener than ever, and
thought could not keep pace with feeling.
He walked across the terrace and looked at two stars that had
come out in the darkening sky, and suddenly he remembered. "Yes,
looking at the sky, I thought that the dome that I see is not a
deception, and then I thought something, I shirked facing
something," he mused. "But whatever it was, there can be no
disproving it! I have but to think, and all will come clear!"
Just as he was going into the nursery he remembered what it was
he had shirked facing. It was that if the chief proof of the
Divinity was His revelation of what is right, how is it this
revelation is confined to the Christian church alone? What
relation to this revelation have the beliefs of the Buddhists,
Mohammedans, who preached and did good too?
It seemed to him that he had an answer to this question; but he
had not time to formulate it to himself before he went into the
Kitty was standing with her sleeves tucked up over the baby in
the bath. Hearing her husband's footstep, she turned towards
him, summoning him to her with her smile. With one hand she was
supporting the fat baby that lay floating and sprawling on its
back, while with the other she squeezed the sponge over him.
"Come, look, look!" she said, when her husband came up to her.
"Agafea Mihalovna's right. He knows us!"
Mitya had on that day given unmistakable, incontestable signs of
recognizing all his friends.
As soon as Levin approached the bath, the experiment was tried,
and it was completely successful. The cook, sent for with this
object, bent over the baby. He frowned and shook his head
disapprovingly. Kitty bent down to him, he gave her a beaming
smile, propped his little hands on the sponge and chirruped,
making such a queer little contented sound with his lips, that
Kitty and the nurse were not alone in their admiration. Levin,
too, was surprised and delighted.
The baby was taken out of the bath, drenched with water, wrapped
in towels, dried, and after a piercing scream, handed to his
"Well, I am glad you are beginning to love him," said Kitty to
her husband, when she had settled herself comfortably in her
usual place, with the baby at her breast. "I am so glad! It had
begun to distress me. You said you had no feeling for him."
"No; did I say that? I only said I was disappointed."
"What! disappointed in him?"
"Not disappointed in him, but in my own feeling; I had expected
more. I had expected a rush of new delightful emotion to come
as a surprise. And then instead of that--disgust, pity..."
She listened attentively, looking at him over the baby, while she
put back on her slender fingers the rings she had taken off while
giving Mitya his bath.
"And most of all, at there being far more apprehension and pity
than pleasure. Today, after that fright during the storm, I
understand how I love him."
Kitty's smile was radiant.
"Were you very much frightened?" she said. "So was I too, but I
feel it more now that it's over. I'm going to look at the oak.
How nice Katavasov is! And what a happy day we've had
altogether. And you're so nice with Sergey Ivanovitch, when you
care to be.... Well, go back to them. It's always so hot and
steamy here after the bath."
Going out of the nursery and being again alone, Levin went back
at once to the thought, in which there was something not clear.
Instead of going into the drawing room, where he heard voices, he
stopped on the terrace, and leaning his elbows on the parapet, he
gazed up at the sky.
It was quite dark now, and in the south, where he was looking,
there were no clouds. The storm had drifted on to the opposite
side of the sky, and there were flashes of lightning and distant
thunder from that quarter. Levin listened to the monotonous drip
from the lime trees in the garden, and looked at the triangle of
stars he knew so well, and the Milky Way with its branches that
ran through its midst. At each flash of lightning the Milky Way,
and even the bright stars, vanished, but as soon as the lightning
died away, they reappeared in their places as though some hand
had flung them back with careful aim.
"Well, what is it perplexes me?" Levin said to himself, feeling
beforehand that the solution of his difficulties was ready in his
soul, though he did not know it yet. "Yes, the one unmistakable,
incontestable manifestation of the Divinity is the law of right
and wrong, which has come into the world by revelation, and which
I feel in myself, and in the recognition of which--I don't make
myself, but whether I will or not--I am made one with other men
in one body of believers, which is called the church. Well, but
the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Confucians, the Buddhists--what of
them?" he put to himself the question he had feared to face.
"Can these hundreds of millions of men be deprived of that
highest blessing without which life has no meaning?" He pondered
a moment, but immediately corrected himself. "But what am I
questioning?" he said to himself. "I am questioning the relation
to Divinity of all the different religions of all mankind. I am
questioning the universal manifestation of God to all the world
with all those misty blurs. What am I about? To me
individually, to my heart has been revealed a knowledge beyond
all doubt, and unattainable by reason, and here I am obstinately
trying to express that knowledge in reason and words.
"Don't I know that the stars don't move?" he asked himself,
gazing at the bright planet which had shifted its position up to
the topmost twig of the birch-tree. "But looking at the
movements of the stars, I can't picture to myself the rotation of
the earth, and I'm right in saying that the stars move.
"And could the astronomers have understood and calculated
anything, if they had taken into account all the complicated and
varied motions of the earth? All the marvelous conclusions they
have reached about the distances, weights, movements, and
deflections of the heavenly bodies are only founded on the
apparent motions of the heavenly bodies about a stationary earth,
on that very motion I see before me now, which has been so for
millions of men during long ages, and was and will be always
alike, and can always be trusted. And just as the conclusions of
the astronomers would have been vain and uncertain if not founded
on observations of the seen heavens, in relation to a single
meridian and a single horizon, so would my conclusions be vain
and uncertain if not founded on that conception of right, which
has been and will be always alike for all men, which has been
revealed to me as a Christian, and which can always be trusted in
my soul. The question of other religions and their relations to
Divinity I have no right to decide, and no possibility of
"Oh, you haven't gone in then?" he heard Kitty's voice all at
once, as she came by the same way to the drawing-room.
"What is it? you're not worried about anything?" she said,
looking intently at his face in the starlight.
But she could not have seen his face if a flash of lightning had
not hidden the stars and revealed it. In that flash she saw his
face distinctly, and seeing him calm and happy, she smiled at
"She understands," he thought; "she knows what I'm thinking
about. Shall I tell her or not? Yes, I'll tell her." But at the
moment he was about to speak, she began speaking.
"Kostya! do something for me," she said; "go into the corner room
and see if they've made it all right for Sergey Ivanovitch. I
can't very well. See if they've put the new wash stand in it."
"Very well, I'll go directly," said Levin, standing up and
"No, I'd better not speak of it," he thought, when she had gone
in before him. "It is a secret for me alone, of vital importance
for me, and not to be put into words.
"This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and
enlightened all of a sudden, as I had dreamed, just like the
feeling for my child. There was no surprise in this either.
Faith--or not faith--I don't know what it is--but this feeling
has come just as imperceptibly through suffering, and has taken
firm root in my soul.
"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the
coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions
tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of
holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still
go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for
it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why
I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my
whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every
minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has
the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put