“Turkish views, in general,” Veslovsky said, turning to Anna with a smile.
“I can’t defend his opinions,” Darya Alexandrovna said, firing up; “but I can say that he’s a highly cultivated man, and if he were here he would know very well how to answer you, though I am not capable of doing so.”
“I like him extremely, and we are great friends,” Sviazhsky said, smiling good-naturedly. “Mais pardon, il est un petit peu toque; he maintains, for instance, that district councils and arbitration boards are all of no use, and he is unwilling to take part in anything.”
“It’s our Russian apathy,” said Vronsky, pouring water from an iced decanter into a delicate glass on a high stem; “we’ve no sense of the duties our privileges impose upon us, and so we refuse to recognize these duties.”
“I know no man more strict in the performance of his duties,” said Darya Alexandrovna, irritated by Vronsky’s tone of superiority.
“For my part,” pursued Vronsky, who was evidently for some reason or other keenly affected by this conversation, “such as I am, I am, on the contrary, extremely grateful for the honor they have done me, thanks to Nikolay Ivanitch” (he indicated Sviazhsky), “in electing me a justice of the peace. I consider that for me the duty of being present at the session, of judging some peasants’ quarrel about a horse, is as important as anything I can do. And I shall regard it as an honor if they elect me for the district council. It’s only in that way I can pay for the advantages I enjoy as a landowner. Unluckily they don’t understand the weight that the big landowners ought to have in the state.”
It was strange to Darya Alexandrovna to hear how serenely confident he was of being right at his own table. She thought how Levin, who believed the opposite, was just as positive in his opinions at his own table. But she loved Levin, and so she was on his side.
“So we can reckon upon you, count, for the coming elections?” said Sviazhsky. “But you must come a little beforehand, so as to be on the spot by the eighth. If you would do me the honor to stop with me.”
“I rather agree with your beau-frere,” said Anna, “though not quite on the same ground as he,” she added with a smile. “I’m afraid that we have too many of these public duties in these latter days. Just as in old days there were so many government functionaries that one had to call in a functionary for every single thing, so now everyone’s doing some sort of public duty. Alexey has been here now six months, and he’s a member, I do believe, of five or six different public bodies. Du train que cela va, the whole time will be wasted on it. And I’m afraid that with such a multiplicity of these bodies, they’ll end in being a mere form. How many are you a member of, Nikolay Ivanitch?” she turned to Sviazhsky—“over twenty, I fancy.”