“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 Sergey Ivanovitch.
“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.