"My system's very simple," said Mihail Petrovitch, "thank God.
All my management rests on getting the money ready for the autumn
taxes, and the peasants come to me, 'Father, master, help us!'
Well, the peasants are all one's neighbors; one feels for them.
So one advances them a third, but one says: 'Remember, lads, I
have helped you, and you must help me when I need it--whether
it's the sowing of the oats, or the haycutting, or the harvest';
and well, one agrees, so much for each taxpayer--though there
are dishonest ones among them too, it's true."
Levin, who had long been familiar with these patriarchal methods,
exchanged glances with Sviazhsky and interrupted Mihail
Petrovitch, turning again to the gentleman with the gray
"Then what do you think?" he asked; "what system is one to adopt
"Why, manage like Mihail Petrovitch, or let the land for half the
crop or for rent to the peasants; that one can do--only that's
just how the general prosperity of the country is being ruined.
Where the land with serf-labor and good management gave a yield
of nine to one, on the half-crop system it yields three to one.
Russia has been ruined by the emancipation!"
Sviazhsky looked with smiling eyes at Levin, and even made a
faint gesture of irony to him; but Levin did not think the
landowner's words absurd, he understood them better than he did
Sviazhsky. A great deal more of what the gentleman with the gray
whiskers said to show in what way Russia was ruined by the
emancipation struck him indeed as very true, new to him, and
quite incontestable. The landowner unmistakably spoke his own
individual thought--a thing that very rarely happens--and a
thought to which he had been brought not by a desire of finding
some exercise for an idle brain, but a thought which had grown up
out of the conditions of his life, which he had brooded over in
the solitude of his village, and had considered in every aspect.