Pestsov liked thrashing an argument out to the end, and was not
satisfied with Sergey Ivanovitch's words, especially as he felt
the injustice of his view.
"I did not mean," he said over the soup, addressing Alexey
Alexandrovitch, "mere density of population alone, but in
conjunction with fundamental ideas, and not by means of
"It seems to me," Alexey Alexandrovitch said languidly, and with
no haste, "that that's the same thing. In my opinion, influence
over another people is only possible to the people which has the
higher development, which..."
"But that's just the question," Pestsov broke in in his bass.
He was always in a hurry to speak, and seemed always to put his
whole soul into what he was saying. "In what are we to make
higher development consist? The English, the French, the
Germans, which is at the highest stage of development? Which of
them will nationalize the other? We see the Rhine provinces have
been turned French, but the Germans are not at a lower stage!" he
shouted. "There is another law at work there."
"I fancy that the greater influence is always on the side of true
civilization," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, slightly lifting his
"But what are we to lay down as the outward signs of true
civilization?" said Pestsov.
"I imagine such signs are generally very well known," said Alexey
"But are they fully known?" Sergey Ivanovitch put in with a
subtle smile. "It is the accepted view now that real culture
must be purely classical; but we see most intense disputes on
each side of the question, and there is no denying that the
opposite camp has strong points in its favor."
"You are for classics, Sergey Ivanovitch. Will you take red
wine?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch.