Malthus was a well-known capitalist, who had made his money by
speculation in railway shares. Stepan Arkadyevitch described
what grouse moors this Malthus had bought in the Tver province,
and how they were preserved, and of the carriages and dogcarts in
which the shooting party had been driven, and the luncheon
pavilion that had been rigged up at the marsh.
"I don't understand you," said Levin, sitting up in the hay; "how
is it such people don't disgust you? I can understand a lunch
with Lafitte is all very pleasant, but don't you dislike just
that very sumptuousness? All these people, just like our spirit
monopolists in old days, get their money in a way that gains them
the contempt of everyone. They don't care for their contempt,
and then they use their dishonest gains to buy off the contempt
they have deserved."
"Perfectly true!" chimed in Vassenka Veslovsky. "Perfectly!
Oblonsky, of course, goes out of bonhomie, but other people say:
'Well, Oblonsky stays with them.'..."
"Not a bit of it." Levin could hear that Oblonsky was smiling as
he spoke. "I simply don't consider him more dishonest than any
other wealthy merchant or nobleman. They've all made their money
alike--by their work and their intelligence."
"Oh, by what work? Do you call it work to get hold of
concessions and speculate with them?"
"Of course it's work. Work in this sense, that if it were not
for him and others like him, there would have been no railways."
"But that's not work, like the work of a peasant or a learned
"Granted, but it's work in the sense that his activity produces a
result--the railways. But of course you think the railways
"No, that's another question; I am prepared to admit that
they're useful. But all profit that is out of proportion to the
labor expended is dishonest."
"But who is to define what is proportionate?"