"Himmlisch ist's, wenn ich bezwungen
Meine irdische Begier;
Aber doch wenn's nich gelungen
Hatt' ich auch recht huebsch Plaisir!"
As he said this, Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled subtly. Levin, too,
could not help smiling.
"Yes, but joking apart," resumed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you must
understand that the woman is a sweet, gentle loving creature,
poor and lonely, and has sacrificed everything. Now, when the
thing's done, don't you see, can one possibly cast her off? Even
supposing one parts from her, so as not to break up one's family
life, still, can one help feeling for her, setting her on her
feet, softening her lot?"
"Well, you must excuse me there. You know to me all women are
divided into two classes...at least no...truer to say: there are
women and there are...I've never seen exquisite fallen beings,
and I never shall see them, but such creatures as that painted
Frenchwoman at the counter with the ringlets are vermin to my
mind, and all fallen women are the same."
"But the Magdalen?"
"Ah, drop that! Christ would never have said those words if He
had known how they would be abused. Of all the Gospel those
words are the only ones remembered. However, I'm not saying so
much what I think, as what I feel. I have a loathing for fallen
women. You're afraid of spiders, and I of these vermin. Most
likely you've not made a study of spiders and don't know their
character; and so it is with me."
"It's very well for you to talk like that; it's very much like
that gentleman in Dickens who used to fling all difficult
questions over his right shoulder. But to deny the facts is no
answer. What's to be done--you tell me that, what's to be done?
Your wife gets older, while you're full of life. Before you've
time to look round, you feel that you can't love your wife with
love, however much you may esteem her. And then all at once love
turns up, and you're done for, done for," Stepan Arkadyevitch
said with weary despair.