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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/23

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5
A MORNING OF A LANDED PROPRIETOR

never doubted. But, dear friend, our good qualities do us more harm in life than our bad ones. I wil not tell you that you are committing a folly, and that your conduct mortifies me; I will try to influence you by arguments alone. Let us reason, my friend. You say that you feel a calling for country life, that you wish to make your peasants happy, and that you hope to be a good proprietor. (1) I must tell you that we feel a calling only after we have made a mistake in it; (2) that it is easier to make yourself happy than others; and (3) that in order to be a good proprietor, one must be a cold and severe man, which you will scarcely be, however much you may try to dissemble.

"You consider your reflections incontrovertible, and even accept them as rules of conduct; but at my age, my dear, we do not believe in reflections and rules, but only in experience; and experience tells me that your plans are childish. I am not far from fifty, and I have known many worthy people, but I have never heard of a young man of good family and of ability burying himself in the country, for the sake of doing good. You always wished to appear original, but your originality is nothing but superfluous self-love. And, my dear, you had better choose well-trodden paths! They lead more easily to success, and success, though you may not need it as success, is necessary in order to have the possibility of doing the good which you wish.

"The poverty of a few peasants is a necessary evil, or an evil which may be remedied without forgetting all your oligations to society, to your relatives, and to yourself. With your intellect, with your heart and love of virtue, there is not a career in which you would not obtain success; but at least choose one which would be worthy of you and would do you honour.

"I believe in your sincerity, when you say that you have no ambition; but you are deceiving yourself. Ambition-