better than all others. . . . Russian art, ha, ha, ha! ho, ho!'
'Excuse me, though, Sozont Ivanitch,' remarked Litvinov, 'would you refuse to recognise Glinka too, then?'
Potugin scratched his head.
'The exception, you know, only proves the rule, but even in that instance we could not dispense with bragging. If we 'd said, for example, that Glinka was really a remarkable musician, who was only prevented by circumstances—outer and inner—from becoming the founder of the Russian opera, none would have disputed it; but no, that was too much to expect! They must at once raise him to the dignity of commander-in-chief, of grand-marshal, in the musical world, and disparage other nations while they were about it; they have nothing to compare with him, they declare, then quote you some marvellous home-bred genius whose compositions are nothing but a poor imitation of second-rate foreign composers, yes, second-rate ones, for they're the easiest to imitate. Nothing to compare with him? Oh, poor benighted barbarians, for whom standards in art are non-existent, and artists are something of the same species as the strong man Rappo: there 's a foreign prodigy, they say, can lift fifteen stone in one hand, but our man