Page:The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (volume V).djvu/63

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SMOKE

with philosophic calm for a good opportunity, a meeting with a kindred spirit.

'Yes, yes,' he began again, with the special dejected but not peevish humour peculiar to him, 'it is all very strange. And there is something else I want you to note. Let a dozen Englishmen, for example, come together, and they will at once begin to talk of the submarine telegraph, or the tax on paper, or a method of tanning rats' skins, — of something, that 's to say, practical and definite; a dozen Germans, and of course Schleswig-Holstein and the unity of Germany will be brought on the scene; given a dozen Frenchmen, and the conversation will infallibly turn upon amorous adventures, however much you try to divert them from the subject; but let a dozen Russians meet together, and instantly there springs up the question — you had an opportunity of being convinced of the fact this evening — the question of the significance and the future of Russia, and in terms so general, beginning with creation, without facts or conclusions. They worry and worry away at that unlucky subject, as children chew away at a bit of india-rubber — neither for pleasure nor profit, as the saying is. Well, then, of course the rotten West comes in for its share. It 's a curious thing, it beats us at every point, this West — but yet we declare

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