Sergey Ivanovitch was clever, cultivated, healthy, and energetic,
and he did not know what use to make of his energy.
Conversations in drawing rooms, in meetings, assemblies, and
committees--everywhere where talk was possible--took up part of
his time. But being used for years to town life, he did not
waste all his energies in talk, as his less experienced younger
brother did, when he was in Moscow. He had a great deal of
leisure and intellectual energy still to dispose of.
Fortunately for him, at this period so difficult for him from the
failure of his book, the various public questions of the
dissenting sects, of the American alliance, of the Samara famine,
of exhibitions, and of spiritualism, were definitely replaced in
public interest by the Slavonic question, which had hitherto
rather languidly interested society, and Sergey Ivanovitch, who
had been one of the first to raise this subject, threw himself
into it heart and soul.
In the circle to which Sergey Ivanovitch belonged, nothing was
talked of or written about just now but the Servian War.
Everything that the idle crowd usually does to kill time was done
now for the benefit of the Slavonic States. Balls, concerts,
dinners, matchboxes, ladies' dresses, beer, restaurants--
everything testified to sympathy with the Slavonic peoples.
From much of what was spoken and written on the subject, Sergey
Ivanovitch differed on various points. He saw that the Slavonic
question had become one of those fashionable distractions which
succeed one another in providing society with an object and an
occupation. He saw, too, that a great many people were taking up
the subject from motives of self-interest and self-advertisement.
He recognized that the newspapers published a great deal that was
superfluous and exaggerated, with the sole aim of attracting
attention and outbidding one another. He saw that in this
general movement those who thrust themselves most forward and
shouted the loudest were men who had failed and were smarting
under a sense of injury--generals without armies, ministers not
in the ministry, journalists not on any paper, party leaders
without followers. He saw that there was a great deal in it that
was frivolous and absurd. But he saw and recognized an
unmistakable growing enthusiasm, uniting all classes, with which
it was impossible not to sympathize. The massacre of men who
were fellow Christians, and of the same Slavonic race, excited
sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against the
oppressors. And the heroism of the Servians and Montenegrins
struggling for a great cause begot in the whole people a longing
to help their brothers not in word but in deed.