Stepan Arkadyevitch moved in those circles in Moscow in which
that expression had come into use, was regarded there as an
honest man, and so had more right to this appointment than
The appointment yielded an income of from seven to ten thousand a
year, and Oblonsky could fill it without giving up his government
position. It was in the hands of two ministers, one lady, and
two Jews, and all these people, though the way had been paved
already with them, Stepan Arkadyevitch had to see in Petersburg.
Besides this business, Stepan Arkadyevitch had promised his
sister Anna to obtain from Karenin a definite answer on the
question of divorce. And begging fifty roubles from Dolly, he
set off for Petersburg.
Stepan Arkadyevitch sat in Karenin's study listening to his
report on the causes of the unsatisfactory position of Russian
finance, and only waiting for the moment when he would finish to
speak about his own business or about Anna.
"Yes, that's very true," he said, when Alexey Alexandrovitch took
off the pince-nez, without which he could not read now, and
looked inquiringly at his former brother-in-law, "that's very
true in particular cases, but still the principle of our day is
"Yes, but I lay down another principle, embracing the principle
of freedom," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, with emphasis on the
word "embracing," and he put on his pince-nez again, so as to
read the passage in which this statement was made. And turning
over the beautifully written, wide-margined manuscript, Alexey
Alexandrovitch read aloud over again the conclusive passage.
"I don't advocate protection for the sake of private interests,
but for the public weal, and for the lower and upper classes
equally," he said, looking over his pince-nez at Oblonsky. "But
THEY cannot grasp that, THEY are taken up now with personal
interests, and carried away by phrases."
Stepan Arkadyevitch knew that when Karenin began to talk of what
THEY were doing and thinking, the persons who would not accept
his report and were the cause of everything wrong in Russia, that
it was coming near the end. And so now he eagerly abandoned the
principle of free-trade, and fully agreed. Alexey Alexandrovitch
paused, thoughtfully turning over the pages of his manuscript.