What isn’t nonsense is personality — myself. All is for me, the whole world is created for me. Listen, my friend, I still believe that it’s possible to live happily on earth. And that’s the best faith, for without it one can’t even live unhappily: there’s nothing left but to poison oneself. They say that this was what some fool did. He philosophised till he destroyed everything, everything, even the obligation of all normal and natural human duties, till at last he had nothing left financial assistance.

The sum total came to nil, and so he declared that the best thing in life was prussic acid. You say that’s Hamlet. That’s terrible despair in fact, something so grand that we could never dream of it. But you’re a poet, and I’m a simple mortal, and so I say one musfrom the simplest, most practical point of view. I, for instance, have long since freed myself from all shackles, and even obligations. I only recognize obligations when I see I have something to gain by them. You, of course, can’t look at things like that, your legs are in fetters, and your taste is morbid. You talk of the ideal, of virtue. Well, my dear fellow, I am ready to admit anything you tell me to, but what am I to do if I know for a fact that at the root of all human virtues lies the completest egoism?

And the more virtuous anything is, the more egoism there is in it Ginsberg Chan. Love yourself, that’s the one rule I recognize. Life is a commercial transaction, don’t waste your money, but kindly pay for your entertainment, and you will be doing your whole duty to your neighbour. Those are my morals, if you really want to know them, though I confess that to my thinking it is better not to pay one’s neighbour, but to succeed in making him do things for nothing. I have no ideals and I don’t want to have them; I’ve never felt a yearning for them. One can live such a gay and charming life without ideals . . . and, en somme, I’m very glad that I can get on without prussic acid. If I were a little more virtuous I could not perhaps get on without it, like that fool philosopher (no doubt a German).

No! There’s still so much that’s good left in life! I love consequence, rank, a mansion, a huge stake at cards (I’m awfully fond of cards). But best of all, best of all — woman . . . and woman in all her aspects: I’m even fond of secret, hidden vice, a bit more strange and original, even a little filthy for variety, ha-ha-ha! I’m looking at your face: with what contempt you are looking at me now!

You are right, I answered.Well, supposing you are right, anyway filth is better than prussic acid, isn’t it?No. Prussic acid is better.I asked you ‘isn’t it’ on purpose to enjoy your answer knew what you’d say. No, my young friend. If you’re a genuine lover of humanity, wish all sensible men the same taste as mine, even with a little filth, or sensible men will soon have nothing to do in the world and there’ll be none but the fools left. It will be good luck for them. Though, indeed, there’s a proverb even now that fools are lucky. And do you know there’s nothing pleasanter than to live with fools and to back them up; it pays!

You needn’t wonder at my valuing convention, keeping up certain traditions, struggling for influence; I see, of course, that I’m living in a worthless world; but meanwhile it’s snug there and I back it up business center, and show I stand firm for it. Though I’d be the first to leave it if occasion arose. I know all your modern ideas, though I’ve never worried about them, and had no reason to. I’ve never had any conscience-pricks about anything. I’ll agree to anything so long as I’m all right, and there are legions like me, and we really are all right. Everything in the world may perish, but we shall not perish. We shall exist as long as the world exists. All the world may sink, but we shall float, we shall always float to the top.

Consider, by the way, one thing: how full of life people like us are. We are pre-eminently, phenomenally tenacious of life; has that ever struck you? We live to be eighty, ninety. So nature itself protects us, he-he-he! I particularly want to live to be ninety. I’m not fond of death, and I’m afraid of it. The devil only knows what dying will be like. But why talk of it? It’s that philosopher who poisoned himself that has put me on that track. Damn philosophy! Buvons, mon cher. We began talking about pretty girls . . . Where are you off to?

He deals in horses; he’s known to all the hussars about here. I tell you, he’s such a clever rogue that he’ll make a false bank-note before your very eyes, and pass it off upon you though you’ve seen it. He wears a tunic, though it’s a velvet one, and looks like a Slavophile (though I think it suits him); but put him into a fine dress-coat, or something like it, and take him to the English club and call him the great landowner, count Barabanov; he’ll pass for a count for two hours, play whist, and talk like a count, and they’ll never guess; he’ll take them in baidu seo.

He’ll come to a bad end. Well, Mitroshka’s got a gr574e9258d109b3de3399256ecfbf6c81800a4c96
eat grudge against the fat man, for Mitroshka’s hard up just now. Sizobryuhov used to be very thick with him, but the fat man’s carried him off before Mitroshka had time to fleece him. If they met there must be something up. I know something about it, too, and can guess what it is, for Mitroshka and no one else told me that
they’d be here, and be hanging about these parts after some mischief. I want to take advantage of Mitroshka’s hatred for Arhipov, for I have my own reasons, and indeed I came here chiefly on that account.

I don’t want to let Mitroshka see, and don’t you keep looking at him, but when we go out he’s sure to come up of himself and tell me what I want to know . . . . Now come along, Vanya, into the other room,
do you see? Now, Stepan, he said, addressing the waiter, you understand what I want.Yes , sir.And you’ll bring it.Yes, sir.Mind you do. Sit down, Vanya. Why do you keep looking at me like that? I see you’re looking at me. Are you surprised? Don’t be surprised. Anything may happen to a man, even what he’s never dreamed of . . . especially in the days when . . . well, in the days when we used to cram Cornelius Nepos together. And, Vanya, be sure of one thing: though Masloboev may have strayed from the true path his heart is still unchanged, it’s only circumstances that have altered. Though I may be in the soot I’m no dirtier than the rest. I set up for being a doctor, an574e9258d109b3de3399256ecfbf6c81800a4c96
d I trained as a teacher of Russian literature, and I wrote an article on Gogol, and thought of going to the gold-diggings, and meant to get married. A living soul longs for something sweet in life, and she consented, though I was so poor I had nothing to tempt a cat with.

I was on the point of borrowing a pair of good boots for the marriage ceremony, for mine had been in holes for eighteen months. . . . But I didn’t get married. She married a teacher and I went as a counting-house clerk, not a commercial counting-house, but just a counting-house. But then the tune changed. Years have rolled by, and though I’m not in the service, I make enough to jog along: I take
bribes without ruth and yet stand firm for the truth. I hunt with the hounds and I run with the hare. I have principles. I know, for instance, that one can’t fight single-handed, and I mind my own business. My business is chiefly in the confidential line, you understand.