Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/313

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303
BOOK TWO

terrors, by no punishments can dishonesty be eradicated, it is too deeply rooted. The dishonest practice of taking bribes has become necessary and inevitable, even for such who are not born to be dishonest. I know that it is almost impossible for many to run counter to the general tendency. But I must now, as at the decisive and sacred moment when it is our task to save our country, when every citizen bears every burden and makes every sacrifice—I must appeal to those at least who still have a Russian heart and who have still some understanding of the word 'honour.' What is the use of discussing which is the more guilty among us! I am perhaps the most guilty of all; I perhaps received you too sternly at first; perhaps by excessive suspicion I repelled those among you who sincerely wished to be of use to me. If they really cared for justice and the good of their country, they ought not to have been offended by the haughtiness of my manner, they ought to overcome their own vanity and sacrifice their personal dignity. It is not possible that I should not have noticed their self-denial and lofty love of justice and should not at last have accepted useful and sensible advice from them. It is anyway more suitable for a subordinate to adapt himself to the character of his chief than for a chief to adapt himself to the character of a subordinate. It is more lawful anyway and easier, because the subordinates have only one chief, while the chief has hundreds of subordinates. But let us lay aside the question of who is most to blame. The