4338-The Sixth Letter

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You can compare this translation with the same section of the original here 4338-письмо 6-е

Sixth letter

In my last letter to you, which was so long, I still didn’t tell you about some of the notable people I saw in the soiree at the Chairman’s house. As I already told you, all of high society was there. The minister of philosophy, the minister of fine arts, the minister of the air force, poets and philosophers, and first and second class historians. Luckily I met Mr. Khartin there who I had previously met at uncle’s. He gave me some curious details about the people at the party, but I’ll leave that for another time. But I tell you, the way top state officials are trained and educated here is rather remarkable. They all attend a special college which is called the "College of State People". The best students from all other institutions are collected here and their development and their capabilities are monitored from an early age. On passing a strict examination they then spend several years at sessions of the State Committee until they have acquired sufficient experience. From there they go on to high positions in the state. This means that some of the senior mandarins are still quite young people. Actually this seems necessary. Only fresh and active young men can withstand the pressures and the duties placed on them. They grow old before their time, and it isn’t their fault that their health suffers. It seems to be the price that has to be paid for the well-being of society as a whole.

The Minister of Reconciliation is the very highest official in the empire and the Chairman of the State Committee. His office is the toughest and the most slippery. He is responsible for all of the magistrates in the state, chosen from among the most honoured and richest people. The Justices of the Peace have to be in close contact with all of the houses in their area and prevent family disagreements, quarrels, and above all lawsuits. Meanwhile those that have already started they try to settle amicably. In the most difficult cases they have a fund from the government which is called the "Reconciliatory Fund" which they can use as they see fit to persuade people to drop their claims and complaints. Due to the general improvement in morals this fund is now half the size of what used to be spent on the Ministry of Justice and the Police. It’s worth noting that the magistrates, as well as their own inner wish to do good (which is assessed strictly on selection) are also obliged by their post to be assiduous in their duties. For every lawsuit which they fail to prevent they are required to pay a fine, which is added to the general Reconciliation Fund. The Minister of Reconciliation is, in turn, responsible for the selection of magistrates and their performance in the post. He is himself the Head Magistrate and thus is charged with seeking agreement between all the sections and officers of the government. He also entrusted with the supervision of all scientific and literary arguments. The aim here is to let the arguments continue as long as is helpful for the improvement of science, and to keep them from becoming too personal. So you can imagine how deep a knowledge this official requires and what a dedication to the public good they must have. In general we should note, the lives of these public servants are short. The demands of the job kill them and little wonder…they don’t only have to concern themselves with the tranquillity of the entire state, but also the constant effort to refine their own capabilities. It’s hard for anyone to have the strength.

The present Minister of Reconciliation is truly worthy of his post. Although still young, his hair is already grey from the constant labours. In his face you can see kindness, rather than piercing intelligence and deep thought.

His office is full of books and papers. By the way I saw a very rare item them: a collection of Russian laws from the 19th century A. D. A lot of the pages had rotten away completely, but some were still whole. It was kept like a holy relic in a precious chest with a glass top. It had the name of the statesman who originally had it published.

"This piece of heritage is one of the oldest we have" –he told me. "Russian legislation is now impossible to explain because of changes in the language over such a long period of time. But from what we have been able to decipher it can be seen that our enlightened age has ancient origins! These remains should be preserved by a grateful posterity"

Go on to the next part here 4338-The Seventh Letter