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IT is a very natural thing that the fortieth anniversary of the emancipation of the Russian serfs should be accompanied by disturbance. The •• unfinished novel of 1861," as it has been called, has not only been left without its final chapters, but since the later years of the reign of Alexander II. it has been abridged and edited out of recognition. The discontent of the students is, of course, no new symptom. It is older even than the emancipation itself, and if its existence is explained by the general state of Russian society, the causes which force it into actual revolt are generally accidental. But the popular disturbances which accompanied the students' revolt are new phenomena. Hitherto Russia has produced martyred individuals in plenty. But, outside religious sectarianism, there have been few martyred causes. It is only now that we see the individual beginning to react upon the community. Thus we see the students supported by a working class whose fists and sticks were not long ago the chief instruments of repression, and a great number of educated Russians of all classes openly expressing their sympathy with both ; and, finally, we see Count Tolstoy entering upon the scene as an advocate of practical reforms, and as the mouthpiece of a class with whom he has often expressed an entire lack of sympathy. For he has always made it quite clear that he regards all government based on force, whether by a minority as in Russia, or by the majority as in western Europe, with equal aversion. And he has certainly no more sympathy with forcible protest than with forcible repression. Yet under the stress of circumstances Tolstoy has suddenly appeared on the scene as a champion of Russian Liberalism, which is, no le'ss than the Russian Government, an embodiment of every idea which he abhors. There are other circumstances which bring Tolstoy's name more prominently before us than it has been for some time past. The first is his excommunication by the Holy Synod, and the second the news that he is engaged upon a new novel which is to embody all his moral and social doctrines. Tolstoy's excommunication was not unexpected. While maintaining Christianity, he had cut himself off from the Church and the Church, claiming after its kind that it alone was Christian, cut him off from itself. The form of excommunication of the Russian Church is a very mild one, and Tolstoy at first held his peace. But it evoked very strong protests from his wife, who holds to the Church, and from the students, who have as little faith in the Church as Tolstoy himself, and much less faith in Christianity. The countess wrote a very vehement letter of protest to M. Pobyedonostseff, in which she showed plainly her concern at the step he had taken. The students behaved characteristically. They marched, to the number of five hundred, to the Kazan Cathedral, and demanded that they also might be excommunicated. The excommunication was followed by a circular to the faithful, insisting that the count might still be saved if he repented. But Tolstoy was no longer thinking of his own salvation, but of the salvation of Russian society. His real reply to the Procurator was expressed in a letter to the Czar. It is one of the most notable of Tolstoy's productions, for it exhibits him publicly for the first time as an advocate of liberal reform. The measures which Tolstoy advocates have nothing whatever to do with the realization of Christian doctrine, which is the only social movement which he has hitherto expressed himself in sympathy with. They are measures which have been adopted long ago by other equally unchristian governments, and they do not mitigate in any way the underlying evil of reliance upon force which Tolstoy finds in all governments. The count's letter is a long one. But to show both its spirit and its practical nature, it is worth while to quote its most important passages : Again murders, again street slaughters, again there will be executions, again terror, false accusations, threats, and spite on the one hand, and again hatred, the desire for vengeance, and readiness for self-sacrifice on the other. Again all Russian men have divided into two conflicting camps, and are committing and preparing to commit the greatest crimes. . . . Why should this be so ? Why, when it is so easy to avoid it ? We address all of you men in power, from the Czar, members of the state council, ministers, to the relatives—uncles, brothers of the Czar, and those near to him, who are able to influence him by persuasion. We address you, not as our enemies, but as brothers who are, whether you will or not, necessarily connected with us in such a way that all sufferings which we undergo affect you also, and yet more oppressively; if you feel that you could have removed these sufferings and did not do so—act in such a way that this condition of things should cease. . . . The blame lies not on evil, turbulent men, butin you rulers, who do not wish to see anything at the present moment except your own
comfort. The problem lies not in your defending yourselves against enemies who wish you harm,—no one wishes yon harm,—hut in recognizing the cause of social discontent and removing it. Men, as a whole, cannot desire discord and enmity, but always prefer to live in concord and love with their fellows. And if at present they are disturbed, and seem to wish you harm, it is only because you appear to them an obstacle which deprives not only them, but also millions of their brothers, of the greatest human good—freedom and enlightenment. . In order that men should cease to revolt and to attack you, little is required, and that little is so necessary for you yourselves, it would so evidently give you peace, that it would indeed be strange if you did not realize it. This little which is necessary may be expressed in the following words : First, to grant the peasant working classes equal rights with all other classes of the population, and therefore to ( a) Aholish the senseless, arbitrary institution of Zemskie nachalniki (who control the acts of the peasants' representative institutions). ( b) Abolish the special rules which restrain the relations between workingmen and their employers. ( C) Liberate the peasants from the necessity of purchasing passports in order to move from place to place, and also from those compulsory obligations which are laid exclusively on them, such as furnishing accommodation and horses for government oHicials, men for police service, etc. : l) Liberate them from the unjust obligation of paying the arrears of taxes incurred by other peasants, and also from the annual tribute for the land allotted to them at their emancipation, the value of which has long ago been paid in. ( e) Above all, abolish the senseless, utterly unnecessary, shameful corporal punishment which has been retained only for the most industrious, moral, and numerous class of the population. . . . Secondly, it is necessary to cease putting in force the so-called rules of special defense (martial law) which annihilate all existing laws, and give the population into the power of rulers very often immoral, stupid, and cruel. The abolition of this '•martial law" is important, because the cessation of the action of the general laws develops secret reports, espionage, encourages and calls forth coarse violence often directed against the laboring classes in their differences with employers and landlords (nowhere are such cruel tortures had recourse to as where these regulations are in force). And, above all, because, thanks only to this terrible measure is capital punishment more and more often resorted to—that act which depraves men more than anything else, is contrary to the spirit of the Russian people, has not heretofore l>een recognized in our code of laws, and represents the greatest possible crime, forbidden by God and the conscience of man. Thirdly, we should abolish all obstacles to education, the bringing up and teaching of children and men. We should : ( a) Cease from making distinctions in the accessibility to education between persons of various social positions, and, therefore, ajx>lish all exceptional prohibitions of popular readings, teachings, and books, which for some reason are regarded as harmful to the people. (b) Allow participation in all schools, of people of all nationalities and creeds, Jews included, who have for some reason been deprived of this right. (c) Cease to hinder teachers from speaking languages which the children who frequent the schools speak. (d) Above all, allow the organization and management of every kind of private schools, both higher and elementary, by all persons who desire to engage in keeping schools. This emancipation of education from the restrictions under which it is now placed is important, because these limitations alone hinder the working people from liberating themselves from that very ignorance which now serves the government as the chief argument for fastening these limitations on the people. Fourthly and lastly—and this the most important : It is necessary to abolish all restraint on religions freedom. It is necessary : (a) To abolish all those laws according to which any digression from the Established Church is punished as a crime ; (b) To allow the opening and organization of the old sectarian chapels and churches ; also of the prayer-houses of Baptists, Molokans, Stundists, and all others; (c) To allow religious meetings and sermons of all denominations; (<7) Not to hinder people of various faiths from educating their children in that faith which they regard as the true one. It is necessary to do this because, not to speak of the truth revealed by history and science and recognized by the whole world—that religious persecutions not only fail to attain their object, but produce opposite results, strengthening that which they are intended to destroy ; not to speak of the fact that the interference of government in the sphere of faith produces the most harmful and therefore the worst of vices—hypocrisy, so power- full}' condemned by Christ ; not to speak of this, the intrusion of government into questions of faith hiiulers the attainment of the highest welfare both of the individual and of all men—i.e., a mutual union. Union is in nowise attained by the compulsory and unrealizable retention of all men in the external profession of one bond of religious teaching to which infallibility is attributed, but only by the free advance of the community toward truth. Such are the modest and easily realized desires, as we believe, of the majority of the Russian people. 'Their adoption would undoubtedly pacify the people and deliver them from those dreadful sufferings (and that which is worse than sufferings), from those crimes which will inevitably be committed on both sides if the government continues to lie concerned only in subduing disturbances while leaving their causes untouched. So far as Tolstoy's publications go, this is almost the first admission that he recognizes existing governments, and even sees in them possibilities for good. To any one wholly ignorant of Tolstoy's life it might seem, indeed, that he had abandoned his path of detached denunciation and entered upon the ways of practical reformers,
differing from them only in that he is more fearless. But this view is really not in accord with Tolstoy's life. He has always been a very practical man, in whom the struggle between his own ideas and the immediate needs of the world around him has been very keen. In his letter to the Czar he is merely a practical liberal Russian who wishes, first of all, for an improvement in the present method of government. But it is certain that when the stress of present circumstances is past he will return to his rôle of academic denunciation. That he is able to personate both rôles without impairing his efficiency in either indicates a very strange dualism in his character. In view of the interest awakened, however, by the recent events which have centered chiefly around Tolstoy's name, some impressions gained during a number of visits to the count in his Moscow home may not be without value. I .—COUNT TOLSTOY" IN MOSCOW. We have heard a great deal of Tolstoy as a practical sympathizer with the revolting elements of Russian society within the last few weeks. But what is the most general conception of Tolstoy and of his daily life ? It is as a worker in the field, as he is depicted in Repin's sketches, plowing on his own estate, or gathering in his crops, or helping his beloved peasants to gather in theirs. Tolstoy as a farmer is familiar to every one. Tolstoy as a townsman is quite an unfamiliar figure. The innumerable accounts which have been written of Tolstoy on his estate near Tula, the perpetual repetition of the words Yasnaya Polyana until they seemed to be an essential part of Tolstoy himself, and Tolstoy's own insistence upon the merits of the peasant, have given rise in most men's minds to an unchanging vision of Tolstoy the countryman, who avoids all towns as he would the pest, and regards the very purposes for which great cities exist as abominations. That Tolstoy for half the year is a more settled townsman than the Lord Mayor of London few people imagine. And so far as his own beliefs and inclinations are concerned, the picture is true. Yet it is equally true that the practical working Tolstoy is, a great part of his time, a dweller in cities. COUNT TOI.STOY. ( From a photograph taken recently at Yasnaya Polyana.) It is a remarkable thing, considering the comparative accessibility of Moscow and Yasnaya Polyana, that so little has been written about Tolstoy in Moscow. Yet the cause is explicable. In Moscow, Tolstoy is only an abstraction and a shadow of himself. In the city he preaches, but it is in the country mainly that he practises. And Tolstoy the man who lives
his own ideal life has always been a greater object of attraction than Tolstoy the mere preacher of ideas. The man of example is much rarer than the man of precept. So while we all are familiar with Tolstoy as a worker in the field, a herdsman, a shoemaker, and a schoolmaster, Tolstoy at rest from his labors, or laboring only at the perfecting of his own ideas, is a figure unknown to most. Yet though Moscow is Count Tolstoy's home throughout the whole of the long Russian winter, Tolstoy is in it, but not of it. He forms no part of its common social or common intellectual life. The great mass even of educated Russians know little about the greatest man who has ever lived among them ; and during the first months of my residence in the Russian capital I gleaned very little truth as to his way of life. The strangest and most contradictory reports were current, some attributing to him the wildest extravagances, and circulating perpetual rumors as to the intention of the government to expel him ; and others declaring that the authorities regarded him with favor, as a useful corrective to life materialist ideas so popular among the Russian youth. Few knew more than that he lived on the outskirts of the town, that his address was Hamovnitcheski Lane, and was situated near the famous Devitche Polye, the Hampstcad Heath of Russia's old capital, the scene on holidays of what is probably the bravest merrymaking in the world. It was with the object of learning the real facts, and of gaining the privilege of speaking to the greatest Russian of his time, that in the midwinter of 1898-99 I sought an introduction. To Russians, Tolstoy is not always accessible. His family know that if he were to receive the thousands who seek his acquaintance his time would be taken up with nothing else. But it is everywhere one of the privileges of foreigners that they are few in numbers, and therefore enjoy exceptional opportunities, quite apart from any personal claim. To Englishmen, I had been told, Tolstoy was especially indulgent; but whether this was due to their comparative scarcity or to any personal predilection, I have never heard. But, whatever be the canse, my request for permission to call upon him was favorably answered. A drive of half an hour will take you from the center of Moscow to the street where Tolstoy lives. It is a wonderful half hour—especially when made, as it must be, in winter—and a fitting road for such a pilgrimage. Moscow is always a city of marvel ; but Moscow in winter, and by moonlight, is a miracle. And from the center of Moscow to the house of the Tolstoys, almost on the margin of the surrounding forests, is the most miraculous part of all. If you were to sit in an exhibition and watcli unrolling before you an historical and pictorial panorama of ancient and modern Russia, you would not find more compression of opposing elements than you actually pass on the road to the Devitche Polye. From the endless boulevards and brilliant streets you glide rapidly through frozen snow into the Parisian domain of the great Moscow arcade, across the Red Square, with its frightful associations and monstrous Oriental temple of Basil the Blessed, and then slowly up the hill through the sacred gate of the Kremlin. And once in the Kremlin, you traverse a spot where are concentrated all the associations of Russia—historical, official, and religious. It is the whole history of Russia written in stone and stucco, a microcosm of the country as it appears to a careless observer,—all royalty, religion, and police. The hideous orange-painted palace of the Czars, the barrack offices of the administration, and the temples and monasteries crowded upon tho hilltop seem to hold dominion over the town as assured as that of their occupiers over the whole of the Russian land. It is a magnificent picture. But it is a strange mental preparation for a visit to the man who has all his life waged unceasing war against the conditions which it symbolizes. Bin the home of the Tolstoys is a long cry even from the westernmost walls of the Kremlin. There is much more religion and police before you reach Hamovnitcheski Lane. Outside its walls you flash past the great Rumantiseff Museum, in the moonlight gleaming whiter even than the snow, and down the ill-named Prechis- tenka,—it signifies very clean, and indeed now in its winter whiteness it justifies the name. Then a few minutes more among the invading trees, and you reach the " House of the Countess Tolstoy," as it is ostentatiously labeled. Hamov- nitehesky Lane differs very little from any of the other old-fashioned streets in the suburbs of Moscow, and the "House of the Countess Tolstoy " differs from the other houses not at all. In its external view it resembles closely the houses of the old-fashioned Russian traders on the south of the Moskva River. It is a two-storied house, shut in from view by a high fence inclosing a large door, with stables or outhouses facing the front. Nor is there anything very characteristic of its owner in the greater part of the interior of the house. On my first visit I was surprised to see a number of military and official uniform coats hanging in the hall. The door was opened by a man-servant, and generally the interior was that of a rather homely town-house of a Russian country gentleman. Count Tolstoy's room, where he does his work, receives his visitors, and practically lives, is on the upper story. As in most
Russian houses, arranged for the purpose of maintaining equable heat, all the rooms communicate with one another, and to reach Tolstoy's room you must first pass through a number of others. It is here you catch 'the first glimpse of the Tolstoy family as they are, their relations to one another, and their relations to life. It is in no way remarkable, and in many ways a real practical help to Tolstoy, that his familv is not unanimous in support of his views. The division is admirably expressed in the economy of their Moscow home. The two rooms which you must pass through in order to reach the hermit's cell are in every way arranged as is usual among the class to which Tolstoy belongs. During my first and most of my later visits, they were thronged with people engaged chiefly in amusing themselves, and there was an air of tasteful luxury and worldly, if harmless, gayety over all. It was a fraction of the great world of which Tolstoy forms no part, but with which, for the sake of domestic union and practical efficiency, he has made a working compromise. The mechanism of the transformation which brings before you the scene of Tolstoy's real life is very simple. You descend a couple of steps, open a little door to the right, and the second scene appears. It is a little room, lighted by a single caudle by night and by three small windows by day, simply furnished, but without any affectation of simplicity. Two tables covered with books and papers, a bookcase, a sofa, and a few chairs were all the furniture which it contained, but in the dim candle-light there was a general air of overcrowding and disorder. It was plainly the room of a man who held comfort in contempt, but who looked on contempt for comfort as too natural a thing for ostentatious expression. But in all there was an air of contrast to the rest of the house, highly symbolical to those who have studied both Tolstoy's life and teachings. To such an observer
it would seem that the house, even in its moderate luxury so repellent to his ethical principles, was like the world in which ho lived. He could not ignore it ; he could not even reach his own cell without passing through it. But he had made an excellent working compromise in his own house, living his own life, and bating not an inch of his principles, but recognizing, first of all, the fact that he could not force others to live by them. It was the actual compromise which he had made in the wider world between ideas and actions, which, in spite of all his academic dogmatism, has made him an exception among extreme thinkers by his capacity to adjust himtelf in action to things as they are. The first sight of Tolstoy confirms this view. His appearance has been so often described that it is hardly necessary to say anything about it: It is the appearance of an intellectual fanatic, but not of a dreamer. He is of middle height, and the peasant's blouse puffed out behind his shoulders- produces the impression of a.distinct stoop. His expression, like that of Turgenieff, has been likened to the expression of a transfigured muzhik. But there is really nothing about him resembling the Christlike peasant at his best. His face is rude ; his nose broad, with dilated nostrils ; his mouth coarse and determined, and his forehead high, but sloping toward the top, .His eyes, small, light gray, and deeply sunken, glitter out from underneath shaggy, projecting brows. The whole expression of his face is ascetic and irritable, with a dash of Tartar ferocity coming from the eyes. Trimmed and mustached, it might be the face of a Cossack officer, but it is never that of the dreamy-and benevolent peasant. The general impression one would draw from a first glance is quite in accord with the glimpses which Tolstoy has given us of his past life. It is the face of a man with the moral instincts and moral inclinations of the ordinary man, but who differs from the ordinary man in that his whole being is dominated by a fanatical intellectual earnestness,— who, therefore,in the first struggle between instinct and conviction, would surrender immediately to conviction. But it is the face of a man who, while absolutely unshakable in his convictions, sees things as they are, and is under no delusion as to his ability to change them. But Tolstoy was not in his cell when first I entered it. In a few minutes he came in, with a copy of the Revue Blanche and a great roll of papers under his arm, and after a few words of greeting threw himself into hie armchair, and, with his general assumption that every one had read everything, began to condemn severely a story which he had been reading. He spoke in English, very correctly, but with a strong Russian accent, declaring that he had forgotten much from want of practice, but read as well as ever. Then he began to question me as to the purpose of my visit to Eussia, and finding that I had some knowledge of his own language, he lapsed suddenly into Russian, asking innumerable questions. Indeed, my first impression of Tolstoy was that of a questioner, who asked somewhat naïve questions, such as might be expected from an Oriental whose interest in tilings outside his own sphere was only just awakening. His own language lie seemed to speak with remarkable simplicity and purity, avoiding foreign words, and invariably employing the popular siudi and tudi (hither and thither) instead of the correct siudá and tuda. But the intonation of his voice showed very plainly his peasant associations. The ordinary educated Russian speaks rapidly. Tolstoy spoke slowly, mouthing every word with a droning intonation only a shade removed from the peasant's whine. He seemed in excellent health, and moved nervously and energetically, waving a ruler with his right hand. But in reply to my inquiry as to his health he said : " Up tiil now I have been very well, but I am beginning to feel old age." Then for the first time he spoke of himself, saying that he wished to get out of Moscow, and that only consideration for his wife's health kept him in town. But I afterward learned that he was in the habit of spending all i his winters in Moscow, and that he regarded, therefore, the winter-time as wasted. But as, instead of tilling the land, he was engaged in revising the manuscript of "Resurrection," few will share his regret. From Moscow he turned suddenly to the subject of the Dukhobortsi, the first and last subject of which I ever heard him speak. He told me that a number of them were emigrating from the Caucasus to Eastern Siberia, and that he was writing a letter to the captain of one of the Amur steamers, asking him to do what he could to insure their safety. He then began to speak of the condition of the Dukhobortsi in Canada, complaining that they were terribly hampered by want of ready money, and that in order to obtain capital to clear the land granted to them by the Canadian government they had been obliged to take service on the railways, thus bringing about a dispute with the regular railway employees. They had been disappointed also by the climate, finding it difficult to grow fruit, as they were accustomed to do in their former homes. His eldest son was then on his way home from Canada, whither he had accompanied the emigrants, and Tolstoy evidently spoke from his son's reports. During the whole of the spring of 1899, the Dukhobor movement was the one practical
gubject in which he seemed keenly interested, and he invariably glowed into anger or admiration when he spoke of them. " It is a wonderful work—a wonderful work," he said. "It is a great loss that more is not known about it in Europe." "But Europe could never give them any practical help. Their position in any European country would be no better than in Russia. If they had not to serve in the army, they must I*y war taxes," I said. " That is so," he said ; •' but it is a great loss that so little is known about them." Of the Dukhobor movement in general he spoke very often, and nearly always with admiration of the peasant Sutayeff, who he seemed to think was quite unknown outside his own circle. •' It is the only attempt to realize Christianity that I can see," he said, and then mentioned the Quakers, of whom he had evidently read much. But in general his conversation was desultory, and when his eye fell upon some book or paper lying near, he would take it up, drop the first subject, and begin to talk of books. He seemed to receive large numbers of works in English, especially American works on social and theological questions, and spoke about some of them very warmly. But in regard to novels his attitude was almost invariably the same. He would begin by praising them for their literary skill, characterization, and knowledge of life, and end by saying that they lacked the only justification of art — its serious interest and moral import. Of his own writings, with the exception of letters and articles upon social questions upon which he was actually engaged, he never talked ; and the general belief that he regarded his former novels as worthless prevented the question being raised. Only once he mentioned his writings, and then in connection with the translations done by Mrs. Maude, which he praised highly. Tolstoy's speech in general was witty, placid, full of aphorisms and illustrations taken from popular life, many of which are very difficult for a foreigner to understand. Only when lie spoke of oppression and wrongdoing did his manner change, and the change then was into anger, not compassion, even when dealing with misfortunes for which no one could be held responsible. He seemed a man in whom sensibility was replaced by an intense and hardly defined sense of right and wrong. Though indulgent toward differences of opinion and habits in individuals, he seemed in general impatient, irritable, and almost intolerant of opposition. Opposition on general principles seemed to annoy him. His language was the language of a man of warm, masterful temperament, to whom any attempt to subject himself to abstract rules of humility and forbearance COUNT TOLSTOY AND HIS WIFE. must be an intolerable strain. In repose his face was rigid, severe, and prophetic. He spoke with a sarcastic contempt of things which he disliked, and his laugh, even when caused by simple merriment, sounded ironical. Of Tolstoy's manner of life in Moscow I saw little, my visits being always in the evening. It seemed much less varied than at Yasnaya Polyana. He worked all the morning in a chaos of unintelligible manuscripts, dined late, and rode or received visitors in the evening. Of visitors there were a great many, and all, whether strangers or relatives, were treated on the same basis of simple familiarity, intimacy in regard to his work, intentions, and opinions being observed with all. My first visit was rut short by the count announcing that he was going with his sons and another visitor to the public baths, and he invited me to accompany the party as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The 'Banya is of course one of the great embodiments of Eussian communism, all with a minimum of privacy bath-
ing together in the hot air, and in the exhalations of their own bodies. The offer was a tempting one, and only fear of intrusion led me to refuse. In Tolstoy's way of composition there iß nothing very.remarkable except his industry and the extraordinary care which he lavishes upon the correction and revision of his manuscripts. A corrected proof is often as difficult for the printer as the original manuscript, and the manuscript, even after copying and recopying innumerable times—a wcwk which is performed by members of his family — is quite unintelligible at first glance. But in spite of all this elaboration, Tolstoy's style has none of the finish and limpidity of TurgeniefFs. Letters and articles for the foreign press prohibited by the censor in Russia are reproduced by the cyclostyle process in violet ink. The Countess Tolstoy is his chief—not always an appreciative—critic. Though Tolstoy is rather impatient of objections against his teachings on general grounds, he is indulgent to criticism in detail, and he regards indiscriminate admiration with distrust. It is said that on one occasion when told of the raptures of critics over " Master and Man," he asked, '• Have 1 written anything very stupid?" The remark is too epigrammatic to be genuine. But that the story should be told is significant of Tolstoy's deep distrust of the general tendencies of criticism in art and in life. II.—TOLSTOY ON WAR AND PEACE. It was inevitable that any one who visited Count Tolstoy in the winter of 1890 should hear his opinions of war and peace in general, and on the coming conference at The Hague in particular. The South African trouble had not then assumed an acute form, and the one great subject of interest in western Europe was the proposal of the Czar. In Russia, the interest was hardly as keen, for the students' riots overshadowed everything, and the Finnish trouble was growing bigger and bigger every day. But Tolstoy's interest, always acute in such matters, was greatly stimulated by appeals for his opinion from England and the Continent. At the time of my second visit, he had just completed a long letter in reply to a request for advice from some members of the Swedish Parliament. It was the first of a series of letters to societies and individuals, in all of which he condemned the Czar's proposals emphatically, and prophesied their failure. His Swedish correspondents had made, among others, what seemed an excellent practical suggestion,— that all persons who refused on conscientious grounds to undergo military training should pay their debt to the state by performing an equivalent amount of useful work. But the idea, which appealed to Tolstoy at first on its merits, he rejected unhesitatingly. No conference called together by governments as they existed could do anything to abolish war or lessen its evils, he declared ; and he read his letter aloud in Russian in his peculiar peasant's voice, punctuating every sentence with the words, "You understand':1 When he had concluded, he said, emphatically : "That is what ] think of the Emperor's conference! " Adding, angrily: "It is all baseness and hypocrisy—nothing more." These were his arguments : The first reason why governments cannot and will not alx>lish war is that armies and war are not accidental evils, but are symptoms and essential parts of government as it exists itself. When I say, therefore, that the conference is hypocritical, I do not mean that it is essentially so. But when you declare your intention to do something which cannot l>e done without changing your whole life, and when you do not intend to change your whole life, you must be a hypocrite. Thus the Czar's proposal is a hypocritical proposal, and its acceptance by other nations is a hypocritical acceptance, without any faith in its success. You see that the governments are proposing merely to conceal the symptoms of their own disease by diminishing the opportunities for war. By such means they • think to turn the minds of people from the true remedy, which is only to be found in their own consciences. Yet they cannot succeed even in this attempt. A conference summoned by governments cannot in any way lessen the dangers of war or even diminish its evils. Because there can be no trust between two armed men who imagine that their interests are in conflict. They cannot agree to limit their armaments, localise they have no faith in one another's promises. If they had faith in one another's promises, they would need no armies at all. And if it is not necessary to have a million men to decide a quarrel, why is it necessary to have half a million ? Why not a quarter of a million ? And if they really can decide to equalize their forces at a quarter of a million, why not at ten or one? The reason is that they do not trust one another. At the siege of Sebastopol, Prince Urusov, seeing that one of the bastions had been taken and retaken several times, and that its ultimate retention rested merely on chance, proposed to the general in command that the opposing forces should select an officer to play chess for the possession of the bastion. Of course, his proposal was laughed at. Because the commander knew that while each might consent to play chess on the chance of getting the bastion without any trouble, there was nothing to prevent the loser making a fresh attempt to capture it by force of arms. The reason why killing men instead of playing chess was adopted as a means of solving disputes was that it was the ultima ratio; and when you have killed sufficient men, your enemy must keep terms with you. But making war with limited armies is not the ultima ratio, and there is nothing to prevent the beaten side raising another army to continue the killing. It is quite true that a peace conference may lay down rules against this. But since every nation that goes to war justifies itself on the ground that its enemy has not kept faith, no nation in time of
war can regard the keeping of faith with its enemy as an obligation. You tell me that the nations have already entered into agreements as to the way in which they will carry on war. This is quite true, though the so-called rules for the humanizing of war are never kept. But no nation has ever entered into an agreement with another to limit its ability to cnrry on war. And governments i.iiiiint in anj* case limit their armaments for another reason, because each rules by force over countries whose inhabitants desire their independence. The governments distrust not only one another, but also their own subjects. But as this is a necessary function of a government, no government can bring atout peace. If all men were guided by their consciences, and trusted one another, there would be nogovernmentsand no wars. But you tell me that if governments canuotstop wars they may make them less terrible. This is a delusion in most people's minds, and a hypocritical pretense on the part of those who are interested in maintaining war. It is hypocritical pretense, because it is used with the intention of making men believe that war is less cruel than it is. Thus governments prohibit the use of explosive bullets because of the injuries they inflict, and do not prohibit ordinary bullets, which in many cases inflict just as painful injuries. They prohibit explosive bullets for the same reasons as those which prevent them killing women and children—that is to say, because it does not serve their ends, and not because it is cruel. Therefore, I do not wish that the Czar's conference may succeed any more than I believe in its success. Even if it did what it proposed to do, it would only divert men's minds from the true solution which is possible for every one. That is, for each man to be guided by COUNT TOLSTOY AT HE8T. ( From a painting by Repin.) his conscience, which tells him that all war is murder. When every man is convinced of this, there will be no more wars, and no more governments to make them. "But suppose," I said, " that a whole nation, or group of nations, were to be converted to this belief, and were to live together in ideal peace, it is still not to be expected that the world will be simultaneously converted. And suppose that an unconverted nation which maintained the old system were to threaten the lives and happiness of the converted nation. Л\гоиИ not the converted nation be forced into war again ? "No; because if they were converted, they would be led by their consciences and by Christianity, and they would know that war is murder. They would know that Christianity did not prohibit them laying down their own lives, but that it prohibited them from taking the lives of others." From the question of war and peace Tolstoy turned suddenly to an American book on theology which he was reading, and which he expressed great admiration for. But ten minutes later the question arose again under quite a different form. I had been reading a book just published by a well-known Russian writer, the object of which was to prove that war was an unprofitable speculation, and would no longer compensate any country for the sacrifices it involved. It was reported that this book had considerable effect upon the Czar in inducing him to call together the conference which Tolstoy condemned. On every page there was an insistence that moral and sentimental considerations had nothing to do with the abolition of war. War was a speculation, said the writer, and owing to changes in its nature and in the social composition of Europe, it could no longer pay. Therefore, no sensible power was likely to enter upon it. To support this view there was a great mass of material adduced as to military, financial, and social conditions of Europe. Upon this book I asked Count Tolstoy's opinion, although I was quite assured that he would answer that the author's point of view was immoral, that war was murder, and that those who did-not murder merely because it was unprofitable were as blood-guilty as those who did. But to my surprise he answered : " It is a very interesting book. It is of great value. It will serve a great purpose if every one reads it." It was my first revelation of Count Tolstoy's dualism as a theorist and a practical man. My subsequent talks with Count Tolstoy convinced me that while he judged all general questions from the point of view of literal Christianity, his method of dealing with individual problems was intensely practical. He was always ready to
approve or condemn any institution or project according as it approached or receded from the accepted standard of right and wrong. That all human institutions were equally immoral when tested by his own principles never prevented him from discussing them individually on their merits, and being quite willing to accept installments of human improvement, even though the improvement served but to perpetuate the general system which he condemned. But, brought back to generalities, he was always unfaltering. Governments, churches, institutions, and art were all unchristian, and no Christian could recognize them. Yet he repeatedly expressed admiration of workers and writers who, while supporting the existing system, used their powers to make its working easier for the people. He seemed a man who, had he had a wider sphere of action, would have been quite ready to postpone his personal faith to immediate necessities. In the narrow sphere of work which is open to him in Russia he actually does so to a considerable extent. Had he lived in a freer country, where intellectual revolt is not fed by repression, he might very well have been a practical statesman, or at least a practical revolutionary. That he would reject this view himself, there is no doubt. Yet Tolstoy essentially is not a dreamer, but a man who sees the world as it is, and knows very well that there is little chance of any immediate fundamental change. III.—WHAT WOULD TOLSTOY DO? But what would Tolstoy do were he to become as dominant in action in Russia to-morrow as he has become in Russia's thought ? It is an interesting speculation, and one upon which neither his works nor his life throws any real light. As a practical man he knows very well that his ethical abstractions could no more be realized in Russia to-morrow than in any other country. Yet lie knows Russia, its needs and its failings, much better than any other man in his position, for he is practically the only educated man who has lived as an equal among the class which is in reality all Russia—that is to say, the peasants and the workmen. And as a practical man he is quite as ready to accept installments of reform and amelioration as any Liberal in the land, though it is quite certain that no reforms which imply the maintenance of existing governments, whether in Russia or in the West, will mitigate his abstract condemnation for one moment. But while he makes his primary distinction between the present system of government by force and the ideal rule of conscience, he is quite willing to draw a secondary distinction between good governments and bad ones. What would, then, he do to save Russia, if given supreme power, while conscious of the impossibility of carrying his own extreme Christianity into effect ? The question was of especial interest to me as giving an opportunity for learning his outlook on the various rumors current a few years ago as tu the establishment in Russia of constitutional government. Tolstoy was categorical on this point, and was plainly of the Slavophile opinion that Western institutions could never be more than an excrescence upon the body politic in Russia. I had asked him how the more intelligent of the peasantry and workmen regarded those constitutional reforms which the educated non-official classes demanded with almost one voice. " What do you mean by reforms ?" he-interrupted. "Western institutions generally — a parliament, liberty of the press, legal guarantees " " What on earth have we to do with legal guarantees and Western institutions ? " he interrupted, seemingly astonished that any one should ask such a question. " Your mistake is always in assuming that Western institutions are a stereotyped model upon which all reforms should be based. It is this delusion that is at the bottom of half the wars and predatory aggressions carried on by Europeans against men of other races. If reforms are wanted in Russia, it is not either Western or Eastern reforms, but measures suited for the people, and not for other peoples. The assumption that reforms so called must be constructed upon Western models is a pure product of Western exclusiveness, and is opposed both to Christianity and to common sense." " But surely the Russians do not differ more from other European races than the European races differ from one another, and a policy which suits all the other races is therefore, prima facie, applicable to Russia." 1 do not admit for one moment that any European policy is more suited to European races than Russian policy is suited to Russia. Both are bad and opposed to Christianity. (Like many other Russians, Tolstoy always spoke of ' Europe ' as a distinct geographical unity, of which Russia forms no part.) But every nation has its own social spirit, which is as clearly defined as its religious spirit, and all this perpetual talk of modeling and remodeling has no more practical value than a proposal to reconstruct the religion of Confucius upon the religion of Christ. And what have we to do with legal guarantees ? 1 answer that question by telling you that for the mass of the Russian people the law does not exist at all. They either regard the law, as I do, as a matter wholly external to them, with which they
TOLSTOY DURING THE WORKING SEASON IN THE COUNTRY. ( Sketch by L. Pasternak.) have nothing to do, or despise it actively as a fetter which retards the development of their internal life. Western life differs from Russian m being rich in outward manifestations, civic, political, and artistic. The law is necessary to it, and it regards the law as the crown and safeguard of its being. The life of the Russian people is less expansive, and they do not regard the ¡ aw as an active factor." " But surely Russians submit to their own ¡ aws as much as we ?" " They submit to them, but they are not guided by them. It is not their submission, but their neglect of the law, which makes our people so peaceful and long-suffering. And that neglect of the law is also what makes our officials the greatest knaves in the world. You ask why ? Because the mass of the people, while they despise external restrictions, are guided by their consciences. But our educated officials continue to neglect the law, and they have emancipated themselves from their consciences. They have neither principle nor restraint, and in consequence become what they are. " When I say that the Russians are led by conscience, I do not mean to say that there is less crime and preventable misery among them than in Europe. I merely say that conscience plays here the part played by law in the West, anil just as your law fails to secure freedom from crime, so conscience here, through ignorance and error, is not infallible. The difference in practice is that the Russian peasant is quite incapable of feeling contempt or anger against a criminal. He reasons that the criminal is a man who has gone astray either from failure of judgment or through passion. This is the truth about all so-called uneducated Russians. The lower officials in Siberia, in direct defiance of the law, permit homeless convicts to pass the night in the public baths. Whatever government regulations may lay down m regard to the treatment of criminals, their general treatment is sympathetic and kindly." "But surely Russian history shows cases of gross cruelty toward criminals ? " "Gross cruelty does take place, and when it does take place it is even worse than the cruelty of European officials, for the same neglect of the law manifests itself here. But the systematic treatment of criminals as inferior beings is unknown here and inconceivable. Your prison officials may break the law by ill-treating their charges. But they never break it by indulging them. Ours break it both ways, according to the state of their consciences." I asked the count if he could define what, then, he regarded as the essential difference between the Russians and western Europeans. " The difference lies in this," he answered, emphatically, " and it is quite evident to those who know them. It is that they are more Christian —more Christian. And that distinction arises not from the fact that they are of lower culture, but from the spirit of the people, and that for centuries and centuries they have found in the teachings of Christ their only guide and protection. Your people, from the time of the Reformation, have read their Bibles intelligently and read them critically. Ours have never read them, and are only beginning to read them now. But the Russian people have preserved the tradition and the teaching of Christ, and in the absence of protective laws and institutions, such as have always existed m the West, where else should they seek for guidance of their lives ? It is this element, this reliance upon conscience and Christianity as opposed to law, which forms the great gulf between Russia and western Europe. Between Western countries there has always seemed to me very little difference. The conception of the French as vain, of the Italians as excitable, of your own countrymen as cold and calculating, may be very true. But to a Russian they are but sections of a general empire, in essentials the same, but all differing from Russia by their material spirit and their legal basis. In
Russia, Christianity and conscience play the part which material considerations and legal formalities play in western Europe." " Then do you think that the Russians are capable of producing a really higher civilization than western Europeans ? " " That I cannot say. If you mean by civilizationfrussian Western civilization, there can be no question of relative highness and lowness. I only say that an essential difference exists." " But admitting, as you do, that Russian conditions are very imperfect, on what do you rely to improve them ? " ' ' Certainly not upon what you call Western reforms. Because, having decided that there is nothing in common between Russia and Europe, there is not even a ground for experimenting with Western reforms in Russia. The Western system fails to insure real morality in the West, and why should it do better in a country for which it was not devised than' in countries for which it was ? The most we can do is to admit that Russian systems have failed equally. But I can simply repeat that it is only by developing the consciences and moral sense of mankind, whether in Russia or elsewhere, that you can look for any improvement in their condition." Tolstoy spoke very much more in the same strain, always showing himself completely out of sympathy with ordinary Russian Liberalism, and particularly with Marxism, its most popular form among the younger men. Socialism in every form lie seemed to regard as little better than autocratic despotism, saying, "Our government keeps one class in idleness by means of violence ; the Socialists would keep every one at work by violence." But he spoke of cooperation with respect, though, in the abstract, condemning industrialism in all its forms. IV.—TOLSTOY IN PRECEPT AND EXAMPLE. The question how far Count Tolstoy applies literally his principles has been much discussed, and particularly in Russia, among those who do not know him personally. Owing to the lack of publicity, and the impossibility of free discussion, there is an intense vagueness even in the minds of educated Russians as to the personalities of their famous countrymen. I remember once, a short time before my first meeting with the count, discussing the subject with two students. As is usual, both these students were mature political thinkers, one a Slavophile and reactionary, the other the son of a small tradesman and a fanatical propagandist of all the new doctrines from Marxism to Tolstoyism. Neither really knew anything about the count's life, but both were full of the astonishing fables so common in Russia. "It is mostly hypocrisy," said my Slavophile. " When a man preaches poverty, lives in luxury, and keeps up two palaces with the millions of rubles he earns with his novels he had better " "He had better say nothing; and so ought your uncle, the Bishop of , who preaches poverty also. But Lyeff Nikolaievitch does not live in luxury, and makes no millions,. I have seen him myself near Tula walking barefoot to market with his daughter, and carrying baskets on his arm. " My friend had never been near Tula, but knew very well the value of a positive statement. lie went on to give a very highly colored account of Tolstoy's work among the peasantry, declaring, among other things, that one day outside Moscow the count had walked home barefoot in the snow, having given his boots to a peasant woman who complained of chilblains. The argument continued, and gradually drifted, as most Russian arguments on literature do, into a discussion whether or not the author in question was or was not trulv penetrated by the " Russian spirit." For all Russians, like their Western critics, agree that a very distinct Russian spirit exists, and may be discerned both in their art and their social organization. But what the Russian spirit is, is a matter of eternal dispute. " If there were anything really Russian in Tolstoy's novels they would not be so popular among foreigners," said my Slavophile. " Tur- genieff is the only other Russian novelist read in the West. And Turgenieff was a Westerner. The only difference is that Tolstoy knows Russia better than Turgenieff, but he is no more a Russian. Real Russian literature is incomprehensible to western Europeans. Nobody in France or in England reads real Russian literature, but every one reads Pushkin and Tolstoy, and thinks he knows everything about Russia. But atheism and German uniforms and anarchism are not Russian. Tolstoy is an atheist with a Western education; his sons are disguised in German uniforms. ..." And my friend went on to give a highly imaginative account of the Tolstoy ménage, ending by giving his ideas of what a real Russian and a real reformer ought to be. " Father John, of Cronstadt, for instance—he is a real Russian, and a really honest man. He is the really popular man in Russia. The mass of the Russian peasantry—even those who are his own neighbors, as he admits himself—distrust Tolstoy. But Father John ? Who is it that gives every penny he earns to the poor ? Who is it that receives hundreds of letters every day from
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gle between logic and usefulness logic has lost. So he spends his time in the summer at his country home, plowing and reaping in the fields, helping the widow to gather in her crops, bargaining with tax-collectors on behalf of the poor, and giving his peasants sound practical advice as to how best to carry on their work and resist extortion. The fact that he lives in a " palace " does not trouble his conscience in the least. And in his winter home at Moscow he does not consider it necessary to. sweep the snow from the front of his house. He knows that it is better both for his gospel and for its propagation that he should spend his time to the best advantage with his pen ; and that, if his health demands exercise and recreation, it is no sin to possess a bicycle and a horse, even though these are luxuries undreamed of by the majority of the human race. All this is very characteristic, not only of Count Tolstoy, but of Russians in general. While the Russian is the very first to rush and put all his thoughts into immediate action,—a circumstance which makes the abstract revolutionary much more dangerous in Russia than elsewhere,—he is by no means a worshiper of absolute ideals either in thought or in action. As it is in Russian literature, it is very much in Russian life. The best Russian novels are distinguished from those of western Europe by the complete absence in the delineation of human character of absolute types of goodness or badness, beauty or ugliness. In all the writings of Tolstoy and Turgenieff there is not a single character personifying any absolute quality, whether good or bad. In the actions which they depict, there is the same deprecation of extravagance. The fanatic and the man of fixed ideas invariably come to a bad end. A rational compromise between ideas and facts is the essential in useful work. This characteristic of Russian ideas is admirably illustrated in Turgenieff s best-known novel, "Virgin Soil." The hero, Nezdanoff, the man of fixed ideas, breaks down when he attempts to apply them to life. But the same ideas, held in a less intense degree, and therefore more easily applicable to existing conditions, triumph in the hands of the practical factory manager, Solomin. It is said that one of Count Tolstoy's favorite books is Mr. Morloy's work " On Compromise." It is probably true. His life is an admirable example of the application of extreme ideas to action. He lives as nearly according to the literal precepts of Christianity as it is possible for any man who values practical usefulness to do. But in the conflict between his ideas and the immediate needs of the world about him it is the practical side of his character which gains the victory. V.—COUNT TOLSTOY AND THE RUSSIANS. What is Tolstoy's real relationship to the people whom he serves and idealizes ? What is the popular view of Tolstoy as an active social force ? We know that the official classes distrust ami fear him ; and that as Marxism is the only gospel of educated non-official Russia, educated non-official Russia is content with admiring him as an artist and deriding him as a moralist and political philosopher. But Tolstoy himself puts his ethical teachings on the summit ; his novels at best have been only instruments, and. as he has many times declared of late, unfit instruments. He is the last man to set any store upon his reputation as an artist, and he has condemned unhesitatingly the whole theory of art upon which his earlier works were constructed. So, if we eliminate distrustful officials, and an educated class which respects moral courage and intercession for the weak but regards the Tolstoyan gospel with contempt, we are brought at once to the bed rock of Russian society—the ueople. What do the people, what do the peasants think ? The peasants are inarticulate, and that is the first difficulty. To solve it satisfactorily would therefore require a knowledge of Russia which few Westerners possess. Tolstoy has himself declared that many even of his own peasantry regard him merely as a horn of plenty and an intercessor in time of trouble. How the Russian peasant regards unexpected benefactors, he has shown in "Resurrection." where Prince Nekliudoff fails utterly to convince his peasants of his good intentions ; and it is a fact that when at the emancipation of the serfs many enlightened proprietors wished to make a liberal distribution of their land the peasants drew back, fearing attempts at trickery. The legacy of distrust left by serfdom is strong among Russians to-day. I remember myself seeing a German traveler in Nijui Novgorod offering cigars all round to a group of bargees from the Oka, and being repulsed with the incredulous grin to which one treats a thimblerigger. There is, of course, no doubt whatever that the Russian peasant is highly responsive to kindly treatment when once he can be convinced that it is disinterested. But he requires convincing, and Tolstoy has not entirely escaped the fate which overtook his predecessor. But how do the peasants regard Tolstoy as a reformer and propagandist ? 1 made many efforts to solve this question. In Moscow he was well known, at least by appearance, and there were few whose attention had not been attracted by the sight of an aged peasant riding round the suburbs in the twilight, mounted on an excellent
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