Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/110

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"Such an event as that when millions of people fought each other, half a million of whom were actually killed, could not have been caused by the will of one man. Just as it is impossible for one man to undermine a mountain, so is it impossible for one man to force five hundred thousand persons to lay down their lives."

The laws of human life are compared by Tolstoy with a stencil plate, and human desires, strivings, and acts to the colours which are carelessly painted over the plate. Thanks to the stencil plate, in spite of a carelessly handled brush, we procure a correct design, because the paint does not show wherever we happen to apply it, but only at those parts reached through the pattern cut in the plate. So, from the thousands of our inco-ordinate desires, only those are realised which correspond with the open spaces in some great stencil plate of life.

The most active period of Tolstoy's life was the 'sixties. Despite his great literary work, he did not neglect his social duties. He occupied himself with the estate, spent part of his time with his family, hunted, and so forth. In 1866 he appeared as the defender of the soldier, Shibunin, who, for striking his officer, was condemned to death by the military tribunal. Tolstoy's defence was not