THE LIFE OF TOLSTOY
taking place at that time in his mind. It turned away many liberal critics from him, whilst the conservatives, not understanding with whom they had to deal, hurried to proclaim Tolstoy as one of "theirs." He stood alone, not inclining towards either side—tracing his own way.
Whilst writing "Anna Karenin," Tolstoy took a very active part in assisting the starving population of the Samara province, and earned the thanks of many hearts. In 1873, with his family, he spent the summer in the province on his newly acquired estate. Observing the life of the surrounding peasantry, Tolstoy foresaw that the great calamity of a famine was menacing the population, and the Zemstvos and the State were doing nothing to avert it. After a careful investigation in some neighbouring villages, and armed with statistics, he published in August, in the Moscow Gazette, an appeal for help. At the same time he attracted the attention of certain high personages at court; donations came in lavishly, and the present misery was considerably alleviated. Altogether nearly two million roubles in money, besides much grain, were collected for the sufferers. The following harvest was abundant, so that the aid given had really been timely, as it afforded the population the means wherewith to bridge over the hard times.