TOLSTOY'S FLIGHT AND DEATH
highest degree. This ennobling moral evolution rendered him more and more sensitive to his surroundings, which were in such contrast with his moral conceptions.
This contrast he had felt acutely from the moment of his first spiritual awakening at the end of the seventies. Even then he had begun to think of the necessity of changing his surroundings, or of leaving them altogether. The latter always seemed to him so easy and attractive that he did not trust the impulse, deeming it a highly selfish act to procure peace and freedom for himself at the expense of his family's grief and suffering. Therefore he kept this solution of the problem in abeyance until such time as he might become convinced that all the means he employed for the first method of solution had failed. But this period of suspense was often interrupted by painful scenes. At first these were of rare occurrence, then more frequent, until, in the last year of his life, they became almost incessant; and those for the sake of whom he had sacrificed all that was most dear rendered his life unbearable.
All who knew Tolstoy intimately are convinced that the idea to leave his home had been ripening in his mind for a long time. The proof of this is contained in a recently published letter to his wife,