Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/29

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TOLSTOY'S FORBEARS

9

"By a strange coincidence not a single portrait of her exists, so that I cannot represent her to myself as a real, physical being. Partly, I am pleased with this, because in my imagination exists only her moral personality; and all that I know about her was beautiful, and I think that was not because the people who told me of her wished to say something kind, but because there really was great goodness in her.

"My mother was not handsome, but very well educated for her day. Besides Russian, which she wrote grammatically—an exception in her time—she knew French, English, German, and Italian, and she must have had an artistic disposition.

"She played the piano well, and her friends told me that she had a great talent for telling, and even improvising, stories. But the most precious trait in her character was her self-control, although by nature very excitable. Her maid used to tell me: 'Sometimes she grew red all over, even cried, but never used rough expressions.' She did not know them. My mother spent her childhood partly in Moscow, partly in the country with her father, an intelligent, proud, and gifted man. Her life at home with her father was, as I can tell from letters and from what I heard, very happy and pleasant. I was told that my