Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/37

This page has been validated.

CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, YOUTH

17

on asceticism, which undoubtedly had its influence on Leo.

It is necessary to point out yet one other influence bearing on his early childhood which Tolstoy himself recognises. His family observed all the traditions and customs of the Greek Orthodox Church. One of these customs was the hospitality extended to all sorts of pilgrims—men as well as women, to monks and nuns, and to Yurodivy. The latter is a strange manifestation of piety, but has undoubtedly its historical meaning. It reminds one somewhat of Eastern dervishes, but is quite characteristic of Russian popular life, and it left a deep impression on Tolstoy in his early childhood.

On this subject we read in his memoirs:

"Yurodivy Gregory is a fiction. Many of them passed through our house, and I was taught to look upon them with great respect, for which I am deeply thankful to my elders. Even if hypocrites were amongst them, or if in their lives there were periods of weakness and insincerity, nevertheless the aim of their lives, though practically absurd, was so high that I rejoice that from my very childhood I unconsciously learnt to appreciate the loftiness of their purpose. They carried out the saying of Marcus Aurelius: 'There is