THE LIFE OF TOLSTOY
mowing grass, giving a poetic glamour to this work.
In the autumn he again went to Moscow, and lived a gay, society life. In all literary circles he was welcome, and in February, 1859, he was elected member of the Moscow Literary Society. According to the rules of that body, a newly-elected member had to make his inaugural speech at a general meeting. Tolstoy duly delivered his address, but the record of it has not been preserved. The subject was, "The Superiority of the Element of Art in Literature above all Temporary Tendencies."
The president of the society, A. Khomyakoff, in his reply, expressed sympathy with Tolstoy's words, but remarked that literary art does not exclude the contemporary and the casual, quoting, as an example, Tolstoy's own novel, "Three Deaths," just published, in which work, as in many others, the temporary is united with the eternal.
"Continue with the same, if possible even greater, success," concluded Khomyakoff, in his reply to Tolstoy. "Your talent is not transitory and easily exhausted; but remember that in letters the eternal and artistic constantly assimilate the temporary and transient, remodelling and ennobling