Part 1 out of 5
THE FORGED COUPON
And Other Stories
THE FORGED COUPON
AFTER THE DANCE
ALYOSHA THE POT
THERE ARE NO GUILTY PEOPLE
THE YOUNG TSAR
IN an age of materialism like our own the phe-
nomenon of spiritual power is as significant and
inspiring as it is rare. No longer associated with
the "divine right" of kings, it has survived the
downfall of feudal and theocratic systems as a
mystic personal emanation in place of a coercive
weapon of statecraft.
Freed from its ancient shackles of dogma and
despotism it eludes analysis. We know not how
to gauge its effect on others, nor even upon our-
selves. Like the wind, it permeates the atmos-
phere we breathe, and baffles while it stimulates
the mind with its intangible but compelling force.
This psychic power, which the dead weight of
materialism is impotent to suppress, is revealed
in the lives and writings of men of the most di-
verse creeds and nationalities. Apart from those
who, like Buddha and Mahomet, have been raised
to the height of demi-gods by worshipping mil-
lions, there are names which leap inevitably to the
mind--such names as Savonarola, Luther, Cal-
vin, Rousseau--which stand for types and ex-
emplars of spiritual aspiration. To this high
priesthood of the quick among the dead, who can
doubt that time will admit Leo Tolstoy--a genius
whose greatness has been obscured from us rather
than enhanced by his duality; a realist who strove
to demolish the mysticism of Christianity, and be-
came himself a mystic in the contemplation of
Nature; a man of ardent temperament and robust
physique, keenly susceptible to human passions
and desires, who battled with himself from early
manhood until the spirit, gathering strength with
years, inexorably subdued the flesh.
Tolstoy the realist steps without cavil into the
front rank of modern writers; Tolstoy the ideal-
ist has been constantly derided and scorned by
men of like birth and education with himself--
his altruism denounced as impracticable, his
preaching compared with his mode of life to prove
him inconsistent, if not insincere. This is the
prevailing attitude of politicians and literary men.
Must one conclude that the mass of mankind
has lost touch with idealism? On the contrary,
in spite of modern materialism, or even because of
it, many leaders of spiritual thought have arisen
in our times, and have won the ear of vast audi-
ences. Their message is a call to a simpler life,
to a recognition of the responsibilities of wealth,
to the avoidance of war by arbitration, and sink-
ing of class hatred in a deep sense of universal
Unhappily, when an idealistic creed is formu-
lated in precise and dogmatic language, it invari-
ably loses something of its pristine beauty in the
process of transmutation. Hence the Positivist
philosophy of Comte, though embodying noble
aspirations, has had but a limited influence.
Again, the poetry of Robert Browning, though
less frankly altruistic than that of Cowper or
Wordsworth, is inherently ethical, and reveals
strong sympathy with sinning and suffering hu-
manity, but it is masked by a manner that is
sometimes uncouth and frequently obscure. Ow-
ing to these, and other instances, idealism sug-
gests to the world at large a vague sentimentality
peculiar to the poets, a bloodless abstraction toyed
with by philosophers, which must remain a closed
book to struggling humanity.
Yet Tolstoy found true idealism in the toiling
peasant who believed in God, rather than in his
intellectual superior who believed in himself in the
first place, and gave a conventional assent to the
existence of a deity in the second. For the peas-
ant was still religious at heart with a naive unques-
tioning faith--more characteristic of the four-
teenth or fifteenth century than of to-day--and
still fervently aspired to God although sunk in su-
perstition and held down by the despotism of the
Greek Church. It was the cumbrous ritual and
dogma of the orthodox state religion which roused
Tolstoy to impassioned protests, and led him step
by step to separate the core of Christianity from
its sacerdotal shell, thus bringing upon himself
the ban of excommunication.
The signal mark of the reprobation of "Holy
Synod" was slow in coming--it did not, in fact,
become absolute until a couple of years after the
publication of "Resurrection," in 1901, in spite
of the attitude of fierce hostility to Church and
State which Tolstoy had maintained for so long.
This hostility, of which the seeds were primarily
sown by the closing of his school and inquisition
of his private papers in the summer of 1862, soon
grew to proportions far greater than those arising
from a personal wrong. The dumb and submis-
sive moujik found in Tolstoy a living voice to ex-
press his sufferings.
Tolstoy was well fitted by nature and circum-
stances to be the peasant's spokesman. He had
been brought into intimate contact with him in the
varying conditions of peace and war, and he knew
him at his worst and best. The old home of the
family, Yasnaya Polyana, where Tolstoy, his
brothers and sister, spent their early years in
charge of two guardian aunts, was not only a halt-
ing-place for pilgrims journeying to and from the
great monastic shrines, but gave shelter to a num-
ber of persons of enfeebled minds belonging to
the peasant class, with whom the devout and
kindly Aunt Alexandra spent many hours daily in
religious conversation and prayer.
In "Childhood" Tolstoy apostrophises with
feeling one of those "innocents," a man named
Grisha, "whose faith was so strong that you felt
the nearness of God, your love so ardent that the
words flowed from your lips uncontrolled by your
reason. And how did you celebrate his Majesty
when, words failing you, you prostrated yourself
on the ground, bathed in tears " This picture of
humble religious faith was amongst Tolstoy's
earliest memories, and it returned to comfort him
and uplift his soul when it was tossed and en-
gulfed by seas of doubt. But the affection he
felt in boyhood towards the moujiks became
tinged with contempt when his attempts to im-
prove their condition--some of which are de-
scribed in "Anna Karenina" and in the "Land-
lord's Morning"--ended in failure, owing to
the ignorance and obstinacy of the people. It
was not till he passed through the ordeal of war
in Turkey and the Crimea that he discovered in
the common soldier who fought by his side an un-
conscious heroism, an unquestioning faith in God,
a kindliness and simplicity of heart rarely pos-
sessed by his commanding officer.
The impressions made upon Tolstoy during
this period of active service gave vivid reality to
the battle-scenes in "War and Peace," and are
traceable in the reflections and conversation of the
two heroes, Prince Andre and Pierre Besukhov.
On the eve of the battle of Borodino, Prince
Andre, talking with Pierre in the presence of his
devoted soldier-servant Timokhine, says,--
"'Success cannot possibly be, nor has it ever
been, the result of strategy or fire-arms or num-
"'Then what does it result from?' said Pierre.
"'From the feeling that is in me, that is in
him'--pointing to Timokhine--'and that is in
each individual soldier.'"
He then contrasts the different spirit animating
the officers and the men.
"'The former,' he says, 'have nothing in view
but their personal interests. The critical moment
for them is the moment at which they are able to
supplant a rival, to win a cross or a new order. I
see only one thing. To-morrow one hundred
thousand Russians and one hundred thousand
Frenchmen will meet to fight; they who fight the
hardest and spare themselves the least will win
"'There's the truth, your Excellency, the real
truth,' murmurs Timokhine; 'it is not a time to
spare oneself. Would you believe it, the men of
my battalion have not tasted brandy? "It's not
a day for that," they said.'"
During the momentous battle which followed,
Pierre was struck by the steadfastness under fire
which has always distinguished the Russian soldier.
"The fall of each man acted as an increasing
stimulus. The faces of the soldiers brightened
more and more, as if challenging the storm let
loose on them."
In contrast with this picture of fine "morale"
is that of the young white-faced officer, looking
nervously about him as he walks backwards with
In other places Tolstoy does full justice to the
courage and patriotism of all grades in the Rus-
sian army, but it is constantly evident that his
sympathies are most heartily with the rank and
file. What genuine feeling and affection rings in
this sketch of Plato, a common soldier, in "War
"Plato Karataev was about fifty, judging by
the number of campaigns in which he had served;
he could not have told his exact age himself, and
when he laughed, as he often did, he showed two
rows of strong, white teeth. There was not a
grey hair on his head or in his beard, and his
bearing wore the stamp of activity, resolution, and
above all, stoicism. His face, though much
lined, had a touching expression of simplicity,
youth, and innocence. When he spoke, in his soft
sing-song voice, his speech flowed as from a well-
spring. He never thought about what he had
said or was going to say next, and the vivacity
and the rhythmical inflections of his voice gave it
a penetrating persuasiveness. Night and morn-
ing, when going to rest or getting up, he said, 'O
God, let me sleep like a stone and rise up like a
loaf.' And, sure enough, he had no sooner lain
down than he slept like a lump of lead, and in the
morning on waking he was bright and lively, and
ready for any work. He could do anything, just
not very well nor very ill; he cooked, sewed,
planed wood, cobbled his boots, and was always
occupied with some job or other, only allowing
himself to chat and sing at night. He sang, not
like a singer who knows he has listeners, but as
the birds sing to God, the Father of all, feeling it
as necessary as walking or stretching himself.
His singing was tender, sweet, plaintive, almost
feminine, in keeping with his serious countenance.
When, after some weeks of captivity his beard
had grown again, he seemed to have got rid of
all that was not his true self, the borrowed face
which his soldiering life had given him, and to
have become, as before, a peasant and a man of
the people. In the eyes of the other prisoners
Plato was just a common soldier, whom they
chaffed at times and sent on all manner of er-
rands; but to Pierre he remained ever after the
personification of simplicity and truth, such as he
had divined him to be since the first night spent
by his side."
This clearly is a study from life, a leaf from
Tolstoy's "Crimean Journal " It harmonises
with the point of view revealed in the "Letters
from Sebastopol" (especially in the second and
third series), and shows, like them, the change
effected by the realities of war in the intolerant
young aristocrat, who previously excluded all but
the comme-il-faut from his consideration. With
widened outlook and new ideals he returned to St.
Petersburg at the close of the Crimean campaign,
to be welcomed by the elite of letters and courted
by society. A few years before he would have
been delighted with such a reception. Now it
jarred on his awakened sense of the tragedy of
existence. He found himself entirely out of sym-
pathy with the group of literary men who gath-
ered round him, with Turgenev at their head.
In Tolstoy's eyes they were false, paltry, and
immoral, and he was at no pains to disguise his
opinions. Dissension, leading to violent scenes,
soon broke out between Turgenev and Tolstoy;
and the latter, completely disillusioned both in
regard to his great contemporary and to the lit-
erary world of St. Petersburg, shook off the dust
of the capital, and, after resigning his commission
in the army, went abroad on a tour through Ger-
many, Switzerland, and France.
In France his growing aversion from capital
punishment became intensified by his witnessing a
public execution, and the painful thoughts aroused
by the scene of the guillotine haunted his sensitive
spirit for long. He left France for Switzerland,
and there, among beautiful natural surroundings,
and in the society of friends, he enjoyed a respite
from mental strain.
"A fresh, sweet-scented flower seemed to have
blossomed in my spirit; to the weariness and in-
difference to all things which before possessed
me had succeeded, without apparent transition,
a thirst for love, a confident hope, an inexplicable
joy to feel myself alive."
Those halcyon days ushered in the dawn of an
intimate friendship between himself and a lady
who in the correspondence which ensued usually
styled herself his aunt, but was in fact a second
cousin. This lady, the Countess Alexandra A.
Tolstoy, a Maid of Honour of the Bedchamber,
moved exclusively in Court circles. She was in-
telligent and sympathetic, but strictly orthodox
and mondaine, so that, while Tolstoy's view of
life gradually shifted from that of an aristocrat
to that of a social reformer, her own remained
unaltered; with the result that at the end of some
forty years of frank and affectionate interchange
of ideas, they awoke to the painful consciousness
that the last link of mutual understanding had
snapped and that their friendship was at an end.
But the letters remain as a valuable and inter-
esting record of one of Tolstoy's rare friendships
with women, revealing in his unguarded confi-
dences fine shades of his many-sided nature, and
throwing light on the impression he made both on
his intimates and on those to whom he was only
known as a writer, while his moral philosophy
was yet in embryo. They are now about to ap-
pear in book form under the auspices of M.
Stakhovich, to whose kindness in giving me free
access to the originals I am indebted for the ex-
tracts which follow. From one of the countess's
first letters we learn that the feelings of affection,
hope, and happiness which possessed Tolstoy in
Switzerland irresistibly communicated themselves
to those about him.
"You are good in a very uncommon way,
she writes," and that is why it is difficult to feel
unhappy in your company. I have never seen
you without wishing to be a better creature.
Your presence is a consoling idea. . . .
know all the elements in you that revive one's
heart, possibly without your being even aware
A few years later she gives him an amusing
account of the impression his writings had already
made on an eminent statesman.
"I owe you a small episode. Not long ago,
when lunching with the Emperor, I sat next our
little Bismarck, and in a spirit of mischief I began
sounding him about you. But I had hardly ut-
tered your name when he went off at a gallop
with the greatest enthusiasm, firing off the list of
your perfections left and right, and so long as he
declaimed your praises with gesticulations, cut
and thrust, powder and shot, it was all very well
and quite in character; but seeing that I listened
with interest and attention my man took the bit
in his teeth, and flung himself into a psychic apoth-
eosis. On reaching full pitch he began to get
muddled, and floundered so helplessly in his own
phrases! all the while chewing an excellent cutlet
to the bone, that at last I realised nothing but the
tips of his ears--those two great ears of his.
What a pity I can't repeat it verbatim! but how?
There was nothing left but a jumble of confused
sounds and broken words."
Tolstoy on his side is equally expansive, and in
the early stages of the correspondence falls occa-
sionally into the vein of self-analysis which in later
days became habitual.
"As a child I believed with passion and with-
out any thought. Then at the age of fourteen I
began to think about life and preoccupied myself
with religion, but it did not adjust itself to my
theories and so I broke with it. Without it I
was able to live quite contentedly for ten years
. . . everything in my life was evenly dis-
tributed, and there was no room for religion.
Then came a time when everything grew intelli-
gible; there were no more secrets in life, but life
itself had lost its significance."
He goes on to tell of the two years that he spent
in the Caucasus before the Crimean War, when
his mind, jaded by youthful excesses, gradually
regained its freshness, and he awoke to a sense
of communion with Nature which he retained to
his life's end.
"I have my notes of that time, and now read-
ing them over I am not able to understand how a
man could attain to the state of mental exaltation
which I arrived at. It was a torturing but a
Further on he writes,--
"In those two years of intellectual work, I dis-
covered a truth which is ancient and simple, but
which yet I know better than others do. I found
out that immortal life is a reality, that love is a
reality, and that one must live for others if one
would be unceasingly happy."
At this point one realises the gulf which divides
the Slavonic from the English temperament. No
average Englishman of seven-and-twenty (as Tol-
stoy was then) would pursue reflections of this
kind, or if he did, he would in all probability keep
them sedulously to himself.
To Tolstoy and his aunt, on the contrary, it
seemed the most natural thing in the world to
indulge in egoistic abstractions and to expatiate
on them; for a Russian feels none of the Anglo-
Saxon's mauvaise honte in describing his spiritual
condition, and is no more daunted by metaphysics
than the latter is by arguments on politics and
To attune the Anglo-Saxon reader's mind to
sympathy with a mentality so alien to his own,
requires that Tolstoy's environment should be de-
scribed more fully than most of his biographers
have cared to do. This prefatory note aims,
therefore, at being less strictly biographical than
illustrative of the contributory elements and cir-
cumstances which sub-consciously influenced Tol-
stoy's spiritual evolution, since it is apparent that
in order to judge a man's actions justly one must
be able to appreciate the motives from which they
spring; those motives in turn requiring the key
which lies in his temperament, his associations, his
nationality. Such a key is peculiarly necessary to
English or American students of Tolstoy, because
of the marked contrast existing between the Rus-
sian and the Englishman or American in these
respects, a contrast by which Tolstoy himself was
forcibly struck during the visit to Switzerland, of
which mention has been already made. It is diffi-
cult to restrain a smile at the poignant mental dis-
comfort endured by the sensitive Slav in the
company of the frigid and silent English frequent-
ers of the Schweitzerhof ("Journal of Prince D.
Nekhludov " Lucerne, 1857), whose reserve,
he realised, was "not based on pride, but on the
absence of any desire to draw nearer to each
other"; while he looked back regretfully to the
pension in Paris where the table d' hote was a scene
of spontaneous gaiety. The problem of British
taciturnity passed his comprehension; but for us
the enigma of Tolstoy's temperament is half
solved if we see him not harshly silhouetted
against a blank wall, but suffused with his native
atmosphere, amid his native surroundings. Not
till we understand the main outlines of the Rus-
sian temperament can we realise the individuality
of Tolstoy himself: the personality that made him
lovable, the universality that made him great.
So vast an agglomeration of races as that which
constitutes the Russian empire cannot obviously
be represented by a single type, but it will suffice
for our purposes to note the characteristics of the
inhabitants of Great Russia among whom Tolstoy
spent the greater part of his lifetime and to whom
be belonged by birth and natural affinities.
It may be said of the average Russian that in
exchange for a precocious childhood he retains
much of a child's lightness of heart throughout
his later years, alternating with attacks of morbid
despondency. He is usually very susceptible to
feminine charm, an ardent but unstable lover,
whose passions are apt to be as shortlived as they
are violent. Story-telling and long-winded dis-
cussions give him keen enjoyment, for he is gar-
rulous, metaphysical, and argumentative. In
money matters careless and extravagant, dilatory
and venal in affairs; fond, especially in the peas-
ant class, of singing, dancing, and carousing; but
his irresponsible gaiety and heedlessness of conse-
quences balanced by a fatalistic courage and en-
durance in the face of suffering and danger.
Capable, besides, of high flights of idealism,
which result in epics, but rarely in actions, owing
to the Slavonic inaptitude for sustained and or-
ganised effort. The Englishman by contrast ap-
pears cold and calculating, incapable of rising
above questions of practical utility; neither inter-
ested in other men's antecedents and experiences
nor willing to retail his own. The catechism
which Plato puts Pierre through on their first en-
counter ("War and Peace") as to his family,
possessions, and what not, are precisely similar
to those to which I have been subjected over and
over again by chance acquaintances in country-
houses or by fellow travellers on journeys by boat
or train. The naivete and kindliness of the ques-
tioner makes it impossible to resent, though one
may feebly try to parry his probing. On the
other hand he offers you free access to the inmost
recesses of his own soul, and stupefies you with
the candour of his revelations. This, of course,
relates more to the landed and professional classes
than to the peasant, who is slower to express him-
self, and combines in a curious way a firm belief
in the omnipotence and wisdom of his social su-
periors with a rooted distrust of their intentions
regarding himself. He is like a beast of burden
who flinches from every approach, expecting al-
ways a kick or a blow. On the other hand, his
affection for the animals who share his daily work
is one of the most attractive points in his char-
acter, and one which Tolstoy never wearied of
emphasising--describing, with the simple pathos
of which he was master, the moujik inured to his
own privations but pitiful to his horse, shielding
him from the storm with his own coat, or saving
him from starvation with his own meagre ration;
and mindful of him even in his prayers, invoking,
like Plato, the blessings of Florus and Laura, pa-
tron saints of horses, because "one mustn't forget
The characteristics of a people so embedded in
the soil bear a closer relation to their native land-
scape than our own migratory populations, and
patriotism with them has a deep and vital mean-
ing, which is expressed unconsciously in their
This spirit of patriotism which Tolstoy repudi-
ated is none the less the animating power of the
noble epic, "War and Peace," and of his peasant-
tales, of his rare gift of reproducing the expressive
Slav vernacular, and of his magical art of infusing
his pictures of Russian scenery not merely with
beauty, but with spiritual significance. I can
think of no prose writer, unless it be Thoreau, so
wholly under the spell of Nature as Tolstoy; and
while Thoreau was preoccupied with the normal
phenomena of plant and animal life, Tolstoy,
coming near to Pantheism, found responses to his
moods in trees, and gained spiritual expansion
from the illimitable skies and plains. He fre-
quently brings his heroes into touch with Nature,
and endows them with all the innate mysticism of
his own temperament, for to him Nature was "a
guide to God " So in the two-fold incident of
Prince Andre and the oak tree ("War and
Peace") the Prince, though a man of action
rather than of sentiment and habitually cynical,
is ready to find in the aged oak by the roadside,
in early spring, an animate embodiment of his
"'Springtime, love, happiness?--are you still
cherishing those deceptive illusions?' the old oak
seemed to say. 'Isn't it the same fiction ever?
There is neither spring, nor love, nor happiness!
Look at those poor weather-beaten firs, always the
same . . . look at the knotty arms issuing
from all up my poor mutilated trunk--here I
am, such as they have made me, and I do not be-
lieve either in your hopes or in your illusions.'"
And after thus exercising his imagination, Prince
Andre still casts backward glances as he passes by,
"but the oak maintained its obstinate and sullen
immovability in the midst of the flowers and grass
growing at its feet. 'Yes, that oak is right, right
a thousand times over. One must leave illusions
to youth. But the rest of us know what life is
worth; it has nothing left to offer us.'"
Six weeks later he returns homeward the same
way, roused from his melancholy torpor by his
recent meeting with Natasha.
"The day was hot, there was storm in the air;
a slight shower watered the dust on the road and
the grass in the ditch; the left side of the wood
remained in the shade; the right side, lightly
stirred by the wind, glittered all wet in the sun;
everything was in flower, and from near and far
the nightingales poured forth their song. 'I
fancy there was an oak here that understood me,'
said Prince Andre to himself, looking to the left
and attracted unawares by the beauty of the very
tree he sought. The transformed old oak spread
out in a dome of deep, luxuriant, blooming ver-
dure, which swayed in a light breeze in the rays
of the setting sun. There were no longer cloven
branches nor rents to be seen; its former aspect
of bitter defiance and sullen grief had disap-
peared; there were only the young leaves, full of
sap that had pierced through the centenarian
bark, making the beholder question with surprise
if this patriarch had really given birth to them.
'Yes, it is he, indeed!' cried Prince Andre, and
he felt his heart suffused by the intense joy which
the springtime and this new life gave him . . .
'No, my life cannot end at thirty-one! . . .
It is not enough myself to feel what is within me,
others must know it too! Pierre and that "slip"
of a girl, who would have fled into cloudland,
must learn to know me! My life must colour
theirs, and their lives must mingle with mine!'"
In letters to his wife, to intimate friends, and
in his diary, Tolstoy's love of Nature is often-
times expressed. The hair shirt of the ascetic
and the prophet's mantle fall from his shoulders,
and all the poet in him wakes when, "with a feel-
ing akin to ecstasy," he looks up from his
smooth-running sledge at "the enchanting, starry
winter sky overhead," or in early spring feels on
a ramble "intoxicated by the beauty of the morn-
ing," while he notes that the buds are swelling on
the lilacs, and "the birds no longer sing at ran-
dom," but have begun to converse.
But though such allusions abound in his diary
and private correspondence, we must turn to
"The Cossacks," and "Conjugal Happiness" for
the exquisitely elaborated rural studies, which give
those early romances their fresh idyllic charm.
What is interesting to note is that this artistic
freshness and joy in Nature coexisted with acute
intermittent attacks of spiritual lassitude. In
"The Cossacks," the doubts, the mental gropings
of Olenine--whose personality but thinly veils
that of Tolstoy--haunt him betimes even among
the delights of the Caucasian woodland; Serge,
the fatalistic hero of "Conjugal Happiness,"
calmly acquiesces in the inevitableness of "love's
sad satiety " amid the scent of roses and the songs
Doubt and despondency, increased by the vexa-
tions and failures attending his philanthropic en-
deavours, at length obsessed Tolstoy to the verge
"The disputes over arbitration had become so
painful to me, the schoolwork so vague, my doubts
arising from the wish to teach others, while dis-
sembling my own ignorance of what should be
taught, were so heartrending that I fell ill. I
might then have reached the despair to which I
all but succumbed fifteen years later, if there had
not been a side of life as yet unknown to me which
promised me salvation: this was family life"
In a word, his marriage with Mademoiselle
Sophie Andreevna Bers (daughter of Dr. Bers
of Moscow) was consummated in the autumn of
1862--after a somewhat protracted courtship,
owing to her extreme youth--and Tolstoy entered
upon a period of happiness and mental peace
such as he had never known. His letters of this
period to Countess A. A. Tolstoy, his friend Fet,
and others, ring with enraptured allusions to his
new-found joy. Lassitude and indecision, mysti-
cism and altruism, all were swept aside by the im-
petus of triumphant love and of all-sufficing
conjugal happiness. When in June of the follow-
ing year a child was born, and the young wife,
her features suffused with "a supernatural
beauty" lay trying to smile at the husband who
knelt sobbing beside her, Tolstoy must have real-
ised that for once his prophetic intuition had been
unequal to its task. If his imagination could
have conceived in prenuptial days what depths of
emotion might be wakened by fatherhood, he
would not have treated the birth of Masha's first
child in "Conjugal Happiness" as a trivial ma-
terial event, in no way affecting the mutual rela-
tions of the disillusioned pair. He would have
understood that at this supreme crisis, rather than
in the vernal hour of love's avowal, the heart is
illumined with a joy which is fated "never to re-
The parting of the ways, so soon reached by
Serge and Masha, was in fact delayed in Tolstoy's
own life by his wife's intelligent assistance in his
literary work as an untiring amanuensis, and in
the mutual anxieties and pleasures attending the
care of a large family of young children. Wider
horizons opened to his mental vision, his whole
being was quickened and invigorated. "War
and Peace," "Anna Karenina," all the splendid
fruit of the teeming years following upon his mar-
riage, bear witness to the stimulus which his genius
had received. His dawning recognition of the
power and extent of female influence appears in-
cidentally in the sketches of high society in those
two masterpieces as well as in the eloquent closing
passages of "What then must we do?" (1886).
Having affirmed that "it is women who form pub-
lic opinion, and in our day women are particu-
larly powerful," he finally draws a picture of the
ideal wife who shall urge her husband and train
her children to self-sacrifice. "Such women rule
men and are their guiding stars. O women--
mothers! The salvation of the world lies in your
hands!" In that appeal to the mothers of the
world there lurks a protest which in later writings
developed into overwhelming condemnation.
True, he chose motherhood for the type of self-
sacrificing love in the treatise "On Life," which
appeared soon after "What then must we do?"
but maternal love, as exemplified in his own home
and elsewhere, appeared to him as a noble in-
stinct perversely directed.
The roots of maternal love are sunk deep in
conservatism. The child's physical well-being is
the first essential in the mother's eyes--the
growth of a vigorous body by which a vigorous
mind may be fitly tenanted--and this form of
materialism which Tolstoy as a father accepted,
Tolstoy as idealist condemned; while the penury
he courted as a lightening of his soul's burden was
averted by the strenuous exertions of his wife.
So a rift grew without blame attaching to either,
and Tolstoy henceforward wandered solitary in
spirit through a wilderness of thought, seeking
rest and finding none, coming perilously near to
suicide before he reached haven.
To many it will seem that the finest outcome
of that period of mental groping, internal strug-
gle, and contending with current ideas, lies in the
above-mentioned "What then must we do?"
Certain it is that no human document ever re-
vealed the soul of its author with greater sincer-
ity. Not for its practical suggestions, but for its
impassioned humanity, its infectious altruism,
"What then must we do?" takes its rank among
the world's few living books. It marks that stage
of Tolstoy's evolution when he made successive
essays in practical philanthropy which filled him
with discouragement, yet were "of use to his
soul" in teaching him how far below the surface
lie the seeds of human misery. The slums of
Moscow, crowded with beings sunk beyond re-
demption; the famine-stricken plains of Samara
where disease and starvation reigned, notwith-
standing the stream of charity set flowing by Tol-
stoy's appeals and notwithstanding his untiring
personal devotion, strengthened further the con-
viction, so constantly affirmed in his writings, of
the impotence of money to alleviate distress.
Whatever negations of this dictum our own sys-
tems of charitable organizations may appear to
offer, there can be no question but that in Russia
it held and holds true.
The social condition of Russia is like a tideless
sea, whose sullen quiescence is broken from time
to time by terrific storms which spend themselves
in unavailing fury. Reaction follows upon every
forward motion, and the advance made by each
succeeding generation is barely perceptible.
But in the period of peace following upon the
close of the Crimean War the soul of the Russian
people was deeply stirred by the spirit of Prog-
ress, and hope rose high on the accession of Alex-
The emancipation of the serfs was only one
among a number of projected reforms which en-
gaged men's minds. The national conscience
awoke and echoed the cry of the exiled patriot
Herzen, "Now or never!" Educational enter-
prise was aroused, and some forty schools for
peasant children were started on the model of
that opened by Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana
(1861). The literary world throbbed with new
life, and a brilliant company of young writers
came to the surface, counting among them names
of European celebrity, such as Dostoevsky, Ne-
krassov, and Saltykov. Unhappily the reign of
Progress was short. The bureaucratic circle hem-
ming in the Czar took alarm, and made haste to
secure their ascendancy by fresh measures of op-
pression. Many schools were closed, including
that of Tolstoy, and the nascent liberty of
the Press was stifled by the most rigid censor-
In this lamentable manner the history of Rus-
sia's internal misrule and disorder has continued
to repeat itself for the last sixty years, revolving
in the same vicious circle of fierce repression and
persecution and utter disregard of the rights of
individuals, followed by fierce reprisals on the
part of the persecuted; the voice of protest no
sooner raised than silenced in a prison cell or
among Siberian snow-fields, yet rising again and
again with inextinguishable reiteration; appeals
for political freedom, for constitutional govern-
ment, for better systems and wider dissemination
of education, for liberty of the Press, and for an
enlightened treatment of the masses, callously re-
ceived and rejected. The answer with which
these appeals have been met by the rulers of Rus-
sia is only too well known to the civilised world,
but the obduracy of Pharoah has called forth the
plagues of Egypt. Despite the unrivalled
agrarian fertility of Russia, famines recur with
dire frequency, with disease and riot in their train,
while the ignominious termination of the Russo-
Japanese war showed that even the magnificent
morale of the Russian soldier had been under-
mined and was tainted by the rottenness of the
authorities set over him. What in such circum-
stances as these can a handful of philanthropists
achieve, and what avails alms-giving or the scat-
tering of largesse to a people on the point of spir-
In these conditions Tolstoy's abhorrence of
money, and his assertion of its futility as a pana-
cea for human suffering, appears not merely com-
prehensible but inevitable, and his renunciation
of personal property the strictly logical outcome
of his conclusions. The partition of his estates
between his wife and children, shortly before the
outbreak of the great famine in 1892, served to
relieve his mind partially; and the writings of
Henry George, with which he became acquainted
at this critical time, were an additional incentive
to concentrate his thoughts on the land question.
He began by reading the American propagandist's
"Social Problems," which arrested his attention
by its main principles and by the clearness and
novelty of his arguments. Deeply impressed by
the study of this book, no sooner had he finished
it than he possessed himself of its forerunner,
"Progress and Poverty," in which the essence of
George's revolutionary doctrines is worked out.
The plan of land nationalisation there explained
provided Tolstoy with well thought-out and log-
ical reasons for a policy that was already more
than sympathetic to him. Here at last was a
means of ensuring economic equality for all, from
the largest landowner to the humblest peasant--
a practical suggestion how to reduce the inequali-
ties between rich and poor.
Henry George's ideas and methods are easy of
comprehension. The land was made by God for
every human creature that was born into the
world, and therefore to confine the ownership of
land to the few is wrong. If a man wants a piece
of land, he ought to pay the rest of the community
for the enjoyment of it. This payment or rent
should be the only tax paid into the Treasury of
the State. Taxation on men's own property (the
produce of their own labour) should be done away
with, and a rent graduated according to the site-
value of the land should be substituted. Monop-
olies would cease without violently and unjustly
disturbing society with confiscation and redistribu-
tion. No one would keep land idle if he were
taxed according to its value to the community,
and not according to the use to which he individ-
ually wished to put it. A man would then read-
ily obtain possession of land, and could turn it to
account and develop it without being taxed on his
own industry. All human beings would thus be-
come free in their lives and in their labour.
They would no longer be forced to toil at demor-
alising work for low wages; they would be inde-
pendent producers instead of earning a living by
providing luxuries for the rich, who had enslaved
them by monopolising the land. The single tax
thus created would ultimately overthrow the pres-
ent "civilisation" which is chiefly built up on
Tolstoy gave his whole-hearted adhesion to
this doctrine, predicting a day of enlightenment
when men would no longer tolerate a form of
slavery which he considered as revolting as that
which had so recently been abolished. Some long
conversations with Henry George, while he was
on a visit to Yasnaya Polyana, gave additional
strength to Tolstoy's conviction that in these
theories lay the elements essential to the trans-
formation and rejuvenation of human nature, go-
ing far towards the levelling of social inequalities.
But to inoculate the landed proprietors of Russia
as a class with those theories was a task which
even his genius could not hope to accomplish.
He recognised the necessity of proceeding from
the particular to the general, and that the perfect-
ing of human institutions was impossible without
a corresponding perfection in the individual. To
this end therefore the remainder of his life was
dedicated. He had always held in aversion what
he termed external epidemic influences: he now
endeavoured to free himself not only from all
current conventions, but from every association
which he had formerly cherished. Self-analysis
and general observation had taught him that men
are sensual beings, and that sensualism must die
for want of food if it were not for sex instincts,
if it were not for Art, and especially for Music.
This view of life he forcibly expressed in the
"Kreutzer Sonata," in which Woman and Music,
the two magnets of his youth, were impeached as
powers of evil. Already, in "War and Peace"
and in "Anna Karenina," his descriptions of fe-
male charms resembled catalogues of weapons
against which a man must arm himself or perish.
The beautiful Princess Helena, with her gleam-
ing shoulders, her faultless white bosom, and her
eternal smile is evidently an object of aversion to
her creator; even as the Countess Betsy, with her
petty coquetries and devices for attracting atten-
tion at the Opera and elsewhere, is a target for
his contempt. "Woman is a stumbling-block in
a man's career," remarks a philosophical husband
in "Anna Karenina." "It is difficult to love a
woman and do any good work, and the only way
to escape being reduced to inaction is to marry."
Even in his correspondence with the Countess
A. A. Tolstoy this slighting tone prevails. "A
woman has but one moral weapon instead of the
whole male arsenal. That is love, and only with
this weapon is feminine education successfully car-
ried forward " Tolstoy, in fact, betrayed a touch
of orientalism in his attitude towards women.
In part no doubt as a result of his motherless
youth, in part to the fact that his idealism was
never stimulated by any one woman as it was by
individual men, his views retained this colouring
on sex questions while they became widened and
modified in almost every other field of human
philosophy. It was only that, with a revulsion
of feeling not seldom experienced by earnest
thinkers, attraction was succeeded by a repulsion
which reached the high note of exasperation
when he wrote to a man friend, "A woman in
good health--why, she is a regular beast of
None the less, he showed great kindness and
sympathy to the women who sought his society,
appealing to him for guidance. One of these (an
American, and herself a practical philanthropist),
Miss Jane Addams, expressed with feeling her
sense of his personal influence. "The glimpse
of Tolstoy has made a profound impression on
me, not so much by what he said, as the life, the
gentleness, the soul of him. I am sure you will
understand my saying that I got more of Tolstoy's
philosophy from our conversations than I had
gotten from our books." (Quoted by Aylmer
Maude in his "Life of Tolstoy.")
As frequently happens in the lives of reformers,
Tolstoy found himself more often in affinity with
strangers than with his own kin. The estrange-
ment of his ideals from those of his wife neces-
sarily affected their conjugal relations, and the
decline of mutual sympathy inevitably induced
physical alienation. The stress of mental anguish
arising from these conditions found vent in pages
of his diaries (much of which I have been per-
mitted to read), pages containing matter too sa-
cred and intimate to use. The diaries shed a
flood of light on Tolstoy's ideas, motives, and
manner of life, and have modified some of my
opinions, explaining many hitherto obscure points,
while they have also enhanced my admiration for
the man. They not only touch on many delicate
subjects--on his relations to his wife and family
--but they also give the true reasons for leaving
his home at last, and explain why he did not do
so before. The time, it seems to me, is not ripe
for disclosures of this nature, which so closely
concern the living.
Despite a strong rein of restraint his mental
distress permeates the touching letter of fare-
well which he wrote some sixteen years before his
death. He, however, shrank from acting upon
it, being unable to satisfy himself that it was a
right step. This letter has already appeared in
foreign publications,* but it is quoted here because
* And in Birukov's short Life of Tolstoy, 1911.
of the light which it throws on the character and
disposition of the writer, the workings of his mind
being of greater moment to us than those impul-
sive actions by which he was too often judged.
"I have suffered long, dear Sophie, from the
discord between my life and my beliefs.
"I cannot constrain you to alter your life or
your accustomed ways. Neither have I had the
strength to leave you ere this, for I thought my
absence might deprive the little ones, still so
young, of whatever influence I may have over
them, and above all that I should grieve you.
But I can no longer live as I have lived these last
sixteen years, sometimes battling with you and ir-
ritating you, sometimes myself giving way to the
influences and seductions to which I am accus-
tomed and which surround me. I have now re-
solved to do what I have long desired: to go away
. . . Even as the Hindoos, at the age of sixty,
betake themselves to the jungle; even as every
aged and religious-minded man desires to conse-
crate the last years of his life to God and not to
idle talk, to making jokes, to gossiping, to lawn-
tennis; so I, having reached the age of seventy,
long with all my soul for calm and solitude, and if
not perfect harmony, at least a cessation from this
horrible discord between my whole life and my
"If I had gone away openly there would have
been entreaties, discussions: I should have wa-
vered, and perhaps failed to act on my decision,
whereas it must be so. I pray of you to forgive
me if my action grieves you. And do you, Sophie,
in particular let me go, neither seeking me out,
nor bearing me ill-will, nor blaming me . . .
the fact that I have left you does not mean that I
have cause of complaint against you . . . I
know you were not able, you were incapable of
thinking and seeing as I do, and therefore you
could not change your life and make sacrifices to
that which you did not accept. Besides, I do not
blame you; on the contrary, I remember with love
and gratitude the thirty-five long years of our life
in common, and especially the first half of the
time when, with the courage and devotion of your
maternal nature, you bravely bore what you re-
garded as your mission. You have given largely
of maternal love and made some heavy sacrifices
. . . but during the latter part of our life to-
gether, during the last fifteen years, our ways have
parted. I cannot think myself the guilty one; I
know that if I have changed it is not owing to
you, or to the world, but because I could not do
otherwise; nor can I judge you for not having
followed me, and I thank you for what you have
given me and will ever remember it with affection.
Adieu, my dear Sophie, I love you."
The personal isolation he craved was never to
be his; but the isolation of spirit essential to
leadership, whether of thought or action, grew
year by year, so that in his own household he was
veritably "in it but not of it."
At times his loneliness weighed upon him, as
when he wrote: "You would find it difficult to
imagine how isolated I am, to what an extent my
true self is despised by those who surround me."
But he must, none the less, have realised, as all
prophets and seers have done, that solitariness
of soul and freedom from the petty complexities
of social life are necessary to the mystic whose
constant endeavour is to simplify and to winnow,
the transient from the eternal.
Notwithstanding the isolation of his inner life
he remained--or it might more accurately be
said he became--the most accessible of men.
Appeals for guidance came to him from all
parts of the world--America, France, China,
Japan--while Yasnaya Polyana was the frequent
resort of those needing advice, sympathy, or prac-
tical assistance. None appealed to him in vain;
at the same time, he was exceedingly chary of ex-
plicit rules of conduct. It might be said of Tol-
stoy that he became a spiritual leader in spite of
himself, so averse was he from assuming author-
ity. His aim was ever to teach his followers
themselves to hear the inward monitory voice,
and to obey it of their own accord. "To know
the meaning of Life, you must first know the
meaning of Love," he would say; "and then see
that you do what love bids you " His distrust
of "epidemic ideas" extended to religious com-
munities and congregations.
"We must not go to meet each other, but go
each of us to God. You say it is easier to go all
together? Why yes, to dig or to mow. But
one can only draw near to God in isolation
. . . I picture the world to myself as a vast
temple, in which the light falls from above in the
very centre. To meet together all must go to-
wards the light. There we shall find ourselves,
gathered from many quarters, united with men
we did not expect to see; therein is joy."
The humility which had so completely sup-
planted his youthful arrogance, and which made
him shrink from impelling others to follow in his
steps, endued him also with the teachableness of
a child towards those whom he accepted as his
spiritual mentors. It was a peasant noncon-
formist writer, Soutaev, who by conversing with
him on the revelations of the Gospels helped him
to regain his childhood's faith, and incidentally
brought him into closer relations with religious,
but otherwise untaught, men of the people. He
saw how instead of railing against fate after the
manner of their social superiors, they endured
sickness and misfortune with a calm confidence
that all was by the will of God, as it must be and
should be. From his peasant teachers he drew
the watchwords Faith, Love, and Labour, and by
their light he established that concord in his own
life without which the concord of the universe re-
mains impossible to realise. The process of in-
ward struggle--told with unsparing truth in
"Confession"--is finely painted in "Father
Serge," whose life story points to the conclusion
at which Tolstoy ultimately arrived, namely, that
not in withdrawal from the common trials and
temptations of men, but in sharing them, lies our
best fulfilment of our duty towards mankind and
towards God. Tolstoy gave practical effect to
this principle, and to this long-felt desire to be of
use to the poor of the country, by editing and pub-
lishing, aided by his friend Chertkov,* popular
* In Russia and out of it Mr. Chertkov has been the subject of
violent attack. Many of the misunderstandings of Tolstoy's later
years have also been attributed by critics, and by those who hate
or belittle his ideas, to the influence of this friend. These at-
tacks are very regrettable and require a word of protest. From
tales, suited to the means and intelligence of the
humblest peasant. The undertaking was initiated
in 1885, and continued for many years to occupy
much of Tolstoy's time and energies. He threw
himself with ardour into his editorial duties; read-
ing and correcting manuscripts, returning them
sometimes to the authors with advice as to their
reconstruction, and making translations from for-
eign works--all this in addition to his own orig-
inal contributions, in which he carried out the
principle which he constantly laid down for his
collaborators, that literary graces must be set
aside, and that the mental calibre of those for
whom the books were primarily intended must
be constantly borne in mind. He attained a
splendid fulfilment of his own theories, employing
the moujik's expressive vernacular in portraying
his homely wisdom, religious faith, and goodness
of nature. Sometimes the prevailing simplicity
of style and motive is tinged with a vague colour-
ing of oriental legend, but the personal accent is
marked throughout. No similar achievement in
the beginning Mr. Chertkov has striven to spread the ideas of
Tolstoy, and has won neither glory nor money from his faithful
and single-hearted devotion. He has carried on his work with a
rare love and sympathy in spite of difficulties. No one appre-
ciated or valued his friendship and self-sacrifice more than
Tolstoy himself, who was firmly attached to him from the date
of his first meeting, consulting him and confiding in him at every
moment, even during Mr. Chertkov's long exile.
modern literature has awakened so universal a
sense of sympathy and admiration, perhaps be-
cause none has been so entirely a labour of love.
The series of educational primers which Tol-
stoy prepared and published concurrently with the
"Popular Tales" have had an equally large,
though exclusively Russian, circulation, being ad-
mirably suited to their purpose--that of teach-
ing young children the rudiments of history,
geography, and science. Little leisure remained
for the service of Art.
The history of Tolstoy as a man of letters
forms a separate page of his biography, and one
into which it is not possible to enter in the brief
compass of this introduction. It requires, how-
ever, a passing allusion. Tolstoy even in his early
days never seems to have approached near to that
manner of life which the literary man leads:
neither to have shut himself up in his study, nor
to have barred the entrance to disturbing friends.
On the one hand, he was fond of society, and dur-
ing his brief residence in St. Petersburg was never
so engrossed in authorship as to forego the pleas-
ure of a ball or evening entertainment. Little
wonder, when one looks back at the brilliant young
officer surrounded and petted by the great hos-
tesses of Russia. On the other hand, he was no
devotee at the literary altar. No patron of lit-
erature could claim him as his constant visitor;
no inner circle of men of letters monopolised his
idle hours. Afterwards, when he left the capital
and settled in the country, he was almost entirely
cut off from the association of literary men, and
never seems to have sought their companionship.
Nevertheless, he had all through his life many fast
friends, among them such as the poet Fet, the nov-
elist Chekhov, and the great Russian librarian
Stassov, who often came to him. These visits
always gave him pleasure. The discussions,
whether on the literary movements of the day or
on the merits of Goethe or the humour of Gogol,
were welcome interruptions to his ever-absorbing
metaphysical studies. In later life, also, though
never in touch with the rising generation of
authors, we find him corresponding with them,
criticising their style and subject matter. When
Andreev, the most modern of all modern Russian
writers, came to pay his respects to Tolstoy some
months before his death, he was received with
cordiality, although Tolstoy, as he expressed him-
self afterwards, felt that there was a great gulf
fixed between them.
Literature, as literature, had lost its charm for
him. "You are perfectly right," he writes to a
friend; "I care only for the idea, and I pay no
attention to my style " The idea was the impor-
tant thing to Tolstoy in everything that he read
or wrote. When his attention was drawn to an
illuminating essay on the poet Lermontov he was
pleased with it, not because it demonstrated Ler-
montov's position in the literary history of Rus-
sia, but because it pointed out the moral aims
which underlay the wild Byronism of his works.
He reproached the novelist Leskov, who had sent
him his latest novel, for the "exuberance" of his
flowers of speech and for his florid sentences--
beautiful in their way, he says, but inexpedient
and unnecessary. He even counselled the younger
generation to give up poetry as a form of expres-
sion and to use prose instead. Poetry, he main-
tained, was always artificial and obscure. His
attitude towards the art of writing remained to
the end one of hostility. Whenever he caught
himself working for art he was wont to reproach
himself, and his diaries contain many recrimina-
tions against his own weakness in yielding to this
besetting temptation. Yet to these very lapses
we are indebted for this collection of fragments.
The greater number of stories and plays con-
tained in these volumes date from the years fol-
lowing upon Tolstoy's pedagogic activity. Long
intervals, however, elapsed in most cases between
the original synopsis and the final touches. Thus
"Father Serge," of which he sketched the outline
to Mr. Chertkov in 1890, was so often put aside
to make way for purely ethical writings that not
till 1898 does the entry occur in his diary, "To-
day, quite unexpectedly, I finished Serge " A
year previously a dramatic incident had come to
his knowledge, which he elaborated in the play
entitled "The Man who was dead " It ran on
the lines familiarised by Enoch Arden and similar
stories, of a wife deserted by her husband and
supported in his absence by a benefactor, whom
she subsequently marries. In this instance the
supposed dead man was suddenly resuscitated as
the result of his own admissions in his cups, the
wife and her second husband being consequently
arrested and condemned to a term of imprison-
ment. Tolstoy seriously attacked the subject
during the summer of 1900, and having brought
it within a measurable distance of completion in a
shorter time than was usual with him, submitted
it to the judgment of a circle of friends. The
drama made a deep impression on the privileged
few who read it, and some mention of it appeared
in the newspapers.
Shortly afterwards a young man came to see
Tolstoy in private. He begged him to refrain
from publishing "The Man who was dead," as it
was the history of his mother's life, and would dis-
tress her gravely, besides possibly occasioning
further police intervention. Tolstoy promptly
consented, and the play remained, as it now ap-
pears, in an unfinished condition. He had al-
ready felt doubtful whether "it was a thing God
would approve," Art for Art's sake having in his
eyes no right to existence. For this reason a
didactic tendency is increasingly evident in these
later stories. "After the Ball" gives a painful
picture of Russian military cruelty; "The Forged
Coupon" traces the cancerous growth of evil,
and demonstrates with dramatic force the cumu-
lative misery resulting from one apparently trivial
act of wrongdoing.
Of the three plays included in these volumes,
"The Light that shines in Darkness" has a spe-
cial claim to our attention as an example of auto-
biography in the guise of drama. It is a speci-
men of Tolstoy's gift of seeing himself as others
saw him, and viewing a question in all its bear-
ings. It presents not actions but ideas, giving
with entire impartiality the opinions of his home
circle, of his friends, of the Church and of the
State, in regard to his altruistic propaganda and
to the anarchism of which he has been accused.
The scene of the renunciation of the estates of the
hero may be taken as a literal version of what
actually took place in regard to Tolstoy himself,
while the dialogues by which the piece is carried
forward are more like verbatim records than im-
This play was, in addition, a medium by which
Tolstoy emphasised his abhorrence of military
service, and probably for this reason its produc-
tion is absolutely forbidden in Russia. A word
may be said here on Tolstoy's so-called Anarchy,
a term admitting of grave misconstruction. In
that he denied the benefit of existing governments
to the people over whom they ruled, and in that
he stigmatised standing armies as "collections of
disciplined murderers," Tolstoy was an Anarchist;
but in that he reprobated the methods of violence,
no matter how righteous the cause at stake, and
upheld by word and deed the gospel of Love and
submission, he cannot be judged guilty of Anar-
chism in its full significance. He could not, how-
ever, suppress the sympathy which he felt with
those whose resistance to oppression brought them
into deadly conflict with autocracy. He found
in the Caucasian chieftain, Hadji Murat, a sub-
ject full of human interest and dramatic possibili-
ties; and though some eight years passed before
he corrected the manuscript for the last time (in
1903), it is evident from the numbers of entries
in his diary that it had greatly occupied his
thoughts so far back even as the period which he
spent in Tiflis prior to the Crimean war. It was
then that the final subjugation of the Caucasus
took place, and Shamil and his devoted band
made their last struggle for freedom. After the
lapse of half a century, Tolstoy gave vent in
"Hadji Murat" to the resentment which the
military despotism of Nicholas I. had roused in
his sensitive and fearless spirit.
Courage was the dominant note in Tolstoy's
character, and none have excelled him in portray-
ing brave men. His own fearlessness was of the
rarest, in that it was both physical and moral.
The mettle tried and proved at Sebastopol sus-
tained him when he had drawn on himself the
bitter animosity of "Holy Synod" and the relent-
less anger of Czardom. In spite of his non-
resistance doctrine, Tolstoy's courage was not of
the passive order. It was his natural bent to
rouse his foes to combat, rather than wait for
their attack, to put on the defensive every false-
hood and every wrong of which he was cognisant.
Truth in himself and in others was what he most
desired, and that to which he strove at all costs
to attain. He was his own severest critic, weigh-
ing his own actions, analysing his own thoughts,
and baring himself to the eyes of the world with
unflinching candour. Greatest of autobiogra-
phers, he extenuates nothing: you see the whole
man with his worst faults and best qualities; weak-
nesses accentuated by the energy with which they
are charactered, apparent waste of mental forces
bent on solving the insoluble, inherited tastes and
prejudices, altruistic impulses and virile passions,
egoism and idealism, all strangely mingled and
continually warring against each other, until from
the death-throes of spiritual conflict issued a new
birth and a new life. In the ancient Scripture
"God is love" Tolstoy discerned fresh meaning,
and strove with superhuman energy to bring home
that meaning to the world at large. His doctrine
in fact appears less as a new light in the darkness
than as a revival of the pure flame of "the Mystic
of the Galilean hills," whose teaching he accepted
while denying His divinity.
Of Tolstoy's beliefs in regard to the Christian
religion it may be said that with advancing years
he became more and more disposed to regard
religious truth as one continuous stream of spirit-
ual thought flowing through the ages of man's
history, emanating principally from the inspired
prophets and seers of Israel, India, and China.
Finally, in 1909, in a letter to a friend he summed
up his conviction in the following words:--
"For me the doctrine of Jesus is simply one of
those beautiful religious doctrines which we have
received from Egyptian, Jewish, Hindoo, Chi-
nese, and Greek antiquity. The two great prin-
ciples of Jesus: love of God--in a word absolute
perfection--and love of one's neighbour, that is
to say, love of all men without distinction, have
been preached by all the sages of the world--
Krishna, Buddha, Lao-tse, Confucius, Socrates,
Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and among
the moderns, Rousseau, Pascal, Kant, Emerson,
Channing, and many others. Religious and
moral truth is everywhere and always the same. I
have no predilection whatever for Christianity.
If I have been particularly interested in the doc-
trine of Jesus it is, firstly, because I was born in
that religion and have lived among Christians;
secondly, because I have found a great spiritual
joy in freeing the doctrine in its purity from
the astounding falsifications. wrought by the
Tolstoy's life-work was indeed a splendid striv-
ing to free truth from falsehood, to simplify the
complexities of civilisation and demonstrate their
futility. Realists as gifted have come and gone
and left but little trace. It is conceivable that
the great trilogy of "Anna Karenina," " War and
Peace," and "Resurrection" may one day be for-
gotten, but Tolstoy's teaching stands on firmer
foundations, and has stirred the hearts of thou-
sands who are indifferent to the finest display of
psychic analysis. He has taught men to venture
beyond the limits set by reason, to rise above the
actual and to find the meaning of life in love. It
was his mission to probe our moral ulcers to the
roots and to raise moribund ideals from the dust,
breathing his own vitality into them, till they rose
before our eyes as living aspirations. The spir-
itual joy of which he wrote was no rhetorical
hyperbole; it was manifest in the man himself,
and was the fount of the lofty idealism which
made him not only "the Conscience of Russia"
but of the civilised world.
Idealism is one of those large abstractions
which are invested by various minds with varying
shades of meaning, and which find expression in
an infinite number of forms. Ideals bred and fos-
tered in the heart of man receive at birth an im-
press from the life that engenders them, and when
that life is tempest-tossed the thought that springs
from it must bear a birth-mark of the storm.
That birth-mark is stamped on all Tolstoy's utter-
ances, the simplest and the most metaphysical.
But though he did not pass scathless through the
purging fires, nor escape with eyes undimmed from
the mystic light which flooded his soul, his ideal
is not thereby invalidated. It was, he admitted,
unattainable, but none the less a state of perfec-
tion to which we must continually aspire, un-
daunted by partial failure.
"There is nothing wrong in not living up to
the ideal which you have made for yourself, but
what is wrong is, if on looking back, you cannot
see that you have made the least step nearer to
How far Tolstoy's doctrines may influence suc-
ceeding generations it is impossible to foretell;
but when time has extinguished what is merely
personal or racial, the divine spark which he re-
ceived from his great spiritual forerunners in other
times and countries will undoubtedly be found
alight. His universality enabled him to unite
himself closely with them in mental sympathy;
sometimes so closely, as in the case of J. J. Rous-
seau, as to raise analogies and comparisons de-
signed to show that he merely followed in a well-
worn pathway. Yet the similarity of Tolstoy's
ideas to those of the author of the "Contrat So-
cial" hardly goes beyond a mutual distrust of
Art and Science as aids to human happiness and
virtue, and a desire to establish among mankind
a true sense of brotherhood. For the rest, the
appeals which they individually made to Human-
ity were as dissimilar as the currents of their lives,
and equally dissimilar in effect.
The magic flute of Rousseau's eloquence
breathed fanaticism into his disciples, and a desire
to mass themselves against the foes of liberty.
Tolstoy's trumpet-call sounds a deeper note. It
pierces the heart, summoning each man to the in-
quisition of his own conscience, and to justify his
existence by labour, that he may thereafter sleep
the sleep of peace.
The exaltation which he awakens owes nothing
to rhythmical language nor to subtle interpreta-
tions of sensuous emotion; it proceeds from a per-
ception of eternal truth, the truth that has love,
faith, courage, and self-sacrifice for the corner-
stones of its enduring edifice
NOTE--Owing to circumstances entirely outside the control of
the editor some of these translations have been done in haste and
there has not been sufficient time for revision.
The translators were chosen by an agent of the executor and
not by the editor.
LIST OF POSTHUMOUS WORKS, GIVING DATE
WHEN EACH WAS FINISHED OR LENGTH OF
TIME OCCUPIED IN WRITING.
Father Serge. 1890-98.
Introduction to the History of a Mother. 1894.
Memoirs of a Mother. 1894.
The Young Czar. 1894.
Diary of a Lunatic. 1896.
Hadji Murat. 1896-1904.
The Light that shines in Darkness. 1898-1901.
The Man who was dead. 1900.
After the Ball. 1903.
The Forged Coupon. 1904.
Diary of Alexander I. 1905.
The Dream. 1906.
Father Vassily. 1906.
There are no Guilty People. 1909.
The Wisdom of Children. 1909.
The Cause of it All. 1910.
Two Travellers. Date uncertain.
THE FORGED COUPON
THE FORGED COUPON
FEDOR MIHAILOVICH SMOKOVNIKOV, the presi-
dent of the local Income Tax Department, a man
of unswerving honesty--and proud of it, too--
a gloomy Liberal, a free-thinker, and an enemy
to every manifestation of religious feeling, which
he thought a relic of superstition, came home from
his office feeling very much annoyed. The Gov-
ernor of the province had sent him an extraordi-
narily stupid minute, almost assuming that his
dealings had been dishonest.
Fedor Mihailovich felt embittered, and wrote
at once a sharp answer. On his return home
everything seemed to go contrary to his wishes.
It was five minutes to five, and he expected the
dinner to be served at once, but he was told it was
not ready. He banged the door and went to his
study. Somebody knocked at the door. "Who
the devil is that?" he thought; and shouted,--
"Who is there?"
The door opened and a boy of fifteen came in,
the son of Fedor Mihailovich, a pupil of the fifth
class of the local school.
"What do you want?"
"It is the first of the month to-day, father."
"Well! You want your money?"
It had been arranged that the father should pay
his son a monthly allowance of three roubles as
pocket money. Fedor Mihailovich frowned, took
out of his pocket-book a coupon of two roubles
fifty kopeks which he found among the bank-
notes, and added to it fifty kopeks in silver out of
the loose change in his purse. The boy kept si-
lent, and did not take the money his father prof-
"Father, please give me some more in ad-
"I would not ask for it, but I have borrowed a
small sum from a friend, and promised upon my
word of honour to pay it off. My honour is dear
to me, and that is why I want another three rou-
bles. I don't like asking you; but, please, father,
give me another three roubles."
"I have told you--"
"I know, father, but just for once."
"You have an allowance of three roubles and
you ought to be content. I had not fifty kopeks
when I was your age."
"Now, all my comrades have much more.
Petrov and Ivanitsky have fifty roubles a month."
"And I tell you that if you behave like them
you will be a scoundrel. Mind that."
"What is there to mind? You never under-
stand my position. I shall be disgraced if I don't
pay my debt. It is all very well for you to speak
as you do."
"Be off, you silly boy! Be off!"
Fedor Mihailovich jumped from his seat and
pounced upon his son. "Be off, I say!" he
shouted. "You deserve a good thrashing, all
His son was at once frightened and embittered.
The bitterness was even greater than the fright.
With his head bent down he hastily turned to the
door. Fedor Mihailovich did not intend to strike
him, but he was glad to vent his wrath, and went
on shouting and abusing the boy till he had closed
When the maid came in to announce that din-
ner was ready, Fedor Mihailovich rose.
"At last!" he said. "I don't feel hungry any
He went to the dining-room with a sullen face.
At table his wife made some remark, but he gave
her such a short and angry answer that she ab-
stained from further speech. The son also did
not lift his eyes from his plate, and was silent all
the time. The trio finished their dinner in si-
lence, rose from the table and separated, without
After dinner the boy went to his room, took the
coupon and the change out of his pocket, and
threw the money on the table. After that he
took off his uniform and put on a jacket.
He sat down to work, and began to study Latin
grammar out of a dog's-eared book. After a
while he rose, closed and bolted the door, shifted
the money into a drawer, took out some ciga-
rette papers, rolled one up, stuffed it with cotton
wool, and began to smoke.
He spent nearly two hours over his grammar
and writing books without understanding a word
of what he saw before him; then he rose and be-
gan to stamp up and down the room, trying to
recollect all that his father had said to him. All
the abuse showered upon him, and worst of all
his father's angry face, were as fresh in his mem-
ory as if he saw and heard them all over again.
"Silly boy! You ought to get a good thrash-
ing!" And the more he thought of it the angrier
be grew. He remembered also how his father
said: "I see what a scoundrel you will turn out.
I know you will. You are sure to become a cheat,
if you go on like that. . . " He had cer-
tainly forgotten how he felt when he was young!
"What crime have I committed, I wonder? I
wanted to go to the theatre, and having no money
borrowed some from Petia Grouchetsky. Was
that so very wicked of me? Another father
would have been sorry for me; would have asked
how it all happened; whereas he just called me
names. He never thinks of anything but himself.
When it is he who has not got something he wants
--that is a different matter! Then all the house
is upset by his shouts. And I--I am a scoundrel,
a cheat, he says. No, I don't love him, although
he is my father. It may be wrong, but I hate
There was a knock at the door. The servant
brought a letter--a message from his friend.
They want an answer," said the servant.
The letter ran as follows: " I ask you now for
the third time to pay me back the six roubles you
have borrowed; you are trying to avoid me.
That is not the way an honest man ought to be-
have. Will you please send the amount by my
messenger? I am myself in a frightful fix. Can
you not get the money somewhere?--Yours, ac-
cording to whether you send the money or not,
with scorn, or love, Grouchetsky."
"There we have it! Such a pig! Could he
not wait a while? I will have another try."
Mitia went to his mother. This was his last
hope. His mother was very kind, and hardly
ever refused him anything. She would probably
have helped him this time also out of his trouble,
but she was in great anxiety: her younger child,
Petia, a boy of two, had fallen ill. She got angry
with Mitia for rushing so noisily into the nursery,
and refused him almost without listening to what
he had to say. Mitia muttered something to him-
self and turned to go. The mother felt sorry
for him. "Wait, Mitia,"" she said; "I have not
got the money you want now, but I will get it for
But Mitia was still raging against his father.
"What is the use of having it to-morrow, when
I want it to-day? I am going to see a friend.
That is all I have got to say."
He went out, banging the door. . . .
"Nothing else is left to me. He will tell me how
to pawn my watch," he thought, touching his
watch in his pocket.
Mitia went to his room, took the coupon and
the watch from the drawer, put on his coat, and
went to Mahin.
MAHIN was his schoolfellow, his senior, a grown-
up young man with a moustache. He gambled,
had a large feminine acquaintance, and always had
ready cash. He lived with his aunt. Mitia
quite realised that Mahin was not a respectable
fellow, but when he was in his company he could
not help doing what he wished. Mahin was in
when Mitia called, and was just preparing to go
to the theatre. His untidy room smelt of scented
soap and eau-de-Cologne.
"That's awful, old chap," said Mahin, when
Mitia telling him about his troubles, showed the
coupon and the fifty kopeks, and added that he
wanted nine roubles more. "We might, of
course, go and pawn your watch. But we might
do something far better " And Mahin winked
"Something quite simple " Mahin took the
coupon in his hand. " Put ONE before the 2.50
and it will be 12.50."
"But do such coupons exist?"
"Why, certainly; the thousand roubles notes
have coupons of 12.50. I have cashed one in
the same way."
"You don't say so?"
"Well, yes or no?" asked Mahin, taking the
pen and smoothing the coupon with the fingers of
his left hand.
"But it is wrong."
"Nonsense, indeed," thought Mitia, and again
his father's hard words came back to his memory.
"Scoundrel! As you called me that, I might as
well be it " He looked into Mahin's face.
Mahin looked at him, smiling with perfect ease.
"Well?" he said.
"All right. I don't mind."
Mahin carefully wrote the unit in front of 2.50.
"Now let us go to the shop across the road;
they sell photographers' materials there. I just
happen to want a frame--for this young person
here " He took out of his pocket a photograph
of a young lady with large eyes, luxuriant hair,
and an uncommonly well-developed bust.
"Is she not sweet? Eh?"
"Yes, yes. . .of course. . ."
"Well, you see.--But let us go."
Mahin took his coat, and they left the house.
THE two boys, having rung the door-bell, entered
the empty shop, which had shelves along the walls
and photographic appliances on them, together
with show-cases on the counters. A plain woman,
with a kind face, came through the inner door and
asked from behind the counter what they required.
"A nice frame, if you please, madam."
"At what price?" asked the woman; she wore
mittens on her swollen fingers with which she rap-
idly handled picture-frames of different shapes.
"These are fifty kopeks each; and these are a
little more expensive. There is rather a pretty
one, of quite a new style; one rouble and twenty
"All right, I will have this. But could not
you make it cheaper? Let us say one rouble."
"We don't bargain in our shop," said the
shopkeeper with a dignified air.
"Well, I will take it," said Mahin, and put
the coupon on the counter. "Wrap up the frame
and give me change. But please be quick. We
must be off to the theatre, and it is getting late."
"You have plenty of time," said the shop-
keeper, examining the coupon very closely because
of her shortsightedness.
"It will look lovely in that frame, don't you
think so? " said Mahin, turning to Mitia.
"Have you no small change? " asked the shop-
"I am sorry, I have not. My father gave me
that, so I have to cash it."
"But surely you have one rouble twenty?"
"I have only fifty kopeks in cash. But what
are you afraid of? You don't think, I suppose,
that we want to cheat you and give you bad
"Oh, no; I don't mean anything of the
"You had better give it to me back. We will
cash it somewhere else."
"How much have I to pay you back? Eleven
She made a calculation on the counter, opened
the desk, took out a ten-roubles note, looked for
change and added to the sum six twenty-kopeks
coins and two five-kopek pieces.
"Please make a parcel of the frame," said
Mahin, taking the money in a leisurely fashion.
"Yes, sir " She made a parcel and tied it
with a string.
Mitia only breathed freely when the door bell
rang behind them, and they were again in the
"There are ten roubles for you, and let me
have the rest. I will give it back to you."
Mahin went off to the theatre, and Mitia called
on Grouchetsky to repay the money he had bor-
rowed from him.
AN hour after the boys were gone Eugene Mihail-
ovich, the owner of the shop, came home, and be-
gan to count his receipts.
"Oh, you clumsy fool! Idiot that you are!"
he shouted, addressing his wife, after having seen
the coupon and noticed the forgery.
"But I have often seen you, Eugene, accepting
coupons in payment, and precisely twelve rouble
ones," retorted his wife, very humiliated, grieved,
and all but bursting into tears. "I really don't
know how they contrived to cheat me," she went
on. "They were pupils of the school, in uni-
form. One of them was quite a handsome boy,