In view of the fact that Leo Nikolaevitch's diaries and letters have not yet been published in their entirety, I think it essential to make a note in connection with the character of the extracts which I have made from them in this book. These passages have been selected with the special object of illustrating Leo Nikolaevitch's attitude to suffering in general and to his own sufferings in particular. Owing to this, their context is inevitably one-sided and cannot give a general idea of his prevailing spiritual mood during the last thirty years of his life. That general mood, in spite of the conditions which oppressed Leo Nikolaevitch externally, was doubtless one of joy in life, in accordance with the characteristics of his nature, and filled with inner satisfaction, as all those who were in close communication with him for any length of time during that period can testify. And in this fact, i.e. in his preserving those characteristics in spite of all the trials to which he was subjected throughout that whole period, I see one of the most remarkable aspects of his heroic endurance.
Indeed one has but for one moment to enter in spirit into his position at that time to be truly amazed at what he succeeded in attaining in his inner life. Love for freedom in general and for personal independence was to an exceptional degree characteristic of his powerful personality. The demands of creative work attracted him to prolonged absences far from home in the midst of the most varied natural scenery, and the most different strata of humanity. The working of his mind after his spiritual awakening required the closest association with working people. For the satisfaction of his spiritual needs he required the possibility of receiving unhindered in his house all and each of those with whom he would have liked to hold intercourse, without any limitation or restriction, and consequently to show hospitality, to seat at his table on occasions, to put up for the night both the peasant of the district who had come to pay him a visit, and the passing pilgrim weary from the road, and the visitor who had come from afar seeking spiritual intercourse and help.... And of all this so needful to Tolstoy as artist and thinker, and above all as a man leading a spiritual life,—of all this he was deprived, thanks to the egoism of his family and the class prejudices ruling in his house, in which a woman's self-will was paramount. Being completely indifferent to his spiritual needs and callous to his sufferings, Sofya Andreyevna expected him in his old age, as in the first period of their life, to be continually at her side in spite of the spiritual change that had taken place in her husband, and only rarely agreed to his being absent for short intervals, and then with the greatest difficulty. Leo Nikolaevitch could not refuse these demands of hers without destroying the very small share of domestic peace without which his life in the home would have lost any sort of meaning. And in spite of all the oppressiveness of these domestic conditions, which defy description in words and, lasting as they did over thirty years, for us ordinary people would have been truly shattering, Leo Nikolaevitch, far from giving way to despair, did not even complain of his fate. On the contrary, he blamed himself for his sufferings, ascribing them to his own imperfection, and making the utmost effort to perform his family duties as irreproachably as possible. "I am all right, quite all right," he often said and wrote to his friends. At times he even displayed a childlike gaiety, and sometimes jested at the very circumstances which caused him the most suffering.
This remarkable circumstance I explain solely by the fact that Leo Nikolaevitch firmly made it his aim to do nothing but the will of God. This, and only this, he set before him as his fundamental task, and for the sake of carrying it out he consciously denied himself the satisfaction of his personal needs and any self-gratification during the whole of that second long period of his married life. And denying himself all the so-called joys of life, he incidentally attained true spiritual joy and peace, true blessedness.
The subject of Leo Nikolaevitch's inner life is, however, outside the limits of our present investigation and I have referred to it only that the reader might not receive a quite mistaken impression that Leo Nikolaevitch was lacking in that courageous joy in life affecting all around him, which, on the contrary, he possessed in the highest degree.
 As I am touching upon the general mood of Leo Nikolaevitch's spiritual life, I foresee that the extracts I have made from his diaries and letters will in many readers arouse a feeling of regret that they have hitherto not had the opportunity of reading this precious material in its entirety. And therefore I think it needful to state that the principal obstacles to the continuation of the series of issues of Tolstoy's diaries, begun several years ago, and to the systematic publication of all his writings, are now happily overcome, and the first complete edition of all Tolstoy's works is at the present time being zealously prepared for the press.
The personality of Leo Nikolaevitch's wife, Sofya Andreyevna, is connected in the closest way with the account I have given of his leaving home. I have consequently been compelled to touch upon her relations with her husband. While describing the agonising sufferings to which Leo Nikolaevitch was subjected in his family circle, I have to my regret been forced to state a great deal which appears as an attack upon the character and behaviour of his wife. And therefore, to prevent any misunderstandings on the part of readers with regard to my personal relations with her, I wish to speak out openly upon the subject.
It would perhaps have been natural for me, as a friend of Leo Nikolaevitch's, to feel bitterness and hostility towards the person who had been for him such a heavy cross during the last thirty years of his life. And it would be natural for the reader to suppose that under the influence of such feelings I could not be free from prejudice in regard to Sofya Andreyevna, and could not help, even against my will, laying the colour on thick in describing her deficiencies. There will no doubt be ill-wishers who will say that, moved by resentment, I find a satisfaction in laying bare in an exaggerated form the mistakes and failings of a person who caused me much suffering. But in spite of the naturalness of such suppositions, they would in the present case be mistaken. In reality my attitude to Leo Nikolaevitch's wife is quite different.
First of all, as in Leo Nikolaevitch's lifetime I never forgot, so after the death of both of them I never can forget, that Sofya Andreyevna was his wife, i.e. occupied quite an exceptional position in regard to him, and for the first half of their life together was the person nearest to him in the world. This circumstance alone has inspired, and still inspires, a peculiar strictness toward myself in my behaviour to her and circumspection in my judgments of her. Moreover, having been a close witness of the wonderfully loving solicitude with which Leo Nikolaevitch behaved to his wife, never losing hope of the possibility of her spiritual awakening, I could not on my side help being infected by this attitude, at least so far as not to feel ill-will or prejudice against her.
Apart from that, I do not on principle acknowledge a man's right to judge another. The character and behaviour of this or the other person depends on so many external and internal circumstances for which the person is not in the least responsible; and the most secret region in our inner consciousness, in which we really are answerable to our own conscience, is so entirely beyond the reach of any outside eye that we have neither the power nor the right to judge any but ourselves. In relation to anyone else we can judge only their actions, laying completely aside, as not within our competence, the question of the degree of their responsibility for committing them. With this point of view every censure, irritation, or vexation with anyone, to say nothing of wrath or revenge, appears merely as the sign of our own imperfection, against which, when looked upon as such, it is easier to struggle than when such feelings are regarded as legitimate.
In view of these two circumstances, though I have, willy-nilly, in the present work to exhibit Sofya Andreyevna in an unfavourable light, I have not done so from personal ill-will to her, nor in a spirit of censure, but simply through the necessity of giving a faithful picture of what Leo Nikolaevitch had to endure.
I know that many will fail to understand my true motives and will severely censure me. I resign myself to this in advance. But I confess it grieves me, grieves me deeply, that by this present book I shall be bound to cause pain to those members of Leo Nikolaevitch's family who are still alive and who are nearest to him—his children. An old friend of their father's, I have always been conscious of being a friend of the family as well, and I naturally attach particular value to good relations with them. If they feel bitter against me, I beg them to believe that, whether mistakenly or not, I have, in any case, sincerely felt myself morally bound to act in the way I have acted, for reasons set forth in the Introduction. I beg them also to consider that the present publication of the truth I knew about their father's family life was, so to speak, forcibly wrung from me by all the untruths on the subject which for many years were persistently circulated all over the world, both in speaking and writing, by their own mother and their two brothers, Ilya Lvovitch and Leo Lvovitch. These two made it a kind of profession to give public lectures on the subject. Quite recently I came across, in one of the most popular foreign newspapers, the Paris Figaro, a series of articles by Leo Lvovitch Tolstoy in which he strives to cover the memory of his father with shame and ignominy, in contradistinction to that of his mother, whose image he idealises till it becomes utterly distorted. He is so careless with the facts that, under the influence of his notorious envy and enmity for his father, he tells absolute untruths about him and definitely slanders him, though perhaps without meaning to do so. Such pernicious attacks upon Leo Nikolaevitch made in the world's Press by some of his nearest relatives give me reason to hope that his other relatives will not be surprised when they find, as their father's champion upon the same arena, one of his most intimate friends, who is able to speak more freely concerning the relations between their parents than those who are naturally constrained by the bonds of blood relationship.
It goes without saying that Sofya Andreyevna, like everyone else, had her virtues and her defects, but at the same time it will be readily understood that if Leo Nikolaevitch was reduced to the necessity of leaving her, it was not her good qualities which drove him to it. And therefore, in describing the causes of his departure, I have inevitably been forced to dwell upon the negative sides of her character.
In this brief narrative exclusively devoted to one definite event in the life of Leo Nikolaevitch and the internal and external circumstances connected with that event, I have not made it my aim to draw a general and complete picture of the characters of Leo Nikolaevitch and Sofya Andreyevna. The limited range of my special task laid upon me the necessity of keeping strictly within the limits of those of their characteristics and peculiarities which in one way or another threw a direct light upon the incident described. There could be no question of an all-round and to any extent exhaustive account of the characters of those persons, apart from the fact that such a task is far beyond my capacity. The most important and perhaps the most difficult aspect of the task which actually lay before me consisted in exhibiting in their full force the circumstances which in the end compelled Leo Nikolaevitch to take his final step, with perfect truthfulness, exaggerating nothing, of course, but at the same time concealing nothing from false delicacy. This I have tried to do as conscientiously, carefully and truthfully as I can. Though I might from the natural perhaps, but in the present case misplaced, sensibility have smoothed over the extremes of Sofya Andreyevna's behaviour, and have softened the real character of her attitude to Leo Nikolaevitch, yet in doing that I should have deprived the motives of his departure of reasonable basis and inevitability, and should have set forth Leo Nikolaevitch's impulses in a more or less distorted form—and that, of course, was inadmissible.
Even in the lifetime of Sofya Andreyevna Tolstoy I did at one time entertain the idea of publishing the truth about Leo Nikolaevitch's leaving home in her interests. I cherished the hope that from such a truthful account she might derive some conception of how much Leo Nikolaevitch suffered at her hands, how he struggled with himself, how self-sacrificingly he returned her good for evil, how persistently, in spite of everything, he believed in the divine spark in her soul, and how he rejoiced and was touched at the slightest gleam of that spark. And who knows, I said to myself, perhaps such a presentation before her eyes of what really happened, in contradistinction to the fantastic inventions with which she screened the truth from herself—perhaps this truthful picture of what Leo Nikolaevitch really did endure, might help her in time to recognise the truth, to come to herself, and to become one in soul with him who loved her so that he laid down his soul for her?
But at the time I did not decide to do this, and now I do not regret it. Apart from any external influences, there is no doubt that after Leo Nikolaevitch's death there appeared at times a certain inner softening in Sofya Andreyevna, though only of brief duration. So it was, for instance, immediately after his death, when, in the presence of several persons, she repeated in spiritual agonies that she had been the cause of his death. And though a prolonged period followed after it during which she displayed, at least in words, her former indifference or even hostility to Leo Nikolaevitch, yet before her own death, as those near her relate, she again expressed regret for the wrong she had done him. And if outwardly she repented but little, yet who can say what were her thoughts and reflections in her soul, and especially what passed in her consciousness during those dying hours and minutes when man, cut off from communication with those around him, in complete solitude before his Maker, knows that he is departing this life?
And though as she left this world Sofya Andreyevna carried with her the answer to this question, nevertheless we have no grounds for denying the possibility that the cherished hope which Leo Nikolaevitch never lost, that sooner or later she would be one with him in spirit, was realised at last before her death. Let us, too, look with a spirit of love and compassion upon the errors, the defects and the spiritual limitations of the companion of Leo Nikolaevitch's life. But at the same time let us boldly look the truth in the face, in no way softening the magnitude of the sufferings endured by Leo Nikolaevitch by concealing the true attitude of his wife to him, or by depicting her behaviour in a softened light. If we keep in mind the great divine love with which he loved her soul, then in face of the naked truth we shall not condemn, but shall sincerely compassionate, her whose destiny it was to serve as the instrument of his severest trials. And we shall understand that those trials which in the end exhausted Leo Nikolaevitch's physical forces and brought about his death were obviously needful to the manifestations in him of the fullness of spiritual strength received from him by God.
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