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LEO TOLSTOY . . . . . . 2I9 



IVAN TURGENEV Frontispiece 








■' My one desire for my tomb is that they shall 
engrave upon it what my book has accomplished 
for the emancipation of the serfs." 

Ivan Turgenev. 


14 Two Russian Reformers 

perienced in all its bitterness the acrid distress 
of childhood. Long afterwards, in one of those 
projections of memory almost physical in their 
intensity, he was to picture himself as " drinking, 
with a kind of bitter pleasure, the salt water 
of his tears." But it was here, too, that he 
breathed in those unforgettable impressions of 
Russian country life with which he was after- 
wards to charm and to astonish Europe. At 
Spasskoe he learned to become a sportsman, 
and commenced those wandering habits which 
were to give liberty, through his '* Annals of a 
Sportsman," to millions of human beings. His 
love of nature was at this time almost a passion, 
and he has told us that in the evenings he would 
often steal out by himself to meet and to embrace 
— a lime-tree. Over and over again in his novels 
he returns to that mysterious Russian garden 
in which there seemed to ferment the drowsy, 
humming life of all the summers in the world. 
One sees him escaping to the solace of this 
haunted garden, a lonely boy, spied upon by 
parasites and often punished with malignant 
severity. One sees him becoming involuntarily 
a watcher, as though he had been born a con- 
noisseur of souls. For, here on the very thres- 
hold of youth, disillusion has come to him. The 
difficult relations between his father and mother 
were not concealed from these young, questioning 
eyes. Child as he was, he had learned to suspect 

Turgencv 15 

those nearest to him. Long afterwards he ex- 
claimed, with a knowledge of life that had its 
origin in his very childhood : " But as for marry- 
ing, what a cruel irony ! " 

And it was not only with lime trees that he kept 
appointments in this garden of wonder. Very 
soon he knew what it was to wait breathlessly 
for hurried footsteps on the fine sand. Very soon 
he divined some, at least, of the secrets of that 
human passion which retained for him to the very 
end something of freshness and mystery and 
tenderness. He met once suddenly among the 
raspberry bushes a young serf girl in whose presence 
he became speechless. Perhaps it was she who 
came to him in the blazing heat of a summer day 
and, though he was the master, seized him by the 
hair as she uttered the one word, ** Come." The 
name of this girl was Claudie, and forty years later 
Turgenev recalled with intense emotion "ce doux 
empoignement " of his hair. But neither Claudie 
nor any other serf girl taught him to believe in love, 
and he had already ceased to believe in the bounty 
of Providence. " It is here in this same garden," 
he wrote from Spasskoe in 1868, ** that I witnessed, 
when quite a child, the contest of an adder and a 
toad which made me for the first time doubtful of 
a good Providence." 

In order to understand not only the childhood 
of Ivan Turgenev but also the whole trend of his 
work, his aspirations, his reasonable patience, one 

i6 Two Russian Reformers 

must know something of Madame Turgenev, his 
mother. For, it was she, more than any one else, 
who imbued his youth with the idea of tyranny 
and his manhood with an unceasing resistance 
to it. Madame Turgenev had experienced tyranny 
in her own childhood. Her step-father hated her 
and ill-treated her until she reached her seventeenth 
year, when he began to persecute her with still 
more sinister attentions. She escaped from his 
house half-dressed, and took refuge with her uncle, 
Ivan Loutovinoff, at Spasskoe. In spite of the 
demands of her mother, her uncle retained the 
guardianship of his niece, and at the age of thirty 
she inherited his immense fortune, including the 
property of Spasskoe, where her husband, Serguei 
Nicolaevitch Turgenev, whom she married soon 
after her uncle's death, came to live. Here she 
lived the life of a Russian chatelaine of the old 
school. She had her own chapel and her own 
theatre, the actors being recruited from her serfs, 
who also provided her with an orchestra. Her 
adopted daughter admits, in one passage at least, 
that though she was neither young nor beautiful, 
and in spite of the fact that her face was pitted 
with smaU-pox, she was so spirituelle that she 
was always surrounded by a crowd of adorers. 
Her relations with both her sons seem to have 
been always more or less difficult, but this entry 
in her private journal, dated 1839, is addressed 
to her son Ivan : " C'est que Jean, c'est mon 

Turgenev 17 

soleil a moi ; je ne vois que lui, et lorsqu'il 
s' eclipse, je ne vois plus clair, je ne sais plus ou 
j'en suis. Le coeur d'une mere ne se trompe 
jamais, et vous savez, Jean, que mon instinct est 
plus sur que ma raison." 

It was stated in a review that Madame Turgenev 
bequeathed this journal to her son, but her adopted 
daughter maintains that it was burnt in the 
garden before her eyes in 1849. " ^^ ^^ ^^"^ virtue," 
she asks, " of the fatal law of heredity that Ivan 
Turgenev in his turn refused to publish his own 
journal, and, following the example of his mother, 
burnt it at Bougival in a garden ? " Both of 
these journals are a loss, the one to literature, the 
other to all those who would seek to understand 
the mental attitude of the serf-owners of long ago. 

Madame Turgenev could not understand how 
her son, who was a noble, could wish to become a 
writer. A writer, she tells him, is a man who 
scratches paper for money. Her son should enter 
the army and serve the Czar. She was not, how- 
ever, wholly hostile to the Arts ; and when Liszt 
came to Moscow, as he did that very year, Madame 
Turgenev went with her son to the concert-hall. 
She was unable to walk, and as, through an over- 
sight, the customary means of conveying her had 
been neglected, Ivan carried her in his arms up the 
steep steps of the concert-hall. When Madame 
Viardot came to Moscow in 1846 Madame Turgenev, 
in spite of her disapproval of her son's enthusiasm, 

i8 Two Russian Reformers 

went to hear her. " II faut avouer pourtant," 
she admitted grudgingly, '' que cette maudite 
bohemienne chante fort bien ! " 

But if Madame Turgenev was disdainful towards 
artists, she was absolutely tyrannous towards her 
serfs, even towards the doctor, Porphyre Karta- 
cheff, who accompanied Ivan when he was a 
university student in Berlin. Porphyre acted as 
a kind of superior valet, and when they returned 
to Russia the relations between master and servant 
were most cordial and Madame Turgenev alone 
continued to treat him as a serf. Ivan implored 
his miother to emancipate him, but she absolutely 
refused. Once, when her adopted daughter was 
ill, Madame Turgenev wished to call in other 
doctors, but Porphyre assured her that it was un- 
necessary and that he himself would cure the 
patient. Madame Turgenev looked him in the 
eyes as she said : " Remember, if you do not cure 
her you will go to Siberia." Porphyre accepted 
the risk and, fortunately for him, his patient 

The chatelaine was equally inflexible in her 
attitude towards her son, Nicolas, who aroused 
her anger by wishing to make a love-match with a 
Mile Schwartz. " Just as Ivan Turgenev," com- 
ments his adopted sister, "was Russian in appear- 
ance, so his brother was English. When I read 
the romance of * Jane Eyre ' I could not represent 
to myself Rochester except with the features of 

Turgenev 19 

Nicolas Turgenev." For the rest, Nicolas seemed 
to her to be a born tease, was a master of languages, 
had a strong voice as opposed to Ivan's shrill one, 
and was far less anxious than Ivan to render 
services to his fellow beings. Under the heading 
" A mon fils Nicolas " there was a note in Madame 
Turgenev's journal warning him against the 
trammels of passion. She was unable, however, 
to prevent this marriage, but when she learnt that 
her son Nicolas had children in St. Petersburg 
she would not allow them to enter her house. 
She ordered them to be brought in front of the 
window, from which she observed them dis- 
passionately, remarking that the eldest resembled 
his father at the same age. And this was her 
only comment on her grandchildren. She always 
asserted, indeed, that this union was illegal, and 
she tried uselessly to bribe her son to desert his 
wife and children. In 1849, however, she actually 
gave her consent to this marriage, just as a teirible 
affliction had fallen upon her son's household, the 
three children having died in one winter, "One 
might say," Nicolas observed long afterwards to 
his adopted sister, " that it was the malediction 
of my mother which brought about the death of 
my children." This recalled a repellent and 
characteristic scene. Madame Turgenev, for some 
reason or other, had asked her son for the portrait 
of his children, but when it arrived at Spasskoe 
she tore it into fragments. 


20 Two Russian Reformers 

Such violence was by no means unusual, and as 
one gradually realises the picture of Turgenev's 
home one begins to understand those half-savage 
interiors into which he introduces us so often 
in " The Annals of a Sportsman." There was a 
major-domo named Soboleff upon whom she 
was accustomed to vent her spleen. One of his 
duties was to bring her a glass of water, of which 
she constantly complained, finding it always of 
the wrong temperature. On one occasion, she 
threw the water in his face, after which he brought 
her more in another glass. Then, standing in front 
of an Icon, the serf exclaimed : "I swear before 
this sacred image that I have not changed the 
water. . . . That which Madame has just drunk 
is the same as the other." Madame Turgenev 
ordered him out of the room at once, and when 
he was next seen he appeared altogether a changed 
being : " Instead of the elegant evening coat, 
he was wearing a wretched grey cloth caftan and 
held a broom in his hand. An order from his 
mistress had made him forfeit his position of 
major-domo for that of sweeper of the yard. He 
remained for four years in this new employment, 
until he was replaced by the mute, the master of 

The old despot remembered well the tjTanny 
that had warped her own youth. Once she 
visited with her adopted daughter her mother's 
property, and together they explored the silent 

Turgcncv 21 

old house. As they came out of the drawing- 
room they passed into a corridor, where Madame 
Turgenev's companion was astonished at seeing 
a door barricaded by planks. " I went up to it 
and placed my hand on the old brass latch which 
stuck out between the planks, when Madame 
Turgenev seized my hand and cried out : ' Don't 
touch it, don't touch it ; these rooms are accursed.' 
I shall never forget her accent nor the expression 
of her face, such fear and hatred and fury were 
written in it." Madame Turgenev dragged her 
away from these apartments of her step-father, 
which she remembered with all the old fierce 
bitterness unassuaged. 

Life with Madame Turgenev, towards the end, 
became utterly intolerable for everybody. On 
October 28, 1845, the birthday of Ivan was being 
celebrated with the customary fete, which included 
sucking-pigs and a plentiful supply of brandy. 
The festivities took place as usual, but in the 
evening Madame Turgenev pretended to be dying. 
She sent for her confessor, and placing before her 
the portrait of her son Ivan, exclaimed, " Adieu, 
Ivan ! Adieu, Nicolas ! Adieu, my children ! " 
Then she ordered her forty servants and all the men 
employed about the house, from the attendant 
to the cashier, to say " Good-bye " to her. When 
they had filed out of the room, Madame Turgenev 
declared that she felt better, and asked for tea. 
The next day the following " order " appeared : 

22 Two Russian Reformers 

" I give orders that to-morrow morning the dis- 
obedient servants, Nicolas Jakovlef, Ivan Petrof 
and Egor Kondratatief, shall sv/eep the court in 
front of my windows." These names were those 
of the servants who had not appeared at her bed- 
side, possibly because they were a little drunk 
that evening. " Good-for-nothings ! drunkards ! " 
exclaimed Madame Turgenev — " they rejoiced at 
the death of their mistress ! " At another time 
the chatelaine said that she was too ill to allow the 
fetes of Easter week to take place. 

But Madame Turgenev had the courage of 
her qualities, and when cholera broke out in the 
village she exhibited not the faintest trace of fear. 
When it had diminished she went to confession, 
and with all her old arrogance insisted upon con- 
fessing in the presence of her little court, in spite 
of the fact that it was against the rules of the 
Church. Her despotism was quite as merciless 
as that of any one of the Russian serf-owners who 
appear in " The Annals of a Sportsman." When 
she discovered the marriage of her son, Nicolas, 
she was enraged against Poliakoff, her major-domo, 
for having kept the news from her. So furious 
was she on this occasion that she was on the point 
of throwing a huge crutch at his head when the 
entrance of Nicolas Turgenev, her brother-in-law, 
checked her, thus probably saving Poliakoff' s life. 
The next day he was banished to a distant property 
and was reduced from the rank of major-domo 

Turgencv 23 

to that of a simple copyist. His wife, Agatha, 
was enceinte at the time and sick with grief, but 
Madame Turgenev was immovable. The next 
year, however, she did repent of this particular act 
of tyrann}^ and not only restored Poliakoff to his 
old position but actually asked Agatha to pardon 
her. But it was almost impossible to make Madame 
Turgenev realise the very idea of liberty, and 
Turgenev championed the cause of the serfs in vain. 
But even in those early days he prophesied that 
the day of freedom would assuredly come. 

He also championed his brother's cause, now 
that Madame Turgenev had depiived Nicolas of 
all means of existence. To every demand his 
mother opposed a deep cunning under the mask 
of generosity. She offered, in fact, a property to 
each of her sons, but always declined to legalise 
the action. Nothing, indeed, seems to have given 
her greater amusement than this comedy of giving 
which meant nothing at all. " I pity my brother," 
protested Ivan Turgenev. " Why have you made 
him so wretched ? You accorded him authority 
to marry, you made him leave the service and 
come here with his family, while at St. Petersburg 
he was earning his living . . . and since he has 
arrived, you torture him . . . you torment him 
ceaselessly. ..." Neither of her sons was allowed 
to come into her presence without permission, 
and once when Ivan asked to see her she flew into 
a rage and tore up his portrait. But she was 

24 Two Russian Reformers 

furious when she heard that the critics had attacked 
his work ; " Comment ! toi un noble, un Tour- 
gueneff, on ose te critiquer ! " 

Towards the end the brothers left for Tour- 
guenevo, their father's property, and Madame 
Turgenev, on hearing the news, started off for 
Spasskoe in a rage. On arrival she was informed 
that her sons had entered the house for an hour 
or two, whereupon she lashed Poliakoff across 
the face for alluding to them as " our masters." 
The brothers continued to live at Tourguenevo, 
which was only a few miles away, and Nicolas 
saw his mother on November 15, 1850. The 
next day Ivan tried to see her, but was too late, 
for she was already dead. She had certainly 
become softer in these last days, for she left not 
only money but liberty to Poliakoff and Porphyre. 
" Yes ! " commented Agatha, " I have suffered 
a great deal from the late Madame Turgenev ; 
but none the less, I was very fond of her. She was 
a real mistress." 

As one reads the intimately personal memoir 
by his adopted sister, one sees how Turgenev 
struggled hopelessly against this coma of tyranny 
which lay everywhere around him. It was un- 
necessary to convince his reason ; by temperament 
he was antagonistic to the idea of owning a fellow- 
creature, and yet even he violated this deep inner 
conviction and purchased a serf girl. Turgenev 
had a rich uncle at Moscow, at whose house he met 

Turgenev 25 

a cousin, Elizabeth Turgenev, a blonde of about 
sixteen who possessed a property near Orel. She 
administered the affairs of this village herself, 
and Turgenev paid her a visit once or twice every 
week. Elizabeth had a young femme de chambre, 
a serf girl named Feoctista who was called Fetistka. 
She was not at all beautiful, but she appealed to 
Turgenev just as some of the wistful serf girls in 
his sketches appealed to him. " Fetistka," writes 
Pavlovsky, " did not strike one at first glance ; 
her beauty was not at all extraordinary. A 
brunette, thinnish, not ugly but not pretty, nothing 
more, one might have pictured her readily thus ; 
but on observing her more closely, one found in 
her drawn features, in her pretty face tanned 
by the sun, in her sad glances, something which 
attracted and charmed." Turgenev observed her 
closely ; he was charmed. 

Elizabeth Turgenev was very fond of Fetistka 
and had her dressed like a lady. Her cousin had 
already sworn to do his best to bring about the 
abolition of the serfs, but none the less he desired 
to purchase Fetistka. Elizabeth refused his price, 
saying that on no account would she be separated 
from her maid. After much bargaining the price 
of seven hundred roubles was arranged, though 
a serf girl at that time was valued at a maximum 
of fifty roubles. Turgenev took her to Spasskoe- 
Celo, where he remained in retirement with her 
for about a year. During this time he tried to 

26 Two Russian Reformers 

teach her to read, but apparently with very httle 
success. He seems, indeed, to have wearied of 
her quickly enough, and to have taken to shooting 
as a distraction. None the less, it was probably 
this romance manque that inspired that sensitive 
sympathy with a serf girl in a false position which 
is so significant in " Fathers and Sons." In that 
book it is the old-fashioned Pavel who bids his 
brother realise that a serf girl is a fellow human 
being, and it is by his advice, and not at all at the 
advice of Bazaroff, the new type, that he finally 
marries her. Turgenev sinned against his own 
conscience in this sinister purchase, but at least he 
did everything in his power for Fetistka's daughter, 
Assia, whose education was superintended by 
Madame Viardot, about whose methods Turgenev 
very nearly fought a duel with Count Tolstoy. 

It was at Spasskoe that Ivan Turgenev turned 
away from his cosmopolitan education and sought 
from a serf named Pounine the inspiration of 
Russian poetry. In " Pounine and Babourine " he 
has sketched the old serf reading aloud from a big 
book to the young master, who has just escaped 
from the French governess. The boy hangs on 
every word, renewing in the quiet garden the 
ancient traditions of his race from which aU these 
foreign preceptors were endeavouring to tear him 
away. Turgenev never lost his boyish absorption 
in nature, which is so different from verbose 
admiration of scenery. He loved best the land- 

Turgenev 27 

scapes with which human hfe blends with neither 
disdain nor terror. The magnificence of Switzer- 
land was too remote from human life to appeal 
to him whose dreams came always from the 
mountainless steppes. 

Turgenev was not merely to recall the childish 
incidents of the garden of Spasskoe. He was to 
recreate, almost as if in a trance, each of those 
poignant impressions that had been stamped 
upon his youth. Suddenly, at one or other of 
those dinners recorded so minutely in the ^' Journal 
des Goncourts," in the midst of all the Parisian 
gossip, arid, mocking, fatigued, the Russian giant 
would feel himself transplanted into that old 
garden of his Russian home. Once more to his 
nostrils, suffocated by the boulevards of Paris, 
there would return the old sweet, sharp scents, 
and he would hear through all that mordant 
chatter, the sound of hurrying footsteps darting 
through the shadows or the love-laugh of a young 
girl in the fading light. It is no wonder that these 
Parisians listened to him as he visualised across 
their dinner table these pictures penetrated by the 
distilled perfume of youth and regret. And these 
impressions, physical in their intensity and in- 
voluntarily truthful, he was to reproduce, as in a 
veritable potpourri of memories, in two exquisite 

Turgenev's " First Love " has in it more than a 
hint of actual memory — has in it, indeed, the very 

28 Two Russian Reformers 

aroma of illusion which words are usually impotent 
to disclose. It is the preservation of a boyish 
idolatry which, in at least one instance, survived 
as a stab of actual pain. Turgenev, according to 
the account of his mother's adopted daughter, 
was very much missed at home after fame had 
come to him in the outer world. One person in 
particular regretted his absence, and when he 
returned on a visit she came over and over again 
to the house in order to attract the man whom 
years before she had dismissed as a foolish boy. 

" For a woman who is nearly forty," observed 
Madame Turgenev, " she is really not so bad. 
She has put herself to all this trouble for you, and 
you have shown yourself scarcely grateful." 

" It is true," replied Turgenev in all seriousness, 
'' but at the time that I loved her I was still almost 
a child. What did I not suffer then ! ... I re- 
member that when she passed close to me, my 
heart seemed ready to leap out of my breast. . . . 
But that very happy time has passed ! Now, I 
understand that love no more. ... I have no 
longer that ardour of youth ; it was made up of 
that love which contented itself with a glance, 
with a flower that fell from her hair. It was 
enough for me to pick up that flower, and I was 
happy, and I asked for nothing more." 

It is the desire of the moth for the star incon- 
gruously blended with the scrutinising analysis 
of Turgenev that gives an acrid tenderness to #this 

Turgencv 29 

emotional experience, making, again with dis- 
concerting incongruity, a human document out 
of a work of art. 

The memory of ** Spring Torrents " was also 
precious to Turgenev, in spite of the attacks 
made upon it by the Russian critics. One day 
Pavlovsky expressed his appreciation of it, and 
Turgenev was delighted. " The whole of that 
story," said he, " is true. I have lived it and 
felt it personally. It is my own history. Madame 
Polozoff is an incarnation of the Princess Trou- 
betzkoi, whom I knew very well. In her time 
she made a great deal of sensation in Paris, and 
she is still remembered there. Pantaleone lived 
at her house. He occupied there an intermediate 
position between the role of friend and that of 
servitor. The Italian family, too, is taken from 
life. But I have changed the details and I have 
transposed, for I cannot photograph blindly. For 
example, the Princess was a native of Bohemia 
by birth ; I have drawn the type of a Russian 
grande dame of plebeian extraction. As for 
Pantaleone, I have placed him in the Italian 
family. ... I wrote this romance with real 
pleasure, and I love it as I love all my works 
written in this spirit." 

In the course of this conversation Turgenev 
protested bitterly against the Russian critics, who 
demanded always from him a thesis instead of^ 
an experience, a political proclamation instead 

30 Two Russian Reformers 

of a work of art. That is the old grudge against 
Turgenev, and it survives to the present day. 
But the charm of such exquisite regrets also sur- 
vives, and one might as well protest against the 
torrents of Spring as against this book to which 
they have lent their name, their power and their 
first rush of happiness. 

Asked which of his books he loved best, Turgenev 
replied : " 'First Love.' It is a true story, which 
happened just as I have related it and whose 
principal hero even is my father." Here, indeed, 
we have not merely a record of early passion but 
the first love of youth itself. Others have sought 
to recapture the aroma of love's first lost illusion, 
but they have done so almost invariably with 
lyric intensity of feeling. Turgenev, in this book, 
as in all his works, remains a psychologist. The 
boy watches Zinaiaida, unobserved, as he thinks, 
and from that moment he is " translated " like 
Titania's weaver. He is her slave from that 
moment, and nobody, least of all himself, can tell 
her what he feels. But in spite of all the magic 
of his dream he is curiously observant of her and 
of everybody and of everything around her. He 
notes accurately the signs of poverty in her home. 
He notices the objectionable manners of the old 
princess, her mother. Boy as he is, he analyses 
each one of her admirers and differentiates between 
the phases of their homage. He is sensitive to the 
slightest change in the girl's attitude towards him- 

Turgenev 31 

self. He is a poet to whom the sUghtest concrete 
detail preserves the significance of its moment. 
He is a lover and at the same time a realist. His 
realism, here, as always, is part of himself, in- 
voluntary, and shows itself even in the most 
exalted moments — when, for example, he kisses 
for the first time that cool white hand. Not for 
an instant does acumen lose itself in ecstasy. The 
boy knows that all do not love Zinaiaida as he 
himself loves her. Already he divines that there 
is in the atmosphere of passion something mena- 
cing and evil. Something lurks below the fair 
outer surface. All is not good in the sunlight ; 
he had learnt that lesson once and for ever in the 
Eden of Spasskoe ; and so even in this first love- 
dream of youth Turgenev was to detect the 
suggestion of passion, withering and baneful. 

The attitude of the younger towards the older 
generation is divulged in every page of this treasury 
of the heart's secrets. It is his own father and 
mother whom he reveals in this clear-eyed scrutiny 
of youth. How well he knew the exteriors of 
those familiar figures ! How well he divined what 
he was always forbidden to know — the inner 
recesses of their temperaments ! One sees the 
elderly, jealous woman dissatisfied with life and 
incapable of either adaptability or submission. 
She is suspicious of her husband and suspicious of 
her son. That bitter boyhood of the great novehst 
is mercilessly revealed without any softening 

32 Two Russian Reformers 

process of memory. The old quarrels, the old 
insults, the old recriminations vibrate into life 
after the interval of years. It is as though all the 
unuttered secrets of that old garden of his child- 
hood had been preserved in the cylinders of some 
mysterious phonograph, a phonograph to which 
nature had communicated the drowsy whispers of 
summer, a phonograph which had caught and 
mellowed all this life that had so long passed away. 
Everybody lives in this old house as though the 
novelist had restored them to life by the intensity 
of his memory. All the old bitter jealousy, the 
brooding doubt, the rancour of long ago stirs again 
restlessly in these pages. And it is in this hostile, 
difficult atmosphere that the boy's delicate secret 
swells into tremulous life. 

As he tells the story he drops a hint here and 
there, as it were half by accident, about one or 
other of these unknown people. We catch a chance 
fragment of a conversation. An exclamation is 
overheard, and gradually we know these people 
in precisely the same sense that the young lover 
of Zinaiaida knows them. Like him, we are, after 
a fashion, learning them. Like him, too, we 
divine only too quickly that all is not well in this 
idyl of first love. 

And then the Russian magician presents to us the 
ultimate illusion of his art. The boy discovers that 
Zinaiaida is in love. Not for a moment had he 
been deceived by this or that swift, sudden caprice. 

Turgenev 33 

He had suffered on those occasions, but he had 
known always that the thing he feared had not 
happened as yet. When it did happen, he recog- 
nised instantly the malady, the consuming malady 
of Phaedra, because, to no small extent, he shared 
it. Now love has come to her, but not for him. 
Somebody has the right to wait for her beside the 
fountain in the garden. Somebody is able to rouse 
the wonderful love-light in those mocking, restless 
eyes. Who is it ? All youth is stammering out 
the eternal question. And the change in the girl 
is at once as significant in its external simplicity 
and its internal complexity as the change in her 
boy lover. Each now is drawn to each because 
they breathe a common atmosphere, the baneful 
atmosphere of passion, which, even in the garden 
of Spasskoe, Turgenev had learned to suspect. 
The boy suspects now, and the little drama, in 
which all youth is compressed, develops slowly 
like youth's own secret, and without any obtrusion 
of merely fictitious incident. It is life that we 
are watching, and in spite of his equivocal in- 
souciance Turgenev has infused something of the 
terror of life into this idyl of regret. 

Somebody is waiting for the woman he loves. 
Somebody is waiting for Zinaiaida in the pervaded 
darkness of the night. Somebody will peer into 
those gleaming eyes through the shadows to learn 
the secret that had been always withheld from 
him. The boy will kill him ; he will kill the 

34 Two Russian Reformers 

enemy who has slain his dream. The fantasy of 
boyish passion has become a nightmare of hatred. 
Knife in hand he awaits the man whom Zinaiaida 
is luring into this garden which has lost its in- 
nocence. Through the long hours of the night 
he watches, and then he hears footsteps at last. 
He is ready to kill now, to kill swiftly and surely ; 
but all at once he stays his hand. It is his own 
father who is approaching the fountain in that 
mysterious garden. 

Instantly the boy's soul seems to shrivel, driven 
back into the timidity of youth. All the hidden, 
hideous background of his dear fantasy reveals 
itself. That is what life is, it seems. The suffer- 
ing of love strikes at each in turn. And now — 
so infinitely deeper is the psychology of Turgenev 
than the inflamed Byronism of the Romantics — 
the boy feels drawn towards his father by reason 
of this mystery which has entered the life of each. 
He continues to share this mystery and to be 
drawn towards the master of Zinaiaida, even 
when he sees her kissing her naked arm, red from 
the lash of his father's horsewhip. Yes, love is 
like that, too ; it has room for everything, the 
implacable malady. Here, as in all his works, 
Turgenev refuses to make life fit in with the little 
plots and plans of the experienced novelist. 
Zinaiaida, after all this inner tragedy which is 
regarded as comedy by the outside world, survives 
and marries. Her boy lover will see her again, 

Tur§:enev 35 

and will consciously seek to renew that spell which 
had brought the magic of regret into his youth. 
But some wretched little accident intervenes, and 
when at last he calls at her house it is only to hear 
that she is dead. 

In the quiet of Spasskoe the slow years followed 
each other languidly as the whisper of the outer 
world comes to those who cling to the steppes. 
It was the steppes and the natural life of the 
Russian peasant, stifled and starved though it 
was, that saved the future novelist from the 
artificial influences of his home. He was badly 
treated, but his brother Nicolas fared even worse. 
Only the servants deigned to speak the mother 
tongue. The conversations between his parents, 
often bitter and quarrelsome, were carried on in 
French, and when Varvara Petrovna uttered a 
prayer to her God it was in the polite language of 
France. Sympathy between parents and children 
was non-existent, and in his childhood Turgenev 
acquired that intensified sense of injustice which 
was afterwards to find expression in so many of 
his works. 

The days of foreign governesses and tutors 
passed, and Turgenev was placed in a school kept 
by a German in Moscow, after which he entered 
the Institut Lazaref in the same city. Here, too, 
his native language was ignored, but the boy 
became enthusiastic on the subject of Zagoskino, 
one of whose works was being read aloud by a 


36 Two Russian Reformers 

professor. "I know him by heart," he writes; 
" one day I fell on a pupil who interrupted the 
reading with my fists clenched." In 1832, in his 
fifteenth year, he left the Institut Lazaref in order 
to prepare for the University. A complete period 
of his life had already closed, a period which, 
so far as his art is concerned, was unconsciously 
fruitful. Already there had come into being that 
curious duality which is so significant in the 
evasive temperament of Turgenev. It is a com- 
monplace to explain this duality by the statement 
that there were two Turgenevs, the one occidental 
and the other oriental. The duality, however, 
lies far deeper than this, and had already asserted 
itself in his suppressed and imaginative youth. 
There were already formed, in embryo as it were, 
the two Turgenevs who were to exist always side 
by side, the one luminous, receptive, impassive, 
with a deep love of nature and a sympathy for his 
fellow man, sensitive to all impressions whether 
of life or art, the other equally sensitive, but sus- 
picious almost to the point of malady, distrustful 
alike of nature and of man, sombre with the 
ineradicable doubt of the ultimate purpose of life, 
as though his whole future had been shadowed 
by that combat between an adder and a toad in 
the garden of Spasskoe. The one Turgenev was 
to become docile, affectionate, fond of home and 
of the simplest domestic pleasures, while the 
other Turgenev, remembering all the enigmatic 

Turgencv 37 

secrets and bitter suspicions of his early home, 
was to insist, sometimes sadly, sometimes ironic- 
ally, on celibacy. Already passion had entered 
those curious twin lives, for the first of which it 
was to retain always the aroma of tenderness, of 
romance, of the eternally unexpected, while for 
the other life of that other Turgenev it was to be 
ever tainted by the poison of suspicion, by the 
gnawing regret for the misunderstood moment 
and the ironical caress. To Turgenev, as to Alfred 
de Musset, there sounded even in childhood a 
haunting whisper of a companion who was never 
to forsake him : 

Je ne suis ni dieu ni demon, 
Et tu m'as nomme par mon nom 
Quand tu m'as appel^ ton frere ; 
Ou tu vas, j'y serai toujours, 
Jusqu'au dernier de tes jours, 
Ou j'irai m'asseoir sur ta pierre. 

Le ciel m'a confie ton ccEur ; 
Quand tu seras dans la douleur, 
Viens a moi sans inquietude ; 
Je te suivrai sur le chemin, 
Mais je ne puis toucher ta main. 
Ami, je suis la Solitude. 

What solitude was to the French poet, suspicion 
became for the Russian novelist. 

But in the early university days Turgenev sur- 
rendered himself to the generous influence of ideas. 
At the University of Moscow he came under the 

38 Two Russian Reformers 

spell of German philosophy, and particularly under 
that of Hegel. These influences, however, which 
inspired so many young Russians, did not damp 
the normal high spirits of youth. The devotees 
of Hegel seem to have been rather uproarious 
undergraduates, and there were frequent disturb- 
ances in the class-rooms and even the lectures were 
occasionally interrupted. In 1835, on the death 
of his father and the entry of his brother into the 
School of Artillery, the family moved to the new 
capital, and Turgenev entered the University of 
St. Petersburg. Here, no less a person than Gogol 
was one of the examiners, but it was not until he 
had resigned that the students became aware that 
he was the famous author of the " Revizor." 

Even as a boy of seventeen Turgenev had 
developed a curious love of mystification, which 
never wholly deserted him in after-life. Ques- 
tioned by a professor on the subject of trials by 
ordeal, the future novelist enumerated the different 
tests, including among them that of the calf's tail. 
Asked for details, he explained that in certain 
cases a calf's tail was greased and placed in the 
hands of the accused. The beast was then struck 
with a stick, and if its tail did not slip through 
the hands of the accused at the first blow he was 
declared innocent. Asked for references, Turgenev 
gave several, but was eventually exposed on a point 
of chronology. Years afterwards he loved to 
invent more personal mystifications. He would 

Turgenev 39 

declare himself the hero of incidents or accidents, 
ranging from the capture of a woman's heart to 
an affair of a runaway horse. He would even 
invent a wholly imaginary game bag and invite his 
friends to dinner on the strength of it. In short, 
he was to jest on the most trivial and on the most 
serious matters. 

At Petersburg, however, he was seized by 
literary aspirations for the first time, although 
he had already made crude attempts at poetry in 
his school days. Already, too, the love of wander- 
ing, which he has so often interpreted, seems to 
have entered his heart. In 1838 he started on his 
first journey abroad on the steamer Nicholas I. 
The crossing was not without a hint of tragedy, 
for the young student was startled while at a game 
of cards by the cry of ** Fire." Turgenev, accord- 
ing to some accounts, dashed on deck, hustling 
women and children and crying out at the top of his 
shrill voice, which contrasted so with his enormous 
body, " Save me ! I am the only son of a rich 
widow. Ten thousand roubles to him who will 
save me." It seems that for the moment Turgenev, 
who after all was only a boy at the time, lost his 
head, though he denied specifically that he ever 
uttered the words imputed to him. In any case 
the incident is not in the least typical. What is 
typical is that years afterwards, while taking part 
in private theatricals, he exclaimed once again, 
with one knows not what touch of acrid self- 

40 Two Russian Reformers 

mockery, " Save me ! I am the only son of a rich 

Turgenev visited Europe to see, in his own 
words, " men and things, more especially men." 
It is worth while insisting upon this point because 
the future author of *' The Annals of a Sportsman " 
is said to have sworn an Oath of Hannibal against 
serfdom and to have gone to the West solely in 
search of weapons against the enemy of his country. 
Turgenev, with those sad memories of his child- 
hood in his heart, may have formulated some such 
design, but he was probably quite unconscious of 
any special mission when he commenced, with his 
mentor, Porphyre Kartacheff, his studies at Berlin. 
Here he found himself again in the familiar 
atmosphere of Hegel. But other things had 
entered his life besides German philosophy. It 
is the period of those generous illusions which 
afterwards become comparatively cold. It is 
the period in which even Turgenev was almost 
whole-hearted in his scrutiny of life. Never was 
life to be so nearly sweet as it was in these careless 
student days. These memories, at least, were to 
survive almost untainted by irony. We have 
glimpses of the young Russian enjoying life, 
indulging in a little love affair with a couturiere, 
growing enthusiastic about German poetry, and 
even rat-hunting with a spirited terrier ! He 
travels, too, in Switzerland and Italy as well as 
in Germany, until at the age of twenty-three he 

Turgenev 41 

returns to Russia. The period of youth is over. 
It is fortunately by no means a sealed book, for 
Turgenev is the Sanin of " Torrents of Spring," no 
less certainly than he is the hero of " First Love." 
Almost every great writer has one book more 
close to him than any other. Dickens has ac- 
knowledged " David Copperfield," and Turgenev 
has acknowledged " First Love," which on his 
own authority is absolutely taken from his own 
life. But there is another book which is almost 
equally personal, whose pages are also torn from 
memory. It is, indeed, a sequel to "First Love," and 
may well be said to be, with its companion volume, 
to the great Russian what " Le Petit Chose " 
was to Alphonse Daudet. For, Sanin at twenty- 
one is Turgenev himself, and the charm of that 
love-torrent at Frankfort is the charm of a re- 
membered passion. Like the author, Sanin is 
tall, with clear eyes and an attractive expression. 
Glancing back at him, Turgenev maintains that 
softness and nothing but softness was the keynote 
of his nature. But it is impossible to judge Sanin 
harshly, for all the fragrance of unsullied memory 
steals into this love-story of reality. Sanin in the 
confectioner's shop chatting with these Italians 
over chocolate and angel-cake, with the poor old 
ex-baritone dancing attendance in the background, 
who can forget the picture ? Life glides by for 
Sanin like a dream, and we share the dream even 
as we fear the exquisite regret which is to follow 

42 Two Russian Reformers 

it. Sanin, however, can be hard enough on occa- 
sion, in spite of that inner softness of his, as he 
soon proves. They were lunching together out- 
side a cafe — the beautiful Italian girl, Gemma, 
her German fiance, her brother, and Sanin himself. 
A drunken German officer recognised her as the 
daughter of a confectioner and, swaggering up to 
the table, seized a rose that belonged to her in the 
presence of her fiance. Instantly Sanin, who is 
not her fiance at all, takes up the challenge and 
rebukes the officer's insolence with all the courage 
of youth and devoted love. A duel follows as a 
matter of course, but Turgenev remains a remorse- 
lessly sincere artist who is incapable of sacrificing 
his art to the trumpet-call of the noisy romancers. 
It is life, life, life that he gives us in that duel scene 
in the fresh morning, as the doctor, openly bored, 
sits yawning on the grass while the seconds discuss 
the preliminaries. 

Sanin survives the foolish duel, and now there 
is nothing whatever to check the " torrents of 
spring " that are surging in his heart. He loves 
this beautiful Italian girl, and his secret escapes 
from him as simply and with as inevitable an 
accordance with nature as buds burst into the 
larger life. Sanin himself at this time " lives 
like a plant," and his life is almost as free from 
complexity. Gemma has broken with her German 
fiance and will marry him, Sanin. But first he 
will return to Russia and sell his property. It 

Turgenev 43 

is all quite simple, for he is his own master and 
there is nothing to stand between him and the 
girl he loves. Then he meets the ridiculous and 
clumsy Ippolit Polozov, who suggests that his rich 
wife might purchase Sanin's property. So Sanin 
drives with him to discuss the matter with Maria 
Nikolaevna, who is half a gipsy and possesses that 
daring and alluring beauty which works such 
havoc in the romances of Turgenev. It is the old, 
old story. The good love is being poisoned by the 
evil passion. The spell of youth and goodness and 
freshness has been exchanged for the spell of the 
flesh. Sanin's romance is over, and he sends a 
lying letter of excuse to his fiancee and in the end 
accompanies Maria Nikolaevna to Paris. Years 
afterwards he learns that Gemma had gone to the 
United States. He writes to her, and she sends 
him a photograph which seems to be the Gemma 
of twenty years ago. It is the photograph of her 
eldest child, and she herself has been happily 
married across the Atlantic during these long 
years of his disillusion. 

There is in this second book of youth the same 
regret, the same sense of a missed happiness as 
in the first. But at least it has not been poisoned, 
like the first, at its very source. One feels here 
that hope and happiness and love are not im- 
possible illusions, and the " might have been " 
at least is substituted for the implacable " non 
concessere dei." 


AT the age of twenty-three Turgenev very 
nearly became a University professor. At 
this time he seems to have been completely 
Germanised. Afterwards, like Heine, he was to 
surrender himself to the influence of Paris, but 
in both cases of apparent foreign absorption the 
novelist remained entirely Russian. It was only 
in an outer sense that he became modified by the 
deep dreams of German philosophy or the lucid 
serenity of French taste. In an inner sense the 
German influence both at Moscow and Berlin 
implanted in Turgenev not so much the erudition 
of the savant as the seeds of idealism which were 
to find expression here and there through all his 
work, but particularly in two books, the one im- 
pregnated with apathy and despair and the other 
illumined by at least a recognition of the higher 

As one reads the novels of Turgenev one finds 
oneself over and over again in some heated and 
crowded room where, over a samovar, young men 
with white eager faces are clamouring over ideas 
with as passionate a persistence as brokers clamour 

Turgenev 45 

over securities. What is the meaning of life ? 
they ask, and at any moment, it would seem, each 
is willing to cast his individual existence into the 
melting-pot of destiny. Surely these people will 
save Russia ! With a heart beating like this the 
great silent country cannot remain always in- 
animate and cold. Yes, they are speaking for 
Russia, and their words vibrate with the noble 
rhythm of revolt and the straining faces are lit up 
by sunken, tameless eyes. In spite of their exalta- 
tion the picture is so real that we seem to be in 
the room ^vith them without the consciousness of 
having been ushered into it. A sentence here 
and there, a trick of manner, this or that piece of 
shabby furniture, mentioned apparently at random 
with that abhorrence of the over-emphasis of 
detail which Turgenev could never conceal even 
from Emile Zola — the picture is bitten in before 
your eyes so easily, so apparently lazily, that you 
are oblivious of the concealment of art. You are 
in the room with the students, but now Turgenev' s 
manner differentiates itself from the more familiar 
methods. You are in the room with them, but 
you are not exactly one of them. You do not mix 
with them as you do, for example, with the friends 
that George Eliot makes for you. Between you 
and the creations of Turgenev there is always 
a slight veil, whether of irony or of an instinctive 
dislike of intimacy. These people can never be 
your intimates, any more than they are the in- 

46 Two Russian Reformers 

timates of the author himself. You are, in fact, 
a watcher just as he is always a watcher. For, 
the suspicion of Turgenev is at work even in this 
atmosphere of generous illusion. And gradually 
you begin to divine the difference between the 
word and the deed, the expression of the will in 
rhetoric and the expression of the will in action. 
Something cold and sinister comes between you 
and these young men, just as there is something 
repellent between them and the master who has 
flung them into life. He, too, is listening to their 
souls, but he cannot believe in their message. 
Some of them, the tricksters, do not believe in it 
themselves. Others, the martyrs, will scraw4 the 
message in their own heart's blood. Tricksters 
and martyrs alike, they talk on and on and on, 
but their voices will never penetrate into the 
desolate distances of the steppes, and Turgenev 
suspects them always of an impotence which 
they have forgotten during this exaltation of the 

In his student days, however, Turgenev him- 
self had shared these illusions, and he is never 
wholly ironical, except perhaps in " Smoke," 
when describing these endless Russian talks which 
are so conspicuous in " Dimitri Rudin." At 
Berlin Turgenev made the acquaintance of a 
fellow student named Michel Bakounine, who 
afterwards became an anarchist. He endeavoured 
to form the young Turgenev in his own opinions, 

Turgenev 47 

and there is little doubt that he appears as that 
saddest of all the despairing heroes of Turgenev, 
Dimitri Rudin. Rudin is doubtless Bakounine, 
so expressively, with that ruthless watchfulness of 
his, does the novelist insinuate certain external 
touches by which his old comrade can be recog- 
nised. But in Rudin there is also not a little 
of Turgenev himself, not the Sanin who " lived 
like a plant," but the enthusiast for Goethe and 
Schiller and all the apostles of the larger life of 
the soul. Self-portraiture unquestionably creeps 
in, but even in this, the same cold, questioning 
suspicion is at work. For, Turgenev, if he sus- 
pected others, was no less suspicious of himself. 
More than once the Slav dreamer of reality hinted 
at this attitude of self-criticism. On one occa- 
sion Polonski found him on the verge of despair. 
" Tell me my name in six letters," exclaimed 
Turgenev: "it is trouss (poltroon)." 

That, of course, was but the exaggeration of a 
mood, but there can be little doubt that even in 
these early days the novelist was as much inclined 
to mock himself as he was to mock other people. 
For the rest, he was genuinely kind-hearted, and 
became a benefactor to his poor literary friends, 
although he was not rich enough to fill the role 
of Maecenas. It was at this period of his life that 
he came permanently under the influence of 
women of the world, who were, he confessed, the 
only women who could inspire him. The con- 

48 Two Russian Reformers 

fession is interesting, because his heroines are 
almost invariably ingenues, and when he intro- 
duces a woman of the world, whether as Maria 
Nikolaevna in a modified sense or Irene in '* Smoke" 
in a highly developed sense, she brings with her 
inevitably the atmosphere of destruction. There 
was a woman of the people, however, for whom 
he experienced a passing passion, and once he 
asked her what she would like him to give her as 
a present. She replied that she would like some 
soap, so that her hands might be delicate for her 
lover's lips to kiss. Turgenev recalled the little 
incident at the Magny restaurant with that 
freshness of memory which seemed actually to 
visualise before these fatigued men of the world 
a poor serf girl pleading for some little hint of 
the beauty of life, pleading that she might appear 
to her lover even for a passing hour like those 
others ! Her identity is uncertain, but it was at 
about this time that the novelist met the mother 
of his daughter who was afterwards educated in 
Paris under the supervision of Madame Viardot. 

It was in this year, 1843, that he met the critic 
Bielinski, who was in great poverty and already 
the victim of phthisis. He, like Turgenev, was 
convinced that Western civilisation was necessary 
to Russia, though he admired profoundly, as did 
the novelist in spite of all his criticism of his 
compatriots, the Russian soul. There were endless 
conversations, Russian conversations, between 

Turgencv 49 

them. " What ! " exclaimed BieUnski on one occa- 
sion after a discussion of six hours, "we do not 
know yet if God exists, and you wish to dine ! " 

In this same year Turgenev met the person 
who was to influence his life far more profoundly 
than the Russian critic who first welcomed him 
into the ranks of literature. In 1843 Malibran's 
sister, Pauline Garcia, came to sing in St. Peters- 
burg for the first time. From the very first 
moment Turgenev appears to have become her 
slave. He speaks about her to everyone, even 
to his mother, who becomes uneasy and goes to 
hear " cette maudite bohemienne " sing on her 
visit to Moscow. Turgenev, in short, is as pos- 
sessed by this artist as any one of his own stricken 
heroes. In his exaltation he describes to Bielinski 
the ecstasy of the moment in which the singer 
passed a perfumed handkerchief across his fore- 
head. In 1847 she had become Madame Viardot, 
and Turgenev went to Europe in her train. At 
Berlin, however, he deserted the Viardots and 
went in search of Bielinski at Stettin in order to 
take the dying critic to the waters of Salzbrunn in 
Silesia. The old discussions were immediately 
resumed between the two friends, but after a few 
weeks Turgenev suddenly disappeared. " The 
devil alone knows where he's gone," writes 
Bielinski, but at St. Petersburg they said that he 
was once more in the diva's train. As a matter 
of fact he was sometimes with the Viardots and 

50 Two Russian Reformers 

sometimes quite alone. In 1848 he visits France 
for the first time, and his impressions are by no 
means enthusiastic. " It is decidedly not beauti- 
ful," he wrote on arriving at Lyons in the same 
year. During the absence of the Viardots he 
determined to learn the diva's language, and 
steeped himself in Calderon, after which he plunged 
into the French classics and was astonished at the 
subtleties of Pascal's "Provengales." Among the 
moderns George Sand especially appealed to him — 
George Sand, who wrote among so many other 
fragments of wisdom, " Pauline Garcia- Viardot, 
. . . le plus beau genie defemmedenotreepoque." 
But on the whole Turgenev, with a curious mixture 
of luminous vision and microscopic analysis, was 
dissatisfied with French life and thought and with 
his own life in France. Years before at Petersburg 
people had noticed the odd pranks of the Russian 
novelist. At Paris they were to become almost 
abnormal. It is recorded in Polonski's " Sou- 
venirs," for example, that during this period he 
was frequently seized with fits of spleen. Once, 
during an attack of this kind at Paris, he made 
himself a high pointed cap out of a blind torn 
from a window, and decked with this cap he placed 
himself in a corner with his nose to the wall and 
waited until the mood had passed. Often, it 
seems, he had recourse to this strange treatment 
for those crises des nerfs which were in such violent 
contrast to the habitual suavity of his genius. 




Turgencv 53 

In 1849 ^^6 writes from Courtavenel, Madame 
Viardot's country-house in Brie : "I have a great 
deal of time here, and I make use of it by doing 
the most perfectly useless things. From time to 
time this is necessary for me. Without this safety- 
valve I should be in danger of becoming very 
stupid one day for good and all." 

But his old love for and intimate sympathy with 
nature — mingled with a certain involuntary sus- 
picion — continued to survive. At Ville-d'Avray, 
in 1848, as long before in the garden of Spasskoe 
or in the Black Forest of his later student days, 
he was unable " to see without emotion a branch 
covered with foliage outline itself clearly against 
the blue sky." He had not altogether outgrown 
that Sanin who " lived like a plant and had no 
idea that one could live otherwise." He perceived 
with all the old freshness of insight the charm of 
nature, but he perceived it as the result of im- 
placable and mysterious forces without pity or 
concern for himself or any other unit of the human 
race. The gentle beliefs and confidences of his 
temperament slipped away from this watcher 
who had come as close to nature as to man. The 
cautious ironical suspicion of life deepened into 
something more sinister. The master of irony 
became conscious of life as a brooding, threatening 
envelopment under whose hovering shadow only 
children can laugh and play in tranquillity. It 
seems as though there had reached this impassive 


54 Two Russian Reformers 

brooder vibrations from other planes of being, 
vibrations to which ordinary human nerves are 
impervious. Certainly Turgenev, who sought al- 
ways tranquillity, was haunted during a seemingly 
uneventful career by menaces and doubts with 
which the ordinary man is wholly unconcerned. 

In the meantime things had been happening 
in his own country. Dostoievski had just been 
sent to Siberia, and Bielinski had only escaped 
the same fate by death. Turgenev's mother was 
ill, and in 1850 the novelist finally decided to 
return to Russia. Varvara Petrovna grew rapidly 
worse, and her character was but little modified 
by the approach of death. Turgenev had no 
illusions as to her want of sympathy for her 
children. She had quarrelled with him before, 
and even at the very end, as we have seen, she 
refused to be reconciled. He did not arrive at her 
house until she was already dead, and she had left 
for him no message either of forgiveness or remorse. 

On his mother's death the novelist found himself 
a man of independent means, and this fact was 
of considerable importance to his whole future 
development. It meant for him artistic inde- 
pendence, and it was only in art that Turgenev 
was not a dilettante. His " Annals of a Sports- 
man " appeared in 1853, and by this book the 
novelist enfranchised millions of human beings. 
But when it came to personal participation in 
political action, his role, though he rather prided 

Turgencv 55 

himself on it, was insignificant. He was, at all 
events, imprisoned, and the incident gave him 
pleasure and even amusement, for on one occa- 
sion, while drinking a bottle of champagne with 
his gaoler, that worthy official was good enough to 
click glasses with him " to Robespierre ! " In the 
same year he commenced " Rudin," the book of 
all others in which the political and philosophic 
enthusiasms that roused him at Moscow and St. 
Petersburg and Berlin were to find utterance. In 
this book all those interminable conversations 
with Bielinski renewed themselves, and if there are 
irony and disillusion in the volume every page of 
it is none the less impregnated with the saddest 
of all regrets, the regret for the generous dream to 
which one's heart will no longer respond. 

The following year was marked by the Crimean 
War, which meant for Turgenev nothing more or 
less than the discovery of Count Tolstoy. " Have 
you read his ' Sebastopol ' ? " he writes in 1855 to 
Serge Aksakof. "As for me, I read it and I cried 
hurrah and I drank the author's health." Some 
little time afterwards he met the future author of 
" Anna Karanina." From the very first their 
personalities grated on each other, and it is this 
grating of personalities that accounts for that 
exploited quarrel which so nearly led to the 
exchange of pistol-shots between the two great 
Russian authors. The immediate cause of this 
quarrel was a contemptuous comment by Tolstoy 

56 Two Russian Reformers 

on Turgenev's education of his daughter, but the 
real cause was undoubtedly the latent antagonism 
of two temperaments, each after its own fashion 
peifectly sincere. The antagonism of tempera- 
ment would also explain that posthumous quarrel 
between the author of " Smoke " and the author 
of " Sapho." Turgenev, however, as yet knew 
little of Alphonse Daudet or any of the other 
guests at those famous dinners at Magny. But 
he was already becoming weary of Russia, and in 
1856 he crossed the frontier never to return for 
any length of time. 

For the next eight years his life was typical of 
" la nature errante de I'homme russe," but he 
did not travel solely for pleasure or even for 
distraction. He had come to Europe to consult 
specialists, and they sent him in search of health 
in all directions. His letters at this time were 
preoccupied with the state of his health. He 
was haunted by the fear of becoming a physical 
wreck, and his friends were resigned to the proba- 
bility of his premature death. All over Europe 
he sought for that illusion which is called the 
peace of the soul, but always it escaped him even 
when it seemed most close at hand. In Russia 
he had sighed for the increased vitality and mental 
stimulus of Europe. In France he longed for 
the garden of Spasskoe and the languor of his 
native Russian steppes. It was only for the sake 
of his daughter and the Viardots that he con- 

Turgcncv 57 

sented to remain. The French authors at this 
time bored him, from Victor Hugo and Lamartine 
to George Sand and Alexandre Dumas. He 
protested against the materiahsm of the French, 
against the animal delight in massed humanity 
which is so conspicuous in the genius of Balzac. 
With his head the Russian novelist might welcome 
the seething of European ideas, but in his heart 
there was always a nostalgia which he himself 
condemned as illusive. On the one hand he was 
deracine and in need of association with the national 
influences of his race ; on the other hand he 
was emancipated and no longer capable of sharing 
the old national aspirations. The two Turgenevs, 
in short, were fretting against each other, each 
longing for some resting-place of the soul in which 
the other could place no confidence. For, at 
this period, Turgenev was a wanderer in a deeper 
sense than that of physical distance, and all these 
longings blended mockingly and yet sadly with 
the idealism of the early student days which finds 
expression in two books : " Rudin," the book of 
despair, and " Liza," the book of renunciation. 

In one of his letters Turgenev alludes to the 
Russians as " the strangest, the most astonishing 
people on the face of the earth." In " Rudin " 
he gives us the very core of the Russian character. 
The plot, as usual, is one of almost disdainful 
simplicity. A tired, middle-aged man who is a 
brilliant talker is received as a tame cat in a more 

58 Two Russian Reformers 

or less luxurious country-house. Everybody is 
dazzled by his rhetoric, and the mistress of the 
house encourages him to talk, for these fine 
phrases and sentiments are really a relief from 
the boredom of country life. When Rudin has 
stopped talking other people discuss general pro- 
positions in eager words. Only the daughter 
of the house remains silent in the background. 
On the surface that is all. 

But underneath the surface what depths of 
hope and hopelessness, of steadfastness and shame 
are to be found in this story of a failure beyond 
the remorse of words ! Rudin is absolutely 
natural. One sees him enter the house, and from 
that moment he takes possession of it, not as 
an actor takes possession of the stage but as a 
dreamer wins the hearts of those who remember 
their youth. He is not a conscious impostor ; 
there is nothing of Tartuffe about him, and still 
less of Pecksniff. He talks of noble endeavour 
not in order to deceive others but because he 
wishes to be thrilled by it himself. Devoid of 
will-power, he wishes to will intensely. For the 
rest, he plays upon the formless dreams of youth 
as an artist upon some delicate and exquisite 
musical instrument. He points always upward 
towards the great heights, but he is paralysed 
by the very thought of scaling the least of them. 
" He has enthusiasm," says Lezhnyov of him; 
" the coldness is in his blood — that is not his 

Turgenev 59 

fault — and not in his head. He is not an actor, 
as I called him, not a cheat, nor a scoundrel ; he 
lives at other people's expense not like a swindler, 
but like a child." But Rudin is not wholly 
explained by this estimate. He is not in the 
least a Horace Skimpole. He is a creature driven, 
as it were, by some hidden mechanism to diffuse 
his energy without reference to the concentration 
demanded by action. He is a victim rather than 
an impostor, and at his worst he is nobler than 
many who condemn him. Nobody can condemn 
him more than he condemns himself when he half 
guesses his own petrifying secret : "A strange, 
almost farcical fate is mine. I would devote myself 
— eagerly, wholly — to some cause; and I cannot 
devote myself. I shall end by sacrificing myself 
to some folly or other in which I shall not even 
believe." It was only too true; but first he was 
to play upon that most subtle and mysterious 
instrument of all, a young girl's heart. 

No heroine could be at once more enigmatic 
and more candid than Natalya, the silent listener 
who waits in the background for this man who 
is speaking so eloquently of liberty and life. 
These Russian girls in the novels of Turgenev are*^ 
not waiting for a Prince Charming to win them\ 
by some flattering caress. They are not waiting \ 
for someone to lure them into a world of romance ] 
to the accompaniment of dream music. On the / 
contrary, they await a leader who is engaged in the/ 

6o Two Russian Reformers 

actual struggle with misery and slavery and pain. 
To him, if only he is the right man, they will 
gladly dedicate their lives, sacrificing all their 
guarded youthfulness and their protected beauty. 
For they are willing, oh, so willing, to follow 
the hard road, the dangerous road, the road that 
winds desolately away from home and friends 
and the familiar safety. Patiently they wait 
for him who will lead. And so, while Rudin 
talks in the drawing-room to the admiration of 
the mother, the daughter believes that she has 
found at last the master who will reveal to her 
the heroic promptings of her own heart. It 
matters nothing to her that the man is elderly 
and poor, a baffled, battered person who has won 
none of the prizes of life. She believes in him, 
and she shares passionately his great moments. 
It is fatally easy for him to play flexibly on these 
sensitive heart-strings. He talks to her of youth 
and poetry and love and the glorious revolt against 
the bondage of the soul. She believes that his 
heart is warm and living as her own, and that it, 
too, vibrates to the golden rhythm of his words. 
He speaks to her of love. Of course he loves her ; 
he is not so dead to the very ashes of illusion as 
not to love this beautiful young girl who believes 
in him when he can no longer believe in himself. 
Of course he loves her, and in her turn the girl 
believes in him as the master of her destiny. 
But very soon her mother hears of this un- 

Turgenev 6i 

expected idyl. She is naturally irritated, and 
tells her daughter that it is out of the question 
for her to marry a bohemian outcast like Rudin. 
Natalya does not hesitate for a single instant 
between authority and love. She is willing to 
follow Rudin, the wanderer, to the ends of the 
earth. He is her master ; let him lead the way 
and she will follow it. Let him declare at once 
what they must do. " What we must do ? " 
replies Rudin : "of course submit." Then the 
girl understands. It has all been sound, just the 
clatter of words, that has stirred so mysteriously 
the deep, unutterable secrets of her heart. Rudin 
is only the man who submits. After all, that is 
her hero, the man who submits. She is sorry 
for him because he is not what he might have 
been. She is sorry for him for being only the]l 
imitation of something noble and true. She'* 
turns away from him, as so many others have 
turned away from him and will yet turn away 
from him again. 

But Turgenev does not belabour the unfortunate 
Rudin after the fashion of the English and, in 
another sense, the French novelists. Rudin, victim 
though he be of his own inherent want of will, is 
none the less a factor in this too patient and 
voiceless Russia. There is something noble in his 
heart that is independent of the rhetorical nobility 
of his words. He who has known hardship does 
not cling to the soft places when he happens upon 

62 Two Russian Reformers 

them. He is capable of becoming weary of the 
kindness of the powerful. Half dazed though 
he is by his own rhetoric, he is at least willing to 
drift upon any wave of destiny. He is utterly 
incapable of becoming an approved parasite, and 
parasites are the first to condemn him. Pigasov, 
for example, says of him: " If he begins to abuse 
himself, he humbles himself into the dust : come, 
one thinks, he will never dare to face the light of 
day after that. Not a bit of it ! It only cheers 
him up, as if he treated himself to a glass of grog." 
That is all that Pigasov can say for him, but then 
Pigasov is a man who accepts bribes. Turgenev 
does not condemn Rudin in that way. For 
Turgenev the poor, baffled, shabby figure recalls all 
those eager memories of the student days which 
even his own habitual irony could not wholly rob 
of their charm. Rudin revives those breathless 
conversations in which young men declaimed 
about the meaning of life, the meaning of love, 
declaimed about beauty and passion and art, 
about anything in short except selfishness, avarice, 
exclusion, and that withered and withering pride 
which narrows for ever the human soul. Of 
those dwarfing influences, at least, poor Rudin 
knew nothing ; he was never to learn them. 
Fantastic always, as much in his sincere desire 
to believe as in the rhetorical expression of belief, 
he dies, as he had prophesied, in a cause for which 
he has no spark of enthusiasm. A worn, grey- 

Turgenev 63 

haired, forlorn figure raises a flag over the barri- 
cades of Paris, and is instantly shot down. To 
his comrades he is known as the Polonais, but he 
is a Russian and his name is Dmitri Rudin. 

The dispiriting effect of this sombre and 
beautiful story is at least half dispelled by what 
one might call its companion volume, " Liza, 
or A Nest of Nobles." There is much of 
Turgenev's early manhood in Rudin, but in 
Lavretski there is, as it were, the completion, 
the fulfilment of what the first years of maturity 
have meant to the Russian novelist. One must 
not accept Lavretski as meaning for Turgenev 
what Levin, for example, means for Tolstoy. 
But at least Lavretski represents a Russian 
gentleman who, after travelling in the west, has 
determined to settle down in his native country 
and make the best use of his acquired knowledge 
for the benefit of his native Russia. So unpre- 
tentious is he that Turgenev's irony passes harm- 
lessly over him. He is, indeed, the very anti- 
thesis of Rudin. He is not at all talkative, but he 
is capable of making good his words in action. 
He is sincere and incapable of willingly breaking 
his faith. But it is not words alone that can play 
with human destiny, as Liza, the young girl who 
is waiting for him, just as Natalya was waiting for 
Rudin, discovers to her cost. She, too, is search- 
ing for the noblest. She, too, is simple and kind, 
but with depths in her nature that cannot reveal 

64 Two Russian Reformers 

themselves in facile confessions. And Lavretski, 
like Turgenev himself, recognises the immense 
potentiality, the immense significance of all the 
silence and tenderness and fidelity that this quiet 
unassuming Liza possesses as the birthright of her 

Unlike Sanin on the one hand or Rudin on the 
other, Lavretski is sure of himself. He knows 
what he wants. He knows what is the best amid 
the meretricious glitter of more showy promises. 
But life sweeps him aside just as easily, just as 
ruthlessly, as it does Sanin or Rudin. Years 
before, having made an unfortunate marriage, he 
had separated from his wife who had been un- 
faithful to him. And now, just as he is learning 
to love Liza, he receives a Parisian newspaper in 
which there is a rather florid announcement of 
his wife's death. He is free. At last he is free. 
Already something of the aroma of his secret has 
escaped from him. Already, without words, his 
soul has communicated with Liza's soul ; the 
divined secret can now be uttered honourably. 
In this state of mind he returns to his house, and is 
startled by the scent of patchouli. His wife has 
come back to beg for forgiveness, and has brought 
her little daughter with her to plead for her. 
There had been an error in that Parisian news- 
paper. His wife is alive and well, and anxious, oh, 
so anxious, to be forgiven and to forget. Penitence 
and patchouli blend in the easily spoken appeal. 

Turgenev 65 

The very soul of the woman is rouged, and Lav- 
retski reads it as easily as one reads a rouged face 
under a hard light. Lavretski knows her, and all 
these words mean nothing at all to him. But 
to the outside world she is not in the least the 
conventionalised erring woman. It is not the 
general type, but a strongly individualised woman 
who is dragging the suffocating memories of the 
boulevards into the lonely longings of the steppes. 
Of course Liza is sacrificed. The frou-frou of 
this scented woman brushes aside all the bloom 
of her delicate and almost wordless love. Lavretski 
refuses to live with his wife, but Liza is lost to 
him for ever. She enters a convent and he sees 
her only once again. But in that last meeting all 
the charm of renunciation and regret is stamped 
upon a love scene in which no word is spoken, in 
which only a glance conveys the message of an 
inalienable tenderness. 

Lavretski is exceptional among the heroes of 
Turgenev in so far as he is a Slavophil as opposed 
to the westernised Panshin. Asked what he 
means to do now that he has returned from Europe, 
Lavretski answers, quite in the manner of Tolstoy's 
heroes, " Till the soil and try to till it as well 
as possible." But he is, after all, a very mild 
Slavophil. It is in Liza rather than in him that 
one seems to penetrate into depth after depth of 
the Russian temperament. She is close to the 
Russian people without knowing how to be con- 

66 Two Russian Reformers 

descending towards them. She is national with- 
out proclaiming it in phrases : " The Russian 
turn of mind gladdened her." She is essentially 
the elder sister of Natalya, one of those silent 
concentrated beings who will follow steadfastly 
to the death the man who proclaims himself a 
leader in act as well as in word. Lavretski was 
such a man, and there is not in this book the 
inner despair and dryness of disillusion that one 
finds in the pages of " Rudin." 

This dryness of disillusion, this concrete recog- 
nition of imposture and self-imposture was to 
persist throughout the life of Turgenev. But 
with it, permeating it and redeeming it, there 
lingered always that savour of caressing regret 
which makes Liza at once so simple and so un- 
forgettable. Turgenev was to experience to satiety 
every nuance of the promise and the despair of 
passion, but he was also to preserve the freshness 
of insight which was his precious inheritance from 
the beginning. Nobody is more delicately merci- 
ful than he when he is probing the depths of 
youth's troubled heart. Here, at least, there is 
no cause for that hesitating mockery with which 
he so often chills those who would penetrate too 
intimately into his dream. Here, at least, there 
is no cause for that gentle pessimism which sur- 
rounds, as with a nebula, so many of his emotional 
creations. In the heart of Turgenev there sur- 
vived to the very end two Russian figiures, each 

Turgenev 67 

sombre, one by reason of an inner coldness and 
the other by reason of the external irony of life. 
These figures are Rudin and Liza, and it is not by 
accident that it is the woman who expresses that 
serene confidence in goodness by which one of the 
two Turgenevs was always haunted. This other 
Turgenev was at no time a prey to the fatigue 
of him who sees too clearly. He remembered 
always that a woman's love is wonderful and 
strange, and he who had analysed so pitilessly 
the tormented rhetoric on Rudin's lips bowed 
humbly before the candour of Liza's eyes. 


MADAME VIARDOT gave up the theatre in 
1864 and installed herself with her family 
in Baden-Baden, to which German town, 
beloved of Russians, she was followed by Ivan 
Turgenev. At first he took a small house of only 
one story with a garden, but he had built for 
himself a house of some pretensions also with a 
garden and some beautiful trees. Here, quite 
close to the Viardots, he settled down in 1868 to 
continue the most fruitful period of his literary 
life, the period which may be said to have com- 
menced with the publication of " Fathers and 
Sons " in i860. 

Baden-Baden was a suitable resting-place after 
his gipsy wanderings, and here he began to con- 
centrate more remorselessly than ever his sus- 
picious intelligence upon the younger generation 
of Russia's vanguard, the successors of Rudin and 
Lavretski. In all Europe there could scarcely 
have been a better centre for this than Baden- 
Baden, whose *' Russian tree " forms the pivot 
of " Smoke." Here he studied with that fixed 
equivocal gaze of his — the alert gaze of a dreamer, 


Turgenev 69 

the poetic glance of an analyst — those emanci- 
pated talkers who proclaimed themselves the 
champions of Russia. On their side they main- 
tained derisively that Turgenev was out of touch 
with the intellectual life of the younger generation 
of his compatriots. His answers to this charge, 
however, were given in three books of varying 
shades of irony, each of which, without passion 
and without malignity, showed how he could 
strike if he had the will to display such futile 

In the meantime his external life flowed by in 
perfect calm. He was comparatively happy, for 
he had acquired that love for the sameness of one 
day with another which, wanderer though he had 
been and exile though he continued to be, he 
shared with his future friend, Gustave Flaubert. 
With Madame Viardot he would enjoy music, and 
with her husband he would enjoy sport. Naturally 
gossip was more or less malignant on the subject 
of this old friendship, but to gossip Turgenev 
was by temperament wholly indifferent. The life 
suited him, giving him the particular phase of 
exotic domesticity which could alone satisfy 
his difficult and yet incongruously simple nature. 
Baden-Baden, too, supplied him with those cosmo- 
politan types which are so conspicuous in his 
novels. Here he could observe all manner of men 
and women equally zealous in pursuit of excite- 
ment or rest — foreigners airing or dissimulating 


70 Two Russian Reformers 

their oddities, Russians furtively imitating the 
pecuUarities of the foreigners they condemned, 
Russians preaching freedom while their pockets 
bulged with roubles wrung from their former 
serfs. And at any moment in this fashionable 
European resort the frou-frou of some woman's 
skirts might revive in him that first thrill of 
memory which is Turgenev's substitute for roman- 
ticism. No better background, indeed, could be 
imagined for his peculiar powers, first as a 
student of the younger Russia that denied him, 
and secondly as a searcher for those ultimate 
secrets of the human heart which no one, perhaps, 
has ever shared with him. 

But in spite of this outer tranquillity old fears 
clung to him. His health troubled him unceasingly, 
and sometimes, doubtless, he was haunted by 
nostalgia. For, after all, it was but one of those 
two Turgenevs that was leading contentedly this 
uprooted life. The longing for return would 
come to him, and he would go back to his country, 
not only to receive his revenues, but to win back 
the first freshness of his impressions of Russian 
life. Constantly in his books he interprets the 
sense of return, the impression of long empty 
houses, of creaking, neglected doors, of curtains 
rustling in some empty but pervaded room. At 
each visit to Spasskoe he would renew also those 
memories of childhood, the interpretation of 
which is one of the very rarest of even Turgenev's 

Turgenev 71 

rare gifts. He would inspect his property and 
at the same time resume those kindly and rather 
boisterous Russian friendships from which the 
more conventional life of the West had never 
whollv withdrawn him. Nor had he forgotten his 
old delight in exaggeration, and he would invent 
rhapsodies about his estate, inducing his friends 
to visit him through alluring descriptions of his 
country house, his park, and above all of a fair 
neighbour who, their host assured them, would 
enslave each of them at the first glance. Off they 
would start, then, from Moscow, only to discover 
that the country house and the park were nothing 
very wonderful and the mysterious beauty posi- 
tively ugly. But Turgenev's hospitality and good 
spirits, the shooting, the swimming in the pond, 
and above all, perhaps, the excellent champignons 
d la creme would revive the spirits of these de- 
luded visitors. Then they would organise private 
theatricals, in which the peruke of Turgenev's 
Oedipus was a source of great astonishment. It 
was at one of these theatrical representations 
that Turgenev uttered the historic repetition of a 
cry once attributed to him in real earnest : " Save 
me ! I am the only son of a rich widow ! " 

But as time passed amusement gave place to 
more serious considerations. The emancipation 
of the serfs was commencing, and the attention 
of Turgenev, as of all other thinking Russians, 
was focussed upon the constitution of Russia. 

73 Two Russian Reformers 

As early as 1850 the novelist had enfranchised his 
own servants, endowing them with both land 
and houses. As for the serfs on the land, he had 
given them a choice between harchtchina, the 
corvee, and ahrok, tenure in money. In addition 
to this he founded a hospital for the peasants, and 
after the abolition of serfdom and the liquidation 
of accounts between masters and peasants, he 
endowed his servants gratuitously and even 
restored to the moujiks a fifth of the indemnity 
which they owed him for arable land. Besides 
all these concessions, which were in reality gifts, 
he made them a present of wood and other 
perquisites, the right to which was always renewed 
on his different returns to Spasskoe. Now, as 
always, the relations between Turgenev and his 
dependants were easy-going in the extreme. He 
remained always the master who had so easily 
made a friend of Porphyre Kartacheff. On one 
occasion he was on his way to pay a visit in his 
own carriage drawn by his own horses with 
his own coachman and footman. Suddenly the 
equipage stopped in the middle of the road, and 
the footman and the coachman commenced a 
game of cards. Their master looked on without 
protest and waited patiently until the end of the 
game. Turgenev, in spite of his long subjection to 
Western influences, was in natural accord with the 
national temperament, and could not be otherwise 
than sympathetic in his role of landed proprietor. 

Turgcnev 73 

One cannot lay too great stress on this point, 
because the great novehst has been so often 
accused of having proved false to principles which, 
as a matter of fact, he never professed. 

His relations with his own peasants may be 
judged from this characteristic little prophecy. 
" One day," said he to his friend Polonski, " we 
shall be seated behind the house drinking tea. 
Suddenly there will arrive by the garden a crowd 
of peasants. They will take off their hats and 
bow profoundly. ' Well, brothers,* I shall say 
to them, ' what is it that you want ? ' * Excuse 
us, master,' they will reply : ' don't get angry. You 
are a good master, and we love you well. . . . 
But all the same we must hang you, and him as 
well ' (pointing you out Polonski). * What's that ? 
Hang us ? ' ' Oh, yes ! there is a Ukase that 
orders it. . . . We have brought a rope. Say 
your prayers. . . . We can easily wait a little 
while.' " 

It is easy to see that life in Russia was becoming 
rather difficult for this cosmopolitan, whom his 
peasants, because of his eye-glass, called their 
"blind man." 

But if life was difficult in the country it was 
far worse at St. Petersburg, where the police 
worried him as soon as he left the train. Here, 
too, he, the most suave and docile of men, was 
dragged into disputes with his brother authors. 
He was bothered by Gontcharof, who considered 

74 Two Russian Reformers 

himself plagiarised, and he had difficulties for 
editorial reasons with Nekrassof . Society received 
him without much enthusiasm and with a cordi- 
ality that rose and fell with his vogue as a novelist. 
The capital brought but little inspiration to Ivan 
Turgenev, and even at Spasskoe much of the 
illusion of the early days seemed to him to have 
fled, leaving his old home desolate and silent. 

His relations with Tolstoy became exceedingly 
strained during one of these visits to Russia. 
Turgenev had given an account of the method of 
education that he had adopted for his daughter 
when the younger novelist interrupted him with, 
" Ah, yes : you are making experiments in 
anima vili ! " Naturally, Turgenev was furious, 
and the incident very nearly led to a duel on more 
than one occasion. They were guests of the poet 
Fet at the time, and after Turgenev had so far 
lost control of himself as to threaten to strike 
Tolstoy he apologised instantly to his hostess. 
They left the house in different carriages, and 
Tolstoy sent two challenges en route, only one of 
which was received. Some time afterwards, when 
the old quarrel was apparently dead and buried, 
some mischief-maker told Turgenev that Tolstoy 
had practically accused him of cowardice, where- 
upon he sent a challenge immediately. His 
rival, however, replied that he had been misin- 
formed, and peace was established between them. 
In reality their temperaments were hopelessly 

Turgenev 75 

antagonistic, and it was impossible for them to be 
genuine friends, though they continued to exchange 
visits. On one of these visits to Yasnaya Polyana 
Turgenev discussed over a game of chess with 
his host the old topic of giving all that one has 
to the poor. " What ! everything that one has ? " 
exclaimed Turgenev, with incredulous insistence. 
" Then you will give everything, everything that 
is in this room, even the table on which we are 
playing ? " To which Tolstoy replied grimly : 
" Even the table on which we are playing." 

But though Turgenev was neither interested 
in nor convinced by the " conversion " of Count 
Tolstoy, no one appreciated his work as an artist 
more keenly than he. In " War and Peace " he 
detected at once that the weak points were those 
which the public welcomed with enthusiasm — 
namely the historic and psychological longueurs 
— while what was really of the first order was 
the series of military and descriptive pictures. 
Turgenev asked from the artist only art, and his 
standpoint remained the same even when he was 
dying. He preserved always his own kind of 
sincerity, the earnestness of the artist as opposed 
to the earnestness of the conscious reformer. " My 
good and dear Friend," he wrote to Tolstoy almost 
at the very last, — " It is a long time since I have 
written to you, because I have been and I am, to 
speak frankly, on my death-bed. I cannot get 
well, there is no use in thinking of it. I write 

76 Two Russian Reformers 

to you before everything else to tell you how 
happy I have been to be your contemporary, and 
to express to you my last and immediate prayer. 
My friend, return to literature ! Reflect that this 
gift has come to you from the Source of all 

His relations with Dostoievsky were from first 
to last even more unfortunate. Dostoievsky 
introduced him in one of his novels as Karmazi- 
noff, a spiteful and unsuccessful author. " They 
tell me," wrote Turgenev to Polonsky, " that 
Dostoievsky has brought me upon the stage ; 
much good may it do him ! He paid me a visit 
at Baden-Baden five years ago, not in order to 
repay me the money that he had borrowed, but 
in order to insult me in every kind of way on the 
subject of ' Smoke,' which, according to him, 
ought to be burnt by the common hangman. I 
listened in absolute silence to this philippic. 
What did I learn a little later ? I had expressed 
to him all sorts of criminal opinions, which he had 
hastened to communicate to Berteneff — Berteneff 
in fact wrote to me about it. This would be a 
calumny pure and simple if Dostoievsky were not 
out of his mind, as I have very little doubt 
that he is. Perhaps he dreamed all that. But, 
Heavens ! what miserable tittle-tattle ! " 

The antagonism between them was of old stand- 
ing. One day, about the year 1840, several friends 
of Turgenev were playing cards at his house, and 

Turgenev tj 

among them were Beliiisky, Ogareff and Hertzen. 
Dostoievsky was expected, and just as he entered 
the room there happened to be a general outburst 
of laughter at some foolish mistake of one of the 
players. Dostoievsky grew pale and left the 
room without uttering a word. At first no notice 
was taken of this, as they expected that he would 
return ; but as he did not do so, his host went out 
to see what had become of him. The servant 
informed him that Fedor Mikhailovitch had been 
walking up and down outside the house for the 
last hour, without his hat. Turgenev rushed out 
of the house and asked Dostoievsky the meaning 
of this strange conduct. " By God ! " exclaimed 
his guest, "it is intolerable ! Wherever I go 
everybody mocks me. I had scarcely put foot 
in your house when you and your guests over- 
whelmed me with your ridicule. Are you not 
ashamed of it ? " Turgenev did his best to con- 
vince him that no one had the slightest intention 
of making fun of him, but it was quite useless. 
He would not listen to reason, and returned to the 
hall only for his hat and overcoat, after which he 
left abruptly. 

Dostoievsky's hatred of Turgenev became more 
and more bitter. That strange Russian of genius 
had himself been struck by the guillotine more than 
by any other of the wonders of Europe, and when 
Turgenev's " Execution of Troppman " appeared, 
he attacked it savagely for what he considered its 

y8 Two Russian Reformers 

mincing affectation. " King Lear " also seemed 
to him feeble. "He is failing, he is becoming 
more and more pale," Dostoievsky gloated in 

In the end the suave and ironical Turgenev 
grew almost equally bitter, and " C'est du 
Dostoievsky " became his most scornful comment. 
He retaliated also in print, and represented his 
rival as a badly balanced mediocrity. It is a 
misfortune that these two great Russian writers 
should have been so antipathetic to one another. 
It is a profound misfortune that he who best 
interpreted to the Western world the soul of 
Russia should have been the personal antagonist 
of the veritable confessor of that soul. For, 
whatever sombre, inchoate message wells up from 
the depths of the Slav's heart was Dostoievsky's 
by right of suffering, of punishment, of divination. 
He, and neither Turgenev nor Tolstoy, is the 
ultimate revealer of the wounded soul of the Slav 
who believes without reasoning, who divines 
without analysing, who feels without knowing. 
And Turgenev knew in his heart, through all his 
gentle, penetrating irony, that this epileptic of 
genius was not at all a badly balanced mediocrity. 
When the more than ordinarily unintelligent 
storm of abuse greeted " Fathers and Sons " 
Turgenev acknowledged that Dostoievsky was 
the one man who really divined what he had 
meant by the book. However that may be, it 

Turgenev 79 

was a loss to the creative artist in Turgenev to 
have been misunderstood by the man who of all 
others stands nearest to the heart of the Russian 
people. And when Russia acknowledged her loss 
in the death of this stricken man, who was the 
very symbol of her own suffering and endurance, 
it is, indeed, a peculiarly ironical circumstance 
that Turgenev, who ought best of all to have 
understood, turned derisively away. 

But in spite of all these miseries of antagonism 
which renewed themselves on his returns to 
Russia, the old charm of that garden at Spasskoe 
would occasionally assert itself, and Turgenev 
would feel himself again that watchful dreamer 
for whom irony had already commenced to mingle 
with dreams. But outside of this oasis he is 
more and more overwhelmed by the all-pervading 
want of the Russian people. Poverty, squalor, 
rags, this is what he sees on all sides of him, so that 
it becomes more and more impossible to believe 
that Russia is the lagging leader of the nations. 
Nor can he believe that the time is even approach- 
ing when all this inarticulate endurance will 
vibrate into the revolt of action. He cannot 
believe ; and in two books, the one wholly pessi- 
mistic, the other lit up by that inner faith in the 
Russian people which never wholly deserted him, 
in " Virgin Soil " and " Fathers and Sons," he has 
expressed the very kernel of his disillusion. 

** * Virgin Soil,' " said Turgenev on one occasion, 

8o Two Russian Reformers 

" has cost me a great deal of energy. Everybody 
insults me now. They say that I do not under- 
stand what I am writing. That is false. I have 
studied the subject of * Virgin Soil ' to the bottom, 
and in spite of all the critics, I persist, now as 
formerly, in my opinions on the policy to be 
maintained against the Government." This was 
typical of Turgenev's attitude not only towards 
one book but towards a whole series of books : 
" That was his Dada," comments Pavlovsky ; 
" his conviction that he thoroughly understood 
our youth was unshakeable, and our critics could 
not make him retract." One of them, speaking 
of the articles on " Virgin Soil " which were 
published abroad, concluded : " Foreigners can 
devote articles to it ; as for us, we do not even wish 
to spit on it." " What stinginess, good God ! " 
retorted Turgenev. He had already lashed what 
he asserted to be the only sign of evidence of 
energy in Young Russia, Young Russia's answer 
to all human progress — cracker Id-dessus. 

In " Virgin Soil " we have the famiUar tragedy 
of the Russian Hamlet repeated upon the most 
hopeless stage in the world. Nezhdanov, the 
illegitimate son of a Russian noble, who is fired by 
revolutionary ideas, is at the same time conscious 
that he knows nothing of the Russian people for 
whose benefit the revolution is to be effected. 
He is engaged as a tutor by a certain Sipyagin, a 
Russian Liberal who preserves a sneaking affection 

Turgenev 8i 

for the knout. At his house the young student 
meets his niece Marianna, a dependant who is 
out of sympathy with everybody and everything 
in this well-ordered house. She, too, longs pas- 
sionately, not to acquire something for her own 
benefit, but to do something for Russia. She 
begins by falling in love with Nezhdanov. 

The situation is only too familiar in the novels 
of Turgenev. With Nezhdanov it is a case of " I 
would and I would not." Instinctively he shrinks 
from this girl who believes in him ; instinctively 
he realises that he will never be able to translate 
the resolutions that flash from her eyes. He is 
a poet, and action is demanded of him. He is a 
dreamer of complex dreams, and Fate has asked 
him to concentrate all the force of his being 
upon one woman. It is not in his nature to 
respond whole-heartedly to this ironical challenge 
of destiny. But as this romance has commenced 
he must do his part as best he can, and so he runs 
away with Marianna, and they conceal themselves 
in a factory of which his friend, Solomin, is 
manager. Here, Nezhdanov endeavours to come 
into touch with the Russian people. He disguises 
himself as a pedlar and distributes leaflets among 
the moujiks, who as a rule reply to him with jeers. 

In the meantime the revolutionary authorities, 
in whose scheme of things Nezhdanov and Mari- 
anna are so many misunderstood pawns, become 
weary of inactivity. Something must be done. 

82 Two Russian Reformers 

Nezhdanov must show himself to be a leader of 
men. In response to the latest injunction he 
starts out in his horrible disguise more determined 
than ever, shouting revolutionary sentiments of 
the most advanced kind along the quiet country 
roads. The peasants merely stare at him in 
bewilderment as he drives past them in his lumber- 
ing cart. Suddenly he catches sight of a group 
of peasants in front of an open barn and, jumping 
down, he approaches them, shouting at the top 
of his voice ; " Freedom ! forward ! shoulder to 
shoulder ! " among a multitude of half -inarticulate 
phrases. The attitude of the peasants is that 
of slightly bewildered indifference, and the unfor- 
tunate leader of revolt continues his drive as far as 
the next village, where he is dragged into a tavern 
by a gigantic moujik. Then, in his role of a learner 
as well as of a teacher, he begins to drink, and the 
horrible vodka maddens him. Torrents of words 
foam from his lips — words, w^ords, a veritable rage 
and torment of words. And still he drinks and 
drinks to the rhythm of this new rage, as though 
by some monstrous magic the apostle of liberty 
had been bewitched into a tavern hero. Even 
the peasants lose patience with him, handle him 
roughty, shout at him as he staggers into the cart 
to be driven back to the young girl who had sent 
him out as her knight-errant in the quest of 

When consciousness comes back to him the 

Turgencv 83 

vision has lost the faintest film of glamour. He 
can no longer attempt to deceive himself. The 
farce grins up at him too closely for any subterfuge 
of nobility. He cannot continue, but on the other 
hand he cannot forsake his comrades or abandon 
this young girl who has trusted him with her life. 
She is waiting for him to tell her that he loves 
her with his soul, and then she will marry him. 
But he cannot believe even in that dream, and 
he will not lie, particularly now that he has read 
his failure in the brutalised stare of peasants' 
eyes. Between him and all fair dreams float the 
fumes of vodka ; the ennobling cry for Liberty 
has been drowned by the bawling of drunken 
clowns. Reality has pranced with heavy hoof 
upon the heart of this dreamer ; he can no longer 
screen his soul from disillusion. No longer, roused 
by rhetoric and furious aspirations unbacked by 
any evidence of action, can he hope even moment- 
arily to deceive himself. The whole matter stands 
out in squalidly naked perspective. On the one 
side is a mere handful of thinkers, all more or less 
incapable of sustained, concentrated action, but 
faithful to their ideals, eager for sacrifice, however 
useless and however sordid. And opposed to 
these who would so gladly rescue them from 
themselves, are millions and millions of terribly 
contented people who shake them off listlessly, 
as some huge sullen brute would shake off flies. 
It is not that they have been getting out of touch 

84 Two Russian Reformers 

with the Russian people ; it is that they, a mere 
isolated group of dreamers absorbed in their own 
ideals, have no meaning whatsoever to the vast 
bulk of their compatriots. It is not that they 
have misunderstood the people's aspirations ; 
it is that as yet there are no aspirations to under- 
stand . Instead of divining some great but inarticu- 
late dream of a race, this group of self-constituted 
apostles has merely endeavoured to impress its 
own ambitions upon a sluggish and dreamless 
people. It is all a mistake. From the very 
beginning it has been a mistake, by which there 
has been stamped upon many noble lives a martyr- 
dom without result and only too often without 
conviction. Marianna believes in it still, but he 
cannot pretend to believe in it, and so he is only 
a clog to the girl who wishes him to share her 
beautiful fantasy. There is nothing for him 
to do upon the earth. He sees too clearly, and 
nothing will ever inspire him with that merciful 
illusion which preserves so many lives no less 
noble than his. And so Nezhdanov puts a bullet 
through his brain and leaves for ever this virgin 
soil upon which there still hovers the coma of the 
sleeping centuries. Nezhdanov is another of those 
stricken Russian Hamlets, but he is one of the 
very few heroes of Turgenev who has been, so to 
speak, led up to the very mouth of action. 

There is in this book, however, in the person of 
Solomin, a new type that is the antithesis of the 

Turgenev 85 

Russian Hamlet. This factory manager had lived 
for many years in England, and had acquired the 
practical qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race. In 
his opinion there is wanted in Russia neither a 
Mirabeau nor a Camille Desmoulins, but rather 
very patient, laborious people who would teach 
the alphabet to children and pester their parents 
into making some efforts towards orderliness in 
their homes. That, rather than death on any 
imitated barricades, is, in the opinion of Solomin, 
the sacrifice demanded by Russia. The factory 
manager is utterly without enthusiasm, but also 
without cynicism. It is good for Russia that 
there should be factory managers like himself, 
and so he is doing his duty as a patriot by avoiding 
Siberia and keeping his head on his shoulders. 
Turgenev himself defended the cunning of Solomin 
as the only quality by wliich a revolutionary 
could possibly survive. Russian criticism, par- 
ticularly incensed by this book, affirmed that 
Turgenev, living abroad, had completely for- 
gotten Russian life and Russian aims. But the 
author of " Smoke," from his vantage-point of 
the Russian tree in Baden, was more and more 
overwhelmingly convinced that he knew to the 
core every class of Russian society. Solomin, 
however, was apparently a quite new type, and 
one, moreover, which Young Russia found it 
impossible to imitate. 

This is perhaps remarkable, for Young Russia 


86 Two Russian Reformers 

had already imitated another new type in an 
earUer book — the nihilist hero of " Fathers and 
Sons." This book also is notoriously one of 
political disillusion, but its pessimism is infinitely 
less sombre than that of " Virgin Soil," in which, 
from the first page to the last, the suspicious 
Turgenev had been constantly at work. In the 
earlier book there is always the recognition of 
useful courage and honesty and steadfastness 
both in the older and in the younger generations. 
Above all, there is in this novel a character in 
whom Turgenev believes. Asked whether he had 
photographed Bazaroff from actual life, Turgenev 
replied : 

" No, that is not true. That particular type 
had already absorbed me for a long time when, in 
i860, while travelling in Germany, I met in a 
railway carriage a young Russian doctor. He 
was consumptive, tall, with black hair and a 
bronzed complexion. I made him talk, and was 
astonished at his keen and original opinions. 
Two hours afterwards we separated, and my novel 
was done. I gave two years to writing it, but that 
was no work for me ; it was merely a matter of 
putting down on paper a work already complete. 
You have perhaps observed that my Bazaroff is 
a blonde. It is the surest proof that he was sym- 
pathetic to me. In my works all my sympathetic 
heroes are blondes. From my own observations 
I have come to the conclusion that blondes are 

Turgenev 87 

always more sympathetic than dark people. For 
example, Belinsky, Hertzen and the others, ..." 

So absorbed was he by the conception of this 
nihilist type that while he was writing " Fathers 
and Sons " he kept a journal of Bazaroff : "If 
I read a new book, if I met an interesting man, or 
even if an event of importance, political or social, 
took place, I would enter it always in this journal 
from the point of view of Bazaroff. The result 
was a very voluminous and curious manuscript. 
I lost it unfortunately. Some one or other bor- 
rowed it from me to read it, and did not return it 
to me." 

Certainly, in none of his books has Turgenev 
expressed more frankly his underlying belief in 
Russia and the Russian people than in this study 
of a revolt which is greater than the inchoate 
failure that absorbs it. Turgenev was not 
equivocal in regard to Bazaroff, as so many have 
supposed. " The death of Bazaroff," he wrote in y 
a letter, " which the Comtesse de Sallis called 
heroic and criticises for that reason, should in my 
opinion give the last touch to his tragic figure ; 
your young people, they see in it only an accident 
I end on this remark. If the reader does not love 
Bazaroff with all his roughness, all his harshness, 
his pitiless dryness, his asperity — if he does not 
love him, I say, the fault is in me, I have not 
attained to my aim. To flatter like a spaniel 
I have not wished, although doubtless by that 

88 Two Russian Reformers 

means I might have been able to win over all the 
young people to my side ; but I had no wish to 
purchase a popularity by concessions of that 
kind. It is better to lose the campaign (and I 
believe that I have lost it) than gain it by such a 
subterfuge. I dreamed of a figure, sombre, un- 
tamed, great, only half emerged from barbarism, 
brave, wayward and honest, none the less con- 
demned to perish since it is always on the threshold 
of the future." In another letter he observes 
of this hero, w^ho seems to have so far outstripped 
the ordinary Turgenevian hero : " The sentiment 
of duty, an excellent sentiment of patriotism in 
the true sense of that word, that is all that is 
wanted at the present moment. And Bazaroff, 
on the other hand, is a type, a precursor, a great 
harmonious figure, with a certain prestige, not 
without a certain halo." 

In spite of the fact that he was to so large an 
extent taken from life, Bazaroff, like Solomin, was 
accepted as a new type evolved by Turgenev 
rather than one portrayed from contemporary 
Russian life. Resolute, arrogant, plebeian, be- 
lieving in the future and emancipated from the 
past, the young Russian doctor is a product of 
materialism. His whole personality vibrates with 
energy, and the faith that is in him is centred not 
in a dream of idealism, but in the closely observed 
fact. Old and Young Russia alike considered 
themselves caricatured in this volume, in which, 

Turgencv 89 

however, it is not the two generations but the 
types themselves that are antagonistic to each 
other. Turgenev has repeatedly defended his 
hero, Bazaroff, but what was his real attitude ? 
It is almost impossible to recognise in this fastidi- 
ous observer a whole-hearted sympathiser with 
Bazaroff, the man who squares his shoulders and 
forces his way through a browbeaten world. 
Turgenev by every instinct of his temperament 
was bound to the lazy aristocratic traditions 
which he ridiculed and denied. Fine, sensitive, 
exotic, it was almost physically repulsive to him 
to hob-nob with uncouth partisans of action, in 
his opinion at once absurd and ill-timed. And 
this physical fastidiousness which so enraged his 
enemies is betrayed in this volume almost as much 
as in " Virgin Soil." In that book he was unable to 
force himself to believe in any vital and vitalising 
type that might yet break through the desolating 
coma of Russia. In "Fathers and Sons" he per- 
suaded himself that he was indeed captured by 
the personality of the young free-thinking doctor. 
After all here is a man at last. Here at last is the 
incarnation of will that, like a new elixir of life, 
may work through these will-less, voiceless millions. 
But is he really attached to Bazaroff ? Is that 
suspicious Turgenev really lulled into a quiet 
contentment with the Russian of the future ? 
One can hardly believe it, in spite of Turgenev's 
own protests. One recalls those two duel scenes, 

go Two Russian Reformers 

both in the freshness of early mornmg, both 
tinged with irony, both robbed of the faintest 
fringe of romance. The duel in ** Spring Tor- 
rents," however, is a jeu d' esprit compared with 
the duel between Bazaroff, the representative of 
the new school, and Pavel, the representative 
of the old. Every nuance is noted in the outer 
bearing of each as they face each other with 
loaded pistols for the sake of a serf girl. Pavel 
is obeying his code ; he is cold, faultless, correct, 
and from any standpoint of civilisation absolutely 
in the right. Physical fear is unknown to either, 
but Bazaroff is impressed, almost perturbed, by 
the quietude of the older generation. This man 
who knows nothing at all of Russia's hopes, nothing 
of the unleashed tumult of democracy, nothing 
of the new passion that is to galvanise the old 
inertia, this imperturbable figure-head of a frozen 
school, will assuredly shoot and shoot to kill. 
That is what Bazaroff understands as he faces 
the elderly prince, not without curiosity, at 
ten paces. But just as Turgenev refuses to allow 
any halo to surround poor Sanin after that duel 
near Frankfort, so he refuses to allow the exchange 
of pistol-shots to throw any romantic glamour 
upon either of these more mature combatants. 

The real opponent of Bazaroff is not the wounded 
Russian prince, but Madame Odintzoff, the per- 
fumed indolent woman of the world, over whose 
personality the two Turgenevs were always con- 

Turgenev 91 

tending, the one being drawn to her as to the goal 
of all desire, the other denying her as an enslaver 
of the soul. One sees her in this book as a verit- , 
able triumph of seductive indolence. Indolent, 
indolent, and always indolent — that is her secret, 
her charm and her emptiness in one. The soul 
of this woman permeates a household like a 
distilled essence laden with poisonous dreams. 
The rough Russian doctor is armed against every 
enemy but this. The plebeian can withstand 
the hauteur of the aristocrat, the threats of the 
reactionary, the denouncing clamour of the priest, 
but he cannot resist the troubling perfume of this 
woman's indolent unrest. Like hypnotism it goes 
to his head, and the woman is not wholly dis- 
pleased that it should. She is able to haunt this 
savage man, whose faith has been so long confined 
to the exact sciences. Quietly the summer days 
follow each other, and more and more the young 
doctor trembles under a spell against which all 
known science is futile. The positivist has become 
a foolish dreamer like all the rest. How shall he, 
this Samson shorn of his strength, dissipate the 
languor of the centuries from the Russian steppes ? 
And the indolent woman, reading with sleepy 
half-closed eyes French novels between the per- 
fumed sheets, muses dimly on this oddity of New 
Russia. What is this Bazaroff ? Is he a man 
like the rest ? There has been nothing like him 
in Russia before. After all, he might be amusing 

92 Two Russian Reformers 

as a new type — a plebeian with his own pride, a 
pride in Russia. Thus she muses on him lazily, 
and a little timidly even, for there are some women 
for whom, in La Bruyere's phrase, a gardener is 
also a man. For her, indeed, the young doctor 
seems to be essentially a man, and Bazaroff the 
conqueror exults <n this new conquest which 
seems so close to him. Deeper and deeper the 
intensity of his passion wells up, and the embodi- 
ment of that graceful civilisation which he denies 
lures him on with her caressing, satisfied smile of 
many memories. That is what men are, rather 
open and simple, she seems to say to him. But 
after all Bazaroff may be a little different, and he 
shall have time to prove that he is really a novelty. 
She is kind to Bazaroff, the man who understands 
the new learning without in the least understanding 
the old wisdom. Suddenly he blurts out clumsily 
his savage secret. And now he has said to her 
the last word that he need ever say. If he is no 
more complex than that, if he has nothing more 
to tell her than that, the New Russian can go 
the old way, his own familiar way from which he 
should never have strayed. As a savage he was 
interesting enough just so long as savagery retained 
its own secret, but when that secret was revealed, 
then Bazaroff became a tedious person who ceased 
abruptly to amuse. His little friend, Arcady, is 
more akin to her. It was perhaps foolish to have 
played so long with one who could become so 

Turgencv 93 

uncouthly in earnest. " Madame Odintzoff," wrote^ 
Turgenev in a letter, ** is also as little in love 
with Bazaroff as with Arcady. How is. it that 
you do not see it ? She is yet another type of our 
lazy epicurean ladies, of the women of the noblesse. 
The Comtesse de Sallis has understood her very 
well. Odintzoff wished at first to caress a wolf 
(Bazaroff) so that he might not bite her, then to 
caress the curly head of a youth and to remain 
always stretched out on her sofa." That is the 
explanation ; but beneath the explanation there 
is something temperamental and unreasonable. 
In no book more than in " Fathers and Sons " 
does Turgenev show his almost jealous attitude ^ 
towards women. No one is good enough for them 
except the incarnations of Turgenev himself, such 
as Sanin and in a lesser degree the hero of ''Smoke." 
For example, he admittedly respects and even 
hails with enthusiasm the young Russian doctor 
while he dislikes Madame Odintzoff. At the 
same time he involuntarily protects her from the 
caresses of this sombre savage. Above all, he 
shares Pavel's prejudice in regard to Bazaroff 's 
advances to the serf girl, who was not the least 
intimately personal of his own memories. 

Bazaroff has done with them all, and goes back 
to the simple people from whom his life had sprung. 
Like Nezhdanov in " Virgin Soil," Bazaroff, the 
very antithesis of a Russian Hamlet, returns to 
the people. And to him also there comes the 

94 Two Russian Reformers 

sensation of powerlessness before the almost 
physical inertia of resistance. Bazaroff, the Slav 
Titan of Science who by denying old fetishes had 
hoped to bring into being a new faith, is beaten 
by this ironical stagnation. He who had felt so 
avid before the feast of life is paralysed in the 
face of this starved solitude. The old people 
cannot understand the brooding rage and dis- 
content that smoulder ceaselessly in the heart of 
their son. The would-be Prometheus realises that 
in this region of endless silence he is not being 
punished by the gods for bestowing the gift of 
fire upon mortals, but that the gift itself is being 
thrust stupidly and indifferently aside. The motif 
of this book, however, is not so desolate as that of 
" Virgin Soil." Nezhdanov killed himself because 
he could not face the conflict between his dream 
and actuality. But for Bazaroff, no matter how 
terrible the odds against him, there is always at 
least belief even in the midst of denial. If he 
cannot lead men to freedom, he can at least serve 
science, be faithful to the truth while there is life 
in his body. And he can die doing his duty in the 
service of his own faith, a duty none the less noble 
because it is performed among the very humblest. 
The death of Bazaroff is tragic, but it is not at- 
tended by the sensation of an inner hopelessness 
which surrounds the death of Nezhdanov. 

Each reading in turn of Russia's enigma, 
whether evolved in Russia or under the shade of 

Turgenev 95 

that Russian tree, irritated and enraged his com- 
patriots. His old friends were disappearing one 
after the other, and in 1870 Hertzen died. Turgenev 
felt that old age had already stolen upon him, 
and his pessimism became more and more a fixed 
habit of thought. Like most of the inhabitants 
of Baden he was interested in the Franco-Prussian 
War, and he believed in the victory of the French 
arms, and that the French uniform would be 
soon conspicuous about the Russian tree. " Every- 
body is going away," he writes to his brother on 
July 27, 1870 ; " as for me, I remain. What can 
they do to me ? " He was rather astonished at 
the subsequent action of events, and though he at 
first believed that the Prussians represented the 
future of civilisation as opposed to the past, he 
soon realised that they were no better than any 
other conquerors. He protested against the an- 
nexation of Alsace. " Nationalit}^" he said, " has 
nothing to say to it here. The Alsatians are 
French in heart and soul." 

Turgenev would have been quite content to 
remain on German soil if the Viardots had re- 
mained. As it was, as soon as peace was declared 
they moved to Paris, and the Russian, abandoning 
his bitter vantage-point of the Russian tree, sold 
his villa in order to follow them. " If they had 
gone to Australia," he remarked to a friend, " I 
would have followed them there." 

As a matter of fact he followed them first to 

96 Two Russian Reformers 

England, and in 1871 he wrote from London to 
Flaubert : "I am in England, not for the pleasure 
of being there, but because my friends, who have 
been pretty well ruined by the war, have come here 
to try and make a little money. Nevertheless 
there is some good in the English people ; but 
they all of them, even the cleverest, lead such 
a hard life." And before this he had already 
written to Flaubert, perhaps the innermost secret 
of both their temperaments, certainly the secret 
of the suave as well as of the suspicious Turgenev : 
*' We have hard times to go through, we, who are 
born onlookers." 


IT was in October 1871 that the purely Parisian 
phase of Turgenev's life commenced. The 
Viardots had established themselves at 
No. 50, Rue de Douai, and the Russian took up 
his quarters in the third story of the same house. 
Here, as at Baden-Baden, he experienced the 
tranquillity which was so necessary to him as an 
artist. " I have got back into my rut," he wrote 
in 1875 on his return from a visit to Russia. 
" Oh, the charm of days that resemble each 
other ! " Certainly, in this Parisian family the 
suspicious Turgenev was almost wholly silenced. 
With the Viardots he had found that quietude 
which had eluded him always in his wanderings, 
that rest, as it were from oneself, which evaded 
so many of his heroes as they rushed across great 
distances in its pursuit. The days resembled 
each other. That was sufficient for Turgenev, 
who was a connoisseur in all the illusions of 
experience. In the morning he would work, and 
in the afternoon he would go to the Salon or he 
would pay visits. In the evening he would 
accompany the Viardots to the theatre. Above 


98 Two Russian Reformers 

all, there would be music in this home of his 
adoption, music that was worth listening to, as 
Gustave Flaubert well knew. " Hier soir," he 
wrote to George Sand, " Madame Viardot nous 
a chante de I'Alceste . . . de pareilles emotions 
consolent de I'existence." 

Externally at least his life was tranquil, and his 
reputation as a writer had long been established 
abroad as well as at home. He had been even 
called, presumably without irony, " le celebre 
Musset Russe " and, rather less ineptly, " le 
geant des Steppes finnoises." But his very 
popularity irritated him. ** That bores me," he 
said frankly. '' I am turning into a picturesque 
old man." In short, the suspicious Turgenev, 
lulled to sleep in the suave atmosphere of the 
Viardots' home, found full scope for his morose 
curiosity in the analysis of French manners and 
the French temperament. 

For the rest, Turgenev praised the French 
nation and the French individually according as 
the suspicious Turgenev that was in him was or 
was not lulled into quiescence. But when a com- 
patriot brought the stereotyped charges against 
the French home Turgenev was up in arms at once. 
" It is the fashion amongst us," he protested, " to 
tear the French to pieces on this subject ; but I 
am able to tell you that the French family has 
very much more solid foundations than our own." 
But the French spirit, though he appreciated its 

Turgenev 99 

exquisite suavity and biting gaiety, was alien from 
his meditative and ironical genius. The magni- 
loquence of Hugo, especially, irritated him, and 
though he acknowledged him to be the greatest 
lyric poet of his period, he condemned him as a 
novelist. His personality was essentially grating 
to Turgenev. " Once," he says, " while I was at 
his house, we talked about German poetry. Victor 
Hugo, who does not like anybody to speak in his 
presence, interrupted me, and undertook a portrait 
of Goethe. ' His best work,' said he in an Olympian 
tone, * is *' Wallenstein." ' ' Pardon, dear master, 
" Wallenstein " is not by Goethe. It is by 
Schiller.' ' It is all the same : I have read neither 
one nor the other ; but I know them much better 
than those who have learnt them by heart.' " 
To this superb statement the author of " Smoke " 
made no reply. 

Turgenev was never tired of alluding to Victor 
Hugo's vanity, and M. Garchin is the authority 
for this extraordinary anecdote attributed to 
the Russian novelist. One evening, it seems, the 
admirers of Victor Hugo maintained in his presence 
that the street in which he lived ought to bear his 
name. Some one then observed that the street 
was too small and that a more worthy one should 
be found. Then they began to name street after 
street that seemed possibly deserving of such a 
distinction. The streets became more and more 
important as the enthusiasm increased, until at 

loo Two Russian Reformers 

last a genuine apostle maintained that " Paris 
herself should esteem it an honour to bear the name 
of Hugo." The master, leaning against the mantel- 
piece, listened quietly as this auction of flattery 
proceeded. Then suddenly, turning to the young 
man who had alluded to Paris, he said very 
gravely, ** Ca viendra, mon cher ; 9a viendra ! " 
So far as his own work was concerned Turgenev 
had no belief in the expressions of French admira- 
tion. Nor did he believe that they appreciated 
the national genius of his country. " The French," 
he wrote once, " recognise no originality whatever 
in other peoples. The genius of England, of 
Germany, of Italy, is a dead letter or almost a 
dead letter to them ; as for my own country, do 
not let us speak of it ! . . . Apart from their own 
affairs, they are interested in nothing, they know 
nothing." He was profoundly sceptical, or pro- 
fessed to be so, about the alleged success of the 
French translations of his books : "Of what 
interest are they to the French, our dreams and 
our distracted heroes ! . . . My lovers are neither 
gay nor voluptuous ! . . . The most insignificant 
romance of Octave Feuillet gives them more 
pleasure than all mine put together." And he 
quotes, as though once and for ever to sum up the 
French standpoint towards Russian literature, 
the comment of a very distinguished French- 
man upon one of the masterpieces of Pushkin : 
*' C'est plat, mon cher ! " Often indifferent as to 

m- •■■ 

Turgcnev 103 

his own success in Paris, he was extreTTieiy anxioas 
that Tolstoy should be appreciated there, and in 
this connection Charles Edmond has noted in a 
letter a characteristic incident. " The Temps 
had already published some of his books when, 
chancing to meet him one day, I remarked to him 
that our mutual friend Hebrard would be very 
glad to offer him again the hospitality of the 

" ' Let us go to my rooms,' replied Turgenev 
after a moment's thought, ' and I can promise 
both you and Hebrard a surprise with which you 
will be more than satisfied.' 

" This was the first time that I had ever heard 
Ivan Sergueivitch speak in such a flattering way 
of his own merits. On arriving at his rooms, 
Turgenev took from his writing-table a roll of 
paper. I give what he said word for word. 
' Listen,' he said : ' Here is copy for your paper 
of an absolutely first-rate kind. This means 
that I am not its author. The master, for he is 
a real master, is almost unknown ; but I assure 
you, upon my soul and conscience. . . .' 

" Two days afterwards there appeared in the 
Temps ' Les Souvenirs de Sebastopol,* by Leon 

In precisely the same spirit of disinterested 
kindness Turgenev did his best to make Zola 
known in Russia. He used to boast, indeed, 
of having discovered the talent of Zola, though it 


104 Two Russian Reformers 

was utterly antipathetic to Turgenev, who made 
this comment on the creator of the " Comedie 
Humaine " : " Balzac, c'est un ethnographe : 
ce n'est pas un artiste." Naturally, he con- 
sidered Zola still less an artist, but he did his 
very best to help him in the comparatively earty 
days when help was needed. One anecdote of 
Turgenev's sheds a curious light on the famous 
exponent of naturalism. Shortly after the pub- 
lication of " L'Assommoir " Turgenev, at the 
suggestion of some ladies, invited Zola to read 
aloud from his own works, and after some per- 
suasion he consented. " The ladies," narrates 
Turgenev, " expected to see a Bohemian with 
shock-hair standing on end, uttering right and 
left coarse words, impertinences, perhaps some- 
thing worse. They were rather surprised when 
they saw that the champion of naturalism was a 
quite presentable young man, with his hair cut 
short, in evening clothes and wearing white 
gloves. None the less they preserved the hope 
that Zola would be worthy of himself during the 
reading, and waited for that moment with im- 
patience. It arrived at last : Zola mounted the 
platform . . . but here he produced a quite 
unexpected scandal. Zola grew white, grew red, 
and remained for some seconds dumb, without 
being able to utter a word. He made a brave 
attempt to commence the reading, but alas ! he 
himself did not recognise his own voice. His 

Turgenev 105 

teeth clashed against one another. The book 
swayed in his hand. He was unable to see. He 
mumbled something as he looked at the book, 
but his audience no longer listened to him. The 
ladies covered their lips with their handkerchiefs 
and burst out laughing ; the gentlemen made 
unheard-of efforts to remain serious ; in short the 
scandal was complete." Then and there Zola 
made a vow never to read in public again, 
and years afterwards he remarked to Turgenev, 
" Even now when I recall at night that trifle, I 
become hot and cold in turn." 

Turgenev, on the other hand, appears to have 
been an intensely sympathetic reader. On one 
occasion he read from his own " Annals of 
a Sportsman," and afterwards a fragment of 
Pushkin. " His own work," comments Pav- 
lovsky, " he read calmly, with mastery, so that 
the public, forgetting the reader, was entirely 
absorbed by the pictures that he sketched during 
his reading before their eyes. But, when the 
turn of the 'Tziganes ' arrived, the reader's voice 
suddenly vibrated. His figure bent, his face grew 
pale. Moved, almost carried away by the sub- 
ject, he appeared to have forgotten the audience 
and everybody else. He gave himself up without 
reserve to the wonderful illusion. The final 
scene he read with a voice scarcely audible. 
When he had finished and come down from 
the platform his hand was shaking. It seemed 

io6 Two Russian Reformers 

to me that he was weeping, he who never 

But Turgenev's sympathy was not merely the 
sympathy of the artist, Hmited to works of art. 
He, who was all his life assailed by malevolent 
personal enemies, was never weary of performing 
the most disinterested acts of kindness. But 
even here the essential irony of his temperament 
revealed itself, and he would give, knowing all 
the time that he was being victimised by an im- 
postor. For example, a certain young woman 
in distress in Paris insisted upon visiting Turgenev, 
from whom she immediately borrowed 750 francs. 
Shortly after this imposition Turgenev explained 
to a visitor that in his opinion the lady was a 
comedienne, that her distress was nothing very 
terrible, and that she was not separated, as she 
pretended to be, from her husband. Moreover, 
he prophesied that he had not heard the last 
of her and that she would not leave Paris. In 
this one respect, however, he was wrong. The 
lady did leave Paris, and shortly afterwards wrote 
to him from Russia. The letter said nothing 
about the return of the 750 francs, but reproached 
Turgenev for being anxious to rid himself of the 
writer. It ended with the modest demand for a 
life pension. 

On another occasion a young girl came to Paris 
for reasons connected with her health. She was a 
writer, and Turgenev put himself to endless trouble 

Turgenev 107 

on her account, introduced her to people, went 
from hotel to hotel in search of a lodging for her, 
and even presented her to doctors who, according 
to him, offered their services free. In short, he 
did everything in his power to help her — first of 
all because he believed in her talent, and secondly 
because she had shown herself capable of self- 
sacrifice. For, in her own wretched Russian 
village, the young writer had had compassion 
upon a poor sick little girl whom her own parents 
had neglected. She had taken her with her to 
Moscow, paid all her expenses, and done every- 
thing for her that a mother could do for a daughter. 
Finally, she succeeded in curing her, but at the 
cost of her own health. This was a story in 
which Turgenev delighted, and he who was so 
profoundly suspicious of great reputations lowered 
his voice when speaking of this poor unknown 

There were only too many such cases, and 
nobody knew how to deal with them as did 
Turgenev, whose malice was almost proverbial. 
But no irony pervaded these little comedies of 
kindness. The world-novelist would carefully 
think out plans to help proud young people to 
whom one dared not offer the very suspicion of 
patronage. Sometimes a translation would be 
commissioned, for no particular reason. At other 
times a manuscript would be accepted by a 
journal to which it had never been submitted. 

io8 Two Russian Reformers 

On one occasion at least an author had been paid 
in advance, but finding that his manuscript did 
not appear in print, he began to make inquiries. 
Then he would be told that the editor had gone 
to some place or other, nobody knew where, or 
perhaps that the manuscript had gone astray in 
the most unexpected fashion. 

There are innumerable stories of such kindness 
on the part of the malicious Turgenev. Even 
towards the very end, in January 1883, a young 
Russian girl came to him for help. She had 
wished to enter the school of medicine, but on 
arriving she had found that she was too late for 
registration. The novelist promised to do what 
he could for her, and undertook a long correspond- 
ence on the subject. Being too ill to approach 
the authorities in person, he persuaded one of 
his friends to do so. Not content with this, 
hearing that the young girl was delicate, the 
author of ** Smoke " anxiously recommended 
her to wear flannel vests, and asked her 
two weeks afterwards if she had followed his 

Naturally, he was constantly victimised. Some- 
times he shrugged his shoulders and took the 
imposture as a matter of course. On the subject 
of one impostor at least he showed himself almost 
a clairvoyant. " That man," he said, " will 
become a collaborator of Katkoff ; he will betray 
the Nihilists with whom he is now associated and 

Turgencv 109 

will cover them with mud ; he will publish his 
recollections of me after my death, and will pose 
as my intimate friend. As he has letters from 
me, people will easily believe in our friendship, 
and will accept as absolute truth every word 
that he will put into my mouth." This prophecy 
was fulfilled in detail ; and about another man 
who had deceived him Turgenev's clairvoyance 
was no less unerring. 

But before anything else in the world Turgenev 
was an artist. " Has any misfortune happened to 
you ? " he said once to a friend. " Sit down and 
write ' This or that has happened, I have experi- 
enced this or that emotion.' The grief will pass 
and the excellent page will remain. This page 
sometimes may become the nucleus of a great 
work, which will be artistic since it will be true, 
actually lifelike." 

"It is all very well," interrupted his friend, 
" to say, ' Sit down and write,' when a man has 
perhaps but one wish, namely to blow his brains 

" Good ! What does it matter ? Write that 
too ! If all the unhappy artists were to blow their 
brains out, there would be none left, for they are 
all more or less unhappy ; there cannot be artists 
who are actually happy. Happiness is repose, 
and repose creates nothing. As for me, I always 
keep my journal, in which I write down every- 
thing that interests me. In that journal am I 

no Two Russian Reformers 

at home; I judge, and I reverse judgments, on 
all men and things." 

" You intend to publish it one day ? " 
" Never ! I have enjoined Madame Viardot 
to burn it immediately after my death, and she 
will fulfil my wish religiously." 

Apart from the Viardots and a very few of his 
compatriots, he was most at his ease with Gustave 
Flaubert, whose work he had always admired in 
spite of its innate antagonism to his own. Flaubert 
met him for the first time in 1866, when he sat 
next to him at dinner. " That man," he wrote 
to George Sand, " has such an exquisite power of 
producing impressions, even in conversation, that 
he has shown me George Sand leaning over a 
balcony in Madame Viardot's chateau at Rosay." 
Three years before this, however, on February 23, 
1863, we find the first note on Turgenev in the 
" Journal des Goncourts " : '' Dinner at Magny's ; 
Charles Edmond brought us Turgenev, that 
foreign writer with such a delicate talent, the 
author of the ' IMemoires d'un Seigneur Russe ' 
and of the * Hamlet Russe.' He is a charming 
colossus, a suave giant with white hair, who seems 
to be the good genius of some mountain or forest. 
He is handsome, gloriousty handsome, enormously 
handsome, with the blue of the heavens in his 
eyes, with the charm of the Russian sing-song 
accent, with that melody in which there lurks a 
suspicion of the child and of the negro. Pleased 

Turgencv iii 

and put at his ease by the ovation that we gave 
him, he talked to us curiously on the subject of 
Russian literature, which he maintains, from the 
novel to the play, to be regularly launched 
upon the waves of realism." Seven years later 
the intimacy between Turgenev and Flaubert 
was firmly established. " Apart from you and 
Turgenev," writes the Master to George Sand, 
" I do not know a human being with whom I can 
talk over things which I have really at heart." 
After the War Turgenev became a regular habitue 
at the Magny dinners. Perhaps it was the craving 
for serenity on the part of Flaubert which endeared 
him to the Russian in spite of so many differences 
of race and temperament. Flaubert from early 
childhood had had a curious antipathy to violent 
action, and owing to his inexhaustible work his 
life had been more than ordinarily sedentary. 
" It exasperated him," notes his pupil, Guy de 
Maupassant, " to see people walking or moving 
about him, and he declared in his mordant, 
sonorous, always rather theatrical voice, that it 
was not philosophic." "One can only write and 
think seated, he said." This curious antipathy 
to activity, this surprised and helpless irritation 
at merely physical disturbances is conspicuous 
in Flaubert's letters to George Sand during the 
Franco-Prussian War. 

The friendship with Flaubert helps to explain 
much that is enigmatic in the character and in the 

112 Two Russian Reformers 

work of Turgenev. It explains to no small extent 
the Turgenevian hero with whom he has been so 
often reproached. It explains to no small extent 
his utter indifference to the hero in our own 
Anglo-Saxon sense. He was at home with Flau- 
bert, but never at home with the brothers de 
Goncourt, or even with the author of "Sapho." The 
so-called quarrel with Alphonse Daudet, which 
was so foolishly exploited after Turgenev' s death, 
was in reality nothing more or less than an 
involuntary clashing of sensitive but alien tem- 
peraments. But this involuntary clashing with 
Daudet, and this equally involuntary "fitting-in" 
with Flaubert do at least hint at the mental pro- 
cesses of this Slav giant, whose eyes were singularly 
alert in contrast with that slow meditative serenity 
of pessimism which was perhaps the innermost 
secret of Ivan Turgenev's soul. Flaubert alone, 
perhaps, appealed to the naive, calm Turgenev 
at these Parisian dinners ; while the other guests, 
in a more or less degree, roused that suspicious 
twin-self whom the author of " Salammbo " so 
easily disarmed. 

For Turgenev — he has confessed it himself — 
a work of art was in no sense of the word an 
expression of the will, but rather the unburdening 
of some impression, almost, if not actuaUy, physical 
in its intensity. He was, in short, an excellent 
illustration of hypersesthesia. " The higher we 
rise," says Lombroso, *' in the moral scale, the 

Turgcnev 113 

more sensibility increases ; it is the highest in 
great minds, and is the source of their misfortunes 
as well as of their triumphs. They feel and notice 
more things, and with greater vivacity and tenacity, 
than other men ; their recollections are richer, 
and their mental combinations more fruitful. 
Little things, accidents that ordinary people do 
not see or notice, are observed by them, brought 
together in a thousand ways, which we call crea- 
tions, and which are only binary and quaternary 
combinations of sensations." To no human being 
could these words be applied more aptly than 
to Turgenev, for whom some quite physical im- 
pression would be the embryo of a work of art. 
Then, for weeks, he would shut himself up in his 
room, walking up and down, groaning, " like a 
lion in a cage." After which he would sit down 
to write with all the facility of one whose sub- 
consciousness is being given full play. Actual 
memories renewed the first salt of their sorrow 
in these pictures. " I must describe her," he 
writes, " in her open coffin, when her parents come 
to kiss her according to custom. ... I have 
taken part in farewells of this kind. There is my 
day spoilt ! " But when his friends protested 
that if these tragic pictures made him ill, it would 
be better to change the endings of his stories, 
Turgenev would not hear of such concessions. 
** It ends badly," he would say, " because I wish 
to unburden myself of a personal recollection." 

114 Two Russian Reformers 

This admission explains, if anything in the world 
can explain, that aroma of loss, of regret, of 
infinite happiness just missed, which pervades 
the very slightest of his stories. 

To Flaubert he could reveal every side of his 
nature without the slightest suspicion or fear of 
misunderstanding, and in a single letter, written 
in 1872, he shows himself as an agreeable and 
kindly man of the world, and as a meditative 
artist. " I shall go," he writes in this letter from 
Russia, " straight as an arrow to Paris, then from 
there to my daughter in Touraine, who is on the 
point of making me a grandfather ; then from 
there to Valery-sur-Somme, where I shall rejoin 
my old friends, the Viardots. I shall idle and I 
shall work if I can, then I shall go to Paris, in order 
to meet there one Flaubert, whom I love much, 
and with whom I shall go to his home at Croisset, 
or to Madame Sand, at Nohant, as it appears she 
wants to have us there. And then from October 
onwards, Paris. There you are ! " That was 
Turgenev, the amiable kindly Parisian by adoption. 

But in this very letter he translates something 
of the savour of his native Russia. " I believe, as 
you do, that a visit to Russia alone with me 
would do you good, but it should be spent wander- 
ing about the paths of an old country garden, 
steeped in rustic scents, and. filled with straw- 
berries, birds, sunshine and shadow, all equally 
sunk in sleep, and two hundred acres of waving 

Turgenev 115 

rye all around us ; it used to be delicious. One 
finds inertia stealing over one, together with a 
sense of solemnity, vastness, and monotony ; 
a sense which has something animal in it, and 
something divine. One comes out of it as if one 
had had some strengthening bath, and takes up 
again the ordinary mill of existence." Such 
was Turgenev in his almost naive relations with 
Gustave Flaubert. But undoubtedly some of his 
Parisian associates aroused in him that involuntary 
antagonism of suspicion from which no single one 
of his books can be said to be wholly free. 

Nor in Russia could he yield himself always to 
the sluggish, dreaming influences, to the quietude 
of " under the water." There he would refer 
constantly to foreign friends and foreign experi- 
ences, just as in Paris he was perpetually haunted 
by the sense of nostalgia. But in spite of this 
he showed himself a real cosmopolitan in litera- 
ture, translating Goethe and Swinburne as well as 
his own Pushkin. He was a welcome guest at 
Nohant no less than at Croisset, and George Sand 
writes of him with genuine appreciation : " Le 
grand Moscove est venu chez nous ! . . . Quel aim- 
able et digne homme ! Et quel talent modeste ! On 
I'adore ici, et je donne I'exemple." His charm was 
felt equally at the Magny dinners, as the Journal 
notes : " Le doux geant, I'aimable barbare nous 
charme, des le souper, par ce melange de naivete 
et de finesse, la seduction de la race slave relevee 

ii6 Two Russian Reformers 

chez lui, par I'originalite d'un esprit personnel, et 
par un savoir immense et cosmopolite." But 
even in the intimacy of these dinners the Slav 
remained always a stranger in a strange land. 
These realists were to him the very ravagers of 
mystery, who would describe physical passion 
imagining that they had interpreted love. He was 
constitutionally antipathetic to their habit of 
thought. For him, realist though he was after his 
own fashion, mystery was essential, was in a way 
the only current to which his sensitive genius 
would ever respond. It was impossible for him 
to be really en rapport with that Parisian cynicism 
which pervaded the Magny dinners in one phase 
or other, even if it were only the cynicism of 
fatigued regret. It was not a question of a man 
being out of touch with his fellow guests ; it was 
a question of the involuntary revolt of a dreamer 
against those who would tear him from his dream. 
That is what he could not forgive these talented 
Frenchmen, and that is why he so often turned 
in mind from the centre of the world's civilisation 
to those desolate steppes whose secret was his 

The famous dinners were called " the dinners 
of the Hissed Authors." Flaubert, Alphonse 
Daudet has told us, was a member of this dining 
society through the failure of his " Candidat," 
Zola through the " Bouton de Rose," Goncourt 
on account of " Henriette Marechal." Daudet 

Turgenev 117 

himself claimed right by his " Arlesienne." '' As 
for Turgenev," he adds, " he pledged his word 
that he had been hissed in Russia, and as it was 
a long way off, we did not go there to find out." 
One cannot exaggerate the importance of these 
dinners in relation to Turgenev, because at them 
he was the representative and interpreter of the 
Russian temperament in the very heart of Europe. 
It was at these dinners that with an almost sur- 
reptitious tenderness he indicated rather than 
expressed the enigmatic charm of la femme Russe. 
It was at these dinners that in his high monotone 
he hinted at the innermost secret of his art — the 
" couleur toute particuliere " of love. He found 
his own chosen colour of love almost invariably 
in a Russian woman. " Aucune autre," he said 
once, " ne pent aimer d'un amour aussi absolu, 
aussi desinteresse. Elle aime le peuple, et elle va 
dans ses ranges sans phrases ; elle va et elle le sert ; 
elle s'enfouit dans un village ; elle oublie sa propre 
personne, se refuse toute affection personnelle, et 
meme la maternite." 

At these dinners, too, he protested against that 
over-lucidity of Western logic which seemed to 
him inimical to what is best both in life and in 
art. He pleaded for the hrouillard slav. With 
the Russians, he reasoned, this mist was a pre- 
server. On a snow plough, for example, one is 
told not to think of the cold, for if one thinks of 
it one will die. " Very well," reasoned Turgenev, 

ii8 Two Russian Reformers 

" thanks to that mist of which I was just speaking, 
the Slav with the chasse-neige does not think of 
the cold, and with me in the same way the idea of 
death effaces itself and soon glides away." This 
Slavonic mistiness, this evasion of the last insist- 
ence of logic, this shrinking from the final verdict 
of justice, seemed to Turgenev to lie at the very 
core of the Russian character. On Sunday, 
March 5, 1876, he is quoted in the "Journal" as 
follows : 

" Je n'ai, jamais si bien, vu qu'hier, combien 
les races sont differentes ; 9a m' a fort rev6 toute 
la nuit. Nous sommes cependant, n'est-ce pas, nous 
des gens du meme metier, des gens de plume ? Eh 
bien, hier, dans Madame Caverlet, quand le jeune 
homme a dit a I'amant de sa mere qui allait em- 
brasser sa soeur : ' Je vous defends d'embrasser 
cette jeune fille.' Eh bien, j'ai eprouve un mouve- 
ment de repulsion, et il y aurait eu cinq cents 
Russes dans la salle, qu'ils auraient eprouv^ le 
meme sentiment . . . et Flaubert, et les gens 
qui etaient dans la loge, ne I'ont pas ^prouv(§ ce 
moment de repulsion. ... J'ai beaucoup reflechi 
dans la nuit. . . . Oui, vous etes bien des latins, 
il y a chez vous du romain et de sa religion du 
droit, en un mot, vous etes des hommes de la 
loi. . . . Nous, nous ne sommes pas ainsi. . . . 
Comment dire cela ? . . . Voyons, supposez chez 
nous un rond, autour duquel sont tons les vieux 
Russes, puis derriere, pele-mele, les jeunes Russes. 

Turgenev 119 

Eh bien, les vieux Russes disent oui ou non — 
auxquels acquiescent ceux qui sont derriere. Alors, 
figurez-vous que devant ce ' oui ou non ' la loi n'est 
plus, n'existe plus, car la loi chez les Russes ne 
se cristallise pas, comme chez vous. Un exemple, 
nous sommes voleurs en Russie, et cependant 
qu'un homme ait commis vingt vols qu'il avoue, 
mais qu'il soit constate qu'il y ait eu besoin, qu'il 
ait faim, il est acquitte. . . . Oui, vous etes des 
hommes de la loi, de I'honneur, nous, tout auto- 
cratises que nous soyons, nous sommes des hommes, 
et comme il cherche son mot, je lui jette * de 
Thumanite.' 'Oui, c'est cela,' reprend-il, 'nous 
nous sommes des hommes moins conventionnels, 
nous sommes des hommes de I'humanite.' " 

One can almost see him, speaking in his high, 
nervous voice in that gentle sing-song French, 
towering above these men of the world as he 
reveals the complex barbarism of his race. There 
is no mockery in those enigmatic eyes as he utters 
the last secret of the Slav, who pardons easily 
because he can fully believe in no single one of the 
shibboleths of the centuries. Nothing has crys- 
tallised in the mobile heart of the Slav, not even 
regret itself. Intellectual revolt from any con- 
ventional custom means little or nothing to 
him, because the stamp of convention has pressed 
only upon the surface of a nature at once 
wistful and tameless. Other Russian writers 
had shared this synthesis of emancipation and 



120 Two Russian Reformers 

limitation so fully that they were unaware of 
its existence. Turgenev alone, or almost alone, 
stood, so to speak, outside of the Russian point of 
view, so that even in sharing and defending it he 
was at least able to analyse it. But this inter- 
preter to the West, in spite of his preference for 
the crystallisation of art, was essentially of his 
own people, and in " The Annals of a Sportsman " 
one sees how closely allied he was in nature to the 
simplest of his compatriots. 

But before turning to the book through which 
was consummated the great wish of his life, let 
us turn to a less kindly, to a more suspicious 
analysis of the Russian character. 

It has been often remarked that in " On the 
Eve " the one individual capable of action is not 
a Russian at all, but a Bulgarian. In no other 
book, not even in " Virgin Soil," is there com- 
municated the atmosphere of a national blow 
being struck for the cause of liberty. It is signifi- 
cant that it is a foreigner and not a Russian who 
is prepared to strike it. 

With Insarov, the Bulgarian, we are a long 
way from Rudin and Lavretsky, a long way from 
those powerless leaders who shrank involuntarily 
from the abyss towards which enthusiasts, help- 
less as themselves, were constantly driving them. 
Insarov is a man of action in the Anglo-Saxon 
sense. In almost every one of Turgenev's novels 
we are introduced to the people who are waiting ; 

Turgencv 121 

in "On the Eve " we meet at last the man for 
whom they wait. He is harassed by no doubts 
as to side-issues ; he is wilUng to strike at any 
moment. But around him there clusters the old 
familiar group of talkers about action. They, at 
least, are Russians, though Shubin, the sculptor, 
is French on his mother's side. Shubin, indeed, 
accentuates even more than any of Turgenev's 
wholly Russian characters the gulf between the 
inspiration of the moment and the sustained 
accomplishment of one's purpose. With his quick 
artist's hands he fashions busts and statues only 
to destroy them. He lends life to his very dreams 
only to parody them. It is as though in this one 
character there were typified every apostle of 
Russian liberty whose voice was his first and his 
last sacrifice. But Turgenev does not caricature. 
He draws no moral antithesis between the man 
who is waiting without waste of words to shed his 
heart's blood, and the man who seeks passionately 
to express what he is unable to feel. On the 
contrary, Shubin possesses that artistic tempera- 
ment which, Turgenev knew through his own 
sombre experience, carried with it its own con- 
demnation and its own punishment. 

It is in Elena, however, that we have the deepest 
study, perhaps not only in "On the Eve " but in 
all the novels of Turgenev. Nor has he expressed 
more clearly in any other book his individual 
attitude towards Nature. When Odysseus met 

132 Two Russian Reformers 

the Princess Nausicaa in the hour of his need, he 
compared her with a young palm-tree, and for 
centuries the writers of all countries have been 
imitating his exquisite adroitness. But instead 
of being reminded of a product of Nature in the 
presence of a beautiful woman, Turgenev is re- 
minded of a beautiful woman through the medium 
of Nature's mood. 

Bersenyev, the typical Turgenevian hero, the 
man who looks on, the man who half loves and 
half strives, even he detects in the faint summer 
stir of leaves the phantom frou-frou of a woman's 
skirts. And gradually, as all the drowsy scents 
and sounds crowd in upon his senses, they become 
crystallised, as it were, into the image of a Russian 
girl, as fresh and virginal as though she had just 
awaked to life with those rustling leaves of summer. 
It is Elena, and Shubin also loves her or tries to 
love her after his fashion. Nobody, even in 
these novels of the last intimate analysis, comes 
quite so close to us as Elena. It is for her to 
utter much that Natalya only dared to hope. It 
is for her to act while Liza could only bow before 
the storm of fate. If in her girlhood she had shared 
the vague longings of these and so many others, 
she at least recognised, when she met him, the 
man for whom she had been waiting. Unlike 
Natalya, she could not be deceived by the vehe- 
mence of chatterers. Unlike Liza, she accepted 
gratefully the ultimate sacrifice. And beyond 

Turgcncv 123 

either of them there was articulate in her the 
Russian capacity for pity. At first it had been 
centred upon animals. Starved dogs, homeless 
cats, sparrows, all maimed and helpless things 
found a protector in Elena. But all the time she 
has been waiting, like a young conscript, for the 
call of action. One realises this waiting in all 
the heroines of Turgenev's novels, but never more 
so than in the heroine of this book, in whose very 
title one seems to read the protracted " At last ! 
at last ! " 

When Insarov meets her for the first time she 
is not consciously impressed by him as melodrama 
would have her impressed. He is so silent, and 
in spite of his strength so non-heroic in his personal 
appearance. But from the very beginning she has 
sub-consciously divined that this man is not as 
others, that he is absorbed by something beyond 
the mere regulations of external routine, the 
mere acquiescence of habit from which she would 
enfranchise her soul. She recognises something 
grand and terrible in the idea of liberating one's 
country, and this man is really in touch with 
a movement for national liberty. With him it 
is not merely words ; with him at last it is on 
the eve. 

And then there happens a little incident that 
translates her girlish confidence into a strange 
new world. Anna Vassilyevna, her mother, has 
arranged a picnic, and they drive with the young 

124 Two Russian Reformers 

Bulgarian to see some ruins. The weather is 
deUghtful, and they enjoy themselves immensely, 
when suddenly a party of noisy Germans obtrudes 
itself upon them. One of these, more drunk than 
his friends, accosts the Russian ladies. Shubin, 
the artist, greets him with words of malignant 
wit, which the German parries by the mere power 
of obtuseness. Even in this little crisis clever 
conversation counts for less than nothing. The 
German sweeps the sculptor aside as though he 
were an obtrusive twig, and continues his im- 
portunities. Then Insarov interposes, and tells 
him quietly that if he takes a single step forward 
he will be thrown into the water. The lake is 
close to him, but the German officer, quite incredu- 
lous, takes the forbidden step, and the next instant 
he is splashing in the lake. Here at last was 
an argument that even the German understood. 
When he was eventually dragged out, he merely 
contented himself with threatening the " Russian 
scoundrels " that he would make the regulation 

But the incident impressed Elena. Something 
had been done, after all that ineffectual chatter of 
Shubin. An idea had been expressed in action 
instead of in rhetoric. 

It was all very well for the critics to gibe at the 
insignificance of the incident. To the young 
Russian girl it was symbolic of the unknown — 
that blow that so many were preparing to strike, 

Turgenev 125 

that blow of which so many spoke, Ihat blow 
which to many appeared already muffled and 
paralysed by the rage of words that anticipated it. 

Elena's unconscious, involuntary choice has 
now become fixed and definite. This is the man 
who will fashion her dreams into reality. Secretly 
she confesses to herself this strange happiness 
that has burst in upon her life. In the diary 
of Elena we have not only the analysis of her 
individual temperament, but also a yet deeper 
analysis of those other wordless heroines, from 
Natalya who failed to rouse Rudin, to Liza whom 
fate held back from Lavretsky. 

In English fiction the diary is an accepted 
banality, one more device for avoiding the atmo- 
sphere of real things. With Turgenev it is some- 
thing quite different. This sensitive and secret 
confession of a soul to itself has nothing in common 
with the " Mes Larmes " of Thackeray's derision. 
Elena is telling things to herself, shaping in words 
all the half-guessed-at hopes and fears that are 
beginning to haunt her with a deeper insistence 
than the long vague pity of her girlhood. That 
is on the surface, but she is doing more than this. 
Unconsciously she is exploring the depths of the 
Russian woman's soul. This it is which makes 
" On the Eve " a more significant and permanent 
reading of Russian character than either " Rudin " 
or " Liza." Elena is not merely a young girl 
babbling the sweet secrets of her youth ; she is 

126 Two Russian Reformers 

a Russian woman stammering out a love that is 
inseparable from the exaltation of sacrifice. 

Sometimes at the Magny dinners the Russian 
would revert to his countrywomen, and in such 
moments the naturalism of Zola and the rest 
became remote and distant, and he would see close 
to him the silent, clear-eyed women of the steppes, 
who so easily detected the true thing amid the 
mazes and labyrinths of words. But even in this 
concrete confession Elena reverts to those abstrac- 
tions which are never very far from the Russian's 
heart. What is the meaning of her youth ? 
Why has a soul been given to her ? What is the 
meaning of it all ? Who will answer these ques- 
tions ? The girl reviews one after the other the 
men who offer her their love. Here again we are 
conscious of something altogether beyond the mere 
diary of an isolated Russian girl. For, in this 
helpless little circle of admirers there are many 
of the types by which the purpose of Russia has 
been so long confused. There is Shubin, the 
artist, clear-sighted, and at the same time devoid 
of inner vision, artistically sensitive, but without 
the penetration that is bought by endurance, 
without the real capacity for suffering, even the 
deeper suffering of art itself. Instinctively the 
girl shuns him, and distrusts art as the mere 
make-belief of life. For she knows well that he 
and such as he are not the men who will at 
last strike silently and to the death. After all, 

Turgenev 127 

women at their very best are themselves works of 
art, and they involuntarily distrust themselves 
little less than they distrust each other. But 
Shubin is by no means a mere foil to the man of 
action. Nor is he made to fit in with the angles 
and curves of other people's temperaments. He 
does not strike the anticipated attitude or utter 
the expected aphorism. Volatile and capricious, 
he preserves not only the artist's power for 
self-torment, but also the artist's divination of 
another's pain. But, now that we are " on the 
eve," Shubin and such as he must stand aside. 
Then there is Bersenyev, the man of brotherly 
sympathy, the " go-between " of science whom 
romance has half-caught in its coils. He, too, is 
powerless in the world of action, though, with that 
quixotic sympathy against one's own interests 
which is so thoroughly Russian, he is a cordial 
helper of Elena in her love for another man. But 
he, too, must give place in the hour of emancipa- 

For, there is one man who has come into Elena's 
life who will march forward even if he has to 
march alone. " I am a Bulgarian," he exclaims, 
** and I have no need of a Russian's love." But 
in spite of his self-dedication to the cause of 
liberty that other equally immortal cause springs 
up swiftly and suddenly in his heart. He loves 
this Russian girl in spite of himself, and he is 
worthy of her. It is as though Natalya had met a 

128 Two Russian Reformers 

Rudin who was strong, and as though Liza had 
met a Lavretsky who was free. Devoted to the 
national cause, Insarov desires to retain his per- 
sonal secret, but the Russian girl reads it in his 
eyes. She knows that her lot will be with this 
man, whose only hope in life is to be led against 
desperate odds to death. She knows that the 
old luxury and protection in her life must end. 
But she does not hesitate, any more than Natalya 
or Liza would have hesitated. Like flame leaping 
to meet flame, her own passion for sacrifice irradi- 
ates this wordless courage which she knows to be 
the very answer to her long inarticulate yearnings. 
And the man understands the delicate, exquisite 
thing that has come into the barren hardness of 
his life. It is no wonder that Turgenev, with 
such inner dreams as these, was not quite whole- 
heartedly in sympathy with some of these Parisians 
who labelled a dead passion much as a naturalist 
labels a dead moth. 

But even in "On the Eve " something of the 
old doubt hovers on the very threshold of action. 
Insarov remembers the ancient oppressions and 
the ancient wrongs. War for Bulgarian freedom 
is inevitable ; this blow at least is no chatterer's 
dream. But, foreigner though he is, Insarov is 
too certainly a creation of Turgenev to be wholly 
convinced. He, too, is conscious of that paralys- 
ing note of warning, " We are not ready." None 
the less, even with this note of nitchevo in his 

Turgenev lag 

heart, he prepares for instant action. And in 
this moment Elena comes to him bringing with 
her the weakening atmosphere of passion. But 
not for a moment does she persuade him to ex- 
change his bayonet for her arms. She does not 
lure him to abandon his honour for the sake of 
her love. She also is overwhelmingly on the side 
of action. Let him go at once, but she will go 
with him. His cause has become hers ; her 
marriage-settlement shall be a Turkish bullet, 
and her dowry the after-thrust of a Turkish 
bayonet. She is willing to accept both, grateful 
to be allowed to go upon this hard honeymoon. 

And Insarov, musing upon this young girl's 
challenge to destiny, wonders if he has been 
listening only in a dream. For surely there are 
in the world no such women as she who but now 
had seemed tenderly to whisper to him. There 
are not women who are to be wooed with these 
certainties of danger and hardship instead of the 
promises of luxury and dominance. There are 
not women who will share gladly the anonymous 
burden of revolt, serving with no hope of personal 
reward the losing cause of freedom. But it had 
been no dream ; the Russian girl had really come 
to him whispering the promises of her beauty 
and her youth. In that poor dark room of 
his there lingered still, fresh and perturbing as 
the near memory of her promise, the scent of 
mignonette. And with that scent there return 

130 Two Russian Reformers 

to him a thousand haunting memories, beautiful 
and stainless even as this courageous passion 
which has illumined and ennobled the dusky- 
hardships of his life. 

In other novels Turgenev recalls the sharp 
tang of physical sensation associated with the 
perfumes of flowers. And as one reads there 
arises between us and the printed page a nebula 
every moment taking form and life. One catches 
the faint forgotten swish of fantastic skirts, one 
hears, as in some long low empty house, the 
suggestion of muffled laughter, one divines a sigh 
of caressing regret. For one is not merely reading 
a book — one is in the presence of this or that 
heroine of Turgenev. Not only for him, but in 
a sense also for us, the remembered perfume has 
won back, as from the dead, the half-forgotten 
woman. Old memories crowd in upon us once 
more ; old burdens are renewed. Old graces 
return with a deepened glamour, and for an instant 
at least the very ashes of a dead transport revive. 
But nowhere else, even in the novels of Turgenev, 
does a flower recall a personality, real as life itself, 
more insistently than the spray of mignonette 
in the dark miserable room where Insarov evokes 
the presence of Elena. 

It is no wonder that the Bulgarian tells Elena 
that the Russians have hearts of pure gold ! 
Turgenev maintained that the Russian people 
were ** the strangest, the most astonishing people 

Turgcnev 131 

on the face of the earth," and if he has made one 
of his very few men of action a foreigner instead 
of a Russian, he has given us in Elena one of the 
simplest and noblest creations in the whole world 
of literature. Insarov has need of such a woman, 
for now at the eleventh hour he is struck down 
by illness. While he is stumbling back to his 
bruised life she comes to him again. He feels 
her breath upon his cheek. It is too much for 
him, and he implores her to leave him ; but she 
refuses, and in that moment the girl gives herself 
to the man who loves her in the same spirit of 
exaltation that he gives himself to the cause of 
his country's freedom. They are secretly married, 
and Bersenyev does all in his power to help them, 
so that they form a trio which is the very opposite 
of the menage ci trois so necessary to French fiction. 
That is Russian ; and essentially Russian, too, is 
the forgiveness of Elena's father, who sheds tears 
just as the young couple are driving away in their 
sledge. He had been bitterly opposed to this 
marriage, but now that the shadow of war and 
danger is so close to them he cannot harden his 
heart for the sake of his pride. 

But Elena does not accompany her husband to 
the front. After all, he is not to die by Turkish 
bullets, but of illness in Venice. He is a stricken 
man, and over this sombre honeymoon there 
hovers always a nearer menace than that of the 
Turkish troops. But they have their bright days, 

132 Two Russian Reformers 

and on one of them they listen together to Verdi's 
La Traviata. A plain, unattractive-looking girl 
with a feeble voice was taking the part of Violetta, 
when suddenly she " found herself " and expressed 
as by some strange new inspiration her own in- 
dividual secret, the waste of youth. 

Elena understood that sinister waste. For 
Turgenev art and life were so merged each in each 
as to be indivisible. Hundreds of novelists would 
have made a pathetic scene of this dying man 
watching the actress pleading for youth. For 
them the actress herself would have been a mere 
impersonal accessory with no background of her 
own, a mere stage property of romanticism. But 
in a few words Turgenev makes her a living 
personality from whom youth is being torn away. 
And when she exclaims, " Lascia mi diviro — morir 
si giovane," it is her own youth, and not a mere 
abstraction for which she is pleading with a 
passion that has suddenly entered the world of 
art. It is for her own youth and for all the 
youth of the world, for this stricken Bulgarian, 
for Elena herself, that she is pleading. 

Elena felt cold, cold even in her heart, as she 
heard the omen of " Morir si giovane " spoken 
in the moment of hope. For even now Insarov 
expects that he may die in the defence of his 
country. From the other side of the Adriatic a 
certain Renditch is coming to accompany him to 
the front. Everything is in progress. The Dalma- 

Turgenev 133 

tian fishermen have given up their very dredging 
weights to make bullets. Renditch is coming ! 
Insarov murmurs the name in his sleep. They 
are now literally on the eve of action ; but when 
Renditch crosses from the Slavonic side of the 
Adriatic, it is only to find Insarov, the Bulgarian, 

For his wife there is nothing in the world now. 
But she will bury him in Slavonic earth, and so 
she leaves with his corpse for Zara. And from 
that moment nothing but mystery surrounds 
Elena. Of the others we are given at least hints, 
but of Elena we know only that while she pre- 
served life she would be faithful to the dead. 
Only somewhere on that Dalmatian coast, or 
perhaps in The Herzegovina, there may have 
lingered a sombre woman whose very presence 
stole like a faint perfume into lives that swept 
carelessly past her own. In that atmosphere, so 
impregnated with the Latin and the Slavonic 
genius, Elena may have continued, however 
silently and unobtrusively, the splendid tradition 
of Russian womanhood. " Morir si giovane " 
— that had been after all the motto of " On the 
Eve." It was left to this Russian girl only to 
cherish a memory instead of inspiring an army, 
to be faithful not to the cause of an oppressed 
nation but to the memory of a dead lover. 

No note of hope is struck in this novel. Here 
we have not even the might-have-been of regret. 

134 Two Russian Reformers 

Turgenev's attitude towards the illusion of national 

freedom is in " On the Eve " precisely the same as 

in all his other books. For the typical Russian 

is neither Shubin who is half French, nor Elena's 

lover who is a Bulgarian, but Uvar Ivanovitch 

Stahov, the inert, wordless man whose inertia is 

almost animal in its monstrous persistence. There 

is something terrible in this darkened mind, into 

which stray gleams flash only to die away leaving 

the blackness more intense. Shubin with his 

flippant Western glibness addresses him as a 

" primeval force," but the words are mere sounds 

to him. Shubin may chatter, and even suffer a 

little in the dreams of his art. Bersenyev may 

pore over books and watch and suffer as he sees 

happiness floating past him for ever. Insarov 

may march silently to his death, asking only to 

serve with his body the eternally elusive cause 

of freedom ; but Uvar Ivanovitch is remote and 

detached from every one of them. He alone can 

wait as the Asiatic, to whom time is meaningless, 

waits through the centuries. All around him 

hearts may be throbbing to the rhythm of broken 

lives ; high hopes may fall, and love itself may 

break beneath the straining cords of destiny. 

But he, the " primeval force," will continue to 

stare past them into nothingness. And yet when 

Shubin, the little fluttering artist of the ready 

tongue, asked him if there would ever be men 

among them, Uvar answered once at least in the 

^i^^ ' ^ ^ 

/ K 




Turgenev 137 

affirmative. " There will be," he said. But when 
on the very last page of this sombre novel the same 
question is repeated, the Russian of all the Russians 
only flourishes his fingers and stares moodily into 
the remote distance. 

" On the Eve " appeared in 1859, two years 
before " Fathers and Sons." But long before 
either of these novels had been written Turgenev 
had come intimately close to the real Russian 
people. In " The Annals of a Sportsman " the 
irony of that suspicious twin self remained almost 
stingless, so far at least as the moujiks are con- 
cerned. In the later novels more bitter views 
of the Russians were to find expression. But 
scattered through every one of them — through 
" Rudin," through " Liza," through " Fathers 
and Sons " and " On the Eve " — are unqualified 
tributes to the Russian people written in the same 
spirit that pervades that series of exquisite pictures 
of life whose genius flashed the message of liberty 
into millions of stricken lives. 

Long before " The Annals of a Sportsman " 
Gogol had travelled through the heart of Russia, 
determined to show the world what manner of 
people these Russians were. He sees things with 
his own fresh eyes, and writes them down with 
that almost passionate truthfulness of vision 
which is such an incongruous accompaniment of 
the Russian inheritance of pity. Other nations 
have produced defenders of the unfortunate, but 


138 Two Russian Reformers 

they do not defend them in the spirit in which 
the Russian defends them. Victor Hugo, for 
example, hurls into the role of the helpless an 
almost epic largeness of destiny. By having 
nothing in the world, the unfortunate one becomes 
a Titan towering, as it were, upon the very pedestal 
of misfortune. In short, the Frenchman pleads 
his cause by dragging him into the familiar circle 
of heroes. But for the Russian, and particularly 
for Gogol, heroes in our Western sense do not 
exist at all. Above and below alike, floggers and 
flogged, these fellows are scamps and rascals 
seemingly deserving only of contempt. Only 
Gogol himself does not regard them in that light ; 
for him they are fellow human beings. For, in 
his heart, as in the heart of every Russian, there 
vibrates naturally and inevitably the splendid, un- 
taught challenge of Terence — " Homo sum, humani 
nihil a me alienum puto." But this man, this 
barbarian " with the lizard's eyes," must see 
them as they actually are. They must not be 
posed for a sentimental photograph. In his own 
sinister epigram, " If your nose is crooked, you 
must not blame the mirror." 

Turgenev also was a Russian realist, and was 
constitutionally incapable of that make-belief of 
life which is the dowry of so many Anglo-Saxons, 
but he entered neither the Russian country 
house nor the Russian isba in quite the same 
spirit as Nicolai Gogol. It was not at all his 

Turgcnev I39 

mission to discover ev^ery thing that was wrong in 
Russia and to write it down. He had no mission 
of any kind whatever, less even than Gogol him- 
self. But he translated in the pages of " The 
Annals of a Sportsman " some at least of those 
clustering memories that would renew themselves 
in the garden of his childhood. And the pity of 
his youth for his mother's slaves stabbed its 
way through all the faint sweetness of summer 
memories into an in'sistent appeal. So intimately 
personal were these memories, so interwoven 
were they with all his early aspirations, that 
Turgenev was never satisfied with the book. 
There were, perhaps, too many of these Russian 
memories to crowd into any single book, and 
there must have been many and many a page of 
his Russian life that was left undisturbed with 
so many other dreams in that dim old garden. 
As a matter of fact the book was not written 
in Russia, as is so generally believed. " Now," 
writes Turgenev in the course of a letter, " let us 
pass to your little old woman, that is to say to the 
public or to the critics. Like every old woman, 
they cling obstinately to vulgar or preconceived 
opinions, on however slight a basis they may rest. 
For example, they always maintain that after 
my * Annals of a Sportsman ' all my works arc 
bad, thanks to my absence from Russia, of which, 
if one is to believe them, I can have no knowledge 
whatsoever ; but this reproach can only refer to 

140 Two Russian Reformers 

what I have written after 1863. Up to that date, 
that is to say up to my forty-fifth year, I remained 
in Russia almost without stirring from it, except 
from 1848 to 1850, during which period I wrote 
precisely ' The Annals of a Sportsman,' while 
* Rudin,' * Liza ' and * Fathers and Sons ' were 
written in Russia." The old quarrel between the 
great writer and the small critics would be faded 
and meaningless now, but for the fact that even 
to this day Turgenev is so often judged not so 
much by what he accomplished as a writer as 
by what he failed to accomplish as a reformer. 
But even from this most injudicious standpoint 
it is perhaps well that this book, which really did 
accomplish a great reform, was written out of 
his native country. For it was abroad rather 
than at home, in moments of mournful nostalgia, 
that the Russian land became an open book to 
Ivan Turgenev. In Russia he would be haunted 
ceaselessly, as he so often admits, by that life 
of the boulevards which appealed to one side 
of each of those twin selves. But when he was 
abroad it would appear to him that only in those 
sombre steppes, in those desolate flat stretches 
that seemed to be forgotten by time itself, could 
he find peace for his soul. And though the first 
wonder of passing through an utterly unexplored 
land which comes to one on opening " Dead Souls " 
was never to be repeated, Turgenev, in these 
sketches of Russian country-life, has given us 

Turgcncv 141 

sometliing equally individual and distinct from 
anything that had gone before or that has come 
after him. 

In some half-dozen books the malice of the 
suspicious Turgenev was given free play. In 
" The Annals of a Sportsman " it is quite other- 
wise. It is the calm, peaceful and limpid intelli- 
gence that absorbs these rural scenes, every one 
of which vibrates with a depth of emotion of 
which the exploiters of pathos know nothing. 
He is not pleading a case in these pages, he is 
writing down little glimpses of a handful of lives 
by which millions may be judged. And every- 
where the scents and sounds, the very languor 
of summer, steal upon our senses, as though the 
writer were exhaling from his very soul the 
drowsy inchoate freshness of long Russian days. 

Over and over again, too, in dealing with these 
elemental people, he produces a most difficult 
illusion — that of at one and the same time hushing 
things up and "letting the cat out of the bag." 
There is no pathos either in the Victor Hugo or in 
the Dickens sense in these annals of lives " under 
the water." Nor is there the hard smile of de 
Maupassant when he has carved from the sad 
jumble of humanity one of his sinister " slices of 
life." Perhaps, indeed, there is no parallel — not 
even in Gogol's famous book — with these quiet 
sketches which disclose such a multitude of 
suffering lives. In this atmosphere the anony- 

142 Two Russian Reformers 

mous " souls " of Madame Turgenev take upon 
themselves the forms of men. The disobedient 
servants, people like Nicolas Jakovlef, Ivan Petrof 
and Egor Kondratief appear as householders 
almost owning their lives, real human beings with 
their own point of view, sometimes even slyly 
judging their masters. Here is the real revelation 
of the apparently unrevealable. Its author's pen 
seems to have been dipped in memory itself. 
Jakovlef and the rest of them had their own 
thoughts and dreams if one had only known, 
and here suddenly by some odd magic of a 
wandering sportsman they have leaped into 
immortality. Some one has seen these people, 
has really looked at them with seeing eyes and 
has written down their secrets of which they 
themselves were but dimly conscious. Long after- 
wards at one of those brilliant Parisian dinners 
he was to explain this amazing " method " 
with which Zola's well-filled note-books could 
never compete. It is with this " method," which 
has its beginning and its end in seeing things where 
others can only peer at them, that he introduces 
us to a moujik named Hor. With his high fore- 
head, his snub nose and his small eyes, this " soul " 
recalls the personality of Socrates. None the 
less at any moment he may be flogged at his 
master's whim if ever the black mood should 
seize him. But Hor is no pessimist. Asked 
why he does not buy his freedom, he shakes his 

Turgenev 143 

head. Why should he do that ? He has a good 
master. Things are as they are, and this Russian 
Socrates is quite able to profit by them. Through 
talking with this man Turgenev realised for the 
first time " the simple, wise discourse of the 
Russian moujik " which Tolstoy was afterwards 
to accept as the last word of human wisdom. 

In the simple, by no means lachrymose chatter 
of peasants, the good old times come back to us. 
A moujik, for example, tells of his old master, 
who " was all a master should be," and " who 
would have given you an odd blow, but would 
have forgotten it by the time that you looked 
round." There was one thing against him, how- 
ever : he kept mistresses, and these women were 
difficult to the peasants, whose lives they were 
allowed to play with as so many easily-replaced 
toys. Madame Turgenev herself had been con- 
siderate and compassionate compared with these 
women. One of them, Akulina by name, had a 
young Russian sent out to be a soldier because 
he had spilt some chocolate on her new dress. 
" And he was not the only one she served so ! 
Ah well, these were good times, though." With 
such illuminating details of despotism Turgenev 
lights up frequently not merely the page of a book, 
but the life of a human being. Turgenev, who 
remembered Poliakoff and Agatha and so many 
others, understood the serf's standpoint. Re- 
peatedly one seems to hear in " The Annals of 

144 Two Russian Reformers 

a Sportsman " the echo of Agatha's verdict on 
the old school : " Yes, I have suffered a great 
deal from the late Madame Turgenev ; but none 
the less, I was very fond of her. She was a 
real mistress." Turgenev, writing in the last 
years of his mother's life, had no need to invent 
the misfortunes of the serfs. But this same 
master who can illuminate by the mention of a 
few odd details, who all his life protested against 
the accentuation of the insignificant, occasionally 
represents an interior with the minute fidelity 
of a Meissonier. In " The District Doctor " the 
hero reproduces the scene in the sick-room just 
as he might have reproduced it in an official 
report. That is what actually took place, and so 
the good doctor tells it as a matter of course, and 
with no apology for its humdrum exactitude. 
But afterwards something extraordinary happens, 
and he tells that also just as it occurred, without 
affectation and without the self-indulgence of 
commonplace pity. 

" Morir si giovane : " others besides patriots can 
experience the pain of that, and the country 
doctor's patient was experiencing it as she lay 
tossing about on her tormented death-bed. She 
is going to die, and she has never experienced that 
love which is the knowledge of life. Suddenly 
she throws her arms around the doctor and kisses 
him. She is grasping at love even in the very 
clutch of death. The doctor understands. For 

Turgenev 145 

this girl, he is not so niucli an individual as the 
poor symbol of all romance from which Death 
is dragging her away. He understands why 
she hated to die before love had quickened her 
languid pulse. She dies the next day, and he 
keeps her ring. She dies, that is all about it, 
and he goes on to talk of quite other things — of 
the merchant's daughter whom he married after- 
wards, and of her dowry of seven thousand roubles. 
Then he sits down to a game of " Preference " 
for halfpenny points, and after winning two 
roubles and a half goes home perfectly satisfied 
with his evening. That is the Russian touch. 
Neither declamation on the one hand nor exclama- 
tion on the other is permitted to jar upon the 
sombre naivete of reality. After all, life is like 
that. One watches death and one remembers 
passion, but one also plays " Preference " for 
halfpenny points, and if one is a Russian country 
doctor, one is undisguisedly glad to win two roubles 
and a half. 

In " The Peasant Proprietor Ovsyanikov " the 
novelist introduces us to a novus homo, who is a 
mediator between the peasants and their owners. 
He, too, recalls the good old times, and tells how 
his father was flogged while his master looked on 
from a balcony. And the lady of the house her- 
self was not too squeamish to witness the outrage 
from one of the windows. His offence was that 
he had claimed a piece of land ; but eventually 

146 Two Russian Reformers 

a promise was wrung from him to abandon his 
claim, after which he was dismissed with the 
warning that he should be grateful for escaping 
alive. The piece of land in question was aptly 
enough called by the peasants " the Cudgelled 
Land." Such were the good old times, and as for 
the last dwindling days of serfdom, the general 
verdict of this book is very much the same as that 
of all the others : " The Old is dead, but the Young 
is not born." 

Every now and then one finds the new spirit 
intruding upon the old, but on the whole it is the 
endurance and patience of the peasant rather 
than his resentment and revolt that are con- 
spicuous. A master punishes his servant ; the 
sense of injustice dies out with the sensation of 
actual physical pain. After all, life is like that, 
and has been always like that. It is only the 
Old Russia, muses Turgenev, who through this 
very book was to grope his way towards the New. 

But in Old and New Russia alike, Nature is 
unendingly the same. Day after day the lazy 
hours repeat themselves ; and again and again, with 
that art which lends genius to monotony, Tur- 
genev translates the sensations of summer, the 
shade of birch woods, the cool of low river banks, 
the slow drowsy silences, the humming, buzzing 
under-life, the inexplicable sounds of night. In 
'* Byezhin Prairie " in particular, he runs almost 
the whole gamut of summer sounds floating over 

Turgenev 147 

vast moiintainless distances. One can see the 
group of boys round their supper on the open 
steppes listening, now interested, now half startled 
by the mystery that prowls so close to them, 
that menacing mystery of nature which for 
Turgenev is so intimately interwoven with the life- 
threads of destiny. But no matter what strange 
fragment of folk lore steals into any one of these 
sketches, the art of Turgenev never descends to 
the level of the intentional " thrill." It is always 
with actual life that he is preoccupied, and it is by 
reason of this preoccupation with the deep under- 
currents of reality that he, in the bare confines of 
a miserable Russian isha, is none the less able 
to reveal the cruel pressure of the whole world 
movement. You are talking with a group of 
peasants, let us say, and they are repeating time- 
worn stories. They are real characters strongly 
differentiated, and not in the least idealised 
products of the steppes, but none the less you are 
learning from them the secrets of the human race. 
Apparently you are on the most commonplace 
terms with the lowliest of human beings, but you 
are at the same time in the closest touch with the 
pervading forces of human destiny. 

Very seldom, indeed, does Turgenev express 
his sympathy with the Russian peasant in terms 
of set praise ; for him the moujik is neither a 
newly discovered philosopher nor the innovator 
of a new wisdom. One definite tribute, however, 

148 Two Russian Reformers 

he pays to him in the recognition of the tranquil 
courage with which at all times he confronts 
death — a courage which cannot be attributed 
either to " indifference " or to " stolidity." One 
after the other they are led before us in unpre- 
tentious procession, these simple people for whom 
death is the last unquestioned ceremony. The 
Russian dies as he lives, without making any fuss 
about it. It is all part and parcel of this ignored 
peasant-life, too ordinary a matter for tears or 
pathetic comment. Heroism of the accepted kind 
casts no halo upon this unflinching last hour of 
the moujik's bitter comedy. But in the terrible 
tranquillity with which he accepts death, as he 
accepts every other blow of fate, there is written 
the final word of the endurance of generations of 
human lives. 

At another time Turgenev shows us the almost 
hypnotic influence of music upon these children of 
the steppes. There is a singing competition in 
a booth for a bet, and the peasants are drinking 
heavily. Suddenly all these tavern loungers, 
aroused from their coma by a singer's voice, have 
become men with the winding memories of men. 
The very genius of their own steppes unfolds itself 
to them, speaks to them from beyond great 
distances. And the voice rises and falls to the 
rhythm of a strange emotion before which all are 
hushed but which all divine. At the end, when 
it is all over, they are drinking again and hob- 

Turgenev 149 

nobbing on the old tavern level, but one realises 
that at any moment these Russian moujiks may 
be lured away from their ignoble outer lives by the 
inner appeal of some new haunting voice. 

But whatever their possibilities may be, these 
people, men, women, and children, may be bought 
and sold. In " Piotr Petrovitch Karataev " the 
novelist sketches, with one knows not what stings 
of personal reminiscence, the actual bargaining 
for the possession of a serf girl. Her rich mistress 
refuses to sell her, and so the would-be purchaser 
carries her off. In the end, however, she is dis- 
covered, and gives herself up to her former owner 
as though she were some sentient piece of stolen 

And yet these people are sensitive and able to 
appreciate the essential liberty of love. In " The 
Tryst" Turgenev sketches one such peasant girl 
of the Old Russia whose pretty face is filled with 
the sombre wonder of love. She has come to 
meet the peasant of the New Russia, a manikin 
of mannerisms and attitudes for whose slightest 
glance she is foolishly thankful. But Viktor is 
tired of her. He is going back to Petersburg, and 
her little romance is dead. Turgenev has lavished 
quite exceptional minuteness upon this slight 
picture of a valet forsaking a serf girl. One sees 
not only his expression reflecting his small emo- 
tions, but even his efforts at quite other expres- 
sions. All his little valet soul seems to ooze out 

150 Two Russian Reformers 

through his master's clothes as he dominates this 
serf girl of the old times who cannot understand 
the new ways. Afterwards she would marry at 
the bidding of her parents, but always she would 
suffer as dumb things suffer, without explanation, 
as a matter of course. 

Easily, as with the touch of a veritable magician, 
Turgenev lets fall, as though merely in passing, as 
though they were of no significance whatever, the 
secrets of such maimed lives. In " The Hamlet 
of the Shtchigri District " a man cannot sleep at 
night, and because of this insomnia he chatters 
out the secret of his life. He had married a young 
girl in the country, and even now that she is dead 
he is not sure as to whether he really ever loved 
her or not. For always, from the very beginning 
of their marriage, there had been an impenetrable 
veil between them which neither the one nor the 
other could brush aside. There was a " secret 
wound " in her life at whose origin neither of them 
could guess, only both knew that it was always 
there. Yet, as though unconsciously, the sufferer 
hints that the cause of this life-wound might have 
been simply "living too long in the country." 
The sadness may have been what was really con- 
suming her — the sadness that rises like a heat- 
mist from the steppes, the sadness of too long 
patience, the inability to cope with one's happi- 
ness when one has been too long broken to the 
habit of endurance. There had been in her life 

Turgenev 151 

no commonplace explanation of this permeating 
melancholy which follows so close upon the reckless 
exuberance of the Slav. She did not pine because 
she was love-sick for an old memory. The light 
was not fading day by day from her eyes because 
they were becoming blinded by " les neiges d'an- 
tan." She pined like a bird without conscious 
regret, and in the very moment of death her 
eyes retained the " dumb look " by which her 
whole life had been shadowed. 

It is this " dumb look " that is symbolic of 
Russian life as Turgenev presents it to us in this 
book. It is this "dumb look" that unites this 
wife of a Russian landowner to the voiceless 
multitude of serfs. Nowhere more than in this 
story do we get the sensation of the stifling op- 
pression of Russian life which Turgenev was so 
frequently to experience on his visits to his own 
country. The gipsy girl, Masha, who deserted the 
hero of another story, tries to express the over- 
whelming sameness of the steppes, against which 
her whole body rebels. She tells her lover that 
"weariness, the divider" has come to her, and so 
she must go. At any cost she must wander away, 
as though to escape from herself. Turgenev knew 
well this wandering spirit, which was to give Rudin 
no rest except the barricades of Paris. 

Almost the only direct plea for the peasants is 
put into the mouth of the heroine of " A Living 
Relic." Lukerya had been a servant in the 

152 Two Russian Reformers 

Sportsman's household when he was a boy. He 
remembers her as a "tall, plump, pink-and-white, 
singing, laughing, dancing creature," and now her 
face has become " strained and dreadful " through 
illness and suffering. Close as she is to death, this 
poor girl desires nothing for herself, but she requests 
the son of her old mistress to plead for the peasants, 
asking him if his mother " could take the least 
bit off their rent." One remembers how uselessly 
Turgenev himself had pleaded to his mother on 
behalf of those human chattels whom, through this 
very book, he was so soon to liberate. That is 
one of the very few direct appeals in this book of 
memories whose pictures are etched in with the 
very salt of tears. But indirectly there are such 
pleas on behalf of these starved and desolate lives 
which none who reads can ever forget. And the 
"method" is at all times devoid of generalities, 
and without the suspicion of any special pleading. 
Turgenev writes as one who has no cause to plead, 
but only reality to reveal. But the details, 
observantly noted, sometimes almost listlessly 
jotted down, as though the novelist had become 
too absorbed in the depths of this vast hushed life 
to be capable of any criticism — these cumulative 
details strike at one's heart with a force which no 
arrangement of pathos could possibly engender. 
The great artist knows that it is the significance 
of the ordinary rather than the eccentricity of the 
exception which has value in the revelation of life. 

Turgcnev 153 

Here, too, he gratifies his whimsical wish that 
even Nature should not impose upon him by 
any remote and detached grandeur. The scenes 
through which he wanders are simple and homely 
landscapes, great fields of rye, birchwoods, grassy 
stretches of meadows fringed with lakes and 
rivulets. Farm-yards with no great signs of 
prosperity about them abound, and the ordinary 
domestic life of the moujik unrolls itself, so to 
speak, as naturally as that of any bird or beast 
or insect in this slumbering land. 

And Turgenev is at peace with these long 
stretches of plain, whose very melancholy has in 
it a certain charm of solace. People and soil are 
inextricably blended in this book, which in its 
deep unconscious sympathy, in its slow closeness 
to the moujik and his environment regarded as 
one, sometimes passes even the range of Gogol's 
extraordinary insight. Without irony, without 
bitterness, almost without suspicion, Turgenev has 
given us in the pages of " The Annals of a Sports- 
man " a series of pictures, minute, objective, 
which reveal the external life of the Russian 
people with greater detail than perhaps any other 
Russian novelist, with the possible exception of 
Count Tolstoy. In other books, notably in " The 
Diary of a Superfluous Man," Turgenev has 
analysed the vie interieure of the Slav more pro- 
foundly, but it is by no means strange that con- 
temporary criticism should have claimed that in 


154 Two Russian Reformers 

this book pre-eminently Turgenev showed himself 
to possess a real knowledge of Russia and the 
Russian people. 

Perhaps in no other book is the realism of 
Turgenev more clearly exemplified than in these 
sketches ; nowhere certainly is the difference 
between Russian and French or English realism 
more accentuated. French realism is only too 
often a snarling gibe at the very roots of human 
nature, while English realism is frequently a self- 
conscious affront to English make-belief. Neither 
the one nor the other could have produced these 
restrained and minutely beautiful pictures of 
crushed humanity. There are here neither the 
brazen brutalities of French perverseness nor the 
more inept aggressions of the outragers of Eng- 
lish taste. For Turgenev, as for his compatriots, 
realism is not so much a method of presentation 
as the very oxygen of artistic life. Its language 
is not merely the selected medium of expression, 
but rather the mother-tongue of art. The great 
Russian realists have always aimed at writing 
life down as it seemed to be passing before their 
own vision. With them the " lacrimae rerum " 
have not been sought in remotely poignant situa- 
tions, but in the routine life of suffering and 
endurance. Essentially the democrats of art, 
they have deliberately ignored the proud mono- 
logues of heroes, and have turned their attention 
to the almost humdrum pressure of ordinary life 

Turgcncv i55 

upon quite ordinary anonymous units. Above 
all, they and they alone may be said to have pre- 
ferred the humble to the arrogant virtues and to 
have dethroned honour in favour of pity. 

Turgenev in " The Annals of a Sportsman " 
illustrates objectively the want of crystallisation 
in the Russian character to which long afterwards 
he was to refer in Paris. He has given in this 
book the external lives of the moujiks, with here 
and there a glimpse of their inner dreams. He was 
afterwards to go deeper, but so far as the Russian 
people are concerned, had this been his only book, 
Turgenev would have made good his claim that 
his compatriots were, in spite of the autocracy 
of the Russian Government, the real representa- 
tives of humanity. Turgenev understood the 
Russian temperament because it was his own, and 
he experienced, perhaps little less than his enemy 
Dostoievsky, that peculiar Russian pity, which 
sees in the criminal the victim rather than the 
enemy of society. 

But this book is important for quite another 
reason. Art and life with Turgenev were always 
intimately interwoven, so that his " method " 
evaded all verbal analysis. One day, according 
to Zola, Flaubert was explaining why Prosper 
Merimee's style seemed to him to be bad. Tur- 
genev, who was present, simply could not under- 
stand the meaning of such a discussion. " I go 
to Oka," he exclaimed. " I find his house — that 

156 Two Russian Reformers 

is to say, not a house, a hut. I see a man in a 
blue jacket, patched, torn, with his back turned 
to me, digging cabbages. I go up to him and say, 
* Are you such an one ? ' He turns, and I swear to 
you that in all my life I never saw such piercing 
eyes. Besides them, a face no bigger than a 
man's fist, a goat's beard, not a tooth. He was a 
very old man." Turgenev entered isba after isba, 
and examined each with the same blazing scrutiny 
of vision. In every one of these sketches there 
is no " method " at all but that — to see and to 
write it down with all the freshness of sudden 
pity. Turgenev had no need of Zola's note- 
book. Such scenes as these were part of his 
very life, and it is through them that his whole 
youth had been permeated with the desire to 
bring liberty to the Russian peasants. " The 
Annals of a Sportsman," indeed, is in a sense as 
close to the autobiography of Ivan Turgenev as 
either "First Love" or "Torrents of Spring." 


THE author of " The Annals of a Sportsman," 
cosmopohtan though he became, never 
broke the spell of Russian influence. Year 
after year he deserted Paris in order to revisit his 
old home at Spasskoe. At each visit he found it 
more and more dilapidated, and at last, in 1880, 
he was forced to repair it on quite a grand scale. 
On these visits his old friends renew relations with 
him, and Turgenev surprises them by insisting 
upon strictly European methods of living. He 
has remained, however, a true Slav in his neglect 
of dates, and the arrival of invited guests is now, 
as always, something of a surprise to him. And 
just as in Paris it was his habit to speak constantly 
of Russia, of Russian literature, of Russian women, 
of the enigma of the Slav's soul, so at Spasskoe 
he is inclined to speak for the most part about 
those foreign nations whose peculiarities he has 
watched with such an ironical respectfulness. 
His listeners are a little shocked by the corruption 
of French morals which he unfolds to them, and 
the novelist passes on to the eccentricities of 
other countries. He points out the racial differ- 

158 Two Russian Reformers 

ences between the compatriots of Goethe and 
the compatriots of Victor Hugo. Then he turns 
to the EngUsh, and comments on the gulf which 
separates them from every nation in Europe, 
including Russia herself. The English appear to 
him to be a nation of originals. He had visited 
their celebrities, and had approached Carlyle 
apparently with the same respectful irony that 
he had preserved before le grand Victor Hugo. 
Thackeray had already greeted him with roars 
of laughter because he had repeated a few lines 
of his national poet Pushkin. " Another time," he 
gossips, " I was at Carlyle' s house. I never saw 
anyone with whose originality I was more struck. 
According to him the greatest quality in man was 
a blind obedience, and he assured me that every 
nation that obeys its sovereign blindly is happier 
than free England with her constitution. When 
I asked him who was the greatest English poet, 
he mentioned a mediocrity at the end of the 
eighteenth century. As for Byron, he considered 
him beneath criticism. Then he assured me that 
Dickens had no weight with the English, and 
that he was esteemed only abroad. In a word, 
he retailed to me a great many stupidities of the 
same kind. 

" One day I happened to tell him that I suffered 
occasionally from blurs in the eyes : I saw motes 
in my eyes. Once, when out shooting, I thought 
that I had in front of me a hare ; I had already 

Turgcnev I59 

raised 1113^ gun to my shoulder and was going to 
fire, when I was seized with the suspicion that 
what I took for a hare was perhaps only a black 
spot which I had before my eyes. 

" Carlyle listened to me attentively, remained 
for a moment thoughtful, and then burst into 
a noisy and inextinguishable laugh. I could not 
understand what had put him into such a good 
humour ; I saw nothing comic in the incident that 
I had just related to him. 

" * Ha ! ha ! ha ! ' he exclaimed at last, still 
bursting with laughter : ' to fire at one's own 
motes in the eyes — Ha ! ha ! ha ! To fire at a 
spot — Ha ! ha ! ha ! ' Then I understood the 
cause of his hilarity ; a Frenchman or a Russian 
would have found nothing laughable in my story." 

And Turgenev mildly sums up his impressions 
of our countrymen in this comment : " For the 
same reason an actor who makes grimaces, and 
who in France would be hissed off the stage to the 
accompaniment of baked apples, will amuse the 
English public and make it laugh." It was this 
English laugh, repeated by Thackeray, echoed by 
Carlyle, running indeed the whole gamut of the 
English temperament, that struck the Russian as 
the most significant of Anglo-Saxon peculiarities, 
except, perhaps, the national taste for hard work. 

For the rest, Turgenev is a perfect mine of 
cosmopolitan information when at Spasskoe. But 
though he retails the gossip of capitals, he is very 

i6o Two Russian Reformers 

much concerned about the moujiks. The im- 
provements of the peasants on his estate have 
been hanging fire exactly as they hang fire in 
his novels. The infirmary, the hospital, and the 
school that he had commenced to build, all these 
are growing slowly. Only a few yards away from 
his village, in spite of all his precautions, a cabaret 
has sprung up on the property of a neighbouring 
prince. Turgenev himself, in spite of his most 
sincere wish to suppress drunkenness, is forced to 
give fetes in which drunkenness has no small 
share. On these occasions ribbons and fal-lals 
are given to the women, images and sweetmeats 
to the children, but the male population of Spass- 
koe can be appeased only by buckets of vodka. 
It is the atmosphere of the Old Russia unchanged, 
apparently unchangeable, and many of these 
scenes might form pages of " The Annals of a 
Sportsman," written more than thirty years 
before. The old kindly relations have been 
renewed automatically, and on fete days the 
peasants swarm into their master's garden, but 
not to threaten him with hanging ! In front of 
the terrace the women sing their sombre songs, 
while their husbands and brothers preoccupy 
themselves solely with vodka. 

" You wish, then, to learn to read ? " one of his 
guests asked of a group of little girls, who replied 
unhesitatingly : *' We ? Not at all. God pre- 
serve us from it ! " Yes, it was certainly the 

Turgenev i6i 

Old Russia in spite of " The Annals of a Sports- 
man." Towards eleven o'clock the guests would 
meander uncertainly back to the village, very 
polite, very thankful even, and regretting one thing 
only — the mildness of the vodka. Alone on the 
terrace with his house party, Turgenev would 
discuss, just as Rudin or Lavretsky might have 
discussed, the progress of the Russian people 
since the abolition of the serfs. This w^as usually 
the final impression of his native country left on 
Turgenev's mind, for these gala evenings were 
almost always tow^ards the end of his visits. 

Autumn was already at hand, and he would 
begin to think of the Boulevards and of that 
" European nest " in the Rue de Douai. Usually, 
too, in the fall of the year he would be attacked 
by his old enemy, gout, and he would begin to 
examine his own life with the same pessimistic 
analysis that he applied to the progress of Young 
Russia. Something sombre and mournful had 
glided into the Russian autumn, and his efforts for 
the welfare of the moujik would seem to him as 
fruitless and quixotic as those of his Hamlets of 
the steppes. The same sense of disillusion that so 
often steals into his art would steal into his life, 
and it would seem to him that he and his friends 
were only repeating the long Russian talks, always 
ending in nothing, which he had so often repro- 
duced in his books. 

Some years, however, there were happier ter- 

i62 Two Russian Reformers 

minations for these Russian visits. In 1879, ^^^ 
example, when he visited Moscow for the in- 
auguration of the statue of Pushkin, he received 
to his astonishment a series of ovations. These 
continued every evening when he read aloud 
portions of his "Annals of a Sportsman," and he 
was often greeted with enthusiasm even in the 
public streets. The same change of attitude was 
also visible in St. Petersburg ; and two years later, 
on his last visit to the capital, his reconciliation 
with the youth of his country was complete. He, 
the arch-enemy of generous dreams, he, the 
ironical disbeliever in exclusive conspiracies, found 
himself toasting the future of Young Russia. All 
the old grudges were forgotten and forgiven. The 
Master was willing to learn at last. Very soon 
he would live permanently in his own country 
and work shoulder to shoulder with these young 
enthusiasts in establishing a new era of freedom. 

But the reaction followed only too quickty. 
The elder generation began to ridicule him as a 
" vieille coquette " for having sought to please, 
with a complacence dishonouring to his white 
hair, the " petits jeunes " of his native land. A 
httle later, when he endeavoured to collect sub- 
scriptions for a monument to Flaubert at Rouen, 
both generations, fathers and sons, turned their 
backs upon him. Turgenev, in his turn, was angry, 
but refused scornfully to defend himself in the 
Russian newspapers. A lady wrote to him from 

Turgencv 163 

Odessa to ask why he troubled himself about a 
monument to Flaubert while Gogol was still 
waiting for one, and she reminded him in the 
same letter that the Russian people were hungry. 
Turgenev replied that, as Flaubert had very 
little popularit}^ in France, no Frenchman would 
be particularly grateful to him for his trouble, and 
that the people who say " our own poor first " are 
precisely those who give nothing to anybody at 
all. As for the motives for his sojourn in France 
which the lady imputed to him, these he passed 
over in silence, though it would be only too easy 
for him to retort that in France at least he was 
not pursued by extravagant insults. It would be 
best, however, " to blush for his country and be 

For the rest, he maintained that attacks of this 
kind troubled him but little, as he had arrived 
at the supreme serenity of a contented memory. 
" I have had," he said once in conversation, 
" every pleasure that I have been able to wish 
for. ... I have worked, I have had successes, I 
have loved, I have been loved. ... It is a bad 
thing to die before the time limit, but with me 
the time has come." But that was the mental 
attitude of only one of the Turgenevs. The other 
Turgenev was very far removed from this philo- 
sophic contentment. " I am again," he wrote to 
Polonsky as early as 1877, "in front of a table, 
and in my soul there is a darkness blacker than 


i64 Two Russian Reformers 

night. The day passes like an instant, empty, 
aimless, colourless. There is just time to cast a 
glance round, and then one must take to one's bed 
again. One has no more right to life, no more 
desire to live. . . . You speak of rays of glory 
and of enchanting sounds. ... Oh, my friend, 
we are the vibrations of a vase, broken long ago." 
It was in a somewhat similar mood of absolute 
pessimism that Flaubert had written to George 
Sand three years before : " J'ai ete lache dans ma 
jeunesse. J'ai eu peur de la vie." 

The sympathy between Turgenev and Flaubert 
was very close, and on one side of the Russian's 
nature there was undoubtedly a similar shrinking 
from the stupid violence of life, a certain anxiety 
to preserve unsullied the illusions of la vie interieure. 
This facet of Turgenev — a facet which had its place 
in both of those twin entities — has been described 
with microscopic analysis in one of his stories. 
More than once, in that comparatively objective 
book, " The Annals of a Sportsman," Turgenev 
called attention to the existence of a type which 
he calls that of the " superfluous man." In 
*' The Diary of a Superfluous Man," that subtle 
and minute work of introspection which appealed 
so to Guizot, we have undoubtedly a glimpse into 
the inner life of the great Russian dreamer. 

Turgenev at many periods of his life had been 
preoccupied by the idea of death. The habit of 
mind betrayed by the keeper of this diary was 

Turgenev 165 

intimately familiar to him. Besides, in the 
external details of this book there are certain 
personal memories of those early days in the 
garden of Spasskoe. For, the man who is waiting 
for death recalls, with that physical ecstasy of 
memory of which Turgenev alone is master, the 
half-forgotten garden scents, the cool swish of 
the long grass, the sun-dried sweetness of stolen 
Novgorod apples. Here, too, there are memories 
of first love as real as in Zinaiaida herself. And 
it is in these pages that we see the young Turgenev 
breathless and tongue-tied in the presence of a 
young serf girl whom he has brushed against by 
accident among the raspberry bushes in that 
garden of secrets. Twenty years ago ! " The 
Superfluous Man " can hardly believe that all 
these tastes of things are only memories, in so 
persistent a wave of recollection do all the scents 
and sounds and inarticulate murmurings return to 
him. At the very parting from life it is to these 
things — to the garden, the pond, the crooked, 
quiet paths, the tall, whispering birch trees, to 
the waiting lime trees — that he reverts ; apart 
from these intensely realised memories his life is 
empty as the death for which he is waiting. He 
has grasped at happiness, but it has evaded him 
like quicksilver. He has entered the intoxicating 
atmosphere of passion, but it has stifled him with- 
out infusing into him a breath of its vitalising 
energy. Love and laughter and success, these 

i66 Two Russian Reformers 

things have escaped from him as phantoms. He 
has never mixed on terms of reahty with his 
fellow human beings, and he understands only 
too well the gibe of an acquaintance who said 
of him that he was " the forfeit which his mother 
had paid at the game of life." As it is, he moves 
among men and women like oil on waves of water. 
He is superfluous, but in spite of this, perhaps 
even because of this, he understands. He is 
able to analyse, none better, the inner secrets of 
these others with whom he can never share either 
happiness or pain. His sympathetic intelligence, 
denied as it is all sympathy in return, is marvel- 
lously acute, particularly in regard to women. 
He divines the most subtle transformation of all, 
the transformation of the child into the woman, 
and for a few days of ecstatic illusion he, the 
Superfluous Man, believes that he himself is the 
magician who has wrought this wonder. 

Of course he is not the magician. The magician, 
in point of fact, is Prince M — , a dazzling young 
officer from Petersburg who is already an experi- 
enced conjurer in the tricks of passion. The 
domestic circle in which the diarist has long been a 
not unwelcome habitue is immediately galvanised 
by the brilliance of the new-comer. The girl 
responds at once to the new stimulus, and the 
story unfolds itself on the old certain lines of 
tried experience. There is no preamble at all. 
She falls in love immediately with Prince M — , 

Turgencv 167 

who has his own ideas as to what the rules of the 
game of love should be. Then his unfortunate, 
unacknowledged rival details, with a minuteness 
of tortured introspection which all the combined 
notebooks of the French realists could never equal, 
the poor tricks and manoeuvres of shame-faced, 
jealous love. Every attitude of youth enraged 
with itself is struck in this faded provincial drawing- 
room. He will make her sorry for having deserted 
him, and then he will be magnanimous and forgive 
her when she returns. Now he ostentatiously 
withdraws from her, and now he haunts her with 
his foolish, unnecessary presence. 

And Liza too, had she but known it, is equally 
absorbed in a fool's paradise. She is drawn to the 
Prince exactly as the Superfluous Man is drawn 
to her. The poor fellow insults his rival with 
exceptional clumsiness at a ball, and a duel a la 
barriere ensues. The Superfluous Man wounds the 
Prince very slightly, and prepares to advance 
to the barrier. His adversary, however, is too 
contemptuous even to torment him by allowing 
him to come any nearer. " The duel is at an end," 
he exclaims, and fires in the air. 

The Superfluous Man has now become an object 
of horror instead of indifference to Liza. He is 
an exile from her family circle, and it is only by 
chance that he can obtain glimpses into her life. 
One such glimpse comes to him from her carriage 
as she drives past with her parents and the man 

i68 Two Russian Reformers 

who had bewitched her. She was half facing 
his rival, and her eyes were devouring his face. It 
was the known psychological moment in the game 
of passion. The Superfluous Man realised that 
Liza's soul had made its final surrender. The 
horses galloped past too quickly for him to observe 
the Prince's face, but he *' fancied that he, too, 
was deeply touched." 

He meets her again at church. There is another 
transformation, and once more he divines its mean- 
ing. The girl has been forced to learn the too- 
rapidly-turned-over pages of life. Already she 
has arrived at a very sombre page. The man who 
loves her follows at a short distance until she 
reaches her home. When he returns to his own 
quarters he is whispering to himself, " She is lost." 
His scrutiny, the actual scrutiny of Turgenev, 
into the very soul of this girl allows him no decep- 
tion. He is sorry for her, but mixed with his 
sorrow there is a certain arid pleasure difficult to 
analyse. It is as though he were glad that this 
girl who had been so listlessly detached from his 
love and his pain should have found something at 
last which she must share with him. 

But there is another transformation which is 
very soon forced upon the Superfluous Man. The 
bitter farce of love is over ; the Prince Charming 
has returned to the capital ; busy tongues are 
loosened against him at last. The defeated rival 
whose jealousy had been ridiculed is now an ac- 

TUR<;i;xEV IX oi.n ac, 


Turgenev 171 

cepted hero in the httle provincial town. Liza's 
parents receive him again on the old familiar 
footing, but there is an abyss between the girl 
and himself. Ever so long ago — a few weeks 
ago — he had watched the child trembling un- 
consciously into womanhood. Afterwards he had 
watched the woman expanding unconsciously 
through the generosity of love. In each of these 
transformations there had been a natural ripen- 
ing, harmonious and unstrained as the breaking 
into life of spring and the passing of spring 
into summer. But now there was something 
new in this too-well-loved face. Something had 
come into her life through which her youth 
had already shrivelled. Sorrow had hardened 
her into self-consciousness, had hardened her 
especially in the defence of her secret, which she 
treasures avidly in her heart. For herself she 
feels neither regret nor shame. She has been a 
spendthrift of her beauty and her youth, but her 
glad secret is a sufficient reward. As for this good, 
devoted man, who loves her now as always, he 
is less than nothing to her and always will be 
less than nothing. She does not come to the 
Superfluous Man shedding tears of regret for 
having undervalued his faithfulness so long. The 
ironical and suspicious Turgenev has watched 
youth's drama much too closely for any such 
touching make-belief as that. On the contrary, 
never is she more utterly devoted to the man who 


172 Two Russian Reformers 

has betrayed and abandoned her, than when his 
defeated rival returns to offer her again the pro- 
tection of his old steadfast faith. " You can say 
anything you like," she murmurs to him, " but let 
me tell j^ou that I love that man, and always shall 
love him, and do not consider that he has done me 
any injury — quite the contrary. ..." Well, life 
is like that too, it would seem ; but for the Super- 
fluous Man the third transformation is very bitter. 
He had hoped to be allowed to protect her from 
the consequences of her unrepented folly, but even 
in this willing sacrifice he is supplanted by another. 
Even in this he remains still the Superfluous Man, 
" the fifth wheel " of the waggon of normal life. 
There is nothing for him, it would seem, not even 
renunciation and sacrifice. 

There can be little doubt that in this almost 
oppressively intimate book Turgenev uttered some 
of the festering secrets of his soul, translating at 
least a phase of that peur de la vie which Flaubert 
had confessed to George Sand, who for her part 
knew nothing of it at all. In all his books the 
recognition of the essential cruelty of life, the 
stupid cruelty as of a scythe-chariot driven by 
a madman, oppressed him. It oppressed him in 
such a work of introspection as this " Diary of a 
Superfluous Man," just as it had oppressed him 
in that series of almost objective studies, " The 
Annals of a Sportsman." It oppressed him 
particularly in a tale entitled " Mumu," which is 

Turgenev I73 

one more bitter page snatched from the scattered 
fragments of his autobiography. Apart from 
this, however, the httle tale has a significance 
almost equal to any in *' The Annals of a Sports- 
man," because it symbolises without any didactic 
Pan-Slavism, the desolate role of the Russian 
moujik. It is all done so easily. Turgenev merely 
opens the door of his old home and ushers us into 
it without comment. He makes no direct appeal 
to our sympathy, any more than in his "Annals 
of a Sportsman," but the story of Mumu is even 
more acrid with the stuff of tears. But there is 
no direct attack in the smooth suave narration of 
facts. There is, indeed, something almost Satanic 
in the matter-of-courseness with which he indicates 
the various phases of tyranny in this household 
which he knew so well. It is his own mother who 
rules this household, and like another Tacitus on 
a minute scale, without raising an eyebrow, without 
a gesture of anger, her son notes baldly the facts 
of the case. 

There was, it seems, in the household of Madame 
Turgenev, a little drudge named Tatiana. She 
was twenty-eight years old, very thin, with a mole 
on her left cheek, which was regarded as an evil 
omen. Her fellow servant was a giant, and also 
a deaf-mute who could only express his emotions 
by gestures and whining sounds. His name was 
Garassim, and he conceived a violent attachment 
for this poor girl and constituted himself her 

174 Two Russian Reformers 

guardian. Naturally she was frightened of him, 
but none the less he persisted, bringing her little 
presents and defending her always from the ridicule 
of the other servants. And gradually the little 
drudge learned to confide in this inarticulate giant 
who had become enthralled by her weakness. 
But unfortunately this obscure little love-story 
was interfered with by their superiors. A certain 
Kapiton, a drunken cobbler, had given trouble to 
the mistress of the house, who forthwith issued 
an order that he should be reformed through 
marriage with Tatiana. The intendant passed 
on the order to the drunken cobbler, who, except 
for his fear of the deaf-mute, was willing enough 
to submit. Tatiana also was submissive, though 
she also feared this strange wild being who had 
after his fashion adopted her. " He will surely 
kill me," she said, but with complete resignation. 
Then a horrible little plot occurred to this 
whispering underworld. There was one thing in 
particular that horrified and disgusted the deaf- 
mute, and that was drunkenness. Tatiana was 
told to feign drunkenness, and the frightened 
little drudge consented to the miserable comedy, 
which produced the desired effect. Thoroughly 
disillusioned, the giant resigned her to the drunken 
cobbler, who not long afterwards was sent away 
with his wife. And now that he was utterly 
alone the deaf-mute picked up a little stray dog, 
so that in the whole lonely world there might be 

Turgenev 175 

some atom of life that drew its store of happiness 
from him. His superiors had taken from him the 
woman for whom he had felt pity ; at all events 
the dog was left to him — they would not grudge 
him the dog. And every emotion that stirred in 
that chaotic heart was concentrated upon the 
little dog, Mumu. The giant tended her as 
though she had been his only child, and on her 
side Mumu felt safe only in the presence of the 

But, giant though he was, he was not strong 
enough to keep Mumu. The little dog unluckily 
attracted the notice of their common owner. 
The chatelaine happened to be in a good humour, 
and Mumu was pronounced to be a delightful 
little dog. Shortly afterwards, however, she was 
in a bad humour, and the sinister order was issued 
that Mumu should be removed. An attendant 
removed Mumu, but she escaped and returned to 
her idolised master. But even now Mumu had 
not learnt her lesson, but was foolish enough to 
annoy the chatelaine, who decreed this time that 
she should be destroyed. The giant shed tears 
as he fed his little dog for the last time, then, 
filled with one knows not what puzzled rage 
against this organised system of mindless tyranny, 
Garassim fled from the woman who had twice 
robbed him of the one thing dear to him in life. 

Madame Turgenev's adopted daughter has told 
us the story of Mumu is taken from life. Once, 

176 Two Russian Reformers 

while she was making a tour of inspection through 
her domain, Turgenev's mother noticed a colossus 
at work in the fields. Struck by his appearance, 
she stopped the carriage and ordered him to be 
brought to her. He proved to be a deaf-mute, 
and because this fact interested her she had him 
enrolled then and there among the number of her 
personal servants. In due course Andre, as he 
was called, was taken to Moscow, where at first 
the city life and the paltry nature of his work 
disheartened this giant of the steppes. But 
gradually he became reconciled to the new con- 
ditions and concentrated all his affections upon 
his little dog, Mumu, which, however, he was 
compelled to destroy by the order of his 

But unlike the hero of Turgenev's story Andre 
did not desert his cruel owner even after this. 
For on one occasion some one who was in the 
black books of Madame Turgenev seems to have 
tried to make a present of a blue cretonne blouse 
to the deaf-mute, who refused it with emphatic 
gestures. Madame Turgenev was delighted when 
the incident was related to her, and at nine o'clock 
the next morning, while she was still in bed, 
Andre was summoned to her presence. A dozen 
serf girls were then ordered to attend to the 
giant's toilet, as though he were a Slav Odysseus 
and they the very maidens of Nausicaa. Laughing, 
they vied with one another in assisting the puzzled 

Turgenev i77 

giant to make himself presentable for the mys- 
terious interview. In the meantime Madame 
Turgenev asked her adopted daughter for a 
piece of blue ribbon, and then demanded the sum 
of ten roubles from her intendant. With one gift 
in each hand the chatelaine smiled graciously on 
Andre, who at sight of the presents began to 
mutter hoarsely in token of satisfaction. And 
as he left her presence the dumb giant struck his 
breast heavily in order to express fidelity and 
gratitude to the woman who had grudged him his 

Undoubtedly Turgenev's youth was shadowed 
by the knowledge of many such incidents in his 
own home. Undoubtedly, too, the terrible word- 
less endurance of the Russian peasant, his good 
qualities as well as his bad, convinced him that 
the time was not ripe for the final passing away of 
that Old Russia of which his own mother was 
a living symbol. Yet in his soul he is deeply 
sympathetic with that dumb hinterland of Europe 
of which Andre is the prototype. His absorption 
in Andre and in all that Andre stands for is the 
veritable link that most closely unites the two 
Turgenevs, kindling the sensitive sympathy of 
the one and arousing in its own sad cause the 
resentful, almost malignant, suspicion of the 
other. The memory of Andre and his bowed 
silent comrades persisted with Turgenev through 
all his wanderings. Nowhere in Europe, at no 

178 Two Russian Reformers 

dinner-party in Paris or Baden-Baden, was he 
ever really very far away from that terrace at 
Spasskoe in front of which the Russian peasant 
women would sing their sombre songs while their 
husbands caroused over the vodka. And as old 
age gained upon him the impressions of his youth 
came back to him with increasing vividness. All 
his life-work, his peculiar dreams of freedom 
in life and art, all in a sense had been anticipated 
in that slumbering Russian home. His very 
pessimism had been experienced years and years 
before in the garden of Spasskoe, and experience 
was only to deepen and broaden it. Long, long 
ago the one Turgenev had realised the indifference 
of Nature as she stares past her suppHants tearing 
at each other's throats under the shadow of her 
altar. But long ago also the calm and serene 
Turgenev had recognised the intervention of 
human pity in the merciless scheme of implacable 
Nature. As for the end, to read its secret Tur- 
genev reverted to the beginning, as though the 
very secret beyond death had been absorbed at 
the commencement of life. 

The dissimulation of the great novelist, that 
kindly dissimulation which had so often made 
for him such bitter enemies, had been his role 
even in boyhood, when he bowed hopelessly 
and helplessly before his mother's dull, tranquil 
tyranny. How watchful he had been before this 
symbol of dominance, this woman who played 

Turgenev i79 

with human beings' Uves less carefully than a 
child with costly toys ! It was this malignant 
application of brute force that had deepened at 
a most impressionable age his deep inherited 
suspicion of all things. And in the very late 
years of his life, when he had left far behind him 
both the passion and the elan of youth and the 
aspirations, national and personal, of manhood, 
and had approached those veiled portals of thought 
which lie beyond the barriers of human reason, 
Turgenev faced the supreme mystery neither 
with the supplication of the contrite nor with 
the arrogant curiosity of a later Faust. But, 
after his own fashion, he was imperceptibly drawn 
away from those realities which he had depicted 
with such infinite sureness of touch, and carried 
into a world of phantoms. Yet even in this new 
world there remained, steadfast and inseparable, 
the two Turgenevs that had shadowed each 
other in the garden of Spasskoe. 

One evening at Magny, the younger de Goncourt, 
who was lying as usual on the sofa, declared that 
he experienced already the sensation of being 
dead. " As for me," said Turgenev, "it is rather 
different. You know how sometimes there is in 
a room an imperceptible perfume of musk that 
one cannot get rid of ? . . . Very well : there is 
around me something like the odour of death, of 
dissolution." Then after a short silence he added, 
" I believe that I can find the explanation of 

i8o Two Russian Reformers 

that in the fact of my inabiUty, now absolute, 
to love." Turgenev, indeed, had commenced to 
lose something of his power of evoking the con- 
crete ghosts of his regrets, the ghosts that flut- 
tered to him from the faint frou-frou of skirts, 
that were aroused from the long ago by chance 
footsteps, that were heard from beyond the wind- 
ing of a road, from a whisper vibrating through 
shadows, from a perfumed handkerchief. And 
when these ghosts refused to come back to him he 
realised that he had never known that deep, quiet 
love which he so often interpreted in women but 
so very seldom in men. At the bottom of every- 
thing else there was always a lurking suspicion 
which made absolute surrender almost impossible 
to Turgenev. Nor could he, like Faust, search 
for Helen, deepening his experience through 
Marguerite on the way. It was not in his nature 
to search at all for strange experiences, but only 
to absorb them when they hovered close to him. 
After all he was at no time wholly divorced from 
that Sanin who had lived like a plant long ago in 

And in these late years, when he could not 
even hope to believe in the political creed of 
Young Russia, he commenced to understand that 
he, the enchanter of so many realities of romance, 
had been always incapable of realising the meaning 
of his own enchantment. He had illuminated 
others by his magic, but his own heart had re- 

Turgcnev i8i 

mained dark. And now, instead of becoming 
absorbed by the suggestion of some woman whose 
soul he might interpret, he is absorbed by the 
soulless presence of death. For a long time he 
has been hurrying in front of it, snatching year 
after year from its blind gluttony. And in the 
good moments he had been able to laugh at it in 
spite of the warnings of his doctors. After all, 
he was a Slav, and he acknowledged that he 
appreciated that Slavonic mist. He understood, 
too, that warning not to think of the cold lest one 
should die of it. 

And in the last works of all he reverts to two 
distinct themes — to this obsession of death, with 
the suggestion of a personal survival, and to that 
youth which now seemed to him but as yesterday. 
In " Clara Militch," the sub-title of which is 
"After Death," the great novelist takes up both 
these themes. Aratof is attracted by Clara Militch, 
but he misunderstands her sentiments for him. 
She has been an actress, and he believes that she 
has been acting in regard to himself. Suddenly, 
he learns through a newspaper of her death, and 
from that moment he becomes obsessed in a 
sense that he has never been obsessed by her when 
she was alive. Even though she is dead, and it is 
too late for earthly happiness, he will learn the 
soul of this woman. Obeying this impulse, he 
makes his way to the house in which she had 
died, and returns with a photograph of the dead 

i82 Two Russian Reformers 

girl and a fragment from her private diary. 
Even now, he does not know whether he does or 
does not love Clara. But he waits for her, and 
he clings to these associations which seem to link 
his own earthly life with her mysterious survival. 
And in this ecstasy of anticipation wholly detached 
from the normal routine of life he continues until 
the day on which they find him dead in his bed. 
His cold fingers are clutching a lock of black 
hair which cannot be extricated from their grasp, 
while an untranslatable happiness is stamped upon 
the intent dead face. 

But even in these last works the attitude of 
Turgenev is almost always sane and even a little 
cold. For, the suspicious Turgenev persisted to 
the very end, even when the novelist fringed upon 
the borders of the occult. Very charming is the 
sketch entitled "A Free Russian Village"; but 
in that very year he wrote a fragment describing a 
pursuing old woman which gives us the last grimace 
of an octopus-like human destiny. Typical, too, 
of the resultant, so to speak, of Turgenev's attitude 
towards life is that dialogue between the Jung- 
frau and the Finsteraarhorn in which the Alpine 
Mountains peer out at the world after intervening 
cycles of centuries during which the race of man 
dwindles and fades and dies. Then, in the opinion 
of these exponents of Nature's merciful philosophy, 
all is at last well with the world. In " The Dog " 
there is once more the obsessing motif of death ; 

Turgenev 183 

and in " My Opponent " the ghost of a dead 
comrade returns, but, more enigmatic than even 
the Alpine Mountains, says nothing whatever 
concerning human fate. In " The Last Meeting " 
the note of reconciUation through death is sounded 
by the naive serene Turgenev, but in " Love 
and Hunger " his other twin-self whispers mock- 
ingly, " Love and hunger — their aim is the same 
— preservation of life, of one's own life and the 
life of others — the life of all." In another beauti- 
ful prose poem he utters the mournful hopeless 
" Stop ! " to youth hurrying carelessly on to 
age and death. 

In " The Beggar " we have a Russian touch of 
the kindly sort, when the mendicant is thankful 
for the clasp of a human hand. He is not the 
only one who is grateful, for Turgenev adds, " I 
felt that I, too, had received a gift from my 
brother." In the same little volume we have 
some comments on the line of a song — " How 
lovely and fresh those roses were ! " And in this 
song from long ago, ghosts seem to come rustling 
back to this psychologist of passion who could 
never wholly love. Russian scenes, scenes of his 
home and of those first breathless transports of 
youth's guess at love, became for the moment more 
real to him than the actuality of age and the nearing 
menace of Death. In such moments he is really 
Sanin again, living over once more that far-off 
romance with the Italian girl at Frankfort. For, 

i84 Two Russian Reformers 

in moments such as these, the savour of life 
returns to him, so that in age itself he can renew 
without mockery the ecstasy of youth. But the 
bubble breaks only too swiftly, and in " The 
Labourer and the Man with the White Hand " 
bitter memories, also real enough, return to him. 
A useless idealist pleads for liberty, works after his 
fashion for liberty, and foolishly, uselessly, dies for 
liberty. And when he has paid this last price 
for the cause one of the genuine people exclaims 
to his comrade, " Don't you suppose we could get 
a bit of the rope he's hanged with ? " The 
vision of " Spring Torrents " has faded into the 
acrid memory of Rudin. 

Only three months before his death he was to 
become still more intimately personal in these final 
fragments. For in " Fire at Sea " he dictated 
in French a sketch of that incident on board the 
Nicholas I. which had made so deep an impression 
upon his memory. In this sketch he makes it 
quite clear that he, as a boy of nineteen, apart 
from his first not unnatural spasm of terror, had 
behaved exceedingly well. In the first moment 
of that terror it seems that he offered the sum 
of ten thousand roubles to a sailor to save him, 
but he denies implicitly that he used the words 
" I am the only son of a widow." Afterwards a 
sailor reproached him and reminded him about 
the ten thousand roubles : " But as I was not 
quite sure of his identity, and as besides he had 

Turgenev 185 

done nothing whatever for me, I offered him a 
thaler, which he accepted gratefully." 

Turgenev had not himself been guilty of 
cowardice, but in this sketch, written so close to 
his death, he notes a pathetic incident observed 
with characteristic minuteness in " spite of the 
horrors of a fire at sea : "I perceived in the 
middle of a group of passengers a general of tall 
stature, his clothes literally soaked with water, 
who stood motionless, leaning against a bench 
which he had just detached from a boat. I 
learned that in the first moment of terror he had 
brutally pushed back a woman who wanted to pass 
in front of him so as to leap from the vessel in one 
of the first embarkations which had foundered. 
Seized by a steward, who had flung him back on 
to the vessel, the old soldier became ashamed of 
his momentary cowardice, and took an oath that 
except the captain he would be the last to leave 
the ship. He was a tall man, pale, with a red 
scar on his forehead, and he kept casting around 
him contrite and resigned glances as though he 
were asking for pardon." 

In no single one of his important w^orks does 
Turgenev show more minuteness of observation 
than in this sketch which links his boyhood to 
the very end of his life. He noted, this boy of 
nineteen, all the variations of stupefying fear that 
paralysed so many around him. And again, after 
all these years of weary experience, there returned 

i86 Two Russian Reformers 

to him as from yesterday the shrill dolorous cries 
of women as they leaped desperately for safety. 
Turgenev was admittedly Sanin, who " lived like 
a plant," but he was also some one else quite 
different. That extraordinary receptivity that 
made him, as it were, a plate for receiving the 
deepest and the most fugitive impressions was 
abnormally sensitive in youth, and never more 
so than on that exploited occasion when he was 
supposed to have cried out, " Save me ! I am 
the only son of a widow : ten thousand roubles 
to him who will save me ! " 


THE death of Flaubert was a turning-point in 
the old age of Ivan Turgenev ; the Magny 
dinners were no longer the same ; it was 
no longer possible for the Slavonic mist to conceal 
the ever-nearing phantom which was becoming 
imperceptibly the one reality. The great Russian 
himself was becoming a phantom at these 
"dinners of the hissed authors" which he had 
so often charmed with his genius. 

" Le diner," notes the Journal, " commence 
gaiement, mais voila que Tourguenief parle d'une 
constriction du coeur, survenue de nuit, constriction 
melee a une grande tache brune sur le mur, en 
face de son lit, et qui, dans un cauchemar ou il 
se trouvait moitie eveille, moitie dormant, etait 
la mort." His health grew worse and worse, 
and his doctors called his malady gouty angina 
pectoris. " It is the term that we use," said 
Charcot to Daudet, " when we do not know what 
to say." But even in the midst of the most 
acute pain Turgenev was careful to analyse the 
variations of suffering. "During the operation," 
he once observed to Daudet, " I thought of our 
187 12 

i88 Two Russian Reformers 

dinners, and I searched for words to convey a just 
impression of steel piercing my flesh as though it 
were a knife cutting a banana." 

During even this last year his strength allowed 
him to work. He was busy with " Clara Militch," 
and last of all with " Fire at Sea." Towards the 
end of autumn he remained alone at Bougival, 
the Viardots having returned to Paris. In 
October he writes : "I live still, if living is being 
unable to stir or to stand upright . . . that is 
how oysters live ! And there still remain for me 
distractions that they do not possess." But in 
spite of everything his creative energy was still 
productive, and a visitor to whom he narrated 
the troubling dreams that came to him at night, 
received the impression that the world of litera- 
ture would be enriched by another volume of 
" Poems in Prose." Again, he was able to throw 
aside all purely personal distractions, even those 
of intense physical suffering, and from his death- 
bed he implored Tolstoy not to betray Russia by 
renouncing its literature. 

To the very last he placed literature before all 
else, and as one glances back at the life of this 
complex cosmopolitan it is only possible to guess 
at his inner nature through this devotion to art. 
For the absorption in the analysis of temperament 
was as incarnate in Turgenev as the sense of duty 
itself. To him, as to Flaubert, external incidents 
were merely irritating disturbances, and it was 

TurgeneV 189 

from the inner life of the ego that they drew, each 
after his fashion, the savour of an impression, the 
stab of a regret, sights, sounds, illusions, dreams, 
all the delicate contradictory fantasies that 
hearty well-meaning people would brush aside 
as the cobwebs of Progress. At once meditative 
and alert, serene and ironical, Turgenev considered 
the heroic antics of a hero in the Anglo-Saxon 
sense essentially uninteresting, essentially childish 
attempts to interfere with the slow monotonous 
undulations of Nature, that Juggernaut whom 
none can either hurry or evade. 

Often, however, he rebelled against his own 
disinclination for the world of action. He, who 
was in so many ways so close to Hamlet, has 
openly avowed his preference for Hamlet's anti- 
thesis, Don Quixote. In book after book his 
irony played mockingly round that lethargy of 
the Slav, from which he knew that he himself was 
by no means emancipated. Steeped as he was 
in the culture of the West, he strove to persuade 
himself that he, too, was working for definite, 
practical aims. He rebelled even against his 
own inalienable distaste for rebellion. He tried 
to persuade himself that he liked the practical 
Solomin, and he tried to persuade the world that 
he was fascinated by Bazarof. The one Turgenev, 
indeed, did surrender himself naively to the 
glamour of a new type, but the other Turgenev 
watched him with ironical suspicion, analysed 


190 Two Russian Reformers 

him, cross-questioned him, tripped him up, ridi- 
culed him even a httle for opposing his puny 
personahty with such confidence to that impla- 
cable scheme of things of which he was but one 
unconsidered atom. Turgenev has often been 
charged with being the romantic of the realists 
by one party, and of being the realist of the 
romantics by the other. His " method," as a 
matter of fact, was one of vision, indefinable, 
incapable of being explained even by himself. 
His lesson, if one may at all use such a word in 
relation to so profound an artist, is that Nature is 
eternally indifferent, even as that " calm strong 
angel " of Huxley, but that on the whole, in spite 
of endless inevitable antagonisms, endless rever- 
sions to atavism, and endless contradictions, poor 
human nature is most certainly kind. It is not 
Nature that, according to Turgenev, smiles and 
soothes the toil-worn children whom she has 
flung so carelessly into being. It is rather these 
children, the ordinary men and women, unheroic 
and undeserving in the ordinary sense, who, 
clustering humbly together, console each other 
in the face of their implacable Mother whose 
set smile ceases more and more to deceive. 

Such was Turgenev's philosophy, and it survived 
all the querulous attacks that were made upon him. 
Perhaps it was reflected from his own unostenta- 
tious generosity, which, so often deceived, so often 
vilified, was never found wanting. His country- 

Turgenev 191 

men often reproached him for living in Paris ; it 
was an axiom among needy Russians that looking 
for employment meant visiting Turgenev. But 
his kindness was almost always charged with a 
certain irony of experience. Once, for example, 
he heard of a Russian being ill in Paris. The 
young man had submitted a manuscript to a 
journal, and Turgenev, after his old familiar habit, 
wrote urgently to the editor on behalf of his 
unhappy compatriot. "But," he added, "if you 
do not think that you should publish it, leave 
the author under the impression that you will, 
and send him two hundred roubles, charged to 
my account." That attitude was thoroughly 
characteristic of this kindly and ironical weigher 
of human souls who, so often attacked, cared so 
little to defend himself. This pessimist who dis- 
believed in the mercifulness of Nature never lost 
sympathy with human nature. Nature, he had 
grasped long ago, in the garden of Spasskoe, is 
indifferent alike to tears of supplication or to tears 
of revolt, but supplication and revolt alike are 
evidence of man's idealism, which has projected 
the symbol of an all-merciful and bountiful Nature 
that will protect the least of her children. For 
this poor men and women should be revered, 
perhaps, a little ; above all they should be par- 
doned. And the humble and the weak should 
never be crushed lower, particularly when they 
are willing to help those who are even humbler 

192 Two Russian Reformers 

and weaker than themselves. But as for those 
boisterous Titans who assert their Httle indi- 
viduahties in the face of the maelstrom of destiny, 
to them Turgenev is constitutionally antipathetic 
even when he tries hardest to believe in them. 

Most of the great novelists have expressed in 
a single book what on the whole may be taken 
for their guess at the meaning of life. One novel 
may be the expression of one stage of intellectual 
and emotional experience, while another may be 
the expression of quite another stage. But in the 
works of many great authors one can find often a 
book which is also the book, and sometimes this 
volume of finality is also the book of youth. 
Dickens, for example, in " David Copperfield " 
has spelt out the scheme of things as it appeared 
to him in a book which recalls his youth as poign- 
antly as any autobiography in the world. Here, 
youth and romance with all their fleeting and 
exquisite savour renew themselves for a brief 
spell, pass, and fade and die. And the meaning 
of life, at first so fantastically confused, takes to 
itself at last the worn-out line stamped by the 
experience of generations who in turn had dreamed 
and revolted and conformed. One after the 
other these childish companions of Dickens' 
boyhood come to the curb of life, accept the 
harness of destiny, learn to fit in, claiming tran- 
quilly their just meed — no less, no more — of happi- 
ness and pain. As in a realised dream one learns 

Turgcncv 193 

the meaning of the years in sucli a book of bitten- 
in experience as " David Copperfield," in spite 
of the fact that Dickens with his EngUsh tra- 
ditions neither would nor could express nakedly 
and fearlessly that contorted destiny upon whose 
cornices so many delicate organisms are stupidly 
broken. But even Dickens, with all his hearty 
optimism and his broad sane confidence in the 
ultimate furtherance of the general good, even 
Dickens recognised that in the very nature of 
things, and quite independent of any good or ill 
desert, there are some who will be inevitably 
broken upon that bed of Procrustes that is so 
often called the " lap of Nature." 

That is, of course, a mere commonplace. What 
makes a " David Copperfield " and all such 
personal records so significant is not that they 
relate mere personal experience, but because 
they suggest through the medium of such a record 
what life as a whole has really meant to the 
author. Steerforth, for instance, gives one the 
illusion of life lived with intensity. Steerforth, 
in spite of the very Victorian melodrama which 
surrounds him, in spite of little Em'ly's naive 
tears and Rosa Dartle's hysterics, does stand for 
a human soul striving uselessly and arrogantly to 
live out its own will. And in dealing with Steer- 
forth, Dickens, as though too steeped in personal 
memories for the indulgence of any mere censure, 
relates the life-story with a touch of reality that 

194 Two Russian Reformers 

pierces easily through the melodrama of habit. 
The world may forget a thousand oddities and 
humours which once wrung tears of laughter from 
age and youth alike, but the world will not wholly 
forget, in spite of the crude setting of the picture, 
that figure upon whom the English novelist 
flashed the very glamour of destiny. There is no 
moralising here, no juggling with known facts. 
At once destructive and self-destroying, as Steer- 
forth the boy was, so the man will be. But one 
bad quality does not necessarily mar a good 
one, perhaps equally strong. A villain, except in 
melodrama, is not always a villain, and if one 
glances back steadily, one must realise that life is 
like that in its action upon character — that life, 
in fact, in its action on those who will not submit, 
is like an octopus whose tentacles fasten ever on 
the weakest part in its moment of lowest resist- 
ance. Dickens, glancing down into the remote 
recesses of his own heart, drew the core of the 
thing with naked truthfulness. For this book 
of youth is also the book of final experience, 
in which there is no whitewashing on the one 
hand nor declamatory judgment on the other. 
" David " may survive placidly, adapting himself 
willingly to the lowered tension that succeeds 
the storm. Steerforth will inevitably be engulfed 
in the whirlpool from which he will never emerge. 
It is not merely an external storm of the elements 
that dashes the corpse of the betrayer on to that 

Turgcncv 195 

lonely coast. Without any such external punish- 
ment there was in Steerforth's own heart that 
which would have lashed him swiftly to the 
quietude of death. 

That was a book of experience as well as of 
youth. In "Sapho" Alphonse Daudet has given 
us his book of experience as opposed to "Le 
Petit Chose," his book of youth. In the first book 
youth lives like Sanin, literally like a " plant " 
that one watches in its growth ; in the second 
youth falls away like a beautiful scarred thing, 
whose very memory is a torture. But just as in 
" David Copperfield " Dickens passes altogether 
beyond the range of personal experience, so 
Daudet, the adopted Parisian, gives us in " Sapho " 
not merely his own verdict upon existence, but 
something of universal human experience. He 
also, in these pages, like Dickens in that very 
different book, seems to say to us : " Here is life 
as I at least have found it. Such as it is I have 
written -it down." 

In the make-believe world of fiction, with its 
stereotyped tricks and conventions, one cannot 
be too grateful for these sombre memories of 
reality which genius throws suddenly into clear 
perspective. " Sapho " in one sense is written 
in those first few pages, when the young artist 
carries the beautiful, terrible woman up that 
universal flight of stairs. She is so light at first, a 
precious burden that one bears as easily as youth 

196 Two Russian Reformers 

itself ; but presently the young man's breath 
comes more quickly, and a little later he is panting 
beneath the binding arms of Sapho. Already 
she is wound around him, the very octopus of life 
to which youth has offered its own naked throb- 
bing heart. All illusions perish in this book by 
the creator of the joyous " Tartarin." Nowhere 
else, perhaps, in all literature are the wrappings of 
hope more ruthlessly stripped from the skeleton 
of destiny. There is nothing at all to be said, for 
who should blame even Sapho, the parasite, who 
consumes herself as well as others ? 

" Sapho " is a book written under the per- 
mission to write truthfully, a concession which 
has been accorded to no English book, as 
Thackeray reminds us, since " Tom Jones." In 
" Vanity Fair," however, his own book of experi- 
ence, he has written, always with the English 
reserve, a genuine tablet of life. That, and no 
other, is the book of Thackeray's final experience, 
the book which, had none other survived, would 
have revealed what life meant to this English 
novelist who in his great moments was also a 
world novelist. That is how the play goes through 
Thackeray's opera glasses, and nobody can avoid 
the play, the play which dominates all the little 
private dramas of one's own heart. Perhaps no 
one but an Englishman could have been so un- 
embarrassed by so alluring an heroine as Becky, 
but Thackeray was watching her over his mid- 

Turgcnev 19^ 

Victorian spectacles, stabbing down into the 
nullity of her soul. She too, no less than Sapho, 
was one of these parasites flung into being by 
environment, fed upon human lives, whom it is 
perhaps idle to judge, but whom it is certainly 
death to cherish. *' But one should not be so 
hard upon Becky," people have been chirping 
ever since the book was written ; " one should 
be an artist and not a moralist." The borrowed 
cliche has become a tradition of English criticism, 
which is itself generally moralising only too thinly 
veiled. The great Victorian novelist, who was 
writing down what life as a whole meant to him, 
knew better than that. One after the other those 
characters of his, once so vital and now too quickly 
disparaged, may fade and perhaps even pass into 
nothingness, but there is something in " Vanity 
Fair " which assuredly will never perish. It is the 
actual register of life as it appeared at a particular 
time to an observer who had thoroughly absorbed 
his own environment and who occasionally rose 
to the Virgilian contemplation of affairs. It is 
perhaps a half-truth to say that what is really 
significant in a work of art is what is left over 
when the descriptive adjectives have been ex- 
hausted. When ever3/thing has been said about 
" Vanity Fair " there remains in it an aroma of 
human experience, a little acrid perhaps, but 
with its harshness softened by an incongruous 
mingling of the recognition that all things, 

198 Two Russian Reformers 

good and bad alike, pass to the same dolorous 

Very different is another real English novel, 
another final book which is at once a record of 
experience and a memory of youth. George 
Eliot utters in " The Mill on the Floss " some- 
thing of that sombre wisdom which became her 
ultimate philosophy of endurance, and at the same 
time narrates the story of her childhood in words 
that are charged with the wonder of life and art. 
In other books she was, seemingly, to search more 
restlessly into the recesses of the human heart, to 
reveal more complex secrets, to sound deeper 
plummets of life. But it is in " The Mill on the 
Floss " that all the wistful wonder of childhood 
and all the charmed regret of experience converge. 
One can never forget that undulating sweep of 
life that passes over the familiar landscape like a 
slowly gathering storm. The men and women 
are part of that quiet country setting beside the 
Floss. It is very peaceful outwardly, but none 
the less the phantoms of destiny are mockingly 
preoccupied with this drama of quiet people who 
cannot escape the storm. Undoubtedly " The 
Mill on the Floss " is one of the very few English 
novels in which a great writer has written down 
what may be accepted as the final comment. It 
closes upon youth cut off in the very moment of 
understanding, but none the less it gives utter- 
ance to the enigma of destiny and at the same 

Turgcncv 199 

time expresses the great philosophy of human 
sympathy in the face of Nature's inscrutable 
indifference, which was essentially the secret 
of Turgenev's pessimism. 

He too, apart from his book of youth, com- 
prised in the two volumes " First Love " and 
*' Spring Torrents," has written a single volume 
which in a very deep sense may be accepted as his 
last word on the comedy of life. In " Rudin " 
and " Liza " he expressed his point of view in 
regard to the national emancipation of his country. 
His more mature standpoint of the same problem 
found utterance in " Virgin Soil " and in *' Fathers 
and Sons." All these books show that Turgenev's 
attitude towards the Russian people was in all 
essentials the same as in " The Annals of a Sports- 
man," the book which had revealed the moujik 
to the whole civilised world. In that book he has 
demonstrated his intimate knowledge of and 
sympathy with the Russian people in the normal 
endurance of their lot. In " On the Eve " he was 
to demonstrate more clearly than in any book 
before or after his want of faith in any phase of 
the contemporary struggle for freedom. In each 
one of these books something of the inner life 
of those two Turgenevs may be read, but in one 
book, " The Diary of a Superfluous Man," the 
introspective side of Turgenev's character is laid 
bare. In this, we have what is almost a dis- 
illusioned sequel to those earlier volumes of 

400 Two Russian Reformers 

youth which are actual autobiography. In one 
sense, indeed, the art of Turgenev hovers very 
close to the story of his soul, the actual record of 
which was burnt in the garden at Bougival. One 
remembers his advice to a friend to write down 
this or that emotional experience, even at the 
moment when the wound most festered. And 
remembering this, one understands how over and 
over again in apparently objective works there 
intervenes the subtle hint of personal recollection. 
In one book there is something of all the other 
works of Turgenev — his youth, his political aspira- 
tions, his cosmopolitan outlook, his mature con- 
viction as to the liberty of Russia. All these are 
to be found in " Smoke," and with them, stamping 
the book with finality, the undisguised conviction 
of Turgenev' s kindly but unalterable pessimism. 

Apart altogether from the political dissatisfac- 
tion with " Smoke," critics have urged against it 
that its heroine is a woman of the world instead 
of an ingenue. It is claimed that through this 
volte-face of Turgenev much of the charm and 
freshness of his individual qualities are lost, and 
that he who so persistently declined to give the 
youth of his country what they wanted, has 
declined in this instance to give them what they 
expected. None the less in " Smoke " Turgenev 
gives as it were an unconscious resume of his 
youth's first love, of his political dreams, of the 
long disillusion of maturity, and of that mournful 

Turgcnev ^ot 

recognition of Nature's aloofness that chilled him 
as a boy in the garden of Spasskoe. 

The book was published in 1867, while Turgenev 
was breathing the cosmopolitan atmosphere of 
Baden-Baden. Unlike " Fathers and Sons," 
" Virgin Soil," and " On the Eve," it has compara- 
tively little political importance beyond that which 
attaches to caricature. Unlike Rudin, its hero 
ceases utterly to believe in phrases ; unlike 
Lavretsky, he ceases to believe even in the quiet 
immediate duty that is close at hand to every 
one of us. Nor is its hero in any sense similar 
to the central figure of " The Diary of a Super- 
fluous Man." But in the very deepest sense it 
is Turgenev uttering, without the faintest wish to 
conciliate, the very essence of what romance 
meant to him whose pulses were only stirred by 
the frou-frou of a mondaine's skirts, even while he 
worshipped those candid and clear-browed heroines 
to whom his genius was finally dedicated. More- 
over, it is in this book also that the twin Turgenevs 
blend more inevitably than in any of the other 
novels. Personal and analytic, " Smoke " is at 
one and the same time a work that is subjective 
almost to the last limit of introspection and 
observantly objective. Never before or after 
did Turgenev peer more uncompromisingly into 
his own heart, and never before or after did those 
sad mocking eyes of his scrutinise more minutely 
the young patriots of Russia. Not for nothing 

202 Two Russian Reformers 

had he been watching in Baden all these emanci- 
pated exiles whose rhetoric was to galvanise all 
Europe through the sluggish arteries of their 
native Russia. 

In other novels we are plunged at once into the 
atmosphere of Russia. A traveller has perhaps 
returned after a long absence, and easily, im- 
perceptibly almost, the new ideas come into gentle 
contact with the old. But in "Smoke" the 
point d'apptii is the Russian tree at Baden-Baden 
around which the gossip of liberty mingles easily 
and naturally with the gossip of gambling and 
chiffons. Litvinov is on his way back to Russia, 
where he is to marry his young cousin, Tatyana, 
whom he has known from childhood. She and 
her aunt, Kapitalina Markovna, are to meet him 
in Baden-Baden, then they will all three return 
to Russia and all will be well with them, as it 
seems. It is almost the position of Sanin at 
Frankfort years and years before, but that is only 
on the surface. Sanin had been like an open page 
awaiting this or that impression ; Litvinov had 
already experienced the impress of a complex and 
dangerous personality. 

Years before, as an insignificant young man, he 
had made the acquaintance of an impoverished 
but aristocratic family named Osini. There was 
a daughter named Irina Pavlona, with whom the 
student fell hopelessly in love. This story was 
as commonplace as possible so far as outward 

Turgenev 203 

incidents are concerned. Litvinov neglected his 
lectures and his university work in general in 
order to visit that shabby drawing-room and stare 
hopelessly into the eyes of this silent girl. Of 
course he considered his passion that of the 
moth for the star, but once, when he was about to 
steal out of the room without saying good-bye, she 
threw suddenly all the magic of youth and tender- 
ness into the one word " Stay." To the young 
student it was like a whisper from heaven, a 
heaven that one has never dared to plead for, 
even in one's dreams. But she really loved him, 
and of course she would be faithful as young girls 
are faithful to first love. Still, there were other 
things for a girl of seventeen. Her dress, for 
example, the one that poverty compelled her to 
wear day after day — would he love her in that, 
always, always ? She wished him to love her 
even in that, for at seventeen, as perhaps at 
every other age, that seems to be the ultimate 
test of fidelity. 

But at seventeen other things do happen, and 
in this particular puff of smoke the something 
was the great annual ball in the Hall of Nobility. 
By some means or other Irina must go to this ball. 
After all, she had a white frock, and the poor 
student himself supplied a bunch of heliotrope. 

And as she sets out on her first triumph Tur- 
genev makes one realise everything — from the 
little thin cloak, much too short, that enfolded 


204 Two Russian Reformers 

the white frock, down to the poor student staring 
after the decrepit hired coach that was drawing 
her out of his life. At midnight Litvinov walked 
up and down outside the windows of the Hall of 
Nobility and listened to the mocking music of 

The next day as usual he called at the Osinin, 
but found no one at home except Irina's father, 
the Prince, who informed him that his daughter 
had a headache — not an unnatural thing after the 
excitement of her first ball. But Litvinov divined 
that everything had changed. The Prince him- 
self wore a coat instead of his usual old dressing- 
gown. Things, it seemed, had been happening 
altogether out of the range of the poor student. 
Irina had had an immense success, and a cousin 
of the Princess Osinin, the Chamberlain Count 
Reisendach, had determined to adopt her and to 
take her to live with his wife and himself in St. 
Petersburg. A month later, her mother took 
her to the capital and placed her in the care of 
the Countess Reisendach, " a very kind-hearted 
woman, but with the brain of a hen and something 
of a hen's exterior." 

Well, all that was long, long ago ; the memory 
would seldom trouble Litvinov, who had arrived 
at the threshold of the sure sane life of mutual 
sympathy and trust. But as he returned to his 
hotel a familiar perfume greeted him, and he 
noticed a large bunch of heliotrope in a glass of 

Turgenev 205 

water. Dim things began to stir in his memory, 
and on making inquiries he was told that a very 
"grandly dressed" lady had brought the flowers. 
Already their perfume troubled in an inner sense 
the security of his repose. He found them op- 
pressive in his bedroom and carried the bouquet 
into the next room, but even there it pursued him, 
persisting into his dreams, wooing him back with 
tlie most simple and the most subtle of all the 
associations of the sweet first love of youth. 
When he awoke in the morning he cried out 
aloud, " Can it be she ? It can't be ! " 

And that very day he meets Irina again. She 
is the wife of a General Ratimov now, and a mon- 
daine of no little importance. But in spite of this 
she asks Litvinov to forgive her for the desertion 
of years ago. Imperceptibly they begin again as 
though they had only just left off. With the 
quiet sympathy of long experience she draws from 
him the simple outline of his life during this long 
interval. But just as he is going away she reminds 
him that he has been concealing something from 
her all the time — "the chief thing" : why has he 
not told her that ? Litvinov blushes. It was 
such a little thing : why had he not told her of the 
young girl who was to be his wife ? From that 
instant the beautiful worldly woman pervades 
him like a perfume, like that very heliotrope 
that had so swiftly evoked the pain of old-time 
memories. He cannot shake off the reuewal of 

ao6 Two Russian Reformers 

the old influence. Once more she winds herself 
around his life, consuming it but adding no life- 
blood to her own. Like a moth fluttering feebly 
away from the light that lures it, he struggles 
against this obsession which has rendered mean- 
ingless all else in his life. For, Irina is still the 
same wonderful being, who in the little white 
frock and short cloak was swept carelessly away 
from him in the battered old coach years and 
years ago. Only now he has not to wander 
hopelessly outside the windows listening to the 
music of Strauss; that is not for him. Now he 
is near her, and in the zone of her withering 
magnetism he forgets the rights of love and honour 
and good faith. 

The outside world becomes to him a veritable 
nightmare of chatterers, and whether he is visiting 
Irina's circle of society people or the circle of 
Russia's young liberators, his attitude is equally 
detached and preoccupied. He wants this one 
woman, and her only in all the world. He watches 
her in the atmosphere of pompous dullness with 
which her husband has surrounded her, and like 
Sanin and the hero of " First Love," notes accu- 
rately, in spite of his almost hypnotic obsession, 
the variations of absurdity in her different guests. 
And when he leaves her he allows himself to be 
dragged into an equally repulsive atmosphere of 
idle boastfulness, which he analyses as one who, 
even in a dream, preserves extreme lucidity. 

Turgenev 207 

Bambaev, the good-natured enthusiast, presents 
him to the different heroes of Russia, in each one 
of whom he reads something wonderful and new 
of which Litvinov cannot discern the sHghtest 
trace. It is all the mere splashing of worn-out 
words springing from nothing and leading to 
nothing — far, far less real than the scent of helio- 
trope which pursues him into this atmosphere of 

Such is the inner life of Litvinov, while his 
acquaintances chatter confidently around the 
Russian tree. But at last Tatyana and her 
aunt arrive, and it is almost impossible for him 
to greet them now that this sweet restless poison 
has stolen into his life. The girl divines in- 
stantly that something baneful has come between 
them, and all soothing lies are frozen upon his lips, 
so truthfully do his eyes confess the secret that 
has shamed his honour. It is horrible to watch 
her suffering, but he must bear that too, for 
now it seems to him that the good, homely life 
that he had planned is wholly impossible. And 
so, like the hero of " Sapho " and the heroes of 
other books of experience, he decides to stake 
his life on the faith of a woman who has already 
broken faith with him ; he will sacrifice every- 
thing to her — they will live out their destiny 
together. It is not for nothing that the scent of 
heliotrope stirred in his very blood that summer 
evening at Baden-Baden. 

2o8 Two Russian Reformers 

But at the last the woman hedges in the lottery 
of passion, as years before the girl had hedged 
in the lottery of love. After all, she cannot 
abandon everything for him ; she cannot give 
up the world, because she is what she is only 
by reason of the world. He must not demand 
from her so monstrous a sacrifice. But she would 
like him to live near her and see her every day. 
He has become necessary to her again, and they 
two will love each other wisely and discreetly. 
But she must not be asked to burn her boats, 
for she is not strenuous enough for that. But 
Litvinov, who has already given up everything 
for her, is not prepared for this discreet sacrifice, 
and so he tells her abruptly that all is over be- 
tween them, and that he is going away the next 

But as he is taking his seat in the railway 
carriage, some one whispers his name, and, turning 
round, he sees Irina wearing her maid's shawl 
and with her hair dishevelled as he had never 
seen it before. She pleads to him with her eyes, 
wooing him to her side, promising him the ultimate 
recesses of her heart — promising, promising, pro- 
mising anything and everything if only he will 
stay ! On his side the man utters no word, 
but points to the seat beside him with a gesture 
of challenge. Let her choose ; it is not yet too 
late. And Irina understands. For a moment 
she hesitates, and then the train whistle sounds, 

Turgenev 209 

and Litvinov is carried out of her life just 
as, years before, she had been carried out of 

And now the very coma of exhaustion has 
fallen upon Litvinov, and he can view life in 
perspective as one who has already lived. Now 
he can judge of people, as one for whom men 
and women have already become phantoms. All 
illusions have fallen from him as suddenly withered 
leaves from a stricken tree. All the old phases 
of experience come back to him only to be dis- 
missed as foolish dreams. Every battle-cry of 
Russia's liberators seems to him in this beaten 
moment as so much smoke. Everywhere, whether 
among the young generals in Irina's drawing- 
room or among the young political enthusiasts, 
he had experienced nothing but idle smoke. 
The love of his early youth had been but smoke. 
The honourable love of his mature years, that 
too had passed away from him in smoke. Passion, 
also, had been tried and found wanting, and in 
its turn had coiled away from him in films of 

And now the train is dashing past Rastadt 
and Carlsruhe ; Bruchsal has been left far behind. 
The train is almost at Heidelberg ; and here, 
suddenly, realities force themselves upon his 
morose reverie. 

All the old Baden politicians have migrated to 
Heidelberg, and come rushing up to the railway 

210 Two Russian Reformers 

carriage to greet the sceptic who has so long 
refused to respond to the fire of their rhetoric. 
He is in no mood to respond now, and so they rage 
against him, mouthing their futile insults across 
the station platform. Never was the famous "A 
tout venant je crache " of Young Russia more 
vibrant, but Litvinov answers nothing. All this, 
too, is part of the universal smoke of life. Let 
them rage and fret for a little ; they too, like 
so many smoke eddies, will be swept into the 
nothingness of distance. As Litvinov is whirled 
away from them there is but one word in his 
heart — smoke. All these feverish destinies are 
but phantoms of smoke, merely obscuring what 
they imagine themselves to reveal. 

A little later he comes across Bambaev, the 
most enthusiastic and the most foolish of all 
the apostles of Russian emancipation. The poor 
fellow is employed in an obscure corner of Russia 
as a menial. He has turned Frenchman so far 
as his name is concerned, and is perpetually 
shouted at as " M'sieu Roston." Bambaev tells 
his old friend how one after the other his idols 
have fallen from their pedestals. But Bambaev, 
who had believed in each of them in turn, 
still believes in Russia. " Yes, yes," he admits, 
" hard times have come ! but still I say Russia. 
... Ah ! our Russia ! Only look at those two 
geese : why, in the whole of Europe there is 
nothing like them ! " 

Turgenev 211 

Litvinov passes on once more, but now the 
old coma has been lifted from his soul, as though 
from him alone in all Russia the smoke had 
risen, leaving the air around him clear and fresh. 
For, though every hope had seemed strangled 
in his heart, there remained for Litvinov that 
merciful renewal which Nature permits man to 
share with the other manifestations of life. And 
so for Litvinov the healing time comes with 
the sweet certainty of spring. His heart renews 
itself as the seasons themselves are renewed. 
For a little while yet he may linger, comforting 
himself and others as best he may in the zone 
of Nature's remote indifference. The old poison 
at least has fallen away from him, and he is able 
to return sane and healed to the faithful pity of 
the young girl to whom he has been so faithless. 
She at least in this world of smoke is beautiful 
and rare and real. But as for the rest, with 
their high hopes and their ambitions, their reme- 
dies and their revolts, nothing is left but films of 
smoke. Even Irina, who weighs so carefully 
the scales of her destiny in the balance, even 
Irina does not grasp the small practical certainty 
to which she had sacrificed the lover of her youth. 
In one of the most exclusive drawing-rooms 
in St. Petersburg the conversation turns upon 
Irina, and the hostess observes : "I feel so sorry 
for her . . . she has a satirical intellect . . . elle 
n'a pas ... la foi." For Irina also there is nothing. 

213 Two Russian Reformers 

Her guess at happiness has been as meaningless 
as all the rest. Wisdom, it seemed, was itself 
only smoke. 

Constant^ Turgenev rebelled against the over- 
whelming conclusions which none the less pursued 
him to the inner depths of so many of his con- 
ceptions of Russian character. So far as his 
readers are concerned, so far as his autobiography 
itself is concerned, the last word of Ivan Turgenev 
is smoke. The very monotony of motif in the 
novels of Turgenev, which is the monotony of 
Nature herself, springs from this profound con- 
viction. Turgenev did not make up little in- 
cidents which were sooner or later to happen in 
the exciting lives of clever dummies. Turgenev 
did not invent table-talk or even wonderful 
phrases to be spoken in heroic moments. Tur- 
genev did not recognise the necessity for 
" curtains," or even for handy eccentric people 
who may be arranged easily enough to pat any 
sequence of incidents into an episode. Of all 
these things Turgenev took no heed. Life was 
his raw material, and his only " method " was 
that strange inner vision which detected instantly 
the significant and translated it into the language 
of art. His monotony is really the slow monotony 
of Nature, who at least plays no tricks for the 
further bewilderment of her progeny. In a novel 
of Turgenev you are not watching a kinetoscope, 
but the passing of the seasons, the passing of 

Turgenev 213 

generations, the sombre passing of human Hfe 

But in " Smoke," his book of final experience, 
there is the merciful hint of escape which re- 
mained always such a solace to the Russian 
novelist. To the suspicious Turgenev, the man 
who suspected himself and others, the man who 
suspected life and death, there might indeed 
appear to be nothing in the world but smoke 
surging upward from the foolish holocaust of 
hopes and fears and passions and dreams. But 
that other Turgenev, the naive, calm Slav, in- 
sensibly grasped that each fretful unit was but a 
part of the great whole, against which all rancour 
could avail nothing. That Turgenev believed in 
the final deliverance of the Russian soul, and that 
Turgenev expressed the faith that was in him, 
not through the lips of men but through the 
lips of his Russian women. They, these quiet, 
steadfast women, asking nothing for themselves, 
seeking only to give, they at least detect from 
the holocaust a white flame slowly piercing its 
way through all the concealing smoke. For 
them Turgenev has a reverence beyond mere 
words of praise. 

One after the other they come to him, in Baden, 
in Paris, in Russia, these heroines who are like 
no others in any other literature, whispering 
to him the frozen secrets of his country. In 
their presence the cosmopolitan analyst of human 

214 Two Russian Reformers 

passion becomes once more a veritable giant of 
the steppes, filled with one knows not what shy 
reverence before these exquisite women, who 
are telling him what Russia means. In no one 
of his books has a heroine failed her lover in 
his hour of need. In no one of his books has 
it been the woman who has hesitated on the 
eve of action. Everything that Turgenev denied 
to his stricken heroes he granted abundantly to 
these blonde and candid daughters of the North, 
whose very love was inseparable from sacrifice. 
Even " Smoke," through the forgiving tenderness 
of Tatyana, is not a wholly sombre comment 
upon " the doubtful doom of human-kind." 

To the very end Turgenev believed in the 
kindliness of human nature as opposed to the 
unseeing aloofness of Nature. Almost his last 
articulate words were : " Live and love others, 
as I have always loved them." He continued to 
suffer horribly, and at one of the Magny dinners 
Daudet stated his conviction that Turgenev had 
gone mad. He had confided, it seems, to Charcot 
his belief that he was " pursued by Assyrian 
soldiers, and even wished to hurl at him a frag- 
ment from the walls of Nineveh." But in spite 
of all his suffering he wrote that splendid and 
pathetic letter to Count Tolstoy, telling him to 
return to literature. That was the very kernel 
and anchorage of Ivan Turgenev, the bond of 
union between those twin-selves who claimed the 

Turgenev 215 

one great name. All his life his compatriots 
had been carping at him for not doing what he 
had no wish to do, for not interpreting what 
he had no wish to interpret. Turgenev loved 
literature, and his sacrifice was that of the artist 
to his art. That, too, he claimed came from 
the Source of all things, and his whole life was 
a proud self-dedication to its service. 

Towards the very end his sufferings became so 
unendurable that he begged Maupassant to give 
him a revolver with which to end them. At 
another time he very nearly killed Madame 
Viardot by throwing an inkstand at her, so enraged 
was he at being ceaselessly watched. He died 
on December 3, 1883. ** For two days," wrote 
Madame Viardot to an old friend of the Baden 
days, *' he had lost consciousness. He suffered 
no more, his life ebbed out slowly, and after 
two convulsions he drew his last breath. We 
were all beside him. He became handsome 
again, as he had been always in the past. The 
first day after his death he had still, between 
his eyebrows, a deep wrinkle which had been 
formed under the pressure of convulsions ; on 
the second day his normal expression of kindness 
reappeared on his face. One almost expected to 
see him smile." 

Three days later his corpse was carried to the 
Gare de I'Est. It was accompanied by the greater 

2i6 Two Russian Reformers 

portion of the Russian colony in Paris; and 
several distinguished Frenchmen, among whom 
were Kenan and About, paid him a last farewell 
in the name of literature and France. Four days 
later in the Russian capital the dead man's 
prophecy to Polonski was fulfilled. ** Wait a 
little," he had said, " and then you will see how 
they will treat us." His funeral, like that of 
his enemy Dostoievsky, was a national pageant 
of mourning. Turgenev, who almost all his 
life had been neglected by his countrymen, 
was followed to the cemetery by two hundred 
and eighty-five deputations, and an enormous 
crowd. He had returned to Russia at last for 
good, and, very fittingly, he was buried close 
to the great Russian critic, Bielinski, who had 
understood him from the first. 


1818. Born at Orel. 

1835. Entered the University of St. Petersburg. 

1838. Visited Europe for the first time. 

1841. Returned to Russia. 

1843. Met Bielinski and Pauline Garcia. 

1847. Followed the Viardots to Europe. 

1848. First visit to France. 

1850. Death of Madame Turgenev. 

1852. Published "Annals of a Sportsman." 

1856. Left Russia to live in Europe, 

1859. Published " Liza." 

1859. Published "On the Eve." 

i860. Published " Fathers and Sons." 

Turgenev 217 

1863. First appearance at Magny dinners. 

1864. Settled in Baden-Baden. 

1866. Met Flaubert. 

1867. Published " Smoke." 

1 87 1. Commencement of Parisian period. 

1877. Published "Virgin Soil." 

1879. Visit to Moscow for the inauguration of the 
statue of Pushkin. 

1882. Reconciled with Young Russia. 

1883. Died in Paris. 


The Annals of a Sportsman. 

On the Eve. 
Fathers and Sons. 
Virgin Soil. 

Dream Tales and Prose Poems. 
The Torrents of Spring. 
First Love. 

The Diary of a Superfluous Man. 
A Lear of the Steppes. 
Mumu, etc. 

A Desperate Character, etc. 
The Jew, etc. 



219 14 


SOME years ago Merezhkovsky, the Russian 
Hellenist, who has followed so many of his 
compatriots into the pursuit of mysticism, 
demonstrated that Count Leo Tolstoy, the Chris- 
tian reformer, was and had always been essentially 
the pagan, as opposed to the Christian genius 
of Russia that was incarnate in Dostoievsky. 
The thesis was undoubtedly startling to many, 
particularly to those who saw in Turgenev's 
great rival two separate and distinct Tolstoys — 
Tolstoy the man and artist, and Tolstoy the 
ascetic and reformer. In reality there were at 
no time any such two Tolstoys as these of 
the popular belief, but, in a quite different 
sense from Ivan Turgenev, the author of " War 
and Peace " suggests a somewhat significant 
duality. This duality is not temperamental, as in 
the case of Turgenev, but springs rather from 
the external pressure of environment upon the 
natural ego. No profound suspicion of all 
things haunted Count Tolstoy from the be- 
ginning, a suspicion which denied the utility of 
searching for any answer at all to the enigma 

222 Two Russian Reformers 

of life. What haunted Tolstoy was something 
quite different, and in reality far less complex. 
It was the certainty of one endowed with a quite 
pagan capacity for enjoyment that the feast of 
life was too brief to have any meaning whatso- 
ever. But there must be some meaning. From 
the very beginning Tolstoy perceived dimly that 
his pagan conception of life as a rich feast might 
be utterly wrong. From the very beginning the 
Christian's broodings over the future of the soul 
mingled with the pagan's certainty as to the future 
of the body. Had Merezhkovsky approached 
Count Tolstoy from a slightly different standpoint, 
his thesis would have been rather different, and 
possibly more profoundly true. He would have 
tracked the one individuality back to the be- 
ginning of articulate youth, and he would have 
seen at all times under all the pagan robustness 
and immense gusto for life " the hound of Heaven " 
in pursuit of Count Leo Tolstoy. 

Be that as it may, there is at all events no line 
of demarcation between the artist and the reformer 
in Tolstoy. One does not begin at the point where 
the other has left off. That is only a myth fabri- 
cated by those who imagine that it is possible 
to renounce art by any verbal formula. In a 
sense, however, there are two Tolstoys, and they, 
like the two Turgenevs, have existed from the 
beginning side by side. The one has been un- 
reservedly pagan, seeing in the flesh its own 

Tolstoy 223 

justification, content with the first readings of 
life, grasping at happiness through pleasure, 
and — obtaining it. But the other had at once 
that melancholy of the pagans who hated so 
to lose the power of enjoyment, and, blended with 
it, that very different and even antagonistic 
melancholy of the Christians which has its origin, 
not in the triumph, but in the renunciation of 
the flesh. Tolstoy recognised very quickly that 
no one is strong enough to tear everything from 
the heart of life, that old age is very close to 
youth, and behind old age the end of the almost 
untasted banquet. But he could not accept 
this after the stoical fashion of the ancients ; 
for him there must be some other explanation. 
And because of this realised antithesis between 
the immense capacity for happiness and the 
pettiness of actual life, Tolstoy sought, even in 
his boyhood, for some ruling principle of ex- 
istence which might make life explicable and 
hence tolerable. 

This search for an explanation does not begin 
with the moment of his world-famous conversion, 
but insinuates itself in some phase or other, 
consciously or subconsciously, through all his 
work. In the midst of scenes painted with an 
unequalled relish and gusto for life there enters 
almost always a seemingly quite alien spirit, 
restless, dissatisfied, self -tormenting. In the very 
childhood of Tolstoy this spirit appears to have 

224 Two Russian Reformers 

asserted itself. Very seldom in the whole litera- 
ture of self-revelation has youth been portrayed 
with such matter-of-fact frankness as in " Child- 
hood, Boyhood, and Youth," and we find it 
constantly in those pages. 

In no other work does Tolstoy write with a 
greater delight in memory, that almost physical 
delight in recapturing physical pleasures which 
is so different from the small novelist's self- 
conscious desire to distribute his personality 
among mankind. With Turgenev the recalling 
of a single scent or sound is a communication 
with the past, as though some ghost had whis- 
pered to him or had stolen like a perfume into 
his room. With Tolstoy the effect of actuality 
is produced by quite different means, the most 
important of which, perhaps, is the cumulative 
effect of minutely realised physical details. If 
Turgenev may be described as a gourmet of 
life, Tolstoy may be described as a gourmand. 
Turgenev communicates the aroma of a half- 
forgotten scene ; Tolstoy lives it over again, 
reproducing the actual physical delight or pain 
that he had experienced in it. The loves of 
Turgenev' s youth emerge from the past like 
dim pervading presences assuming the masks of 
life ; those of Tolstoy come to us as real people 
with every contour accentuated. 

In the story of his youth Tolstoy confides 
in us with very much the same intimacy that 

Tolstoy 225 

Turgenev showed in "First Love" and "Spring 
Torrents." The work of each of the great rivals 
betrays the most microscopic observation. The 
work of each betrays the habit, formed in early 
childhood, of methodically noting objective de- 
tails in moments of excitement or danger. " You 
know," Turgenev once observed to Gorski, " that 
even in the most palpitating moments I cannot 
cease from observing other people." Tolstoy, too, 
has never been able to cease from observing other 
people. This curiosity of the intelligence is 
stamped upon the youth of each, and it made 
them realists in the Russian sense long before 
they knew the meaning of the word "realism." 
There exists also, in both these records of youth, 
the same honesty and the same avoidance, not 
only of arranging oneself before the world, but 
of even seeking to prove directly or indirectly 
that one is neither posing to oneself nor to other 
people. Different in so many things, different in 
their conception of art and to a certain extent 
in their conception of life, the two great Russian 
novelists were realists, and Tolstoy's realism in 
his record of youth is by far the more discon- 
certing of the two. For, while one only guesses 
here and there about the life of Turgenev, Tolstoy 
tells everything. Turgenev's autobiography is 
more conspicuous for its sudden lapses into 
reserve than for anything that it reveals ; Tolstoy 
searches his memory so that he may omit nothing. 

226 Two Russian Reformers 

It is as though each had thrown into the story 
of his own hfe the innermost secret of his art. 
Turgenev allows us to peer into his soul through 
revealing here and there something significant ; 
Tolstoy discloses his inner self by omitting no 
detail that may throw light upon his personality. 
Turgenev' s intimate journal was burnt at his 
own request ; Tolstoy has been publishing the 
most searching records of his spiritual and physical 
life since his early manhood. And yet it is un- 
doubtedly the infinitely explanatory Tolstoy rather 
than the reserved and suspicious Turgenev who 
has appeared a complex and perplexing personality 
in the eyes of all Europe. This is at least partially 
due to the fact that he, unlike Turgenev, accen- 
tuated the realism which is the peculiar gift of 
Russian novelists. 

It is a convention among the great majority of 
Anglo-Saxon writers that in any given scene of 
fiction somebody must be in the right and some- 
body else in the wrong. Whole libraries of closely- 
printed volumes are crowded with examples of 
this powerful tradition. Poor people have been 
almost always in the wrong in English fiction 
other than novels with a purpose ; badly-dressed 
people and people of low origin have been in the 
wrong as a matter of course. All such people, 
and uncomfortable people of every kind, are 
punished more or less judiciously in English fiction. 
The tradition has repeated itself down the cen^ 

Tolstoy 227 

turies with a certain sluggish persistence ; and 
even the French, if one substitutes the word propre 
for the " right " or " wrong " of English censure, 
will be found to maintain much the same attitude. 
The attitude, incidentally, is never more con- 
spicuous than when an attempt is made to sub- 
vert it. Hugo, for example, placing Gavroche 
in the foreground, saluted him and presented 
him as being for once in the " right " and the 
whole world of the bourgeoisie in the " wrong." 
But this conscious change of perspective has no 
bearing upon the unconscious realisation of the 
Russian novelists that nobody is either in the 
right or the wrong, a conclusion at which they 
had arrived long before that much exploited 
formula of Ibsen that there is no formula at all 
for the guidance of mankind. 

Tolstoy's realism illustrates this with amplitude 
of detail both in his early and in his later work. 
At neither stage of his development has he been 
censorious after the manner of the English, or 
logical in his judgments of humanity after the 
manner of the French. But because from first 
to last he has been groping after set rules of 
conduct this absence of the spirit of condemnation 
is certainly perplexing. 

The more conspicuous facts in regard to Count 
Tolstoy's life are well known to everybody. All 
the world knows that he was born in 1828 at 
Yasnaya Polyana, that he was educated at Kazan 

228 Two Russian Reformers 

University, and that he served in the Crimean War 
from 1853 to 1856. All the world knows that he 
did a great deal for the organisation of peasant 
schools in the country, that he helped to dis- 
seminate cheap publications among the people, 
and that in 1891-92 he organised the relief of 
the starving moujiks throughout Middle Russia. 
Furthermore, it is well known that he renounced 
long ago all exclusive property in copyright, land, 
and money, and finally that in 1901 he was ex- 
communicated by the Russian Synod. Still more 
familiar than any one of these bald facts is his 
religious crisis of 1878-79, from which date the 
second Tolstoy is supposed to have sprung into 
being . 

But in reality no divorce exists between the 
so-called two Tolstoys, the one who interested 
the world by his art up to 1878, and the one who 
has sought to reform it ever since. From any 
standpoint there is but one Tolstoy, who appears 
struggling, hesitating, profoundly self-conscious 
in " Youth," and again emancipated, sure of 
himself, but in all inner qualities essentially the 
same in that book which may be accepted as his 
book of final experience, " Resurrection." From 
the beginning he is infinitely watchful with the 
same minuteness, both of introspection and of 
external observation, that Turgenev brings to 
bear upon life, only the author of " Smoke " never 
accumulates details, but allows a significant one 

Tolstoy 229 

to stand for a hundred. With his rival the mass 
of details produces an impression of almost physical 
reality, and his method, differing as it does from 
the detachment of Turgenev, infuses something 
of his own individuality into the environment 
that he describes. He infuses, for example, his 
own zest for life into the description of a hunt, a 
country walk, a sledge-drive through the Russian 
snow. For the rest, he is objective, not only in 
his descriptions of others, but also in those of 
himself, and he is typically a Russian realist in his 
constitutional repugnance to making one set of 
people wholly in the right and another set wholly 
in the wrong. Typically Russian, too, is his 
avoidance of the very suggestion of a pedestal. 
From childhood he had searched his own heart 
too closely for any belief in that, and from the 
beginning he had questioned the desires of that 
heart as though the Christian that prompted him, 
as from outside, was already commencing to tear 
at his pagan arrogance of life. 

In his record of youth he recalls his childish 
affection for Seriga, which reminds one of David 
Copperfield's admiration for Steerforth. Seriga, 
too, is something of a bully, and ill-treats the little 
Illinka exactly as Steerforth would have ill-treated 
him. Tolstoy remembers with minute accuracy 
his own inner feelings during this typical incident 
of childhood. " Where," he asks, " was the 
compassionate feeling which had formerly made 

230 Two Russian Reformers 

me sob at the sight of a young raven thrown out 
of its nest, or of a little dog which was to be 
thrown over a hedge, or of a hen caught by the 
cook in order to be roasted for dinner ? " The 
torture of trifles which is so significant in child- 
hood was intense in the childhood of Tolstoy. 
His father rebukes him for his clumsiness in danc- 
ing the Mazurka, and it seems to him that the 
whole light of his life has suddenly gone out. 
** My Lord ! " he cries, " why dost thou punish 
me so awfully ? " 

Even at his mother's funeral this hero, who 
was at all events partially the exact counterpart 
of Tolstoy himself, is at once introspective and 
alert to every detail of the scene around him. 
** I wept during the Divine Service," he writes, 
" made the sign of the Cross and knelt out of 
decorum ; but I did not pray from the bottom 
of my heart, and was phlegmatic. I was anxious 
about my new coat, which was too tight under my 
arms ; thought about not dirtying my trousers 
when I knelt, and busied myself stealthily about 
observing those present.'* And he goes on to 
examine everybody around him, weighing as it 
were the individuality of each soul through all 
externals just as ruthlessly as he had pierced 
through his own outer mask. Child as he was, 
he realised the vanity which is so often subtly 
intermingled with grief, so that the mourner is 
unconsciously impelled to pose, to assume an 

Tolstoy 231 

attitude. The old housekeeper had none of this 
vanity, and in spite of all her sorrow for her dead 
mistress she wrangled just as usual over the 
raids on her store-room for rice and sugar : " Grief 
had taken such a hold of her that she did not find 
it necessary to conceal that she was nevertheless 
able to attend to everyday matters ; she would 
have even been quite unable to understand how 
such a strange idea as her being unable to do so 
could have come into anybody's mind." 

Even then the two sides of Tolstoy's nature, 
each springing from the same concentration of 
analysis, were beginning to assert themselves. 
He who could examine others with so arrogant 
a scrutiny was impelled inevitably to turn his 
gaze inward upon the mysteries of his own heart. 
His very vitality and passion for life made him 
mournfully conscious, as it made the ancients 
mournfully conscious, that it could not last, that 
old age would come, that at the very best one 
could enjoy only for a little while. Turgenev's 
pessimism sprang from an inner conviction that 
Nature was profoundly indifferent to human 
prayers and human tears ; Tolstoy's pessimism 
sprang from the realisation that this sweet ample 
life which he enjoyed must inevitably be cut 
short. Turgenev sought for no consolation, and 
detected mitigation for the oppression of life only 
in the natural kindliness of the human race. 
Tolstoy, on the other hand, permeated as he was 

232 Two Russian Reformers 

by the love of life, was, perhaps by reason of the 
very satiety of sensation, haunted by the sense 
of approaching loss. Unlike Turgenev, he sought 
for consolation not only in the period following 
1878, but in his very earliest work. He sought it, 
indeed, in that narrative which, in many respects 
actual autobiography as it is, ends with the 
imaginary death of his mother. 

As his youth developed, the contrast between 
the outward watchfulness of observation due to 
his interest in life and the inner absorption of 
introspection due to the sense of life's littleness in 
the face of the unknown deepened. This contrast 
is well illustrated by an insignificant incident 
which took place on a journey to town at the 
beginning of that " Boyhood " which is the 
second chapter of Tolstoy's youth. He had had 
no time to say his prayers at the inn, and so he 
determined to say them in the coach : " But 
thousands of different things divert my attention, 
and I absently repeat the same words of the 
prayer several times running." As that journey 
continues, it becomes symbolic of the whole life 
of Count Tolstoy. Already the seer is struggling 
with the Russian child of the Renaissance. He 
wishes to pray, but on all sides Nature calls to him 
to see with his own eyes that the world is good. 
His lips murmur, but upon that extraordinary 
retina of his a thousand impressions are stamping 
themselves. Nothing escapes him and everything 

Tolstoy 233 

lives again under this vitalising touch of memory. 
Horses, post-boys, peasants, young girls and 
old women, all the sounds of the road and the 
fields and the villages are humming around the 
boy as he prays in the rattling old coach. At 
first glance Turgenev's treatment seems almost 
pale and lifeless beside this infinite activity of 
observation. Turgenev, perhaps equally minute 
in observation, selected only a few significant 
details, while from the very beginning Tolstoy's 
ample canvases swarm with clustering life. He 
could never be otherwise. He was so intensely 
interested in the outside world that he could not 
avoid being interesting, and this quality survived 
his famous renunciation of art. For Tolstoy at 
eighty-two is much as was that little boy in the 
family coach who, in spite of his prayers, could not 
help seeing the wonders of life with an artist's 

How that boy revelled in every vivid sensa- 
tion, every fresh experience, every plunge into 
the riot of happiness ! But only too often, 
even at that early period, the antagonistic habit 
of introspection would strike at him, chilling 
the flush of his youth. In the midst of a storm 
in which he detected " the wrath of God," a 
dirty ragged beggar approached the coach and 
asked for alms. " I cannot describe," he writes, 
" the feeling of cold dread which filled my heart 
at that minute. A shiver ran through my whole 

234 Two Russian Reformers 

body, while my eyes, stupefied with fear, were 
directed towards the beggar. ..." This is ab- 
solutely typical of the whole attitude of Tolstoy 
towards life, " the cold dread," experienced even 
in childhood, chilling and withering suddenly 
the warm joy of life. Already he divines the 
" wrath of God," and he knows that in all the 
multitudinous world of life there is no nook or 
crevice in which he may hide from that. And 
this knowledge, blending with a certain sympathy 
of youth — far less spontaneous than that of 
Turgenev — breaks through the terrible egotism 
of the boy, and he becomes conscious of the 
existence of other people as entities in themselves 
and detached from their relations with his family 
and himself. 

Passion comes to him in his early youth, just 
as it comes to Turgenev; but whereas Turgenev 
recaptures those early moments in which his 
pulse first quickened at the sound of a serf girl's 
whisper as though such moments were among 
his most exquisite memories, Tolstoy relates 
his boyish attraction towards Masha with as 
much matter-of-fact precision of detail as he 
gives to any other incident in that almost too 
clearly visualised youth. So, too, in relating 
Masha' s courtship by Bassily, he gives us a picture 
infinitely more complete than that fugitive sketch 
of a peasant's wooing in '* The Annals of a Sports- 
man," or the somewhat similar courtship in 



Tolstoy 237 

" Mumu." Tolstoy raises the curtain and shows 
us the maidservants' room, just as on other 
occasions lie raises the curtain and ushers us 
into this or that salon. He is as unconscious 
of Anglo-Saxon prudery as he is of French pruri- 
ency. But his eye fastens upon every detail, 
and he writes everything down, just because it 
is there. His manner of realism was never to 
alter, never to become modified. It was the 
same in dealing with the intricate manoeuvres 
of vast masses of troops over great spaces as it 
was when outlining the details of the serf girl's 
room : " There is the lejanka, on which stand 
an iron, a pasteboard doll with a broken nose, 
a slop pail, a basin ; there is the window, on 
which I can see a small piece of black wax, a 
skein of silk, a green cucumber, half of which 
has been bitten off, and an old pasteboard box 
which once contained bonbons ; there is the 
large red table on which lies some unfinished 
work, pinned by one end to a bright pincushion, 
covered with cotton print ; and at it Masha sits 
in her favourite pink gingham gown and in a 
blue kerchief which especially attracts my atten- 
tion." Turgenev's own vision was microscopic, 
but he shrank from such merciless inspections 
as this. 

In dealing with human beings Tolstoy's realism 
is equally minute. He describes a young girl 
point by point until we realise her physical 


238 Two Russian Reformers 

appearance as though she were sitting beside 
us in a drawing-room. The companions of 
Turgenev's boyhood trouble us Uke sombre 
enigmas of memory, compared with the robust 
reaUties of Katinka and Luvkatka. The loves 
of Turgenev rustle past us in a twilight that 
grows perceptibly fainter, but which remains 
permeated by the swift passing of mystery and 
beauty. The heroines of Tolstoy's boyhood can 
be seen exactly as they appear to a clear-eyed 
boy who sees them very much as they see each 
other. And in deaUng with the undercurrents 
of intrigue the methods of the two great Russian 
realists are equally antipathetic. With Turgenev 
one notices the raising of an eyebrow, a chance 
word is overheard during an unexpected lull 
in general conversation, the low laugh of a girl 
stabs at some forgotten one through the darkness, 
a commonplace question is evaded, but a whole 
world of subterranean cross-currents has been 
revealed for the instant, only to be concealed 
immediately again. But for Tolstoy nothing 
can remain hidden if one has found it out. There 
are no open secrets for him ; for him there is 
no troubling scent of corruption, scarcely per- 
ceptible among so many antagonistic sensations 
of what seems to be the most ordinary life. With 
Tolstoy the concealed nerve must be laid bare. 
" That is what goes on underneath," he seems 
to say. " I have probed into it, and it is just 

Tolstoy 239 

like that." But, in spite of this extraordinary 
power of analysis, Tolstoy has never been cen- 
sorious in the English manner, not even in his 
most intense moments of religious conviction. 

Strange processes were already at work in the 
boy's heart. Without realising it in the least 
he had already become a moralist, from time 
to time, at all events, deeply preoccupied with 
the secrets of his own and other people's hearts. 
But this youthful introspection is naive and 
healthy as compared, for example, with that 
of Turgenev's " Superfluous Man." Tolstoy nar- 
rates the intimate details of his own wounded 
self-love with an incongruous gusto which seems 
to be inseparable from his large truthfulness. 
No mournful irony veils the rage and hate of 
youth, beating its already bruised wings against 
the stupid, unrealised lid of life. He registers 
everything — the meditation of inertia, the need 
for action, moralising broodings, cravings to make 
the whole world better — and with it all the 
violent seething, the momentary madness of 
the Slav that so soon subsides into coma. 

But he is as conscious of attitudes, his own 
and other people's, as the least objective of 
writers. In his castles in the air, his is always 
the grand role, and he has risen to the idea of 
unselfishness, the idea of sacrificing his immediate 
snatch at life to the well-being of others. That 
was much in the development of this boy, for he 

240 Two Russian Reformers 

lived in an atmosphere in which such sacrifices 
were scarcely taken seriously. In Turgenev's 
** First Love " one guesses dimly at the real nature 
of the silent, reserved father, whose inner life is 
becoming more and more complex. One suspects 
him. His influence permeates the atmosphere 
around us, as though we had unconsciously ap- 
proached a suave but menacing individuality. 
And at last, when the boy waits in the garden 
to kill his rival, we know that he is waiting to 
kill his own father. There is no surprise, no 
" curtain " in the sense of the little tricks of the 
well-made feuilleton. None the less this intrigue 
of a father with the young girl whom the son 
loves is veiled by the decorous secrecy of art. 
But in his record of youth Tolstoy writes down 
the little intrigues of which his supposed father 
is the central figure with a matter-of-courseness 
that strips them of the last nuance of mystery. 
And, curiously enough, his very openness arrives 
at the same effect that with us is reached by our 
normal Anglo-Saxon method of suppression. If 
you tell everything to everybody, nobody need 
blush. All his hfe Tolstoy has been telling 
almost everything, at first subconsciously, but 
afterwards, most certainly, self-consciously. The 
same tendency to tear down all mystery, the 
Lucian-like insistence upon plucking off all pad- 
ding from human souls, is at work in the story 
of Tolstoy's youth, just as it is at work in that 


Tolstoy 241 

terrible indictment of human nature, the "Kreut- 
zer Sonata." In these pages you are not studjang 
a young man who may become anything ; you 
are studying Count Tolstoy, the representative 
of the moral consciousness of Europe. 

Already introspection was driving him to 
search for some actual escape from the trammels 
of the flesh. Already he was preoccupied by 
those abstract questions, the destiny of humanity 
and the survival of the soul. Already, too, he 
was perturbed by the idea of death, by the con- 
stantly returning remembrance that he can retain 
nothing of all these sweets of life in spite of 
all his pagan gluttony for physical enjoyment. 
The boy was already, in embryo as it were, the 
world-famed judge of humanity who commenced 
by condemning himself. 

At this period, however, he fought against 
reflection as against the terror by which the 
joy of living is cowed. But the idea of Eternity 
persisted, and it was only his passion for external 
life that saved him then, as always, from mor- 
bidness. For, in this genuine reproduction of 
the emotions and illusions of youth, that pre- 
occupation with death, which so often intrudes 
itself in Tolstoy's mature work, is over and 
over again expressed. The deaths of the mother 
and grandmother are watched with a minute 
intentness in which we may discern the germ, at 
least, of that extraordinary study of the end. 

242 Two Russian Reformers 

"The Death of Ivan Ilyitch." And this idea of 
the end pursues the youth of Tolstoy, thrusting 
itself between him and those physical pleasures 
which he realised more fully perhaps than any 
other artist who has at all revealed his intimate 
secrets to the world. But even in the difficult 
moments of first love he is saved from morbidness 
by the healthy pagan side of his nature, which 
insistently forces the brooding gaze outward. 
When Masha marries her fellow-servant, Vassilie, 
Irteniev is unperturbed : " When the newly- 
married couple came back to thank papa, bringing 
in a tray with various sweets upon it, and when 
Masha in a cap with blue ribbons thanks all 
of us, kissing each on his or her shoulder, I smell 
the scent of rose-oil pomatum which pervades 
her, but do not experience the least agitation." 
How alien is this matter-of-fact comment upon 
a worn-out dream from Turgenev's preservation 
of the fading aroma of each lost, half-remembered 
passion ! 

The idea of self-improvement, of self-perfecting, 
is already stirring within him, and Irteniev has 
commenced to detect in self-love the veritable 
core of evil. His intimate friend, however, admits 
that he has one very rare quality — frankness. 
Then, as always, he wished to utter the absolute 
truth in regard to the inner as well as the outer 
world. And already the need of confession, the 
need of revealing everything, including what is 

Tolstoy 243 

habitually hidden even from oneself, is experienced, 
so that in this record of Tolstoy's youth there is 
the germ-idea of that more famous confession 
which years afterwards was to take the world by 

Interwoven with all these tentative experiments 
in perfection the boy experienced a dissatisfaction 
with his physical appearance which was wholly 
pagan in its desire for beauty : " There was 
nothing expressive in it — the most ordinary, gross, 
and unsightly features ; and my small grey eyes, 
especially when I looked into the looking-glass, 
seemed rather stupid than clever : there was 
nothing manly about me ; though I was not short 
of stature, and very strong for my age, all my 
features were soft, flat and meaningless." Very 
different is this savage self-condemnation — the 
self-condemnation of the Christian, and yet spring- 
ing from a pagan origin — from that melancholy 
irony with which Turgenev looked back upon the 
** softness " of Sanin. 

In recurring spasms of mental agitation the 
desire for purification returned to Irteniev, and 
he desired that his life might be saved from the 
endless entanglements that hung octopus-like in 
the atmosphere around him. Already he was 
aiming at that simplification, the desire for which 
lies at the bottom of the Russian character, and 
which, in " The Three Deaths," " The Cossacks," 
and so many other works, is the foundation of the 

244 Two Russian Reformers 

early as well as of the later teaching of Count 
Tolstoy. It was no sudden reformation that 
changed him. He was not an artist for so many 
years, and then a reformer for so many more. 
His development was neither a conjuring trick 
of genius nor a flash of mental aberration, but a 
quite normal and rational progression upon lines 
that are clearly laid down in this personal record 
of youth. 

For here, on the very threshold of life, the two 
Tolstoys vie with one another in a far more 
obvious contest than that of the two Turgenevs. 
The one Tolstoy gloried in the pride of life, his 
pulses quivering with joyous contentment in 
the hie et nunc of his moment. But the other 
Tolstoy, penetrated by that melancholy of the 
ancients to which was added the later fear of the 
Christians, knew well that this pride of strength 
was as nothing before the menace of the years. 
This conflict did not cease with the so-called 
reformation of Count Tolstoy, and is to be found 
in the works that followed it just as clearly as in 
those which preceded it. We find it engraved on 
the pages of "Youth," and we find it surviving 
in the pages of " Resurrection." Tolstoy himself 
divined that this central antagonism was essential 
to his nature and would persist while life itself 
persisted. He knew — none better — that there is no 
divorce between one period and another, and that 
age can only make pallid the old conflicts of youth, 

Tolstoy 245 

but neither ends them nor even whole-heartedly 
passes judgment upon them. " Let not any one 
reproach me," he writes, " saying that the illusions 
of my youth are as childish as were those of my 
childhood and of my boyhood. I am convinced 
that if it be my fate to live to a great age, and if 
my narrative keep up to my age, I shall be found, 
when I am an old man, to have just the same 
impossible childish illusions as at present." Youth, 
indeed, was already engaged with those eternal 
problems to which the whole literary life of Count 
Tolstoy, and not one portion of it, may be said to 
have been devoted : " This voice of a repentance 
and of passionate longing for perfection was a 
feeling that predominated in my mind at that 
period of my development, and it was the root 
of my new opinions concerning myself, other 
people, and all creation." 

But Tolstoy cannot as yet continue very long 
in this mood of humility. His pride of life throbs 
in every vein of his body, calling him outward, 
wooing him to all the natural delights of open- 
air life, wooing him to view and to taste the 
wonders of the world. Long afterwards he was 
to write with the desire to convince, to instruct, 
to elaborate a thesis. But in the very midst of 
it he would become absorbed by some external 
detail, the old thrill of life would return to him, 
and, instead of substantiating a doctrine, he would 
insensibly revert to the study of the men and 

246 Two Russian Reformers 

women of external life. Passionately interested 
in the outer world, forced into introspection 
through the certainty that external existence 
must fail him in the end, Tolstoy, boy and man, 
was essentially a sybarite of life, who became an 
ascetic only because he read, haltingly at first and 
then with terrible lucidity, the handwriting on 
the wall from which others averted their eyes. 

But as for the inner suspicion of life, masked 
only by profound irony, the mental attitude of 
Ivan Turgenev, Tolstoy knew nothing of that. 
If he grew weary of one set of external pleasures, 
there were many others still untried, and if one 
set of convictions failed him he would grope his 
way after more enduring ones. It is as though 
from the very beginning he were balanced between 
two forces — not necessarily either good or evil in 
themselves — the one centripetal and the other 
centrifugal. Of that final negation of his rival, 
modified only by belief in the general goodness of 
poor humanity, Tolstoy had not at any time the 
faintest comprehension. Turgenev himself has said 
that Tolstoy's great loss was that he was without 
spiritual freedom. At all events he could at no 
time have contented himself with the " Smoke " 
theory of human destiny. Life was too interesting 
for that, and if the oppression of coming death 
made life seem meaningless, then one must either 
find the solace of some meaning or else die from 
very despair. 

Tolstoy 247 

But long before that conscious search after 
some meaning, Tolstoy had commenced to grope 
in spite of the fact that his good resolutions 
dissolved very quickly into emptiness. "Thus," 
he notes in recording one such psychical experi- 
ence of boyhood, " my fine feelings all turned to 
smoke. \\'hen I began to dress for church in 
order to go and receive the Sacrament with all 
the others, I found that my suit of clothes had 
not been altered and was not fit to put on, upon 
which I committed a great many new sins. Putting 
on another suit, I went up to the Communion table 
with my thoughts all in a maze, and with an 
entire distrust in my excellent disposition." The 
comment is typical in its avoidance of exaggerated 
regret on the one hand and of self-complacency 
on the other. Continually he returned to the 
exigencies and the arrangements of conduct. 
Life must not be a mere confusion of discarded 
emotions. There must be even a programme 
entitled " Rules of Life." But as usual the joy 
of life insinuated itself mockingly between the 
copybook and the heart : " Though I liked the 
idea of drawing up rules for all circumstances of 
life, and taking them as my guide, and the idea 
of doing so seemed to me a very simple and at 
the same time a very grand one, and though I 
intended to apply these rules to my life, yet I again 
seemed to have forgotten that this had to be done 
at once : I kept putting it off." 

248 Two Russian Reformers 

Of course dreams came to him ; he would muse 
on the ideal woman, and in such moods the rust- 
ling of skirts outside in the corridor would perturb 
him. But even in the annotation of such facts as 
these Tolstoy is precise and definite, clothing, as 
it were, his very reveries with clearly realised 
human flesh. For, his judgment told him that 
this rustling of skirts came from no dream-woman 
at all, but from Gasha, his grandmother's old 
maid-servant. " ' Yes, — but if it were she ? ' 
would flash across my mind. * But if it has 
begun, and I miss it ? ' and I would rush into the 
passage and see that it was really Gasha ; but 
for a long time afterwards I would be unable to 
master my thoughts," 

His boyish self-consciousness followed him 
across the threshold of manhood. On entering 
the large hall of the University Irteniev feels 
a little embarrassed by the finery of his apparel. 
" However," he continues, " no sooner did I 
enter the light, crowded hall, and see hundreds of 
young fellows come in school-uniforms and others 
in frock-coats, some of whom looked at me with 
indifference, and at the farther end of the hall 
several eminent professors, walking leisurely round 
the tables or sitting in large arm-chairs, than I 
immediately felt disappointed in my hopes of 
attracting general attention, and my face, which 
at home and in the entrance-hall had worn an 
expression of something like regret at looking 

Tolstoy 249 

too grand and fine, now expressed nothing but 
shyness and confusion." The same consciousness 
of focussing the general interest of those around 
him continued in the presence of the examiners : 
" I moved closer to the table, but the professors 
kept on talking almost in whispers, as if none of 
them even suspected my presence. I was at that 
time quite convinced that all three professors 
were extraordinarily interested in the question 
whether I should undergo my examination, and 
whether I should undergo it well, and that it was 
only for form's sake that they pretended to be 
perfectly indifferent, and tried to look as if they 
had not noticed me." 

Failure comes to him, and failure, not for 
the last time, intimately blended with injustice. 
But even in this bitter moment the habit of 
both sections, so to speak, of Tolstoy's mind 
reveals itself. Long afterwards he was to de- 
scribe the movements, the counter-movements, the 
sallies, the skirmishes, the blunders, the retreats, 
of vast masses of troops, interpreting not merely 
the spirit of a company or a regiment or a corps, 
but the psychology of an army. And while 
doing this supremely difficult thing, he was 
also to note, with a Meissonier-like exactitude 
that Turgenev himself never excelled, the detailed 
physical life of a particular unit. Moreover, on 
the same ample canvas he was to reveal the 
inner vagaries of the human mind, face to face, 

250 Two Russian Reformers 

so to speak, with itself, honest with itself under 
the near menace of death. Here in this record 
of youth the whole method appears, in embryo 
certainly, but at the same time with unmis- 
takable distinctness of outline : "At first I was 
worried by my disappointment at not being 
* third,' then by the fear of not passing through 
at all, and finally came the perception that I 
was treated with injustice, of wounded self-love 
and undeserved degradation ; besides this a 
feeling of contempt for the professor — who in 
my opinion was not a man comme il faut, as I 
discovered by looking at his short, round nails 
— excited and embittered me still more." 

Even when Irteniev finds himself admitted 
to the status of a grown-up man the conflict 
between the capacity for human enjoyment and 
the vast, all-pervading mystery of destiny haunts 
him in the very moment of emancipation. Even 
now he is not sure that he is happy ; and he 
continues to narrate the immemorial experiments 
of youth, but making them significant of all 
youth, producing the illusion of universal ex- 
perience as opposed to mere personal narrative. 
Nor does he judge or, in the ordinary sense, 
sympathise with this hero of his youth. He is 
content with merely registering the truth, relating 
the observed fact in terms of his own individuality. 
And not only does he utter his own secrets, but 
he conveys the impression of revealing those of 

Tolstoy 251 

the human race. Others, pre-eminently Rousseau, 
have endeavoured to tell the whole truth, conceal- 
ing nothing from shame, extenuating nothing from 
self-pity. But in the record of Tolstoy there is a 
Slav tang of self-defiance which is wholly alien 
from the insidious communication of corrupt con- 
fidences. Like Turgenev, he utters the secret of 
youth, but in a very different fashion. For the 
author of "Smoke" the secret of youth is still an 
enigma, a question, while for Tolstoy it is the ever- 
open book of his own intense individuality. And 
just as he shrinks from acknowledging no phase 
of sin, so he is willing to write down every trivi- 
ality, from the effects of his first pipe to those 
of half a bottle of champagne. And he goes 
on to narrate an incident which led up to a piece 
of introspection absolutely in key with all his 
later work. Irteniev, it seems, approached a 
table at which two gentlemen were seated, and 
lit a cigarette from a candle which was standing 
between them. One of them turned furiously 
upon this boy of sixteen, who was too bewildered 
to reply to him adequately. " When I pondered 
over the way I had acted in this affair," writes 
Tolstoy, " the awful thought suddenly struck me 
that I had acted like a coward. What right 
had he to insult me ? Why did not he simply 
say that it annoyed him ? Consequently he 
was in the wrong. Why then, when he called me 
rude, did I not say to him, 'A rude person, sir, 

252 Two Russian Reformers 

is one that takes a liberty to be impertinent,' 
or why did not I simply shout out, ' Hold your 
tongue ! ' ? It would have been a very good 
thing. Why didn't I challenge him ? No ! I 
did nothing of the kind, but bore the insult like 
a mean coward." Thus he broods in his eager, 
puzzled boyhood ; it is human nature in the raw. 
There will be many refinements under the influence 
of this or that phase of spiritual development, 
but Nicolai Irteniev is essentially the prototype 
of those more finished interpretations of Tolstoy's 
personality — Pierre in " War and Peace," and 
Levin in " Anna Karanina." 

Nor has he, in this early book, which is ad- 
mittedly a volume of memory, anything essential 
to learn in the art of realism. It was said of 
" War and Peace " when it first appeared that 
it was not so much lifelike as life itself. Almost 
the same may be said of any work bearing the 
impress of Count Tolstoy. Undoubtedly the book 
of " Youth " has that impress, but its very 
comedy is grave, as though Tolstoy were too 
profoundly preoccupied with the analysis of 
human nature to smile at its follies. Here, how- 
ever, is a morsel of comedy which, in spite of 
its gravity, has in it the very zest of life and 
youth. Irteniev had been asked by some ladies 
if he had read " Rob Roy," which they had just 
been reading aloud. " Throwing a glance at 
my fashionable trousers and the shining buttons 

Tolstoy 253 

of my coat, I said that I had not read ' Rob 
Roy,' but that I was much interested in Hstening, 
for I hked better to read books from the middle 
than from the beginning. * It is twice as inte- 
resting. You have to guess what has gone on 
before and what is going to happen,' added I 
with a self -conceited smile. The princess laughed 
— a forced laugh as it seemed to me (I after- 
wards noticed that she always laughed thus). 
* Very likely,' said she." 

But beneath all these affectations, which after 
all are only the vagaries of human nature, Irteniev 
was already groping after the inner meaning of 
things. He had already commenced to analyse 
the idea of love, to which he applied the rational- 
ising principle which is so alien from Turgenev's 
delicate fantasies of passion. Already, without 
knowing it, Tolstoy was seeking for that simplifi- 
cation of the emotions which he expressed on a 
small canvas in " My Husband and I," and on 
a large canvas in " War and Peace." As yet, 
however, he did not venture to try the same 
experiment with passion which he was to attempt 
on a small scale in the " Kreutzer Sonata" and 
on a large scale in " Anna Karanina." But 
already this healthy pagan has become suffi- 
ciently permeated by the desire for simplicity 
to pause even in the first glorious moments of 
youth's emancipation. This desire for simplicity 
is the very kernel of the reformer's faith. 


254 Two Russian Reformers 

As yet, however, he cannot Uve otherwise 
than intently and intensely. Nor can he help 
noting the people around him with those micro- 
scopic eyes that detect variations of character 
as ordinary eyes detect the primary colours. 
In this respect there is something Shakespearian 
about Tolstoy. To each of them a merely 
commonplace, colourless person is almost non- 
existent. Anybody and everybody flash into 
life under the vision of either pair of irradiating 
eyes. Each of them throws off a human char- 
acter as ordinary people throw off a coat. Shake- 
speare's subordinate characters leap into being 
with the introduction of a few words. In the 
vital atmosphere of their creator they cannot be 
suppressed as the subordinate characters of Racine 
or even of Corneille are suppressed. Pistol has 
drunk of the same inexhaustible elixir as Henry V.: 
the same electricity vibrates through Goldenstein 
as through Hamlet. Though this is not at all 
the case with Tolstoy, so far as treatment is 
concerned, the result is to no small extent the 
same. Shakespeare apparently produces the illu- 
sion of infinite life unconsciously, unconcernedly 
even. As from the brain of Zeus, his children 
leap forth fully armed and gloriously complete. 
The magic of Tolstoy is not the magic of Shake- 
speare. But the Russian gains his almost equally 
extraordinary effects by his concentrated interest 
in himself and in the most obscure of his fellow- 

Tolstoy 255 

beings. What others have written about until 
the flogged adjectives seem to grimace at one 
through the printer's ink, Tolstoy reproduces 
as though no one had ever mused upon it before. 
And his method is not at all the industrious 
notebook method of Zola. Tolstoy takes you 
into a room, and you see everything because he 
has told you everything, instead of insinuating 
the illusion as Turgenev^insinuates it. But there 
is nothing of the mere catalogue in these de- 
scriptions. Every note is made because of his 
interest in the object, and so interested is he 
in everything around him that he communicates 
this interest to the most indifferent. He is 
interesting by accident, sometimes even against 
his will. For Turgenev the memory of youth 
was a perplexing secret which he could neither 
explain nor keep wholly to himself ; for Tolstoy 
it was a problem of human experience which he 
wished to demonstrate to mankind. 

For even in the very early days he was strug- 
gling to pierce beneath the surface of life, and 
to detect some meaning other than that menacing 
handwriting upon the wall. And, later, in his 
search for some hint of alleviation he returned, 
as Turgenev returned, to the enthralling sen- 
sations of youth. In " Life," for example, he 
writes on the subject of love : " Who among 
living people does not know that blissful sensa- 
tion — even if but once experienced, and most 

356 Two Russian Reformers 

frequently of all in earliest childhood, before the 
soul is yet choked up with all that lie which 
stifles the life in us — that blessed feeling of 
emotion, during which one desires to love every- 
body, both those near to him, his father and 
mother and brothers, and wicked people, and his 
enemies, and his dog and his horse, and a blade 
of grass ; he desires one thing — that it should 
be well with everybody, that all should be happy ; 
and still more he desires that he himself may 
act so that it may be well with all, that he may 
give himself and his whole life to making others 
comfortable and happy. And this, this alone, 
is that love in which lies the life of man." 

Turgenev returned to his youth to win back the 
savour of a remembered impression ; Tolstoy 
in spite of his pagan enjoyment of life returned 
to it in order to live over again the earliest 
manifestations of spiritual experience. Turgenev 
viewed life as a sombre pageant of which he 
himself was an insignificant unit passing on like 
the rest, he knew not whither ; Tolstoy, almost 
from the very beginning, almost in the first 
flushed days of childhood itself, viewed life as an 
enigma that might be read and that concealed 
in its apparent meaninglessness a deep spiritual 
ti-uth. The youth of Turgenev is interesting as 
the autobiography of an artist whose first and 
last fidelity was to his art ; the youth of Tolstoy 
is interesting as the autobiography of a moralist 

Tolstoy 357 

who is at the same time endowed with an excep- 
tional capacity for pleasure. Furthermore, it is 
the beginning of a register of moral conduct 
which, starting in that nursery of his old home, 
was to become the moral standard of the civilised 


THE autobiography of Tolstoy is not written 
in one or twobooks, but in several. Irteniev, 
who had himself arrived at the germs of 
some of Tolstoy's most famous works, was to 
become Nekhliudov, who was at least a stage 
nearer to Pierre and Levin, both of whom are 
so intimately associated with the personality of 
their creator. But before arriving at these stages 
it is necessary to glance at Olenine, the hero of 
" The Cossacks," who in his turn was to become 
the hero of " Sebastopol Sketches." All four 
of these incarnations of Tolstoy, in spite of their 
gropings towards spirituality, were overwhelm- 
ingly attracted by the pagan happiness of life. 
Tolstoy was from childhood a keen sportsman, and 
his record of youth was written in the Caucasus, 
where he also wrote "The Caucasian Prisoner," 
the central adventure of which actually happened. 
That adventure is significant because it shows 
Tolstoy the soldier and sportsman, acting on 
impulse and forgetting to moralise in the swift 
necessity of action. 

He had set out for the Caucasus in a travelling 

Tolstoy 259 

coach in which he was accompanied by his brother 
and a single servant. They followed the left 
bank of the Volga, but wearying of this they 
chartered a huge barge, placed their coach on 
it and floated tranquilly down the river. It 
took them three weeks to reach Astrakhan, but 
the time was not lost for the future novelist at 
least ; his eyes were drinking in impressions on 
every side which he was afterwards to reproduce. 
And sometimes, as they approached the shore on 
the lower flats of the Volga, the young Russians 
would catch glimpses of the fire-worshipping 
Calmucks grouped around blazing bonfires. 

In the Caucasus, Count Tolstoy became a friend 
of a certain Sodo, of the tribe of the Tchet- 
chenias, from whom he bought a horse. One 
day the young artillery officer set out with Sodo 
from the fortress where his detachment was posted. 
In spite of the fact that during the war with the 
mountain tribes all such excursions were forbidden, 
two other artillery officers joined them. None 
of them, with the exception of Sodo, was armed 
with anything more formidable than a Circassian 
sabre. They were all in excellent spirits ; and 
Sodo, after trying his own horse, offered it to his 
friend and leaped on to the Count's horse, which 
was not nearly so fast. When they were some 
miles away from the fortress they were attacked 
by a band of some twenty Tchetchenias. Two 
of the Russian officers galloped back towards the 

26o Two Russian Reformers 

fortress, and of these one was hacked to pieces 
and the other taken prisoner. Sodo, followed by 
Tolstoy, had turned his horse in the direction of 
a Cossack picket which was stationed about a 
verst away. Their pursuers gained upon them, 
and though upon his faster horse Tolstoy could 
easily have made his escape, he remained with 
his friend. Sodo had brought a gun, and though 
it was unloaded, he pretended to fire, uttering a 
wild cry of defiance. For some reason or other, 
probably because they wished to torture Sodo, 
the tribesmen did not fire, and Tolstoy and his 
companion reached the picket in safety. 

On another occasion Tolstoy was in despair 
about a large sum of money which he had lost at 
the card-table. In this despair he shut himself up 
alone and prayed to God to preserve him from the 
humiliation of leaving a debt of honour unpaid. 
While he was praying a letter from Sodo was 
brought to him, and on opening the envelope he 
found his own note of hand torn into fragments. 
His faithful friend having won a large sum of 
money at cards, had immediately used his win- 
nings to save the Count's honour. 

Tolstoy had gone to the Caucasus as a non- 
commissioned officer, and had quickly distinguished 
himself for gallantry. Through the personal 
grudge, however, of a superior officer, he was not 
recommended for the Cross of St. George. Later 
on in his career he was almost within reach of thq 

Tolstoy 261 

coveted distinction, and at last he was told that 
the Cross would actually be given to him, but that 
a private soldier also deserved it. As the Cross 
included a pension in the case of the private 
soldier, the Count consented to stand aside. 
Tolstoy's attitude towards physical courage, as 
C. Behrs notes, changed as early as the period of 
his active service in the Caucasus. Like every 
other high-spirited young soldier, he had at first 
considered those alone courageous who performed 
some showy act of gallantry upon the field. But 
in future novels he was to depict as the true 
heroes of war those modest and often anonymous 
company officers and private soldiers who per- 
form their duties under fire as scrupulously as 
though they were on parade. 

At Sebastopol Tolstoy was a frequent visitor 
at the house of his relative. Prince Gortschakoff, 
the commander-in-chief of the Russian forces, 
and he was offered an appointment on the staff, 
which he declined. The refusal was characteristic, 
and proves conclusively that his sympathy with 
the ranks in which he continued to serve was of 
a very early development. This sympathy with 
the private soldier and this prejudice against 
staff officers were alike expounded in his great 
work, " War and Peace." 

In 1866 Behrs accompanied him to the field 
of Borodino in connection with the writing of 
this book : " For two days Leo Nicholaevitch 

262 Two Russian Reformers 

wandered over the spot where fifty years ago a 
hundred thousand men had been slaughtered, 
and where we were now confronted by a memorial 
statue with its golden tablets and inscriptions. , . . 
He made the minutest investigations, and drew 
a plan of the fight, which was afterwards pub- 
lished as a frontispiece to one of the volumes of 
' War and Peace.' " 

One cannot understand any period of Tolstoy's 
life unless one realises his passion for open-air 
life, his love of the excitement of war, his delight 
in every kind of sport. So far as his external life 
is concerned, the love of sport continued until 
the development of his spiritual convictions made 
him conscious of its underlying cruelty. Con- 
stantly this love of sport breaks out in all his 
earlier works. One can hear the swish of the 
wet underwood, the panting of dogs, the pounding 
of hoofs, in page after page of his works. He 
sketches dogs and horses with greater minuteness 
than other novelists apply to human beings. 
Tolstoy, indeed, notes the delights of sport, the 
delights of fatigue and even physical exhaustion, 
with a relish and abundance of detail compared 
with which Turgenev's sketches at first glance 
seem almost pale. The physical with Tolstoy is 
reproduced with all its flesh and blood and tissue 
and throbbing arteries. Merezhkovsky notes this 
enthusiasm for out-of-door exercise with a certain 
animus, but Behrs describes Tolstoy engaged in 

Tolstoy 263 

shooting steppe grouse with a pleasure almost 
equal to his own : " The Count used to ride out 
to the strepets on a horse expressly trained for 
the purpose, and after riding at foot pace two or 
three times round the covey, taking care each time 
to narrow the circle till he was at a distance of 
from six to seven hundred feet, dashed forth at 
full gallop with loaded gun in readiness. The 
instant the birds rose he dropped the reins on the 
neck of the horse, and the animal, understanding 
the signal, pulled up sharp, and thus enabled him 
to shoot." Long afterwards he was to substitute 
for sport such natural forms of exercise as plough- 
ing, felling trees, and making huts. 

But in the period of " The Cossacks," that 
continuation of the record of youth, Tolstoy 
abandoned himself to an almost completely pagan 
revelry in the open air. Of all the pagan char- 
acters who are temperamentally sympathetic with 
him, none is more vitally real than the old sports- 
man, Uncle Eroshka. Many writers, particularly 
among Anglo-Saxons, have written on sport and 
sportsmen, but no one of them has given us a 
figure to compare for a moment with this master 
of woodcraft. Uncle Eroshka lives as naturally 
as the trees with which he is so familiar ; he is 
as much in perspective as any of the landmarks 
which his wary eye so easily detects. The man 
lives as Falstaff lives, utterly independent of 
praise or blame. One can almost smell the powder 

264 Two Russian Reformers 

in his pockets ; one can almost read the whipped 
Unes that seam the cunning old face. Tolstoy 
drew him with all his contours, just as he was, 
with no conscious benevolence of touch, but with 
a kinship that lay at the very roots of his being. 
All the moralising soliloquies of Olenine pale 
before the buoyant effrontery of the old man's 
non-moral wisdom. Uncle Eroshka, right or 
wrong, has learnt his lesson of life, and is too old 
for new ways. Years and years afterwards, when 
Count Tolstoy had travelled many a weary stage 
of the Via Dolorosa of human perfection, there 
remained something in his heart that responded 
to his mentor in the Caucasus. 

But even in his youth, in the midst of this 
untrammelled life, surrounded as he was by 
primitive half-savage beings, Tolstoy was conscious 
of the pervading presence of a moral law that 
demanded from the human soul the very opposite 
of Uncle Eroshka's enthusiasm for life. Olenine 
had fled from cities to heal his soul through the 
simplification of the open-air life, but the idea of 
the moral law as opposed to the right of individual 
enjoyment pursued him into the silent places. 
In the Caucasus there were still rules of conduct, 
just as there had been years and years before in 
that childhood whose sensations he was even 
then recording with that completeness of memory 
which it was part of his genius to infuse into 
art. His method of presentation, in spite of his 


Tolstoy 365 

youth, was strangely mature, and was, now as 
always, antagonistic to that of Turgenev. The 
author of " Smoke " evokes a memory as one 
recalls a lost echo of happiness with closed eyes ; 
Tolstoy relates exactly what happened as though 
it were an accurately observed incident of yester- 
day. It was the art of Turgenev to woo this 
or that phantom back to him, and then quickly 
he or she would assume the delicate, always 
half-veiled tints of life. Tolstoy would recall, 
as from a short distance, his men and women as 
though they were old friends whose inner and 
outer lives he knew by heart. Turgenev avoided 
the ordinary by reason of his penetrating analysis, 
which struck always at the core of a character ; 
Tolstoy avoided it by his amplitude of detail, 
by his sustained and amazing knowledge of life. 

And this intellectual truthfulness is as con- 
spicuous in the early stages as in his mature 
works. It pervades the " Sebastopol Sketches " no 
less certainly than "War and Peace." Irteniev 
had watched the life of his home, the life of his 
fellow-students and all the familiar environment 
of youth ; Olenine had watched life in the open, 
life among the tribesmen, life as it appeared to 
Uncle Eroshka. At Sebastopol the young soldier 
who had refused a staff appointment was to 
watch the personnel of the Russian army as 
probably no one had ever watched it before. 
He never describes any of the military types as 

266 Two Russian Reformers 

they have been described by others. He will 
not arrange war into photographs of picturesque 
battle scenes. On the other hand he will not 
pose as a cynic, too blase to interest himself 
even in war. He is interested in the clash of 
armies, and the whole meaning of war reveals 
itself suddenly as by magic beneath the realism of 
his touch. But at Sebastopol, as in the Caucasus, 
the young soldier is also a moralist. The rules 
of conduct have not been abandoned even here. 
He must be strictly truthful in dealing with 
himself as well as with those around him. He 
must register accurately, not merely the outer 
masks of men, but their inner feelings. He 
must learn what fear is and courage and egotism 
and self-sacrifice. And in dealing with all these 
emotions he is as pagan in his inflexibility of 
attitude, in his whole-hearted honesty, as he is 
pagan in describing the pleasures of a bear- 
hunt, or a sledge-drive through the snow-laden 
night. He is struggling half for truth and half 
against it, as it were, even as the pagans struggled 
against that Christian truth whose power they 
half divined, but which they knew well would 
destroy the very sap of their strength. Of that 
essential Christian pity and shrinking from vio- 
lence, or even of that instinctive and spontaneous 
sympathy which was Turgenev's birthright, Tol- 
stoy knew nothing. But he began dimly to 
realise that here at Sebastopol were good men 

Tolstoy 267 

on both sides killing each other without any 
known motive. As for the idea of exploiting 
war from the standpoint of the theatre, Tolstoy 
was from the very first a pupil of Stendhal, whom 
he greatty admired. But though his thesis in 
this early volume, as later on in " War and 
Peace," may have been that war was essentially 
uninteresting, his own works remain the most 
vivid proofs to the contrary. For Tolstoy may 
start with the general idea of, let us say, the 
monotony of war. Little by little, however, 
he forgets his thesis. He becomes animated and 
interested ; his wonderful eyes have long ago 
absorbed all the colour and detail. His insight 
reveals and communicates to others those vibra- 
tions of electricity that pass from a unit to 
a company, and then from a company to a 
regiment, and then from a regiment to an army 
corps, until a whole army quivers into life under 
this vitalising power of evocation. This strange 
power can be detected in " Sketches of Sebasto- 
pol," and it is the same in essence as that which 
was afterwards displayed on the magnificent 
canvas of " War and Peace." 

In the same way the hero of "A Squire's 
Morning " has essentially the same desires for a 
sane and useful country life as were afterwards 
to be experienced by Levin in " Anna Karanina." 
The simple treatise on marriage entitled " My 
Husband and I " was seemingly to pass through 

a68 Two Russian Reformers 

a more subtle transformation before emerging 
as " The Kreutzer Sonata." But in reality the 
same ruthless search for simplicity has been 
at work. What in the early volume had been 
merely a gentle satire on romanticism has passed 
into a savage attack upon the complexity and 
artificiality that are introduced into the relations 
between the sexes. In the same way that book 
of an even more remorseless reality, " The Death 
of Ivan Ilyitch," is a normal development of 
the germ idea contained in those sombre sketches 
** Three Deaths." And from the very beginning 
Tolstoy was absorbed by the great simple motifs 
of life, physical courage and the healthy natural 
activity evoked by it ; delight in outdoor life, 
and the intelligent management of dependants ; 
love, followed by rational domesticity ; and, 
finally, the recognition of death, and the recog- 
nition that it, too, should harmonise with the 
general scheme of things. All these interests 
persisted in the work of Count Tolstoy, who in 
later years was to lay stress upon the purely 
spiritual side of each, was even to go so far in 
his apostate zeal as to deny to art any appeal 
beyond that which it can make to the very 
narrowest intelligence. 

But in the early days he had no mission, or 
at all events no conscious mission. He left the 
army after the Crimean War with the rank of 
lieutenant in the artillery, and the period between 


Tolstoy 271 

his resignation and his marriage in 1862 was 
spent partly in the capital, partly in European 
travelling, and partly among the Bashkirs when 
he went to drink koumiss. It was in the steppes 
of Bashkir that Tolstoy renewed the old associa- 
tions of Olenine in " The Cossacks." Here he 
was absolutely at home, and here he lived simply, 
a genuine comrade of Uncle Eroshka, who had 
no need of writing any thesis on simplification. 
His brother-in-law has described a visit which 
Tolstoy paid with him in 1870 to these steppes 
of Bashkir. All his life Tolstoy has detested 
railways, and in order to avoid them it used 
to be his habit to walk from Yasnaya Polyana 
to his winter quarters in Moscow. When he 
did travel by rail, the Count, like the hero of 
" Resurrection," travelled third class, and de- 
lighted in entering into conversation with the 
peasants. He had the faculty of making friends 
easily with strangers, and particularly with mem- 
bers of half-savage races, as he proved so con- 
spicuously during his adventures in the Caucasus. 
Among the Bashkirs he was understood from 
the first, and was always spoken of as " the 
Count." His presence among the Russian kou- 
miss drinkers acted like a charm. " A teacher 
at one of our seminaries," writes Behrs, " in spite 
of his age tried skipping-rope matches with him ; 
an attorney's chief clerk liked to debate with 
him on questions of literature and philosophy ; 


273 Two Russian Reformers 

and a young farmer from the Government of 
Samara became one of his devoted and attached 
followers." But his sociability allowed of no 
mistake in regard to his innate dignity, as a 
little incident at the Petrovsky Fair shows. The 
Fair was held at Boszoulouk, and frequented 
by a medley of nationalities including Russian 
moujiks, Euro-Cossacks, Bashkirs, and Kashigse. 
" Once," writes Behrs, " a drunken moujik in- 
spired by a superfluous excess of affection wished 
to embrace him, but a stern look from the Count 
was sufficient to make him draw back, as he 
muttered a kind of apology : ' No, pardon me, I 
pray you.' " 

Some eight years later Tolstoy and his brother- 
in-law spent another summer at Samara, and 
on this occasion the Count organised a great 
sporting festival on his own estate. All the 
Bashkirs, Cossacks and moujiks took the keenest 
interest in the competitions, and raced for such 
prizes as an ox, a horse, a gun, a clock, and even 
a dressing-gown. The races were witnessed by 
several thousand people, and the festival lasted 
for two whole days, no police of any kind being 
in attendance. " We ourselves," writes Tolstoy's 
son-in-law, " levelled and cleared the course, 
measured off a large circle five versts in length, 
and erected a starting-post. For the dinner that 
was to follow, huge joints of mutton and horse- 
flesh and other dainties were provided." It 

Tolstoy 273 

was the complete apotheosis of the pagan side 
of Count Tolstoy, and one can almost hear him 
exclaiming, like a veritable Uncle Eroshka, ** I 
am a merry fellow." That side of Tolstoy was 
not at all contaminated by the suggestion of 
death, by which Merezhkovsky maintains that 
Tolstoy has perturbed a generation. The pagans 
who loved life so well did not shrink from death, 
and at no time did Count Tolstoy shrink from it. 
Nor was it this preoccupation with death that 
drove him towards spirituality, forcing him thus 
to become what so many have called the second 
Tolstoy. It was not at all this that " converted " 
Count Tolstoy. 

For this very festival, with all its Homeric 
accessories, was held in the year of the so- 
called " conversion." And in this year (1878), 
so far as the gaudium vitce and the healthy 
pagan delight in the outside world are con- 
cerned, it is precisely the same Tolstoy as he who 
had changed horses with Sodo and fraternised 
with the old Uncle in the Caucasus nearly thirty 
years before. 

It is this essential interest in life, this content 
with the world as it is, that have always continued 
to fight against the brooder that lurks in Count 
Tolstoy, the man who drew up rules of conduct, 
the man who recalled in crowds or in solitude 
the fact that each of us must die. His pagan 
objectivity, which survived all intellectual and 

274 Two Russian Reformers 

emotional changes, certainly overshadowed the 
brooding tendency in the early years ; and though 
he gave up the army and settled down to author- 
ship in St. Petersburg, he had no definite idea of 
becoming the propagandist that he afterwards 
became. But even at this period he was inte- 
rested in the study of education, and was at times 
profoundly dissatisfied with his own teachings and 
that of his fellow-authors. For, at no time in his 
career could he altogether separate the art of 
literature from the morality of instruction. Dur- 
ing his visits to various European countries he 
studied the different methods of education, so that 
he might improve the conditions of Russian schools. 
He had commenced to grope already after that 
larger meaning of life, that meaning which not 
merely included himself and his own particular 
family group, but the Russian people. He was 
afterwards to extend that meaning to the whole 
of suffering humanity. 

St. Petersburg even then was antipathetic to 
him, just as it had been when he fled from it to 
the Caucasus ; and on his return from abroad 
he settled down at Yasnaya Polyana, where he 
devoted himself to the establishment of his 
famous school, and to literature. From that 
moment he may be said to have become the 
representative of the Russian consciousness in 
his own country. 

His development from that moment seems to 

Tolstoy 275 

have been normal, for with the advancing 3^ears 
it was inevitable that the brooding inquirer in 
Tolstoy should encroach more and more upon the 
robust pagan who stood for the joy of youth. 
This gradual and normal encroachment which 
can be traced through all his works, including even 
the earliest, accounts quite reasonably for that 
second Tolstoy who is supposed to have sprung 
into being after a sudden, almost inexplicable, 
" conversion." There is no divorce — one cannot 
repeat it too often — between the author of " Anna 
Karanina" and the author of ''Resurrection." 

Yet, apart altogether from this question as to 
whether his " conversion " did or did not change 
his artistic work, the different impressions that 
have been formed of this enigmatic figure become 
more and more perplexing with the years. Con- 
stantly we obtain alien glimpses of him through 
the most incongruous and antagonistic spectacles. 
Viewed in the light of our own nonconformist 
conscience, for example, Tolstoy appears to be 
a good man, almost a good Englishman in fact, 
tr3dng to do good in the practical English fashion, 
earning heaven, indeed, according to the English 
standard, b}^ doing an adequate measure of good 
upon earth. 

Then again a German dreamer sees in him 
a teacher in the old almost forgotten sense of a 
visionary emancipator of the world, a Faust of the 
soul, as it were, rather than of the intelligence. 

276 Two Russian Reformers 

And we see him enshrined in that simple Russian 
country house, a strange figure to whom pilgrims 
throng from every quarter of the globe. All 
sorts and conditions of men crowd in upon him, 
but even though the rest of his family are perhaps 
a little disconcerted by some of them, Tolstoy is 
kindly and welcoming to the most timid of all 
these enthusiasts. Year after year the European 
wave of worshippers sweeps over the steppes to 
Yasnaya Polyana, and year after year Count 
Tolstoy emits to them the spiritual light that 
is in him. Glib people come to him chattering 
their facile griefs, comforting themselves by their 
own voices. Some Americans have even been 
known to go away contented that they have been 
asked to do so by Count Tolstoy ! But all have 
come to him with or without the credentials of 
intellectual and emotional sincerity, as though to 
the very fountain source of all human guidance. 
They have sought strength from his spiritual 
vitality, hope from his reasoned faith, and when 
they have been honest to themselves they have 
found consolation in this pilgrimage. For, what- 
ever Count Tolstoy may appear to his critics, he 
is the very touchstone of other people's sincerity. 
Insincerity withers under that brooding glance, 
and one need pay but little heed to that quite 
other picture of this seer at which Merezhkovsky 
has more than hinted in that too brilliant essay 
of his. He pictures Tolstoy jumping a ditch 

Tolstoy 277 

hurriedly in order to avoid the importunities of a 
moujik, who having learnt of the Count's creed of 
giving all things to all men, is asking for a foal. 
"F-o-a-1," repeats the peasant — "F-o-a-1"; and 
Tolstoy, whose creed it is to sell all that he has 
and give it to the poor, has no better answer to 
give than a hurried scamper across a ditch. 

It is not, however, within the scope of this 
sketch to dwell upon that endlessly discussed 
antithesis between the Tolstoy of the Tolstoyan 
creed and the Tolstoy who submits to the inevit- 
able compromise demanded by life among normal 
people. It is as idle to dwell on this antithesis as 
to deny it, but any one who has read Tolstoy's 
works must realise that he has been searching for 
this simplification of existence almost from the 
dawn of consciousness. It is of no mushroom 
origin, but has been growing in his heart from 
those puzzled nursery days when, from his crib, 
he weighed old Karl Ivanovitch and found him 
wanting, found him even disgusting in that old 
morning gown and tasselled skull-cap ! Tolstoy 
is honest with others and with himself in the same 
sense that Irteniev and Olenine and Nekhliudov 
were honest, as Pierre and Levin were honest, 
and, to probe deeper into the pressure of life, as 
the central figures of the " Kreutzer Sonata" and 
"The Death of Ivan Ilyitch," victims rather than 
heroes, are honest. It is of course also true that 
Tolstoy has not been what he has wished to be, 

278 Two Russian Reformers 

has not done even what he has wished to do, any 
more than any of these. But the gulf between the 
will and the deed is something very different 
from that inner falsehood which is suggested by 
that story of Tolstoy dodging the peasant who 
pestered him for a foal. In view of the known 
facts one refuses to allow that small incident to 
explain a great man. 

From the time that he settled down in Yasnaya 
Polyana Tolstoy became more and more the 
typical representative of Russian literature among 
his own people. Like Turgenev, but unlike 
Dostoievsky, his appeal was to the world and 
not merely to the Russians. Turgenev stood 
for Russia in the West, but Tolstoy attracted 
Europe to the East. Turgenev became a citizen 
of the world in Paris ; Tolstoy remained one in 
Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy was in a sense the 
Russian host of Europe, just as in a similar sense 
Turgenev was its guest. 


TOLSTOY has recorded minutely his im- 
pressions and experiences as a child, as a 
student, and as a soldier. He has been 
even more explicit in recording his life as a landed 
proprietor and head of a family. It is in these 
experiences and in those of his work as an educa- 
tional reformer that the idea of simplification 
emerged from a subconscious desire to a con- 
scious aim. Long before his " conversion " he 
turned to the moujik for guidance. Often in the 
course of his novels he describes minutely the 
men at work in the fields and reproduces with 
actual physical delight the swish and rhythm of 
the scythes as they cut through the long dry 
grass. These country scenes are taken from the 
very routine of his own life. " If," writes his 
brother-in-law, " as sometimes happened in our 
walk, we came across a group of mowers, he liked 
to take the scythe from the labourer who seemed 
to be most tired, and would let him rest whilst he 
himself worked. On such occasions he has more 
than once asked me how it comes that, in spite of 
our well-developed muscles, we cannot mow for six 


28o Two Russian Reformers 

days running, whilst a common peasant, who sleeps 
on damp ground and lives on black bread, can 
easily do it. And he generally wound up the 
subject by exclaiming * You just try it and see ! ' 
And as he left the meadow he would pluck from 
the ricks a tuft of hay and literally revel in its 
fragrant smell." 

That is exactly the attitude of Levin, and 
Behrs tells us that the wooing of Tolstoy and his 
sister was exactly that of Levin and Kate, and 
that they even used the initial letters in which 
they sought to express their mutual love just as 
the lovers are made to do in that chapter in 
" Anna Karanina." Levin, indeed, may be ac- 
cepted as Tolstoy himself in the same sense that 
Irteniev and Olenine may each be accepted as 
Tolstoy, that is to say, so far as externals are 
concerned, only up to a certain point. But so far 
as la vie intcrietire is concerned there can be 
little doubt that each of these characters repre- 
sented the particular phase of spiritual develop- 
ment through which Tolstoy was then passing. 

But before the phase of Levin had been reached, 
it must be remembered that Tolstoy had uttered 
the strange inward gropings of his heart in the 
incoherent, typically Russian musings of Pierre in 
" War and Peace." Tolstoy married Miss Behrs 
on September 23, 1863, and the great book was 
commenced almost immediately. It occupied eight 
years of Tolstoy's literary life, and his wife 

Tolstoy 281 

copied out the manuscript seven times. In this 
book, more persistently even than in " Anna 
Karanina," the love of family life finds expression. 
Family life became for a long time the passion of 
Count Tolstoy's life, and he was so dominated by 
it that he disliked leaving his home for however 
brief a period. " When it was absolutely necessary 
for him," writes Behrs, "to go to Moscow, either 
to superintend the publication of his newest work 
or to engage a tutor for his children, he used to 
grumble long and terribl}^ over his hard fate. 
And when he came within sight of his home, as 
he returned from a journey or from shooting, he 
would often express his anxiet}^ by exclaiming 
* I only hope all is well at home ! ' On such 
occasions he never failed to amuse and interest 
us with long accounts of what he had seen and 

But just as he was to pass be^'ond his con- 
ception of the duty of the soldier to that more 
universal duty which underlies the whole concep- 
tion of Christianity, so he was to pass be3'ond the 
ideal of family life to that admittedly impossible 
ideal which also underlies the doctrine of Christi- 
anity, and which Tolstoy himself interprets to 
the last limit of ruthless logic in that terrible 
indictment of the average man, "The Kreutzer 

In the meantime the Tolstoy of " War and 
Peace " remained in all essentials the Tolstoy of 

282 Two Russian Reformers 

" A Landed Proprietor," "Sketches of Sebastopol," 
" The Cossacks," and even " Childhood, Boyhood, 
and Youth." He is still steadfastly examining 
men and things for himself, prowling restlessly, 
as it were, round the zone of light into whose 
white depths he was eventually to penetrate. 
And from the beginning his central idea can be 
expressed in the single word — simplification. For 
he grasped intuitively the fact that if life is ever 
to even appear reasonable, there must be first that 
ruthless stripping-off of alleged virtues and alleged 
vices alike which Lucian's Charon demanded of 
those wavering ghosts beside the Styx. That is 
what the latent moralist in Tolstoy always de- 
manded, in spite of those imperiously pagan 
claims of the flesh. That he demanded from the 
first, in his record of youth as well as in his ultimate 
record of experience, though he has laid emphasis 
on the change of the ego being as manifest in the 
spiritual life as the change of tissue in the bodily 
life. " Of my birth," he has written, " my child- 
hood, my period of youth, of middle age, of times 
not very far past, I often remember nothing at all. 
But if I do recall anything, or if I am reminded of 
something in my past, then I remember — and 
remember it almost exactly as those things which 
are told me about others. On what foundation, 
therefore, do I affirm that, during the whole 
course of my existence, I have been but the 
one I ? " 

Tolstoy 283 

All through his life, and not from any particular 
date, Tolstoy scrutinised the consciousness of this 
ego, probing it, judging it, condemning it. He 
divined at last what has remained for him the 
central light because from the very beginning he 
had been groping towards it. And when he 
believed that the clear perspective had come to 
him at last, he renounced without stint or limit. 
But he remained one and the same Tolstoy, 
the Tolstoy who had clutched longingly at all the 
gracious promise of the world. He realised the 
ideal of justice to man, and so he gave up the 
narrower ideal of an aristocracy. He realised 
the ideal of justice to woman, so he gave the 
narrower ideal of family life. He realised the 
ideal of justice to animals, and so he gave up the 
narrower ideal of self-preservation and refused to 
use them as food. Finally, he realised the ideal 
of the life of the spirit, and so he gave up the 
narrower ideal of the cult of the body. His 
famous and pursuing " Rules of Conduct " were 
neither eliminated nor changed, but merely 
precisely defined. They are three in number : 
" That w^e should not oppose evil with force ; 
that we should not consume more than we our- 
selves produce ; that men and women should 
equally practise and aspire towards purity and 

Such was the final result of that groping after 
simplification b}^ which Tolstoy was haunted from 

284 Two Russian Reformers 

childhood, the simpUfication that shows itself 
in " The Three Deaths," which illustrates three 
phases of leaving this life — the death of a lady, 
the death of a peasant, and the death of a tree. 
This idea of simplification, indeed, was almost as 
conspicuous on the pagan side of his character 
as on the Christian ; it reveals itself no less cer- 
tainly in the study of Uncle Eroshka in " The 
Cossacks " than in the portraiture of the hero of 
" Resurrection." For this idea pervaded not 
only the personal, but also the artistic life of 
Tolstoy, for whom at all times, and not after a 
particular date, art and life were admittedly an 
organic unity. All through the broodings of 
Pierre in " War and Peace " one finds that per- 
sistent, subconscious search for some inner solace 
beneath the surface of life. It has been always 
an instinct with Tolstoy to penetrate through the 
trappings of the outer pageant, however magnifi- 
cent, in search of that simplicity which is the 
kernel of truth. An aristocrat by birth and by 
training, he was to find in war the soul of the 
army, not among the generals and staff-officers, but 
among the common soldiers. That was the lesson 
he had learnt in Sebastopol, and he was to interpret 
it again in "War and Peace." 

Afterwards, in his second and yet more sombre 
masterpiece, he had already commenced to search 
humbly for wisdom from the lips of the moujik. 
At that time he was in everybody's opinion Count 

Tolstoy a85 

Tolstoy the novelist and citizen of the world, but 
he was none the less essentially the man who 
would one day realise that education in the 
ordinary sense was useless and even negative, 
and who would thrust scornfully aside even art 
itself as a hindrance to the soul's growth. Levin 
would inevitably become the Tolstoy who, on 
being consulted by his son as to what career he 
should adopt, advised him to go into the fields and 
work side by side with the moujik. In charity, 
and particularly in that actual though often 
ridiculed generosity of doing something for one's 
neighbour with one's own hands, Levin was the 
veritable prototype of the as yet unacknowledged 
reformer. " The Count," writes Behrs, " invited 
me to go with him into the forest, and we two 
having taken our axes with us, cut down some 
trees, lopped off the branches, and piled the logs 
in order on the peasant's cart. I must confess 
I worked with a hearty good will, and experienced 
a pleasure in the work I had never known before. 
This may have been because I was so completely 
under the influence of my brother-in-law, or 
simply because I was working for a sick, broken- 
down fellow-creature. All the time we worked 
the poor peasant's face wore an expression of quiet 
gratitude. Leo Nicholaevitch, noting my frame 
of mind, purposely rewarded my zeal by allotting 
to me the harder share of the work. And when 
we had finished and sent the moujik away rejoicing 

286 Two Russian Reformers 

he turned to me and said : * Is it possible to 
doubt the necessity of helping our neighbour in 
distress, or the joy such help brings with it ? ' " 
Levin might have uttered these words, and most 
certainly Levin would have felled the tree for his 
brother the moujik without bothering his head 
about the fact that from the practical standpoint 
he was rendering him but a small and fugitive 

The change to definite Christianity, however, 
involved certain definite renunciations in his outer 
life. For example, he gave up smoking, wine, 
and sport, to name only a few of the ordinary 
distractions of the early days. His brother-in- 
law comments upon this outward change : " Only 
a genial nature could submit to a change so com- 
plete as that undergone by Leo Nicholaevitch in 
obedience to the creed he has finally accepted. 
The change that has taken place in his entire 
personality within these last ten years is in the 
true sense of the word a full and radical change. 
Not only has his life and his relation to men and 
creatures changed, but we remark a similar change 
in his sphere and mode of thought. And if he 
still remains faithful to some of his earlier views, 
such as his antagonism to progress and civilisation, 
these views have no longer the same basis and 
foundation." The goal of Count Tolstoy, his 
brother-in-law notes, has become the ideal of love 
for one's fellow-man. But it is the same Tolstoy, 

Tolstoy 287 

and he cannot wholly abandon vehement censure, 
censure which is not in conformity with his later 
views, but in deep conformity with his unalterable 
character. ** And if I may be pardoned the 
paradox," comments Behrs, " I should say that 
his error consists in thinking it to be a departure 
from his views, though he does it for the sake of 
the idea itself, when he sharply condemns another 
for his ill deeds." This is of course true, but only 
a part of the truth. Had Merezhkovsky in re- 
viewing Count Tolstoy, instead of searching always 
for the pagan note, searched for the note of sim- 
plification, to be found equally on the pagan as 
on the Christian side, he would have found the 
real link between the Tolstoy of " Resurrection " 
and the Tolstoy of " Childhood, Boyhood and 

As one surveys Tolstoy's contribution to the 
world of thought, one realises how this process 
of stripping off first one idle accessory and then 
another encroached upon all other ideas. It is 
possible to sustain life without feeding upon one's 
fellow-animals. It is possible to sustain bodily 
health without slaughtering them for amusement. 
It is possible to live reasonably without dissoci- 
ating oneself from the great mass of one's fellow- 
men. It is possible to feed the mind without 
priding oneself upon the enjoyment of artistic 
pleasures which are meaningless to the great 
majority of mankind. Above all, it is possible to 


288 Two Russian Reformers 

maintain the dignity of human life without the 
organised and systematic deception of women. 
" In nearly every romance," says Posdniescheff 
in the " Kreutzer Sonata," " the feelings of the 
hero are portrayed in detail, the ponds and copses 
round which he walks in pensive thought are 
described ; but whilst dwelling on his great love 
for the heroine, the novelist tells us nothing about 
the life he led before, nor is there a word said of 
his visits to certain disreputable houses or his gay 
adventures with ladies' maids, cooks, and strange 
women. Or if there be such indelicate novels 
where we are told all this, the greatest care is 
taken to keep them out of the hands of those 
to whom such knowledge is most necessary — un- 
married girls. And they are so well trained in 
this hypocrisy, that at last, like the English, 
they begin actually to believe that we are all 
moral people and that we live in a moral 

Nothing illustrates better the profound difference 
between the realism of Russian literature and the 
methods of either French or English fiction than 
this powerful book. A typical French realist 
would have described minutely every detail of 
this crime passionnel. And he would have shown, 
as under X-rays, the elemental human motives at 
work, revealing the action as inevitable from the 
first, imperceptibly led up to by a long series of 
infinitesimal causes, every one of which had its 

Tolstoy 289 

roots in the essentials of human nature. If he 
were a man of genius there would be even life in 
the picture, and the murderer would remain a 
man and the adulteress a woman. But his 
tendency would inevitably be to accentuate the 
forbidden and to throw limelight on the illicit, 
not merely because these are integral portions of 
the picture, but to no small extent because they 
are, from the English standpoint, forbidden and 

The tendency in this country, however, would 
be w^holly in the opposite direction. It is almost 
inconceivable that an English writer should pro- 
duce such a story without somebody being labelled 
definitely in the right and somebody else labelled 
definitely in the wrong. So far as the great bulk 
of our fiction deals at all with the problems of 
life as opposed to the idiosyncrasies of the island, 
what Voltaire said about English puddings is 
still more true about Enghsh fiction. And the one 
sauce of our fiction is that of arranged propriety. 
While the Frenchman perhaps too persistently 
ignores any lesson whatever in a work of art, his 
English confrere teaches as naturally as he draws 
breath. And he would arrange this story of 
crime and passion so clearly that in the end we 
should realise the precise number of years of penal 
servitude that should be inflicted upon this victim 
of human nature. 

But the Russian psychologist is indebted to 

290 Two Russian Reformers 

neither French nor English methods. He does 
not accentuate anything merely because con- 
ventionality would exclude it, nor does he exclude 
anything through English mauvaise honte. He 
draws his picture such as it is, and if he is primarily 
an artist, like Turgenev, he will leave it to present 
its own appeal. But if he is primarily a moralist, 
like Tolstoy, he will produce not only a more 
powerful and earnest picture than the Frenchman, 
but an incomparably deeper lesson than any of 
those priggish little obiter dicta with which Eng- 
lish fiction is saturated. It is the Frenchman's 
mission to strip life of the decorous with a too 
obvious grin at the nudity that he reveals. It is 
the Englishman's privilege to swathe and bandage 
further the drapery of life so as to add to the 
comfort of his own make-belief. But it is for the 
Russian to examine truth steadfastly as it seems 
to him, neither with the Frenchman's cynical 
grin nor the Englishman's sheepish smile. The 
late Mr. Leckie alluded to a certain section of the 
community as the preservers of our wives and 
daughters, a point of view which may be accepted 
as symbolic of that whole gospel of comfort which 
for centuries Anglo-Saxons have confused with 
piety. *' It cannot be right," urges Count Tolstoy, 
" that certain people should be allowed, on the 
plea that it is necessary for their health, to destroy 
others body and soul, any more than we should 
think of allowing a privileged class to drink the 

Tolstoy 291 

blood of their poorer neighbours on the pretext 
that it was necessary for their health." 

In reality the " Kreutzer Sonata" is a normal 
development of " My Husband and I," just as 
" War and Peace " is a normal development of 
" Sketches of Sebastopol " and " The Death of 
Ivan Ilyitch " is a normal development of " Three 
Deaths." Even in childhood Tolstoy had desired 
to peer beneath the surface of things, and in his 
records of youth he wrote down fearlessly life 
as it had seemed to him in those early years of 
illusion. But he was to go deeper than that and 
farther. His scrutiny, from the beginning search- 
ing and alert, was to become menacing and 
terrible. He was to reveal war as no one had ever 
realised it ; he was to reveal death as no one had 
ever dared to think of it, and in the " Kreutzer 
Sonata " he was to unveil in all its skeleton naked- 
ness the fear of life. All these effects were gained 
not by adding accessories, but by stripping from 
manhood the last deception, from life its last 
vestige of glamour, and from death its last covering 
of dignity. Tolstoy was a moralist certainly, but he 
was none the less a Russian realist, and from his 
first book to his last there has not been and could 
never be any line of demarcation. For, besides 
Tolstoy the artist and Tolstoy the moralist, there 
is also Tolstoy the man who has remained un- 
changed and unchangeable. And in Tolstoy the 
man the old pagan vigour persists even in his 

292 Two Russian Reformers 

latest works no less surely than the brooding 
spirit of Christianity can be found lurking in every 
page of his early books. This pagan vigour, in 
fact, reveals itself in that very " Confession " in 
which the great Russian artist renounces his 
former life and all its works. 


IN "My Confession" Tolstoy treats specifically 
upon that pause in his life during which 
he weighed all human knowledge and found 
it wanting. In this book too, with a deeper 
consciousness than in his record of " Youth," he 
confesses to the ordinary failings of youth, its 
facile mockery, its devastating vanity, its easily 
swayed emotion. But even in this volume, per- 
haps the most honest revelation of the human 
heart ever penned by man, Tolstoy, in the very 
midst of his self-condemnation, bears witness to 
his early gropings after some meaning in the 
shifting panorama of life : "I honestly desired 
to make myself a good and virtuous man, but I 
was young, I had passions, and I stood alone, 
altogether alone in my search after virtue. Every 
time I tried to express the longings of my heart 
for a truly virtuous life, I was met with contempt 
and derisive laughter ; but directly I gave way 
to the lowest of my passions I was praised and 
encouraged. I found ambition, love of power, 
love of gain, lechery, pride, anger, vengeance, held 
in high esteem. I gave way to these passions, 

294 Two Russian Reformers 

and becoming like unto my elders I felt that the 
place which I filled in the world satisfied those 
around me." He was surrounded by worldly 
people. Even his aunt, a kind-hearted w^oman of 
the world who was devoted to him, used to say to 
him, as she honestly believed for his own good, 
" Rien ne forme un jeune homme, comme une 
liaison avec une femme comme il faut." She 
would urge him to become an adjutant, to the 
Emperor if possible, and would often express the 
hope that her favourite nephew might capture an 
heiress. English commentators have shown the 
whites of their eyes with a quite exceptional relish 
over these worldly but quite ordinary views, which, 
incidentally, are by no means confined to Russia 
or to the youth of Count Tolstoy. They have 
shuddered, too, with sanctimonious curiosity at the 
fierce indictment which follows : "I cannot now 
recall those years without a painful feeling of 
horror and loathing. I put men to death in war, 
I fought duels to slay others, I lost at cards, 
wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of the 
peasants, punished the latter cruelly, rioted with 
loose women and deceived men. Lying, robbery, 
adultery of all kinds, drunkenness, violence, and 
murder all committed by me, not one crime 
omitted, and yet I was not less considered by my 
equals a comparatively moral man. Such was 
my life during ten years." Thus Count Tolstoy 
writes on himself in brief concentrated state- 

Tolstoy 295 

ment of fact, utterly devoid of the unction which 
Rousseau so often mingles with the self-abasement 
of confession. 

And when success came to Tolstoy as an author 
he was as little deceived by that phase as by any 
other phase of his earlier life, though at the begin- 
ning he seems to have beUeved himself to be what 
from the first he aimed at being, a teacher. " In 
the second, however, and especially in the third 
year," he writes, " of this way of life, I began 
to doubt the infallibility of the doctrine, and to 
examine it more closely." This close merciless 
examination of himself was inevitable with Tolstoy 
at every period of his life. When he was abroad 
he witnessed an execution at Paris, and in his 
record of his impressions of that incident there 
lies the whole secret of his habit of thought : 
" When I saw the head divided from the body, 
and heard the sound with which they fell sepa- 
rately into the box, I understood, not with my 
reason, but with my wliole being, that no theory 
of the wisdom of all establislied things, nor of 
progress, could justify such an act ; and that if 
all the men in the w^orld from the day of creation, 
by whatever theory, had found this thing neces- 
sary, it was not so ; it was a bad thing, and that 
therefore I must judge of what was right and 
necessary, not by what men said and did, not by 
progress, but what I felt to be true in my heart." 
That is the very core of Tolstoy, and at no period 

296 Two Russian Reformers 

of his life, not even in the facile period of youth, 
could he ever accept the dictated point of view 
which comes so naturally to Anglo-Saxons. And 
so, not at a particular crisis of his life, but almost 
at the very dawn of his reasoning concerning life's 
enigma, he came to distrust the theory of progress 
or at least the surface values of progress with 
which the people around him were so content. 
" Everything develops, and I myself develop as 
well ; and why this is so will one day become 
apparent," became his formula. Profoundly dis- 
trustful of the literary teaching of his confreres 
as well as of his own, he applied himself to the 
education of the peasants on the broadest and 
simplest lines. 

But neither in this pursuit nor in any other 
could Tolstoy discover any underlying meaning 
of life. How then could he teach others when he 
had failed to learn anything of any value himself ? 
The sense of want became more and more an 
obsession, until he realised that life had no mean- 
ing for him whatever. Then, having discovered 
that life was meaningless, he realised that it 
should end : ** I was unwilling to act hastily, 
only because I had determined first to clear 
away the confusion of my thoughts, and that once 
done, I could always kill myself ; I was happy, 
yet I hid away a cord to avoid being tempted 
to hang myself by it to one of the pegs between 
the cupboards of my study, where I undressed 

Tolstoy 297 

alone every evening, and ceased carrying a gun 
because it offered too easy a way of getting rid of 
life. I knew not what I wanted ; I was afraid of 
life, I shrank from it, and yet there was something 
I hoped for from it." He realised now, before 
he had reached his fiftieth year, now when he was 
surrounded by a devoted wife and loving children, 
now when he was rich and respected and success- 
ful, that life was valueless and without meaning. 
He realised that it was only bearable under the 
intoxication of youth's illusions. He had aroused 
himself from this intoxication at last, and now he 
knew ; never again could he be deceived. And 
he goes on to cite that terrible Eastern fable of 
the traveller in the steppes who, in order to avoid 
a wild beast that has attacked him, lets himself 
down into a dried-up well. At the bottom of the 
well there is a dragon, for fear of which he dares 
not descend any farther, and so he clings to a 
branch of a wild plant that is growing along the 
wall. Then suddenly, as he clings desperately 
between the two dangers, he sees two mice 
ceaselessly nibbling at the trunk of the tree on 
which he depends. Nothing can save him now, 
but still he clings and still he looks around in 
search of some faint hope. And, gazing around, 
he detects on the leaves near him a few drops of 
honey, and stretches out his tongue avidly to 
lick them. " Thus do I cling to the branch of 
life, knowing that the dragon of death inevitably 

agS Two Russian Reformers 

awaits me, ready to tear me to pieces, and I 
cannot understand why such tortures have fallen 
to my lot. I strive also to suck honey which once 
comforted me, but it palls on my palate, while 
the white mouse and the black, day and night, 
gnaw through the branch to which I cling. I see 
the dragon too plainly, and the honey is no longer 
sweet. I see the dragon from whom there is no 
escape, and the mice, and I cannot turn my eyes 
away from them. It is no fable, but a living un- 
deniable truth to be understood of all men. The 
former delusion of happiness in life which hid from 
me the horror of the dragon no longer deceives 

In his hour of need he turned from one source 
of theoretical knowledge to the other, but each 
in turn failed him. Appearances can never more 
deceive the ruthless scrutiny of this man who 
is no longer self-deceived : " Thus, however I 
examine and twist the theoretical replies of 
philosophy, I never receive an answer to my 
question ; and that, not as the sphere of experi- 
mental knowledge, because the answer does not 
relate to the question, but because here, although 
great mental labour has been applied directly to 
the question, there is no answer, and instead of 
one I get back my own question repeated in a 
more complicated form." The dilemma became 
more and more oppressive, as more and more 
clearly this honest intelligence realised that from 

Tolstoy 299 

the knowledge implanted in man by reason he 
could obtain nothing but the denial of life, and 
from the unreasoning knowledge of faith nothing 
but the denial of reason. 

But little by little it dawned upon him that in 
this unreasoning knowledge of faith alone was a 
possibility of continuing to live, and he grasped 
his vital formula, " Without Faith there is no 
Life." It had become clear to him that the wisdom 
of all men, from Solomon to Schopenhauer, was 
futile because it led logically to the denial of life, 
and yet they who had acquired it themselves 
continued to live. He had arrived at last at a 
recognition of the clearly-defined limitations of 
human reasoning : "I understood that all our 
arguments turned in a charmed circle, like a 
cogwheel the teeth of which no longer catch in 
one another. However much and however well we 
reason, we get no answer to our question ; it will 
always be = 0, and consequently our method is 
probably wrong." 

Others beside Tolstoy sought remorselessly for 
the meaning of life ; others have realised the 
truth of that Eastern fable, and have detected 
the mice gnawing at the very roots of what alone 
preserved them from the dragon's jaws. Others, 
too, have experienced that hypnotism of the fear 
of life which spoils the momentary sweetness of 
its honey. But it was for Count Tolstoy to write 
these things down as though they had never been 

3od Two Russian Reformers 

written before, to state the sinister equation = 
as though it had never been arrived at before, to 
clutch at Faith as though throughout the cen- 
turies no other despairing human soul had ever 
clutched at it. And because Tolstoy remained a 
powerful artist, even in the very act of renouncing 
art he has given to his "Confession" a far wider 
significance than that of individual conviction. 
It is not merely a human document of faith, but 
a work of art produced by a profound moralist 
who, from the very beginning, had brought intel- 
lectual truthfulness to bear upon his interpretation 
of life. 

He had found at last what he had been groping 
for since childhood. From a darkened room he 
had stumbled suddenly into the white light. But 
he had remained the same Tolstoy who long ago, 
in the midst of robust physical enjoyment, had 
detected the chilling nearness of death, and in the 
midst of the ordinary daily routine the secretive 
fear of life. Certainly the ship has come into the 
harbour at last, but it is the same ship. 

It is true that in the work of Tolstoy one can see 
the encroachment of the inner life upon the outer. 
But that outer life has been from the beginning 
so vitally realised that it can never be, in his 
most consciously didactic work, even partially 
suppressed. He has lived to condemn his own 
masterpieces, but in that very condemnation there 
vibrates the old pagan power that had given 

Tolstoy tot 

life to that which he now condemns. Art is 
greater than the individual, greater even than 
the moralist, and it may be that that supreme 
artist, Turgenev, was wrong when on his death- 
bed he implored Tolstoy to return to literature. 
For, at no time did the author of "Anna Karanina " 
abandon literature in spite of his verbal renuncia- 

What Tolstoy contributes to literature with 
almost Shakespearian abundance and amplitude 
of power is the quality of intellectual truthfulness, 
such truthfulness as is almost alien from Anglo- 
Saxon habits of thought. He has contributed this 
quality in his early works ; he has contributed it 
in his masterpieces ; and he has continued to 
contribute it in the very least of his tracts for the 
service of the Russian people. It was not in the 
nature of things that he should ever be content to 
infuse into art that sad perfume of life which 
Turgenev distilled from the very ashes of regret. 
It was not in the nature of things that this groping 
and yet trustful intelligence should be ever con- 
tented with that attitude of ironical suspicion 
with which Turgenev defended the isolation of his 
soul. Nor could he, like his older rival, accept 
civilisation as at least a solace, thankful, as 
Turgenev was thankful, for the very croupier as 
its lowest symbol. For Tolstoy a meaning of 
life was as necessary in one sense as oxygen in 
another. It would have been impossible for him 

302 Two Russian Reformers 

to continue to live with that deep-rooted sus- 
picion of an all-merciful Providence which had 
permeated and, in a sense, withered the very youth 
of Turgenev. 

But though Tolstoy had arrived at the necessity 
of faith, he was in reality little beyond the stage 
of Pierre in " War and Peace " or Levin in " Anna 
Karanina." He was willing to embrace any 
form of faith that was not an absolute denial of 
human reason, but his heart was admittedly none 
the lighter. From the leaders of science and 
thought he had turned to the leaders of religion 
and faith, but from them he learned little, beyond 
their innumerable contradictions of each other. 
And then, at last, just as Pierre had done, just as 
Levin had done, and not at all in obedience to any 
strange and sudden inspiration, he turned to the 
Russian people for an answer to the enigma of 
human existence. Then, indeed, a great change, 
which was in reality only the maturity of a long 
doubtful growth, came consciously at last ; it was 
the fruition of all those moralising broodings of 
Irteniev, Olenine, Nezhdinhov, Pierre, Levin and 
so many others, those broodings which from the 
very first are inseparable from the artistic work 
of Tolstoy, who, now definitely abandoning the 
philosophers, had, like his own heroes, humbly 
approached the moujiks : "I began to grow 
attached to these men. The more I learned of 
their lives, the lives of the living and of the dead 



'■^^-^:'§f^'>^\:<'.l. . •• 



Tolstoy 305 

of whom I read and heard, the more I Hked them, 
and the easier I felt it so to Hve. I hved in this 
way during two years, and then — symptoms of 
which I had always dimly felt — the life of my own 
circle of rich and learned men not only became 
repulsive, but lost all meaning whatever. All 
actions, our reasoning, our science and art, all 
appeared to me in a new light. I understood 
that it was all child's play, that it was useless to 
seek a meaning in it. The life of the working 
classes of the whole of mankind, of those that 
create life, appeared to me in its true significance. 
I understood that this was life itself, and that the 
meaning given to this life was a true one, and I 
accepted it." 

And when tlie change came and was accepted 
as a new and complete transformation of every- 
thing that had gone before, Tolstoy, even in this 
book which is the accepted demarcation between 
the old hfe and the new, admits, even in regard 
to the exhilaration of spiritual discovery, that the 
sensation produced upon him was not wholly un- 
familiar : "It was strange, but this feeling of the 
glow of life w^as no new sensation ; it was old 
enough, for I had been led away by it in the earlier 
part of my life. I returned, as it were, to the 
past, to childhood, and to my youth." 

What he had accepted unconsciously then, he 
accepted consciously now, and there was in 
reality no inner difference between the Tolstoy 


3o6 Two Russian Reformers 

who had groped dimly and the Tolstoy who now 
saw with clear eyes. He had only traversed 
the path to which in every one of his works he 
persistently reverts, and the ultimate lesson is 
only the logical conclusion of Pierre's gropings 
and Levin's meditations. Tolstoy returned to 
the simplicity of the moujik because he believed 
that civilisation, far from being a development 
in spiritual life, was in reality a hindrance. And 
it is this distrust of civilisation, the one gift in 
which the suspicious Turgenev really did believe, 
that has permeated the whole of Tolstoy's work, 
from that first book written in the Caucasus down 
to this world-known renunciation of the pride of 
life which made so many exclaim in every capital 
of Europe, " There is no more Tolstoy." 

In reality there is no mystery at all. In reality 
Count Tolstoy has survived by reason of the same 
qualities that made an obscure young artillery 
soldier famous in a moment. Turgenev, who was 
to no small extent a mystery, even to himself, 
has been carelessly labelled as a man who did this 
but refused to do that, a man who grasped this 
side of Russian life but remained always a stranger 
to new types and new ideas of his country. In 
brief, they have explained the really enigmatic 
Turgenev who said very little about himself, while 
they have insisted upon regarding as a mystery 
Count Tolstoy who has been explaining himself 
all his life. 


TOLSTOY wrote " The Death of Ivan Ilyitch " 
in 1884-86 and the " Kreutzer Sonata " 
in 1890. In each of these works the old 
power is displayed with all the old ruthless honesty 
and that combination of observation and intro- 
spection which had been peculiar to the novelist's 
early work. But in the so-called second period 
of Tolstoy's literary life there is only one book 
which even suggests the vast scale of " War and 
Peace " or " Anna Karanina." Written in 1899- 
1900, " Resurrection " is an unconscious resume 
not only of the literary art but of the spiritual life 
of its author. Everything is in these pages, which 
are, however, permeated by the consciousness of 
a changed perspective, the consciousness of look- 
ing backward instead of forward. Youth itself, 
viewed from this changed perspective, lives again 
in Nekhludoff's visit to his aunts on that wet 
Good Friday on which his spiritual manhood 
weakened before the insistent claims of the flesh. 
All through those Easter days the sinister allure- 
ment hovers about that quiet country house, even 
when the young officer kisses Katusha under the 

3o8 Two Russian Reformers 

sanction of " Christ is risen." And then, when 
the evil, seemingly inevitable, thing has happened, 
Nekhludoff asks himself, just as any one of those 
earlier impersonations of Tolstoy would have 
asked himself — " What was the meaning of it 
all ? Was it a great joy, or a great misfortune, 
that had befallen him ? " and he adds that 
perennial generality of optimistic youth : "It 
happens to everybody — everybody does it." 

So the young officer goes off to join his regiment, 
and though he does not as yet realise the evil that 
he has done so carelessly, the glamour of passion 
perishes almost at once. From War also every 
nuance of glamour is very soon stripped. Nekh- 
ludoff had joined the army just as war had been 
declared against the Turks, and he plunged 
immediately into those youthful excesses which 
Tolstoy had always condemned even while he took 
part in them. Now, there is no question of pallia- 
tion : " This kind of life acts on military men 
even more depravingly than on others, because 
if any other than a military man leads such a life 
he cannot help being ashamed of it in the depth 
of his heart. A military man is, on the contrary, 
proud of a life of this kind, especially at war time, 
and Nekhludoff had entered the army just after 
war with the Turks had been declared. * We 
are prepared to sacrifice our life at the wars, and 
therefore gay, reckless lives are not only pardon- 
able, but absolutely necessary for us, and so we 

Tolstoy 309 

lead them.' Such were Nekhltidoff's confused 
thoughts at this period of his existence, and he 
felt all the time the delight of being free of 
the moral barriers he had formerl}^ set himself. 
And the state he lived in was that of a chronic 
mania of selfishness." 

This mania of selfishness robs every phase of 
existence of all youthful illusion. Nekhludoff 
approaches his duties as a landlord without a 
spark of that enthusiasm for humanity which is 
the essence of Tolstoy's faith. And afterwards, 
when confronted by the idea of domesticity, he 
weighs the for and against of a marriage with 
" Missy " without a gleam of Levin's naive exalta- 
tion. The whole theory of marriage is summed 
up from the purely pagan standpoint of the 
Christian man of the world : "In favour of 
marriage in general, besides the comforts of 
hearth and home, was that it made a moral life 
possible, and chiefly that a family would, so 
thought Nekhludoff, give him an aim to his now 
empty life. Against marriage in general was the 
fear, common to bachelors past their first youth, 
of losing freedom, and an unconscious awe before 
that mysterious creature, a woman." 

Youth and passion, war and glory, landlordism 
and justice, domesticity and comfort, Tolstoy has 
in " Resurrection " stamped his renunciation of 
them all. But as Nekhludoff takes his place on 
that jury, before which his own conscience is on 

310 Two Russian Reformers 

trial, we are forced into recognition of profounder 
depths of human consciousness than have ever 
been probed by any of the earher impersonations 
of Count Tolstoy, each one of whom had snatched 
thankfully from the confusion of all human affairs 
some meaning of life, however insignificant. All 
certitudes slip away from Nekhludoff as he sees 
in the dock that same Katusha, the former 
protegee of his aunt whose life he had played 
hideously with that Easter, after she had kissed 
him in the name of " Christ." He is one of her 
judges now, one of the representatives of that 
Society which, in order to protect itself, must crush 
out the victims that it has made dangerous. 

The former guardsman listens to the sordid 
story which implicates the pretty, harmless 
Katusha of years ago in a murder in a brothel. 
There is no sensationalism in the scene of recog- 
nition, no theatrical denunciation from the dock, 
no fugitive spasm of the romancer's remorse, no 
exploitation of atonement in the betrayer's heart. 
But from that instant in which he recognises 
Maslova, Nekhludoff begins dimly to recognise 
himself. Slowly, dully, he begins to detect the 
crude falsity of that arranged comedy which is 
called honourable life. It is no longer for him a 
question of settling down in comfortable domesti- 
city, to hand on strong protected children, who in 
their turn will piously arrange the burden of life 
so that it falls always upon the shoulders of the 

Tolstoy 311 

weak. It is no longer a question of the retired 
officer becoming the good squire who does his 
orderly best for the dependants who feed him. 
The ideal can be no longer the apotheosis of the 
good simple man who acts faithfully according to 
the light that is in him. Nekhludoff realises that 
it is necessary to understand, that the safe com- 
fort of ignorance can be his no longer. In spite 
of all the traditions of comfortable goodness, he 
begins to grasp something of that under-world 
of injustice which keeps the earth clean and 
wholesome for the just. He himself, in this one 
particular instance, had cast a young life into 
this under-world, and somehow or other he must 
redeem it. And in redeeming it he must also 
somehow or other redeem himself. 

Never has Tolstoy been more faithful in his 
interpretation of the slow, often contradictory, 
always illogical, workings of human consciousness. 
There are no sudden transformations here, no 
facile confessions, no pathetic pardons easily 
granted. XaXerra TO. KaXd : the Greek phrase re- 
peats itself in this narrative of the evolution of 
two souls. Slow and tortuous and difficult as the 
road to Siberia itself is the full self-realisation of 
this man of the world who has been forced to 
read his own soul. Equally slow, tortuous and 
difficult is the self-realisation of that broken 
plaything of Society, upon which Society has 
passed judgment. The ex-guardsman and the 

312 Two Russian Reformers 

prostitute are on a common footing at the lowly 
beginning of wisdom. Both of them are learning 
the ultimate lesson of life, the lesson that never 
changes, the lesson that Count Tolstoy was 
groping after when he framed those rules of 
conduct in the old nursery days. 

It is a hard lesson at which Tolstoy arrives in 
this Via Dolorosa of atonement whose Gethsemane 
is Siberia. Never was his treatment more remorse- 
less and more faithful. With him confession 
and atonement come with difficulty, and without 
that sudden rapture of abasement which is so 
conspicuous in the works of Dostoievsky. There 
is nothing in " Resurrection " comparable, for 
instance, with that scene in " Crime and Punish- 
ment " in which the stainless unfortunate pleads 
to the murderer to save his soul through the 
punishment of his body. For Tolstoy's characters, 
like Turgenev's, are for the most part strangers 
to the sudden aberrations of Dostoievsky's heroes. 
He has depicted, indeed, very few of those exas- 
perated people upon whose revolts against con- 
ventionality modern Russian writers dwell so 
constantly : "La plupart," writes M. de Vogiie, 
" de ces natures peuvent se ramener a un type 
commun ; I'exces d'impulsion Votchaianie, cet 
etat de coeur et d' esprit pour lequel je m'efforce 
vainement de trouver un equivalent dans notre 
langue." In the analysis of Dostoievsky himself, 
" This is the sensation of a man who, from the 

Tolstoy 313 

summit of a high tower, leans over the yawning 
abyss and experiences a shudder of pleasure at the 
idea that he may hurl himself from it headlong. 
* Faster, and let us end it ! ' he says to himself. 
Sometimes the people who think like this are very 
peaceable, very ordinary individuals. . . . The 
man finds a delight in the horror that he inspires 
in others. . . . He strains his whole soul in 
frantic hopelessness, and in his desperation calls 
out for punishment as a solution, as something 
which will decide for him." In all Russian 
fiction one meets with the recognition of this 
type, which is the very antithesis of the logically 
evolved character of French novelists or our own 
conventionalised and graduated heroes. It is 
the natural result of that lack of crystallisation in 
the Russian character to which Turgenev referred 
at the Parisian restaurant. Both he and Tolstoy 
understood this indefinable national attribute, 
experienced it even to a certain extent, undoubt- 
edly sympathised with it, but, unlike Dostoievsky, 
allowed it but little influence in their art. And 
for this reason they, unlike Dostoievsky, appealed 
to Europe hardly less than to their own people. 
The lesson of " Resurrection," then, is for the 
world which listens to so very few living voices. 
And such world-voices as there are either resume 
falteringly the old paean of the pride of life, or 
else mockingly challenge, as Turgenev himself 
had mournfully challenged, the wisdom of the 

314 Two Russian Reformers 

whole scheme of things. Is there any nepenthe 
whatsoever for the stricken race of mortals, or 
must it dwindle and die, commented on by Alpine 
mountains, as Turgenev had made it dwindle and 
die ? One turns to him who has added to the sad 
gaiety of modern Paris the very irony of Virgil's 
large sense of destiny. Anatole France, almost 
alone in Europe, in spite of his gibes and scoffs 
and every other phase of Gallic effrontery, writes 
with the old Greek feeling of 'kvdyKrj, that sense of 
something impenetrable and implacable hovering 
beyond the little radius of human lives, a necessity 
making weak and puerile the satisfied gestures of 
gods and kings. And writing under this sense by 
which all the great Russian writers seem to have 
been obsessed, Anatole France knows well that 
there is no answer to the repeated questions of 
the generations of man. In that book, in which, 
like another Gulliver, he has weighed the little 
claims to happiness of poor mankind, he has 
shown only too clearly that he is the dupe of no 
formula, no creed, no faith, no hope. For the old 
follies repeat themselves, and tyranny changes 
only its masks : " Puis, au cours des ages, les 
villages remplis de biens, les champs lourds de ble 
furent pilles, ravages par des envahisseurs bar- 
bares. Le pays changea plusieurs fois de maitres. 
Les conquerants eleverent des chateaux sur les 
coUines ; les cultures se multiplierent ; des mou- 
lins, des forges, des tanneries, des tissages s'eta- 

Tolstoy 315 

blirent ; des routes s'ouvrirent a travers les bois et 
les marais ; le fleuve se courit de bateaux. Les 
villages devinrent de gros bourgs et, reunis les 
uns aux autres, formerent une ville qui se protegea 
par des fosses profondes et de hautes murailles. 
Plus tard, capitale d'un grand etat, elle se trouva 
a I'etroit dans ses remparts desormais inutiles 
et dont elle fit de vertes promenades. Elle 
s'enrichit et s'accrut demesurement ; on ne trouvait 
jamais les maisons assez hautes; on les sur- 
elevait sans cesse, et Ton en construisait de trente 
a quarante etages, ou se superposaient bureaux, 
magasins, comptoirs de banques, sieges de societes, 
et Ton creusait dans le sol tou jours plus profonde- 
ment des caves et des tunnels. Quinze millions 
d'hommes travaillaient dans la ville geante." 
That seems to the author of " L'lle des Pingouins " 
the fate of mankind ; but the idea of Nietzsche's 
Superman has not wholly faded into this mocking 
acquiescence in the meaninglessness of human 
destiny, as though life were indeed symbolised by 
the empty sockets of the Egyptian Sphinx. 

Gabriel d'Annunzio at least reminds our genera- 
tion of the old pride of existence, of a conception 
of life irradiated by the flame of genius. He 
who has celebrated the triumph of life as well as 
the triumph of death has given us in Lucio Settala 
a living contrast to those stricken Hamlets of 
Russian literature. It is a conception of life 
wholly pagan, a conception of life which presents 

3i<5 Two Russian Reformers 

the sculptor pleading for art in modern Italy as 
Pericles might have pleaded for it in ancient 
Athens. Lucio sees in Gioconda Dianti his salva- 
tion through art : " Te V ho detto ! mille statue, 
non una. La sua bellezza vive in tutti i marmi. 
Questo sentii, con un' ansieta fatta di rammarico 
e di fervore, un giorno a Carrera, mentre ella 
m' era accanto e guardavamo discendere dall* alpe 
quel grandi buoi aggiogati che trascinano giu le 
carra dei marmi. Un aspetto della sua perfezione 
era chiuso per me in ciascuno di quel massi 
informi." And when Cosimo Dalbo reminds him 
that this woman thought of keeping the clay 
moist at the very moment when he was dying, 
Lucio Setalla replies by asking if that was not also 
a way of fighting death, and in itself an admirable 
act of faith ! The sculptor's wife had preserved 
his life, but Gioconda Dianti had preserved his art, 
which for him at least was the meaning of life. 

But she herself is not at all the self-governing 
inspiration of life through art. She is not the 
terrible implacable one, but rather a puppet like all 
the others, struggling blindly in invisible meshes. 
She acknowledges as much to her rival, who fears 
her : " Non v' e nulla d' implacabile in lei ; ma 
ella stessa obbedise a una potenza che pud essere 
implacabile." So the old 'AvdyKt] weighs upon 
the individual as well as upon the race. Not even 
Gioconda can escape from that nebula of destiny 
pervading the dim centuries, even as that cloud of 

Tolstoy 317 

reddish dust which, in " La Citta Morta," pene- 
trates the blood of those who search for the sin- 
laden relics of the Atrides. 

And to turn from this fashioner of Titans 
crushed by their own strength to that great 
writer of our own race who perhaps most of all 
is burdened by the ever-present sense of necessity 
— what has he to say of the theory of justice in 
that profound study, "A Pure Woman faithfully 
presented by Thomas Hardy"? "Sorrow," ex- 
claims the sorrow-stricken girl-mother, " I baptise 
thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost." " Sorrow " escaped, 
and after many wanderings Justice sent the 
mother to join her child : " Justice was done, 
and the President of the Immortals (in iEschylean 
phrase) had ended his sport with Tess. And the 
D'Urberville knights slept on in their tombs 
unknowing. The two speechless gazers bent them- 
selves down to the earth as if in prayer, and 
remained thus a long time, absolutely motionless ; 
the flag continued to wave silently. As soon as 
they had strength they arose, joined hands again, 
and went on." 

Such are the voices that vibrate through the 
Europe of to-day. On the one hand nothing is 
predicted except the enslavement of the greater 
part of the human race by a handful of tyrants, 
who are themselves driven puppets consumed 
by a meaningless passion for power. On the 

3i8 Two Russian Reformers 

other side there is nothing beyond the self-con- 
suming passion of the individual, demanding from 
art a deliverance from life. From either point of 
view there is nothing beyond the saddest pessimism, 
reasoned on the one side, temperamental and 
instinctive on the other. Lucio Settala claiming 
with the pride of art the flame-woman to inspire 
his genius, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles seeking 
humbly for a little meed of happiness, are travelling 
the same universal road. It is the sombre road of 
mankind as it appears to the fashioner of the law- 
making Penguins. In answer to this all-pervading 
doubt of any ultimate justice scarcely a voice 
is heard that claims for mankind anything at 
all beyond a problematical amelioration of its 
material ills. 

But in the midst of this bloodless apathy of the 
soul by which even our few writers of genius are 
permeated there is one man who believes. The 
voice of Tolstoy vibrates with the very genius of 
belief. He at least has searched for and faced his 
own soul. For while on all sides people have 
been clamouring for this or that panacea to save 
them from a knowledge of themselves, Tolstoy has 
continued to repeat that fearless Greek challenge 
yvu)Bi o-eavTov. Amid the crumbling up of old 
faiths and old ambitions this one man has pre- 
served the ideal of examining the soul and seeing 
in its life an explanation which can alone give any 
meaning to that material existence which has left 

Tolstoy 319 

nothing but ashes on the lips of the sybarites of 
art and the apostles of progress, on the lips even 
of the new Fausts, the new emancipators, the new 

Alone in that remote country house the aged 
and revered figure lingers, a challenge in his own 
person alike to the tyrants of Russian orthodoxy 
and to the tyrants of the world's materialism. 
He who has stripped from himself all claims to 
praise or homage or fame, who has turned his 
back upon the allurements of science and art, 
remains still the central figure to whom all listen, 
however they may shirk following him. Experi- 
ence of life and the knowledge of its fugitive 
littleness is stamped upon that seamed face, 
from which the very curiosity in regard to the 
approaching end has been burnt out. He, alone 
in the whirlpool of exultant modern progress, 
stands aside claiming for himself nothing except 
the right of speaking what he believes to be the 
truth. Like a veritable Faust, of moral as opposed 
to intellectual experience, he receives the students 
who one after the other throng to him with the 
eternal questions upon their lips. 

But he has remained a man amongst men, as 
P. A. Sergyeenko notes in his description of a 
dispute between the reformer and one of these 
students. It is the same Tolstoy, and in that 
moment of animation the imaginary abyss between 
the reformer and the artist vanishes into smoke. 

320 Two Russian Reformers 

" I looked at Lyeff Nikolaevitch," writes M. 
Sergyeenko, " and I seemed to see spread out 
before me those stormy scenes in Nekrasoff's 
lodgings, which took place in the 50's, when 
young, impetuous Count L. Tolstoy, presenting 
a living embodiment of Tchatsky (the hero of 
Griboydeff' s famous comedy, * The Misfortune of 
Wit '), played in St. Petersburg literary circles 
the part of Gadfly, and in the harshest form 
expressed his protests against everything which 
seemed to him conventional and false." " You 
cannot imagine what scenes these were,' relates 
D. B. Grigororitch. "'Oh, Heavens!' Turgeneff 
would squeak and squeak, clutch his throat with 
his hand, and, with the eyes of a dying gazelle, 
would whisper, * I can endure no more. I have 
bronchitis.' " 

" Bronchitis," Tolstoy would growl out im- 
mediately, " bronchitis is an imaginary malady — 
bronchitis is a mental ! ' ' Nekrasoff in the interests 
of the Contemporary, of which he was editor, 
naturally did his best to conciHate his two most 
famous contributors. It was no easy task : 
" Tolstoy is lying in the middle of the room which 
serves as corridor, on a morocco-covered divan, 
and sulking, while Turgeneff, parting the skirts of 
his short pea-jacket, with hands thrust into his 
pockets, continues to stride back and forth through 
all three rooms. With the object of averting a 
catastrophe, D. Grigororitch approaches Tolstoy. 

Tolstoy 321 

' My dear Tolstoy, do not be vexed. You do not 
know how he vahies and loves j^ou.' * I will not 
permit him to do anything to harm me,' says 
Tolstoy, with sweUing nostrils. * Here he is 
marching to and fro past me and wagging his 
democratic haunches.' " 

And as M. Sergyeenko looks on at the aged 
Tolstoy disputing with the eager student, he sees 
before him again an angry young man sulking on 
a morocco-covered divan, and furiously contra- 
dicting any expression of opinion with which 
at the moment he happens to disagree. It is 
a small picture, perhaps, of a great man, but it 
illustrates admirably the great central fact of 
Tolstoy's old age, the fact that he has preserved 
in all its freshness his youthful interest in men 
and things. In old age as in youth he clings to 
illusions and resists passionately those who would 
dispel them. The greatest of these illusions is that 
he, the creator of masterpieces, has long ago aban- 
doned art. He, from whose splendid brain so many 
living beings have sprung into life, would make 
a holocaust of many of his best creations. But 
he would be wrong to do so, wrong from the 
standpoint of his own moral earnestness, wrong 
from the standpoint of his belief in the love of 
one's fellow-beings as the one atonement. 

For, the structure of this incongruous but 
compelling moral force is of normal growth and 
development. It has risen like a cone, broad at 


322 Two Russian Reformers 

the base and narrowing gradually to its isolated 
summit. But its foundation was laid upon the 
generous lines of the great central truths, and in 
that very nursery of young Irteniev, amid all 
those conflicting sensations and purblind scram- 
blings after the joy of life, the gradual pressing 
upward had most surely commenced. And this 
process of growth on the part of Irteniev, Olenine, 
and the others,- was at no time concerned with 
the acquisition of material welfare, nor even with 
that of mental or artistic power. To Tolstoy 
the idea of simplification came as naturally as the 
ideal of complexity to others. To this magnificent 
intelligence it seemed natural from the very first 
to attach oneself to the mass of one's fellow-beings, 
just as it seems to many noisy little Titans of to- 
day natural to detach themselves from the mass 
and to become supermen, arrogantly trampling 
down the very sustenance of their full-gorged life. 
Irteniev, with all his boyish egotism, realises the 
larger family beyond his nursery. Olenine, sated 
with the sophisticated vices of the city, seeks in 
the Pan-like sagacity of Uncle Eroshka a sim- 
plicity of existence that seems to him at least 
more natural than the convoluted perplexities 
of civilisation. The hero of the " Sebastopol 
Sketches " realises that the heart of an army is 
to be found, not among the generals and staff 
officers, but in the ranks. Pierre, in " War and 
Peace," was to advance still further on the road 

Tolstoy 3^3 

of simplicity, and from all that vast canvas was 
to choose as his instructor Platon, the common 
soldier. Again, Levin in " Anna Karanina," still 
more simplified, was to learn his final lesson of 
life from the lips of a Russian moujik, who was 
simpler even than Platon. Domesticity, with its 
daily round of joys and cares, had long been 
accepted by Count Tolstoy as a gracious substitute 
for all the larger excitements of either war or 
peace. An orderly, well-conducted routine of 
living, implying as it did strict attention to the 
education and general amelioration of the peasants, 
had seemed for a long time a safe simplification 
of all the complexities of life. It was the goal 
of Prince Dimitri Nekhliudov in " The Squire's 
Morning," and it remained, approximately, 
the point of view of Levin. But from this 
stage too Tolstoy was slowly to escape — up- 
wards, towards that unguessed-at summit of the 

He was to examine life under the microscope 
as no artist perhaps had ever examined it before. 
He was to reproduce the illusion of a whole life- 
time from the infinitely close observation of its 
last few days. He was to do this with such in- 
tensity that one realises the movement of death 
already in progress long before the last breath. 
The study of Ivan Ilyitch is not the study of one 
dying man, but the study of human consciousness 
approaching its final flicker. Life and death are 

334 Two Russian Reformers 

here integral portions of one and the same process. 
The life of man is weighed in the balance in an 
inner and an external sense, and found wanting. 
Tolstoy's study of Professor Metchnikoff' s dying 
brother is the last word on the analysis of death 
as it concerns the individual. 

But he was to go yet further in his profound 
examination of the whole scheme of things as 
viewed from the standpoint of Ivan Ilyitch and 
all other ordinary men of the world. That study 
was finished in 1886, and four years later, in an 
equally powerful study of even more general scope, 
Tolstoy approached once more the old question of 
whether life without spiritual insight is or is not 
tolerable upon this earth. In the earlier book he 
had as it were condemned to death the individual 
who sought for the goal of all things in the imme- 
diate pleasures of the senses. In the " Kreutzer 
Sonata" he was as it were to condemn to death 
the whole race of man rather than see it prolonged 
under such easily discoverable bondage. If man 
cannot survive in any nobler atmosphere than 
this, he warns us, let him at least avoid handing 
on to succeeding generations any further acts of 
the revolting comedy. 

Both of these books are filled with the sombre 
lesson of the denial of life; but in " Resurrection " 
Tolstoy, with all his old vitality and power, was 
to utter a message of hope and life. The essence 
of this final book of experience is atonement, but 

Tolstoy 325 

Nekhludoff does not leap into any sudden trans- 
formation any more than Tolstoy himself had 
done. Animalism falls away from him slowly, 
but from that first moment of recognition of his 
fellow-sinner in the dock, the old comfortable 
ignorance had disappeared. And what is true 
for him is true for every human being on the 
earth : " And just as on this northern summer 
night there was no restful darkness on the earth, 
but only a dismal dull light coming from an 
invisible source, so in Nekhludoff' s soul there was 
no longer the restful darkness, ignorance. Every- 
thing seemed clear. It was clear that everything 
considered important and good was insignificant 
and repulsive, and that all glamour and luxury 
hid the old well-known crimes which not only 
remained unpunished but were adorned with all 
splendour which men were capable of inventing." 
Slowly Nekhludoff groped on in the increasing 
light until he arrived at the idea of the ultimate 
surrender — that he must not only renounce the 
pleasures of youth, but the eclat of an officer, the 
satisfaction of a good and just landlord, the dignity 
of a contented head of a family, but, having 
stripped himself of all these things, that he must 
claim from the very dregs of Society the woman 
whom he and no other had hounded into the under- 
world. And so he follows Maslova to Siberia, 
not as a hero of Dostoievsky would have followed 
her, that is to say passionately grateful for being 

326 Two Russian Reformers 

permitted to share her suffering at last, but in a 
quite different manner. Nekhludoff takes each 
difficult step of that journey, which is as long 
morally as it is physically, without any such 
exaltation, and with his eyes wide open. He is 
conscious of every repellent association; no step 
of the sombre journey leaves him unscarred. But 
he goes on. His atonement does not wear itself 
out ; he will pay the ultimate price in deeds, not 
in words. And because of the sincerity of his 
soul-struggle, the woman herself begins gradually 
to believe in something beyond that comedy of 
brutality which had been called her life. Her 
outlook widens to meet the contraction of his. 
In this poor bruised being there springs up the 
same desire for sacrifice. The man who has 
everything thinks only of giving ; she who has 
nothing is equally desirous to give. And slowly, 
and as though in conscious sympathy with the 
movements of Nature, which are so close to the 
moral movements of the human soul, these two 
stricken beings, united by a common sense of sin, 
drag themselves wearily into the sanctuary of 
" Resurrection." 

But to the very end all fine phrases, all rhetorical 
outbursts are ruthlessly suppressed ; never were 
the eyes of Tolstoy turned more alertly towards 
external life. Judges, guards, prisoners, peasants, 
petitioners, lawyers, jurymen — one sees them all 
filing before us, in this terrible comedy of punish- 

Tolstoy 327 

ment. One sees the reeking prisons as though 
one had been pushed suddenly behind doors that 
are instantly closed again. One sees the horrible 
crowds of prisoners wrangling with each other, 
punishing each other as though there were not 
enough punishment already in their lives. Nekh- 
ludoff does not go to his atonement accompanied 
by slow music. No hint of romance throws its 
hectic glamour over this ugly and useless suffering 
by which he is surrounded on all sides. Every- 
thing is stamped by the Russian touch, and Nekh- 
ludoff on his way to Siberia mixes easily and 
naturally with the peasants in the railway carriage, 
just as Tolstoy himself used to mix with them when 
he found it necessary to enter a train. There is, 
indeed, no consciousness on his part of a great 
surrender, of a great renunciation. And at the 
very end, when we are led into that last prison 
in which the Englishman distributes Bibles with 
all the matter-of-factness of a district visitor at 
home, Tolstoy preserves the unimpassioned atti- 
tude of an observer of mankind. This foreigner 
has not been introduced into the book at the very 
end in order to " convert " Nekhludoff in any 
sudden, hysterical sense. He is not at all an 
apostle, but a quite ordinary Englishman, who 
speaks atrocious French very confidently, and 
whose rosy face is puffy with well-being. He has 
seen the cathedral and the factory in this desolate 
corner of Siberia, now he would like to visit the 

328 Two Russian Reformers 

famous transportation prison if that, too, is in 
order. It is in order, and the Enghshman starts 
out with Nekhludoff to see what is to be seen. 
He is a sight-seer with Bibles in his pocket for 
distribution, a good man according to his hght, 
but one from whom there emanates no single 
spark of that enthusiasm which engenders faith. 
But he will do the business in hand practically 
after the English fashion — so many bound Testa- 
ments to each fetid cell, no less, no more — a set 
speech, cut and dried and definite. He is a man 
whose last word, before Nekhludoff turns away from 
him without saying " Good-bye," is the traditional 
" Oh." None the less it is this man, who through 
his chance gift to his companion of a New Testa- 
ment, finishes the work of regeneration which had 
commenced in Nekhludoff' s heart when he recog- 
nised Maslova in the dock. 

That is the manner of Tolstoy, who works 
always without sudden surprises and without pas- 
sionate appeals. Nekhludoff is a new man when 
he has returned to the old faith, but it is the same 
Nekhludoff who has run the full gamut of the 
world's passions and discords. In precisely the 
same sense the great Count Tolstoy became a new 
man when he returned to the old faith, but re- 
mained the same Tolstoy who had loved, none 
better, the honey of life. The cone has narrowed 
gradually up to its remote summit, but its 
structure is essentially one and the same, and 

Tolstoy 329 

the Tolstoy of " Resurrection " is essentially 
the Tolstoy of " Childhood, Boyhood, and 


1828. Bom at Yasnaya Polyana. 

1843. Entered Kazan University. 

185 1. Enlisted in the Artillery. 

1852. Published "Childhood," "A Squire's Morning," and 

" The Cossacks." 

1854. Published "Boyhood." 

1854-6. Published "Sketches of Sevastopol." 

1855. Published " Youth." 

1857. Visited Europe. Published "Memoirs of Prince Nek- 

1862. Married Miss Behrs. 
1864-9. Published "War and Peace." 

1869. Published "A Prisoner in the Caucasus." 

1870. Visited the Bashkir Steppes. 
1873-6. Published "Anna Karanina." 
1879-82. Published "My Confession." 
1884. Published " My Religion." 

1886. Published "The Death of Ivan Ilyitch." 

1887. Published "Life." 

1889. Published "The Kreutzer Sonata." 
1898. PubUshed " What is Art ? " 
1902, Became dangerously ill at Yalta. 


Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. The Incursion. 
A Landed Proprietor. The Cossacks. Sevastopol. 
A Moscow Acquaintance. The Snow Storm, Domestic Happi- 
ness. Miscellanies. 
Pedagogical Articles. Linen-Measurer. 
War and Peace. 
Anna Karanina. 
pables for Children. The Decembrists. Moral Tales. 

330 Two Russian Reformers 

My Confession. Dogmatic Theology. 

The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated. 

My Religion. On Life. Thoughts on God. On the Meaning 
of Life. 

What Shall We Do, Then ? Miscellanies. 

Dramatic Works. 

The Kreutzer Sonata. The Death of Ivan Ilyitch. 

Walk in the Light while Ye Have Light. 

Thoughts and Aphorisms. Letters. Miscellanies. 

The Kingdom of God is Within You. Christianity and Patriot- 
ism. Miscellanies. 


Wliat is Art ? The Christian Teaching. 

Miscellaneous Letters and Essays. 

The Slavery of Our Time. Miscellanies. 

Among the works to which the author of these 
biographical sketches is indebted, the following 
should be especially mentioned : 

The Complete Works of Turgenev. Translated by Constance 

Garnett (Heinemann). 
"Ivan Tourguenieff : La Vie et L'QEuvre." Par Emile 

Haumant (Librairie Armand Colin). 
" Souvenirs sur Tourgueneff." Par Isaac Pavlovsky (Paris : 

Nouvelle Librairie Parisienne). 
" Tourgueneff Inconnu." Par Michel Delines. (Paris : La 

Librairie Illustree). 
" Ivan Tourgueneff ; Lettres a Madame Viardot." Publiees 

et annotees par E. Halperine-Kaminsky (Paris : Biblio- 

theque-Charpentier) . 
" A Literary History of Russia." By A. Bruckner (Fisher 

" A History of Russian Literature." By K. Waliszewski 

" La Pensee Russe Contemporaine." Par Ivan Strannik 

(Paris: Librairie Armand Colin). 

Tolstoy 331 

" Le Roman Russe." Par Vicomle E. M. dc Vogii^ (Paris: 

Libra irie Plon). 
"The Complete Works of Tolstoy" (Dent). 
" The Life of Tolstoy — First Fifty Years." By Aylmer Maude 

" Leo Tolstoy, His Life and Work." Compiled by Paul 

Birukoff and revised by Leo Tolstoy (Heinemann). 
" Tolstoi as Man and Artist." By Dimitri Merejkowski 

" How Count Tolstoy Lives and Works." By P. A. Sergy- 

eenko (Nisbet). 
*' Tolstoy ; His Life, Works and Doctrine." By Dr. A. S. 

Rappoport (New Age Press). 
" Life." By Count Lyof N. Tolstoi (Walter Scott). 
" Resurrection." By Count Lyof N. Tolstoi (Walter Scott). 
" My Confession." By Count Lyof N. Tolstoi (Walter Scott). 
" Recollections." By C. Behrs (Heinemann). 



Agatha, 23, 24 
Aksakof, Serge, 55 
Alpine Mountains, 183 
"Annals of a Sportsman," 14, 

20, 22, 40, 54, 120, 141, 

155. 160, 173 
Assia, 26 
Atlantic, 43 

Baden-Baden, 68 
Bakounine, 46, 47 
Balzac, 104 
Barbourine, 26 
BazarofE, 26, 86-7 
Berlin, 18, 40, 44, 46, 49, 55 
Bielinski, 48, 49, 54 
Black Forest, 53 
Bougival, 188, 200 
Brie. 53 
Byron, 158 

Calderon, 50 
Carlyle, 158 
Claudia, 15 
Courtavenel, 53 
Crimean War, 5 5 

Daudet, Alphonse, 41, 56, 116 
"David Copperfield," 41, 192 

" Diary of a Superfluous Man," 

153, 164, 199,201 
Dickens, 41, 141, 192 
Dostoievsky, 54, ^6, 78, 155 
Dumas, Alexandre, 57 

Edmond, Charles, 103 
Eliot, George, 45, 198 
England, 96, 158 
" Eyre, Jane," 18 

" Fathers and Sons," 26, 68, 

79, 86, 89 
Fetistka, 25, 26 
"Fire at Sea," 184, 188 
" First Love," 27, 30, 41 
Flaubert, Gustave, 69, 96, 100, 

no, 114, 162, 187 
France, 50, 56 
Frankfort, 41 

Garassim, 173 
Garcia, Pauline, 49 
Gemma, 42 
Germany, 40 
Goethe, 47 
Goncourt, 179 
Gontcharof, 71 

Hegel, 38, 40 




Heine, 44 

Hugo, Victor, 57, 141 

Insarov, 128, 129, 130, 132, 

Institut Lazaref, 35, 36 
Irene, 48 
Italy, 40 

Jakovlef, Nicolas, 22 

" Journal des Goncourts," 27 

" Karanina, Anna," 55 

KarmazinofE, 76 

Kartacheff, Porphyre, 18,24, 40, 

Kondratatief, Egor, 22 

Lamartine, 57 

" L'Assommoir," 104 

Lavretski, 6^, 64, 65, 66, 68 

Lear, King, 78 

Levin, 63 

Lezhnyov, 58 

Liszt, 17 

Liza, 57, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67 

Loutovinofi, 16 

Lyons, 50 

Magny, 56 

Maupassant, de, 215 

Mirabeau, 85 

Moscow, 17. 24, 35, 44. 49, 55 

Moscow, University of, 37 

Mumu, 172, 175, 176. 177 

Musset, Alfred de, 27 

Natalya, 59, 61, 66 
Nezhdanov, 81, 84, 94 
Nikolaevna, Marie, 43, 48 

" On the Eve, 
Orel, 13, 25 

121, 127 

Panshin, 65 

Pantaleone, 29 

Paris, 27, 43, 48, 6;} 

Pascal, 50 

Pavel, 26 

Pavlovsky, 29, 105 

Pecksniff, 58 

Petrof, Ivan, 22 

Petrovna, Varvara, 35, 54 

Phaedra, ^^ 

Pigasov, 62 

" Piotr Petrovitch Karataev," 

Poliakoff, 22, 23, 24 
Polinski, 47, 50, 73, 216 
Polozoff, 29 
Polozov, Ippolit, 43 
Pounine, 26 
Provenijales, 50 
Pushkin, 102, 105, 115 

Rudin, Dimitri, 46, 47, 55, 57, 
58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 
66, 67, 68 

Russia, 18, 41, 45," 48, 56, 61, 

St. Petersburg, 19,23,39,49,55 

St. Petersburg, University, 38 

Sallis, Comtesse de, 87 

Salzbrunn, 49 

Sand, George, 50, 57, in 

Sannin, 41 , 42, 43, 56, 64 

Sapho, 56 

Schiller, 47 

Schwartz, Mile, 1 8 

Sebastopol, 55 

Siberia, 18, 54 

Silesia, 49 

Sipyagin, 80 

Skimpole, Horace, 59 

Slavophil, 65 



"Smoke, ",46, 48, 56,68, 201-13 

SobalefE, 20 

Souvenirs, 50 

Spasskoe, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 

24, 26, 27, 31, 33, 35, 36, 56, 

70, 72, 157. 191 
Spasskoe-Celo, 25 
" Spring Torrents," 90, 199 
Stettin, 49 
Switzerland, 27, 40 

Tartufie, 58 

Temps, The, 103 

Thackeray, 125, 158 

Titania, 30 

Tolstoy. 26, 55, 63, 65, 75, 103 

" Torrents of Spring," 29, 30. 

41. 156 
Tourguenevo, 24 
Troubetzkoi, Princess, 29 
Turgenev, 13. 15, 17. 18, 19, 21, 

23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 

30, 33. 35. 36, 37. 38, 39. 40. 

41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47. 48. 

49. 50, 54. 55. 56, 59. 61, 63. 

64, 65, 66, 67, 68 
Turgenev, Elizabeth, 25 
Turgenev, Madame, 16, 17, 18, 

19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28 
Turgenev, Nicolas, 17, 18, 19, 

21.22. 23, 24, 35 

United States, 43 

Viardot. Madame. 17, 26, 48, 
49. 50. 53. 68,69, 99, no, 188 
Ville-d'Avray, 53 
" Virgin Soil," 79, 93 

Zagoskino, 35 

Zinaiaida, 30, 31. 32, 33, 34 

Zola. Emile, 45.103-5, 142 


" A Landed Proprietor." 282 
"Anna Karanina," 252, 255. 

269, 275, 281, 307 
" A Squire's Morning," 269, 


Bashkir, 271 
Behrs, 280, 285, 287 

Caucasus, the, 266 

" Caucasian Prisoner," 260 

" Childhood, Boyhood," 224, 

"Cossacks, The," 243, 260. 

265, 282 
Crimean War, 228, 270 

"Death of Ivan Ilyitch," 291. 


Kazan, 227 

" Kreutzer Sonata." 270, 281, 
288. 291, 324 



Merezhkovsky, 221, 264. 287 
Moscow. 281 

" My Confession," 293. 300 
"My Husband and I," 255, 
269, 291 



" Resurrection, ' 228, 271, 287, 
309, 312, 326 

" Sebastopol Sketches," 267, 

268, 282 
Sergyeenko, 321 
Sodo, 261 

" The Three Deaths," 284, 

Tolstoy : 

compared with Turgenev, 
258, 301 

introspection, 241 

labourer, as, 285 

Tolstoy (cont.): 
love for Masha, 234 
marriage, 280 
pessimism, 232, 296 
realism, 237, 291 
religion, 247, 281, 283, 286, 

299, 318 
Sebastopol, at, 263, 267 
soldier's life, 262 

"War and Peace," 280-281, 
284, 291 

Yasnaya Polyana, 227, 271, 

274, 278 
" Youth," 228 

PrinUd by Haull, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury. 



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'• Worked out in a very pleasant, mystical 
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'-' Mr. Lloyd reveals capacity of an unusual 
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we look forward with some eagerness to Mr. Lloyd's 
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These reprints include the earliest account of 
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Tlie History of His Sacred Majesty's 

Most Wonderful Preservation. 
The Royal Oak. 
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Escape of Our Gracious King. 
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Only an AotPdss 

The Apple of Blden 

Gay Lawrless 

The DraacT— and the 'KToman 

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^4 1^^^^^--^" 






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