Count Tolstoy’s Sociological Views. From An Interview -- By: Edward A. Steiner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 058:229 (Jan 1901)
Article: Count Tolstoy’s Sociological Views. From An Interview
Author: Edward A. Steiner

Count Tolstoy’s Sociological Views. From An Interview

Rev. Edward A. Steiner

When I first saw Tolstoy, fifteen years ago, he was a victor fresh from the battle-field, chasing darkness from his own heart. It was the time of experiments in bearing burdens, plowing fields, and mending shoes; and all these things, which cost him many a tear and many a sweat-drop, seemed fanatical, useless, and profitless, when writing a line might have brought dollars which would have enriched the poor. But the poor became enriched by Tolstoy’s bending of the back over the sandy soil of Yasnya’s beautiful fields. He bore their burdens; he learned of their woe. He was following in the Master’s steps; thus the Master did, and for the selfsame purpose.

At that time a beautiful boy with dreamy eyes was playing about his feet; a child, Danielo, the idol of his heart, the child of his old age. With ruthless consequence Providence asked him who preached renunciation as the first condition of entrance into life, asked him to give up this treasure, and the death angel came and took him: and the great heart throbbed, but was silent; and the blue eyes glistened, but held back the tears. It was the time of his greatest reaction against society and the church, and much of that which he said then and did then, has either vanished or has melted itself into his life. To-day the rugged-ness still remains; but the mountain is covered by snow, and the bowlders sleep underneath the coverlid of Heaven’s eiderdown. The rough, discordant truths have in them still the ring of conviction; but there is melody in what he says, music in his voice, and charm in his gesture and movement.

Like all Russian villages, Yasnaya has one street, very broad, very dirty, and very crudely built, although a few brick houses are in process of construction. The children seem a little better clad, and the peasants a little more washed, than those of other villages. It also differs from other villages in Russia in that it has a hill, and at the foot of that hill is a dense park, and within that park lives the Count. The entrance is flanked by two homely little towers. To the left is a duck pond, which, in former days, was a boating-place. Further on to the right, in the clearing, what seems like a forest, is a tennis ground, and there is much

merry laughter as we approach, for the love game has invaded the Count’s domain and has found many fair victims.

The Count was expecting me, and hardly had I stepped from my bone-breaking telega, when that voice of long ago, weakened somewhat by illness and mellowed by age, greeted me heartily, and I was asked to accompany him on his walk, which proved to be the most interesting pa...

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