Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/118

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114 TOLSTOY

very near to them. 1 He began to ponder concern- ing these millions of beings who were excluded from the narrow circle of the learned, the rich, and the idle who killed themselves, endeavoured to for- get themselves, or, like himself, were basely pro- longing a hopeless life. He asked himself why these millions of men and women escaped this despair : why they did not kill themselves. He then perceived that they were living not by the light of reason, but without even thinking of reason ; they were living by faith. What was this faith which knew nothing of reason ?

" Faith is the energy of life. One cannot live without faith. The ideas of religion were elaborated in the infinite remoteness of human thought. The replies given by faith to Life the sphinx contain the deepest wisdom of humanity."

Is it enough, then, to be acquainted with those formulae of wisdom recorded in the volume of religion ? No, for faith is not a science ; faith is an act ; it has no meaning unless it is lived. The dis- gust which Tolstoy felt at the sight of rich and right- thinking people, for whom faith was merely a kind

1 His portraits of this period betray this plebeian tendency. A painting by Kramskoy (1873) represents Tolstoy in a moujik's blouse, with bowed head : it resembles a German Christ. The forehead is growing bare at the temples ; the eheeks are lined and bearded. In another portrait, dated 1881, he has the look of a respectable artisan in his Sunday clothes : the hair cut short, the beard and whiskers spread out on either side ; the face looks much wider below than above ; the eyebrows are contracted, the eyes gloomy ; the wide nostrils have a dog-like appearance ; the ears are enormous.

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