Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/120

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He was saved. God had appeared to him.[1]

But as he was not a Hindu mystic, to whom ecstasy suffices; as to the dreams of the Asiatic was added the thirst for reason and the need of action of the Occidental, he was moved to translate his revelation into terms of practical faith, and to draw from the holy life the rules of daily existence. Without any previous bias, and sincerely wishing to believe in the beliefs of his own flesh and blood,

  1. To tell the truth—not for the first time. The young volunteer in the Caucasus, the officer at Sebastopol, Olenin of the Cossacks, Prince Andrei, and Pierre Besoukhov, in War and Peace, had had similar visions. But Tolstoy was so enthusiastic that each time he discovered God he believed it was for the first time; that previously there had been nothing but night and the void. He saw nothing of his past but its shadows and its shames. We who, through reading his Journal, know better than he himself the story of his heart, know also how profoundly religious was that heart, even when he was most astray. But he himself confesses in a passage in the preface to the Criticism of Dogmatic Theology: "God! God! I have erred; I have sought the truth where I should not have sought it; and I knew that I erred. I flattered my evil passions, knowing them to be evil; but I never forgot Thee. I was always conscious of Thee, even when I went astray." The crisis of 1878–79 was only more violent than the rest; perhaps under the influence of repeated loss and the advance of age; its only novelty was that the image of God, instead of vanishing and leaving no trace when once the flame of ecstasy flickered out, remained with him, and the penitent, warned by past experience, hastened to "walk in the light while he had the light," and to deduce from his faith a whole system of life. Not that he had not already tried to do so. (Remember the Rules of Life written when he was a student.) But at fifty years of age there was less likelihood that his passions would divert him from his path.