He thought he had arrived in port, had achieved the haven in which his unquiet soul might take its repose. He was only at the beginning of a new period of activity.
A winter passed in Moscow (his family duties having obliged him to follow his family thither), and the taking of the census, in which he contrived to lend a hand, gave him the occasion to examine at first hand the poverty of a great city. The impression produced upon him was terrible. On the evening of the day when he first came into contact with this hidden plague of civilisation, while relating to a friend what he had seen, "he began to shout, to weep, and to brandish his fist."
"People can't live like that!" he cried, sobbing. "It cannot be! It cannot be!" He fell into a state of terrible despair, which did not leave him for months. Countess Tolstoy wrote to him on the 3rd of March, 1882:
- "I had hitherto passed my whole life away from the city." (What shall we do?)