Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/132

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

"You used to say, 'I used to want to hang myself because of my lack of faith.' Now you have faith: why then are you so unhappy?"

Because he had not the sanctimonious, self-satisfied faith of the Pharisee; because he had not the egoism of the mystic, who is too completely absorbed in the matter of his own salvation to think of the salvation of others";[1] because he knew love; because he could no longer forget the miserable creatures he had seen, and in the passionate tenderness of his heart he felt as though he were responsible for their sufferings and their abjectness; they were the victims of that civilisation in whose privileges he shared; of that monstrous idol to which an elect and superior class was always sacrificing millions of human beings. To accept the benefit of such crimes was to become an accomplice. His conscience would have given him no repose had he not denounced them.

  1. Tolstoy has many times expressed his antipathy for the "ascetics, who live for themselves only, apart from their fellows." He puts them in the same class as the conceited and ignorant revolutionists, "who pretend to do good to others without knowing what it is that they themselves need. . . . I love these two categories of men with the same love, but I hate their doctrines with the same hate. The only doctrine is that which orders a constant activity, an existence which responds to the aspirations of the soul and endeavours to realise the happiness of others. Such is the Christian doctrine. Equally remote from religious quietism and the arrogant pretensions of the revolutionists, who seek to transform the world without knowing in what real happiness consists." (Letters to a friend, published in the volume entitled Cruel Pleasures, 1895.)