Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/209

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


to lead the Russian people into the same state of constitutional slavery in which the other European peoples dwell!”[1]

In his hostility towards Liberalism contempt was his dominant feeling. In respect of Socialism his

  1. The End of a World (1905-6). See the telegram addressed by Tolstoy to an American journal: “The agitation in the Zemstvos has as its object the limitation of despotic power and the establishment of a representative government. Whether or no they succeed the result will be a postponement of any true social improvement. Political agitation, while producing the unfortunate illusion of such improvement by external means, arrests true progress, as may be proved by the example of all the constitutional States—France, England, America, &c.” (Preface to the French translation of The Great Crime, 1905.)

    In a long and interesting letter to a lady who asked him to join a Committee for the Propagation of Reading and Writing among the People, Tolstoy expressed yet other objections to the Liberals: they have always played the part of dupes; they act as the accomplices of the autocracy through fear; their participation in the government gives the latter a moral prestige, and accustoms them to compromises, which quickly make them the instruments of power. Alexander II. used to say that all the Liberals were ready to sell themselves for honours if not for money; Alexander III. was able, without danger, to eradicate the liberal work of his father. “The Liberals whispered among themselves that this did not please them; but they continued to attend the tribunals, to serve the State and the press; in the press they alluded to those things to which allusion was allowed, and were silent upon matters to which allusion was prohibited.” They did the same under Nikolas II. “When this young man, who knows nothing and understands nothing, replies tactlessly and with effrontery to the representatives of the people, do the Liberals protest? By no means... From every side they send the young Tsar their cowardly and flattering congratulations.” (Further Letters.)