Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/67

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63
ST. PETERSBURG

tempt for human reason, made him always on the alert to discover deception in himself or others.

"He never believed in the sincerity of any one. All moral exhilaration seemed false to him; and he had a way of fixing, with that extraordinarily piercing gaze of his, the man whom he suspected was not telling the truth."[1] "How he used to listen! How he used to gaze at those who spoke to him, from the very depths of his grey eyes, deeply sunken in their orbits! With what irony his lips were pressed together!"[2]

"Tourgenev used to say that he had never experienced anything more painful than this piercing gaze, which, together with two or three words of envenomed observation, was capable of infuriating anybody."[3]

At their first meetings violent scenes occurred between Tolstoy and Tourgenev. When at a distance they cooled down and tried to do one another justice. But as time went on Tolstoy's dislike of his literary surroundings grew deeper. He could not forgive these artists for the combination of their depraved life and their moral pretensions.

"I acquired the conviction that nearly all were immoral men, unsound, without character, greatly inferior to those I had met in my Bohemian military life. And they were sure of themselves and self-content, as men might be who were absolutely sound. They disgusted me."[4]

  1. Tourgenev.
  2. Grigorovitch.
  3. Eugène Gardine: Souvenirs sur Tourgeniev, 1883. See Vie et Œuvre de Tolstoï, by Birukov.
  4. Confessions.