Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/82

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sented with so limpid a profundity, was to be his salvation. He was tired, unwell, disgusted with himself and his efforts. The brilliant success which had crowned his earlier works had given way to the absolute silence of the critics and the indifference of the public.[1] He pretended, haughtily, to be not ill-pleased.

"My reputation has greatly diminished in popularity; a fact which was saddening me. Now I am content; I know that I have to say something, and that I have the power to speak it with no feeble voice. As for the public, let it think what it will!"[2]

But he was boasting: he himself was not sure of his art. Certainly he was the master of his literary instrument; but he did not know what to do with it, as he said in respect of Polikuskha: "it was a matter of chattering about the first subject that came to hand, by a man who knows how to hold his pen."[3] His social work was abortive. In 1862 he resigned his appointment as territorial arbitrator. The same year the police made a search at Yasnaya Polyana, turned everything topsy-turvy, and closed the school. Tolstoy was absent at the time, suffering from overwork; fearing that he was attacked by phthisis.

"The squabbles of arbitration had become so painful to me, the work of the school so vague, and the doubts which arose from the desire of

teaching others while hiding my own ignorance

  1. From 1857 to 1861.
  2. Journal, October, 1857.
  3. Letter to Fet, 1863 (Vie et Œuvre).