Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/124

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CHAPTER IX

THE CRISIS

From childhood Tolstoy had always inclined towards religion. This inclination was first stifled by the traditional rites and ceremonies of the Orthodox Church, then by the full play of his passions, his eventful life, his literary success and fame, by different philosophic theories, and finally by his family life. Nevertheless, this religious disposition was never quite extinguished, and from time to time it manifested itself. But when the ast illusion had gone, this powerful sentiment gathered up and, like a torrent, rushed along, sweeping aside every obstacle in its way.

The substance of religion, as Tolstoy had always faintly conceived it, was the relation of man to the fundamental principle of the universe; this relation, and his unity with it, produced in man the conviction of indestructibility, and belief in immortality. Without this belief, life, with the eternal dread of death, would be terribly absurd—even worse than annihilation itself. The conceptions

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