Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/178

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with his works, were delighted, and recognised in him a great spiritual authority. Certainly, by this affinity and his genius, Tolstoy, even against his will, became a leader of the movement. In sympathy with their true Christian conduct, their humble, patient endurance of hardships and tortures at the hands of the military authorities, their gentle answers to their persecutors, their habit of mutual aid, Tolstoy tried in every way to assist them—morally and materially. He used his influence in high quarters; he urged his friends to do the same, and to give personal help to these poor sufferers when expelled from their homes and distributed among the villages of the non-Russian mountain population. He forwarded to them donations which he had received on their behalf, and his letters to them were in the most touching and kindly terms. When the condition of the exiled Dukhobors began to be very critical, some of their friends addressed an appeal to the Russian public in order to put an end to the terrible persecution by the Government. Tolstoy joined in the appeal, and wrote a strong and powerful afterword to it. The signatories to the document, as well as some of those who had helped the Dukhobors, were exiled to the Baltic provinces, and others were banished to foreign countries. The weight of the