Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/22

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



known. Some historians believe that the founder was a German. Others suppose that he was a Lithuanian, and still others trace his descent from a Tartar Khan. The first Count was Peter Tolstoy, a distinguished statesman, an able politician, and a grand seigneur. A dark stain on his memory remains, however, on account of his active participation in the assassination of the Tsarevitch Alexis, the son of Peter the Great. He was appointed Chief of the Secret Service by Peter, and generally enjoyed the close confidence of the Emperor and, later, of the Empress Catherine I., on the day of whose coronation he was created a Count. But when Peter II., the son of the assassinated Alexis, came to the throne, Count Peter Tolstoy lost his position. He was deprived of his title and, at the age of eighty-two, deported to the Solovetsky Monastery on the White Sea, where he died shortly after. The title was restored to the Tolstoy family in the reign of the Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great.

The grandfather of Leo Tolstoy, Count Eliah, was, as we know from his grandson's testimony, a simple-minded man—kind, soft-hearted, gay, and not only generous, but somewhat of a spendthrift. Dinners, theatrical representations, balls, card-playing, and parties were constantly taking