Page:Tolstoy - Tales from Tolstoi.djvu/32

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Biography

seriously of many things," did not immediately reassure him. At first Auerbach seems to have taken him for a peasant from some remote village who had come either to abuse or to blackmail him for defamation of character. Passing from Dresden to Kissingen, Tolstoi made the acquaintance of Frœbel, and then travelling slowly through Switzerland, Italy, and France, proceeded via Brussels to London. It was during this period that he wrote "Tri Smerti" ("Three Deaths"), "Semeinoe Schasti" ("Family Luck"), and "Polikushka."

Tolstoi returned from his second visit to the West full of educational ideas, which he instantly proceeded to put into practice. He began to publish a pedagogic journal, entitled Yasnaya Polyana, from the name of his estate, and started a school for the children of his peasantry — the first free school that ever existed in Russia, which was absolutely unique of its kind. Tolstoi adopted the two-fold principle that "all constraint is dangerous and argues want of proper method," and that "teachers ought to consult not their own convenience but the convenience of their pupils." Accordingly his pupils were allowed practically to do as they liked. They could come and go at will, might sit on chairs, huddle into corners, or stand at the window with their backs to their teachers as the mood took them, and no discipline of any sort was countenanced. To interest the pupils while they taught them was to be the sole aim of their schoolmasters. This school created some little sensation in its day. French savants and experts raised their hands to Heaven in amazement,

xxiv.