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the early pages of Resurrection, is not more masterly than the episode of l.oukachka's killing the swimming Tchetcherze in the river under the 11insive morning twilight in The Cossacks. The quality of luminous truth is the same, the same the solidity and audacity of presentation; each could only have been written by one man, and that the author of Anna Karenina. That a space of nearly half a century divides the dates of their composition is a mere accident of time. ln spite of all the vicissitudes which had swept over his spirit, the Tolstoi of 1900 was essentially the Tolstoi who came to spiritual birth in the Caucasian mountains in 1851.
The jocular view of life has never appealed to Tolstoi, and although humor is not entirely absent from his works, it takes there no prominent or even effective place. The absence of humor accounts, perhaps, for a certain want of sympathy with the weaknesses of mankind which is the more accentuated because the author belongs to that race which is peculiarly prone to this species of complaisance. "Tout comprendre ce serait tout pardonner," is a proverb which seems to lose its savor when we apply it to Tolstoi who appears to understand everything and yet to forgive nothing. lt is strange that the novelist who, more than any other, has set himself to diagnose the conditions of the human machine, and on whom its smallest divergence from normality is never lost, should be as severe to frailty, or more severe, than the most rigid of the old idealist censors. Tolstoi, although he knows the limitations of human power, requires from it more than any theoretical moralist has hitherto ventured to ask. This profound study of the heart has led him to benevolence and charity, in their active form, but to no patience, no indulgence, no sweetness of a blind indulgence. He claims from easy
going human beings the full pound of flesh, a rude and inquisitorial Shylock. Such a story as the Kreutzer Sonata might have been written in a cell of the Thebald by an angry monk.
The singular tendency for calumniating certain grades or spheres of life, which Tolstoi has cultivated with more and more application, has injured the value of his imaginative work. We need hardly speak of the moral folktales which, about 1890, he had the foible of circulating. These now appear with the story called lvan the Fool amongst them, but this is a work of real merit, belonging to an earlier time. Such a tale as What Men Live By is characteristic of the later period when the greatest novelist of Russia voluntarily sank to the level of a purveyor of Sunday-school prize-books, which ought to have been issued in cheap green and pink bindings, with plenty of tinsel on the sides. But even in his serious and worthy writings there had always been a tendency to preach, and often to scold, which had permanently lessened their literary value. On this matter it is proper to speak plainly. lf our social nature is in such a parlous state that all our institutions need instant remodelling, if the body of man in all its natural instincts is a mere snare of the devil, if all pleasure leads direct to hell, if property is a menace and the structure of society a wickedness, let us be quickly and resolutely reformed. But in that case what we want is a Savonarola to burn all the books and the pictures in a great holocaust of the amenities of life. What we do not want is all this didactic bitterness from a life-long writer of romances.
lt is difficult to forgive Tolstoi for having so ungraciously repudiated the pleasures of the artist. This bitterness of Tolstoi in the contemplation of mankind long ago troubled the serenity and geniality of Tourguenlef. It was. no doubt, precisely the expressive sensibility of Tourgu£nief which led Tolstoi to cultivate the sterner moods of reprehension so emphatically. Between the author of Anna Karenina. and the author of Recits d'un Chasseur there was always something of the conscious opposition that rose and fell in fluctuations, but never disappeared, between lbsen and Bjiirnson. Yet even in Tolstoi's earliest productions, even in the tales which appeared soon after 1850, under the influence of the pessimistic poet Nekrassov, the virulence of Tolstoi's prejudices is apparent, although it would have been a bold prophet who would have predicted that the author of Lucerne would extend his views of the sin of happiness so far as to banish married love, patriotism, the sense of beauty, and religious devotion from his dismal and forbidding republic. Those who applaud the contradictions and assumptions of Tolstoi's later works are to be excused only on the supposition that they have never taken the trouble to realize the misery which a general acceptance of his theories would entail on mankind.
Tolstoi has obstinately prevented himself from enjoying, although, oddly enough, not from contemplating, the pleasure which comes to the artist from the study of the psychological adventures of men and women, seen simply, without anger or prejudice, as through a lens held over ;i n ant-hill. lt was this rapture for which Balzac lived; but Tolstoi, wonderful as he is, stands on a lower level than Balzac. He distinguishes himself, as we have seen, from the romanticists and idealists by his passion for truth; but his danger, and the rock on which he strikes, is that he cannot, in his moral zeal, distinguish between facts as they are and facts as his sentiments demand that they should be. Tolstoi, throughout his writings, oscillates between two attitudes, that of pure observation and
that of judicial, civil and moral responsibility. But it is no part of the novelist's business to legislate or to administer the law. His aim should be to show us how men act, think and feel, not how they ought to be judged for acting. The very notion of a realistic novelist who is not imperturbable is ridiculous.
Here we touch upon the radical weakness which, while perhaps helping to make the man Tolstoi an interesting, stimulating and even thrilling individuality, has sapped the wide tree of his literary reputation, and may in the end prove its ruin. He set out to observe mankind impartially, and yet he has not been able to resist the ethical caprice which has led him into a thousand flagrant contradictions and illogical conclusions. Nor is there anything very new in any of his theories, except the extravagance with which they are formulated. He goes back to 1750 and the Discours sur l'intgalitt. His constant attack upon artificiality, refinement, fine words that take the place of brave deeds, the ascendancy of women, and his no less persistent offer, in exchange for all these, of the charm of an eventless rustic life, in the absence of all elaborate enjoyment, what is it but the old, old contention of Rousseau, to which no iota of argument has been added. Tolstoi, posing as a Fabricins urging the degenerate Romans to burn their pictures and break their statues, what is this but the ancient paradox that art and science corrupt the soul?
These violent iconoclasms are connected with the increasing tendency to weave a romantic idyll around the rustic poor. "O Sentiment, quel est le coeur de fer que tu n'as jamais touchfe?" says Rousseau, who is Tolstoi's direct master. The novels of the great Russian are full of instances of this sentimental illogicality. No more sustained example of Tolstoi's unflinching art as a realist is to be found than the novel called The Death of Ivan llyitch, where the humiliating effects of conventionality upon the moral character of a commonplace man are analyzed with terrible concentration and consistency. The skill with which the picture is built up, touch by touch, can hardly be overpraised, but the sentimentality of the author forces itself forward in the introduction of Gerassim, a sort of supernatural peasant, who moves like a spirit of light among these benighted bureaucrats. Life is nothing but a tissue of falsehoods in all cases except in that of Gerassim, who is truth, health and sympathy incarnate, simply because he is a peasant. The solid cheerfuiness of Gerassim is constantly brought into contrast with the petulance of his master. But was he cheerful merely because he was a peasant, and would his bright color and elastic step have survived the onset of such a malady as that from which lvan llyitch was suffering?
How Tolstoi will appear in the eyes of posterity it is, of course, impossible
Tbe Contemporary Review.
to say. But in the eyes of the contemporaries of his old age he seems the author of one elaborate novel of consummate merit, Anna Karenina, in which he has rivalled the first psychologists of Europe; of two romances of excessive length, War and Peace and Resurrection, in which the most brilliant qualities are found side by side with much that is tiresome, incoherent and abnormal; and of a large number of shorter stories in which the author oscillates between an artistic probity of the most admirable kind, and a deplorable, didactic charlatanism. He has magnificent powers of description, a certain grandeur in the portraiture of life, a power over detail which has scarcely been rivalled, but his ideas of construction are primitive, and his absence of logical consistency distressing. lf we may hazard a prediction, there will be some pages of Tolstoi that will live for ever; but their effect will for some time be obscured by the circumstance that in the mass of his works there is, in Landor's phrase, "overmuch to pare away."
By M. E. Francis
The big farm was situated on the hill —the dwelling-house that is, for Hardy's land stretched up and down and round about almost as far as the eye could see. To say the truth, the hill was but a little hill, a scarcely distinguishable mound in the midst of that fertile valley which lay between the downs and the river. The big farmhouse, then, with all its wealth of tiled-roof outhouse and clustering stack, crowned the hill-top, and the Little Farm—the little, old, gray, tumble-down house so seldom used nowa
days, so much in need of repair, so forlorn with its ancient smokeless chimney-stack and its shuttered windows—crouched in the hollow, a mere appendage to that supplementary barton of Farmer Hardy's, with its surrounding cowsheds and pigsties, in which the overflow stock from the prosperous premises above found refuge. Yet it was looking out on the lower barton that the noble tithe-barn stood, that wonderful relic of the past, with its time-worn brick walls, its mouldering oak floor, the great granary in which the monks of old had stored the offerings of the pious. in the barn proper Stephen Hardy's produce was stored now, but the granary above, being considered unsafe, harbored only rats and mice, in greater or lesser numbers according to the war waged upon them by such of Mrs. Hardy's cats as chose to forsake the sociable comfort of the upper premises for the sporting opportunities provided by the lower.
Mrs. Hardy was pouring out tea for her stepson one autumn afternoon in the comfortable parlor of Hardy's-onthe-Hill. From time immemorial the place had been known by this name to distinguish it from the abodes of those other Hardys who dwelt in the vale, and in the neighboring small towns. In the like manner the head of the family was seldom spoken of as Farmer Hardy, or ever Stephen Hardy, but was invariably given his full title— Hardy-on-the-Hlll.
Mrs. Hardy had been housekeeper to the last Hardy-on-the-Hill for many years before he married her, for some years, indeed, before he married Stephen's mother. She had loved and mothered the first Mrs. Hardy to the best of her ability, and had kept things going then as she had kept them going before and after the reign—if reign it could be called—of that helpless little woman. The first Mrs. Hardy had been but "a nesh tewley poor body," as the neighbors agreed, who, except in providing that stout old yeoman her husband with an heir, had in every way neglected her duties as mistress of the busy household. Rebecca had ruled and taken possession of her from the first, just as she ruled and took possession of old Hardy-on-the-Hill. Stephen, too, had been her property from the moment of his birth, her more particular property since his fifteenth year, when she had stepped into his mother's vacant place. She took possession of him, i say, but she did not
rule him, for Stephen was not a man to be easily ruled. While he deferred to, and loved, the kindly, capable soul whom he continued to call Rebecca, making her feel herself in every way mistress of the house, he never for a moment forgot, or allowed her to forget, that he was master.
They presented a great contrast as they faced each other at the big round table. Rebecca, stout of form and ruddy of face, with bright blue eyes and hair that was still brown, though she was between fifty and sixty years of age. Stephen had dark hair and dark eyes, and the complexion of his handsome keen-featured face was suggestive of that strain of gipsy blood which was associated with his name. His figure was tall and well-knit, and he carried himself well.
Mrs. Hardy, having attended to Stephen's wants, was about to settle down comfortably to her own tea when the sound of wheels without caused her to look up with an exclamation.
"i'd 'low there's a visitor!" she cried. "'Tis a strange thing, Stephen —we don't see much company, Lord knows, but if ever folks do come, 'tis sure to be of a washin' day, or a Saturday when we're a bit short-handed. Jessie's gone to the town and Maggie's just changing her dress."
"I'll answer the door," said Stephen, rising.
"Go to the door yourself—why should you do that?" cried Rebecca. "i did ought to go if anybody goes—but i'm such a sight , There, for once I didn't change my dress—bein' Saturday and tea bein' nigh upon a quarter of an hour late already. Still, I don't like you to take the trouble."
She looked at him appealingly nevertheless, and Stephen with a good-natured smile crossed the room and went out.
A strident and particularly highpitched voice soon heralded the approach of the visitor; at sound of it Rebecca laid down her knife and fork with an expression of dismay.
"it's Mrs. Turnworth," she remarked, "of all people to come such a day as to-day!"
She whisked off her apron as she spoke, and thrust it hastily under one of the cushions of the sturdy leathercovered sofa which formed part of the furniture of that homely, antiquated living room, but a patch on the front breadth of her dress caused her countenance to assume a yet more dubious expression, and she was cogitating as to whether it might not be better, after all, to resume the discarded badge of honest drudgery, when the door opened and the lady in question entered, followed by Stephen.
"Dear me," exclaimed Mrs. Turnworth, "still at tea! Why, it's long past 6. How are you, Rebecca?"
"Quite well, thank you," responded Mrs. Hardy, who did not deem it necessary to offer the newcomer any special demonstrations of welcome. "Yes, we are rather later than usual— we generally have tea at 6 o'clock. But Saturday is a busy day with us." "So i see," returned Mrs. Turnworth, fixing ruthless eyes upon Rebecca's patched gown. "Six o'clock tea—it's your last meal, of course, but still l fancy you must get hungry before you go to bed."
"We'm early folks, you see," responded Rebecca, in her flurry lapsing into dialect, which was not often her custom when entertaining a visitor. "At least l be. l be ready for my bed about 9. Stephen, there, sits up longer, but he seldom cares for any supper."
"Well, go on with your tea now, anyhow," observed Mrs. Turnworth condescendingly. "Don't let me interrupt you. l just looked in on a matter of business."
Stephen, who had been helping himself to a supply of cold ham, re-seated
himself calmly, and Rebecca, half-unwillingly, poured herself out a second cup of tea.
"'Tis too late to offer you any, of course," she remarked. "You'll have had tea, l'd 'low."
"Oh yes, some time ago. i've been to the Rectory. it was Mrs. Moreton —by-the-way, how wretchedly sickly she does look, poor soul; but what can you expect with such a wearing husband? His sermons are enough to throw anybody into melancholia—it was she who advised me to come here. The fact is, l am looking for a house for some cousins of mine, and l thought the Little Farm might do."
"Are they farmers, then?" inquired Stephen quietly.
Mrs. Turnworth flushed. Though she had dwelt in one of the best houses in the neighborhood for more than twenty years and had put forward her claims to the respect and consideration of the entire community with unflagging energy and perseverance, it was now and then made patent to her that her position was even yet ill-assured. The county magnates occasionally invited her to their big parties, it is true, and she was careful to eschew such society as was provided by the country town, and to include on her visiting list nobody of less importance than a doctor or a clergyman; nevertheless, she could not feel that she was making headway among those whom she was pleased to term her equals, while her obvious inferiors treated her with a cool lack of ceremony which at times verged on disrespect. ln fact, no one knows better how to differentiate among his "gentry" than the Dorset rustic, who has as fine a taste for "quality" as the old-world lrishman.
"Farmers!" ejaculated Mrs. Turnworth, her already high-toned voice lifting itself another octave. "Farmers, Hardy! l tell you they are cousins of mine."