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Title: Lectures on Russian Literature - Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenef, Tolstoy
Author: Panin, Ivan, 1855-1942
Language: English
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                              IVAN PANIN.


                                LECTURES

                                   ON

                          RUSSIAN LITERATURE:


                       PUSHKIN, GOGOL, TURGENEF,
                                TOLSTOY.


                           NEW YORK & LONDON:
                          G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS,
                        The Knickerbocker Press.
                                 1889.


                            Copyright, 1889,

                             By Ivan Panin.



                                   TO

                                 MIRIAM



PREFACE.


The translations given in this volume, with the exception of the
storm-scene from Tolstoy in the First Lecture, are my own.

The reader will please bear in mind that these Lectures, printed here
exactly as delivered, were written with a view to addressing the ear as
well as the eye, otherwise the book would have been entirely different
from what it now is.

When delivering the Sixth Lecture, I read extracts from Tolstoy's "My
Religion" and "What to Do," illustrating every position of his I there
commend; but for reasons it is needless to state, I omit them in the
book. I can only hope that the reader will all the more readily go to
the books themselves.

                                                           I. P.

  Grafton, Mass.,
          1 July, 1889.



CONTENTS.


  LECTURE                       PAGE

    I. Introductory                1

   II. Pushkin                    44

  III. Gogol                      76

   IV. Turgenef                  115

    V. Tolstoy the Artist        154

   VI. Tolstoy the Preacher      190



LECTURE I.

INTRODUCTORY.


1. I have chosen the four writers mentioned on the programme not so
much because they are the four greatest names of Russian literature as
because they best represent the point of view from which these lectures
are to be delivered. For what Nature is to God, that is Literature unto
the Soul. God ever strives to reveal himself in Nature through its
manifold changes and developing forms. And the human soul ever strives
to reveal itself in literature through its manifold changes and
developing forms. But while to see the goal of the never resting
creativeness of God is not yet given unto man, it is given unto mortal
eyes to behold the promised land from Pisgah, toward which the soul
ever strives, and which, let us hope, it ever is approaching. For the
soul ever strives onward and upward, and whether the struggle be called
progress of species, looking for the ideal, or union with God, the
thing is the same. It is of this journey of the soul heavenward that
literature is the record, and the various chases of literary development
in every nation are only so many mile-posts on the road.

2. In its childhood the human soul only exists; it can hardly yet be
said to live; but soon it becomes conscious of its existence, and the
first cry it utters is that of joy. Youth is ever cheerful, and in its
cheer it sings. Youth sings to the stars in the sky, to the pale moon
and to the red moon, to the maiden's cheeks and to the maiden's fan;
youth sings to the flower, to the bee, to the bird, and even to the
mouse. And what is true of the individual is equally true of the race.
The earliest voices in the literature of any nation are those of song.
In Greece Homer, like his favorite cicada, chirps right gladly, and in
England Chaucer and Shakespeare are first of all bards. In France and
Germany it is even difficult to find the separate prominent singers, for
there the whole nation, whatever hath articulate voice in it, takes to
singing with its troubadours and minnesingers. In its earliest stages
then the soul sings, not in plaintive regretful strain, but birdlike
from an overflowing breast, with rejoicings and with mirth.

3. But the time soon arrives when the soul recognizes that life means
something more than mere existence, something more than mere enjoyment,
something more even than mere happiness; the time soon arrives when the
soul recognizes that by the side of the Prince of Light there also dwells
the Prince of Darkness; that not only is there in the Universe a great
God the Good, but also a great Devil the Evil; and with the impetuosity
and impassionateness of youth it gives itself up to lamentation, to
indignation. The heart of the poet, the singer, is now filled with woe;
he departs and leaves behind him only the lamenter, the reproacher, the
rebel. Job succeeds Miriam, Æschylus succeeds Homer, Racine and Corneille
take the place of the troubadours, and Byron succeeds Shakespeare. This
is the stage of fruitless lamentation and protest.

4. But unlike the bear in winter, the soul cannot feed long on its own
flesh, and the time soon comes when it beholds the wasteful restlessness
of mere indignation, of mere protest. It sees that to overcome the ill
it must go forth manfully and do battle, and attack the enemy in his
most vulnerable spots, instead of fruitlessly railing against him.
Literature then becomes full of purpose; becomes aggressive, attacks now
the throne, now the church, now the law, now the institution, now the
person. Tragedy is followed by comedy, sentiment by satire; Æschylus is
followed by Aristophanes, Horace is followed by Juvenal and Martial;
Racine is followed by Voltaire, and Byron by Dickens. This is the stage
of war.

5. But neither is it given unto the soul to remain long in hatred, for
hatred is the child of Darkness; the goal of the soul is Love, since
Love is the child of Light. And the spirit of man soon discovers that
the powers of darkness are not to be conquered by violence, by battle
against the men possessed of them, but by faith in the final triumph of
the Good, by submission to Fate, by endurance of what can be borne, by
reverence towards God, and lastly by mercy towards men. The soul thus
discovers its true haven; it lays down the sword; its voice calls no
longer to strife, but to peace; it now inspires and uplifts, and Greek
literature ends with Socrates and Plato, Rome with Marcus Aurelius and
Seneca, England with Carlyle and Ruskin, America with Emerson, and
Germany with Goethe. Letters indeed go on in England, in America, and
in Germany, but the cycle is completed; and higher than Plato, Marcus
Aurelius, Goethe, Emerson, Carlyle, and Ruskin, the soul need not seek
to rise. Whatever comes henceforth can add naught new to its life; the
tones may indeed vary, but the strain must remain the same.

6. The eye of the body never indeed beholds the perfect circle; however
accurately the hand draw, the magnifying glass quickly reveals zigs and
zags in the outline. Only unto the eye of the spirit it is given to
behold things in their perfection, and the soul knows that there does
exist a perfect circle, magnifying glass or no magnifying glass. So
history shows indeed many an irregularity in the law just laid down
for the development of the soul, but the law is still there in its
perfection, and Russian literature furnishes the best illustration of
this law. Every literature has to go through these four stages, but
nowhere have they been passed with such regularity as in Russia.
Accordingly we have in due order of time Pushkin the singer, Gogol
the protester, Turgenef the warrior, who on the very threshold of his
literary career vows the oath of a Hannibal not to rest until serfdom
and autocracy are abolished, and lastly we have Tolstoy the preacher,
the inspirer.

7. How this law has operated on Russian soil, in Russian hearts, is the
purpose of these lectures to show. For while the laws of the spirit are
ever the same in essence, the character of their manifestation varies
with time and place, just as in Nature the same force appears in the
firmament as gravitation when it binds star unto star, as attraction
when it binds in the molecule atom unto atom, and in man as love when
it binds heart unto heart. The phenomena therefore, natural to all
literature, we shall also find here, but modified by the peculiar
character of the people.

8. And the first characteristic of the Russian spirit is that it has no
_originating_ force. In the economy of the Aryan household, of which the
Slavic race is but a member, each member has hitherto had a special
office in the discharge of which its originating force was to be spent.
The German has thus done the thinking of the race, the American by his
inventive faculty has done the physical comforting of the race, the
Frenchman the refining of the race, the Englishman the trading of the
race; but the Russian has no such force peculiar to him. The office of
the Slavonic race has hitherto been passive, and its highest distinction
has hitherto been solely either to serve as a sieve through which the
vivifying waters of European thought shall pour upon the sleeping body
of Asia, or as a dead wall to stem the wild devastating flow of Asiatic
barbarism upon European civilization. The virtue of the Slavonic race is
thus first of all passivity; and as the virtue of a pipe is to be smooth
and hollow, so the virtue of the Russian is first of all passive
receptivity.

9. Look not therefore for creative originality in Russian literature.
There is not a single form of literary development that is native to the
Russian soil, not a single contribution to philosophy, to art, to
letters, the form of which can be said to have been born on Russian
soil. Its literary forms, like its civilization (or that which passes
for its civilization), have been borrowed bodily from the west. But as
action and reaction are always equal, so this very limitation of the
Russian national character has been the source of many virtues of
spiritual life, which Europe and America might well learn to acquire,
all the more now when western thought has matured to such ripeness as
to be nigh decay.

10. And herein you have the explanation of the powerful hold Russian
literature has suddenly gained upon thoughtful hearts. Wiseacres,
marvelling at the meaning of the outburst of enthusiasm for Russian
literature, mutter "fashionable craze," and henceforth rest content.
But, O my friends, believe it not. Craze will go as craze has come, but
the permanent force in Russian literature which now stirs the hearts of
men is not to be disposed of by gossip at tea-table. Fashion can hug a
corpse for a while, and proclaim its ghastly pallor to be delicacy of
complexion, and the icy touch of its hand to be reserved culture, but it
cannot breathe the breath of Life into what is dead. And the present
enthusiasm is kept awake, rest assured, not because of fashion, but in
spite of it. Craze will surely go, but with it will not go that which
appeals in Russian literature to all earnest souls, because of its
permanent elements over which fashion has no control.

11. For the Russians have elements in their writings quite notable in
themselves at all times, but more notable now when letters everywhere else
seem to run to waste and ruin,--elements without which all writing must
become in due course of time so much blacking of paper, and all speech
only so much empty sound; elements without which all writing is sent
off, not weighted in one corner, that it may, like unto the toy, after
never so much swaying to and fro, still find its upright equilibrium,
but rather like unto the sky-rocket, sent up into empty space whizzing
and crackling, to end in due time in total explosion and darkness.

12. And of these elements the first is Intensity. What the Russian lacks
in originality he makes up in strength; what he lacks in breadth he
makes up in depth. The Russian is nothing if not intense. When he loves,
he loves with all his heart; when he adores, he adores with all his
soul; when he submits, he submits with all his being; when he rebels,
he rebels with all his force. When Peter decides to introduce western
civilization into his empire, it must be done in a day and throughout
the country at once; and if human nature does not yield quickly enough
to the order for change from above, soldiers must march about the
streets with shears in their hands to cut off the forbidden beard and
long coat. When tyrant Paul dies by the hands of assassins, a scene of
joy at the deliverance takes place which is only possible on Russian
streets: strangers fly into each other's arms, embrace, kiss each other,
amid gratulations for the relief. When the foreign invader is to be
repelled, no sacrifice is too great for the Russian; and he does not
shrink even from setting fire to his own Mecca, the beloved mother
Moscow. When Alexander II. undertakes to liberate Russia, he crowds all
reforms upon it at once,--emancipation of serfs, trial by jury, local
self-government, popular education. And when an autocratic reaction
arrives, it comes with the same storm-like rapidity and ubiquity. From a
free country Russia is changed in one night, through the pistol-shot of
a Karakozof, into a despotic country, just as if some Herman had waved
his magic wand, and with his "presto, change," had conjured up the dead
autocracy into life again. When finally aristocratic youth is fired with
the noble desire to help the ignorant peasant, home, family, station,
fortune, career, all is forsaken, and youth goes forth to live with
peasant, like peasant, that it may the better instruct him. This
intensity which thus permeates all life of Russia is likewise visible
in its literature; but while in practical life titanesqueness is a
drawback, in literature, which is the nation's ideal life, it finds
its most fruitful field. Hence the Russian writer may oft, indeed, be
mistaken, frequently even totally wrong, but he is never uninteresting,
because always powerful.

13. In times when feebleness has become so feeble as even to invent
a theory, making thinness of voice, weakness of stamina, and general
emasculation literary virtues; when intellect can find adequate interest
only in the chess-puzzles of a Browning, and the sense of humor can find
adequate sustenance only in the table-leaping antics of a Mark Twain,
and the conscience can be goaded into remorse only by the sight of
actual starvation, it is well to turn to these Russians and learn that
one of the secrets of their overwhelming power is their intensity.

14. Gogol, for instance, never sets you laughing explosively. Such
laughter is only on the surface; but you can hardly read a page of his
without feeling a general sense of mirth suffused as it were through
every limb, and the cheek can laugh no more than the spinal column. So,
too, Turgenef never sets you a weeping, but the sadness he feels he
sends from his pages, circulating through your blood, and while the eye
will not indeed drop a tear, for such grief is likewise mostly on the
surface, the breast will heave a sigh. And Tolstoy never fires you to go
forth and do a particularly good deed; he never, like Schiller, sends
you off to embrace your friend, but on laying down his book you feel a
general discontent with yourself, and a longing for a nobler life than
yours is takes possession of the soul.

15. This is the result of the all-absorbing, all-devouring native
intensity of the Russian spirit.

16. And this intensity accounts for the suddenness with which the
Russian spirit has blazed forth on the horizon, so that the successive
stages of development are scarcely visible. The darkness which overcast
the letters of Russia before Pushkin disappears not slowly, but the
sky is lighted up suddenly by innumerable lights. Stars of the first
magnitude stud it, now here, now there, until the bewildered observer
beholds not twinkling points but shining luminaries. In scarcely half a
century Russia has brought forth Pushkin, Lermontof, Gogol, Dostoyefsky,
Turgenef, Tolstoy; and as the institutions of Western Europe became
russified by the mere wave of an imperial hand, so Russian literature
became modernized as if by the wave of a magic wand.

17. This national characteristic of intensity gives Russian literature a
hot-house aspect. Its atmosphere is not only fragrant, but oppressively
fragrant; and as in America after the civil war generals and colonels
were almost too numerous for social comfort, so in Russia great authors
are in well-nigh painful abundance, and the student is embarrassed not
with the difficulty of selecting from the midst of poverty, but with the
difficulty of selecting from the midst of riches. And not only is its
aspect that of a hot-house, but its very character has been affected.
Such is the intensity of the national spirit of Russia, that it can do
well but one thing at a time, and all its strength can go into only one
literary form at a time. From 1800 to 1835 Russian literature is like a
field on a midsummer evening, full of all manner of musical sound, and
whatever hath articulate voice does nothing but sing. Batushkof sings,
Pushkin sings, Lermontof sings, Koltsof sings, Turgenef versifies, and
Zhukofsky, like our own poetasters, balances himself acrobatically in
metrical stanzas; and where the gift of song is wanting, it shrieks and
screeches, but always, observe, in well-balanced rhymes. Then comes the
era of the thick periodicals, and whatever is gifted in Russia, for a
time speaks only through them; lastly comes realism with an intensity
unparalleled elsewhere, and everybody writes in prose, and only one kind
of prose at that,--fiction. Not a drama, not a history, not an essay,
not a philosophical treatise has yet grown on Russian soil; all the
energy of Russia has gone into fiction, and Russia is not the country to
produce, when it does produce masters, only one at a time.

18. But the great danger of intensity is extravagance; and Napoleon,
who knew men well, could with justice say that the roots of Genius and
Insanity are in the same tree, and indeed few are the writers of genius
who have successfully coped with extravagance. It is the peculiar fortune
however of the Russian writers to be comparatively free from it; and
their second great virtue is the one which formed the cardinal virtue of
a nation from whom we have still much to learn, the Temperance of the
Greeks.

19. And of the virtues of which Temperance, Measuredness, is the parent,
there are two, of which the first is Moderation and the second is
Modesty: moderation with reference to things outside of the soul;
modesty with reference to things inside of the soul. And for the highest
example of moderation, you must read Turgenef's account of Nezhdanof's
suicide in "Virgin Soil," or his account of the drowning of Marya
Pavlovna in "Back Woods;" the first of which I will take the liberty to
read to you.

    "Nezhdanof sprang up from the sofa; he went twice round the room,
    then stopped short for a minute lost in thought; suddenly he shook
    himself, took off his 'masquerading' dress, kicked it into the
    corner, fetched and put on his former clothes.

    "Then he went up to the three-legged small table and took from the
    drawer two sealed envelopes, and a small object which he put into
    his pocket, but the envelopes he left on the table.

    "He then leaned down and opened the door of the stove.... The stove
    contained a heap of ashes. This was all that was left of Nezhdanof's
    papers and private book of verses.... He had burned them all during
    the night. But in this same stove, leaning against one of the walls,
    was Marianne's portrait, Markelof's gift. Evidently Nezhdanof had
    not had the courage to burn this portrait with the rest; he took it
    out carefully and put it on the table by the side of the sealed
    papers.

    "Then with a determined movement of the hand he seized his cap and
    started for the door ... but he stopped, came back, and went into
    Marianne's chamber.

    "After standing motionless for a moment, he cast a look about him,
    and approaching the young girl's narrow small bed--he bent down and
    with one suppressed sob he placed his lips, not on the pillow, but
    on the foot of the bed.... Then he stood up straight, drew his cap
    over his forehead, and flung himself from the room.

    "Without meeting any one either in the entry, or on the staircase,
    or down below, he slipped out into the little enclosure. The day was
    cloudy, the sky lowering; a little damp breeze bent the tops of the
    grass-blades and gently waved the leaves on the trees. The mill
    rattled and buzzed less than usual at this hour; an odor of
    charcoal, of tar, and of soot came from the yard.

    "Nezhdanof cast around him a scrutinizing, distrustful glance, then
    he walked up to the old apple-tree which had attracted his attention
    on the day of his arrival, when he first looked out of his chamber
    window. The trunk of this apple-tree was covered with dry moss, its
    bare and knotty branches, with but a few little green and brown
    leaves, stuck out here and there, raised themselves crookedly
    towards the heavens, like the suppliant arms of an old man, with
    bent elbows. Nezhdanof stood firmly on the dark earth which
    surrounded the foot of the apple-tree, and drew from his pocket the
    small object which he had previously taken from the table
    drawer.--Then he looked attentively at the windows of the little
    wing.

    "'If some one should see me at this moment,' he thought, 'perhaps I
    should put off--'

    "But nowhere was a single human face to be seen.... Everything
    seemed dead, everything turned itself away from him, drawing itself
    away from him forever, leaving him alone to the mercy of fate. Only
    the factory was sending forth its rank odor, its dull uproar, and a
    cold rain began to fall in fine drops, pricking like needles.

    "Then Nezhdanof looked up, through the twisted branches of the tree
    beneath which he was standing, at the gray, heavy, wet, indifferent,
    blind sky; he gaped, shrugged his shoulders, and said to himself,
    'After all there is nothing else I can do. I cannot return to
    Petersburg, to prison.' He threw down his cap, and with the
    premature feeling of a kind of agonizing, not wholly unpleasant yet
    powerful tension of the nerves, he put the mouth of the revolver
    against his breast and pulled the trigger....

    "Something gave him a sudden blow not even a very hard one ... but
    already he lay on his back, trying to make out what had happened and
    how it came that he had just seen Tatyana.... He wished to call to
    her and say, 'Oh, there is something not right;' but already he is
    speechless, and over his face into his eyes, over his forehead into
    his brain, there rushes a whirlwind of green smoke, and a flat
    something oppressively heavy crushed him forever to the ground.

    "Nezhdanof was not mistaken in supposing he saw Tatyana; just as he
    pulled the trigger, she came to one of the windows of the little
    wing and descried him beneath the apple-tree. She had scarcely time
    to ask herself, 'What is he doing under the apple-tree bareheaded in
    such weather as this?' when he fell backward like a sheaf of wheat;
    but she felt at once that something tragic had happened; and she
    rushed downstairs, out into the enclosure.... She ran up to
    Nezhdanof.... 'Alexis Dimitritsh, what is the matter?' But darkness
    had already come over him. Tatyana stooped over him, and saw
    blood....

    "'Paul!' she shouted in a strange voice, 'Paul!'

    "In a few moments Marianne, Solomin, Paul, and two factory workmen
    were already in the enclosure; Nezhdanof was at once raised, carried
    into his chamber, and placed on a sofa where he had spent his last
    night.

    "He lay on his back, his half-closed eyes remained fixed, his face
    was lead-colored; he breathed slowly and laboriously, catching each
    breath as if choking. Life had not yet left him.

    "Marianne and Solomin stood on each side of the couch, almost as
    pale as Nezhdanof himself. Both were stunned, startled, crushed,
    especially Marianne, but they were not surprised. 'Why did not we
    foresee this?' each thought; and yet at the same time it seemed to
    them that they ... yes, they had foreseen it. When he said to
    Marianne, 'Whatever I do, I warn you of it beforehand, you will not
    be surprised,' and again, when he had spoken of the two men that
    existed in him, who can yet not live together, did not something
    like a presentiment stir in her? Why then did she not stop at that
    moment and reflect upon these words and this presentiment? Why does
    not she dare now to look at Solomin, as if he were her accomplice
    ... as if he too were suffering remorse? Why was the feeling of
    infinite pity, of desperate regret with which Nezhdanof inspired her
    mingled with a kind of terror, with shame, with remorse? Might she
    perhaps have saved him? Why does neither of them dare to utter a
    word? They hardly dare to breathe; they wait; what are they waiting
    for, Great God?

    "Solomin sent for a surgeon, although there was of course no hope;
    upon the small black bloodless wound Tatyana had put a sponge with
    cold water, and moistened his hair also with cold water and vinegar;
    suddenly Nezhdanof ceased choking and made a slight movement.

    "'He is coming to himself,' muttered Solomin.

    "Marianne knelt beside the sofa.... Nezhdanof looked at her ... up
    to this moment his eyes had been fixed, like those of every dying
    person.

    "'Ah! I am still ... alive,' he said with a hardly audible voice.
    'Unsuccessful as ever.... I am detaining you.'

    "'Aliosha,' Marianne contrived to groan out.

    "'Yes ... soon.... You remember, Marianne, in my ... poem ...
    "Surround me with flowers." ... Where then are the flowers?... But
    you are here instead ... there, in my letter....' Suddenly he began
    to shiver from head to foot.

    "'Ah, here she is.... Give ... each other ... your hands--in my
    presence.... Quick ... give--'

    "Solomin raised Marianne's hand, her head lay on the sofa, face
    down, close to the very wound. As for Solomin, he stood straight and
    rigid, black as night.

    "'So, that is right ... so.'

    "Nezhdanof began to gasp again, but this time in an entirely strange
    way; his chest rose and his sides contracted ... he made evident
    efforts to place his hand on their clasped hands, but _his_ were
    already dead.

    "'He is going,' murmured Tatyana, who was standing near the door;
    and she began to cross herself. The sobbing breaths became rarer,
    shorter; he was still seeking Marianne with his look, but a kind of
    threatening milky whiteness already veiled his eyes from within.

    "'Good!...' this was his last word.

    "He now was no longer, but the hands of Solomin and Marianne were
    still joined across his breast."

20. From this pure melancholy and measured sadness, go to Dickens and
read his account of the death of little Nell, or to George Eliot and
read her account of Maggie Tulliver's death. I venture to think you will
need no comment of mine to perceive the difference; and the difference,
I regret to say, is not in favor of the English masters.

21. But not only in the field of pathos is this moderation of the
Russian striking; in the field of description of nature, of which both
the English and the Russian are so fond in their literature, the two
literatures offer abundant material for comparison, and I will permit
myself to quote to you a passage from Dickens for the purpose of
illustrating how the Russians go to work with a similar subject:

    "It was small tyranny for a respectable wind to go wreaking its
    vengeance on such poor creatures as the fallen leaves; but this wind
    happening to come up with a great heap of them just after venting
    its humor on the insulted Dragon, did so disperse and scatter them
    that they fled away, pell-mell, some here, some there, rolling over
    each other, whirling round and round upon their thin edges, taking
    frantic flights into the air, and playing all manner of gambols in
    the extremity of their distresses. Nor was this enough for its
    malicious fury, for not content with driving them abroad, it charged
    small parties of them and hunted them into the wheelwright's saw-pit
    and below the planks and timbers in the yard, and scattering the
    sawdust in the air, it looked for them underneath, and when it did
    meet with any, whew! how it drove them on and followed at their
    heels!

    "The scared leaves only flew the faster for all this, and a giddy
    chase it was; for they got into unfrequented places, where there was
    no outlet, and where their pursuer kept them eddying round at his
    pleasure, and they crept under the eaves of the houses, and clung
    tightly to the sides of hay-ricks, like bats, and tore in at open
    chamber windows, and cowered close to hedges, and, in short, went
    everywhere for safety."--_Martin Chuzzlewit_, ii.

22. Of which passage the principal vice is that it does not describe to
you the wind, the thing Dickens really saw, but only what Dickens
thought he saw. He gives you not the original but a translation, and a
translation, as you will presently see, far from faithful; he gives you
not the scene, but the effect of the scene on his mind; and as Dickens
started out to produce not a faithful picture, but a startling emotion,
his scene is accordingly gaudy, theatrical, false. For observe, the wind
is a respectable wind, and yet afflicted with pettiness of tyranny, and
it wreaks vengeance; and this vengeance-wreaking wind does not come up
flying, as you would expect of a wind, but it _happens_ to come up
leisurely, evidently taking an after-dinner stroll, as is becoming a
respectable wind, which finds it not inconsistent with respectability to
be vengeance-wreaking. And this respectable wind, without any motive,
suddenly transforms himself into a malicious wind. Observe, he is no
longer revengeful, for revenge implies something wicked done to the
wind, which rouses him, while malice has no such excuse, for malice
acts without cause, except from native depravity, while revenge acts
always with cause. And this upright, leisurely strolling wind, now
vengeance-wreaking, now malicious, again without sufficient cause
changes his erect posture and kneels down, bends his head under the
timbers, and the wind becomes a--peeper!

23. A conception like this may be very fine, it may be very poetic, and
even very dramatic, but it is not true, for Dickens never _saw_ the wind
thus, else his metaphors would have been less mixed. What we see truly
with our imagination we see clearly, and the metaphors born of clear
sight are ever pure. Hence such description is extravagant because
untrue; hence such description is demoralizing because extravagant,
immoderate.

And now read Tolstoy's description of a storm during a coach-ride:--

    "It was still ten versts to the nearest station; but the great,
    dark, purple cloud which had collected, God knows whence, without
    the smallest breeze, was moving swiftly upon us. The sun, which is
    not yet hidden by the clouds, brightly illumines its dark form, and
    the gray streaks which extend from it to the very horizon. From time
    to time, the lightning flashes in the distance; and a faint, dull
    roar is audible, which gradually increases in volume, approaches,
    and changes into broken peals which embrace the whole heavens.
    Vasili stands upon the box, and raises the cover of the britchka.
    The coachmen put on their armyaks, and, at every clap of thunder,
    remove their hats and cross themselves. The horses prick up their
    ears, puff out their nostrils as if smelling the fresh air which is
    wafted from the approaching thunder-cloud, and the britchka rolls
    faster along the dusty road. I feel oppressed, and am conscious that
    the blood courses more rapidly through my veins. But the advance
    guard of the clouds already begins to conceal the sun; now it has
    peeped forth for the last time, has illumined the terribly dark
    portion of the horizon, and vanished. The entire landscape suddenly
    undergoes a change, and assumes a gloomy character. The ash woods
    quiver; the leaves take on a kind of dull whitish hue, and stand out
    against the purple background of cloud, and rustle and flutter; the
    crowns of the great birches begin to rock, and tufts of dry grass
    fly across the road. The water and white-breasted swallows circle
    about the britchka, and fly beneath the horses, as though with the
    intention of stopping us; daws with ruffled wings fly sideways to
    the wind: the edges of the leather apron, which we have buttoned up,
    begin to rise, and admit bursts of moist wind, and flap and beat
    against the body of the carriage. The lightning seems to flash in
    the britchka itself, dazzles the vision, and for a moment lights up
    the gray cloth, the border gimp, and Volodya's figure cowering in a
    corner. At the same moment, directly above our heads, a majestic
    roar resounds, which seems to rise ever higher and higher, and to
    spread ever wider and wider, in a vast spiral, gradually gaining
    force, until it passes into a deafening crash, which causes one to
    tremble and hold one's breath involuntarily. The wrath of God! how
    much poetry there is in this conception of the common people!

    "The wheels whirl faster and faster. From the backs of Vasili and
    Philip, who is flourishing his reins, I perceive that they are
    afraid. The britchka rolls swiftly down the hill, and thunders over
    the bridge of planks. I am afraid to move, and momentarily await our
    universal destruction.

    "Tpru! the trace is broken, and in spite of the unceasing, deafening
    claps of thunder, we are forced to halt upon the bridge.

    "I lean my head against the side of the britchka, and, catching my
    breath with a sinking of the heart, I listen despairingly to the
    movements of Philip's fat black fingers, as he slowly ties a knot,
    and straightens out the traces, and strikes the side horse with palm
    and whip-handle.

    "The uneasy feelings of sadness and terror increase within me with
    the force of the storm; but when the grand moment of silence
    arrives, which generally precedes the thunder-clap, these feelings
    had reached such a point, that, if this state of things had lasted a
    quarter of an hour, I am convinced that I should have died of
    excitement. At the same moment, there appears from beneath the
    bridge a human form, clothed in a dirty, ragged shirt, with a
    bloated senseless face, a shaven, wagging, totally uncovered head,
    crooked, nerveless legs, and a shining red stump in place of a hand,
    which he thrusts out directly at the britchka.

    "'Ba-a-schka![1] Help-a-cripple-for-Christ's-sake!' says the beggar,
    beginning to repeat his petition by rote, in a weak voice, as he
    crosses himself at every word, and bows to his very belt.

    "I cannot describe the feeling of chill terror which took possession
    of my soul at that moment. A shudder ran through my hair, and my
    eyes were riveted on the beggar, in a stupor of fright.

    "Vasili, who bestows the alms on the journey, is giving Philip
    directions how to strengthen the trace; and it is only when all is
    ready, and Philip, gathering up the reins, climbs upon the box, that
    he begins to draw something from his side pocket. But we have no
    sooner started than a dazzling flash of lightning, which fills the
    whole ravine for a moment with its fiery glare, brings the horses to
    a stand, and is accompanied, without the slightest interval, by such
    a deafening clap of thunder that it seems as though the whole vault
    of heaven were falling in ruins upon us. The wind increases; the
    manes and tails of the horses, Vasili's cloak, and the edges of the
    apron, take one direction, and flutter wildly in the bursts of the
    raging gale. A great drop of rain fell heavily upon the leather hood
    of the britchka, then a second, a third, a fourth; and all at once
    it beat upon us like a drum, and the whole landscape resounded with
    the regular murmur of falling rain. I perceive, from the movement of
    Vasili's elbow, that he is untying his purse; the beggar, still
    crossing himself and bowing, runs close to the wheel, so that it
    seems as if he would be crushed. 'Give-for-Christ's-sake!' At last a
    copper groschen flies past us, and the wretched creature halts with
    surprise in the middle of the road; his smock, wet through and
    through, and clinging to his lean limbs, flutters in the gale, and
    he disappears from our sight.

    "The slanting rain, driving before a strong wind, poured down as
    from a bucket; streams trickled from Vasili's frieze back into the
    puddle of dirty water which had collected on the apron. The dust,
    which at first had been beaten into pellets, was converted into
    liquid mud, through which the wheels splashed; the jolts became
    fewer, and turbid brooks flowed in the ruts. The lightning-flashes
    grew broader and paler; the thunder-claps were no longer so
    startling after the uniform sound of the rain.

    "Now the rain grows less violent; the thunder-cloud begins to
    disperse; light appears in the place where the sun should be, and a
    scrap of clear azure is almost visible through the grayish-white
    edges of the cloud. A moment more, and a timid ray of sunlight
    gleams in the pools along the road, upon the sheets of fine,
    perpendicular rain which fall as if through a sieve, and upon the
    shining, newly washed verdure of the wayside grass.

    "The black thunder-cloud overspreads the opposite portion of the sky
    in equally threatening fashion, but I no longer fear it. I
    experience an inexpressibly joyous feeling of hope in life; which
    has quickly taken the place of my oppressive sensation of fear. My
    soul smiles, like Nature, refreshed and enlivened."

  [1] Imperfect pronunciation of _batiuschka_, "little father."

24. And for modesty, too, the literatures of England and Russia furnish
instructive comparisons. Russia has no autobiographies of note. Men
there were too busy with their art to have much time left to think of
themselves. Turgenef writes Reminiscences, but only of others, and not
of himself; and when he speaks of his own past, it is only incidentally,
and with the delicacy of a maiden. Tolstoy gives, indeed, an
autobiography as sincere as Rousseau's and as earnest as Mill's, but
only because he believes that an account of the spiritual struggles _he_
went through would be helpful to other strugglers with the terrible
problems of life. But of their _personal_ history there is seldom more
than a trace found. Compare with this the autobiographies of Gibbon,
Leigh Hunt, Mill, or even the Reminiscences of Carlyle, and the
widely-branching outpourings of Ruskin in his autobiographical sketches.
Not that the English over-estimate their own worth and importance, but
the Russians seem to have the instinctive sense of measure in personal
matters.

25. Much of this purity of taste is due to a singular circumstance in
its literary history. Unlike other countries, in Russia, for a long
time, literature has been the favorite solely of the educated and
wealthy classes. Almost all the great names of Russian literature,
Pushkin, Lermontof, Hertzen, Turgenef, Zhukofsky, Griboyedof, Karamzin,
Tolstoy, were aristocrats, if not always by birth, at least by
surroundings. The men of letters sprung from the people, nourished by
the people, living among the people, the Burnses, the Bérangers, the
Heines are unknown in Russia. I have already stated that originality
must not be looked for on Russian soil; that Russian literature is
essentially an imitative literature in its forms, hence imitative force
must have time to look about, examine, copy, and for this leisure,
wealth is necessary.

26. This absence of originality has thus proved a source of blessing to
Russian literature which well-nigh makes up the loss. For literature
thus being in the hands of men of leisure, free from the struggle for
bread, was never governed in Russia by the law of supply and demand, and
the dollar never became, as with us, the potent, even though the
temporary arbiter of its destinies. Hence the singular purity of
Russian literature in point of style. Dickens needs the dollars, and he
therefore spins out his satires to a length of distance to be traversed
only by seven-league boots, and in verbosity is equalled only by
Thackeray. Gogol, however, not only compresses his chapters, but even
burns the whole second part of his masterpiece, "Dead Souls," as
unworthy of his best art. George Eliot, writing for a standard which
requires three volumes for each novel, must fill her story with all
manner of description which does not describe, and reflection which does
not reflect; but Turgenef files and files until he is reproached more
for omitting too much than for adding too much. And America's greatest
living writer (I say greatest, because he is purest in spirit, gentlest
in heart, and freest in mind) can still go on from year to year
producing one novel annually with the regularity of a baker's muffin at
breakfast. Compare with this his own master, Tolstoy, who for months
forsakes his masterpiece, "Anna Karenina," because of a fastidious
taste! Hence the question why Mrs. Astor never invites to her table
literary men, which agitated them recently, could not have even been
asked in Russia. Such a question is only possible in a country where the
first question a publisher puts of a book is not whether it is good, but
whether it is likely to pay.

27. Faithfulness of labor and finish of form are therefore
characteristic of whatever has any reputation in Russia; and as works of
art, there are few works of the Russian masters that are not veritable
masterpieces. I say this with confidence of Turgenef, Tolstoy, Gogol,
and Pushkin; but I think this remark would hold even of the lesser
lights of Russian literature. A sincerity, a truthfulness, a realness,
is thus found in Russian literature, which makes it _be_ a thing of
beauty instead of doing some deeds of beauty. On reading "Uncle Tom's
Cabin," you involuntarily ask, "What effect has this book had on slavery
in America?" On reading Turgenef's Memoirs of a Sportsman, though it
accomplished as much for the serf, you no longer ask, "What has the book
done for the serf?" You do not think of the serf any more now that he
has ceased to be. But you do think of the innumerable things of beauty
that roll out from his pages before you as if from a kaleidoscope. And
if to be is greater than to do, then Russian literature is truly
original, even though its forms be borrowed; since instead of seeming it
_is_, and whatever truly _is_, is original.

28. From this sincerity of Russian writers comes the third great virtue
of Russian literature, a virtue possessed as yet by other literatures in
but a small degree. The Russian writer is first of all in earnest, and
he has no time to give to _mere_ entertainment, mere amusement. The
Goldsmiths with their Bees and their Citizens of the World, the Addisons
with their Spectators, nobly writ though these be, yet written mostly
with no higher purpose than to make the breakfast-roll glide down the
throat more softly,--these exist not in Russia. Things of beauty, things
of entertainment, like Addison's Essays, are indeed found in Russia; but
not for entertainment alone were these writ, hence not in the strain of
mirth. Rather are they writ with the blood of the heart; for to the
Russian, "Life is real, life is earnest," not a mere pastime, and it was
given to a Russian painter to make the all-known but singularly-forgotten
observation that Christ never--laughed!

29. But while the native endowment of the soul, its spiritual capital,
is the chief guide of the fate of literature, other forces also affect
its course, the chief among which is the political government of the
people. In most countries the influence of government upon literature
has been slight. Shakespeare's plays, Milton's Paradise, were not
affected by the political struggles of England. The sole writing of
Milton which was affected by English politics, his prose, belongs to
literature only in so far as it throws light on the author of Paradise
Lost. Dante's Divine Comedy, charged though it be with the political
electricity of his times, was but little affected by the state of
government. In other countries the government of the people was as much
itself an effect of the native endowment of the soul as its literature;
and government and literature flowed therefore side by side, in two
parallel streams, seldom interfering with each other's course. In
Russia, however, government has extended a powerful influence on
literature, and the most marked effect of its influence is the
short-livedness of most Russian authors. The calm, peaceful existence of
the literary man has already been sung by Carlyle as a life-lengthener.
In Russia, however, the same fatality which has pursued its political
rulers has also pursued its spiritual rulers; and as most conquerors
have died an unnatural death, so most writers have died an unnatural
death, or only after an unnatural life. The witticism of Mark Twain,
that the bed must be a most fatal place, since most people die in bed,
is not applicable to Russian emperors and Russian writers. Few of them
can be said to have died in their beds. Griboyedof is assassinated;
Pushkin and Lermontof are murdered; Gogol is found dead from bodily
starvation, and Byelinsky is found dead from spiritual starvation;
Batushkof dies insane; Dostoyefsky and Chernishefsky are in prison the
best years of their lives; Turgenef can find the length of his days only
in exile, and Tolstoy the length of his in ploughing fields. For such a
strange disharmony in the lives of Russian men of letters, the
government is largely responsible. An autocracy which feels itself
called to wrap literature tightly in swaddling-clothes, and establishes
a censorship which does not shrink even from making verbal changes in
the works of the artist to improve his style, can accomplish little more
than the shortening of literary lives. For literature is a flower which
can only wither at the touch of unhallowed hands, and the rude hands of
the censor are far from being hallowed.

30. Hence Russian literature not only _is_ a mere fragment, a mere brick
of the vast edifice which it is capable of becoming; it is even bound to
remain a mere fragment for a long time to come. For as Socrates lived in
Plato, Plato in Aristotle, and Aristotle in the Schoolmen, as Lessing
lived in Goethe, Goethe in Heine, and Heine in young Germany, so great
literary fathers reappear in the progeny of the next generation; the
reproduction is indeed oft puny enough, still the reproduction is
there. But in Russia, while Pushkin lived in Gogol, and Gogol in
Turgenef, the generation which was to inherit the kingdom left by
Turgenef and Tolstoy is now buried in fortresses and dungeons. And as in
America mammon has so eaten away literary aspiration as to leave Emerson
and Hawthorne, Prescott and Motley, intellectually childless, so in
Russia, autocracy has so eaten away the literary material as to leave
the great masters childless.

31. Fortunately, though deprived by despotism of all power of
propagation on Russian soil, the noble spirit of Russian literature has
by a force I cannot but call divine been allowed to be propagated on
foreign soil; and if the literature of the west, which is now stagnating
in the pools of doubt, irreverence, mammon, and cold intellectualism,
misnamed culture, is to be purified, the purification must come from the
breath of Life which blows from Russia. This is the true meaning of the
present craze for Russian authors. There is a force in them which the
mass instinctively recognizes as divine; it feels for it, gropes for
it, and the Devil, as usual, is the first to seize for his purposes
whatever noble impulse comes over men, and this search for the divine of
the mass becomes a sham, a fashionable craze. Hence the rage, the boom.
This is the inevitable stage of falsehood through which every noble
aspiration must pass. By and by the stage of truth must come, and come
it shall, in due time. Russian authors will then be read not because it
is the fashion and the craze, but because they have a message from the
very heavens to deliver unto him that hath eyes to see and ears to hear:
the message of sincerity, the message of earnestness, the message of
love. Then will have been reached the stage of truth.

32. Out of this crampedness of Russian literature by government
developed that virtue of its masters, which with their sincerity and
simplicity, or moderation, forms a most beautiful trinity of graces; I
mean their freedom. You will indeed hear full many a yard-stick critic
as he goes about with his load of pigeon-holed boxes to take measure of
each author, and label him, and duly relegate him to convenient
pigeon-hole,--such critic you will hear discourse much about classicism,
and romanticism, and realism, and of their prevalence at different times
in Russian literature. Believe it not! The Russian author who is at all
worth classifying is slave of no school; he is free, for he is a
worshipper of the truth which alone maketh men free, he is a school unto
himself. Is Gogol a realist? He gives you indeed the reality, but he
breathes into it a beauty only visible to idealizing eyes. Is Turgenef a
realist? When thrilled with the unspeakable beauty of the sky, he
depicts it so as to realize for you the ideal. And when Tolstoy is
thrilled with a moral emotion, he depicts it so as to idealize the real
for you. The Russians thus refuse to be classified. And they belong to
only one class,--the class of those that cannot be classified.

33. Thus has it come to pass that the west, to which Russian literature
owes its nourishment, is now in its old age to be nourished by its
foster child. The child is to become the father of the man; and Russian
literature is henceforth to be the source of the regeneration of the
western spirit. As the future fighters for freedom will have to look to
the Perofskayas, to the Bardines, and the Zassulitshes, and to the
unnamed countless victims of the Siberian snow-fields for models of
heroism, so methinks henceforth writers must look to the Russians for
models in their art: to Gogol for pure humor, to Turgenef for the
worship of natural beauty, to Tolstoy for the worship of moral beauty.



LECTURE II.

PUSHKIN.


1. I have stated in the first lecture that I should treat of Pushkin as
the singer. Pushkin has indeed done much besides singing. He has written
not only lyrics and ballads but also tales: tales in prose and tales in
verse; he has written novels, a drama, and even a history. He has thus
roamed far and wide, still he is only a singer. And even a cursory
glance at his works is enough to show the place which belongs to him. I
say belongs, because the place he holds has a prominence out of
proportion to the merits of the writer. Among the blind the one-eyed is
king, and the one-eyed Pushkin--for the moral eye is totally lacking in
this man--came when there as yet was no genuine song in Russia, but
mere noise, reverberation of sounding brass; and Pushkin was hailed as
the voice of voices, because amidst the universal din his was at least
clear. Of his most ambitious works, "Boris Godunof" is not a drama, with
a central idea struggling in the breast of the poet for embodiment in
art, but merely a series of well-painted pictures, and painted not for
the soul, but only for the eye. His "Eugene Onyegin" contains many fine
verses, much wit, much biting satire, much bitter scorn, but no
indignation burning out of the righteous heart. His satire makes you
smile, but fails to rouse you to indignation. In his "Onyegin," Pushkin
often pleases you, but he never stirs you. Pushkin is in literature what
the polished club-man is in society. In society the man who can repeat
the most bon-mots, tell the most amusing anecdotes, and talk most
fluently, holds the ear more closely than he that speaks from the heart.
So Pushkin holds his place in literature because he is brilliant,
because his verse is polished, his language chosen, his wit pointed, his
prick stinging. But he has no aspiration, no hope; he has none of the
elements which make the writings of the truly great helpful. Pushkin, in
short, has nothing to give. Since to be able to give one must have, and
Pushkin was a spiritual pauper.

2. And what is true of his more sustained works, is equally true of his
lesser works. They all bear the mark of having come from the surface,
and not from the depths. His "Prisoner of the Caucasus," his "Fountain
of Bachtshisarai," his "Gypsies," are moreover weighted down with the
additional load of having been written directly under the influence of
Byron. And as health is sufficient unto itself and it is only disease
which is contagious, Byron, who was sick at heart himself, could only
impart disease and not health. Byron moreover had besides his gift of
song the element of moral indignation against corrupt surroundings.
Pushkin had not even this redeeming feature.

3. Pushkin therefore is not a poet, but only a singer; for he is not a
maker, a creator. There is not a single idea any of his works can be
said to stand for. His is merely a skill. No idea circulates in his
blood giving him no rest until embodied in artistic form. His is merely
a skill struggling for utterance because there is more of it than he can
hold. Pushkin has thus nothing to give you to carry away. All he gives
is pleasure, and the pleasure he gives is not that got by the hungry
from a draught of nourishing milk, but that got by the satiated from a
draught of intoxicating wine. He is the exponent of beauty solely,
without reference to an ultimate end. Gogol uses his sense of beauty and
creative impulse to protest against corruption, to give vent to his
moral indignation; Turgenef uses his sense of beauty as a weapon with
which to fight _his_ mortal enemy, mankind's deadly foe; and Tolstoy
uses his sense of beauty to preach the ever-needed gospel of love. But
Pushkin uses his sense of beauty merely to give it expression. He sings
indeed like a siren, but he sings without purpose. Hence, though he is
the greatest versifier of Russia,--not poet, observe!--he is among the
least of its writers.

4. Towards the end of his early extinguished life he showed, indeed,
signs of better things. In his "Captain's Daughter" he depicts a heroic
simplicity, the sight of which is truly refreshing, and here Pushkin
becomes truly noble. As a thing of purity, as a thing of calmness, as a
thing of beauty, in short, the "Captain's Daughter" stands unsurpassed
either in Russia or out of Russia. Only Goldsmith's "Vicar of
Wakefield," Gogol's "Taras Bulba," and the Swiss clergyman's "Broom
Merchant," can be worthily placed by its side. But this nobility is of
the lowly, humble kind, to be indeed thankful for as all nobility must
be, whether it be that of the honest farmer who tills the soil in
silence, or that of the gentle Longfellow who cultivates his modest muse
in equal quietness. But there is the nobility of the nightingale and the
nobility of the eagle; there is the nobility of the lamb and the
nobility of the lion; and beside the titanesqueness of Gogol, and
Turgenef, and Tolstoy, the nobility of Pushkin, though high enough on
its own plane, is relatively low.

5. Mere singer then that Pushkin is, he is accordingly at his best only
in his lyrics. But the essence of a lyric is music, and the essence of
music is harmony, and the essence of harmony is form; hence in beauty of
form Pushkin is unsurpassed, and among singers he is peerless. His soul
is a veritable Æolian harp. No sooner does the wind begin to blow than
his soul is filled with music. His grace is only equalled by that of
Heine, his ease by that of Goethe, and his melody by that of Tennyson. I
have already said that Pushkin is not an eagle soaring in the heavens,
but he is a nightingale perched singing on the tree. But this very
perfection of form makes his lyrics well-nigh untranslatable, and their
highest beauty can only be felt by those who can read them in the
original.

6. In endeavoring therefore to present Pushkin to you, I shall present
to you not the nine tenths of his works which were written only by his
hands,--his dramas, his tales, his romances, whether in prose or
verse,--but the one tithe of his works which was writ from his heart.
For Pushkin was essentially a lyric singer, and whatever comes from
this side of his being is truly original; all else, engrafted upon him
as it is from without, either from ambition or from imitation, cannot be
called _his_ writing, that which he alone and none others had to deliver
himself of. What message Pushkin had to deliver at all to his fellow-men
is therefore found in his lyrics.

7. Before proceeding, however, to look at this singer Pushkin, it is
necessary to establish a standard by which his attainment is to be
judged. And that we may ascertain how closely Pushkin approaches the
highest, I venture to read to you the following poem, as the highest
flight which the human soul is capable of taking heavenward on the wings
of song.

    HYMN TO FORCE.

    BY WM. R. THAYER.

    I am eternal!
    I throb through the ages;
    I am the Master
    Of each of Life's stages.

    I quicken the blood
    Of the mate-craving lover;
    The age-frozen heart
    With daisies I cover.

    Down through the ether
    I hurl constellations;
    Up from their earth-bed
    I wake the carnations.

    I laugh in the flame
    As I kindle and fan it;
    I crawl in the worm;
    I leap in the planet.

    Forth from its cradle
    I pilot the river;
    In lightning and earthquake
    I flash and I quiver.

    My breath is the wind;
    My bosom the ocean;
    My form's undefined;
    My essence is motion.

    The braggarts of science
    Would weigh and divide me;
    Their wisdom evading,
    I vanish and hide me.

    My glances are rays
    From stars emanating;
    My voice through the spheres
    Is sound, undulating.

    I am the monarch
    Uniting all matter:
    The atoms I gather;
    The atoms I scatter.

    I pulse with the tides--
    Now hither, now thither;
    I grant the tree sap;
    I bid the bud wither.

    I always am present,
    Yet nothing can bind me;
    Like thought evanescent,
    They lose me who find me.

8. I consider a poem of this kind (and I regret that there are very few
such in any language) to stand at the very summit of poetic aspiration.
For not only is it perfect in form, and is thus a thing of beauty made
by the hands of man, but its subject is of the very highest, since it is
a hymn, a praise of God, even though the name of the Most High be not
there. For what is heaven? Heaven is a state where the fellowship of
man with man is such as to leave no room for want to the one while there
is abundance to the other. Heaven is a state where the wants of the
individual are so cared for that he needs the help of none. But if there
be no longer any need of toiling, neither for neighbor nor for self,
what is there left for the soul to do but to praise God and glorify
creation? A hymn like the above, then, is the outflow of a spirit which
hath a heavenly peace. And this is precisely the occupation with which
the imagination endows the angels; the highest flight of the soul is
therefore that in which it is so divested of the interests of the earth
as to be filled only with reverence and worship. And this hymn to Force
seems to me to have come from a spirit which, at the time of its writing
at least, attained such freedom from the earthly.

9. Such a poem being then at one end of the scale, the highest because
it gratifies the soul's highest need, on the opposite end, on the
lowest, is found that which gratifies the soul's lowest need, its need
for novelty, its curiosity. And this is done by purely narrative
writing, of which the following is a good example:--

    THE BLACK SHAWL.

    I gaze demented on the black shawl,
    And my cold soul is torn by grief.

    When young I was and full of trust
    I passionately loved a young Greek girl.

    The charming maid, she fondled me,
    But soon I lived the black day to see.

    Once as were gathered my jolly guests,
    A detested Jew knocked at my door.

    Thou art feasting, he whispered, with friends,
    But betrayed thou art by thy Greek maid.

    Moneys I gave him and curses,
    And called my servant, the faithful.

    We went; I flew on the wings of my steed,
    And tender mercy was silent in me.

    Her threshold no sooner I espied,
    Dark grew my eyes, and my strength departed.

    The distant chamber I enter alone--
    An Armenian embraces my faithless maid.

    Darkness around me: flashed the dagger;
    To interrupt his kiss the wretch had no time.

    And long I trampled the headless corpse,--
    And silent and pale at the maid I stared.

    I remember her prayers, her flowing blood,
    But perished the girl, and with her my love.

    The shawl I took from the head now dead,
    And wiped in silence the bleeding steel.

    When came the darkness of eve, my serf
    Threw their bodies into the billows of the Danube.

    Since then I kiss no charming eyes,
    Since then I know no cheerful days.

    I gaze demented on the black shawl,
    And my cold soul is torn by grief.

10. The purpose of the author here was only to tell a story; and as
success is to be measured by the ability of a writer to adapt his means
to his ends, it must be acknowledged that Pushkin is here eminently
successful. For the story is here well told; well told because simply
told; the narrative moves, uninterrupted by excursions into side-fields.
In its class therefore this poem must stand high, but it is of the
lowest class.

11. For well told though this story be, it is after all only a story,
with no higher purpose than merely to gratify curiosity, than merely to
amuse. Its art has no higher purpose than to copy faithfully the event,
than to be a faithful photograph; and moreover it is the story not of an
emotion, but of a passion, and an ignoble passion at that; the passion
is jealousy,--in itself an ugly thing, and the fruit of this ugly thing
is a still uglier thing,--a murder. The subject therefore is not a thing
of beauty, and methinks that the sole business of art is first of all to
deal with things of beauty. Mediocrity, meanness, ugliness, are fit
subjects for art only when they can be made to serve a higher purpose,
just as the sole reason for tasting wormwood is the improvement of
health. But this higher purpose is here wanting. Hence I place such a
poem on the lowest plane of art.

    THE OUTCAST.

    On a rainy autumn evening
    Into desert places went a maid;
    And the secret fruit of unhappy love
    In her trembling hands she held.
    All was still: the woods and the hills
    Asleep in the darkness of the night;
    And her searching glances
    In terror about she cast.

    And on this babe, the innocent,
    Her glance she paused with a sigh:
    "Asleep thou art, my child, my grief,
    Thou knowest not my sadness.
    Thine eyes will ope, and though with longing,
    To my breast shalt no more cling.
    No kiss for thee to-morrow
    From thine unhappy mother.

    Beckon in vain for her thou wilt,
    My everlasting shame, my guilt!
    Me forget thou shalt for aye,
    But thee forget shall not I;
    Shelter thou shalt receive from strangers;
    Who'll say: Thou art none of ours!
    Thou wilt ask: Where are my parents?
    But for thee no kin is found.

    Hapless one! with heart filled with sorrow,
    Lonely amid thy mates,
    Thy spirit sullen to the end
    Thou shalt behold the fondling mothers.
    A lonely wanderer everywhere,
    Cursing thy fate at all times,
    Thou the bitter reproach shalt hear ...
    Forgive me, oh, forgive me then!

    Asleep! let me then, O hapless one,
    To my bosom press thee once for all;
    A law unjust and terrible
    Thee and me to sorrow dooms.
    While the years have not yet chased
    The guiltless joy of thy days,
    Sleep, my darling; let no bitter griefs
    Mar thy childhood's quiet life!"

    But lo, behind the woods, near by,
    The moon brings a hut to light.
    Forlorn, pale, trembling
    To the doors she came nigh;
    She stooped, and gently laid down
    The babe on the strange threshold.
    In terror away she turned her eyes
    And disappeared in the darkness of the night.

12. This also is a narrative poem; but it tells something more than a
story. A new element is here added. For it not only gratifies our
curiosity about the mother and the babe, but it also moves us. And it
moves not our low passion, but it stirs our high emotion. Not our anger
is here roused, as against the owner of the black shawl, but our pity is
stirred for the innocent babe; and even the mother, though guilty
enough, stirs our hearts. Here, too, as in the "Black Shawl," the art of
the narrator is perfect. The few touches of description are given only
in so far as they vivify the scene and furnish a fit background for the
mother and child. But the theme is already of a higher order, and in
rank I therefore place the "Outcast" one plane above the "Black Shawl."

13. The two poems I have just read you are essentially ballads; they
deal indeed with emotion, but only incidentally. Their chief purpose is
the telling of the story. I shall now read you some specimens of a
higher order of poetry,--of that which reflects the pure emotion which
the soul feels when beholding beauty in Nature. I consider such poetry
as on a higher plane, because this emotion is at bottom a reverence
before the powers of Nature, hence a worship of God. It is at bottom a
confession of the soul of its humility before its Creator. It is the
constant presence of this emotion which gives permanent value to the
otherwise tame and commonplace writings of Wordsworth. Wordsworth seldom
climbs the height he attains in those nine lines, the first of which
are:--

    "My heart leaps up when I behold
     A rainbow in the sky."

But here Pushkin is always on the heights. And the first I will read you
shall be one in which the mere sense of Nature's beauty finds vent in
expression without any conscious ethical purpose. It is an address to
the last cloud.

    THE CLOUD.

    O last cloud of the scattered storm,
    Alone thou sailest along the azure clear;
    Alone thou bringest the darkness of shadow;
    Alone thou marrest the joy of the day.

    Thou but recently hadst encircled the sky,
    When sternly the lightning was winding about thee.
    Thou gavest forth mysterious thunder,
    Thou hast watered with rain the parched earth.

    Enough; hie thyself. Thy time hath passed.
    The earth is refreshed, and the storm hath fled,
    And the breeze, fondling the leaves of the trees,
    Forth chases thee from the quieted heavens.

14. Observe, here the poet has no ultimate end but that of giving
expression to the overflowing sense of beauty which comes over the soul
as he beholds the last remnant of a thunder-storm floating off into airy
nothingness. But it is a beauty which ever since the days of Noah and
his rainbow has filled the human soul with marvelling and fearing
adoration. Beautiful, then, in a most noble sense this poem indeed is.
Still, I cannot but consider the following few lines to the Birdlet,
belonging as the poem does to the same class with "The Cloud," as still
superior.

    THE BIRDLET.

    God's birdlet knows
    Nor care nor toil;
    Nor weaves it painfully
    An everlasting nest;
    Through the long night on the twig it slumbers;
    When rises the red sun,
    To the voice of God listens birdie,
    And it starts and it sings.

    When spring, nature's beauty,
    And the burning summer have passed,
    And the fog and the rain
    By the late fall are brought,
    Men are wearied, men are grieved;
    But birdie flies into distant lands,
    Into warm climes, beyond the blue sea,--
    Flies away until the spring.

15. For a poem of this class this is a veritable gem; for not only is
its theme a thing of beauty, but it is a thing of tender beauty. Who is
there among my hearers that can contemplate this birdlet, this wee child
of God, as the poet hath contemplated it, and not feel a gentleness, a
tenderness, a meltedness creep into every nook and corner of his being?
But the lyric beauty of the form, and the tender emotion roused in our
hearts by this poem, form by no means its greatest merit. To me the
well-nigh inexpressible beauty of these lines lies in the spirit which
shineth from them,--the spirit of unreserved trust in the fatherhood of
God. "When fog and rain by the late fall are brought, men are wearied,
men are grieved, but birdie--" My friends, the poet has written here a
commentary on the heavenly words of Christ, which may well be read with
immeasurable profit by our wiseacres of supply-and-demand economy, and
the consequence-fearing Associated or Dissociated Charity. For if I
mistake not, it was Christ that uttered the strangely unheeded words,
"Be not anxious for the morrow.... Behold the birds of the heaven, that
they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your
heavenly Father feedeth them." Fine words these, to be read reverently
from the pulpit on Sunday, but to be laughed at in the counting-room and
in the charity-office on Monday. But the singer was stirred by this
trustfulness of birdie, all the more beautiful because unconscious, and
accordingly celebrates it in lines of well-nigh unapproachable
tenderness and grace!

16. There is, however, one realm of creation yet grander and nobler than
that visible to the eye of the body. Higher than the visible stands the
invisible; and when the soul turns from the contemplation of the outward
universe to the contemplation of the inward universe, to the
contemplation of affection and aspiration, its flight must of necessity
be higher. Hence the high rank of those strains of song which the soul
gives forth when stirred by affection, by love to the children of God,
whether they be addressed by Wordsworth to a butterfly, by Burns to a
mouse, or by Byron to a friend. You have in English eight brief lines
which for this kind of song are a model from their simplicity,
tenderness, and depth.

    LINES IN AN ALBUM.

    As over the cold, sepulchral stone
    Some name arrests the passer-by,
    Thus when thou viewest this page alone
    May mine attract thy pensive eye.

    And when these lines by thee are read
    Perchance in some succeeding year,
    Reflect on me as on the dead,
    And think my heart is buried here!

17. It is this song of love for one's kind which makes Burns, Heine, and
Goethe pre-eminently the singers of the human heart when it finds itself
linked to one other heart. And it is this strain which gives
everlasting life to the following breath of Pushkin's muse:

    TO A FLOWER.

    A floweret, withered, odorless,
    In a book forgot I find;
    And already strange reflection
    Cometh into my mind.

    Bloomed where? When? In what spring?
    And how long ago? And plucked by whom?
    Was it by a strange hand, was it by a dear hand?
    And wherefore left thus here?

    Was it in memory of a tender meeting?
    Was it in memory of a fated parting?
    Was it in memory of a lonely walk
    In the peaceful fields, or in the shady woods?

    Lives he still? lives she still?
    And where is their nook this very day?
    Or are they too withered,
    Like unto this unknown floweret?

18. But from the love of the individual the growing soul comes in time
to the love of the race; or rather, we only love an individual because
he is to us the incorporation of some ideal. And let the virtue for
which we love him once be gone, he may indeed keep our good will, but
our love for him is clean gone out. This is because the soul in its
ever-upward, heavenward flight alights with its love upon individuals
solely in the hope of finding here its ideal, its heaven realized. But
it is not given unto one person to fill the whole of a heaven-searching
soul. Only the ideal, God alone, can wholly fill it. Hence the next
strain to that of love for the individual is this longing for the ideal,
a longing for what is so vague to most of us, a longing to which
therefore not wholly inappropriately the name has been given of a
longing for the Infinite.

19. And of this longing, Heine has given in eight lines immeasurably
pathetic expression:

    "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam
     Im Norden auf kahler Höh'.
     Ihn schläfert; mit weisser Decke
     Umhüllen ihn Eis und Schnee.
     Er träumt von einer Palme,
     Die, fern im Morgenland,
     Einsam und schweigend trauert
     Auf brennender Felsenwand."

Heine has taken the evergreen pine in the cold clime, as the emblem of
this longing, and a most noble emblem it is. But I cannot help feeling
that in choosing a fallen angel, as Pushkin has on the same subject, he
was enabled to give it a zenith-like loftiness and a nadir-like depth
not to be found in Heine.

    THE ANGEL.

    At the gates of Eden a tender Angel
    With drooping head was shining;
    A demon gloomy and rebellious
    Over the abyss of hell was flying.

    The spirit of Denial, the spirit of Doubt,
    The spirit of purity espied;
    And unwittingly the warmth of tenderness
    He for the first time learned to know.

    Adieu, he spake. Thee I saw;
    Not in vain hast thou shone before me.
    Not all in the world have I hated,
    Not all in the world have I scorned.

20. Hitherto we have followed Pushkin only through his unconscious song;
only through that song of which his soul was so full as to find an
outlet, as it were, without any deliberate effort on his part. But not
even unto the bard is it given to remain in this childlike health. For
Nature ever works in circles. Starting from health, the soul indeed in
the end arrives at health, but only through the road of disease. And a
good portion of the conscious period in the life of the soul is taken up
by doubt, by despair, by disease. Hence when the singer begins to
reflect, to philosophize, his song is no longer that of health. This is
the reason why Byron and Shelley have borne so little fruit. Their wail
is the cry not of a mood, but of their whole being; it is not the cry of
health temporarily deranged, but the cry of disease. With the healthy
Burns, on the other hand, his poem, "Man was made to Mourn," reflects
only a stage which all growing souls must pass. So Pushkin, too, in his
growth, at last arrives at a period when he writes the following lines,
not the less beautiful for being the offspring of disease, as all
lamentation must needs be:--

    "Whether I roam along the noisy streets,
     Whether I enter the peopled temple,
     Or whether I sit by thoughtless youth,
     My thoughts haunt me everywhere.

    "I say, swiftly go the years by:
     However great our number now,
     Must all descend the eternal vaults,--
     Already struck has some one's hour.

    "And if I gaze upon the lonely oak,
     I think: The patriarch of the woods
     Will survive my passing age
     As he survived my father's age.

    "And if a tender babe I fondle,
     Already I mutter, Fare thee well!
     I yield my place to thee;
     For me 'tis time to decay, to bloom for thee.

    "Thus every day, every year,
     With death I join my thought
     Of coming death the day,
     Seeking among them to divine

    "Where will Fortune send me death,--
     In battle, in my wanderings, or on the waves?
     Or shall the neighboring valley
     Receive my chilled dust?

    "But though the unfeeling body
     Can equally moulder everywhere,
     I, still, my birthland nigh,
     Would have my body lie.

    "Let near the entrance to my grave
     Cheerful youth be engaged in play,
     And let indifferent creation
     Shine there with beauty eternally."

21. Once passed through its mumps and measles, the soul of the poet now
becomes conscious of its heavenly gift, and begins to have a conscious
purpose. The poet becomes moralized, and the song becomes ethical. This
is the beginning of the final stage, which the soul, if its growth
continue healthy, must reach; and Pushkin, when singing, does retain his
health. Accordingly in his address to the Steed, the purpose is already
clearly visible.

    THE HORSE.

    Why dost thou neigh, O spirited steed;
    Why thy neck so low,
    Why thy mane unshaken,
    Why thy bit not gnawed?
    Do I then not fondle thee;
    Thy grain to eat art thou not free;
    Is not thy harness ornamented,
    Is not thy rein of silk,
    Is not thy shoe of silver,
    Thy stirrup not of gold?
    The steed, in sorrow, answer gives:
    Hence am I still,
    Because the distant tramp I hear,
    The trumpet's blow, and the arrow's whiz;
    And hence I neigh, since in the field
    No longer shall I feed,
    Nor in beauty live, and fondling,
    Nor shine with the harness bright.
    For soon the stern enemy
    My harness whole shall take,
    And the shoes of silver
    From my light feet shall tear.
    Hence it is that grieves my spirit;
    That in place of my chaprak
    With thy skin shall cover he
    My perspiring sides.

22. It is thus that the singer lifts up his voice against the terrors of
war. It is thus that he protests against the struggle between brother
and brother; and the effect of the protest is all the more potent that
it is put into the mouth, not as Nekrassof puts it, of the singer, but
into that of a dumb, unreasoning beast.

23. We have now reached the last stage of the development of Pushkin's
singing soul. For once conscious of a moral purpose, he cannot remain
long on the plane of mere protest; this is mere negation. What is to him
the truth must likewise be sung, and he utters the note of affirmation;
this in his greatest poem,--

    THE PROPHET.

    Tormented by the thirst for the Spirit,
    I was dragging myself in a sombre desert,
    And a six-winged seraph appeared
    Unto me on the parting of the roads;
    With fingers as light as a dream
    He touched mine eyes;
    And mine eyes opened wise,
    Like unto the eyes of a frightened eagle.
    He touched mine ears,
    And they filled with din and ringing.
    And I heard the trembling of the heavens,
    And the flight of the angels' wings,
    And the creeping of the polyps in the sea,
    And the growth of the vine in the valley.
    And he took hold of my lips,
    And out he tore my sinful tongue,
    With its empty and false speech.
    And the fang of the wise serpent
    Between my terrified lips he placed
    With bloody hand.
    And ope he cut my breast with a sword,
    And out he took my trembling heart,
    And a coal blazing with flame
    He shoved into the open breast.
    Like a corpse I lay in the desert;
    And the voice of the Lord called unto me:
    "Arise! O prophet and guide, and listen,--
    Be thou filled with my will,
    And going over land and sea,
    Burn with the Word the hearts of men!"

24. This is the highest flight of Pushkin. He knew that the poet comes
to deliver the message. But _what_ the message was, was not given unto
him to utter. For God only speaks through those that speak for him, and
Pushkin's was not yet a God-filled soul. Hence the last height left him
yet to climb, the height from which the "Hymn of Force" is sung, Pushkin
did not climb. Pushkin's song, in short, was so far only an utterance of
a gift, it had not become as yet a part of his life. And the highest is
only attainable not when our lives are guided by our gifts, but when our
gifts are guided by our lives. How this thus falling short of a natively
richly endowed soul became possible, can be told only from a study of
his life. To Pushkin his poetic ideal bore the same relation to his
practical life that the Sunday religion of the business-man bears to his
Monday life. To the ordinary business man, Christ's words are a seeing
guide to be followed in church, but a blind enough guide, not to be
followed on the street. Hence Pushkin's life is barren as a source of
inspiration towards what life ought to be; but it is richly fruitful as
a terrifying warning against what life ought not to be.

25. Pushkin died at the age of thirty-eight, at a time when he may be
said to have just begun to live. Once more then we have before us a mere
fragment, a mere possibility, a mere promise of what the great soul was
capable of becoming, of what the great soul was perhaps destined to
become. Pushkin is thus a typical example of the fate of the Slavonic
soul. And the same phases we had occasion to observe as gone through by
the race, we now find here likewise gone through by the individual. It
is this which makes Pushkin eminently a national singer, a Russian
singer. The satire of Gogol, the synthesis of Turgenef, the analysis of
Tolstoy, might have indeed flourished on any other soil. Nay, Turgenef
and Tolstoy are men before they are Russians; but the strength of
Pushkin as a force in Russian literature comes from this his very
weakness. Pushkin is a Russian before he is a man, his song is a Russian
song; hence though many have been the singers in Russia since his day,
none has yet succeeded in filling his place. For many are indeed called,
but few are chosen; and the chosen Russian bard was--Alexander Pushkin.



LECTURE III.

GOGOL.


1. With the departure of the eighteenth century there also disappeared
from Russia that dazzling glitter which for well-nigh half a century had
blinded the eyes of Europe. Catherine was now dead, Potyomkin was dead,
Suvorof was living an exile in a village, and Panin was idle on his
estates. And now stripped of its coat of whitewash, autocracy stood bare
in all its blackness. Instead of mother-Catherine, Paul was now ruling,
and right fatherly he ruled! Such terror was inspired by this emperor,
that at the sight of their father-Tsar his subjects at last began to
scamper in all directions like a troop of mice at the sight of a cat.
For half a decade Russia was thus held in terror, until the rule of the
maniac could no longer be endured. At last Panin originates, Pahlen
organizes, and Benigsen executes a plan, the accomplishment of which
finds Paul on the morrow lying in state with a purple face, and the
marks of the shawl which strangled him carefully hid by a high collar.
"His Majesty died of apoplexy," the populace is told. Alexander the
Benign comes upon the throne, greeted, indeed, by his subjects, in the
ecstasy of the delivery, like an angel, but cursed by them as a demon
ere the five-and-twenty years of his rule have passed. The Holy
Alliance, Shishkof and Arakcheyef were more than even Russians could
endure, and formidable protest is at last made by the armed force of the
Decembrists. The protest fails; five bodies swinging from the gallows,
and a hundred exiles buried in Siberia alive, leave a monument of such
failure terrible in its ghastliness even for Russian history. The iron
hand of Nicholas now rests on the country, and for thirty years the
autocrat can proudly say that now order reigns in Russia. Order? Yes;
but it is the order and quiet of the graveyard, the peace of death.

2. But not all is quiet. Defeated on the field of arms, the spirit of
protest seeks and at last finds a battle-field where neither the
trampling hoofs of horses nor the shot of cannon can avail. The spirit
of man intrenches itself behind ideas, behind letters, and here it
proves impregnable even against the autocracy of a Nicholas. Defeated on
the field of war, the spirit of man protests in literature. The times
call for the voice, and the voice is soon heard. This voice is the voice
of Nicolai Gogol.

3. Gogol is the protester, the merciless critic of the weakness of
autocracy. I have placed Pushkin, the greatest of Russia's singers, as
among the least of its writers, because he hath no purpose. I place
Gogol far above Pushkin, because Gogol is the first master of Russian
literature in whom purpose is not only visible, but is also shown.
Gogol's art protests not unconsciously; but the man Gogol uses the
artist Gogol as a means for giving voice to the protest against what his
noble soul rebels.

4. For, O my friends, I cannot emphasize it too strongly that our
gifts--whether they consist in wealth, or in the ability to sing, to
paint, to build, or to count--are not given unto us to be used for our
pleasure merely, or as means of our advancement, whether social or
intellectual. But they are given unto us that we may use them for
helping those who need help. Talk not therefore of art for its own sake;
that art needs no purpose, but is an end unto itself. Such talk is only
a convenient way of evading the Heaven-imposed responsibility of _using
for others_ those gifts with which a merciful power hath endowed their
undeserving possessors. Art, therefore, to be truly worthy, must have a
purpose, and, execution being equal, that art is highest, which hath the
highest purpose; that art lowest, which hath the lowest purpose.

5. But it was not given to Gogol to announce the loftiest message, the
message of peace, of love, of submission, the message of Tolstoy; the
times of Gogol were not ripe for this; the times of Gogol called for
indignation, for protest, and Gogol is the indignant protester.

6. Hitherto, whatever force has been exerted towards protesting against
the misrule of Russia by autocracy has come from the South. Stenka
Rasin, Pugatchef, came not from the North but from the South. And the
most formidable division of the Decembrist conspirators of 1825 was that
of Pestel and Muraviof, with their headquarters in the South. And even
the policy of terrorizing the autocracy by assassination, which was
adopted in our own day by the most formidable opponents of the
government, by the revolutionists miscalled Nihilists, also originated
in the South,--with Ossinsky and his comrades in Kief. Gogol, the
protester in literature, was likewise a Southerner. And it will be worth
while to cast a glance at this country and see what therein is to make
it thus a hot-bed of protest.

7. Beyond the waterfalls of the Dnieper there extends a to the eye
boundless land of prairie which for ages has been the rendezvous of all
manner of wild, lawless, but sturdy folk. Of this land Gogol himself has
given a description glowingly beautiful as only the love of a Little
Russian for the Steppe could give. Taras Bulba had just started out with
his two sons to join the camp of the Cossaks.

    "Meanwhile the steppe had already received them all into its green
    embrace, and the high grass surrounding them hid them, and the black
    Cossaks' caps alone now gleamed between its stalks.

    "'Aye, aye, fellows, what is the matter; why so quiet?' said at last
    Bulba, waking up from his revery. 'One would think you were a crowd
    of Tartars. Well, well, to the Evil One with your thoughts! Just
    take your pipes between your teeth, and let us have a smoke, and
    give our horses the spurs. Then we will fly that even a bird could
    not catch us!'

    "And the Cossaks, leaning over their horses, were lost in the grass.
    Now even their black caps could no longer be seen; only a track of
    trampled-down grass traced their swift flight.

    "The sun had long been looking forth on the cleared heavens, and
    poured over the whole steppe its refreshing warmth-breathing light.
    Whatever was dim and sleepy in the Cossaks' souls suddenly fled;
    their hearts began to beat faster, like birds'.

    "The farther they went, the more beautiful the steppe grew. In those
    days the vast expanse which now forms New Russia, to the very
    shores of the Black Sea, was green, virgin desert. The plough had
    never passed along the immeasurable waves of the wild plants. Horses
    alone, whom they hid, were trampling them down. Nothing in Nature
    could be more beautiful. The whole surface of the land presented a
    greenish-golden ocean, on which were sparkling millions of all
    manner of flowers. Through the thin high stalks of the grass were
    reaching forth the light-blue, dark-blue, and lilac-colored flowers;
    the yellow broom-plant jumped out above, with its pyramid-like top.
    The white clover, with its parasol-shaped little caps, shone gayly
    on the surface. A halm of wheat, brought hither God knows whence,
    was playing the lonely dandy. By the thin roots of the grasses were
    gliding the prairie-chicks, stretching out their necks. The air was
    filled with a thousand different whistles of birds. In the sky
    floated immovably hawks, their wings spread wide, their eyes
    steadily fixed on the grass. The cry of a cloud of wild geese moving
    on the side was heard on a lake, Heaven knows how far off. With
    measured beating of its wings there rose from the grass a gull, and
    bathed luxuriously in the blue waves of the atmosphere. Now she is
    lost in the height, now she gleams as a dark point; there, she has
    turned on her wings, and has sparkled in the sun!... The Devil take
    ye, ye steppes, how beautiful you are!"

8. If the height of the mount, swelling as it does the breast of the
mountaineer, makes his spirit free by filling his lungs to their very
roots, how much more must the steppe liberate the spirit of man by
giving the eye an ever-fleeing circle to behold whithersoever it turn!
How much more free than the mountaineer must the son of the steppe feel,
for whom distance hath no terror, since go he never so far, he beholds
the same sky, the same horizon, the same grass, and his cheek is fanned
by the same breeze! To jump upon his faithful steed, to prick her sides
with the spur, to be off in the twinkling of an eye with the swiftness
of the wind, at the least discontent, is therefore as natural to the
Russian of the South as it is for the Russian of the North to endure
patiently in his place of birth whatever Fortune hath in store for him.
The Cossak has therefore for ages been on land what the sailor is on
sea,--light-hearted, jolly when with comrades, melancholy when alone;
but whether with his mates or alone, of a spirit indomitably free. And
Gogol was a Cossak. Southern Russia had not as yet produced a single
great voice, because Southern Russia, New Russia, had as yet no
aristocracy. Gogol is thus the only great Russian writer who sprang not
from an autocracy whitewashed with Western culture, but from the genuine
Russian people. It is this which makes Gogol the most characteristic of
Russian writers.

9. Gogol was born in the province of Poltava, in 1810. His grandfather
was an honored member of the government of the Cossak Republic, which at
that time formed almost a state within the state. It was he that
entertained his grandson with the stories of the life of the Cossaks,
their adventures, their wars, as well as with the tales of devils, of
apparitions, of which that country is full, and which form the principal
amusement of the people during their long winter evenings.

10. We shall see later that the essential characteristic of Gogol's art
was his wonderful power as a teller of a story. This came to him
directly from the grandfather through the father. But the father was
already a man of a certain degree of culture. He was fond of reading,
subscribed to the magazines, loved to entertain, and more than once had
even private theatricals at his house.

11. The boy grew up at home till he was twelve years old. But at that
age he was sent away to school at Nyezhin, with results questionable
enough. The only signs of promise he showed were a strong memory and an
honest but intense dislike of those studies which are only useful when
forgotten. The problem as to the necessity of making children familiar
with Timbuctoo, Popocatepetl, parallelopipeds, and relative dative and
absolute ablative, the boy settled for himself in clear-headed boyish
fashion. He hated mathematics, he hated the ancient languages.
Accordingly, though he stayed three years under the professor of Latin,
all he could learn was the first paragraph of a Latin Reader which
begins with the instructive sentence: Universus mundus in duas
distribuitur partes; from which circumstance poor Gogol was ever after
known among his mates under the name of Universus Mundus. Teachers and
scholars therefore scorned poor Universus Mundus; but the boy faithfully
kept a book under his desk during recitations, and read most diligently,
leaving Universus Mundus to run its own course.

12. But if the boy did not lead his fellow-pupils in familiarity with
Popocatepetl and parallelopiped, he did lead them in intellectual energy
and practical life; a voracious reader, a passionate student of
Zhukofsky and Pushkin, he founded not only a college review, which he
filled mostly with his own contributions, but also a college theatre,
which furnished entertainment not only to the boys themselves, but even
to the citizens of the town. Nor did the boy rest until he saw his
efforts towards founding a college library crowned with success.

13. This public spirit, which became in time all-absorbing to him, thus
showed itself even in his boyhood. It was not long before the purpose of
his life which hitherto manifested itself unconsciously now became the
conscious part of his existence; and when in 1828 the boy left the
Nyezhin Gymnasium, he was already filled with conscious desire to serve
God with all his soul and man with all his heart. But as the body on its
entrance into life must go through a baptism of water, so the soul on
its entrance into life must go through a baptism of fire, and the fire
to poor Gogol was scorching enough. Deeply religious towards God, nobly
enthusiastic towards men, the boy in his simplicity, innocence, and
trustfulness found himself repelled by an unsympathetic and hampered by
a misunderstanding world, which instead of encouraging the
sympathy-hungry youth, was only too ready to laugh to scorn with its
superior wisdom the dreams of the visionary. The home, the province, now
becomes too narrow for the rapidly unfolding soul. To St. Petersburg he
must go, the capital of talent, of aspiration, of hope, where are
published the magazines so eagerly devoured in the days gone by,--to the
capital, where dwell Zhukofsky and Pushkin. There his talents shall be
recognized, and an appreciating world shall receive the new-comer with
open arms. The arms of the world do indeed open on his arrival at St.
Petersburg, but it is the cold embrace of want, of friendlessness. In
St. Petersburg begins for him a struggle for existence which well-nigh
ruins him forever. Bread is not easily earned. Congenial society does
not readily seek him out, and the sympathetic appreciation his starving
soul craves is still as far as ever. Inevitable disappointment of
hero-worship also quickly comes. When he calls at the door of the
idolized Pushkin late in the morrow, he is told by the valet that the
great man is deigning to be asleep at this late hour. "Ah, your master
has been composing some heavenly song all night!" "Not at all; he has
been playing cards till seven in the morning!" And to complete his doom,
his tender susceptible heart begins to flutter with right serious ado at
the sight of a dame of high social position who hardly deigns to cast
even a glance at the moneyless, ill-clad, clumsy, rustic lad,--sorrows
enough for a soul far better equipped for battle with Fortune than this
poor Cossak lad. Total ruin is now dangerously nigh. And here Gogol
becomes high-handed. He must be off, away from this suffocation of
disappointment and despair. He must seek new fields; if Fortune is not
to be found in St. Petersburg, then it shall be sought beyond St.
Petersburg; and if not in Russia, then out of Russia. Not him shall
sportive Fortune flee; not him, the youth of merit, the youth of
promise. In the days of yore he had charmed the good folk of Nyezhin by
his acting from the stage the part of an old woman. Wherefore not
conquer Fortune as an old woman, if she favor not the young man? In a
foreign land he might yet find his goal as an actor, and he decides to
exile himself. Of moneys there are indeed none. Fortunately his mother,
now already a widow, sends him some moneys wherewith to pay off their
pledged estate. But the dutiful son keeps the moneys, advises his mother
to take in return his share of his father's estate, and departs for the
promised land. He goes to Germany, to Lubeck, to conquer Fortune as an
actor.

14. Conquer Fortune he indeed did. For in less than a month he found
himself back in St. Petersburg, now a sober, a wiser man. The period of
stress, of storm, was at an end, and henceforth letters were chosen as
his life-long occupation. Bread, indeed, has to be earned by all manner
of makeshifts,--now by serving as a scribe in some dreary government
hall, now by reading off mechanically to university students what
officially passes as lectures; but the life of his soul, whatever his
body might busy itself with, was henceforth given unto letters.

15. Henceforth, in order to make his life most fruitful unto men, which
is his constant purpose, he is to write. But write what? Gogol gazes
into his heart, and there finds the memories of the steppe, of the
valiant Cossaks, their prowess and their freedom. His soul is filled at
the sight of these with a tenderness and beauty which give him no rest
until he pours them out over the pages of his book, and "Taras Bulba" is
covered with a glory well-nigh unattained in any language since the days
of Homer. For "Taras Bulba," though only one of several stories in
"Evenings on a Farm," is among them what the star Sirius is in the
already glorious heavens of a November midnight. As a thing of beauty,
of simple grandeur, of wild strength, of heroic nobility, as a song, in
short, I do not hesitate to affirm that it finds its like only in the
Iliad. It is an epic song, and a song not of an individual soul but of a
whole nation. Written down it was indeed by the hands of Gogol, but
composed it was by the whole of Little Russia. As the whole of heroic
Greece sings in the wrath of Achilles, so the whole of Cossakdom, which
in its robust truth and manly simplicity is not unlike heroic Greece,
sings in "Taras Bulba."

16. The poem is introduced as follows:--

    "'Just turn round, sonny! Well, I declare if you are not ridiculous!
    What kind of a rig have you on? Why, you look like priests! Are they
    all dressed thus in the academy?'

    "With these words old Bulba met his two sons who came home from the
    Kief seminary to their father. His sons had just got down from their
    horses. They were two sturdy fellows, still looking out from under
    their brows just like fresh seminary graduates. Their strong,
    healthy faces were covered with the first down, as yet untouched by
    a razor. They were much embarrassed at such reception by their
    father, and they stood motionless, with eyes fixed on the ground.

    "'Stand still, stand still; just let me get a good look at you,' he
    continued, as he turned them about. 'What long jackets you have on!
    What a jacket! Who ever heard of such jackets before! Just let one
    of you take a run, and see whether he would not tumble over,
    entangled in his coat-tails.'

    "'Don't laugh, father, don't laugh,' said at last the eldest.

    "'See how touchy he is! And why, pray, shall not I laugh?'

    "'Because! For even if you are my father, but if you laugh, by God,
    I will thrash you!'

    "'Well, well, well, did you ever! Is this the kind of a son you are?
    How? Your father?' said Taras Bulba, stepping back in surprise.

    "'Yes, even if you are my father. An insult I will stand from none.'

    "'How then do you wish to fight me? Boxing?'

    "'I don't care; any way.'

    "'Well then, let us box,' said Bulba, rolling up his sleeves. 'I
    would like to see what sort of a boxer you are.'

    "And father and son, instead of greeting each other after the long
    separation, began to give each other blows, now in the sides, now in
    the ribs, now in the breast, now stepping back and looking about,
    now coming forward again.

    "'Just see, good people, the old fool has become crazy,' said the
    pale, thin, good mother, who was standing on the threshold and had
    not been able to embrace her darling boys. 'The children come home
    after an absence of over a year, and he gets it into his head, God
    knows what, to box with them.'

    "'Yes, he fights finely,' said Bulba, stopping. 'Good, by God!' he
    continued, catching a little breath. 'So, yes, he will make a fine
    Cossak, even without preliminary trial. Well, welcome, sonny; come
    kiss me.' And father and son began to kiss each other. 'Good, my
    son. Thrash everybody as you have given it to me. Don't let him go!
    But I must insist, yours is a ridiculous rig. What rope is this,
    dangling down there!'"

17. Bulba is so pleased with his boys that he decides to take them the
very next day to the syetch, the republic of the Cossaks, and there
initiate them in the wild, glorious service. The mother's grief at the
unexpected loss of her boys, as well as the parting itself, is thus
described by Gogol:--

    "Night had just enclosed the sky in its embrace; but Bulba always
    retired early. He spread himself out on the mat and covered himself
    with the sheep-skin; for the night air was quite fresh, and Bulba,
    moreover, was fonder of warmth when at home. He soon began to snore,
    and it was not long before the entire household did the like.
    Whatever lay in the various corners of the court began to snore and
    to whiz. Before everybody else fell asleep the watchman; for in
    honor of the return of the young Cossaks he had drunk more than the
    rest.

    "The poor mother alone was awake. She nestled herself close to the
    heads of her dear boys, who were lying side by side. She combed
    their young, carelessly bunched-up locks, and moistened them with
    her tears. She gazed upon them with all her eyes, with all her
    feelings; she was transformed into nothing but sight, and yet she
    could not look enough at them. She had fed them from her own breast.
    She had raised them, had fondled them, and now she sees them again
    only for a moment! 'My boys, my darling boys, what is to become of
    ye, what is in store for ye?' she spake, and the tears halted on her
    wrinkles, which had changed her once handsome face. In truth, she
    was to be pitied, as every woman of that rough age was to be pitied.
    Only a moment had she lived in love, only in the first fever of
    passion, in the first fever of youth, and already her rough charmer
    had forsaken her for the sword, for his companions, for the wild
    excitement of war. During the year she saw her husband perhaps
    two--three times, and then again for some years there was not even a
    trace of him. And when they did come together, when they did live
    together, what sort of life was hers! She suffered insult, even
    blows. She received her fondlings as a kind of alms; she felt
    herself a strange creature in this assemblage of wifeless knights,
    to whom the loose life of the Cossaks had given a coloring sombre
    enough. Youth flashed by her joylessly, and her beautiful fresh
    cheeks and fingers had withered away without kisses, and were
    covered with premature wrinkles. All her love, all her tenderness,
    whatever was soft and passionate in woman, was merged in her into
    the one feeling of a mother. With heat, with passion, with tears,
    like a gull of the steppe, she was circling about her babes. Her
    boys, her darling boys, are to be taken from her,--taken from her
    never to be seen again. Who knows, perhaps at the very first battle
    the Tartar shall cut off their heads, and she shall not know where
    their castaway bodies are lying to be pecked in pieces by the bird
    of prey, while for every drop of their blood she would have given up
    her whole life. Groaning, she looked into their eyes, when almighty
    sleep began to close them, and she thought to herself, 'Perhaps
    Bulba will change his mind when he wakes, and put off the departure
    for a day or two; perhaps he has decided to go off so soon because
    he had taken a little too much.'

    "The moon had for some time been shining from the high heavens upon
    the whole court, its sleeping folk, the thick clump of willows and
    the high wild oats in which was drowned the fence surrounding the
    court. Still she was sitting at the head-side of her darling boys,
    not taking her eyes off them for a moment, and not even thinking of
    sleep. The horses, already feeling the morrow, had all lain down in
    the grass, and ceased feeding. The upper leaves of the willows began
    to whisper, and little by little a whispering wave descended along
    them to the very bottom. But she was still sitting up till daybreak,
    not at all tired, but inwardly wishing that the night might last
    only longer. From the steppe came up the loud neighing of a colt;
    red bars gleamed brightly along the sky....

    "When the mother saw that at last her sons also were now seated on
    their horses, she rushed to the youngest, in whose features there
    seemed to be more of a certain tenderness, seized his spur, clung to
    his saddle, and with despair in her eyes, she held fast to him. Two
    robust Cossaks took gently hold of her and carried her into the
    house. But when they rode out beyond the gates, with the lightness
    of a wild stag, incompatible with her years, she ran out beyond the
    gates, and with incomprehensible strength she stopped the horse and
    embraced one of her sons with a kind of crazy, feelingless
    feverishness. Again she was carried off.

    "The young Cossaks rode in silence, and held back their tears in
    fear of their father, who, however, was for his part not wholly at
    ease, though he tried not to betray himself. The sky was gray; the
    green was sparkling with a glare; the birds were singing as if in
    discord. The Cossaks, after riding some distance, looked back. Their
    farm-house seemed to have gone down into the ground. Above ground
    were seen only the two chimneys of their modest house, and the tops
    of the trees, along whose branches they had been leaping like
    squirrels [in their childhood.] There still was stretched before
    them that prairie which held for them the whole history of their
    life, from the years when they made somersaults on its thick grass,
    to the years when they would await there the black-browed Cossak
    dame as she was tripping swiftly along with her fresh light step.
    Now they see only the pole over the well, and the cart-wheel, tied
    to its top, alone sticks out on the sky. And now the plain they had
    just passed seems a distant mount, hiding everything behind it....
    Farewell, childhood, and play, and all, and all!..."

18. I had hoped at first to be able to give you a few passages from this
noblest of epic poems which might give you some idea of its wild,
thrilling beauty: the jolly life at the syetch; the sudden
transformation of the frolicking, dancing, gambling crowd into a
well-disciplined army of fierce warriors, which strikes terrors into the
hearts of the Poles. I hoped to be able to give you Gogol's own account
of the slaying of Andrei, his youngest son, by Bulba himself, because,
bewitched by a pair of fair eyes, he became traitor to the Cossaks. I
wished to quote to you the stoic death, under the very eyes of his
father, of Ostap, the oldest son, torn as he is alive to pieces, not a
sound escaping his lips, but at the very last moment, disheartened at
the sea of hostile faces about him, crying only, "Father, seest thou all
this?" I wished to quote to you Bulba's own terrible death, nailed alive
to a tree, which is set on fire under him; the old hero, still intent on
the salvation of his little band, while the smoke envelops him, cries,
as he beholds the movement of the enemy, "To the shore, comrades, to the
shore! Take the path to the left!" But I found I should have to quote to
you the entire book; for there is not a single page of this poem from
which beauty does not shine forth with dazzling radiance. Homer often
nods in the Iliad, but in "Taras Bulba" Gogol never nods. And as the
painter of old on being asked to remove the curtain that the picture
might be seen replied, "The curtain _is_ the picture," so can I only say
to you, "Read 'Taras Bulba,' and it shall be its own commentary unto
you!"

19. With "Taras Bulba," Gogol had reached the height as a singer. On
this road there was no longer any progress for his soul, and to remain a
cheerful, right-glad singer in the midst of the sorrowing, overburdened
country was impossible to a man of Gogol's earnestness. For his first
and last end was to serve his country. 'Tis well, if he could serve it
by letters, equally well, if he could serve it by his simple life.
Gogol, therefore, now decided to devote the rest of his days to the
unveiling of the ills to which the Russian Colossus was subject, in the
hope that the sight of the ugly cancer would help its removal. Thus he
became the conscious protester, the critic of autocracy; and he became
such because his gifts were best fitted for such labor. For coupled with
his unsurpassed gift of story-telling was another distinct trait of the
Cossak in him,--the ability of seeing good-humoredly the frailties of
man; and his humor, undefiled by the scorn of the cynic, proved a most
powerful weapon in his hands. Ridicule has ever proved a terror to
corruption. But in the hands of Gogol this ridicule became a weapon all
the more powerful because it took the shape of impersonal humor where
the indignation of the author was kept out of sight, so that even stern
Nicolas himself, the indirect source of the very corruption satirized in
"The Revisor," could laugh, while a listener to the play, until the
tears ran down his cheeks and his sides ached. The corruption of
provincial officials, which is the natural sore following all
autocratic blood-poisoning, found merciless treatment at the hands of
Gogol in his comedy "The Revisor." Its plot is briefly as follows:--

20. The mayor of a small city receives suddenly the news that a revisor,
a secret examiner, is on the way from the capital to investigate his
administration. Quickly he assembles all the worthies of the town, the
director of schools, of prisons, of hospitals, all of whom have but too
guilty consciences, and they all decide on measures of escape from his
wrath. They march in file to the hotel where the supposed Revisor
lodges. There for some days had been dwelling a young penniless
good-for-nothing whom the officials mistake for the dreaded Revisor. The
young man is surprised, but soon accepts the situation, and plays his
part admirably. Presents and bribes are sent him from all sides; he
borrows money right and left, makes love to the mayor's wife as well as
to his daughter, and finally engages to marry the--daughter. The mayor
is happy and honored as never before, and relying upon the protection
of the Revisor outrages the community now more than ever. At last the
pseudo-revisor departs with all the gifts and loans, and in a few days
the real Revisor actually arrives, to the astonishment and dismay of the
officials, who till now had felt secure in their misdeeds.

21. "The Revisor" is indeed a great comedy, the equal of Griboyedof's
"Misfortune from Brains." As a comedy it is therefore the inferior of
none,--neither of Terence, nor of Molière. But as a work of art it
cannot rank as high as "Taras Bulba," because no comedy can ever be as
great a thing of beauty as an epic poem. What rouses laughter cannot
rank as high as what rouses tender emotion. Moreover, with the passing
away of the generation familiar with the corruption it satirizes, the
comedy often becomes unintelligible save to scholars. Hence the utter
valuelessness to us of to-day of the comedies of Aristophanes as works
of wit. Their only value to-day is as fragmentary records of Greek
manners. The comedy is thus writ not for all times, but only for _a_
time; while "Taras Bulba," though generations come and generations go,
will ever appeal unto men as a thing of imperishable beauty. But while
"The Revisor" is below "Taras Bulba" as a work of art, it is far above
it as a work of purpose, and has accordingly accomplished a greater
result. For "Taras Bulba" can only give pleasure, though it be read for
thousands of years after "The Revisor" has been forgotten. It will
indeed give a noble pleasure, at which the soul need not blush, still it
is only a pleasure. But "The Revisor" has helped to abolish corruption,
has fought the Evil One, has therefore done work which, transient though
it be, _must_ be done to bring about the one result which alone is
permanent,--the kingdom of heaven upon earth; the kingdom of truth, the
kingdom of love, the kingdom of worship. And whatever helps towards the
establishment of that on earth must be of a higher rank than what only
gives pleasure unto the soul.

22. The success of "The Revisor" spurred the young Gogol on to further
effort, and he now resolved to give utterance to protest against
another crying wrong of Russian life, which in its consequences was far
more disastrous to the country than official corruption. Gogol now
undertook to lay bare the ills of serfdom. His soul had long since been
searching for its activity a field as wide as life itself. With Gogol,
as with all lofty souls before they find their truest self, aspiration
ever soared above execution. Now, however, the time had arrived when his
gifts could execute whatever his soul conceived; and his mighty spirit
at last found fitting expression in "Dead Souls." Accordingly "Dead
Souls" is not so much a story, a story of an event or of a passion, as a
panorama of the whole country. In his search for Dead Souls, Tchichikof
has to travel through the length and breadth of the land; through
village and through town, through sunshine and through storm, by day and
by night, through the paved imperial post-road as well as through the
forsaken cross-lane. This enables Gogol to place before the reader not
only the governor of the province, the judge, and the rich landowner,
the possessor of hundreds of souls, but also the poverty-stricken,
well-nigh ruined landowner; not only the splendor of the city, but also
the squalor of the hamlet; not only the luxury of an invited guest, but
also the niggardliness of the hotel-boarder. "Dead Souls" is thus a
painting in literature,--what Kaulbach's "Era of the Reformation" is in
history. And the originality of the execution lies in the arrangement
which presents Russia in a view unseen as yet even by Pushkin, who knew
his country but too well. Gogol may be said to have discovered Russia
for the Russian, as Haxthausen discovered it for the West, and as De
Tocqueville discovered America for the Americans. "Great God!" exclaimed
Pushkin, on reading "Dead Souls," "I had no idea Russia was such a dark
country!" And this is the characteristic of this among the greatest of
paintings of Russian life,--the faithful gloom which overhangs the
horizon. In spite of its humor, the impression left on the mind by "Dead
Souls" is that of the sky during an equinoctial storm; and on closing
the book, in spite of your laughter, you feel as if you had just
returned from a funeral. The work is conceived in humor, designed to
rouse laughter, but it is laughter which shines through tears. It is the
laughter of a soul which can no longer weep outwardly, but inwardly. It
is the same laughter which Lessing indulged in when his wife and child
were snatched from him both at once. For six long weary years he had
battled with poverty, disappointment, and despair, to reach at last in
joy the goal of his life; he weds at last his beloved dame, and lo, the
close of the first year of his paradise finds mother and babe lying side
by side--lifeless. Lessing laughs. He writes to a friend: "The poor
little fellow hath early discovered the sorrows of this earth, so he
quickly hied himself hence, and lest he be lonely, took his mother
along." There is laughter here, indeed, but the soul here laughs with a
bleeding, torn, agonized heart. It is the same laughter which was roused
among the disciples of Christ when they heard their Master utter the
grim joke, "Verily, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of
the needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Such
laughter is Gogol's in "Dead Souls." Gogol had now learned to
comprehend the words of his friend Ivanof,--"Christ never laughed."

23. I dwell on this phase of Gogol's laughter, because Gogol in his
"Dead Souls" unconsciously recognized that behind everything laughable
there is at bottom not a comedy but a tragedy; that at bottom it is the
cold head only which laughs, and not the warm heart. Think, and thou
shalt laugh; feel, and thou shalt weep. Judgment laughs, sympathy weeps.
Sin, wickedness, O my friends, is not a thing to laugh at, but a thing
to weep at; and your English humorists have not yet learned, when they
must laugh at vice and sin, to laugh at it with a heart full of woe.
Swift is steeped in vinegar; Fielding's humor is oiled and sugar-coated;
Dickens can never laugh unless with convulsive explosion; Thackeray
sneers, and George Eliot is almost malicious with her humor; and the
only man in English literature who is sick at heart while he laughs is
not even counted among the humorists,--Carlyle. In English literature
the laughter of Cervantes in Don Quixote is unknown; but the humor of
Cervantes is nearest that of Gogol. Gogol's laughter is the laughter of
a man who so loves his fellow-men that their weakness is his pain; and
the warmest corner in all Russia for the very men Gogol satirizes would
doubtless have been found in his own heart. It is this spirit in which
"Dead Souls" is writ which makes "Dead Souls" a model for all humorous
writing.

24. I can give you, however, no nobler example of this laughter through
tears by Gogol than the following closing passage from his "Memoirs of a
Maniac." You remember that during his stay at St. Petersburg, Gogol fell
in love with a woman far above his social rank. In this piece of only
twenty pages Gogol paints the mental condition of an humble
office-scribe, who, falling in hopeless love with the daughter of his
chief, loses his poor mind. After various adventures he at last imagines
himself King Ferdinand of Spain, is locked up in an asylum, and is
beaten whenever he speaks of himself as the king. And this is the last
entry in the poor maniac's diary:--

    "No, I no longer can endure it. God, what are they doing to me! They
    pour cold water on my head! They neither mind me, nor do they see
    me, nor do they hear me. What have I done to them? What do they wish
    of poor me? What can I give them? I have nothing. I have no more
    strength. I no longer can endure all their torment; my head is
    afire, and all around me is in a whirl. Save me! Take me! Give me a
    span of horses swift as the wind! Get up, driver; ring, little bell;
    off ye horses, and carry me off from this world! Away, away, that I
    see nothing more,--nothing. Ha! there is the sky vaulting before me;
    a star sparkles in the distance; there rushes the forest with its
    dark trees, and the moon. A gray fog spreads under my feet; a string
    resounds in the fog; on one side is the sea, on the other Italy; now
    Russian huts are already in sight. Is this my home which rises blue
    in the distance? Is it my mother sitting at the window? Dear mother,
    save your poor boy; drop a tearlet on his sick head. See how they
    torment him; press your poor orphan to your breast! There is no
    place for him on this wide earth! He is chased! Dear mother, have
    pity on your sick babe!... By the way, do you know, the Emperor of
    Algeria has a wart under his very nose!"

25. With the completion of the first part of "Dead Souls," Gogol had
reached the height as a protester. He had now exhausted this side of
his life,--the side which was the essence of his being, the side which
made him the individual person as distinct from the rest of men. After
the first part of "Dead Souls" his message unto men was a thing of the
past. Henceforth, whatever he could do, could only be a repetition of
his former burning words, and hence only a weaker utterance. This is
precisely what happens to most men of letters when they persist in
speech after naught is left them to say. You need only be reminded of
Bryant in this country, who had exhausted all the music of his soul in
his younger days, and of Tennyson in England, who as shadowy Lord
Tennyson can only ignobly borrow of marrowy Alfred Tennyson. But Gogol
was too conscientious an artist to allow himself to become prey of such
literary sin. If produce he must, it shall be no repetition of his
former self, but in a still higher field than mere protest. Accordingly,
he attempted in his second part of "Dead Souls" to paint an ideal
Russia, just as in the first part he had painted the real Russia. Here,
however, he undertook what was above his genius: the skylark is indeed a
noble bird, but is unfit for the flight of the eagle. Who was by nature
only a protester could not by sheer force of will be transformed into
the idealizing constructor. And of this, Gogol himself soon became
aware. To the very end he was discontented with his second part, and
finally, before his death, gave it over to the flames.

26. The heavenly spark which gleamed within him could not, however, be
put out. Letters proper he at last indeed forsook, but he now became
profoundly religious; he gave up all his possessions to the poor, and
when he needed moneys wherewith to make a pilgrimage to what was to him
a veritably Holy Land, he had to publish some of his intimate
correspondence.

27. This work proved the bitterness of the rest of his days. It roused a
clamor against the poor author altogether out of proportion to the
slight merit of the work. Gogol was denounced on all sides as a
renegade; the relentless accuser of autocracy in "The Revisor" could
not be forgiven for the spirit of Christian humility and resignation to
the will of God which breathed from these letters. It was in the
forties. Those were the days when a Hegelian wave went over Russian
minds. God had been philosophized away to make place for the Absolute,
and even school-boys came home to announce the astounding news that
there was no longer any God. Who was not a doubter, a disbeliever, was
unhesitatingly declared an imbecile; and Gogol's correspondence,
breathing as it does the spirit of the deepest godfulness, came upon his
friends like a note of discord at a concert. His friends declared him
insane, and all manner of advice offered, which could not fail to make
him truly insane. The already melancholy Gogol now became lonely,
dejected, and sought consolation now more than ever in fasting and
prayer. Poor Gogol had not yet learned that complete salvation is found
not in praying, but in doing. While his ills therefore increased his
devotion, his devotion likewise in turn increased his ills; his body
became emaciated, his mind was wrecked, and early in 1852 he was found
one morning starved to death, prostrated before the holy images, in
front of which he had spent his last days.

28. Next to Tolstoy, Gogol is perhaps the most lovable figure in Russian
literature. I say lovable, because he was at bottom a hapless man,--a
man who had fed on his own mighty heart. There is a Carlylesqueness
about his woe that makes his life immeasurably pitiful. Pushkin's sorrow
one finds it difficult to lament deeply, since it was mostly of his own
making; but Gogol's was the sorrowful lot of all heaven-aspiring souls
who have not yet attained the last, safest haven of rest in God,--that
haven from which the soul no longer cries in agony of spirit, "My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" but rather, "Father, thou knowest
wherefore all this is; thy will be done!" His soul in its loneliness and
restlessness knew nor sympathy nor appreciation of what was to him _his_
deepest life; and this the loving soul ever craves most hungeringly.
When the great soul had departed, gone irrevocably, men readily enough
recognized that the light of Israel had gone out; but the recognition
came too late, the love came when it could no longer heal his wounded
spirit.

29. My friends, "Taras Bulba" will thrill your soul with inexpressible
beauty. Gogol's "Revisor" will amuse you. His "Dead Souls" will instruct
you; but his life, if you study it faithfully, should prove his greatest
work unto you, for it should stir you,--stir you to tenderness, stir you
to sympathy, stir you to compassion for those sufferers, the like of
Gogol, who are never wanting, in whatever age, in whatever clime, in
whatever walk of life. Would to God, my friends, you could carry away
from Gogol's life with you this lesson: In your very midst, perhaps this
very day, there doubtless walks among you some mighty spirit, some
hungry soul. Seek him out, find him out, that not of ye at least shall
be said those immeasurably sorrowful words which could be said of the
countless friends of Gogol,--they came with their sympathy--too late!



LECTURE IV.

TURGENEF.


1. In the history of Russian letters, Ivan Turgenef is the most complex
figure. Nay, with the exception of Shakespeare he is perhaps the most
complex figure in all literature. He is universal, he is provincial; he
is pathetic, he is sneering; he is tender, he is merciless; he is
sentimental, he is frigid. He can be as compact as Tacitus, and as
prolix as Thackeray. He can be as sentimental as Werther, and as
heartless as Napoleon. He can cry with the bird, grow with the grass,
and hum with the bee; he can float with the spirits, and dream with the
fevered. He is everywhere at home: in the novel, in the story, in the
sketch, in the diary, in the epistle. Whatever form of composition he
touches, let once his genius be mature, and it turns to gold under his
hands. On reading through his ten volumes you leave him with the feeling
that you have just emerged from the virgin forests of South America;
your head is full of monkeys frolicking about, with an occasional
cocoanut shot at you, your head is full of the birds with their
variegated plumage, of the fragrance of the flowers, of the dusk about
you, and of the primeval stillness of the forest. And the collective
impression of the writer, the man, left upon you is that of some
invisible but consummate artist who had been passing before you all
manner of photographs made lurid by the glare of the stereopticon:
photograph now of sunset cloud, now of lover's scene in the lane, now of
a dyspeptic, long-haired, wrinkled old man. The writer Turgenef has thus
been for years an enigma. Katkof, the pillar of Russian autocracy,
claims him as his, and the revolutionists claim him as theirs; the
realists point to him as one of the apostles of their new gospel, and
the idealists point to him as the apostle of theirs. Now he defies
public opinion by befriending an obnoxious exile, now he shrinks before
it by disclaiming almost his acquaintance. Between the contending
parties, poor Turgenef shared the fate of the child of the women who did
_not_ come to King Solomon for advice in their dispute about its mother.
The poor child was pulled by each until disfigured for life. So Turgenef
between the different parties, each claiming him as its own, remained
homeless, almost friendless, to the end of his days, belonging to none;
and though surrounded by all manner of society and companionship which
fame, wealth, and position could give, he was yet at bottom solitary,
for he went through the world a man who was misunderstood.

2. His position in letters is therefore anomalous. Russians blame him,
but read him; and Americans praise him, and read him not. Englishmen
quote him, Frenchmen write essays on him, and Germans write books about
him; but all agree in wondering at him, all agree in not comprehending
him. And yet Turgenef's life and the purpose of his books is plain
enough to him that comes to view him with eyes as yet uncovered by
partisan glasses. Turgenef the realist, Turgenef the idealist, is
enigmatic enough; but once understood that Turgenef was the literary
warrior against what was to him a mortal enemy, and his whole life and
all his important works at once become explicable, consistent.

3. For man is something more than the mere sum of his abilities. Behind
all the forces of the man, whether of body or of mind, there stands the
soul, which uses them for purposes of its own, be they for better or for
worse. And of these there is always one which in time becomes the
absorbent of all its life, the essence of all its being; and such
purpose is soon found in the life of every man who lives, and not merely
exists; such purpose is soon found in the mightiest as well as in the
frailest, in the loftiest as well as in the lowest. And till such
purpose is understood, the life of the man is to beholders what the
flower is to the eye when looked at through a microscope,--an expanse of
mere tissue, rough, formless, confusing; but such purpose once
understood, the soul is transformed to the beholder as if made of
glass, transparent, uniform, simple.

4. Such purpose runs like a woof through the whole being of Turgenef. He
is a hunter, he is a clubman, he is a philanthropist, he is an artist;
but he is first of all a warrior, because he is first of all a lover of
his country, and a hater of what oppresses it. He does indeed much else
besides fighting for the emancipation of the land of his birth; but he
does it in the same spirit in which sensible folk go to dinners not for
the sake of eating, to receptions not for the sake of being received,
and wear kid gloves in summer not for the sake of keeping the hands
warm; these things, meaningless in themselves, are only incidentals in
the life of the spirit, which alone can be said to have any meaning.

5. Turgenef, then, is the fighter. This accounts for what is otherwise a
strange phenomenon in Turgenef's art. In his "Memoirs of a Sportsman,"
in which he first aimed his blows consciously against serfdom, his muse
busies itself not with life normal, but with life abnormal; not with
every-day characters, but with such as are seen rarely; not with
frequented places, but with unfrequented places. The "Memoirs of a
Sportsman" is a collection of sketches which form a sort of variety
museum of all manner of bizarre and even grotesque figures. Critics
naturally marvelled at this; and as in the days of old, men explained
the effects of morphine by saying that it contained the soporific
principle, and the action of the pump by nature's abhorring a vacuum, so
critics explained this fact, so strange in the healthy, clear-eyed,
measure-loving Turgenef, by saying that he had a natural fondness for
the fantastic and the strange. In truth, however, the choice of his
subjects was part of his very art as a warrior. He wished to strike, to
rouse; and here the extraordinary is ever more effective than the
ordinary. It was the same design which made the otherwise generous,
tender Wendell Phillips adopt a personal mode of warfare in his struggle
against slavery with a bitterness almost Mephistophelian. And the same
purpose made Turgenef, against the dictates of his muse, choose strange
characters for his sketches. Both Phillips and Turgenef here sacrificed
their feelings to their cause: the one sacrificed to his purpose even
his love for his fellow-men; the other, even his love for his art.

6. One other strange fact in the art of Turgenef is explained by this
fighting essence of his being. There is no growth, development, visible
in Turgenef. He lived to what is for Russian men of letters an advanced
age: he died when over sixty years old; yet, beginning with his first
great work of art, "Rudin," and ending with his last great work of art,
"Virgin Soil," through all his masterpieces, he remains the same. His
six great novels, "Rudin," "A Nest of Noblemen," "On the Eve," "Fathers
and Sons," "Smoke," and "Virgin Soil," form indeed an ascending scale,
but not as works of art; as such, they are all on the same highest
plane. And it would be difficult to find any canon of art according to
which one could be placed above the other. Only when viewed as different
modes of warfare, do they represent the different stages of his soul's
life; but this only in so far as they reflect at the same time the
state of the enemy's forces, against whom he found it necessary to
re-equip himself from time to time. As an artist, then, Turgenef is not
progressive; when his art comes to him, it comes like Minerva from
Jupiter's head,--fully made, fully armed; and had it even come
undeveloped, it would have had, in his case, to remain thus. For growth,
development, needs time, needs leisure, needs reflection, needs rest;
and of all this, on the field of battle, there is none to be had. Onward
or backward, conquer or perish, but stand still on the field of battle
thou must not. And while it was not given to Turgenef to conquer,
neither was it given to the enemy to conquer him. Turgenef, therefore,
as he lived a fighter, so he died a fighter.

7. Turgenef, then, had a life-long enemy; this enemy was Russian
autocracy.

8. Born in 1818, in the same year with the autocrat of Russia, who
afterwards dreaded him as his _bête noir_, he already in his childhood
had the opportunity to learn the weight of the iron hand of Nicolas.
Scarcely was he seven years old when the news came to his father's
household that the family name so dear to them, and hitherto a synonym
of honor both in and out of Russia, had been disgraced; that Nicolai
Turgenef, one of the most faithful servants of the country under
Alexander I., the younger of the two celebrated brothers, and a near
relative of Ivan, had been sentenced to Siberian hard labor for
life,--sentenced under circumstances which could not but shock the sense
of justice not only of the trustful boy, but also of those whom maturer
age had accustomed to the methods of the government. Nicolai Turgenef
was condemned as one of the Decembrists, and the days of the youth of
Ivan were the days when the Decembrists were looked up to as the first
martyrs of Russian liberty. Pushkin, the friend of the leaders of the
insurrection, and the singer of the "Ode to Liberty," was then
worshipped by the youth of Russia as poet was worshipped never before;
to be related to the Decembrists was therefore a privilege, and to
oppose autocracy in thought at least thus became a kind of family
pride. Moreover, contrary to most Russian aristocrats, Sergei Turgenef
conducted the early education of his gifted son himself; and the son of
the conscientious father, when taken out into the world, could not but
feel the discord between the peaceful life, rigid conduct, and high
ideals of his home on the one hand, and the gloomy struggle for
existence, lax morals of the officials, and the low standards of the
world about him on the other. When Turgenef therefore was introduced
into society, he was already saturated with revolutionary ideas, and it
was not long before he found the atmosphere of his native land stifling;
and already, at the age of nineteen, he had to face the question whether
to stay and endure, or--to flee. The boy of nineteen cannot endure; go
then from Russia he must, but go--whither? Fortunately, just beyond the
western border there lay a country which had already proved the promised
land of others equally defiant with Turgenef. Germany already harbored
Stankevitch, Granofsky, Katkof, and Bakunin. The youth of Russia of
those days had metaphorically cried to the Germans what a thousand
years before them the Slavs had cried literally to the Varangians: "Our
land is wide, and overflowing with abundance; but of order in it there
is none. Come ye, therefore; and rule over us, and restore order among
us!" Germany thus became the land of milk and honey for the Russians
hungry in spirit. Whatever had any ambition looked to a visit to Germany
with the same longing with which a Mohammedan looks to the shrines of
Mecca.

9. Berlin was the first halting-station of the pilgrims; Böck was
lecturing there on Greek literature, Zumpt on Roman antiquities, and
Werder was expounding the philosophy of the man who boasted or
complained of being understood by only one man, and that one
misunderstood him. To these masters in the education of hair-splitting
flocked almost all who became celebrated afterwards in Russia's public
life, and even the government was sending students to Berlin at public
expense. To these masters Turgenef also went, hearing Greek literature
and Roman antiquities by day, and committing to memory the elements of
Greek and Latin grammar by night. For in the Russian university, where
Turgenef had hitherto spent two years, the professors were appointed not
because of their knowledge of Latin and Greek, but because of their
knowledge of military tactics.

10. When after two years Turgenef returned to his native land, he
brought back with him, indeed, a high knowledge of Latin grammar, but a
total ignorance of the highest aims of life. He brought back with him a
religious scepticism, and a metaphysical pessimism, which colored
henceforth his whole life, and therefore his artistic works. For those
were the days when men yet believed that the great problems of the soul
in its relation to the gods and to men could be solved not so much by
living and by doing, as by disputing and by talking; those were the days
when the philosopher's stone, turning all things into gold, was sought
not in a rule for the conduct of life, such as "Love thy neighbor," or
"Do unto others," but rather in the barren, egg-dancing,
acrobatically-balanced formula, "What is, is right." Those were the
days when Hegel was supreme in philosophy because of his obscurity, as
Browning is now supreme in poetry because of his; the shrivelled,
evaporated, dead grain of wheat was prized all the more because it had
been searched out with painful toil from the heap of chaff. "By their
fruits ye shall know them." The fruit of the deep study of Browning is
an intimate knowledge of the use of English particles; and the fruit of
the devoted study of Hegel was an intimate knowledge of metaphysical
verbiage: being, substance, essence, and absolute. But of life-giving
nourishment there was none to be had. The barrenness of all this,
Turgenef indeed soon did perceive, but when the disenchantment came, his
blood was already poisoned; his very being was eaten into by doubt, and
almost to the very end of his days Turgenef remained a fatalistic
sceptic, a godless pessimist; not till his old age did he espy the
promised land. It was only when he witnessed with his own eyes the
boundless self-sacrifice of the revolutionists, when the old man was
moved by the heroism of the young Sophie Bardine even to the kissing of
the very sheet upon which the girl's burning words to her judges were
printed,--then, indeed, he regained his faith. He now hoped for his
country, and stood even ready to become the head of the revolutionary
movement in Russia; but for his artistic career all this came too late.
In fact, his faith in God he never regained, though his hope for man did
come back at last in his old age with the glow of his younger days.

11. This fundamental philosophic scepticism which had poisoned
Turgenef's mind throughout the best years of his life accounts for a
striking change which in time took place in the method of his art.
Hitherto his art had been photographic of individuals. His "Memoirs of a
Sportsman" is a gallery, not of ideals, not of types, but of actual
men,--a gallery put on exhibition for the same end for which the rogues'
gallery is exposed at the police headquarters. It is a means towards the
welfare of the country. But after that book, when the scepticism had
become part of his being, his method changes. For he now becomes
convinced that the misrule of Russia is not so much due to the
government as to the people themselves; that existence is in itself
evil; that salvation, therefore, if it can come at all, must come not
from without, but from within; that reform, therefore, was needed not so
much for the institution, as for the men themselves. And to him men are
diseased. He no longer therefore paints individual men, but henceforth
he paints types; just as the physician first studies the disease not as
affecting this patient or that, but as likely to affect all men, every
man.

12. For much of this scepticism before life and irreverence before God
Turgenef had to thank the paternal government of his fatherland. There
are indeed those to whom sorrow comes like a messenger from the skies
above, and lifts them heavenward on its wings. Turgenef alas! was not
one of these. His was one of those souls whom sorrow deprives not only
of the joys of the present, but also of the hopes of the future; and the
government saw to it that of sorrows poor Turgenef have enough.
Homelessness is an affliction to all sons of Adam, but to none is the
sorrow of exile so intense as to the Russian. And to exile Turgenef was
soon driven. Hid under glowing pictures of nature and fascinating
figures of men, the real meaning of the "Memoirs of a Sportsman," while
they appeared in detached sketches, eluded readily enough the Argus-eyed
censor. But when these sketches were gathered into a living book, then
whatever had eye could behold, and whatever had ear could hear, their
heavenly message. The book therefore creates a sensation, the censor is
astir, hurried consultation takes place, his Majesty himself is roused;
but all this too late; the living book can no longer be strangled. The
government saw that the monster was hydra-headed, and resolved to let it
alone rather than by cutting one of its heads to rouse twenty in its
stead. The book then was spared, but the writer was henceforth doomed;
and the occasion for the final blow is soon enough at hand. The great
Gogol had at last departed. The enthusiastic Turgenef writes a letter
about the dead master, and calls him a great man. "In my land only he
is great with whom I speak, and only while I am speaking with him," had
said Paul the father; and Nicolas proved a worthy son. "In Russia there
shall be no great men," saith the Tsar; and Turgenef is arrested.
High-stationed dame indeed intercedes for the gifted culprit. "But
remember, madame," she is told, "he called Gogol a great man." "Ah,"
high-stationed protectress replies, "I knew not that he committed _that_
crime!" Which crime, accordingly, Turgenef expiates with one month's
imprisonment in the dungeon, and two years' banishment to his estates.
Only when the heir to the throne himself appeased his enraged sire was
Turgenef allowed to go in peace. Once master over himself again,
Turgenef hesitated no longer. He loved, indeed, his country much, but he
loved freedom more; and like a bird fresh from the cage away flew
Turgenef beyond the sea. The migrating bird returns, indeed, in the
spring; but for Turgenef there was no longer any spring on Russian soil,
and once abroad, he became an exile for life.

13. I have said that the heroes of his six great novels are not
photographs, but types. I venture to say that neither Turgenef himself
nor any other Russian ever knew _a_ Bazarof, _a_ Paul Kirsanof, _a_
Rudin, _a_ Nezhdanof. But as in the generic image of Francis Galton the
traits of all the individuals are found whose faces entered into the
production of the image, so in the traits of Turgenef's types every one
can recognize some one of _his_ acquaintance. And such is the life which
the master breathes into his creations, that they become not only
possible to the reader, but they actually gain flesh and blood in his
very presence.

14. And of these types, Turgenef, in harmony with the advance of his own
warfare, has furnished a progressive series. Accordingly the earliest
depicted under the impression of profound despair is the type of the
superfluous man,--the man, who not only _does_ nothing, but _can_ do
nothing, struggle he never so hard. And the superfluous man not only
_is_ impotent, but he _knows_ his impotence, so that he is dead in soul
as well as in body. This brief sketch of a living corpse, written as
early as 1850, forms thus the prologue, as it were, to all his future
tragedies. From this depth of nothingness Turgenef, however, soon rises
to at least the semblance of strength; and while Rudin is at bottom as
impotent as Tchulkaturin, he at least pretends to strength. Rudin, then,
is the hero of phrases, the boaster; he promises marvels, he charms, he
captivates; but it all ends in words, and Rudin perishes as needlessly
as he lived needlessly. In "Fathers and Sons," however, Bazarof is no
longer a talker; he already rises to indignation and rebellion; he
_lives out_ his spirit, and stubbornly resists society, religion,
institutions. From Bazarof Turgenef ascends still higher to Nezhdanof in
"Virgin Soil," whose aggressive attitude is already unmistakable.
Nezhdanof no longer indulges in tirades against government, but he
glumly organizes the revolutionary forces for actual battle. Lastly,
Turgenef arrives at the highest type of the warrior, at Sophia
Perofskya; and this his last type he paints in brief epilogue, just as
his first type he had painted in brief prologue. What this his last
type meant to Turgenef is best seen from the short prose-poem itself.

    THE THRESHOLD.

    I see a huge building; in its front wall a narrow door opens wide;
    behind the door gloomy darkness. At the high threshold stands a
    girl, a Russian girl.

    Frost waves from that impenetrable darkness, and with the icy breeze
    comes forth from the depth of the building a slow, hollow voice.

    "O thou, eager to step across this threshold, knowest thou what
    awaits thee?"

    "I know," answers the girl.

    "Cold, hunger, hatred, ridicule, scorn, insolence, prison, illness,
    death itself!"

    "I know it."

    "Complete isolation, loneliness."

    "I know it.... But I am ready. I shall endure all the sorrows, all
    the blows."

    "Not only at the hands of your enemies, but also at the hands of
    your family and friends."

    "Yes, even at the hands of these."

    "'Tis well.... Are you ready for the sacrifice?"

    "Yes."

    "For nameless sacrifice? Thou shalt perish; and not one, not one
    even shall know whose memory to honor."

    "I need no gratitude nor pity; I need no name."

    "And art thou ready even for--crime?"

    The girl dropped her head.

    "Yes, even for crime am I ready."

    The voice renewed not its questionings forthwith.

    "Knowest thou," spake the voice for the last time, "that thou mayest
    be disenchanted in thy ideals, that thou yet mayest come to see that
    thou wert misguided, and that thy young life has been wasted in
    vain?"

    "This also I know, and yet I am ready to enter."

    "Enter, then."

    The girl stepped over the threshold, and the heavy curtain dropped
    behind her. "Fool!" some one muttered behind her. "Saint!" came from
    somewhere in reply.

15. These, then, were the two leading traits of this man Turgenef. He
had the fighting temperament of the warrior in his heart, and the
doubting temperament of the philosopher in his head: to the first he
owed the choice of his road; to the second, the manner of traversing it.
His six great works of art are all tragedies. Rudin dies a needless
death on a barricade; Insarof dies before he even reaches the land he is
to liberate; Bazarof dies from accidental blood-poisoning and Nezhdanof
dies by his own hand. Here again critics are at hand with an explanation
which does not explain. Turgenef, the artist, the poet, the creator,
does not know, they say, how to dispose of his heroes at the end of his
stories, and he therefore kills them off. The truth, however, is that
the sceptic, pessimistic Turgenef could not as an artist faithful to his
belief do aught else with his heroes than to let them perish. For to him
cruel fate, merciless destiny, was not mere figure of speech, but
reality of realities. To Turgenef, life was at bottom a tragedy; and
whatever the auspices under which he sent forth his heroes, he felt that
sooner or later they must become victims of blind fate, brute force, of
the relentlessly grinding, crushing mill of the gods.

16. I have thus attempted to give you an interpretation of Turgenef
which perhaps explains not only his life but also the peculiar
direction of his works; not only the vices of his intellect, but also
the virtues of his art.

17. For the first great virtue of Turgenef's art is his matchless sense
of form, as of a builder, a constructor, an architect. As works of
architecture, of design, with porch and balcony, and central body, and
roof, all in harmonious proportion, his six novels are unapproachable.
There is a perfection of form in them which puts to shame the hopelessly
groping attempts at beauty of harmonious form of even the greatest of
English men of letters. As a work of architecture, for instance, "Virgin
Soil" bears the same relation to the "Mill on the Floss" that the
Capitol at Washington bears to the Capitol at Albany. The one is a
rounded-out thing of beauty, the other an angular monstrosity. Walter
Scott in England, and Mr. Howells in America, are the only English
writers of fiction who possess that sense of form which makes Turgenef's
art consummate; unfortunately, Walter Scott has long since been
discarded as a literary model, and Mr. Howells is not yet even
accepted.

18. And the second great virtue of Turgenef's art is the skill with
which he contrives to tell the most with the least number of words, the
skill with which he contrives to produce the greatest effect with the
least expenditure of force. There is a compactness in his stories which
I can only describe as Emersonian. Of his six great novels, only one has
as many as three hundred pages; of the other five, not one has over two
hundred. Turgenef's art is thus in striking contrast with that required
by the English standard of three volumes for every novel. For what is to
English and American society the greatest of social virtues was to
Turgenef the greatest of artistic vices. As an artist, Turgenef detested
above all cleverness,--that accomplishment which possesses to perfection
the art of smuggling in a whole cartload of chaff under the blinding
glare of a single phosphorescent thoughtlet; that cleverness which like
all phosphorescent glows can only change into a sickly paleness at the
slightest approach of God's true sunlight, of the soul's true force. Of
this virtue of compactness his works offer examples on almost every
page; but nowhere are its flowers strewn in such abundance as in his
"Diary of a Superfluous Man."

19. This work, though only covering some sixty pages, written as it was
at the age of thirty-two, when Turgenef stood as yet at the threshold of
his artistic career, is in fact, as it were, an epitome of all
Turgenef's forces as an artist. While in power of impression it is the
peer of Tolstoy's "Ivan Ilyitsh," with which it has a striking family
resemblance, it surpasses Tolstoy's sketch in the wealth of delicately
shaded gems of workmanship, which glow throughout the worklet. (1) In
the small provincial town, for instance, the lion from St. Petersburg,
Prince N., captures the hearts of all. A ball is given in his honor, and
the prince, says Turgenef, "was encircled by the host, yes, encircled as
England is encircled by the sea." My ball-giving, my lion-hunting
friend, _thou_ knowest the singular felicity of that one word
here,--encircled! (2) The superfluous man's beloved is at last seduced
by the lionized prince, and she becomes the talk of the town. A
good-natured lieutenant, now first introduced by Turgenef, calls on the
wretched man to console him, and the unhappy lover writes in his Diary:
"I feared lest he should mention Liza. But my good lieutenant was not a
gossip, and, moreover, he despised all women, calling them, God knows
why, salad." This is all the description Turgenef devotes to this
lieutenant; but this making him despise women under the appellation of
half-sour, half-sweet conglomerate of egg-and-vegetable salad, describes
the lieutenant in two lines more faithfully than pages of scientific,
realistic photography. (3) Before the ruin of poor Liza becomes known,
and while the prince, her seducer, is still on the height of
lionization, he is challenged to a duel by Liza's faithful lover. The
superfluous man wounds the prince's cheek; the prince, who deems his
rival unworthy of even a shot, retaliates by firing into the air.
Superfluous man is of course crushed, annihilated, and he describes his
feelings thus: "Evidently this man was bound to crush me; with this
magnanimity of his he slammed me in, just as the lid of the coffin is
slammed down over the corpse." (4) You think, then, that the sufferings
of the despairing lover as he sees his beloved going to ruin, into the
arms of the seducer, are indescribable? But not to Turgenef. Says again
the superfluous man in his Diary: "When our sorrows reach a phase in
which they force our whole inside to quake and to squeak like an
overloaded cart, then they cease to be ridiculous." Verily, only those
who have been shaken to the very depths of their being can understand
the marvellous fidelity of this image, the soul quaking and squeaking
like an overloaded cart,--all the more faithful because of its very
homeliness. Do not wonder, therefore, when the last, intensest grief,
the consciousness of being crushed by his rival, finds in his Diary the
following expression: (5) "And so I suffered," says the superfluous man,
"like a dog whose hind parts had been crushed in by the cart-wheel as it
passed over him." A more powerful description of agony, methinks, is not
found even in Gogol's laughter through tears.

20. And the third great virtue of Turgenef's art is his love of Nature;
and here I know not where to look for the like of him, unless to another
great master of Russian letters,--to Tolstoy. For Gogol is indeed also a
painter, but only a landscape-painter, while Turgenef makes you feel
even the breeze of a summer eve.

21. So thrilled is his being with the love of Nature, that all her moods
find a ready response in his sensitive soul. The joy of the sunshine,
the melancholy of the sky shut down by huge cloud, the grandeur of the
thunder, the quiver of the lightning, the glow of the dawn, the babble
of the brook, and even the waving of the grass-blade,--all these he
reproduces with the fidelity of one who _reveres_ Nature. Turgenef has
thus at least one element of the highest religiousness,--reverence
towards the powers of Nature superior to man; a reverence the possession
of which he himself would perhaps have been the first to deny, since
consciously he was an irreverent agnostic. But his soul was wiser than
his logic; and however dead his head might declare the universe to be,
his hand painted it as if alive. This, for instance, is how he describes
a storm:--

    "Meanwhile, along with the evening was approaching a thunder-storm.
    Already ever since noon the air had been close, and from the
    distance there was coming a low grumbling. But now the broad cloud
    that had long been resting like a layer of lead on the very edge of
    the horizon began to grow, and to be visible from behind the trees:
    the stifling atmosphere began to tremble more visibly, shaken
    stronger and stronger by the approaching thunder; the wind rose,
    howled abruptly through the trees, became still, howled again
    protractedly, and now it whistled. A sombre darkness ran over the
    ground, chasing swiftly away the last glimmer of the dawn; the thick
    clouds breaking to pieces suddenly began to float, and drove through
    the sky; now, a slight shower began to sprinkle, the lightning
    flared up with a red flame, and the thunder growled angrily and
    heavily."

22. Observe here the felicity of the metaphor: the cloud rests, the air
trembles and is soon shaken, the darkness _runs_ over the ground, and
the thunder growls in anger. Only the eye which sees at bottom life in
Nature's forces could see them in such vivifying images.

23. Lastly, the fourth great virtue of Turgenef's art is his intense
power of sympathy.

24. In the universality of his sympathies he is equalled again only by
Tolstoy. Like him he can depict the feelings of a dog, of a bird, with a
self-attesting fidelity, as if his nature were at one with theirs; and
the one child of creation which man has repeatedly been declared unable
to paint truthfully, namely, woman, Turgenef has painted with a grace
and faithfulness unapproached even by George Eliot or by George Sand.
For Turgenef loved woman as no woman could love her, and his faith in
her was unbounded. Hence, when in his "On the Eve" he wishes to give
expression to his despair over the _men_ of Russia, so that he has to
seek the ideal of a patriot not in a Russian, but in a Bulgarian, he
still rests the hope of the country on its women; and Helen, Turgenef's
noblest conception among women, as Insarof is among men, is not like him
a foreigner, but a Russian. And this is how Turgenef paints the noblest
moment in the life of the noblest of his women.

25. The poor, prospectless foreigner Insarof discovers that he loves the
rich, high-stationed Helen. He does not know that he is loved in return,
and he decides to depart without taking even leave of her. They meet,
however, unexpectedly.

    "'You come from our house, don't you?' Helen asked.

    "'No, ... not from your house.'

    "'No?' repeated Helen, and tried to smile. 'And is it thus you keep
    your promise? I have been expecting you all the morning.'

    "'Helen Nikolayevna, I promised nothing yesterday.'

    "Helen tried to smile again, and passed her hand across her face.
    Both face and hand were very pale. 'You intended, then, to depart
    without taking leave of us?'

    "'Yes,' he muttered, almost fiercely.

    "'How, after our acquaintance, after our talks, after all ... So, if
    I had not then met you here accidentally (her voice began to ring,
    and she stopped for a moment) ... you would have gone off, and would
    not have even shaken my hand in parting; gone off without regret?'

    "Insarof turned away. 'Helen Nikolayevna, please don't speak thus. I
    am, as it is, already not cheerful. Believe me, my decision has cost
    me great effort. If you knew ...'

    "'I don't wish to know why you depart,' Helen interrupted him,
    frightened. 'This is evidently necessary. We must evidently part.
    You would not grieve your friends without cause. But do friends part
    thus? We are of course friends, are not we?'

    "'No,' said Insarof.

    "'How?' muttered Helen, and her cheeks colored slightly.

    "'Why, that is exactly why I go away, because we are not friends.
    Don't oblige me to say what I do not wish to tell, what I shall not
    tell.'

    "'Formerly you used to be frank with me,' Helen spoke up with a
    slight reproach. 'Do you remember?'

    "'Then I could be frank; then I had nothing to hide. But now--'

    "'But now?' asked Helen.

    "'But now ... But now I must go. Good-by!'

    "Had Insarof at this moment raised his eyes to Helen, he would have
    seen that her whole face shone,--shone the more, the more his face
    grew gloomy and dark; but his eyes were stubbornly fixed on the
    floor.

    "'Well, good-by, Dimitry Nikanorovitch,' she began. 'But since we
    have met, give me now at least your hand.'

    "Insarof started to give her his hand. 'No, I cannot even do that,'
    he said, and again turned away.

    "'You cannot?'

    "'I cannot. Good-by!' And he started to go out.

    "'Just wait a moment,' she said. 'It seems you are afraid of me.
    Now, I am braver than you,' she added, with a sudden slight tremor
    along her whole frame. 'I can tell you ... do you wish me to tell
    ... why you found me here? Do you know where I was going?'

    "Insarof looked in surprise at Helen.

    "'I was going to your house.'

    "'To my house?'

    "Helen covered her face. 'You wished to compel me to say that I love
    you,' she whispered--'there, I have said it.'

    "'Helen!' exclaimed Insarof.

    "She took his hands, looked at him, and fell upon his breast.

    "He embraced her firmly, and remained silent. There was no need of
    telling her that he loved her. From his one exclamation, from this
    instantaneous transformation of the whole man, from the manner in
    which rose and fell that breast to which she clung so trustfully,
    from the manner in which the tips of his fingers touched her hair,
    Helen could see that she was loved. He was silent, but she needed no
    words. 'He is here, he loves; what more is there needed?' The calm
    of blessedness, the quiet of the undisturbed haven, of the attained
    goal, that heavenly calm which lends a meaning and a beauty to death
    itself, filled her whole being with a godly wave. She wished
    nothing, because she possessed everything. 'O my brother, my friend,
    my darling!' her lips whispered; and she herself knew not whose
    heart it was, his or hers, which was so sweetly beating and melting
    away in her breast.

    "But he stood motionless, enclosing in his firm embrace the young
    life which had just given itself entire unto him; he felt on his
    breast this new, priceless burden; a feeling of tenderness, a
    feeling of gratitude inexpressible, shivered into dust his hard
    soul, and tears, hitherto unknown to him, came to his eyes.

    "But she wept not; she only kept repeating: 'O my friend! O my
    brother!'

    "'Then you will go with me everywhere,' he said to her, some fifteen
    minutes later, as before enclosing and supporting her in his
    embrace.

    "'Everywhere, to the end of the earth; wherever you are, there shall
    I be.'

    "'And you are sure you do not deceive yourself? You know your
    parents will never consent to our marriage?'

    "'I am not deceiving myself; I know it.'

    "'You know I am poor, almost a beggar?'

    "'I know it.'

    "'That I am not a Russian, that I am fated to live beyond Russia,
    that you will have to break all your ties with your country and your
    family?'

    "'I know it, I know it.'

    "'You know also that I have devoted my life to a difficult,
    thankless task; that I ... that we shall have to expose ourselves
    not only to dangers, but to deprivation, and to degradation
    perhaps?'

    "'I know, I know it all ... but I love you.'

    "'That you will have to give up all your habits; that there alone,
    among strangers, you will perhaps have to toil?'

    "She put her hands on his lips. 'I love you, darling.'

    "He began to kiss warmly her narrow, rosy hand. Helen did not take
    her hand from his lips, and with a kind of childish joy, with
    laughing curiosity, she watched him covering with kisses now her
    hand, now her fingers.

    "Suddenly she blushed, and hid her face on his breast.

    "He gently raised up her head and looked firmly into her eyes.

    "'So God be with you,' he said; 'be thou my wife both before men and
    before God.'"

26. These, then, were the numerous great virtues of Turgenef; and they
have made him the most enjoyable of artists. But his one great vice, the
vice of doubt, the vice of hopelessness, has made him, as a nourisher of
the spirit, among the least profitable as a writer.

27. For, O my friends, it cannot be stated too often that whatever puts
new strength into the spirit is from the great God, the Good; and
whatever takes strength from the spirit is from the great Devil, the
Evil. And the things that have ever proved the inexhaustible sources of
strength to the soul have been not doubt and despair, but faith and
hope,--faith that the destinies of men are guided by love even though
guided through the agony of sorrow; faith that behind this appearance of
discord and blind fate and brute force there is after all to be found
the substance of harmony, of wise forethought, of tender love; hope,
that however terrible the present, the future will yet be one of joy,
one of peace. If reason with its logic can strengthen this faith, this
hope, then welcome reason, blessed be reason; but if reason with its
logic can only make me doubt the presence of wisdom, the presence of
love, then begone reason, cursed be reason. Verily, by their fruits ye
shall know them!

28. Turgenef therefore was incapable of creating a Levin, because he had
not the faith which makes the Levins of Tolstoy possible. He was filled
with the pessimistic woe of the world, believed at bottom that man,
born in sorrow, must also live in sorrow. With the sublimity of a prophet,
Turgenef cries: "From the inmost depths of the virgin forest, from the
eternal depth of the waters, resounds the same cry of Nature to man: 'I
have naught to do with thee. I rule, but thou--look to thy life, O
worm!'" While personally he indeed contributed what lay in his power to
alleviate the present ills of men, he could do naught towards
alleviating the future ills of men; for he could not inspire men with
hope, since he had none himself. For hope comes from faith, and
Turgenef was devoid of faith. Turgenef, like another great master of
fiction, George Eliot, was a veritable child of the immature age, not of
science, of knowledge, but of nescience, of ignorance, of agnosticism;
for it is only ignorance that doubts, and it is true science that
believes.

29. I cannot therefore ask you to take leave with me of Turgenef without
at least urging you to profit by this one fact in his life. Turgenef
failed to reach the highest, the height of Tolstoy, because he failed to
free himself from that alone which must forever trammel the soul. He
failed to free himself from that fundamental distrust of God which is at
bottom of all despair. You, too, my friends, have that distrust. O ye in
society who dread the consequences of having one kind word to say, or
even one glance of recognition to cast at a brother because forsooth he
has not been properly introduced to you, are not ye doubting your own
God in your breasts, which acts not in fear of your fellow-men, but in
trust of them? And, O ye who refuse to help a begging brother for fear
lest he prove an impostor, are not ye likewise at bottom doubting the
God within you which acts through pity to a brother, even though he _do_
deceive? Turgenef fell short of the highest because he did not cast off
the scepticism of his intellect. Are not ye, my friends, likewise in
danger of falling short of the highest because you too do not cast off
the scepticism of the heart?



LECTURE V.

TOLSTOY THE ARTIST.


1. I have stated in the first lecture that the soul of man ever strives
onward and upward; that its goal is the establishment of the kingdom of
heaven, which consists in reverence before God above, and in love
towards man here below. I have stated that of this journey of the soul
heavenward, literature is the record; that the various phases of
literary development are only so many mile-posts on the road; that after
the voices of the singer, of the protester, of the warrior, are hushed,
there must be heard what must remain forever the loftiest voice in
letters,--the voice of the preacher, the prophet, the inspirer. And I
have stated that just as Pushkin is the singer, Gogol the protester, and
Turgenef the fighter, so is Tolstoy in Russian literature the preacher,
the inspirer.

2. But just because he is the prophet, the uplifter, the proclaimer,
Tolstoy is no longer the _merely_ Russian writer. Pushkin is the
_Russian_ singer, Gogol is the _Russian_ protester, and Turgenef is the
_Russian_ fighter; but Tolstoy is not the inspirer of Russia alone, but
of all mankind. Tolstoy has the least of the Russian in him, because he
has the most of the man in him; he has the least of the son of the Slav
in him, because he has the most of the Son of God in him. The voice of
Leo Tolstoy is not the voice of the nineteenth century, but of all
centuries; the voice of Leo Tolstoy is not the voice of one land, but of
all lands; for the voice of Leo Tolstoy, in short, is the voice of God
speaking through man.

3. For, O my friends, there _is_ a God in heaven, even though the voices
of pessimism and agnosticism be raised never so high against him. There
is a God who ruleth over the heavens and over the earth; and he is
boundless with space, and everlasting with time; and he is sublime with
the sky, and he twinkleth with the star; and he smileth with the sun,
and he beameth with the moon; and he floateth with the cloud, and he
saileth with the wind; he flasheth with the lightning, and resoundeth
with the thunder, he heaveth with the sea, and he dasheth with the surf;
he floweth with the river, and he rusheth with the torrent; he babbleth
with the brook, and he sparkleth with the dew-drop; he reposeth with the
landscape, and he laugheth with the meadow; he waveth with the tree, and
he quivereth with the leaf; he singeth with the bird, and he buzzeth
with the bee; he roareth with the lion, and he pranceth with the steed;
he crawleth with the worm, and he soareth with the eagle; he darteth
with the porpoise, and he diveth with the fish; he dwelleth with the
loving, and he pleadeth with the hating; he shineth with the merciful,
and he aspireth with the prayerful. He is ever nigh unto men,--he, the
Prince of Light!

4. And I say unto ye that the Lord God hath not hid himself from the
hearts of men; he that spake unto Moses and the prophets, and through
them,--he is still nigh. He that spake unto Jesus and the Apostles, and
through them,--he is still nigh. He that spake to Mohammed and Luther,
and through them,--he is still nigh. He recently spake through Carlyle
and through Emerson, and their voices are not yet hushed. And he still
speaketh, my friends, through Ruskin in England and through Tolstoy in
Russia, as he ever shall speak through all earnest souls who love him
with all their heart because they know him, who seek him with all their
heart because they know him not. Think not therefore the Lord God hath
ceased to speak unto men through men; verily, if men but see to it that
there be enough inspired, God will see to it that there be enough
inspirers.

5. And of these Heaven-sent inspirers, Tolstoy is the latest. But do not
believe that in saying that he is Heaven-sent I attempt to explain
aught. The highest is ever inexplicable, and it is the bane of modern
science that it is ever ready to explain what cannot be explained.
Before the highest we can only stand dumb; and this has been the feeling
of the greatest, because of the humblest, of spirits. The Greek painter,
therefore, when about to depict the highest grief of a father, gives up
in despair, and veils the father's face; and Meyer von Bremen's
grandmother, when confronted with the question from the children whence
came that sweet babe in her arms, can only reply, "The storks brought
it;" and so I can say to you only, Tolstoy is sent unto men from Heaven.

6. I say he is Heaven-sent, because he came to proclaim not what is
ephemeral and perishing, but what is permanent and everlasting. He came
to proclaim not the latest theory of gravitation, of molecular
vibration, of modes of heat and manners of cold, nor of struggle for
existence, nor of supply and demand, nay, not even of scientific
charity. He came to proclaim that which was as true in the days of Jesus
as it is true in the days of Darwin,--that the life of man can have no
meaning, unless when guided by obedience to God and love to man.
Gravitation, struggle for existence! The earth has been spinning round
its parent for ages before man's brain-kin made the marvellous discovery
that God's mysterious impulse which set the earth whirling through the
abysses of space is explained in right scientific fashion by labelling
it gravitation. This green earth has rolled on, this green earth will
roll on, label or no label; and the mystery of God men knew not before
gravitation, nor do they know it now with gravitation. Men have for ages
been multiplying under the blessing of God, and loving one another, long
before that marvellous discovery was made that man, sprung from a
monkey, and bred in struggle for existence, is destined at last, under
fine progress of species, to become brutalized with Malthusian law as a
cannibal living on the flesh of his brother, with self-respect and
scientific charity in most abundant supply and demand. Tolstoy came to
proclaim not the new gospel of death, but the old gospel of life; not
the new gospel of struggle for existence, but the old gospel of
helpfulness for existence; not the new gospel of competition, but the
old gospel of brotherhood. Tolstoy came to proclaim the gospel of God,
the gospel of man, the gospel of Christ, the gospel of Socrates, the
gospel of Epictetus, of Aurelius, of Carlyle, of Emerson,--the gospel of
reverence before God and love to man, which is indeed ever old, but
which, alas! the sons of Darkness see to it that it remain forever new.

7. These, then, are the men among whom Tolstoy belongs: which of these
the greater, which of these the less? My friends, when we arrive at
these, we are no longer among the measurable planets, but among the
immeasurable fixed stars. Sirius flashes indeed with greater splendor
than Vega, and Vega than Arcturus, and Arcturus than Capella, and
Capella flashes with greater splendor than Aldebaran; but who shall
undertake to say which of these suns is the greater, which is the less?
The difference of splendor is not in the stars themselves, but in our
eyes. And at this our immeasurable distance from these souls who are
nighest unto the throne of the Most High, it is not for me, the worm, as
I stand before you, to presume to measure which is the greater, which
is the less. Rather than spending our time in profitless weighing and
measuring, let me beseech you to bow your heads in awe and gratitude,
praising God for the mercy which sendeth now and then unto men the
living voice, the helping voice.

8. Tolstoy, therefore, is one of those spirits whom I cannot approach
with the dissecting-knife, as the critic does the author, in order to
"account" for him. To do this, that total freedom from sentiment is
required which was possessed by the enterprising reporter who on the
death of a prominent citizen forthwith requested an interview with
"corpse's uncle." In an age when sentiment has become a byword of
impotence, and the heart has become a mere force-pump for the blood; in
an age when charity has to be put in swaddling-clothes lest it injure a
brother by helping him; when the poor are preached to by their rich
visiting friends, not to make a home for themselves when their love for
a mate is born in the heart, but only when it is born in the purse,--in
such an age that reporter's freedom from sentiment is indeed a most
valuable acquisition; but I, alas! as yet possess it not! I shall
therefore neither judge the preacher Tolstoy, nor measure him. I shall
only point out to you to-day wherein he differs, as he must needs
differ, from the rest of that noble band of the chosen messengers of God
to which he belongs.

9. And the first striking difference is that Tolstoy is a consummate
artist, a creator, in addition to the great preacher. For Marcus
Aurelius is no artist. He is merely a speaker; he delivers his message
in plain tongue, unadorned, often even unpolished. Epictetus, equally
simple, equally direct with Marcus Aurelius, comes, however, already
adorned with a certain humor which now and then sparkles through his
serious pages. Ruskin brings with him quite a respectable load of
artistic baggage; he brings an incisiveness, a sarcasm, often a piquancy
with him, which makes him entertaining besides inspiring. Emerson and
Carlyle bring with them much that, as artistic work; might, under more
favorable auspices, have been worth saving for its own sake: the one
brings a grace, a sportiveness, and a brilliancy which fascinates, the
other a fervor, an imagination, a grim-humor, a lightning-flashing,
which dazzles. But none of these live in letters because of their art.
Were they to depend on this alone, they would quickly perish. They live
because of the spirit which worketh through them; so that were you to
take the Jeremiah out of Carlyle, the John the Baptist out of Ruskin,
and the Solomon out of Emerson, you would deprive them of their literary
life. Tolstoy, however, even though the preacher be gone from him, still
remains a mighty power in letters because of his art. For not only are
his works filled with the highest purpose,--they are also created with
the highest art. And I cannot show you this difference any better than
by quoting two passages, one from Carlyle, the other from Tolstoy, both
treating of the soul's well-nigh noblest emotion,--Repentance.

    "On the whole, we make too much of faults. Faults? The greatest of
    faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. Readers of the
    Bible, above all, one would think, might know better. Who is called
    there 'the man according to God's own heart'? David, the Hebrew
    king, had fallen into sins enough; blackest crimes; there was no
    want of sins. And therefore the unbelievers sneer, and ask, 'Is this
    the man according to God's own heart?' The sneer, I must say, seems
    to be but a shallow one.

    "What are faults, what are the outward details of a life, if the
    inner secret of it, the remorse, temptations, true, often-battled,
    never-ending struggle of it be forgotten? 'It is not in man that
    walketh to direct his steps.' Of all acts, is not, for a man,
    _repentance_ the most divine? The deadliest sin, I say, were the
    same supercilious consciousness of no sin; that is death; the heart
    so conscious is divorced from sincerity, humility, and fact,--is
    dead; it is 'pure,' as dead dry sand is pure.

    "David's life and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his,
    I consider to be the truest emblem ever given of man's moral
    progress and warfare here below. All earnest men will ever discern
    in it the faithful struggle of an earnest human soul toward what is
    good and best. Struggle often baffled, sore battled, down as into
    entire wreck; yet a struggle never ended; ever with tears,
    repentance, true unconquerable purpose begun anew. Poor human
    nature! Is not a man's walking, in truth, always that,--'a
    succession of falls'? Man can do no other. In this wild element of
    Life, he has to struggle onward; now fallen, deep abased; and ever
    with tears, repentance, with bleeding heart, he has to rise again,
    struggle again still onward. That his struggle _be_ a faithful,
    unconquerable one; that is the question of questions. We will put up
    with many sad details, if the soul of it were true. Details by
    themselves will never teach us what it is."

10. Powerful as this passage is, I cannot help feeling that Tolstoy has
treated the same subject more artistically than Carlyle, by embodying
his lesson in objective shape, where Carlyle treats it subjectively. And
now listen to Tolstoy:--

    THE REPENTING SINNER.

    There lived in the world a man for seventy years, and all his life
    he lived in sin. And this man fell ill, and still he did not repent.
    But when death was nigh, at the last hour, he began to weep, and
    said, "Lord, as thou hast forgiven the thief on the cross, so do
    thou forgive me!" He had scarcely spoken, and away flew his soul.
    And the sinner's soul began to love God, and, trusting his mercy,
    came to the gates of heaven.

    And the sinner began to knock, and to ask admission into the kingdom
    of heaven.

    And from behind the door he heard a voice: "Who is this knocking for
    admission into the gates of heaven, and what are the deeds this man
    in his lifetime has done?"

    And the voice of the accuser gave answer, and recounted all the
    sinful deeds of this man; and of good deeds he named none.

    And the voice from behind the door answered: "Sinners cannot enter
    the kingdom of heaven. Get thee hence!"

    Said the sinner: "Lord, I hear thy voice, but I see not thy
    countenance and know not thy name."

    And the voice gave in reply: "I am Peter the Apostle."

    Said the sinner: "Have mercy upon me, Apostle Peter; remember the
    weakness of man, and the mercy of God. Was it not you who was a
    disciple of Christ, and was it not you who heard from his own lips
    his teaching, and saw the example of his life? And now remember,
    when he was weary and sad in spirit, and thrice asked thee not to
    slumber, but to pray, you slept, because your eyes were heavy, and
    thrice he found you sleeping. The same of me.

    "And remember likewise how thou hast promised to him not to renounce
    him until thy dying day, and yet thou didst renounce him thrice
    when they led him away. The same of me.

    "And remember likewise how crowed the cock, and thou hast gone forth
    and wept bitterly. The same of me. Not for thee 'tis to refuse me
    entrance."

    And the voice from behind the gates of heaven was hushed.

    And after standing some time, again knocked the sinner, and asked
    admittance into the kingdom of heaven.

    And from behind the doors there was heard another voice which spake:
    "Who is this, and how has he lived on earth?"

    And the voice of the accuser gave answer, and repeated all the evil
    deeds of the sinner; and of the good deeds he named none.

    And the voice from behind the door called: "Get thee hence. Sinners
    such as thou cannot live with us in Paradise."

    Said the sinner: "Lord, thy voice I hear, but thy face I see not,
    and thy name I know not."

    And the voice said unto him: "I am David, the king and the prophet."
    But the sinner despaired not, nor went he away from the gates of
    heaven, but spake as follows: "Have mercy upon me, King David, and
    think of the weakness of man and the mercy of God. God loved thee
    and raised thee up before men. Thine was all,--a kingdom, and
    glory, and riches, and wives, and children; yet when thou didst espy
    from thy roof the wife of a poor man, sin betook thee, and thou hast
    taken the wife of Uriah, and himself hast thou slain by the sword of
    the Ammonites. Thou, a rich man, hast taken his last lamb from the
    poor man, and hast slain the owner himself. The same of me!

    "And think further how thou hast repented, and said: 'I confess my
    guilt, and repent of my sin.' The same of me. Not for thee 'tis to
    refuse me entrance."

    And the voice behind the door was hushed.

    And after standing some time, again knocked the sinner, and asked
    admission into the kingdom of heaven. And from behind the doors was
    heard a third voice which spake: "Who is this, and how hath he lived
    on earth?"

    And for the third time the voice of the accuser recounted the evil
    deeds of the man, but of the good he named none.

    And the voice from behind the door gave in answer: "Get thee hence!
    The kingdom of heaven not by a sinner can be entered."

    And replied the sinner: "Thy voice I hear, but thy face I see not,
    and thy name I know not."

    Answered the voice: "I am John, the beloved disciple of Christ."

    And rejoiced the sinner, and spake: "Now verily shall I be let in.
    Peter and David shall admit me because they know the weakness of
    man, and the grace of God; but thou shalt admit me because thou hast
    much love. For hast thou not writ in thy book, O John, that God is
    Love, and that whosoever knoweth not Love, knoweth not God? Wert not
    thou he that spake in his old age unto men only this one word:
    'Brethren, love ye one another'? How then shalt thou now hate me and
    drive me hence? Either renounce thine own words, or learn to love
    me, and admit me into the kingdom of heaven."

    And the gates of heaven opened, and John embraced the repenting
    sinner, and admitted him into the kingdom of heaven.

11. Tolstoy, then, is the sole example among men of the harmonious
combination of loftiest aspiration with highest artistic skill. Tolstoy
sees in himself only the preacher, and therefore at the age of sixty he
does not hesitate to repudiate all those works of his which are not
those of the preacher, however great their value as works of art.
Turgenef sees in him only the artist, and therefore beseeches from his
death-bed his fellow-craftsman to give himself back to the forsaken art.
Both are here right, both are here wrong. For each sees only one side,
while Tolstoy is neither the preacher alone nor the artist alone.
Tolstoy, like Janus of old, is two-faced,--the artist, when his soul is
in a state of war; the preacher, when his soul is in a state of peace.
Turgenef looks only upon the face of the artist; Tolstoy looks out into
the world with the face of the preacher.

12. This noble combination of the preacher and the artist has
accordingly determined the character of Tolstoy's art. For the first
question Tolstoy asks of every event, of every phenomenon he has to
depict, is, What effect has this on the soul of man; what bearing has
this on the life of man; what, in short, is its moral meaning? Hence
when Tolstoy paints, he paints not only objectively, but also
subjectively. In the storm-scene, for instance, which I have read you at
the first lecture, Tolstoy is not satisfied to give you merely the
outward appearance of the storm, its appearance in Nature, he rests not
until he has painted also its effect on the soul; and the progress of
the terror inspired keeps pace with the advance of the cloud. Hence the
sudden introduction of the beggar from under the bridge, with his
horrible stump of hand stretched out as he runs beside the carriage
begging for alms. This incident is as much part of the storm, and as
terrifying to the little Katenka and the little Lubotshka as the glare
of the lightning and the crash of the thunder. Tolstoy the artist never
sees Nature with the eyes of the body, but with the eyes of the spirit,
he never sees matter without the underlying mind; he never sees the
object without its complement, the subject. Tolstoy, therefore, is the
first great artist (and if the one-eyed prophets of the merely
_objective_ art prevail, who now clamor so loudly, he promises, alas! to
remain also the last) who has painted Nature entire. Tolstoy is the
first great artist, therefore, into whose pictures enter not only the
details visible, but also the details invisible. To Tolstoy, the
vibration of the string is not described in completeness until he has
also shown how its music has made to vibrate not only the air, but also
the soul. Painter then of the inward universe as well as of the
outward, of the spiritual as well as of the natural, of the things
unseen as well as of those seen, Tolstoy has exhausted Nature. He has
plunged into her nethermost depths, like Schiller's diver, and lo! forth
he comes from the abyss with her swallowed-up treasure. Verily, here
Tolstoy is unapproachable. Only one other man of letters hath here even
distant fellowship with him, and this is Ralph Waldo Emerson.

13. That an art which is born of such a union of the preacher with the
worshipper of beauty as it exists in Tolstoy, can only be of the
highest, and must be of the highest, I therefore no longer hesitate to
affirm. Read, therefore, in this light the successive chapters in
Book VII. of "Anna Karenina," where is told the birth of a son of Kitty
and Levin. Our modern apostles of the gospel of fidelity at all hazards,
even though it be the fidelity of dirt, would have here made you look at
the blood, at the towels, at the bowls, at the bottles, would have made
you smell the odors,--they would have recounted to you all those
details which, however pathetic to those doomed to be by-standers in the
sick-room, can only be nauseating to those out of the sick-room. Tolstoy
the preacher is impressed with the immeasurable pain which attends the
entrance into the world of a newly-born human soul,--agony unendurable,
all the more unendurable because inexplicable, inscrutable. His great
artistic soul rests not until it hath relieved itself with at least a
cry over such sorrow. Paint it therefore he must; but he paints it,
observe, not directly, by photographing the tortures of Kitty, but
indirectly, by picturing the agony of Levin; for the one would have only
nauseated, the other stirs the reader to his very depths. The husband
suffers more than the wife, because he sees her not with the eyes of the
head, but with the eyes of the heart; the groans of Kitty, which reach
him from the neighboring chamber, can indeed be silenced by the
physician's drug; but no drug can silence the groan of Levin, for it is
pressed out by the agony, not of the body, but by the agony of the soul.
And as love, sympathy, is ever an eye-opener, so here Tolstoy, the
consummate artist, has reproduced the scene of the sick-room with the
highest fidelity, because he has reproduced it not with the arts of cold
mechanical photography, but with those of warm, sympathetic imagination.
Tolstoy reproduces therefore with the highest faithfulness because he
too sees not with the eye of the head, but with the eye of the heart.

14. And for the highest example of such art I will venture to read to
you the passage in which Tolstoy tells of Anna Karenina's fall. Until
the reader comes to this passage, there is not a syllable to tell him
that she _has_ fallen. Observe then Tolstoy's manner of telling it. I
venture to think it far more faithful than any realistic art could have
made it by furnishing details not necessarily more true because less
delicate:--

    "That in which during almost a whole year consisted the one,
    exclusive longing of Vronsky's life, that which had supplanted all
    his former wishes, that which to Anna had been a dream of
    impossible, terrible, yet for this reason all the more fascinating
    happiness,--this wish was at last gratified. Pale, with his lower
    jaw trembling, he stood over her and begged her to quiet herself,
    not knowing himself how and what.

    "'Anna, Anna,' he spake with trembling voice. 'Anna, for God's
    sake!'

    "But the louder he spake, the lower sank her head, once proud and
    glad, now abased; she now crouched, and was sinking from the sofa,
    where she had been sitting, to the floor, at his feet. She would
    have fallen on the carpet had he not supported her. 'O my God,
    forgive me!' she sobbed, and pressed his hands to her breast.

    "So criminal and so guilty she felt herself, that the only thing
    left her was to humiliate herself and to beg forgiveness. But now
    she had no one in life left her but him, and to him she turns with
    prayer for forgiveness. As she gazed at him she physically felt her
    degradation, and she could say nothing more. And he on his part felt
    what a murderer must feel when beholding the body he has just
    deprived of its life. This body, deprived by him of its life, was
    their love, the first period of their love. There was something
    horrible and repulsive in the memory of that which was purchased at
    the terrible price of shame. The shame of her moral nakedness was
    stifling to her, and this stifling feeling communicated itself also
    to him. But, in spite of all the horror before the body of the
    slain, the body must be cut into pieces, must be hidden away, and
    use must be made of what the murderer had obtained by his murder.

    "And as the murderer with fierceness, almost with passion, throws
    himself upon the body and drags it and hacks it, so he too kept
    covering with kisses her face and her shoulders. She kept his hand
    and moved not. Yes, these kisses,--this it was which was bought with
    this her shame. 'Yes, and this one hand which will always be mine is
    the hand of my--confederate.' She raised this hand and kissed it. He
    dropped on his knees and wished to see her face, but she hid her
    face and said naught. At last, as if making an effort over herself,
    she rose and pushed him away. Her face was indeed as handsome as
    ever, but it was now pitiful all the more.

    "''Tis all ended,' she said. 'I have nothing left but thee. Remember
    this.'

    "'I cannot help remembering what constitutes my life. For one minute
    of this blessedness ...'

    "'Blessedness!' she uttered with terror and disgust, and her terror
    communicated itself to him. 'For God's sake, not a word, not one
    word more!'

    "She quickly rose and turned away from him.

    "'Not another word,' she repeated; and with an expression strange
    to him, with an expression of cold despair on her face, she parted
    from him. She felt that at this moment she could not express in
    words her feeling of shame, joy, and terror before this entrance
    into a new life, and she did not wish to speak of it, to lower that
    feeling with inexact words. But even later, on the morrow, and on
    the third day, she not only could find no words for expressing the
    whole complexity of these feelings, but she could not find even
    thoughts, in revolving which she might clearly define to herself
    whatever was going on in her soul.

    "She said to herself, 'No, I cannot think this out now; later, when
    I shall be more calm.' But this calmness for her thoughts never
    came; whenever the thought came to her of what she had done, and of
    what was to become of her, and of what she must do, terror came upon
    her, and she drove away these thoughts.

    "'Later, later,' she repeated, 'when I am more calm.'

    "But in sleep, when she had no control over her thoughts, her
    situation appeared to her in all its ugly nakedness. One dream came
    to her almost nightly. She dreamed that both were her husbands, that
    both were spending upon her their caresses. Alexei Alexandrovitsh
    cried as he kissed her hands, and said, 'Ah, how good this is!' And
    Alexei Vronsky was there, and he also was her husband. And she
    wondered why all this had hitherto seemed to her impossible, and
    explained to them laughingly how simple all this was, and that now
    they were both content and happy. But the dream oppressed her like
    an Alp, and she awoke every time in terror."

15. And of such unapproachable art the examples in Tolstoy are well-nigh
innumerable. There is hardly a single work of Tolstoy in which he does
not display that marvellous fidelity which has made Mr. Howells exclaim:
"This is not a picture of life, but life itself!" And this fidelity
Tolstoy attains not so much by depicting the event itself as by
depicting its effect on the soul; just as the silent sight of the
wounded on the field tells of the battle more loudly than the thunder of
the cannon. I say this is the highest art, because its method is
universal, where all others are only particular; for men may indeed
differ in the language of the tongue, but they do not differ in the
language of the spirit.

16. Read in the same light, then, his unparalleled gallery of
life-scenes in "Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth." Read in the same light
the death-scene of Count Bezukhoi in "War and Peace;" read the war-scene
on the bridge, the wounding of Balkonsky; read the skating-scene in
"Anna Karenina," the racing-scene, the meeting between Anna and her
darling Seriozha. My friends, in the presence of such art words fail me;
I can only cry to you, "Read, read, and read!" Read humbly, read
admiringly. The reading of Tolstoy in this spirit shall in itself be
unto you an education of your highest artistic sense. And when your
souls have become able to be thrilled to their very depths by the
unspeakable beauty of Tolstoy's art, you will then learn to be ashamed
of thought that for years you sensible folk of Boston have been capable
of allowing,--the Stevensons with their Hydes, and the Haggards with
their Shes, and even the clumsy Wards with their ponderous Elsmeres, to
steal away under the flag of literature your thoughtful moments. You
will then learn to understand how it comes to pass that the artistically
cold passionless Mr. Howells even, the apostle of heartlessness in
art,--however brave and full of heart the noble man be in actual
life,--can be struck with awe before the mighty presence of Tolstoy, and
how it is possible that the only words he can whisper is, "I cannot say
aught!" The preface of Mr. Howells to Tolstoy's "Sebastopol" has been
declared by wiseacres to be the symptom of his decadence. My friends,
believe it not. This admiration of Mr. Howells for Tolstoy is verily not
the symptom that he is beginning to fall, but rather that he is just
beginning to rise.

17. I consider this double-faced presentation, this combination of the
subjective method with the objective, as the highest in art, because it
is the most comprehensive. Not that Tolstoy is incapable of employing
the objective method alone with the highest success; when he does employ
it he is here second to none, not even to Turgenef. Witness for example
the following description of the arrival of a railway-train; still, the
essence of Tolstoy's art is the universality with which he grasps
whatever comes under his creative impulse.

18. Vronsky, engaged in a conversation, suddenly breaks off. "However,"
says he, "here is already the train."

    "In truth, in the distance was already whistling the engine. In a
    few minutes the platform began to tremble, and puffing with steam
    driven downward by the frost, in rolled the engine with the
    connecting-rod of its centre wheel slowly and rhythmically bending
    in and stretching out, and with its bowing, well-muffled,
    frost-covered engineer. Behind the tender, ever more slowly, and
    shaking the platform still more, the express car came with its
    baggage and a howling dog. Lastly, slightly trembling before coming
    to a full stop, came up the passenger coaches.

    "A smartish, brisk conductor, whistling, before the train came to a
    full stop jumped off; and following him began to descend one by one
    the impatient passengers,--an officer of the guard with military
    bearing and frigid gaze, a smiling, lively small tradesman with a
    bag in his hand, and a peasant with a sack over his shoulder."

19. And from the same union of the mighty preacher with the mighty
artist springs the second great characteristic of Tolstoy's art, that
which in contrast to Turgenef's architectural manner I must call
Tolstoy's panoramic manner. I have spoken in the last lecture of
Turgenef as the great architect in the art of fiction. Tolstoy is the
great panorama painter of fiction. Of architectural regularity there is
little to be found in him, but not because he lacks the line sense of
proportion of Turgenef, and the sense of beauty of form, but because his
art is of a nature in which regularity of progress and rigid outline of
form are not required.

20. Tolstoy's masterpieces therefore are panoramas, and his art
instinctively seeks that material which easiest lends itself to such
purpose. Hence his "Cossaks," hence his "Scenes before Sebastopol,"
hence his "Nekhludof." But a panorama needs no plot. Hence his
"Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth" contains not even a trace of a plot. It
is merely a series of pictures, each indeed in itself a thing of
unspeakable beauty, but all grouped in such a manner as to give
collectively a panorama of the entire growth of a human soul from the
moment it ceases to be animal until it becomes man. In a panorama it
matters little where each particular group is placed; just as in
Kaulbach's "Era of the Reformation" it matters little whether the figure
of Luther is on the left or on the right. "War and Peace" is thus like
the Battle of Gettysburg, a vast panorama, and "Anna Karenina" is a vast
panorama; the one is a panorama of the political life of the State, the
other is a panorama of the spiritual life of the individual. But a
panorama requires not so much plots as groups; hence "War and Peace" is
not one story, but three stories; and each is the story not of one
person or of one pair, but of a group of persons, of a group of pairs.
And the same necessity we see in "Anna Karenina;" here again Tolstoy's
materials are not persons but groups. Viewed as a work of architecture,
the book seems to lack form, the author seems to lack the sense of
proportion; for the book could be easily split into two different
novels,--the novel of Levin and Kitty on the one hand, and the novel of
Vronsky and Anna on the other. As works of architecture, neither would
suffer if severed from the other. But as a panorama of the unfolding of
heaven in the soul of Levin, and of hell in the soul of Anna, the story
of Kitty and Levin cannot be read apart from the story of Anna and
Vronsky and still remain a unit, and still remain intelligible.

21. This fact of Tolstoy's art being essentially panoramic and not
architectural, accounts for the vast expanse of his two great works,
"War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." For it is the very nature of a
panorama to be on an extensive scale. The objection therefore made to
these two masterpieces that they are too voluminous would indeed be
relevant, if they had been conceived as works of architecture; but it is
totally irrelevant when applied to a panorama. Which form of art is
superior, which inferior,--the concise, compact, rigid severity of the
architect's art, or the overflowing, expanding, hence unshackled art of
the panorama? Methinks you can best answer this question yourselves by
asking another. Which is higher as a work of art, that tender song
without words by Mendelssohn, called "Regret," or that indescribably
affecting capriccio of his marked as "Opus 33"? Which is higher as a
work of art,--that in its sadness unparalleled song of Shakespeare,
"Blow, blow, thou Winter wind," or his "Othello"? Or again; which is a
higher work of art, a nocturne by Chopin, or a sonata by Beethoven; an
Essay by Macaulay, or a "Decline and Fall" by Gibbon? Lastly, which is
higher as a work of art,--the wonderfully accurate spiritedness of
Schreyer's painting of a horse, or the indescribable power of Wagner's
Race in a Roman Circus? On its plane each of the above is indeed of the
highest; but that the one is on a higher plane than the other few can
fail to observe. For, execution of design being equal, the broader the
scene, the wider the horizon, the more comprehensive the view, the
higher must be the art. The less extended, because more easily
comprehended, may indeed at first give more pleasure than the second;
but if the final arbiter in art be the amount of immediate pleasure to
be got from it, then Barnum's Circus is indeed a greater work of art
than Emerson's Book, and Mark Twain a greater writer than Carlyle. But
if creative power be the final measure of art, execution in the
different planes being equal, then Beethoven must rank higher than
Chopin, Shakespeare higher than Blanco White, Wagner than Meyer von
Bremen, and Tolstoy than Turgenef.

22. "Have you seen any of my later writings?" Tolstoy inquired of a
visitor who came to him as the admirer of "The Cossaks," of "War and
Peace," of "Anna Karenina." The question referred to his religious
writings. When he was told no, Tolstoy could only exclaim, "Ah, then you
do not know me at all. We must then become acquainted." In his
"Confession," he is no less emphatic; there he boldly declares the art
of which he has been a noble follower for some twenty years,--"balovstvô,"
foolish waste of time.

23. A most wonderful spectacle is thus presented: on the one hand a
writer gaining Shakespearian renown for works he repudiates; on the
other, a public reading and admiring him because of the very art he
thus repudiates. For 'tis idle to assert that Tolstoy's religious
writings are what draws readers unto him. Had he published _only_ his
religious writings, they might have indeed been bought, they might have
found their place on parlor table, they might have even occasionally
been glanced into; but read and studied and pondered they would not have
been. For Tolstoy's religious writings, in their spirit, are not one
whit different from that of _The_ Book which has indeed been for ages
lying in the parlors of almost every Christian household; but it is
_not_ read, it is _not_ discussed, it is _not_ talked about, like the
latest somersaulting performance of some popular magazine-scribe. Nay,
the surest way to make one's self unavailable nowadays at social
gathering of the parlor sort would be to talk therein solemnly of the
very book which in so many houses forms such indispensable part of
parlor outfit. Nay, has it not come in society to such a pass that the
very presence of _The_ Book on parlor table is already an evidence that
the host is _not_ a member of the circle which looks upon itself as
_the_ circle,--the select, the exclusive, the highest, in short?

24. The public, then, is interested in Tolstoy the artist more than in
the preacher, for the same reason that when Emerson lands in England
only a handful of mortals greet him; while when Mr. Sullivan lands in
England the streets cannot hold the thousands who flock to receive him.
Tolstoy, on the other hand, protests that whosoever looks to him as the
artist, sees not him, knows not him; that he is aught else now; that
mere art, in fact, is to him a business no longer worthy of a serious
soul. The public again, in its ever-confident patronizingness, says unto
him: "But for thy great artistic genius, O Leo, son of Nicolas, with thy
latest religious antics and somersaultings, we would call thee--a crank.
But as to a great genius we shall be merciful unto thee, and bear with
many a confession, many a cobbled shoe, if thou givest us only more of
Olenins, more of Karenins."

25. Who is here right, who is here wrong,--the public with its millions,
Tolstoy in his loneliness?

26. That genius should often misunderstand its own strength, and seek it
where it is weakest, is indeed no new phenomenon in its history.
Frederick the Great prides himself more on his flute-playing than on his
kingship; and it is not so very long ago that in our very midst a
university professor called the happiest day of his life not that on
which he discovered a new Greek particle, but that on which the crew of
his university won the boat-race. And a mere chance tour on a Sunday
through our churches would quickly show the lamentably frequent
misapprehension of genius by itself; for many a fine genius for the
actor's art is spoiled by an imaginary call to the pulpit. The
presumption therefore is indeed against the great Tolstoy in his dispute
with the great public. Still, I venture to side with Tolstoy. I too
venture to think that Tolstoy's greatest work is found not so much in
his works of pure art as in his works of pure religion; and with God's
blessing, my friends, I trust you will see it with me in the next
lecture.



LECTURE VI.

TOLSTOY THE PREACHER.


1. I have stated in the last lecture that Tolstoy is the preacher, not
of the new gospel of death, but of the old gospel of life. Tolstoy is to
be revered as one of the greatest teachers among men, not so much
because he has proved indisputably that only by love alone can men be
said truly to live, nor wholly because he shows by logic inexorable that
man can be truly blessed only when he devotes his life to the service of
his fellow-men. His logic may be bad, his proof may be faulty. To be
skilled in the art of lighting with words is no more essential to a
noble soul than to be skilled in the art of fighting with lists. Both
can indeed knock down an opponent; but knocking down is not the business
of life, but raising up. And Tolstoy is to be revered among teachers
because he first of all raises up; because he preaches what those who
have raised men up have for ages preached; because he preaches what
Christ has preached, what Emerson has preached, what Carlyle has
preached, what Ruskin is still preaching, and what will ever continue to
be preached as long as there is a God in heaven, and a human soul on
earth yearning for the possession of that God. "Socialism, Communism!"
men bellow to Tolstoy, and think to confound him with the hateful name.
"Would you have us give up," they say, "the fruit of civilization and
progress, and return to the primitive life of the days of yore?" But
read Emerson's "Miscellanies," Carlyle's "Past and Present," Ruskin's
"Fors Clavigera," and see for yourselves whether Tolstoy preaches aught
different from these. And if this be communism, if this be socialism,
then welcome communism, welcome socialism, because ever welcome
brotherhood.

2. Tolstoy is indeed a Russian of the Russians, but he is a man before
he is a Russian; the greatest of Russians, he is more than a Russian,
just as Socrates, the greatest of the Greeks, was more than a Greek;
just as Christ, the greatest of Hebrews, was more than a Hebrew.
Socrates was sent not for Greece alone, but for us likewise; Jesus was
sent not for the Jews alone, but for us likewise; and so Tolstoy is sent
not to the Russians alone, but to us likewise.

3. Tolstoy, then, came to deliver a message; but _the_ message of
messages has already been delivered well-nigh nineteen hundred years
ago. Not one word is there, indeed, to be added to the law laid down in
the Sermon on the Mount; and were men to live out the gospel of Christ,
there would be no need of new messengers, the kingdom of heaven would
then be veritably established, and the Master would once more dwell with
men as he hath foretold. But Christianity, alas! has been on trial for
well-nigh nineteen hundred years, while the religion of Christ still
remains to be tried. There is therefore ever need of new apostles to
preach the kingdom of heaven, the gospel of Christ; and it is Tolstoy's
distinction that he came to preach not the new gospel of the nineteenth
century, but the old gospel of the first century. For God sees to it
that the way to blessedness for men be ever open; that the kingdom of
heaven be ever within their reach, if they but choose to enter it, if
they but choose not to give themselves over to the Powers of Darkness.

4. I have affirmed in my last lecture, with what articulateness of voice
the great God hath seen fit to endow me, that there is a God in heaven
who is the Good. And it now, alas! becomes my duty to affirm likewise
that beside the great God the Good in heaven, there is also the great
Devil the Evil on earth; that beside the great Prince of Light there is
also the great Prince of Darkness. And he ruleth neither over the
heavens nor over the earth, but he ruleth solely over man. And he
graspeth with the greedy, and he splitteth hairs with the lawyers; and
he is flirting with scientific charities, and is fortune-hunting with
land-grabbers; and he discourseth with politicians, and he puffeth up
with men of science; and he balances himself on ropes with theologians;
and he preacheth from pulpits through mouths that have Christ only on
their tongues; and he prayeth through lips that know God only through
hymns; and he danceth at balls, and he sparkleth through diamonds; and
he shineth through gold, and he foameth through wine; and he chatteth
insincerely at receptions, and he figureth in society-columns of the
public prints; and he shrieketh through steam-whistles, and he rusheth
sixty miles an hour, and he edits sensational magazines, and he dwelleth
with the hating; and he is ever after victims,--he, the Prince of
Darkness.

5. And the servants of the Prince of Light are few; and the servants of
the Prince of Darkness are many. Yet the Lord God is ever nigh; and he
ever sendeth his messengers to call together his wandering, his erring
flock. Tolstoy is a messenger sent out to gather together the erring
flock back to the fold of Christ.

6. Tolstoy, then, is a teacher of men. Observe, however, this
fundamental difference between Tolstoy and the other great teachers. To
Socrates, the great enemy of mankind was ignorance; to him, therefore,
to know virtue is to be virtuous, and the central idea of his teaching
is--knowledge. The seat of the soul with Socrates, therefore, is not so
much in the heart as in the head. To Epictetus, the great enemy of
mankind is passion, and the central idea of his teaching is
self-control; to Epictetus, then, the seat of the soul is not so much in
the head as in the will. To Emerson, the great enemy of mankind is
authority, and the central idea of his teaching, therefore, is
self-reliance; to Emerson, then, the seat of the soul is not so much in
man's will as in man's pride. To Carlyle, the great enemy of mankind is
consciousness of self, and the central idea of his teaching is
unconsciousness of self, the forgetting, the drowning of self in work.
To Carlyle, therefore, the seat of the soul is not so much in man's
pride as in his hands. Tolstoy has no such central idea of his own. His
central idea is that of his Master, Jesus, which is love. To Jesus, the
great enemy of man was hatred, and the seat of the soul to him was
neither in the head, nor in the will, nor in the pride, nor in the
hands. To Jesus, the seat of the soul was solely in the heart. And
Tolstoy proclaims above all the doctrine of Jesus, not because he
thinketh lightly of ignorance, not because he thinketh lightly of
passion, not because he thinketh lightly of authority, not because he
thinketh lightly of self-consciousness, but because he believes that
Love conquereth _all_ the children of Darkness. Hence the burden of his
message is the ever-recurring, Brethren, follow Christ! Follow Christ
with your heads, and your metaphysics will take care of themselves;
follow Christ with your will, and your passions will take care of
themselves; follow Christ with your hopes, and your self-respect will
take care of itself; lastly, follow Christ with your hands, and your
work will take care of itself. Tolstoy's book is therefore only the
fifth gospel of Christ, and Tolstoy himself is therefore only the
thirteenth apostle of Jesus.

7. I must emphasize this fact, my friends, because church-societies are
still discussing the propriety of admitting his book into their
libraries; I must emphasize this fact, because hitherto not one preacher
of the gospel of Christ has yet ventured to utter one word of greeting,
one word of fellowship, to Tolstoy. I must emphasize this fact, because
Tolstoy having forsaken art and having betaken himself to the cobbling
of shoes, the wise world, that ever knoweth the duty of another better
than he doth himself, is forthwith at hand with its estimate, its
disapproval, its condemnation. Turgenef therefore gently remonstrates
with his fellow-craftsman for his new departure, and beseeches him to
return to the forsaken higher field,--to the art of amusing folk already
over-amused. The Rev. Mr. Savage, the only servant of God in the pulpits
of this great God-fearing city who has even dared to make Tolstoy the
subject of a Sunday discourse, respects indeed his character, but boldly
declares the man Tolstoy and his Master Jesus of Nazareth to have been
teaching impracticable teachings; impracticable, indeed, in an age when
bank-stock and a grandfather, and foam and froth, and social fireworks
are the only acceptable signs of strength. Mr. Savage, however, follows
at least Pope's direction, and damns with faint praise, while that wee,
tiny manikin from that State of Indiana does not even think this
necessary, and therefore, standing on tiptoe, screeches at the top of
his voicelet to Tolstoy, "Crank, crank!"

8. But what if in God's eyes there be no higher work, nor lower work,
but merely work? What if in God's eyes there be no higher duty, nor
lower duty, but merely duty? If it be necessary to chop wood, and sift
ashes, and mend shoes, wherefore should this be a lower occupation than
to thump on the piano, and read poetry, and write books, and even listen
unto lectures? But the artist is held in higher esteem than the
house-drudge! What, then! shalt thou make the esteem of thy fellows,
which is as changeable as the wind, thy motive for doing, rather than
the esteem of thyself, thy conscience, thy God? To do all we ought, be
it never so humble, this is doing the highest work, God's work. But
chopping wood and mending shoes brings no recognition, no esteem, no
applause in gorgeously-lighted parlors, as does the reading and the
singing and the writing for select audiences. What, shalt thou do thy
duty for the sake of the reward, the mess of pottage it brings, O
wretch?

9. Crank, indeed! My friends, was there ever a time when the great souls
on whom we must feed, if we are to live at all, were proclaimed aught
else but cranks and nuisances? The children of Darkness are ever abroad,
and the messengers of Light are never welcome unto them. Such a nuisance
was the noblest of the Greeks to his countrymen, that they could not
wait for his peaceful departure, even though he was already on the brink
of the grave; and the old man of seventy had to drink the poison to rid
his fellow-citizens of the burden of his presence. Of the two noblest
sons of Boston, which it has yet produced in all the two hundred and
fifty years of its existence, one was dragged through its streets with a
rope round his neck, not by a mob of unkempt anarchists, but by a mob
of well-shaven, broadcloth-clad citizens,--by the ancestors, perhaps, of
the very men who now can watch the statue of that same Garrison from
their plate-glass windows on Commonwealth Avenue. And the other was
shunned as an ill-balanced intellect, and abused by those who look upon
themselves as _the_ best of his townsmen, so that a monument to Wendell
Phillips cannot even be thought of at this late day. England's noblest
living voice, the voice of John Ruskin, is at this very moment engaged
in crying unto his countrymen, "Good my friends, if ye keep on howling
at me as ye have done, I shall indeed become insane; but I assure ye, up
to this hour, maugre your vociferous clamoring, I am still in possession
of my senses, thank God!" And of America's greatest inspirer, while his
gentle spirit was still walking on earth, Jeremiah Mason, the
clear-headed man, the far-seeing judge, the practical statesman, could
only utter the joke, '_I_ don't read Emerson; my gals do!' And, O ye
good people, tell me, I pray ye, what reception would Christ himself be
likely to receive at the hands of your swallow-tailed butlers, were he
to appear at your doors without silver-headed cane, without Parisian kid
gloves, without engraved pasteboard announcing him to be the Scion of
his Majesty King David? Would not a mere glance at his bare feet, his
flowing garment, and his untrimmed hair be sufficient to convince Mr.
Butler that for such folk the lady of the house is never at home, or if
at home, is just about to dress for dinner or to go out for a drive, and
therefore begs to be excused? Yes, my friends, of the greatest, of the
noblest souls, it has ever been the lot to be scorned, since their
message of light is ever unwelcome to the children of darkness; and if
against their characters not a word can be said, recourse must be had to
the abuse at least of their intellects; and Christ and Tolstoy are
declared to be weak intellects! This is the meaning of the cry raised
against Tolstoy as unbalanced, in this latest change of his life from
riches unto poverty.

10. Tolstoy, then, is nothing but a preacher of Christ; and the first
articulate utterance in his message is therefore that of boundless
faith in the practicability of living according to Christ; that of
insistence upon the literal following of the words of Christ as a
_practical_ guide of life.

11. And out of this emphasis of the supremacy of Love comes the second
articulate utterance in the message of Tolstoy, which is the supremacy
of heart over head as a metaphysical guide of life. For God ever
revealeth himself unto men, but he speaketh unto them not through their
cold intellects, but through their warm hearts; not through logic, but
through love. The reasoner searches God without man and finds him not;
the lover finds God within man in his heart, and hath no need of
searching him. Hence the following significant utterance of Tolstoy in
his "Confession." In his search for the answer to the ever-recurring
question, "Wherefore shall I live?" he at last goes abroad to find
light:--

    "My life abroad, and the intercourse with Europe's most advanced
    scholars, still more confirmed my faith in perfection as such; for
    the same faith I now found in them likewise. In me this faith took
    the same form which it takes in most of the educated men of our
    time. Its watchword was--progress. Then I thought that this word
    meant something. Its utter meaninglessness I then could not yet
    understand. Here I was tormented, like every living soul, with the
    question, 'How can I better my life?' and I answer, 'Live in
    accordance with progress.' But this is exactly the answer of a man
    borne along by wind and tide in a boat. He puts the to him
    all-important question, 'What direction must I steer for my safety?'
    and he receives in answer, 'Oh, we are borne along somewhither!'

    "All this I did not perceive at the time. Only rarely not my reason
    but my feeling rebelled against this universal superstition with
    which men shield themselves against their failure to comprehend the
    meaning of life. Thus while in Paris the sight of capital punishment
    revealed to me all the ghastliness of this superstition of progress.
    When I beheld how the head was severed from the body, and how the
    one and the other each in turn thumped in the box, I understood not
    with my reason, but with my whole soul, that no theory of progress,
    no theory of the reasonableness of our present mode of living, could
    justify this one deed; that even if all men ever since creation, on
    whatever theory, had found that _this_ must be, I know that this
    need not be; that this is evil; that the judge of all this, what is
    good and needful, is not what men say and do, is not the theory of
    progress, but I with my heart."

12. Trust ye, therefore, your heart ere you trust your logic. Whatever
the heart dictates must be from God, logic or no logic; whatever the
heart rebels against must be from the Devil, reason or no reason. Time
never yet was when the Devil lacked reasons; and if he can find reasons
nowhere else, he at last finds them in science and in Scripture. Next to
the slaveholders themselves, the last to forsake the sinking ship of
slavery, were the preachers of the gospel of the brotherhood of man, who
argued finely from Scripture twisted for the purpose, that the great God
having made Mr. Preacher white and Mr. Negro black, had therefore
intended that black shall be the minion of white. Time never was when
reason and logic most inexorable could not find excuse most sufficient
for the shedding of blood of brother by brother, for the burning of
village and town, for the erecting of luxurious palace within
stone's-throw of the homeless. Time never was when logic could not show
the fine propriety, nay, the utmost necessity, for competition and
struggle for existence; when men, who might create a paradise of this
green earth of ours, if they but chose to help one another, transform
themselves into pigs, jostling and pushing one another at the trough,
and grunting with satisfaction abundant at having driven the weaker
piglet off into starvation,--all of which is our modern, _necessary_
competition in business; and this is logical, reasonable, scientific
struggle for existence!

13. No, no, my friends, let logic cry never so loudly at the necessity
of struggle for existence, and competition for bread between men, when
the great God hath provided enough for a hundredfold of the present
number of men if they but chose to help one another. The heart saith it
is wrong; and whatever logic makes it out to be right is accursed, is
from the Devil; and it is for ye, if ye are to become the children of
the Prince of Light, and not the children of the Prince of Darkness, to
have none of such logic, and trust the God within you, who dwelleth not
in your heads, but in your hearts.

14. And once more, out of this fundamental idea of the supremacy of love
and the brotherhood of _all_ men,--of all men, observe,--follows the
insistence of Tolstoy upon the words of Christ,--"Give to him that
asketh." For it is not for man to judge his neighbor, but for God. To
Tolstoy, therefore, all men are his brothers, the unworthy as well as
the worthy; or rather, he never asks whether they be worthy. To him
therefore the law of Christ stands not for utility, nor for fear of
consequence, but for mercy and trust in God. Hence Tolstoy would never
fear to help from what are branded as sentimental motives. And the third
articulate utterance in the message of Tolstoy is therefore the
supremacy in charity of the sentiment which comes from God over the
logic which comes from the Devil.

15. Relief given from sentimental motives (from mere love of helping for
its own sake) only keeps the pauper population alive, we are told by
our scientific charities. Heinous, indeed, is the awful crime of keeping
pauper population alive; and heinous, indeed, is the crime of having
_any_ sentiment of heart in an age of progress of species and
self-respecting supply and demand. Then the great God who sendeth his
sunshine and his rain upon members of Associated Charities as well as
upon members of Dissociated Charities, upon the worthy as well as upon
the unworthy, upon the properly introduced as well as upon the
improperly introduced,--then his beneficence is verily sentimental. Yes,
my friends, the great God is the great sentimentalist, for he blesseth
men and bestoweth his mercy upon them not because they are deserving,
but because he loveth to be merciful. When the flower buddeth forth in
the spring with matchless beauty, no label is tacked on to its stem with
ominous reminder: "Not to be gazed at by the eyes of the unworthy. All
worthy persons, of good moral character, can obtain tickets by applying
to Archangel Michael." When under His eternal laws the cooling spring
babbleth forth merrily from the cave, whispering to the weary, heated
wanderer, "Come thou hither, and be refreshed," no sign-board is placed
at its entrance: "Beware! this spring is only for the worthy; members of
the pauper population are warned, under penalty of law, not to trespass
on these premises." Verily, I say unto ye, the Lord God is the
sentimentalist of sentimentalists!

16. And the Son of God, like unto his Father, was also a sentimentalist.
When the sinner came unto him in her distress, he did not inquire for
her letters of introduction; he did not inquire whether she was indorsed
in most acceptable society-fashion by the leading ministers of the town.
He did not lift the skirts of his garments in scorn of the person
unworthy of _his_ company; he gave no orders to his butlers that when
Madame Sinner calls next he is not at home for her. Nay, Christ did not
even send down to the Central Office of the Associated Charities to look
up poor sinner's record. Without much parley he stretched forth his holy
hand, gave it to his pauper sister, and with a voice of love spake, "Go
thy ways in peace, thou art forgiven!" Verily, I say unto you, Christ
was a sentimentalist of sentimentalists.

17. And the father of the prodigal son was only increasing pauperism
when he received the unworthy youth with open arms; he had set a premium
(in the words of our scientific charities) upon other sons becoming
likewise prodigal.

18. And so is a sentimentalist every noble soul that believeth in God's
wisdom more than in man's wisdom; that believeth more in the power of
trust than in the power of fear; more in mercy than in calculation; more
in charity than in justice; more in love than in political economy; more
in Christ than in Octavia Hill; more in the Gospels than in
Parliamentary Poor Reports. By their fruits ye shall judge them. If the
fear of pauperism result in excusing that vilest of sins, the
withholding of help by one brother from another, then away with
scientific charity and its talked-of diminution of pauperism; and if the
lending of a helping hand even to the unworthy be the result of
sentimentalism, then welcome sentimentalism, blessed be sentimentalism!

19. The obedience to the commands of Christ has thus furnished Tolstoy
with a basis for existence which he had hitherto sought in vain from
science and metaphysics; the obedience to the commands of Christ has
thus furnished Tolstoy a solution of social problems which he had
hitherto sought in vain in ethics and sociology; and lastly, obedience
to the commands of Christ has furnished Tolstoy a solution of financial
problems found neither in political economy nor in statistics. And the
fourth articulate utterance in the message of Tolstoy is his merciless
distinction between the money of the poor, which they have earned by
their toil, and the money of the rich, which they have forfeited by
their idleness.

20. Tolstoy is thus the preacher, the cause of a change in the hearts of
men; but while he is thus a cause unto others, he himself is likewise an
effect of the change which has begun to take place in the hearts of men.
The possibility of a Tolstoy in the nineteenth century is the most
hopeful sign of the times with regard to the social brotherhood of men.
In theology, the feeling of the equality of men before God has so
permeated the minds of men, that the claim of superiority which formerly
each made over the other, though still tacitly implied, is now no longer
upheld by sober thinking folk; in politics, too, equality of men before
the law has at last become acknowledged, if not always in practice, at
least in theory. And if monarchies and aristocracies still do exist, it
is not because all concerned in the decision have deliberately decided
for them, but because it is safer to endure irrational institutions that
are old, than to undertake the sudden establishment of rational
institutions that are new. Only in the social field the feeling of the
equality of men has not yet permeated them enough to rouse their souls
against the present division of society into industrial lords on the one
hand, and industrial slaves on the other. That two men born on the same
day, at the same hour, in the same nakedness, one in a palace without
his merit, the other in a hovel without his fault, should each pass his
lifetime, the one in luxury and idleness, the other in want and toil, is
still looked upon by thinking men, by feeling men, as something that
must be, as something that should be, since Providence evidently meant
men to be thus divided. The idle thus go on enjoying their unearned
idleness; the toiling thus go on enduring their unearned hardship, and
all is quiet.

21. Quiet? Alas! no. Burglars, robbers, tramps, beggars, forgers,
defaulters in abundance, jails, prisons, reform-houses, stand out
palatially amid lawns and green woods and winding rivers. The silent
darkness is occasionally lighted up by the lurid torch of the
incendiary, and now and then we are treated to spectacular fireworks
with powder and dynamite and bomb.

22. Of course men have _preached_ reform ever since God had resolved
that however men may refuse to do his will, they shall at least not fail
to hear his voice as uttered by his messengers. But though political
freedom had been preached by every thinking soul from Plato to
Rousseau, it required an American and a French Revolution to open a path
for the entrance of their ideas into practical life. Religious freedom,
too, had been preached from the mouth of every soul that had the genuine
love for its kind in its heart. From Christ to Emerson in our world, to
say naught of the heathen world, the burden of the song of all saints
has been, "Love your neighbor as ye love yourselves." Your neighbor,
observe! Not your Baptist neighbor, nor your Methodist neighbor, nor
even your infidel neighbor, but your neighbor. Plain as this teaching
is, it still required Inquisitions, Bartholomew nights, and
Thirty-Year-Wars, to establish not even religious brotherhood, but only
religious toleration.

23. Social brotherhood, too, has been preached for ages, beginning with
John the Baptist, who in answer to the question, What are we to do? can
only say, "Whosoever hath two coats, let him give one to him that hath
none," and ending with John Ruskin, who, smarting under the unequal
distribution of wealth, founds his Company of St. George. Preached then
social brotherhood has been, as all else has been preached; but acted
out, even under the guise of hypocrisy, it has not yet been. Will this
change of heart likewise have to be brought about by blood and
slaughter?

24. Tolstoy, in the feeble way of a single man, but in the mighty way of
a single soul, giveth unmistakable answer to this question. We must
begin the revolution, says he, not without us, with others, but within
us, with ourselves; not by force of arms, but by force of love. Of what
use are alms handed out with one hand, when with the other we uphold
idleness which is the creator of the need of alms? Let each one work, he
says, as much as he can, and if he produce more than his own needs,
there will ever be enough of the unfortunate and the ailing who cannot
produce enough for their own needs. Not leisure, then, idleness, is the
haven to be steered for, but work; and work, too, not such as shall
pander to the wants of the lazy, but to the wants of the
industrious,--work, in short, which shall enable others to enjoy that
labor of the body and that rest of the soul which alone in their union
make the perfect life.

                   *       *       *       *       *

25. In his Introduction to "My Religion," Tolstoy says that he has at
last tasted that joy and happiness which even death could not take away.
He has thus attained true blessedness, that heavenly peace which falls
to the lot of all souls from whom love of self and pride of intellect
have forever fled. But such heaven can be attained by human soul only
through struggle,--struggle often for life and death with sin, with
doubt, with faithlessness, with despair. For the fable of Sisyphus is
not mere fable; this ever rolling back of the stone to the hill-top for
the tenth, for the hundredth, for the thousandth time, is only the
history of the soul on its journey heavenward; the gold, ere it be freed
from the dross, must be scorched, burnt, melted, dissolved; and the
soul, to be made pure in its turn, must be likewise burnt, melted,
fused. Think not, therefore, that Shakespeare, ere he wrote "To be or
not to be," had been perching on the tree and warbling right gladly all
his days. His sorrow is not indeed found in his plays, but surely it was
found in his life. Think not, therefore, that the sportive, merry,
joking Socrates was gay through all the seventy years of his life. Not
from a gay heart came those words spoken at the end of his days, "We
approach truth only in so far as we are removed from life." And lastly,
my friends, not from a gay heart flowed that gentle spirit, that
boundless love, of the possessor of whom not once, in all the four
Gospels, is recorded the fact that he ever laughed! Verily, only through
sorrow can be reached the haven of the soul, that union with God which
is free from pride of intellect and love of self. And so Tolstoy's life
too, ere he attained that heavenly peace, was filled with sorrow
immeasurable, sorrow unspeakable. For fifteen years of his life the
thought of suicide was not out of his mind for a day; he upon whom
Fortune had lavished every gift which in the opinion of the world can
alone make man happy, he who had riches, fame, friends, position,
admiration, appreciation,--this man Tolstoy has for years to hide his
gun lest he shoot himself, and his towel lest he hang himself.
Wherefore, then, such misery? Because, my friends, he was natively
endowed with a heaven-aspiring soul, between which and the doctrine of
the world there can be no peace. One must perish, or the other,--either
the doctrine of the world, or his soul. His soul, indeed, was destined
not to perish; but the devil in man dies hard, and for fifty years the
doctrine of the world held in him the upper hand.

26. Hence though the essence of Tolstoy is the preacher, he was during
these fifty years never the preacher alone; but this very struggle in
his soul between the powers of Light on the one hand and the powers of
Darkness on the other is also the reason why he never remained the
artist alone. Like the thread of Theseus in the labyrinth of Minos, the
preacher's vein is seldom, if ever, absent from Tolstoy. Hence his
"Morning of a Proprietor," written in 1852, at the age of twenty-four,
is as faithful an account of his experience as a visitor among the poor
as his "Census of Moscow," written twenty-five years later; hence his
"Lutzen," written when he was yet under thirty, is as powerful a plea
for the beggar as his "What to Do," written at the end of his career.
The final detaching of the preacher from the artist is not therefore a
sudden resolve, but the outcome of the life-long struggle of his spirit.
The detaching of the preacher from the artist took place therefore in
Tolstoy as the detaching of the nourishing kernel takes place from the
castaway shell. When he found his haven and saw that the only meaning of
life can be found solely in love of man, and in living and in toiling
for him, when the doctrine of the world, in short, was defeated by the
soul, then the severance of the preacher from the artist becomes
complete, the shell is burst, and in all its native nourishingness there
at last lies before us what is eternal of Tolstoy,--the writings, not of
the artist Tolstoy, but the writings of the preacher Tolstoy.

                   *       *       *       *       *

27. My hearers, my friends, I have now spoken unto ye for well-nigh six
hours. From the manner in which you have listened unto me, I judge that
ye have been entertained, perhaps even instructed. And yet I should feel
that I have spoken unto ye to but little purpose, if my words have
merely entertained, merely instructed you; for mere entertainment you
can find already in abundance elsewhere,--in the circus, in the
play-house, in the concert-room, in the magazine, in the wit of the
diner-out, and not unto me is it given to compete with these. And mere
instruction likewise you can find already in abundance elsewhere,--in
the cyclopædias, in the universities, in the libraries, in the
Browning-reader; and neither is it given wholly unto me to compete with
these. Not, therefore, to amuse, not even wholly to instruct ye, have I
come before ye these successive evenings, and asked you to lend me your
ear. But I had hoped that on parting from me, as you will this evening,
perhaps for aye, you might perhaps carry away with ye also that
earnestness of purpose, the absence of which made so barren the muse of
Pushkin; that sympathy for a soul struggling upward, the want of which
made so cheerless the life of Gogol; that faith in God, the lack of
which made so incomplete the life of Turgenef; and lastly, that faith in
the commands of Christ, the living out of which makes so inspiring the
life of Tolstoy.

28. Would to God, my friends, ye might carry away with ye all these
things besides the entertainment, besides even the instruction you may
have found here. In the days of old the great God was ready to save from
perdition a whole city of sinners if only ten righteous men could be
found within its walls; and so shall I feel amply repaid for my toil, if
of the large number who have listened unto me at least ten leave me with
the feeling that they have got from my words something more than mere
entertainment, something more than mere instruction.


                                THE END.



  [ Transcriber's Note:

    The following is a list of corrections made to the original. The first
    line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

      himself, took off his "masquerading" dress, kicked it into the
      himself, took off his 'masquerading' dress, kicked it into the

      Im Norden auf kahler Höh'
      Im Norden auf kahler Höh'.

  was enabled to give it a zenith-like loftiness and a nadir like depth
  was enabled to give it a zenith-like loftiness and a nadir-like depth

      Unto me on the parting of the roads
      Unto me on the parting of the roads;

      horses. They were two sturdy follows, still looking out from under
      horses. They were two sturdy fellows, still looking out from under

      Cossak, even without preliminary trial. 'Well, welcome, sonny; come
      Cossak, even without preliminary trial. Well, welcome, sonny; come

      "I know, I know it all ... but I love you.'
      "'I know, I know it all ... but I love you.'

  with the pessimistic woe of the the world, believed at bottom that man,
  with the pessimistic woe of the world, believed at bottom that man,

  ]





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