S. A. (Sofʹi︠a︡ Andreevna) Tolstai︠a︡.

The autobiography of Countess Sophie Tolstoi online

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Moscow, author of popular text-books on algebra
and geometry.

12. Page 26. . N. A. Sergievskii, 1827-92,
a writer on theology, author of many scholarly
theological books, founder and editor of The
Orthodox Review, professor of theology in the
University of Moscow,

13. Page 28. In the Natasha of PFar and
Peace there are many characteristics of S. A. T.
and of her sister, Tatyana Andreevna Kuzminskii.
According to S. A. T., Leo N. made the following
remark about his heroine : "I took Tanya,
ground her up with Sonya, and there came out


Natasha." See P. Biryukov, Biography of L.N. T.,
Vol. II. page 32.

14. Page 28. In S. A. T.'s story Natasha
L. N. T. recognized himself in the hero, Dublitskii,
and he wrote to her in September, 1862 : "I am
Dubhtskii, but to marry merely because I needed
a wife — ^that I could not do. I demand something
tremendous, impossible from marriage ; I demand
that I should be loved as much as I am able to
love." .L. N. T. doubted whether a woman
could fall in love with him deeply and completely,
as he was not good-looking. On August 28,
1862, he put down in his diary : "I got up in
the usual despondency. I thought out a society
for apprentices. A sweet, placid night. Ugly
face, don't think of marriage, your vocation is
different and much has been given you instead."
L. N. T.'s Letters to His tFife, edited by A. E.
Gruzinskii, 19 13, pages 1-3. P. Biryukov,
Biography of L. N. T"., Vol. I. page 471.

15 Page 29. M. N. Tolstoi, March 7,
1830, to April 6, 19 12, sister of L. N. T. In the
'sixties she went abroad with her brother Nikolai
and lived with him at Hyeres in the south of
France. After her brother's death, M. N. T.,
overcome with grief, did not wish to return to
Russia and settled for a short time in Algiers.
She returned from there in 1862 and visited
Yasnaya Polyana for a short time and met S. A. T.
and her mother there. See T. A. Kuzminskii,
My Reminiscences of Marie N. Tolstoi^ Petersburg,
1 9 14. P. Biryukov, Countess Marie N. Tolstoi, in


Russkaya Vedomostii, 19 12, Moscow, Number 33.
A. Khiryakov, L. N. Tolstoi's Sister, in Solitse
Rossit, 19 12. S. Tolstoi, To the Portrait of
Countess Marie N. Tolstoi in Tolstovskii Ezhegodnik,
191 2. L. N. Tolstoi's letters to Marie N.
Tolstoi in New Collection of Letters of L. N. Tolstoi,
collected by P. A. Sergeenko, edited by A. E.
Gruzinskii, Moscow, 1912 ; and Complete Works
of L. N. Tolstoi, Vols. XXI.-XXIV., edited by
P. I. Biryukov, Moscow, 19 13.

16. Page 29. S. A. T. here leaves out some
curious details. According to her own account,
Leo Nikolaevich followed the Bers family, first to
Ivitsi, Tula Province, 50 versts from Yasnaya
Polyana, and then to Moscow. Leo Nikolaevich's
proposal to S. A. T., which was like Levin's to
Kitty in ^nna Karenin, took place at Ivitsi. See
the marriage of L. N. Tolstoi, in the reminiscences
of S. A. T. under the title My Life, in Russkoe
Slovo, 1912. Also P. Biryukov, Biography of,
L. N. Tolstoi, Vol. I. pages 464-473, and
L. N. Tolstoi's Letters to His Wife, pages 1-3.

17. Page 29. The Bers family were con-
vinced that L. N. T. was in love with Liza, the
elder sister of S. A. T., and expected him to propose
to her. This misunderstanding worried L. N. T.,
as he said in his letter to S. A. T. See L. N.
Tolstoi's Letters to His Wife, pages 1-3.

18. Page 30. Orekhov, a serf of Yasnaya
Polyana, L. N. T.'s inseparable companion
during the war in Sebastopol, and later steward


at Yasnaya Polyana. See I. Tolstoi, My Reminis-
cences, Moscow, 1 9 14, pages 18, 22, 23.

19. Page 30. T. A. Ergolskii, born 1795,
died June 20, 1874, a remote relation brought
up in the Tolstoi family, taught Marie, Leo, and
his brothers, who lost their mother at an early age.
In Tolstoi's house she was called aunt. See
Reminiscences of Childhood and L. N. T.'s Letters
to T. A. Ergolskii ; also L. iV. Tolstoi's Letters,
1848-1910, collected and edited by P. A.
Sergeenko, Z,. iV, Tolstoi's Diary, Yo\. I. 1847-52,
edited by V. G. Chertkov, Moscow, 1 9 1 7. (Index.)

20. Page 30. The beginning of Chapter II.,
ending with the words " and in copying out his
writings," is incorporated literally by S. A. T.
from the first MS. There is also written in
pencil by her, " This is new." The statement is
not quite accurate. In the remainder of
Chapter III., which is new, a small part of the
original Chapter III., slightly altered, is in-
corporated. We shall quote this part in full :

" The first thing which I copied in my clumsy
but legible handwriting was Polikushka. For
many, many years afterwards that work delighted
me. I used to long for the evening when Leo
Nikolaevich would give me something newly
written or corrected for me to copy.

" I was carried away by the newly created
scenes and descriptions, and I tried to understand
and watch the artistic development and growth
of ideas and creative activity in my husband's
works. . . ."


21. Page 31. The beginning was published
in two numbers oiRusskii Fyestnik, 1865 and 1 866,
and, under the title of TAe Tear 1805, was later
published in book form, Moscow, 1866. Tolstoi
returned to the Decembrists when he had finished
Anna Karenin, but was again disappointed. " My
Decembrists are again God knows where ; I don't
even think of them," he wrote to Fet in April,
1879 (Fet, My Reminiscences, Vol. II. page 364).
The first three chapters of the Decembrists were
published in a miscellaneous volume called
Twenty-five Tears, 1859-84, Petersburg, 1884.
But towards the end of his life Tolstoi again
became interested in the Decembrists and began
to study the period. See A. B. Goldenweiser,
Diary, Russkie Propilei, Vol. II. pages 271-272,
Moscow, 1 9 16.

22. Page 31. A. M. Zhemchuzhnikov and
I. S. Aksakov visited Leo Nikolaevich in the
middle of December, 1864, in Moscow at his
father-in-law's house, where he came to have his
arm medically treated. It was then that he read
to them some chapters from War and Peace. See
L. N. Tolstofs Letters to His Wife, page 41.

23. Page 32. There were a number of
musical works which always made a deep impres-
sion upon Tolstoi. See list of musical works
loved by L. N. Tolstoi given by A, B. Golden-
weiser, To/stovskii Ezhegodnik, 19 12, pages 158-
160 ; also musical works loved by L. N. Tolstoi
in S. L. TolstoVs Reminiscences.

24. Page 33. Countess A. A. Tolstoi


reproached Leo Nikolaevich for his long silence in
a letter of May i, 1863. Leo Nikolaevich wrote
a four-page letter in reply, but did not send it ;
later in the autumn of 1863 he wrote another
letter, which he sent. The quotation referred to
is, evidently, from the letter which was not sent,
and which, as far as we know, has not appeared
in print.

25. Page 33. This quotation from L. N. T.'s
Diary is also given in Biryukov's Biography, but
in a somewhat different form. He also gives a
detailed sketch of the work, which Tolstoi wrote
in his diary. See Biryukov, Vol. IL pages 27-28.

26. Page 37. N. A. Lyubimov, 1830-97,
a well-known professor of physics at the University
of Moscow, a collaborator with Katkov and
K. Leontev in editing the Russkii Vyestnik and
Moskovskaya Vedomosti.

27. Page 37. Strakhov's articles on War and
Peace were published in Zarya, 1869 and 1870,
and in book form in 1871. His articles on
Tolstoi and Turgenev appeared in book form
under the title Critical Articles on I. S. Turgenev and
L. N. Tolstoi, second edition, 1887, Petersburg.

28. Page 38. Edmond About, 1828-85,
the French writer to whom Turgenev sent a copy
of fFar and Peace, translated by Princess Paske-
vich, and a letter from which the above quotation
is taken. About published the letter in Le XI X^
Siicle, January 23, 1880, under the title Vne
Lettre de Taurgueneff,


29. Page 39. Vasillii Yakoblevich Miro-
vich, 1740-64, a lieutenant in the Smolenskii
infantry regiment, executed for his attempt to
rescue Ivan Antonovich from prison. His story
formed the plot of G. P. Danilevskii's novel
Mirovich, Petersburg, i886.

30. Page 39. From the sketch of the year
1831-32 : "The guests were arriving at the
country-house," See Pushkin, edited by S. A.
Vengerov, Petersburg, 19 10, Vol. IV- pages 255-

31. Page 39. In P. Biryukov's Biography,
Vol. II. page 205, the words are given thus :
" That is how one should begin. The reader is
at once made to feel the interest of the plot.
Another writer would begin to describe the
guests, the rooms, but Pushkin goes straight to
the point."

32. Page 40. This quotation is a combina-
tion of two passages from L. N. T.'s letter to
Countess A. A. Tolstoi of December, 1874. In
the beginning of this letter he says that he has
written a letter to her, but has torn it up and is
writing another. It is possible that S. A. T. is
quoting from the original letter.

33. Page 40. Peter, eighteen months old,
November 18, 1873 ; Nikolai, two months old,
February, 1875 ; and the daughter born pre-
maturely, November, 1875.

34. Page 40. T. A. Ergolskii (see note 19),
and Pelageya Ilinishna Yushkov, the sister of


L. N, T.'s father, died December 22, 1875.
This death particularly affected Tolstoi. He
wrote to Countess A. A. Tolstoi : " It is strange,
but the death of this old woman of 80 affected me
more than any other death. . . . Not an hour
passes without my thinking of her." Tohtovskii
Musei, Vol. I. pages 262-263.

35. Page 43. From Fet's poem, " I re-
peated: 'When I will . . .'" Later Fet evidently
rewrote the poem ; his last four lines are :

In my hand — ^what a marvel ! —

Is your hand,
And on the grass — two emeralds,

Two glow-worms.

See A. A. Fet, Complete Works, Vol. I. page 427,
Petersburg, 19 12.

2,6. Page 43. Five poems are known to
have been dedicated by Fet to S. A. Tolstoi. See
Collected Works, Vol. I. pages 413, 414, 449.

37. Page 44. A few months after his visit
to Yasnaya Polyana Turgenev wrote to Fet : "I
was very glad to make it up again with Tolstoi,
and I spent three pleasant days with him ; his
whole family is very sympathetic and his wife is a
darling." See Fet, My Reminiscences, Vol. II.
page 355, Moscow, 1890.

38. Page 46. Wilkie Collins, 1824-89 ;
his novel. The Woman in White, was translated into
Russian under the same title, Petersburg, 1884.

39. Page 50. The house was bought in
1882 in the Khamovnicheskii Pereulok.


40. Page 5 1 . An allusion to V. G. Chertkov
who became acquainted with Tolstoi in 1883.
See P. A. Boulanger, Tolstoi and Chertkov, Moscow,
191 1 ; A. M. Khiryakov, Who is Chertkov ? in
Kievskaya Starina, 1910 ; P. Biryukov, Bio-
graphy, Vol. II. pages 471, 473, 479-480 ;
V. Mikulich, Shadows of the Past, Petersburg,
1 9 14 ; Ilya Tolstoi, My Reminiscences, pages 234-
235, 247, 265, 269-275 ; Countess A. A.
Tolstoi, Reminiscences in Tolstovskii Musei, Vol. I.
pages 36-38.

41. Page 52. S. A. T. for a long time did
not believe in the seriousness of Leo Nikolaevich's
searchings, considering them a weakness, a dis-
ease due to overwork and the playing of a part.
See Biryukov, Biography, pages 474-478 ; L. N.
Tolstoi's Letters to His Wife, pages 196-198.

42. Page 52. A. P. Bobrinskii, Minister of
Transport, 1871-74, and a disciple of Radstock ;
Tolstoi was struck by " the sincerity and warmth
of his belief." See Tolstovskii Musei, Vol. I.
pages 245, 265, 268, 275.

43. Page 52. An English preacher who in
the middle of the 'seventies lived in Petersburg
and preached with success in aristocratic houses.
A short," but good, description of Radstock is
given by Countess A. A. Tolstoi, who knew him
personally, in her letter to L. N. T. of March 28,
1876, Tolstovskii Musei, Vol. I. pages 267-268.

44. Page 52. S. S. Urusov, 1827-97, an
intimate friend of Tolstoi ever since the Crimean


War, a landowner and a deeply religious man.
Tolstoi corresponded with him and often stayed
with him in his country-house at Spasskoye.
Urusov translated into French Tolstoi's In What
do I Believe ?

45. Page ^2' ^^^ Tolstoi did not recognize
the Gospel which serves as the foundation of the
Orthodox Faith, and he interpreted the Gospel in
his own way. It is strange that S. A. T. did not
realize this. In this respect Countess A. A.
Tolstoi, who also differed from Leo Nikolaevich
on religious questions and was deeply pained by
the difference, was more understanding and
consistent. She wrote of Tolstoi's " Gospel " :
" Your crude denial and bold perversions of the
divine book caused me extreme indignation.
Sometimes I had to stop reading and throw the
book on the floor." See Tolstovskii Musei,
Vol. I. page 44.

46. Page 54. It is interesting to compare
the autobiography of S. A. T. with Tolstoi's play,
And Light Shines in Darkness. In this Marie
Ivanovna, a character taken from S. A. T., uses
the family, children, house, and so on, as the
chief arguments against the attempts of Nikolai
Ivanovich to arrange their life in accordance
with his views. She says : "I have to bring
them up, feed them, bear them. ... I don't
sleep at nights, I nurse, I keep the whole
house. ..." And the husband " wishes to
give everything away. . . . He wants me at my
time of life to become a cook, washerwoman."


See Act I., Scenes XIX. and XX. ; Act II.,
Scene II.

47. Page 54. L. D. Urusov, died October 6,
1885, a devoted friend and enthusiastic follower
of Tolstoi. When he died in the Crimea, where
he had gone with Tolstoi, Urusov, according to
Countess A. A. Tolstoi, left to his son, who was
with him, Tolstoi's letters, as the greatest treasures
which he was leaving him. See Tolstovskii Musei,
Vol. II. ; L. N. Tolstoi's Correspondence with
N. N. Strakhov ; L. N. Tolstoi's Letters to his
Wife, pages 255-266.

48. Page ^6. Tolstoi lost his suit-case,
containing MSS., books, and proofs, in 1883, on
his way to Yasnaya Polyana. Among the lost
MSS. were several chapters of In What do I
Believe ? which Tolstoi had to rewrite. Biryukov,
Biography, Vol. II. pages 457-458.

49. Page ^6. Another allusion to Chertkov,
who from the middle of the 'eighties began
taking Tolstoi's MSS. to England.

50. Page 57. Tolstoi himself translated this
work from the Greek, and twice wrote a preface
to it, in 1885 and 1905. See L. N. Tolstoi's
Diary, 1895-99, edited by V. G. Chertkov,
second edition, Moscow, 19 16, page 46.

51. Page 57. As far as we know, this
translation has not been published.

52. Page 57. Her letter to the Metropolitan
Antonius of February 26, 1901, copies of which
were sent to the other Metropolitans and to the
Attorney to the Synod. The letter and the


answer of the Metropolitan Antonius were
published in many newspapers.

^2' Page 57. A short article on Leonid
Andreev, in the form of a letter to the editor on
the appearance of Burenin's Critical Sketches in
Novoe Fremya, 1903. At the time it attracted
great attention in the press- owing to the excep-
tional bitterness with which S. A. T. attacked
Andreev and in general all modern novelists.
She wrote : " One would like to continue
M. Burenin's splendid article, adding ever more
ideas of the same kind, raising higher and higher
the standard for artistic purity and moral power
in contemporary literature. Works of Messieurs
Andreevs ought not to be read, nor glorified, nor
sold out, but the whole Russian public ought to
rise in indignation against the dirt which in
thousands of copies is being spread over Russia
by a cheap journal and by repeated editions of
publishers who encourage them. If Maxim
Gorkii, undoubtedly a clever and gifted writer
from the people, introduces a good deal of
cynicism and nudeness into the scenes in which
he paints the life of a certain class, one always,
nevertheless, feels in them a sincere sorrow for
all the evil and suffering which is endured by the
poor, ignorant, and drunken of fallen humanity.
In the works of Maxim Gorkii one can always
dwell on some character or pathetic moment in
which, one feels, the author, grieving for the
fallen, has a clear knowledge of what is evil and
what good, and he loves the good. But in


Andreev's stories one feels that he loves and
takes delight in the baseness in the phenomena of
vicious human life, and with that love of vice he
infects the undeveloped, the reading public which,
as M. Burenin says, is untidy morally, and the
young who cannot yet know life. . , . The
wretched new writers of contemporary fictic^n,
like Andreev, are only able to concentrate upon
the dirty spots in the human fall and proclaim to
the uneducated, the half-intelligent reading public,
and invite them to examine deep into the decayed
corpse of fallen humanity and to shut their eyes to
the whole of God's spacious and beautiful world
with its beauty of nature, with the greatness of
art, with the high aspirations of human souls,
with the religious and moral struggle and the
great ideals of good. . . ." Novoe Vremya,
1903, Number 9673.

54. Page 57. Three fragments of this have
been published : L. N. Tolstoi's Marriage, in
Russko^ Slovo, 1912 ; On the Drama, the Power
of Darkness, in Tolstovskii Ezhegodnik, 19 12,
pages 17-23 ; and L. N. Tolstoi's Visits to the
Optina Monastery, in Tolstovskii Ezhegodnik^ I9i3>
Part III., pages 3-7.

55. Page 58. The history of these MSS.
has been discussed at great length in newspapers
and magazines. The gist of the matter is as
follows. By Tolstoi's will everything written
by him up to the date of his death, " wherever it
may be found and in whose possession," was to
pass to his daughter Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoi.


She laid claim to the MSS. deposited in the
Historical Museum. But S. A. T. opposed this,
declaring that the MSS. had been given to her
as a gift by Tolstoi, were her own property, and
therefore could not be included in his will. The
authorities of the Historical Museum refused both
parties access to the MSS. until the question had
been settled by a court. The history of the case
is given in Tolstovskii Ezhegodnik for 1913,
Section V. pages 3-10, and in the Journal Dela
i Dfii, 1921, pages 271-293, in which A. S.
Nikolaev gave an account of the case, re Count
L. N. Tolstoi's MSS.

56. Page 59. The letter of July 8, 1897.
On the envelope Tolstoi wrote : " Unless I
direct otherwise, this letter shall after my death
be handed over to Sophie Andreevna." The
letter was entrusted to N. L. Obolenskii, Tolstoi's
son-in-law. See L. N, Tolstoi's Letters to His
Wife, pages 524-526.

57. Page 60. Tolstoi announced this in a
letter to the editor of Russkaya Vedomostii, which
was published in the paper on September 19,
1 89 1. The letter is reprinted in the supplement
to L. N. Tolstoi's Diary, 1895-99, second edition,
pages 241, 242.

58. Page 63. The death of Vanichka was a
terrible blow to Tolstoi, who " loved him, as the
youngest child, with all the force of an elderly
parent's attachment." With him the last tie
binding Tolstoi to his family was broken. Ilya


Tolstoi was inclined to think that there was " a
certain inner connection " between the child's
death and Tolstoi's attempt to leave Yasnaya
Polyana in 1897. See Ilya Tolstoi, My Reminis-
cences, pages 214-219.

59. Page 64. Sergei Ivanovich Taneev,
1856-191 5, who for three years consecutively,
1894-96, came to stay in the summer with the
Tolstois at Yasnaya Polyana.

60. Page 67. The story of Tolstoi's illness
and his life at Gaspra is told in the fine reminis-
cences of Dr. S. Y. Elpatevskii, the well-known
writer and doctor who treated Tolstoi, entitled
Leo N. Tolstoi, Reminiscences and Character,
Rosskoe Bogatstvo, Number XL, 1912, pages 199-
232 ; also S. Elpatveskii, Literary Reminiscences,
Moscow, 1916, pages 26-49. '

61. Page 71. There was a stern struggle
between Sophie Andreevna Tolstoi and Chertkov
over Tolstoi's diaries almost from the first moment
of his acquaintance with Tolstoi. Originally
the diaries were in Chertkov's hands. But in
October, 1895, S. A. T. insisted upon their
return to Tolstoi. On November 5, 1895,
Tolstoi wrote in his diary : " I have gone through
a great deal of unpleasantness with regard to
fulfilling my promise to Sophie Andreevna ; I
have read through my diaries for seven years."
After he had read them, the diaries were handed
over to S. A. T., who sent them for safe-keeping
to the Rumyantsev Museum and later to the


98 JNUin^a

Historical Museum. The later diaries, ending
with May 19, 1900, were also handed over to
S. A. T. The diaries of the last ten years, of
which S. A. T. is speaking heire, turned out to be
in Chertkov's possession. It cost S. A, T, not
only much effort, but tears and even her health,
in order to get them back. Personally and in
writing, and also through V. F. Bulgakov, she
entreated and implored Chertkov to return them,
but everything proved of no avail. An atmo-
sphere, painful for the whole family, was thus
created, and Tolstoi was literally stifled, finding
himself between the stubbornness of a morbid
woman and the fear of offending a no less stubborn
man, Chertkov. It ended by Tolstoi, in the
middle of July, 19 10, taking the diaries from
Chertkov and placing them for safe-keeping in
the Tula bank, in order not to hurt either party.
After Tolstoi's death, according to his will, the
diaries passed to Alexandra L. Tolstoi. See
L. N. TolstoVs Diary, I., 1895-99, pages xi., xii.,
and 6 ; L. N. Tolstoi's Letters to His Wife, I9i3>
page 493 ; V. F. Bulgakov, Leo Tolstoi during
the Last Year of His Life, Moscow, 19 18, pages
255, 261-263, and 265.

62. Page 71. This will, in the form of a
letter, was an extract from Tolstoi's diary of
March 27, 1895. . . . His request that his works
should become public property was later made in
his diary for 1907, also on March 4 and 8, 1909.

6"^. Page 72. Three copies of this extract
from the diary were kept by Marie Nikolaevna


Obolenskii, V. G. Chertkov, and Serge Tolstoi.
Evidently S. A. T. did not know this. See
Tolst. Ezhegodnik, 19 12, page 9 ; L. N. Tolstoi's
Diary^ 1895-99, pkge 242.

64. Page 72. According to A. B. Golden-
weiser, Tolstoi, perhaps having reason to think
that his will with regard to his works would not
be carried out, decided to make a will which
would be binding legally as well as morally. On
September 17, 1909, the will was drawn at
Krekshino, and on the i8th it was signed by
Tolstoi. By this will all his works, written after
January i, 188 1, both published and unpublished,
became public property. Consequently the will
meant that all works written and published before
that date remained the property of the family.
On September 18, on her return from Moscow,
Alexandra L. Tolstoi went to see the lawyer
N. K. Muraviov, and showed him the will.
Muraviov said that from a legal point of view the
will was quite invalid, since according to law you
could not leave property to " nobody," and he
promised to draw up and send to Yasnaya Polyana
the rough draft of a will. Two or three consulta-
tions took place at Muraviov's house, at which
there were present V. G. Chertkov, A. B. Golden-
weiser, and F. A. Strakhov. Several drafts of
the will were made, which it was decided to take
to Tolstoi in order that " he might read them and
choose one of them, or reject them all, if he found
that they did not meet his wishes." On
October 26 Strakhov left for Yasnaya Polyana


with the drafts. When he returned, he said
that " Tolstoi expressed the firm resolution to
leave as public property, not only the works
written after 1881, as was originally proposed,
but generally everything written by him," a
resolution completely new and unexpected by
those who had taken part in the consultations. In
accordance with Tolstoi's new decision, Muraviov
drew up another will by which everything written
by Tolstoi, " wherever found and in whose posses-
sion," was transferred to the full ownership of
Alexandra L. Tolstoi. This will was taken to
Yasnaya Polyana, copied in Tolstoi's own hand,
and signed by him on November i, 1909. This
is Goldenweiser's account of the two wills in his
diary. We see from this story that Tolstoi him-
self decided to make a formal will, and he himself,
to his friends' surprise, radically changed the first
will regarding his works written and published
before 1 8 8 1 . But the reader is confronted with a
series of puzzling questions : How did Tolstoi
make up his mind to have recourse to the protec-
tion of the law, which he denied with his whole
soul ? What caused him to alter so quickly and

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