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and should be subjected to criticism, and to re-examination from other points of view. But a necessary preliminary to profitable criticism is comprehension; and this necessary preliminary having, heretofore, in relation to Tolstoy's works, been very frequently neglected, my first aim is clearly and simply to restate certain fundamental principles with which he has dealt. The first five essays do this directly, and the last four indirectly. But Tolstoy must, of course, not be held responsible for my statements on matters of detail or matters of fact, such, for example, as the history of the Doukhobórs or the negotiations that preceded the war in South Africa.

The article on the Doukhobórs appears now for the first time in print, after having been given several times in the form of a lecture.Talks with Tolstoy" has been re-shaped, and the other essays have been more or less revised, since they first appeared.

My thanks are due to those concerned, for kind permission to republish articles which originally appeared in The New Century Review,The Contemporary Review,The Bookman(New York), The New Age" and " The New Order"; as well as to my friend Herbert P. Archer, for helping me to prepare this edition.

The publication of the present volume will not prevent separate essays contained in it from circulating in cheap form.


Great Baddow,


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COUNT LEO TOLSTOY was born 28th August 1828, at a house in the country not many miles from Túla, and about 130 miles south of Moscow.

He has lived most of his life in the country, preferring it to town, and believing that people would be healthier and happier if they lived more natural lives, in touch with nature, instead of crowding together in cities.

He lost his mother when he was three, and his father when he was nine years old. He remembers a boy visiting his brothers and himself when he was twelve years old, and bringing the news that they had found out at school that there was no God, and that all that was taught about God was a mere invention.

He himself went to school in Moscow, and before he was grown up, he had imbibed the opinion, generally current among educated Russians, that “religion” is old-fashioned and superstitious, and that sensible and cultured people do not require it for themselves.

After finishing school Tolstoy went to the University at Kazán. There he studied Oriental languages, but he did not pass the final examinations.

In one of his books Tolstoy remarks how often the cleverest boy is at the bottom of the class.


And this really does occur. A boy of active, independent mind who has his own problems to think out, will often find it terribly hard to keep his attention on the lessons the master wants him to learn. But I do not know to what extent his remark refers to his own experience.

He entered the army and was first stationed in the Caucasus, where he was with an elder brother to whom he was greatly attached.

When the Crimean War began, in 1854, Tolstoy applied for active service, and was transferred to an artillery regiment engaged in the defence of Sevastopol. Here he obtained that first-hand knowledge of war which has helped him to speak on the subject with conviction. He saw war as it really is.

The men who governed Russia, France, England, Sardinia, and Turkey, had quarrelled about the custody of the “Holy Places” in Palestine, and about two lines in a treaty made in 1774 between Russia and Turkey.

They stopped at home, but sent other peoplemost of them poorly paid, simple people, who knew nothing about the quarrel — to kill each other wholesale in order to settle it.

Working - men were taken from Lancashire, Yorkshire, Middlesex, Essex, and all parts of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and Sardinia, and shipped, thousands of miles, to join a number of poor Turkish peasants in trying to kill Russian peasants. These latter had in most cases been forced, unwillingly, to leave their homes

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