TOLSTOY, LEO. 1828-1910.
Typed Letter Signed ("Leo Tolstoy"), 2 pp, 4to, Yasnaya Polyana, August 27, 1909, some soiling, folds reinforced.
On August 23, 1909, twenty-four year old Dmitri Pavlov, an agriculturist and district councilman in Kostroma, wrote Tolstoy on behalf of his friend Aleksandr N. Soloviev. An advocate of Tolstoy's philosophy, Soloviev had renounced military service as a conscientious objector; and Pavlov passed a letter from Soloviev on to the great writer in the hope that he might help him avoid prison. Tolstoy replies from Yasnaya Polyana:
"Thank you, dear Dmitri, for your letter--one of the greatest joys in life is to realize, through unity with other people, one's own union with God--and for sending me Aleksandr's letter. And I am glad, and I am afraid for him. I try to be carried back into his soul and, when there, I get this feeling of joy, delight and fear for his weakness. Weakness not for abdicating the truth, but for suffering the bewilderment of people's blindness, sometimes even feeling unkind thoughts toward them, sometimes even muffling that consciousness of his life and love with which--I know--he lives now.
"I know that when a person lives within that consciousness, there is no going back, but at times there is a dimming of this consciousness by the call of the flesh and then it can be hard. And this is why I am afraid for him. I can only console myself with the thought that he has already passed, and with his inherent energy, beyond that deception of resentment, anger and struggle that is so dangerous for people in his situation. And therefore I hope, that to all the people who have gone against him, he will respond, or rather will let God respond, through him, who speaks to us only in one voice of Love to all, especially to those who are deluded and suffering spiritually. If you can contact him, please send him my love and the gratitude of me and all people living the same life as himself, and for his help to us. Also ask him--if I can be of any real service to him.
His letter is very good and instructive.
A brother and friend of you both
August 27, 1909"
Although remembered primarily as the author of War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), Count Tolstoy was also one of the most profound and influential thinkers of the 19th century. He devoted his later life to social reform and spiritual matters. His active Christianity inspired many devoted followers like A. N. Soloviev. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King too were deeply influenced by his nonviolent philosophy. Tolstoy's intense religious fervor is apparent in this generous, encouraging letter for a thoughtful young man defying political oppression through a noble gentle act of conscience. Tolstoy, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Volumes 79-80, 1955, pp 75-76.