The Diary of Tolstoy's Wife III
By arrangement with Victor Gollancz, Ltd., who will ,publish the complete book on .November 20111, we are able to print a series of extracts from " The Diary of Tolstoy's Wife," which have been translated by Alexander Werth. The Russian text first appeared at Moscow in September of this year, and the information it contained has not previously been made public. In our first instalment, we published entries from a retrospective account of her engagement in 1862 when Tolstoy was thirty-four years old. Last week we published further extracts from the account of her marriage and entries, written between 1870 and 1881, relating to " Anna Karenina," and to Tolstoy's religious awakening. This week the excerpts are taken from her diary. The first one was written two weeks after her marriage.
Tim DIARY, 1862.91.
It wouldn't have been hard to go still further and to feel it even more intensely ; but then I never really stopped, but went on without thinking. When I got married, I had to admit that my old dreams were foolish, and yet I feel unable to give them up altogether. The whole of my husband's past is so dreadful that I don't think I will ever be able to accept it. Unless, of course, I acquire some new interest in life, such as children, whom I want terribly, for they alone will give me a sound future and will enable me to see things in a pure light, without his past, without all the filth which I still see in him, and which makes me so unhappy.
He doesn't understand that his past is a whole world of a thousand different emotions—good and bad—which will never belong to me, just as his youth, spent heaven knows on what and whom, will never be my property. Nor does he under- stand that I am giving him everything, that no part of myself has been spent elsewhere, and that only my aildhood alone did not belong to him. But even that did. My fondest childhood reminiscence is my first love for him. Am I to blame that it was so cruelly destroyed ? Was it wrong of me ? He had spent his life and his energy on so much evil before he began to feel real love ; and now he thinks it so strong and so pure, because for many, many years past he has been unable to feel it. There is some evil in my past, too, but not so much.
He likes to torture me and see me weep because he has no faith in me. He would like me to have gone through as Much evil as himself, so that I might more fully appreciate the good. It instinctively annoys him that I should have gained happiness so easily, without reflection, without previous suffering. I am going to be strong enough not to weep. I don't want him to see that I suffer ; let him believe that I am always happy. Yesterday, at grandfather's house, I came downstairs specially to see him, and when I saw him I was seized with an unusual feeling of love and strength. - I loved him so much at that moment ; I wanted to go up to him, and yet I felt that if I touched him I would not feel so happy, that it would be almost sacrilege. But I never can and never will let him see What is going on in my mind. I haVe so much foolish pride that everything will be lost if I ever see that he can in the least doubt me. - I ain irritated. What is he doing to me ? Gradually I shall retreat into myself and shall poison hip life. And yet I feel so sorry for him at those times when he doesn'i believe in "'fie"; his eyes fill with tears and he has such a meek, wistful look. At such moments I could strangle him with love, and yet the thought pursues me : " He doesn't believe in me, fie doesn't believe in me." And to-day I suddenly felt that we Would gradually drift apart and each live our own lives, that I would create my own sad world for myself, and he a world full of work and doubt. And this relationship struck me as vulgar. I have stopped believing in his love. When he kisses me, I think to Myself : " Well, I'm not the first woman." And it begins to hurt me that this love of mine, my first and last, should not be enough for him. I, too, have been interested in men, but only in my imagina- tion ; but he—he has known women, young and lively and pretty, with individual faces, souls, and characters, and he has loved and admired them, just as he now loves and admires me. It is vulgar ; but it isn't my fault ; it is the fault of his past. I cannot help it if I can't forgive God for having made people in such a fashion that they must sow their wild oats before becoming decent. I can't help it if it makes me "feel sad and miserable that my htisband, too; shOuld come within that category.- To Make Matters- worse, he believes that I don't love him. "But if I 'didn't love him; why/ should I be anxious to knovi what interested him in the past and what May interest him in the filtuie"? It's a hopelesi situation to try to prove one's lOve to a than whO seems to think that he got married in spite of himself, and without being hived by his wife. As if there had ever been a moment in my life when I -regretted any bit of the past or "when I eveh dreamed of not loving him or of ceasing to love him ? Surely, it doesn't make him happy to see me weep and to make me realize that there is something wrong in our relations, and that sooner or later we will drift apart in the spiritual sense. What is a toy -Co the cat is tears to the mouse. Butt am a frail toy, and, if you break it, it will be you who will weep. No, I can't stand the thought of this slow torture. He is so good and hind ! Everything evil repels him and he cannot tolerate it himself. In the past, I could admire all that was good and lovely, but now it is quite different ; no sooner do I grow joyful than he seems to damp my enthusiasm.
October 11th, 1862.
I am terribly sad and take refuge in-myself. My husband is ill, bad-tempered, and doesn't love me. I expected it, and yet I didn't know it would be so dreadful. I wonder .where people get the idea of my immense happiness. No one seems to know that I am unable to create happiness either for him or for myself. When I am very sad, I some- times say to myself : " What's the good of living when neither of us is happy ? " And now this thought keeps on recurring, and it frightens me. He grows colder and colder every day, while I go on hiving him more and more; His coldness will soon become unbearable. He is too candid to deceive me. If he doesn't love me, we won't pretend, and when he does love me, I can see it in his every movement.
November 13th, 1862.
An unlucky date ! Such was my first thought. I always feel easier after a heart-to-heart talk. Being an egoist, it gives me some satisfaction to torture him.
I can't find any occupation for myself. He is lucky to be so clever and talented. But I'm neither the one nor the other. One can't 'live 'on love• alone ; and I am- so stupid that I can do nothing but think of him. He is unwell, and I begin to believe that he will die, and that is enough to make me miserable for three hours. When he is cheerful, it makes me so glad, and I am only afraid lest his happy mood pass. When he is away or working, I always think-of him, listening for his footsteps ; and when he is here, I keep watching his face: It is probably due to my pregnancy that I am • in this abnormal state, which, to a certain extent, affects him, too. It isn't hard to find work, but before doing anything one has to create some enthushism for breeding hens, tinkling the piano, and _reading a lot of silly books and a :very few good ones, or pickling cucumbers and what not. All this will come in time, when I forget my lazy old life and get used to the country. I don't want to get into the common rut and be bored ; but I shan't be. I wish my husband had a greater influence over` Ink: It's strarige. that- I `shOlild lb-Ve' him 5°
much and yet feel his influence so little. There are some lucid moments when I realize everything and realize what a fine world this is to live in, and how many pleasant duties depend upon me ; but the mood passes and I forget every- thing.. I am waiting for the happy day when everything begins running smoothly like an engine,. so that I can begin an active existence..
I haven't prayed for a long time. In the old days, I enjoyed even the external side .4 religinn. I would often, on the quiet, light the_waxcandle in front of the ikon, adorn- it with flowers;-lock the door, and kneel before it for an hour or more. Now it all seems stupid and ludicrous, and yet I find pleasure- in remembering it..
Latterly, everything has become so earnest_ and serious; but the impressions of my early life are still so vivid that it is difficult to forget them, and 'yet there is no way back to-them.: In a few years I shall have created a woman's world for myself, which I shall love even more, for it will contain my hUsband and my children, whom one loves even more than one's parents and brothers. But I haven't reached that stage yet. I am still wavering between the past and the future. My husband loves me too much to -put me on a sound footing just yet ; it is difficult, anyway; and I will have.to work it all out for myself ; besides, he feels that I have already changed. With a little effort I can again become what I was before, although no longer a maiden, but a woman, and when this happens, both he and I will be satisfied.
November 23rd, 1862. He disgusts me with his People. I feel he ought to choose between me, i.e., the representative of the family, and his beloved People. This .is--,egoism, I know. But let it be. I have given my life to him, I live through him, and I expect him to do the same. Otherwise the place grows too depressing ; I ran away to-day because everybody and everything repelled me—auntie and the students and N. P. and the walls and the whole life here, so that I laughed for joy when I ran quietly away from the house. L. did not disgust me, but I suddenly. felt that he and I were miles apart, i.e., that his People could never absorb all my attention, while I couldn't take up all his attention, as he does mine. It's quite clear. If I am no good to him, if I am merely a doll, a wife, and not a human being—then it is all useless and I don't want to carry on this existence. Of course I am idle, but I am not. idle by nature ; I simply haven't yet discovered what I can do here. He is angry and impatient. Oh, but never mind ! I am feeling free and happy to-day, and, although he was very gloomy, he didn't touch me. I know he is brilliant, poetic, and intelligent, full of power, but it annoys me that he should look at everything from a gloomy angle. I sometimes want to break loose from his somewhat sombre influence, to ignore it—but I can't. His influence is depressing because I begin to think -in his way, to see things with his eyes, and I am afraid of losing my own self and yet not becoming like him. In future, I shall go out or drive soniewhere whenever I feel bored: Soinetimes, when I go out, I suddenly feel so free. At other times I begin to imagine hint worried and searching for me, and this depresses me so much that I come back home.
He was so gloomy that I nearly wept. He won't speak to me. It is terrible to live with him. What if he once again suddenly develops an affection for his People, and begins to love me no more than his school, nature, the People, or his literature—a little of everything, until the time comes when he'll -start again looking for something new.
December 6th, 1862. Some day I shall kill myself with jealousy. " Never so
much in love as now ! " And nothing but a big fat lump of a woman. Terrible ! I kept looking at his daggers and rifles with the greatest joy. One jerk—it's so easy. So long as there is no child. And there she is, a few yards from here. It drives me mad ! - I shall go out for a drive. I may meet her at any moment. So that's how he loved her ! If only I could burn his diary and his whole past !
I have come hack, and am feeling worse than ever. I've got a headache and my heart is heavy. I felt so happy and tree in the wide open air. I want to be able to live and breathe freely, and think freely. But life is so petty. Uut love, is difficult, and the love that takes one's breath away,
a love that is cOmpletethat lasts for ever—that-is impossible.
If - • it weren't for him, this -little world of mine would be narrow
and miserable. And yet it is impossible to unite our two little worlds into one. He is so clever, so active, so brilliant —and then there is that terrible long past of his. I am terrified at the thought of going to Moscow now. I will become even more insignificant, and I feel that, if there is ever to be a world which will satisfy me, it must be here; in -Yasnaya Polyana, with no people from outside, but merely my own family and all that I will create for myself.
I have read the beginnings of some of his books, and each time he speaks of love and women I begin to feel disgusted and depressed and want to burn all, all that he has written. May I never be reminded of his past ! And I wouldn't care about his books, for jealousy makes me a fearful egoist.
If I could kill him and then make another man exactly like him, I should do it joyfully.
• Moscow, January 14th, 1863.
I'm alone again and feeling sad. But all has been happily settled between us. I don't know what exactly reconciled him to me, or what reconciled me to him. But it just came about naturally. All I know is that my happiness has been restored. I should like to go home. I often build .up plans of my future life in Yasnaya with him. But it makeS me feel very -sad to think how much I have broken away from the Kremlin folks. I am terribly conscious of the fact” that my whole world has 'changed, and yet I love them more than ever, especially Mother, and I sometimes feel sorry that I have ceased to be a member of their family. I live for him, and it sometimes saddens me to think that I am not everything to him, and that, if I suddenly died, be would soon find con- solation ; for he is full of resources, while I am but an in- significant creature : once I have adopted a world as my own, I should never be able to find another.
Moscow, January 29th, 1863.
I find this life in the Kremlin depressing, for it reminds me of my lazy and aimless life before my marriage. I have no longer any. illusions about the aims and duties of married life since Lyova let me see that it alone isn't sufficient, but that one needs other interests as well. [A note added in Tolstoy's own handwriting : I don't want anything except you. Lyova talks a lot of nonsense !]
March 3rd, 1863.
• The same old story : I am alone and busy writing. But I am not lonely ; I have become used to it. I have the happy conviction that he loVes me, and loves me constantly. When he comes back, he always comes up to me so kindly, asking me some question or telling ine something. Life has become happy and cheerful for me. I read his diary, and it made me happy. Two things—I and his work ; he cares for nothing else. He has been in such an occupied mood yesterday and to-day. I'm afraid to disturb him when he is busy writing and thinking. I'm afraid that if- he gets annoyed he will become dissatisfied with my presence. I'm glad he is writing. I wanted to drive to Mass to-day, but in the end I stayed at home and prayed here.
April 8th, 1803.
Lyova and I have started working on the estate ; he's taking it seriously, 1—more or less pretending to. It is all very fine and joyful, and not petty. I am greatly interested in everything, and much of it gives me joy. But he seems to be worried, depressed, and unwell, and this makes me continuously anxious. But I'm afraid to tell him how worried I am about his blood pressure. It is terrible to think of it, and yet I can't help imagining that all this life otours, all this immense happiness, may merely be a trick of Fate who may all of a sudden snatch it all away. I am afraid of it. . . . It's silly, but I can't write this down. I wish this fear would disappear quickly. It poisons my whole existence. He has bought Some bees, which makes me glad ; all this management of the estate is very interesting, though difficult.
. April 28th, 1863.
Lyova is either old or unhappy. I wonder if really nothing has any interest for him, beyond money, his estate, and his
distillery Except when he eats or sleeps or sits in silence, he spends hiS time roaming about the estate, all alone. I am bored at always being left alone. He expresses his love for me by automatically kissing my hand, and by doing me good instead of evil.
(Further extracts from the diaries of Countess Totsloy will appear next week and thefollowing week.)