Reminiscences of Tolstoy - by his son count Ilya Tolstoy- Illustrated
Excerpt from the first chapter:
Description of the characters of his children, from one of my father's letters. Impressions of early childhood. My mother, father, grandmother, Hannah, and the three Dunyashas. Lessons. The school.
In one of his letters to his father's cousin, Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstoy, my father gives the following description of his children: The eldest (Sergei) Is fair-haired and good-looking; there is something weak and patient in his expression and very gentle. His laugh is not infectious, but when he cries, I can hardly refrain from crying too. Everyone says he is like my eldest brother.
I am afraid to believe it. It is too good to be true. My brother's chief characteristic was neither egotism nor self-renunciation but a strict meaning between the two: he never sacrificed himself for anyone else, but always avoided, not only injuring others but also interfering with them. He kept his happiness and his sufferings entirely to himself. Seryozha (Sergei) is clever; he has a systematic mind and is sensitive to artistic impressions, does his lessons
Nikolai is athletic and lively at games, but gauche and absent-minded. He lacks independent-mindedness; is a slave to his physical condition; according to whether he is well or unwell he is two quite different boys.
Ilya, the third, has never been ill in his life; broad-boned, white and pink, radiant, bad at lessons. Is always thinking about what he is told not to think about and Invents his own games. Hot-tempered and "violent," wants to fight at once; but is also tender-hearted and very sensitive. Sensuous; fond of eating and lying still doing nothing.
When he eats currant- jelly and buck-wheat kasha ^ his lips itch. Independent-minded in everything. When he cries, is vicious and horrid at the same time; when he laughs every one laughs too. Everything forbidden delights him; he recognizes it at once. Not long ago when I was writing stories for my "Alphabet" he concocted one of his own: "A boy asked, 'Does God also. ?'
As a punishment, for the rest of his life, God made the boy. If I die, Ilya will come to grief, unless he has some stern guardian whom he loves to lead him by the hand. In the summer we used to ride out to bathe; Seryozha went on horseback by himself and I took Ilya on the saddle in front of me. I went out one morning and found both waitings. Ilya with his hat on, bath towel and all complete, is in the best of spirits. Seryozha came running up from somewhere, out of breath and hatless.
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