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War And Peace 206

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War And Peace

to believe and he did believe, and felt a joyful sense of comfort, regeneration, and return to life. "He is not to be apprehended by reason, but by life," said the Mason. "I do not understand," said Pierre, feeling with dismay doubts reawakening. He was afraid of any want of clearness, any weakness, in the Masons arguments; he dreaded not to be able to believe in him. "I dont understand," he said, "how it is that the mind of man cannot attain the knowledge of which you speak." The Mason smiled with his gentle fatherly smile. "The highest wisdom and truth are like the purest liquid we may wish to imbibe," he said. "Can I receive that pure liquid into an impure vessel and judge of its purity? Only by the inner purification of myself can I retain in some degree of purity the liquid I receive." "Yes, yes, that is so," said Pierre joyfully. "The highest wisdom is not founded on reason alone, not on those worldly sciences of physics, history, chemistry, and the like, into which intellectual knowledge is divided. The highest wisdom is one. The highest wisdom has but one science--the science of the whole--the science explaining the whole creation and mans place in it. To receive that science it is necessary to purify and renew ones inner self, and so before one can know, it is necessary to believe and to perfect ones self. And to attain this end, we have the light called conscience that God has implanted in our souls." "Yes, yes," assented Pierre. "Look then at thy inner self with the eyes of the spirit, and ask thyself whether thou art content with thyself. What hast thou attained relying on reason only? What art thou? You are young, you are rich, you are clever, you are well educated. And what have you done with all these good gifts? Are you content with yourself and with your life?" "No, I hate my life," Pierre muttered, wincing. "Thou hatest it. Then change it, purify thyself; and as thou art purified, thou wilt gain wisdom. Look at your life, my dear sir. How have you spent it? In riotous orgies and debauchery, receiving everything from society and giving nothing in return. You have become the possessor of wealth. How have you used it? What have you done for your neighbor? Have you ever thought of your tens of thousands of slaves? Have you helped them physically and morally? No! You have profited by their toil to lead a profligate life. That is what you have done. Have you chosen a post in which you might be of service to your neighbor? No! You have spent your life in idleness. Then you married, my dear sir--took on yourself responsibility for the guidance of a young woman; and what have you done? You have not helped her to find the way of truth, my dear sir, but have thrust her into an abyss of deceit and misery. A man offended you and you shot him, and you say you do not know God and hate your life. There is nothing strange in that, my dear sir!" After these words, the Mason, as if tired by his long discourse, again leaned his arms on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes. Pierre looked at that aged, stern, motionless, almost lifeless face and moved his lips without uttering a sound. He wished to say, "Yes, a vile, idle, vicious life!" but dared not break the silence. The Mason cleared his throat huskily, as old men do, and called his servant. "How about the horses?" he asked, without looking at Pierre. "The exchange horses have just come," answered the servant. "Will you not rest here?" "No, tell them to harness." "Can he really be going away leaving me alone without having told me all, and without promising to help me?" thought Pierre, rising with downcast head; and he began to pace the room, glancing occasionally at the Mason. "Yes, I never thought of it, but I have led a contemptible and profligate life, though I did not like it and did not want to," thought Pierre. "But this man knows the truth and, if he wished to, could disclose it to me." Pierre wished to say this to the Mason, but did not dare to. The traveler, having packed his things with his practiced hands, began fastening his coat. When he had finished, he turned to Bezukhov, and said in a tone of indifferent politeness: "Where are you going to now, my dear sir?" "I?... Im going to Petersburg," answered

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