War and Peace
Part 12 out of 34
Alarmed at Denisov's condition, Rostov suggested that he should
undress, drink some water, and send for the doctor.
"Twy me for wobbewy... oh! Some more water... Let them twy me, but
I'll always thwash scoundwels... and I'll tell the Empewo'...
Ice..." he muttered.
The regimental doctor, when he came, said it was absolutely
necessary to bleed Denisov. A deep saucer of black blood was taken
from his hairy arm and only then was he able to relate what had
happened to him.
"I get there," began Denisov. "'Now then, where's your chief's
quarters?' They were pointed out. 'Please to wait.' 'I've widden
twenty miles and have duties to attend to and no time to wait.
Announce me.' Vewy well, so out comes their head chief- also took it
into his head to lecture me: 'It's wobbewy!'- 'Wobbewy,' I say, 'is
not done by man who seizes pwovisions to feed his soldiers, but by him
who takes them to fill his own pockets!' 'Will you please be
silent?' 'Vewy good!' Then he says: 'Go and give a weceipt to the
commissioner, but your affair will be passed on to headquarters.' I go
to the commissioner. I enter, and at the table... who do you think?
No, but wait a bit!... Who is it that's starving us?" shouted Denisov,
hitting the table with the fist of his newly bled arm so violently
that the table nearly broke down and the tumblers on it jumped
about. "Telyanin! 'What? So it's you who's starving us to death! Is
it? Take this and this!' and I hit him so pat, stwaight on his
snout... 'Ah, what a... what...!' and I sta'ted fwashing him...
Well, I've had a bit of fun I can tell you!" cried Denisov, gleeful
and yet angry, his showing under his black mustache. "I'd have
killed him if they hadn't taken him away!"
"But what are you shouting for? Calm yourself," said Rostov. "You've
set your arm bleeding afresh. Wait, we must tie it up again."
Denisov was bandaged up again and put to bed. Next day he woke
calm and cheerful.
But at noon the adjutant of the regiment came into Rostov's and
Denisov's dugout with a grave and serious face and regretfully
showed them a paper addressed to Major Denisov from the regimental
commander in which inquiries were made about yesterday's occurrence.
The adjutant told them that the affair was likely to take a very bad
turn: that a court-martial had been appointed, and that in view of the
severity with which marauding and insubordination were now regarded,
degradation to the ranks would be the best that could be hoped for.
The case, as represented by the offended parties, was that, after
seizing the transports, Major Denisov, being drunk, went to the
chief quartermaster and without any provocation called him a thief,
threatened to strike him, and on being led out had rushed into the
office and given two officials a thrashing, and dislocated the arm
of one of them.
In answer to Rostov's renewed questions, Denisov said, laughing,
that he thought he remembered that some other fellow had got mixed
up in it, but that it was all nonsense and rubbish, and he did not
in the least fear any kind of trial, and that if those scoundrels
dared attack him he would give them an answer that they would not
Denisov spoke contemptuously of the whole matter, but Rostov knew
him too well not to detect that (while hiding it from others) at heart
he feared a court-martial and was worried over the affair, which was
evidently taking a bad turn. Every day, letters of inquiry and notices
from the court arrived, and on the first of May, Denisov was ordered
to hand the squadron over to the next in seniority and appear before
the staff of his division to explain his violence at the
commissariat office. On the previous day Platov reconnoitered with two
Cossack regiments and two squadrons of hussars. Denisov, as was his
wont, rode out in front of the outposts, parading his courage. A
bullet fired by a French sharpshooter hit him in the fleshy part of
his leg. Perhaps at another time Denisov would not have left the
regiment for so slight a wound, but now he took advantage of it to
excuse himself from appearing at the staff and went into hospital.
In June the battle of Friedland was fought, in which the
Pavlograds did not take part, and after that an armistice was
proclaimed. Rostov, who felt his friend's absence very much, having no
news of him since he left and feeling very anxious about his wound and
the progress of his affairs, took advantage of the armistice to get
leave to visit Denisov in hospital.
The hospital was in a small Prussian town that had been twice
devastated by Russian and French troops. Because it was summer, when
it is so beautiful out in the fields, the little town presented a
particularly dismal appearance with its broken roofs and fences, its
foul streets, tattered inhabitants, and the sick and drunken
soldiers wandering about.
The hospital was in a brick building with some of the window
frames and panes broken and a courtyard surrounded by the remains of a
wooden fence that had been pulled to pieces. Several bandaged
soldiers, with pale swollen faces, were sitting or walking about in
the sunshine in the yard.
Directly Rostov entered the door he was enveloped by a smell of
putrefaction and hospital air. On the stairs he met a Russian army
doctor smoking a cigar. The doctor was followed by a Russian
"I can't tear myself to pieces," the doctor was saying. "Come to
Makar Alexeevich in the evening. I shall be there."
The assistant asked some further questions.
"Oh, do the best you can! Isn't it all the same?" The doctor noticed
Rostov coming upstairs.
"What do you want, sir?" said the doctor. "What do you want? The
bullets having spared you, do you want to try typhus? This is a
"How so?" asked Rostov.
"Typhus, sir. It's death to go in. Only we two, Makeev and I" (he
pointed to the assistant), "keep on here. Some five of us doctors have
died in this place.... When a new one comes he is done for in a week,"
said the doctor with evident satisfaction. "Prussian doctors have been
invited here, but our allies don't like it at all."
Rostov explained that he wanted to see Major Denisov of the hussars,
who was wounded.
"I don't know. I can't tell you, sir. Only think! I am alone in
charge of three hospitals with more than four hundred patients! It's
well that the charitable Prussian ladies send us two pounds of
coffee and some lint each month or we should be lost!" he laughed.
"Four hundred, sir, and they're always sending me fresh ones. There
are four hundred? Eh?" he asked, turning to the assistant.
The assistant looked fagged out. He was evidently vexed and
impatient for the talkative doctor to go.
"Major Denisov," Rostov said again. "He was wounded at Molliten."
"Dead, I fancy. Eh, Makeev?" queried the doctor, in a tone of
The assistant, however, did not confirm the doctor's words.
"Is he tall and with reddish hair?" asked the doctor.
Rostov described Denisov's appearance.
"There was one like that," said the doctor, as if pleased. "That one
is dead, I fancy. However, I'll look up our list. We had a list.
Have you got it, Makeev?"
"Makar Alexeevich has the list," answered the assistant. "But if
you'll step into the officers' wards you'll see for yourself," he
added, turning to Rostov.
"Ah, you'd better not go, sir," said the doctor, "or you may have to
stay here yourself."
But Rostov bowed himself away from the doctor and asked the
assistant to show him the way.
"Only don't blame me!" the doctor shouted up after him.
Rostov and the assistant went into the dark corridor. The smell
was so strong there that Rostov held his nose and had to pause and
collect his strength before he could go on. A door opened to the
right, and an emaciated sallow man on crutches, barefoot and in
underclothing, limped out and, leaning against the doorpost, looked
with glittering envious eyes at those who were passing. Glancing in at
the door, Rostov saw that the sick and wounded were lying on the floor
on straw and overcoats.
"May I go in and look?"
"What is there to see?" said the assistant.
But, just because the assistant evidently did not want him to go in,
Rostov entered the soldiers' ward. The foul air, to which he had
already begun to get used in the corridor, was still stronger here. It
was a little different, more pungent, and one felt that this was where
In the long room, brightly lit up by the sun through the large
windows, the sick and wounded lay in two rows with their heads to
the walls, and leaving a passage in the middle. Most of them were
unconscious and paid no attention to the newcomers. Those who were
conscious raised themselves or lifted their thin yellow faces, and all
looked intently at Rostov with the same expression of hope, of relief,
reproach, and envy of another's health. Rostov went to the middle of
the room and looking through the open doors into the two adjoining
rooms saw the same thing there. He stood still, looking silently
around. He had not at all expected such a sight. Just before him,
almost across the middle of the passage on the bare floor, lay a
sick man, probably a Cossack to judge by the cut of his hair. The
man lay on his back, his huge arms and legs outstretched. His face was
purple, his eyes were rolled back so that only the whites were seen,
and on his bare legs and arms which were still red, the veins stood
out like cords. He was knocking the back of his head against the
floor, hoarsely uttering some word which he kept repeating. Rostov
listened and made out the word. It was "drink, drink, a drink!" Rostov
glanced round, looking for someone who would put this man back in
his place and bring him water.
"Who looks after the sick here?" he asked the assistant.
Just then a commissariat soldier, a hospital orderly, came in from
the next room, marching stiffly, and drew up in front of Rostov.
"Good day, your honor!" he shouted, rolling his eyes at Rostov and
evidently mistaking him for one of the hospital authorities.
"Get him to his place and give him some water," said Rostov,
pointing to the Cossack.
"Yes, your honor," the soldier replied complacently, and rolling his
eyes more than ever he drew himself up still straighter, but did not
"No, it's impossible to do anything here," thought Rostov,
lowering his eyes, and he was going out, but became aware of an
intense look fixed on him on his right, and he turned. Close to the
corner, on an overcoat, sat an old, unshaven, gray-bearded soldier
as thin as a skeleton, with a stern sallow face and eyes intently
fixed on Rostov. The man's neighbor on one side whispered something to
him, pointing at Rostov, who noticed that the old man wanted to
speak to him. He drew nearer and saw that the old man had only one leg
bent under him, the other had been amputated above the knee. His
neighbor on the other side, who lay motionless some distance from
him with his head thrown back, was a young soldier with a snub nose.
His pale waxen face was still freckled and his eyes were rolled
back. Rostov looked at the young soldier and a cold chill ran down his
"Why, this one seems..." he began, turning to the assistant.
"And how we've been begging, your honor," said the old soldier,
his jaw quivering. "He's been dead since morning. After all we're men,
"I'll send someone at once. He shall be taken away- taken away at
once," said the assistant hurriedly. "Let us go, your honor."
"Yes, yes, let us go," said Rostov hastily, and lowering his eyes
and shrinking, he tried to pass unnoticed between the rows of
reproachful envious eyes that were fixed upon him, and went out of the
Going along the corridor, the assistant led Rostov to the
officers' wards, consisting of three rooms, the doors of which stood
open. There were beds in these rooms and the sick and wounded officers
were lying or sitting on them. Some were walking about the rooms in
hospital dressing gowns. The first person Rostov met in the
officers' ward was a thin little man with one arm, who was walking
about the first room in a nightcap and hospital dressing gown, with
a pipe between his teeth. Rostov looked at him, trying to remember
where he had seen him before.
"See where we've met again!" said the little man. "Tushin, Tushin,
don't you remember, who gave you a lift at Schon Grabern? And I've had
a bit cut off, you see..." he went on with a smile, pointing to the
empty sleeve of his dressing gown. "Looking for Vasili Dmitrich
Denisov? My neighbor," he added, when he heard who Rostov wanted.
"Here, here," and Tushin led him into the next room, from whence
came sounds of several laughing voices.
"How can they laugh, or even live at all here?" thought Rostov,
still aware of that smell of decomposing flesh that had been so strong
in the soldiers' ward, and still seeming to see fixed on him those
envious looks which had followed him out from both sides, and the face
of that young soldier with eyes rolled back.
Denisov lay asleep on his bed with his head under the blanket,
though it was nearly noon.
"Ah, Wostov? How are you, how are you?" he called out, still in
the same voice as in the regiment, but Rostov noticed sadly that under
this habitual ease and animation some new, sinister, hidden feeling
showed itself in the expression of Denisov's face and the
intonations of his voice.
His wound, though a slight one, had not yet healed even now, six
weeks after he had been hit. His face had the same swollen pallor as
the faces of the other hospital patients, but it was not this that
struck Rostov. What struck him was that Denisov did not seem glad to
see him, and smiled at him unnaturally. He did not ask about the
regiment, nor about the general state of affairs, and when Rostov
spoke of these matters did not listen.
Rostov even noticed that Denisov did not like to be reminded of
the regiment, or in general of that other free life which was going on
outside the hospital. He seemed to try to forget that old life and was
only interested in the affair with the commissariat officers. On
Rostov's inquiry as to how the matter stood, he at once produced
from under his pillow a paper he had received from the commission
and the rough draft of his answer to it. He became animated when he
began reading his paper and specially drew Rostov's attention to the
stinging rejoinders he made to his enemies. His hospital companions,
who had gathered round Rostov- a fresh arrival from the world outside-
gradually began to disperse as soon as Denisov began reading his
answer. Rostov noticed by their faces that all those gentlemen had
already heard that story more than once and were tired of it. Only the
man who had the next bed, a stout Uhlan, continued to sit on his
bed, gloomily frowning and smoking a pipe, and little one-armed Tushin
still listened, shaking his head disapprovingly. In the middle of
the reading, the Uhlan interrupted Denisov.
"But what I say is," he said, turning to Rostov, "it would be best
simply to petition the Emperor for pardon. They say great rewards will
now be distributed, and surely a pardon would be granted...."
"Me petition the Empewo'!" exclaimed Denisov, in a voice to which he
tried hard to give the old energy and fire, but which sounded like
an expression of irritable impotence. "What for? If I were a wobber
I would ask mercy, but I'm being court-martialed for bwinging
wobbers to book. Let them twy me, I'm not afwaid of anyone. I've
served the Tsar and my countwy honowably and have not stolen! And am I
to be degwaded?... Listen, I'm w'iting to them stwaight. This is
what I say: 'If I had wobbed the Tweasuwy...'"
"It's certainly well written," said Tushin, "but that's not the
point, Vasili Dmitrich," and he also turned to Rostov. "One has to
submit, and Vasili Dmitrich doesn't want to. You know the auditor told
you it was a bad business.
"Well, let it be bad," said Denisov.
"The auditor wrote out a petition for you," continued Tushin, "and
you ought to sign it and ask this gentleman to take it. No doubt he"
(indicating Rostov) "has connections on the staff. You won't find a
"Haven't I said I'm not going to gwovel?" Denisov interrupted him,
went on reading his paper.
Rostov had not the courage to persuade Denisov, though he
instinctively felt that the way advised by Tushin and the other
officers was the safest, and though he would have been glad to be of
service to Denisov. He knew his stubborn will and straightforward
When the reading of Denisov's virulent reply, which took more than
an hour, was over, Rostov said nothing, and he spent the rest of the
day in a most dejected state of mind amid Denisov's hospital comrades,
who had round him, telling them what he knew and listening to their
stories. Denisov was moodily silent all the evening.
Late in the evening, when Rostov was about to leave, he asked
Denisov whether he had no commission for him.
"Yes, wait a bit," said Denisov, glancing round at the officers, and
taking his papers from under his pillow he went to the window, where
he had an inkpot, and sat down to write.
"It seems it's no use knocking one's head against a wall!" he
said, coming from the window and giving Rostov a large envelope. In it
was the petition to the Emperor drawn up by the auditor, in which
Denisov, without alluding to the offenses of the commissariat
officials, simply asked for pardon.
"Hand it in. It seems..."
He did not finish, but gave a painfully unnatural smile.
Having returned to the regiment and told the commander the state
of Denisov's affairs, Rostov rode to Tilsit with the letter to the
On the thirteenth of June the French and Russian Emperors arrived in
Tilsit. Boris Drubetskoy had asked the important personage on whom
he was in attendance, to include him in the suite appointed for the
stay at Tilsit.
"I should like to see the great man," he said, alluding to Napoleon,
whom hitherto he, like everyone else, had always called Buonaparte.
"You are speaking of Buonaparte?" asked the general, smiling.
Boris looked at his general inquiringly and immediately saw that
he was being tested.
"I am speaking, Prince, of the Emperor Napoleon," he replied. The
general patted him on the shoulder, with a smile.
"You will go far," he said, and took him to Tilsit with him.
Boris was among the few present at the Niemen on the day the two
Emperors met. He saw the raft, decorated with monograms, saw
Napoleon pass before the French Guards on the farther bank of the
river, saw the pensive face of the Emperor Alexander as he sat in
silence in a tavern on the bank of the Niemen awaiting Napoleon's
arrival, saw both Emperors get into boats, and saw how Napoleon-
reaching the raft first- stepped quickly forward to meet Alexander and
held out his hand to him, and how they both retired into the pavilion.
Since he had begun to move in the highest circles Boris had made it
his habit to watch attentively all that went on around him and to note
it down. At the time of the meeting at Tilsit he asked the names of
those who had come with Napoleon and about the uniforms they wore, and
listened attentively to words spoken by important personages. At the
moment the Emperors went into the pavilion he looked at his watch, and
did not forget to look at it again when Alexander came out. The
interview had lasted an hour and fifty-three minutes. He noted this
down that same evening, among other facts he felt to be of historic
importance. As the Emperor's suite was a very small one, it was a
matter of great importance, for a man who valued his success in the
service, to be at Tilsit on the occasion of this interview between the
two Emperors, and having succeeded in this, Boris felt that henceforth
his position was fully assured. He had not only become known, but
people had grown accustomed to him and accepted him. Twice he had
executed commissions to the Emperor himself, so that the latter knew
his face, and all those at court, far from cold-shouldering him as
at first when they considered him a newcomer, would now have been
surprised had he been absent.
Boris lodged with another adjutant, the Polish Count Zhilinski.
Zhilinski, a Pole brought up in Paris, was rich, and passionately fond
of the French, and almost every day of the stay at Tilsit, French
officers of the Guard and from French headquarters were dining and
lunching with him and Boris.
On the evening of the twenty-fourth of June, Count Zhilinski
arranged a supper for his French friends. The guest of honor was an
aide-de-camp of Napoleon's, there were also several French officers of
the Guard, and a page of Napoleon's, a young lad of an old
aristocratic French family. That same day, Rostov, profiting by the
darkness to avoid being recognized in civilian dress. came to Tilsit
and went to the lodging occupied by Boris and Zhilinski.
Rostov, in common with the whole army from which he came, was far
from having experienced the change of feeling toward Napoleon and
the French- who from being foes had suddenly become friends- that
had taken place at headquarters and in Boris. In the army, Bonaparte
and the French were still regarded with mingled feelings of anger,
contempt, and fear. Only recently, talking with one of Platov's
Cossack officers, Rostov had argued that if Napoleon were taken
prisoner he would be treated not as a sovereign, but as a criminal.
Quite lately, happening to meet a wounded French colonel on the
road, Rostov had maintained with heat that peace was impossible
between a legitimate sovereign and the criminal Bonaparte. Rostov
was therefore unpleasantly struck by the presence of French officers
in Boris' lodging, dressed in uniforms he had been accustomed to see
from quite a different point of view from the outposts of the flank.
As soon as he noticed a French officer, who thrust his head out of the
door, that warlike feeling of hostility which he always experienced at
the sight of the enemy suddenly seized him. He stopped at the
threshold and asked in Russian whether Drubetskoy lived there.
Boris, hearing a strange voice in the anteroom, came out to meet
him. An expression of annoyance showed itself for a moment on his face
on first recognizing Rostov.
"Ah, it's you? Very glad, very glad to see you," he said, however,
coming toward him with a smile. But Rostov had noticed his first
"I've come at a bad time I think. I should not have come, but I have
business," he said coldly.
"No, I only wonder how you managed to get away from your regiment.
Dans un moment je suis a vous,"* he said, answering someone who called
*"In a minute I shall be at your disposal."
"I see I'm intruding," Rostov repeated.
The look of annoyance had already disappeared from Boris' face:
having evidently reflected and decided how to act, he very quietly
took both Rostov's hands and led him into the next room. His eyes,
looking serenely and steadily at Rostov, seemed to be veiled by
something, as if screened by blue spectacles of conventionality. So it
seemed to Rostov.
"Oh, come now! As if you could come at a wrong time!" said Boris,
and he led him into the room where the supper table was laid and
introduced him to his guests, explaining that he was not a civilian,
but an hussar officer, and an old friend of his.
"Count Zhilinski- le Comte N. N.- le Capitaine S. S.," said he,
naming his guests. Rostov looked frowningly at the Frenchmen, bowed
reluctantly, and remained silent.
Zhilinski evidently did not receive this new Russian person very
willingly into his circle and did not speak to Rostov. Boris did not
appear to notice the constraint the newcomer produced and, with the
same pleasant composure and the same veiled look in his eyes with
which he had met Rostov, tried to enliven the conversation. One of the
Frenchmen, with the politeness characteristic of his countrymen,
addressed the obstinately taciturn Rostov, saying that the latter
had probably come to Tilsit to see the Emperor.
"No, I came on business," replied Rostov, briefly.
Rostov had been out of humor from the moment he noticed the look
of dissatisfaction on Boris' face, and as always happens to those in a
bad humor, it seemed to him that everyone regarded him with aversion
and that he was in everybody's way. He really was in their way, for he
alone took no part in the conversation which again became general. The
looks the visitors cast on him seemed to say: "And what is he
sitting here for?" He rose and went up to Boris.
"Anyhow, I'm in your way," he said in a low tone. "Come and talk
over my business and I'll go away."
"Oh, no, not at all," said Boris. "But if you are tired, come and
lie down in my room and have a rest."
They went into the little room where Boris slept. Rostov, without
sitting down, began at once, irritably (as if Boris were to blame in
some way) telling him about Denisov's affair, asking him whether,
through his general, he could and would intercede with the Emperor
on Denisov's behalf and get Denisov's petition handed in. When he
and Boris were alone, Rostov felt for the first time that he could not
look Boris in the face without a sense of awkwardness. Boris, with one
leg crossed over the other and stroking his left hand with the slender
fingers of his right, listened to Rostov as a general listens to the
report of a subordinate, now looking aside and now gazing straight
into Rostov's eyes with the same veiled look. Each time this
happened Rostov felt uncomfortable and cast down his eyes.
"I have heard of such cases and know that His Majesty is very severe
in such affairs. I think it would be best not to bring it before the
Emperor, but to apply to the commander of the corps.... But in
general, I think..."
"So you don't want to do anything? Well then, say so!" Rostov almost
shouted, not looking Boris in the face.
"On the contrary, I will do what I can. Only I thought..."
At that moment Zhilinski's voice was heard calling Boris.
"Well then, go, go, go..." said Rostov, and refusing supper and
remaining alone in the little room, he walked up and down for a long
time, hearing the lighthearted French conversation from the next room.
Rostov had come to Tilsit the day least suitable for a petition on
Denisov's behalf. He could not himself go to the general in attendance
as he was in mufti and had come to Tilsit without permission to do so,
and Boris, even had he wished to, could not have done so on the
following day. On that day, June 27, the preliminaries of peace were
signed. The Emperors exchanged decorations: Alexander received the
Cross of the Legion of Honor and Napoleon the Order of St. Andrew of
the First Degree, and a dinner had been arranged for the evening,
given by a battalion of the French Guards to the Preobrazhensk
battalion. The Emperors were to be present at that banquet.
Rostov felt so ill at ease and uncomfortable with Boris that, when
the latter looked in after supper, he pretended to be asleep, and
early next morning went away, avoiding Boris. In his civilian
clothes and a round hat, he wandered about the town, staring at the
French and their uniforms and at the streets and houses where the
Russian and French Emperors were staying. In a square he saw tables
being set up and preparations made for the dinner; he saw the
Russian and French colors draped from side to side of the streets,
with hugh monograms A and N. In the windows of the houses also flags
and bunting were displayed.
"Boris doesn't want to help me and I don't want to ask him. That's
settled," thought Nicholas. "All is over between us, but I won't leave
here without having done all I can for Denisov and certainly not
without getting his letter to the Emperor. The Emperor!... He is
here!" thought Rostov, who had unconsciously returned to the house
where Alexander lodged.
Saddled horses were standing before the house and the suite were
assembling, evidently preparing for the Emperor to come out.
"I may see him at any moment," thought Rostov. "If only I were to
hand the letter direct to him and tell him all... could they really
arrest me for my civilian clothes? Surely not! He would understand
on whose side justice lies. He understands everything, knows
everything. Who can be more just, more magnanimous than he? And even
if they did arrest me for being here, what would it matter?" thought
he, looking at an officer who was entering the house the Emperor
occupied. "After all, people do go in.... It's all nonsense! I'll go
in and hand the letter to the Emperor myself so much the worse for
Drubetskoy who drives me to it!" And suddenly with a determination
he himself did not expect, Rostov felt for the letter in his pocket
and went straight to the house.
"No, I won't miss my opportunity now, as I did after Austerlitz," he
thought, expecting every moment to meet the monarch, and conscious
of the blood that rushed to his heart at the thought. "I will fall
at his feet and beseech him. He will lift me up, will listen, and will
even thank me. 'I am happy when I can do good, but to remedy injustice
is the greatest happiness,'" Rostov fancied the sovereign saying.
And passing people who looked after him with curiosity, he entered the
porch of the Emperor's house.
A broad staircase led straight up from the entry, and to the right
he saw a closed door. Below, under the staircase, was a door leading
to the lower floor.
"Whom do you want?" someone inquired.
"To hand in a letter, a petition, to His Majesty," said Nicholas,
with a tremor in his voice.
"A petition? This way, to the officer on duty" (he was
shown the door leading downstairs), "only it won't be accepted."
On hearing this indifferent voice, Rostov grew frightened at what he
was doing; the thought of meeting the Emperor at any moment was so
fascinating and consequently so alarming that he was ready to run
away, but the official who had questioned him opened the door, and
A short stout man of about thirty, in white breeches and high
boots and a batiste shirt that he had evidently only just put on,
standing in that room, and his valet was buttoning on to the back of
his breeches a new pair of handsome silk-embroidered braces that,
for some reason, attracted Rostov's attention. This man was was
speaking to someone in the adjoining room.
"A good figure and in her first bloom," he was saying, but on seeing
Rostov, he stopped short and frowned.
"What is it? A petition?"
"What is it?" asked the person in the other room.
"Another petitioner," answered the man with the braces.
"Tell him to come later. He'll be coming out directly, we must go."
"Later... later! Tomorrow. It's too late..."
Rostov turned and was about to go, but the man in the braces stopped
"Whom have you come from? Who are you?"
"I come from Major Denisov," answered Rostov.
"Are you an officer?"
"Lieutenant Count Rostov."
"What audacity! Hand it in through your commander. And go along with
you... go," and he continued to put on the uniform the valet handed
Rostov went back into the hall and noticed that in the porch there
were many officers and generals in full parade uniform, whom he had to
Cursing his temerity, his heart sinking at the thought of finding
himself at any moment face to face with the Emperor and being put to
shame and arrested in his presence, fully alive now to the impropriety
of his conduct and repenting of it, Rostov, with downcast eyes, was
making his way out of the house through the brilliant suite when a
familiar voice called him and a hand detained him.
"What are you doing here, sir, in civilian dress?" asked a deep
It was a cavalry general who had obtained the Emperor's special
favor during this campaign, and who had formerly commanded the
division in which Rostov was serving.
Rostov, in dismay, began justifying himself, but seeing the
kindly, jocular face of the general, he took him aside and in an
excited voice told him the whole affair, asking him to intercede for
Denisov, whom the general knew. Having heard Rostov to the end, the
general shook his head gravely.
"I'm sorry, sorry for that fine fellow. Give me the letter."
Hardly had Rostov handed him the letter and finished explaining
Denisov's case, when hasty steps and the jingling of spurs were
heard on the stairs, and the general, leaving him, went to the
porch. The gentlemen of the Emperor's suite ran down the stairs and
went to their horses. Hayne, the same groom who had been at
Austerlitz, led up the Emperor's horse, and the faint creak of a
footstep Rostov knew at once was heard on the stairs. Forgetting the
danger of being recognized, Rostov went close to the porch, together
with some inquisitive civilians, and again, after two years, saw those
features he adored: that same face and same look and step, and the
same union of majesty and mildness.... And the feeling of enthusiasm
and love for his sovereign rose again in Rostov's soul in all its
old force. In the uniform of the Preobrazhensk regiment- white
chamois-leather breeches and high boots- and wearing a star Rostov did
not know (it was that of the Legion d'honneur), the monarch came out
into the porch, putting on his gloves and carrying his hat under his
arm. He stopped and looked about him, brightening everything around by
his glance. He spoke a few words to some of the generals, and,
recognizing the former commander of Rostov's division, smiled and
beckoned to him.
All the suite drew back and Rostov saw the general talking for
some time to the Emperor.
The Emperor said a few words to him and took a step toward his
horse. Again the crowd of members of the suite and street gazers
(among whom was Rostov) moved nearer to the Emperor. Stopping beside
his horse, with his hand on the saddle, the Emperor turned to the
cavalry general and said in a loud voice, evidently wishing to be
heard by all:
"I cannot do it, General. I cannot, because the law is stronger than
I," and he raised his foot to the stirrup.
The general bowed his head respectfully, and the monarch mounted and
rode down the street at a gallop. Beside himself with enthusiasm,
Rostov ran after him with the crowd.
The Emperor rode to the square where, facing one another, a
battalion of the Preobrazhensk regiment stood on the right and a
battalion of the French Guards in their bearskin caps on the left.
As the Tsar rode up to one flank of the battalions, which
presented arms, another group of horsemen galloped up to the
opposite flank, and at the head of them Rostov recognized Napoleon. It
could be no one else. He came at a gallop, wearing a small hat, a blue
uniform open over a white vest, and the St. Andrew ribbon over his
shoulder. He was riding a very fine thoroughbred gray Arab horse
with a crimson gold-embroidered saddlecloth. On approaching
Alexander he raised his hat, and as he did so, Rostov, with his
cavalryman's eye, could not help noticing that Napoleon did not sit
well or firmly in the saddle. The battalions shouted "Hurrah!" and
"Vive l'Empereur!" Napoleon said something to Alexander, and both
Emperors dismounted and took each other's hands. Napoleon's face
wore an unpleasant and artificial smile. Alexander was saying
something affable to him.
In spite of the trampling of the French gendarmes' horses, which
were pushing back the crowd, Rostov kept his eyes on every movement of
Alexander and Bonaparte. It struck him as a surprise that Alexander
treated Bonaparte as an equal and that the latter was quite at ease
with the Tsar, as if such relations with an Emperor were an everyday
matter to him.
Alexander and Napoleon, with the long train of their suites,
approached the right flank of the Preobrazhensk battalion and came
straight up to the crowd standing there. The crowd unexpectedly
found itself so close to the Emperors that Rostov, standing in the
front row, was afraid he might be recognized.
"Sire, I ask your permission to present the Legion of Honor to the
bravest of your soldiers," said a sharp, precise voice, articulating
This was said by the undersized Napoleon, looking up straight into
Alexander's eyes. Alexander listened attentively to what was said to
him and, bending his head, smiled pleasantly.
"To him who has borne himself most bravely in this last war,"
added Napoleon, accentuating each syllable, as with a composure and
assurance exasperating to Rostov, he ran his eyes over the Russian
ranks drawn up before him, who all presented arms with their eyes
fixed on their Emperor.
"Will Your Majesty allow me to consult the colonel?" said
Alexander and took a few hasty steps toward Prince Kozlovski, the
commander of the battalion.
Bonaparte meanwhile began taking the glove off his small white hand,
tore it in doing so, and threw it away. An aide-de-camp behind him
rushed forward and picked it up.
"To whom shall it be given?" the Emperor Alexander asked
Koslovski, in Russian in a low voice.
"To whomever Your Majesty commands."
The Emperor knit his brows with dissatisfaction and, glancing
"But we must give him an answer."
Kozlovski scanned the ranks resolutely and included Rostov in his
"Can it be me?" thought Rostov.
"Lazarev!" the colonel called, with a frown, and Lazarev, the
first soldier in the rank, stepped briskly forward.
"Where are you off to? Stop here!" voices whispered to Lazarev who
did not know where to go. Lazarev stopped, casting a sidelong look
at his colonel in alarm. His face twitched, as often happens to
soldiers called before the ranks.
Napoleon slightly turned his head, and put his plump little hand out
behind him as if to take something. The members of his suite, guessing
at once what he wanted, moved about and whispered as they passed
something from one to another, and a page- the same one Rostov had
seen the previous evening at Boris'- ran forward and, bowing
respectfully over the outstretched hand and not keeping it waiting a
moment, laid in it an Order on a red ribbon. Napoleon, without
looking, pressed two fingers together and the badge was between
them. Then he approached Lazarev (who rolled his eyes and persistently
gazed at his own monarch), looked round at the Emperor Alexander to
imply that what he was now doing was done for the sake of his ally,
and the small white hand holding the Order touched one of Lazarev's
buttons. It was as if Napoleon knew that it was only necessary for his
hand to deign to touch that soldier's breast for the soldier to be
forever happy, rewarded, and distinguished from everyone else in the
world. Napoleon merely laid the cross on Lazarev's breast and,
dropping his hand, turned toward Alexander as though sure that the
cross would adhere there. And it really did.
Officious hands, Russian and French, immediately seized the cross
and fastened it to the uniform. Lazarev glanced morosely at the little
man with white hands who was doing something to him and, still
standing motionless presenting arms, looked again straight into
Alexander's eyes, as if asking whether he should stand there, or go
away, or do something else. But receiving no orders, he remained for
some time in that rigid position.
The Emperors remounted and rode away. The Preobrazhensk battalion,
breaking rank, mingled with the French Guards and sat down at the
tables prepared for them.
Lazarev sat in the place of honor. Russian and French officers
embraced him, congratulated him, and pressed his hands. Crowds of
officers and civilians drew near merely to see him. A rumble of
Russian and French voices and laughter filled the air round the tables
in the square. Two officers with flushed faces, looking cheerful and
happy, passed by Rostov.
"What d'you think of the treat? All on silver plate," one of them
was saying. "Have you seen Lazarev?"
"Tomorrow, I hear, the Preobrazhenskis will give them a dinner."
"Yes, but what luck for Lazarev! Twelve hundred francs' pension
"Here's a cap, lads!" shouted a Preobrazhensk soldier, donning a
shaggy French cap.
"It's a fine thing! First-rate!"
"Have you heard the password?" asked one Guards' officer of another.
"The day before yesterday it was 'Napoleon, France, bravoure';
yesterday, 'Alexandre, Russie, grandeur.' One day our Emperor gives it
and next day Napoleon. Tomorrow our Emperor will send a St. George's
Cross to the bravest of the French Guards. It has to be done. He
must respond in kind."
Boris, too, with his friend Zhilinski, came to see the Preobrazhensk
banquet. On his way back, he noticed Rostov standing by the corner
of a house.
"Rostov! How d'you do? We missed one another," he said, and could
not refrain from asking what was the matter, so strangely dismal and
troubled was Rostov's face.
"Nothing, nothing," replied Rostov.
"You'll call round?"
"Yes, I will."
Rostov stood at that corner for a long time, watching the feast from
a distance. In his mind, a painful process was going on
which he could not bring to a conclusion. Terrible doubts rose in
his soul. Now he remembered Denisov with his changed expression, his
submission, and the whole hospital, with arms and legs torn off and
its dirt and disease. So vividly did he recall that hospital stench of
dead flesh that he looked round to see where the smell came from. Next
he thought of that self-satisfied Bonaparte, with his small white
hand, who was now an Emperor, liked and respected by Alexander. Then
why those severed arms and legs and those dead men?... Then again he
thought of Lazarev rewarded and Denisov punished and unpardoned. He
caught himself harboring such strange thoughts that he was frightened.
The smell of the food the Preobrazhenskis were eating and a sense of
hunger recalled him from these reflections; he had to get something to
eat before going away. He went to a hotel he had noticed that morning.
There he found so many people, among them officers who, like
himself, had come in civilian clothes, that he had difficulty in
getting a dinner. Two officers of his own division joined him. The
conversation naturally turned on the peace. The officers, his
comrades, like most of the army, were dissatisfied with the peace
concluded after the battle of Friedland. They said that had we held
out a little longer Napoleon would have been done for, as his troops
had neither provisions nor ammunition. Nicholas ate and drank (chiefly
the latter) in silence. He finished a couple of bottles of wine by
himself. The process in his mind went on tormenting him without
reaching a conclusion. He feared to give way to his thoughts, yet
could not get rid of them. Suddenly, on one of the officers' saying
that it was humiliating to look at the French, Rostov began shouting
with uncalled-for wrath, and therefore much to the surprise of the
"How can you judge what's best?" he cried, the blood suddenly
rushing to his face. "How can you judge the Emperor's actions? What
right have we to argue? We cannot comprehend either the Emperor's or
"But I never said a word about the Emperor!" said the officer,
justifying himself, and unable to understand Rostov's outburst, except
on the supposition that he was drunk.
But Rostov did not listen to him.
"We are not diplomatic officials, we are soldiers and nothing more,"
he went on. "If we are ordered to die, we must die. If we're punished,
it means that we have deserved it, it's not for us to judge. If the
Emperor pleases to recognize Bonaparte as Emperor and to conclude an
alliance with him, it means that that is the right thing to do. If
once we begin judging and arguing about everything, nothing sacred
will be left! That way we shall be saying there is no God- nothing!"
shouted Nicholas, banging the table- very little to the point as it
seemed to his listeners, but quite relevantly to the course of his own
"Our business is to do our duty, to fight and not to think! That's
all...." said he.
"And to drink," said one of the officers, not wishing to quarrel.
"Yes, and to drink," assented Nicholas. "Hullo there! Another
bottle!" he shouted.
In 1808 the Emperor Alexander went to Erfurt for a fresh interview
with the Emperor Napoleon, and in the upper circles of Petersburg
there was much talk of the grandeur of this important meeting.
In 1809 the intimacy between "the world's two arbiters," as Napoleon
and Alexander were called, was such that when Napoleon declared war on
Austria a Russian corps crossed the frontier to co-operate with our
old enemy Bonaparte against our old ally the Emperor of Austria, and
in court circles the possibility of marriage between Napoleon and
one of Alexander's sisters was spoken of. But besides considerations
of foreign policy, the attention of Russian society was at that time
keenly directed on the internal changes that were being undertaken
in all the departments of government.
Life meanwhile- real life, with its essential interests of health
and sickness, toil and rest, and its intellectual interests in
thought, science, poetry, music, love, friendship, hatred, and
passions- went on as usual, independently of and apart from
political friendship or enmity with Napoleon Bonaparte and from all
the schemes of reconstruction.
BOOK SIX: 1808 - 10
Prince Andrew had spent two years continuously in the country.
All the plans Pierre had attempted on his estates- and constantly
changing from one thing to another had never accomplished- were
carried out by Prince Andrew without display and without perceptible
He had in the highest degree a practical tenacity which Pierre
lacked, and without fuss or strain on his part this set things going.
On one of his estates the three hundred serfs were liberated and
became free agricultural laborers- this being one of the first
examples of the kind in Russia. On other estates the serfs' compulsory
labor was commuted for a quitrent. A trained midwife was engaged for
Bogucharovo at his expense, and a priest was paid to teach reading and
writing to the children of the peasants and household serfs.
Prince Andrew spent half his time at Bald Hills with his father
and his son, who was still in the care of nurses. The other half he
spent in "Bogucharovo Cloister," as his father called Prince
Andrew's estate. Despite the indifference to the affairs of the
world he had expressed to Pierre, he diligently followed all that went
on, received many books, and to his surprise noticed that when he or
his father had visitors from Petersburg, the very vortex of life,
these people lagged behind himself- who never left the country- in
knowledge of what was happening in home and foreign affairs.
Besides being occupied with his estates and reading a great
variety of books, Prince Andrew was at this time busy with a
critical of survey our last two unfortunate campaigns, and with
drawing up a proposal for a reform of the army rules and regulations.
In the spring of 1809 he went to visit the Ryazan estates which
had been inherited by his son, whose guardian he was.
Warmed by the spring sunshine he sat in the caleche looking at the
new grass, the first leaves on the birches, and the first puffs of
white spring clouds floating across the clear blue sky. He was not
thinking of anything, but looked absent-mindedly and cheerfully from
side to side.
They crossed the ferry where he had talked with Pierre the year
before. They went through the muddy village, past threshing floors and
green fields of winter rye, downhill where snow still lodged near
the bridge, uphill where the clay had been liquefied by the rain, past
strips of stubble land and bushes touched with green here and there,
and into a birch forest growing on both sides of the road. In the
forest it was almost hot, no wind could be felt. The birches with
their sticky green leaves were motionless, and lilac-colored flowers
and the first blades of green grass were pushing up and lifting last
year's leaves. The coarse evergreen color of the small fir trees
scattered here and there among the birches was an unpleasant
reminder of winter. On entering the forest the horses began to snort
and sweated visibly.
Peter the footman made some remark to the coachman; the latter
assented. But apparently the coachman's sympathy was not enough for
Peter, and he turned on the box toward his master.
"How pleasant it is, your excellency!" he said with a respectful
"It's pleasant, your excellency!"
"What is he talking about?" thought Prince Andrew. "Oh, the
spring, I suppose," he thought as he turned round. "Yes, really
everything is green already.... How early! The birches and cherry
and alders too are coming out.... But the oaks show no sign yet. Ah,
here is one oak!"
At the edge of the road stood an oak. Probably ten times the age of
the birches that formed the forest, it was ten times as thick and
twice as tall as they. It was an enormous tree, its girth twice as
great as a man could embrace, and evidently long ago some of its
branches had been broken off and its bark scarred. With its huge
ungainly limbs sprawling unsymmetrically, and its gnarled hands and
fingers, it stood an aged, stern, and scornful monster among the
smiling birch trees. Only the dead-looking evergreen firs dotted about
in the forest, and this oak, refused to yield to the charm of spring
or notice either the spring or the sunshine.
"Spring, love, happiness!" this oak seemed to say. "Are you not
weary of that stupid, meaningless, constantly repeated fraud? Always
the same and always a fraud? There is no spring, no sun, no happiness!
Look at those cramped dead firs, ever the same, and at me too,
sticking out my broken and barked fingers just where they have
grown, whether from my back or my sides: as they have grown so I
stand, and I do not believe in your hopes and your lies."
As he passed through the forest Prince Andrew turned several times
to look at that oak, as if expecting something from it. Under the oak,
too, were flowers and grass, but it stood among them scowling,
rigid, misshapen, and grim as ever.
"Yes, the oak is right, a thousand times right," thought Prince
Andrew. "Let others- the young- yield afresh to that fraud, but we
know life, our life is finished!"
A whole sequence of new thoughts, hopeless but mournfully
pleasant, rose in his soul in connection with that tree. During this
journey he, as it were, considered his life afresh and arrived at
his old conclusion, restful in its hopelessness: that it was not for
him to begin anything anew- but that he must live out his life,
content to do no harm, and not disturbing himself or desiring
Prince Andrew had to see the Marshal of the Nobility for the
district in connection with the affairs of the Ryazan estate of
which he was trustee. This Marshal was Count Ilya Rostov, and in the
middle of May Prince Andrew went to visit him.
It was now hot spring weather. The whole forest was already
clothed in green. It was dusty and so hot that on passing near water
one longed to bathe.
Prince Andrew, depressed and preoccupied with the business about
which he had to speak to the Marshal, was driving up the avenue in the
grounds of the Rostovs' house at Otradnoe. He heard merry girlish
cries behind some trees on the right and saw group of girls running to
cross the path of his caleche. Ahead of the rest and nearer to him ran
a dark-haired, remarkably slim, pretty girl in a yellow chintz
dress, with a white handkerchief on her head from under which loose
locks of hair escaped. The girl was shouting something but, seeing
that he was a stranger, ran back laughing without looking at him.
Suddenly, he did not know why, he felt a pang. The day was so
beautiful, the sun so bright, everything around so gay, but that
slim pretty girl did not know, or wish to know, of his existence and
was contented and cheerful in her own separate- probably foolish-
but bright and happy life. "What is she so glad about? What is she
thinking of? Not of the military regulations or of the arrangement
of the Ryazan serfs' quitrents. Of what is she thinking? Why is she so
happy?" Prince Andrew asked himself with instinctive curiosity.
In 1809 Count Ilya Rostov was living at Otradnoe just as he had done
in former years, that is, entertaining almost the whole province
with hunts, theatricals, dinners, and music. He was glad to see Prince
Andrew, as he was to see any new visitor, and insisted on his
staying the night.
During the dull day, in the course of which he was entertained by
his elderly hosts and by the more important of the visitors (the old
count's house was crowded on account of an approaching name day),
Prince Andrew repeatedly glanced at Natasha, gay and laughing among
the younger members of the company, and asked himself each time, "What
is she thinking about? Why is she so glad?"
That night, alone in new surroundings, he was long unable to
sleep. He read awhile and then put out his candle, but relit it. It
was hot in the room, the inside shutters of which were closed. He
was cross with the stupid old man (as he called Rostov), who had
made him stay by assuring him that some necessary documents had not
yet arrived from town, and he was vexed with himself for having
He got up and went to the window to open it. As soon as he opened
the shutters the moonlight, as if it had long been watching for
this, burst into the room. He opened the casement. The night was
fresh, bright, and very still. Just before the window was a row of
pollard trees, looking black on one side and with a silvery light on
the other. Beneath the trees grewsome kind of lush, wet, bushy
vegetation with silver-lit leaves and stems here and there. Farther
back beyond the dark trees a roof glittered with dew, to the right was
a leafy tree with brilliantly white trunk and branches, and above it
shone the moon, nearly at its full, in a pale, almost starless, spring
sky. Prince Andrew leaned his elbows on the window ledge and his
eyes rested on that sky.
His room was on the first floor. Those in the rooms above were
also awake. He heard female voices overhead.
"Just once more," said a girlish voice above him which Prince Andrew
recognized at once.
"But when are you coming to bed?" replied another voice.
"I won't, I can't sleep, what's the use? Come now for the last
Two girlish voices sang a musical passage- the end of some song.
"Oh, how lovely! Now go to sleep, and there's an end of it."
"You go to sleep, but I can't," said the first voice, coming
nearer to the window. She was evidently leaning right out, for the
rustle of her dress and even her breathing could be heard.
Everything was stone-still, like the moon and its light and the
shadows. Prince Andrew, too, dared not stir, for fear of betraying his
"Sonya! Sonya!" he again heard the first speaker. "Oh, how can you
sleep? Only look how glorious it is! Ah, how glorious! Do wake up,
Sonya!" she said almost with tears in her voice. "There never, never
was such a lovely night before!"
Sonya made some reluctant reply.
"Do just come and see what a moon!... Oh, how lovely! Come
here.... Darling, sweetheart, come here! There, you see? I feel like
sitting down on my heels, putting my arms round my knees like this,
straining tight, as tight as possible, and flying away! Like this...."
"Take care, you'll fall out."
He heard the sound of a scuffle and Sonya's disapproving voice:
"It's past one o'clock."
"Oh, you only spoil things for me. All right, go, go!"
Again all was silent, but Prince Andrew knew she was still sitting
there. From time to time he heard a soft rustle and at times a sigh.
"O God, O God! What does it mean?" she suddenly exclaimed. "To bed
then, if it must be!" and she slammed the casement.
"For her I might as well not exist!" thought Prince Andrew while
he listened to her voice, for some reason expecting yet fearing that
she might say something about him. "There she is again! As if it
were on purpose," thought he.
In his soul there suddenly arose such an unexpected turmoil of
youthful thoughts and hopes, contrary to the whole tenor of his
life, that unable to explain his condition to himself he lay down
and fell asleep at once.
Next morning, having taken leave of no one but the count, and not
waiting for the ladies to appear, Prince Andrew set off for home.
It was already the beginning of June when on his return journey he
drove into the birch forest where the gnarled old oak had made so
strange and memorable an impression on him. In the forest the
harness bells sounded yet more muffled than they had done six weeks
before, for now all was thick, shady, and dense, and the young firs
dotted about in the forest did not jar on the general beauty but,
lending themselves to the mood around, were delicately green with
fluffy young shoots.
The whole day had been hot. Somewhere a storm was gathering, but
only a small cloud had scattered some raindrops lightly, sprinkling
the road and the sappy leaves. The left side of the forest was dark in
the shade, the right side glittered in the sunlight, wet and shiny and
scarcely swayed by the breeze. Everything was in blossom, the
nightingales trilled, and their voices reverberated now near, now
"Yes, here in this forest was that oak with which I agreed," thought
Prince Andrew. "But where is it?" he again wondered, gazing at the
left side of the road, and without recognizing it he looked with
admiration at the very oak he sought. The old oak, quite transfigured,
spreading out a canopy of sappy dark-green foliage, stood rapt and
slightly trembling in the rays of the evening sun. Neither gnarled
fingers nor old scars nor old doubts and sorrows were any of them in
evidence now. Through the hard century-old bark, even where there were
no twigs, leaves had sprouted such as one could hardly believe the old
veteran could have produced.
"Yes, it is the same oak," thought Prince Andrew, and all at once he
was seized by an unreasoning springtime feeling of joy and renewal.
All the best moments of his life suddenly rose to his memory.
Austerlitz with the lofty heavens, his wife's dead reproachful face,
Pierre at the ferry, that girl thrilled by the beauty of the night,
and that night itself and the moon, and.... all this rushed suddenly
to his mind.
"No, life is not over at thirty-one!" Prince Andrew suddenly decided
finally and decisively. "It is not enough for me to know what I have
in me- everyone must know it: Pierre, and that young girl who wanted
to fly away into the sky, everyone must know me, so that my life may
not be lived for myself alone while others live so apart from it,
but so that it may be reflected in them all, and they and I may live
On reaching home Prince Andrew decided to go to Petersburg that
autumn and found all sorts of reasons for this decision. A whole
serics of sensible and logical considerations showing it to be
essential for him to go to Petersburg, and even to re-enter the
service, kept springing up in his mind. He could not now understand
how he could ever even have doubted the necessity of taking an
active share in life, just as a month before he had not understood how
the idea of leaving the quiet country could ever enter his head. It
now seemed clear to him that all his experience of life must be
senselessly wasted unless he applied it to some kind of work and again
played an active part in life. He did not even remember how
formerly, on the strength of similar wretched logical arguments, it
had seemed obvious that he would be degrading himself if he now, after
the lessons he had had in life, allowed himself to believe in the
possibility of being useful and in the possibility of happiness or
love. Now reason suggested quite the opposite. After that journey to
Ryazan he found the country dull; his former pursuits no longer
interested him, and often when sitting alone in his study he got up,
went to the mirror, and gazed a long time at his own face. Then he
would turn away to the portrait of his dead Lise, who with hair curled
a la grecque looked tenderly and gaily at him out of the gilt frame.
She did not now say those former terrible words to him, but looked
simply, merrily, and inquisitively at him. And Prince Andrew, crossing
his arms behind him, long paced the room, now frowning, now smiling,
as he reflected on those irrational, inexpressible thoughts, secret as
a crime, which altered his whole life and were connected with
Pierre, with fame, with the girl at the window, the oak, and woman's
beauty and love. And if anyone came into his room at such moments he
was particularly cold, stern, and above all unpleasantly logical.
"My dear," Princess Mary entering at such a moment would say,
"little Nicholas can't go out today, it's very cold."
"If it were hot," Prince Andrew would reply at such times very dryly
to his sister, "he could go out in his smock, but as it is cold he
must wear warm clothes, which were designed for that purpose. That
is what follows from the fact that it is cold; and not that a child
who needs fresh air should remain at home," he would add with
extreme logic, as if punishing someone for those secret illogical
emotions that stirred within him.
At such moments Princess Mary would think how intellectual work
dries men up.
Prince Andrew arrived in Petersburg in August, 1809. It was the time
when the youthful Speranski was at the zenith of his fame and his
reforms were being pushed forward with the greatest energy. That
same August the Emperor was thrown from his caleche, injured his
leg, and remained three weeks at Peterhof, receiving Speranski every
day and no one else. At that time the two famous decrees were being
prepared that so agitated society- abolishing court ranks and
introducing examinations to qualify for the grades of Collegiate
Assessor and State Councilor- and not merely these but a whole state
constitution, intended to change the existing order of government in
Russia: legal, administrative, and financial, from the Council of
State down to the district tribunals. Now those vague liberal dreams
with which the Emperor Alexander had ascended the throne, and which he
had tried to put into effect with the aid of his associates,
Czartoryski, Novosiltsev, Kochubey, and Strogonov- whom he himself
in jest had called his Comite de salut public- were taking shape and
Now all these men were replaced by Speranski on the civil side,
and Arakcheev on the military. Soon after his arrival Prince Andrew,
as a gentleman of the chamber, presented himself at court and at a
levee. The Emperor, though he met him twice, did not favor him with
a single word. It had always seemed to Prince Andrew before that he
was antipathetic to the Emperor and that the latter disliked his
face and personality generally, and in the cold, repellent glance
the Emperor gave him, he now found further confirmation of this
surmise. The courtiers explained the Emperor's neglect of him by His
Majesty's displeasure at Bolkonski's not having served since 1805.
"I know myself that one cannot help one's sympathies and
antipathies," thought Prince Andrew, "so it will not do to present
my proposal for the reform of the army regulations to the Emperor
personally, but the project will speak for itself."
He mentioned what he had written to an old field marshal, a friend
of his father's. The field marshal made an appointment to see him,
received him graciously, and promised to inform the Emperor. A few
days later Prince Andrew received notice that he was to go to see
the Minister of War, Count Arakcheev.
On the appointed day Prince Andrew entered Count Arakcheev's waiting
room at nine in the morning.
He did not know Arakcheev personally, had never seen him, and all he
had heard of him inspired him with but little respect for the man.
"He is Minister of War, a man trusted by the Emperor, and I need not
concern myself about his personal qualities: he has been
commissioned to consider my project, so he alone can get it
adopted," thought Prince Andrew as he waited among a number of
important and unimportant people in Count Arakcheev's waiting room.
During his service, chiefly as an adjutant, Prince Andrew had seen
the anterooms of many important men, and the different types of such
rooms were well known to him. Count Arakcheev's anteroom had quite a
special character. The faces of the unimportant people awaiting
their turn for an audience showed embarrassment and servility; the
faces of those of higher rank expressed a common feeling of
awkwardness, covered by a mask of unconcern and ridicule of
themselves, their situation, and the person for whom they were
waiting. Some walked thoughtfully up and down, others whispered and
laughed. Prince Andrew heard the nickname "Sila Andreevich" and the
words, "Uncle will give it to us hot," in reference to Count
Arakcheev. One general (an important personage), evidently feeling
offended at having to wait so long, sat crossing and uncrossing his
legs and smiling contemptuously to himself.
But the moment the door opened one feeling alone appeared on all
faces- that of fear. Prince Andrew for the second time asked the
adjutant on duty to take in his name, but received an ironical look
and was told that his turn would come in due course. After some others
had been shown in and out of the minister's room by the adjutant on
duty, an officer who struck Prince Andrew by his humiliated and
frightened air was admitted at that terrible door. This officer's
audience lasted a long time. Then suddenly the grating sound of a
harsh voice was heard from the other side of the door, and the
officer- with pale face and trembling lips- came out and passed
through the waiting room, clutching his head.
After this Prince Andrew was conducted to the door and the officer
on duty said in a whisper, "To the right, at the window."
Prince Andrew entered a plain tidy room and saw at the table a man
of forty with a long waist, a long closely cropped head, deep
wrinkles, scowling brows above dull greenish-hazel eyes and an
overhanging red nose. Arakcheev turned his head toward him without
looking at him.
"What is your petition?" asked Arakcheev.
"I am not petitioning, your excellency," returned Prince Andrew
Arakcheev's eyes turned toward him.
"Sit down," said he. "Prince Bolkonski?"
"I am not petitioning about anything. His Majesty the Emperor has
deigned to send your excellency a project submitted by me..."
"You see, my dear sir, I have read your project," interrupted
Arakcheev, uttering only the first words amiably and then- again
without looking at Prince Andrew- relapsing gradually into a tone of
grumbling contempt. "You are proposing new military laws? There are
many laws but no one to carry out the old ones. Nowadays everybody
designs laws, it is easier writing than doing."
"I came at His Majesty the Emperor's wish to learn from your
excellency how you propose to deal with the memorandum I have
presented," said Prince Andrew politely.
"I have endorsed a resolution on your memorandum and sent it to
the committee. I do not approve of it," said Arakcheev, rising and
taking a paper from his writing table. "Here!" and he handed it to
Across the paper was scrawled in pencil, without capital letters,
misspelled, and without punctuation: "Unsoundly constructed because
resembles an imitation of the French military code and from the
Articles of War needlessly deviating."
"To what committee has the memorandum been referred?" inquired
"To the Committee on Army Regulations, and I have recommended that
your honor should be appointed a member, but without a salary."
Prince Andrew smiled.
"I don't want one."
"A member without salary," repeated Arakcheev. "I have the
honor... Eh! Call the next one! Who else is there?" he shouted, bowing
to Prince Andrew.
While waiting for the announcement of his appointment to the
committee Prince Andrew looked up his former acquaintances,
particularly those he knew to be in power and whose aid he might need.
In Petersburg he now experienced the same feeling he had had on the
eve of a battle, when troubled by anxious curiosity and irresistibly
attracted to the ruling circles where the future, on which the fate of
millions depended, was being shaped. From the irritation of the
older men, the curiosity of the uninitiated. the reserve of the
initiated, the hurry and preoccupation of everyone, and the
innumerable committees and commissions of whose existence he learned
every day, he felt that now, in 1809, here in Petersburg a vast
civil conflict was in preparation, the commander in chief of which was
a mysterious person he did not know, but who was supposed to be a
man of genius- Speranski. And this movement of reconstruction of which
Prince Andrew had a vague idea, and Speranski its chief promoter,
began to interest him so keenly that the question of the army
regulations quickly receded to a secondary place in his consciousness.
Prince Andrew was most favorably placed to secure good reception
in the highest and most diverse Petersburg circles of the day. The
reforming party cordially welcomed and courted him, the first place
because he was reputed to be clever and very well read, and secondly
because by liberating his serfs he had obtained the reputation of
being a liberal. The party of the old and dissatisfied, who censured
the innovations, turned to him expecting his sympathy in their
disapproval of the reforms, simply because he was the son of his
father. The feminine society world welcomed him gladly, because he was
rich, distinguished, a good match, and almost a newcomer, with a
halo of romance on account of his supposed death and the tragic loss
of his wife. Besides this the general opinion of all who had known him
previously was that he had greatly improved during these last five
years, having softened and grown more manly, lost his former
affectation, pride, and contemptuous irony, and acquired the
serenity that comes with years. People talked about him, were
interested in him, and wanted to meet him.
The day after his interview with Count Arakcheev, Prince Andrew
spent the evening at Count Kochubey's. He told the count of his
interview with Sila Andreevich (Kochubey spoke of Arakcheev by that
nickname with the same vague irony Prince Andrew had noticed in the
Minister of War's anteroom).
"Mon cher, even in this case you can't do without Michael
Mikhaylovich Speranski. He manages everything. I'll speak to him. He
has promised to come this evening."
"What has Speranski to do with the army regulations?" asked Prince
Kochubey shook his head smilingly, as if surprised at Bolkonski's
"We were talking to him about you a few days ago," Kochubey
continued, "and about your freed plowmen."
"Oh, is it you, Prince, who have freed your serfs?" said an old
man of Catherine's day, turning contemptuously toward Bolkonski.
"It was a small estate that brought in no profit," replied Prince
Andrew, trying to extenuate his action so as not to irritate the old
"Afraid of being late..." said the old man, looking at Kochubey.
"There's one thing I don't understand," he continued. "Who will plow
the land if they are set free? It is easy to write laws, but difficult
to rule.... Just the same as now- I ask you, Count- who will be
heads of the departments when everybody has to pass examinations?"
"Those who pass the examinations, I suppose," replied Kochubey,
crossing his legs and glancing round.
"Well, I have Pryanichnikov serving under me, a splendid man, a
priceless man, but he's sixty. Is he to go up for examination?"
"Yes, that's a difficulty, as education is not at all general,
Count Kochubey did not finish. He rose, took Prince Andrew by the
arm, and went to meet a tall, bald, fair man of about forty with a
large open forehead and a long face of unusual and peculiar whiteness,
who was just entering. The newcomer wore a blue swallow-tail coat with
a cross suspended from his neck and a star on his left breast. It
was Speranski. Prince Andrew recognized him at once, and felt a
throb within him, as happens at critical moments of life. Whether it
was from respect, envy, or anticipation, he did not know.
Speranski's whole figure was of a peculiar type that made him easily
recognizable. In the society in which Prince Andrew lived he had never
seen anyone who together with awkward and clumsy gestures possessed
such calmness and self-assurance; he had never seen so resolute yet
gentle an expression as that in those half-closed, rather humid
eyes, or so firm a smile that expressed nothing; nor had he heard such
a refined, smooth, soft voice; above all he had never seen such
delicate whiteness of face or hands- hands which were broad, but
very plump, soft, and white. Such whiteness and softness Prince Andrew
had only seen on the faces of soldiers who had been long in
hospital. This was Speranski, Secretary of State, reporter to the
Emperor and his companion at Erfurt, where he had more than once met
and talked with Napoleon.
Speranski did not shift his eyes from one face to another as
people involuntarily do on entering a large company and was in no
hurry to speak. He spoke slowly, with assurance that he would be
listened to, and he looked only at the person with whom he was
Prince Andrew followed Speranski's every word and movement with
particular attention. As happens to some people, especially to men who
judge those near to them severely, he always on meeting anyone new-
especially anyone whom, like Speranski, he knew by reputation-
expected to discover in him the perfection of human qualities.
Speranski told Kochubey he was sorry he had been unable to come
sooner as he had been detained at the palace. He did not say that
the Emperor had kept him, and Prince Andrew noticed this affectation
of modesty. When Kochubey introduced Prince Andrew, Speranski slowly
turned his eyes to Bolkonski with his customary smile and looked at
him in silence.
"I am very glad to make your acquaintance. I had heard of you, as
everyone has," he said after a pause.
Kochubey said a few words about the reception Arakcheev had given
Bolkonski. Speranski smiled more markedly.
"The chairman of the Committee on Army Regulations is my good friend
Monsieur Magnitski," he said, fully articulating every word and
syllable, "and if you like I can put you in touch with him." He paused
at the full stop. "I hope you will find him sympathetic and ready to
co-operate in promoting all that is reasonable."
A circle soon formed round Speranski, and the old man who had talked
about his subordinate Pryanichnikov addressed a question to him.
Prince Andrew without joining in the conversation watched every
movement of Speranski's: this man, not long since an insignificant
divinity student, who now, Bolkonski thought, held in his hands- those
plump white hands- the fate of Russia. Prince Andrew was struck by the
extraordinarily disdainful composure with which Speranski answered the
old man. He appeared to address condescending words to him from an
immeasurable height. When the old man began to speak too loud,
Speranski smiled and said he could not judge of the advantage or
disadvantage of what pleased the sovereign.
Having talked for a little while in the general circle, Speranski
rose and coming up to Prince Andrew took him along to the other end of
the room. It was clear that he thought it necessary to interest
himself in Bolkonski.
"I had no chance to talk with you, Prince, during the animated
conversation in which that venerable gentleman involved me," he said
with a mildly contemptuous smile, as if intimating by that smile
that he and Prince Andrew understood the insignificance of the
people with whom he had just been talking. This flattered Prince
Andrew. "I have known of you for a long time: first from your action
with regard to your serfs, a first example, of which it is very
desirable that there should be more imitators; and secondly because
you are one of those gentlemen of the chamber who have not
considered themselves offended by the new decree concerning the
ranks allotted to courtiers, which is causing so much gossip and
"No," said Prince Andrew, "my father did not wish me to take
advantage of the privilege. I began the service from the lower grade."
"Your father, a man of the last century, evidently stands above
our contemporaries who so condemn this measure which merely
reestablishes natural justice."
"I think, however, that these condemnations have some ground,"
returned Prince Andrew, trying to resist Speranski's influence, of
which he began to be conscious. He did not like to agree with him in
everything and felt a wish to contradict. Though he usually spoke
easily and well, he felt a difficulty in expressing himself now
while talking with Speranski. He was too much absorbed in observing
the famous man's personality.
"Grounds of personal ambition maybe," Speranski put in quietly.
"And of state interest to some extent," said Prince Andrew.
"What do you mean?" asked Speranski quietly, lowering his eyes.
"I am an admirer of Montesquieu," replied Prince Andrew, "and his
idea that le principe des monarchies est l'honneur me parait
incontestable. Certains droits et privileges de la noblesse me
paraissent etre des moyens de soutenir ce sentiment."*
*"The principle of monarchies is honor seems to me incontestable.
Certain rights and privileges for the aristocracy appear to me a means
of maintaining that sentiment."
The smile vanished from Speranski's white face, which was much
improved by the change. Probably Prince Andrew's thought interested
"Si vous envisagez la question sous ce point de vue,"* he began,
pronouncing French with evident difficulty, and speaking even slower
than in Russian but quite calmly.
*"If you regard the question from that point of view."
Speranski went on to say that honor, l'honeur, cannot be upheld by
privileges harmful to the service; that honor, l'honneur, is either
a negative concept of not doing what is blameworthy or it is a
source of emulation in pursuit of commendation and rewards, which
recognize it. His arguments were concise, simple, and clear.
"An institution upholding honor, the source of emulation, is one
similar to the Legion d'honneur of the great Emperor Napoleon, not
harmful but helpful to the success of the service, but not a class
or court privilege."
"I do not dispute that, but it cannot be denied that court
privileges have attained the same end," returned Prince Andrew. "Every
courtier considers himself bound to maintain his position worthily."
"Yet you do not care to avail yourself of the privilege, Prince,"
said Speranski, indicating by a smile that he wished to finish amiably
an argument which was embarrassing for his companion. "If you will
do me the honor of calling on me on Wednesday," he added, "I will,
after talking with Magnitski, let you know what may interest you,
and shall also have the pleasure of a more detailed chat with you."
Closing his eyes, he bowed a la francaise, without taking leave, and
trying to attract as little attention as possible, he left the room.
During the first weeks of his stay in Petersburg Prince Andrew
felt the whole trend of thought he had formed during his life of
seclusion quite overshadowed by the trifling cares that engrossed
him in that city.
On returning home in the evening he would jot down in his notebook
four or five necessary calls or appointments for certain hours. The
mechanism of life, the arrangement of the day so as to be in time
everywhere, absorbed the greater part of his vital energy. He did
nothing, did not even think or find time to think, but only talked,
and talked successfully, of what he had thought while in the country.
He sometimes noticed with dissatisfaction that he repeated the
same remark on the same day in different circles. But he was so busy
for whole days together that he had no time to notice that he was
thinking of nothing.
As he had done on their first meeting at Kochubey's, Speranski
produced a strong impression on Prince Andrew on the Wednesday, when
he received him tete-a-tate at his own house and talked to him long
To Bolkonski so many people appeared contemptible and
insignificant creatures, and he so longed to find in someone the
living ideal of that perfection toward which he strove, that he
readily believed that in Speranski he had found this ideal of a
perfectly rational and virtuous man. Had Speranski sprung from the
same class as himself and possessed the same breeding and
traditions, Bolkonski would soon have discovered his weak, human,
unheroic sides; but as it was, Speranski's strange and logical turn of
mind inspired him with respect all the more because he did not quite
understand him. Moreover, Speranski, either because he appreciated the
other's capacity or because he considered it necessary to win him to
his side, showed off his dispassionate calm reasonableness before
Prince Andrew and flattered him with that subtle flattery which goes
hand in hand with self-assurance and consists in a tacit assumption
that one's companion is the only man besides oneself capable of
understanding the folly of the rest of mankind and the
reasonableness and profundity of one's own ideas.
During their long conversation on Wednesday evening, Speranski
more than once remarked: "We regard everything that is above the
common level of rooted custom..." or, with a smile: "But we want the
wolves to be fed and the sheep to be safe..." or: "They cannot
understand this..." and all in a way that seemed to say: "We, you
and I, understand what they are and who we are."
This first long conversation with Speranski only strengthened in
Prince Andrew the feeling he had experienced toward him at their first
meeting. He saw in him a remarkable, clear-thinking man of vast
intellect who by his energy and persistence had attained power,
which he was using solely for the welfare of Russia. In Prince
Andrew's eyes Speranski was the man he would himself have wished to
be- one who explained all the facts of life reasonably, considered
important only what was rational, and was capable of applying the
standard of reason to everything. Everything seemed so simple and
clear in Speranski's exposition that Prince Andrew involuntarily
agreed with him about everything. If he replied and argued, it was
only because he wished to maintain his independence and not submit
to Speranski's opinions entirely. Everything was right and
everything was as it should be: only one thing disconcerted Prince
Andrew. This was Speranski's cold, mirrorlike look, which did not
allow one to penetrate to his soul, and his delicate white hands,
which Prince Andrew involuntarily watched as one does watch the
hands of those who possess power. This mirrorlike gaze and those
delicate hands irritated Prince Andrew, he knew not why. He was
unpleasantly struck, too, by the excessive contempt for others that he
observed in Speranski, and by the diversity of lines of argument he
used to support his opinions. He made use of every kind of mental
device, except analogy, and passed too boldly, it seemed to Prince
Andrew, from one to another. Now he would take up the position of a
practical man and condemn dreamers; now that of a satirist, and
laugh ironically at his opponents; now grow severely logical, or
suddenly rise to the realm of metaphysics. (This last resource was one
he very frequently employed.) He would transfer a question to
metaphysical heights, pass on to definitions of space, time, and
thought, and, having deduced the refutation he needed, would again
descend to the level of the original discussion.
In general the trait of Speranski's mentality which struck Prince
Andrew most was his absolute and unshakable belief in the power and
authority of reason. It was evident that the thought could never occur
to him which to Prince Andrew seemed so natural, namely, that it is
after all impossible to express all one thinks; and that he had
never felt the doubt, "Is not all I think and believe nonsense?" And
it was just this peculiarity of Speranski's mind that particularly
attracted Prince Andrew.
During the first period of their acquaintance Bolkonski felt a
passionate admiration for him similar to that which he had once felt
for Bonaparte. The fact that Speranski was the son of a village
priest, and that stupid people might meanly despise him on account
of his humble origin (as in fact many did), caused Prince Andrew to
cherish his sentiment for him the more, and unconsciously to
On that first evening Bolkonski spent with him, having mentioned the
Commission for the Revision of the Code of Laws, Speranski told him
sarcastically that the Commission had existed for a hundred and
fifty years, had cost millions, and had done nothing except that
Rosenkampf had stuck labels on the corresponding paragraphs of the
"And that is all the state has for the millions it has spent,"
said he. "We want to give the Senate new juridical powers, but we have
no laws. That is why it is a sin for men like you, Prince, not to
serve in these times!"
Prince Andrew said that for that work an education in
jurisprudence was needed which he did not possess.
"But nobody possesses it, so what would you have? It is a vicious
circle from which we must break a way out."
A week later Prince Andrew was a member of the Committee on Army
Regulations and- what he had not at all expected- was chairman of a
section of the committee for the revision of the laws. At
Speranski's request he took the first part of the Civil Code that
was being drawn up and, with the aid of the Code Napoleon and the
Institutes of Justinian, he worked at formulating the section on
Nearly two years before this, in 1808, Pierre on returning to
Petersburg after visiting his estates had involuntarily found
himself in a leading position among the Petersburg Freemasons. He
arranged dining and funeral lodge meetings, enrolled new members,
and busied himself uniting various lodges and acquiring authentic
charters. He gave money for the erection of temples and supplemented
as far as he could the collection of alms, in regard to which the
majority of members were stingy and irregular. He supported almost
singlehanded a poorhouse the order had founded in Petersburg.
His life meanwhile continued as before, with the same infatuations
and dissipations. He liked to dine and drink well, and though he
considered it immoral and humiliating could not resist the temptations
of the bachelor circles in which he moved.
Amid the turmoil of his activities and distractions, however, Pierre
at the end of a year began to feel that the more firmly he tried to
rest upon it, the more Masonic ground on which he stood gave way under
him. At the same time he felt that the deeper the ground sank under
him the closer bound he involuntarily became to the order. When he had
joined the Freemasons he had experienced the feeling of one who
confidently steps onto the smooth surface of a bog. When he put his
foot down it sank in. To make quite sure of the firmness the ground,
he put his other foot down and sank deeper still, became stuck in
it, and involuntarily waded knee-deep in the bog.
Joseph Alexeevich was not in Petersburg- he had of late stood
aside from the affairs of the Petersburg lodges, and lived almost
entirely in Moscow. All the members of the lodges were men Pierre knew
in ordinary life, and it was difficult for him to regard them merely
as Brothers in Freemasonry and not as Prince B. or Ivan Vasilevich D.,
whom he knew in society mostly as weak and insignificant men. Under
the Masonic aprons and insignia he saw the uniforms and decorations at
which they aimed in ordinary life. Often after collecting alms, and
reckoning up twenty to thirty rubles received for the most part in
promises from a dozen members, of whom half were as well able to pay
as himself, Pierre remembered the Masonic vow in which each Brother
promised to devote all his belongings to his neighbor, and doubts on
which he tried not to dwell arose in his soul.
He divided the Brothers he knew into four categories. In the first
he put those who did not take an active part in the affairs of the
lodges or in human affairs, but were exclusively occupied with the
mystical science of the order: with questions of the threefold
designation of God, the three primordial elements- sulphur, mercury,
and salt- or the meaning of the square and all the various figures
of the temple of Solomon. Pierre respected this class of Brothers to
which the elder ones chiefly belonged, including, Pierre thought,
Joseph Alexeevich himself, but he did not share their interests. His
heart was not in the mystical aspect of Freemasonry.
In the second category Pierre reckoned himself and others like
him, seeking and vacillating, who had not yet found in Freemasonry a
straight and comprehensible path, but hoped to do so.
In the third category he included those Brothers (the majority)
who saw nothing in Freemasonry but the external forms and
ceremonies, and prized the strict performance of these forms without
troubling about their purport or significance. Such were Willarski and
even the Grand Master of the principal lodge.
Finally, to the fourth category also a great many Brothers belonged,
particularly those who had lately joined. These according to
Pierre's observations were men who had no belief in anything, nor
desire for anything, but joined the Freemasons merely to associate
with the wealthy young Brothers who were influential through their
connections or rank, and of whom there were very many in the lodge.
Pierre began to feel dissatisfied with what he was doing.
Freemasonry, at any rate as he saw it here, sometimes seemed to him
based merely on externals. He did not think of doubting Freemasonry
itself, but suspected that Russian Masonry had taken a wrong path
and deviated from its original principles. And so toward the end of
the year he went abroad to be initiated into the higher secrets of the
In the summer of 1809 Pierre returned to Petersburg. Our
Freemasons knew from correspondence with those abroad that Bezukhov
had obtained the confidence of many highly placed persons, had been
initiated into many mysteries, had been raised to a higher grade,
and was bringing back with him much that might conduce to the
advantage of the Masonic cause in Russia. The Petersburg Freemasons
all came to see him, tried to ingratiate themselves with him, and it
seemed to them all that he was preparing something for them and
A solemn meeting of the lodge of the second degree was convened,
at which Pierre promised to communicate to the Petersburg Brothers
what he had to deliver to them from the highest leaders of their
order. The meeting was a full one. After the usual ceremonies Pierre
rose and began his address.
"Dear Brothers," he began, blushing and stammering, with a written
speech in his hand, "it is not sufficient to observe our mysteries
in the seclusion of our lodge- we must act- act! We are drowsing,
but we must act." Pierre raised his notebook and began to read.
"For the dissemination of pure truth and to secure the triumph of
virtue," he read, "we must cleanse men from prejudice, diffuse
principles in harmony with the spirit of the times, undertake the
education of the young, unite ourselves in indissoluble bonds with the
wisest men, boldly yet prudently overcome superstitions, infidelity,
and folly, and form of those devoted to us a body linked together by
unity of purpose and possessed of authority and power.
"To attain this end we must secure a preponderance of virtue over
vice and must endeavor to secure that the honest man may, even in this
world, receive a lasting reward for his virtue. But in these great
endeavors we are gravely hampered by the political institutions of
today. What is to be done in these circumstances? To favor
revolutions, overthrow everything, repel force by force?... No! We are
very far from that. Every violent reform deserves censure, for it
quite fails to remedy evil while men remain what they are, and also
because wisdom needs no violence.
"The whole plan of our order should be based on the idea of
preparing men of firmness and virtue bound together by unity of
conviction- aiming at the punishment of vice and folly, and
patronizing talent and virtue: raising worthy men from the dust and
attaching them to our Brotherhood. Only then will our order have the
power unobtrusively to bind the hands of the protectors of disorder
and to control them without their being aware of it. In a word, we
must found a form of government holding universal sway, which should
be diffused over the whole world without destroying the bonds of
citizenship, and beside which all other governments can continue in
their customary course and do everything except what impedes the great
aim of our order, which is to obtain for virtue the victory over vice.
This aim was that of Christianity itself. It taught men to be wise and
good and for their own benefit to follow the example and instruction
of the best and wisest men.
"At that time, when everything was plunged in darkness, preaching
alone was of course sufficient. The novelty of Truth endowed her
with special strength, but now we need much more powerful methods.
It is now necessary that man, governed by his senses, should find in
virtue a charm palpable to those senses. It is impossible to eradicate
the passions; but we must strive to direct them to a noble aim, and it
is therefore necessary that everyone should be able to satisfy his
passions within the limits of virtue. Our order should provide means
to that end.
"As soon as we have a certain number of worthy men in every state,
each of them again training two others and all being closely united,
everything will be possible for our order, which has already in secret
accomplished much for the welfare of mankind."
This speech not only made a strong impression, but created
excitement in the lodge. The majority of the Brothers, seeing in it
dangerous designs of Illuminism,* met it with a coldness that
surprised Pierre. The Grand Master began answering him, and Pierre
began developing his views with more and more warmth. It was long
since there had been so stormy a meeting. Parties were formed, some
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