War and Peace

Book IX, Chapters 21-23


After the definite refusal he had received, Petya went to his room and there locked himself in and wept bitterly. When he came in to tea, silent, morose, and with tear-stained face, everybody pretended not to notice anything.

Next day the Emperor arrived in Moscow, and several of the Rostovs' domestic serfs begged permission to go to have a look at him. That morning Petya was a long time dressing and arranging his hair and collar to look like a grown-up man. He frowned before his looking glass, gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and finally, without saying a word to anyone, took his cap and left the house by the back door, trying to avoid notice. Petya decided to go straight to where the Emperor was and to explain frankly to some gentleman-in-waiting (he imagined the Emperor to be always surrounded by gentlemen-in-waiting) that he, Count Rostov, in spite of his youth wished to serve his country; that youth could be no hindrance to loyalty, and that he was ready to... While dressing, Petya had prepared many fine things he meant to say to the gentleman-in-waiting.

It was on the very fact of being so young that Petya counted for success in reaching the Emperor--he even thought how surprised everyone would be at his youthfulness--and yet in the arrangement of his collar and hair and by his sedate deliberate walk he wished to appear a grown-up man. But the farther he went and the more his attention was diverted by the ever-increasing crowds moving toward the Kremlin, the less he remembered to walk with the sedateness and deliberation of a man. As he approached the Kremlin he even began to avoid being crushed and resolutely stuck out his elbows in a menacing way. But within the Trinity Gateway he was so pressed to the wall by people who probably were unaware of the patriotic intentions with which he had come that in spite of all his determination he had to give in, and stop while carriages passed in, rumbling beneath the archway. Beside Petya stood a peasant woman, a footman, two tradesmen, and a discharged soldier. After standing some time in the gateway, Petya tried to move forward in front of the others without waiting for all the carriages to pass, and he began resolutely working his way with his elbows, but the woman just in front of him, who was the first against whom he directed his efforts, angrily shouted at him:

"What are you shoving for, young lordling? Don't you see we're all standing still? Then why push?"

"Anybody can shove," said the footman, and also began working his elbows to such effect that he pushed Petya into a very filthy corner of the gateway.

Petya wiped his perspiring face with his hands and pulled up the damp collar which he had arranged so well at home to seem like a man's.

He felt that he no longer looked presentable, and feared that if he were now to approach the gentlemen-in-waiting in that plight he would not be admitted to the Emperor. But it was impossible to smarten oneself up or move to another place, because of the crowd. One of the generals who drove past was an acquaintance of the Rostovs', and Petya thought of asking his help, but came to the conclusion that that would not be a manly thing to do. When the carriages had all passed in, the crowd, carrying Petya with it, streamed forward into the Kremlin Square which was already full of people. There were people not only in the square, but everywhere--on the slopes and on the roofs. As soon as Petya found himself in the square he clearly heard the sound of bells and the joyous voices of the crowd that filled the whole Kremlin.

For a while the crowd was less dense, but suddenly all heads were bared, and everyone rushed forward in one direction. Petya was being pressed so that he could scarcely breathe, and everybody shouted, "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" Petya stood on tiptoe and pushed and pinched, but could see nothing except the people about him.

All the faces bore the same expression of excitement and enthusiasm. A tradesman's wife standing beside Petya sobbed, and the tears ran down her cheeks.

"Father! Angel! Dear one!" she kept repeating, wiping away her tears with her fingers.

"Hurrah!" was heard on all sides.

For a moment the crowd stood still, but then it made another rush forward.

Quite beside himself, Petya, clinching his teeth and rolling his eyes ferociously, pushed forward, elbowing his way and shouting "hurrah!" as if he were prepared that instant to kill himself and everyone else, but on both sides of him other people with similarly ferocious faces pushed forward and everybody shouted "hurrah!"

"So this is what the Emperor is!" thought Petya. "No, I can't petition him myself--that would be too bold." But in spite of this he continued to struggle desperately forward, and from between the backs of those in front he caught glimpses of an open space with a strip of red cloth spread out on it; but just then the crowd swayed back--the police in front were pushing back those who had pressed too close to the procession: the Emperor was passing from the palace to the Cathedral of the Assumption--and Petya unexpectedly received such a blow on his side and ribs and was squeezed so hard that suddenly everything grew dim before his eyes and he lost consciousness. When he came to himself, a man of clerical appearance with a tuft of gray hair at the back of his head and wearing a shabby blue cassock--probably a church clerk and chanter--was holding him under the arm with one hand while warding off the pressure of the crowd with the other.

"You've crushed the young gentleman!" said the clerk. "What are you up to? Gently!... They've crushed him, crushed him!"

The Emperor entered the Cathedral of the Assumption. The crowd spread out again more evenly, and the clerk led Petya--pale and breathless--to the Tsar-cannon. Several people were sorry for Petya, and suddenly a crowd turned toward him and pressed round him. Those who stood nearest him attended to him, unbuttoned his coat, seated him on the raised platform of the cannon, and reproached those others (whoever they might be) who had crushed him.

"One might easily get killed that way! What do they mean by it? Killing people! Poor dear, he's as white as a sheet!"--various voices were heard saying.

Petya soon came to himself, the color returned to his face, the pain had passed, and at the cost of that temporary unpleasantness he had obtained a place by the cannon from where he hoped to see the Emperor who would be returning that way. Petya no longer thought of presenting his petition. If he could only see the Emperor he would be happy!

While the service was proceeding in the Cathedral of the Assumption- it was a combined service of prayer on the occasion of the Emperor's arrival and of thanksgiving for the conclusion of peace with the Turks--the crowd outside spread out and hawkers appeared, selling kvas, gingerbread, and poppyseed sweets (of which Petya was particularly fond), and ordinary conversation could again be heard. A tradesman's wife was showing a rent in her shawl and telling how much the shawl had cost; another was saying that all silk goods had now got dear. The clerk who had rescued Petya was talking to a functionary about the priests who were officiating that day with the bishop. The clerk several times used the word "plenary" (of the service), a word Petya did not understand. Two young citizens were joking with some serf girls who were cracking nuts. All these conversations, especially the joking with the girls, were such as might have had a particular charm for Petya at his age, but they did not interest him now. He sat on his elevation--the pedestal of the cannon--still agitated as before by the thought of the Emperor and by his love for him. The feeling of pain and fear he had experienced when he was being crushed, together with that of rapture, still further intensified his sense of the importance of the occasion.

Suddenly the sound of a firing of cannon was heard from the embankment, to celebrate the signing of peace with the Turks, and the crowd rushed impetuously toward the embankment to watch the firing. Petya too would have run there, but the clerk who had taken the young gentleman under his protection stopped him. The firing was still proceeding when officers, generals, and gentlemen-in-waiting came running out of the cathedral, and after them others in a more leisurely manner: caps were again raised, and those who had run to look at the cannon ran back again. At last four men in uniforms and sashes emerged from the cathedral doors. "Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the crowd again.

"Which is he? Which?" asked Petya in a tearful voice, of those around him, but no one answered him, everybody was too excited; and Petya, fixing on one of those four men, whom he could not clearly see for the tears of joy that filled his eyes, concentrated all his enthusiasm on him--though it happened not to be the Emperor- frantically shouted "Hurrah!" and resolved that tomorrow, come what might, he would join the army.

The crowd ran after the Emperor, followed him to the palace, and began to disperse. It was already late, and Petya had not eaten anything and was drenched with perspiration, yet he did not go home but stood with that diminishing, but still considerable, crowd before the palace while the Emperor dined--looking in at the palace windows, expecting he knew not what, and envying alike the notables he saw arriving at the entrance to dine with the Emperor and the court footmen who served at table, glimpses of whom could be seen through the windows.

While the Emperor was dining, Valuev, looking out of the window, said:

"The people are still hoping to see Your Majesty again."

The dinner was nearly over, and the Emperor, munching a biscuit, rose and went out onto the balcony. The people, with Petya among them, rushed toward the balcony.

"Angel! Dear one! Hurrah! Father!..." cried the crowd, and Petya with it, and again the women and men of weaker mold, Petya among them, wept with joy.

A largish piece of the biscuit the Emperor was holding in his hand broke off, fell on the balcony parapet, and then to the ground. A coachman in a jerkin, who stood nearest, sprang forward and snatched it up. Several people in the crowd rushed at the coachman. Seeing this the Emperor had a plateful of biscuits brought him and began throwing them down from the balcony. Petya's eyes grew bloodshot, and still more excited by the danger of being crushed, he rushed at the biscuits. He did not know why, but he had to have a biscuit from the Tsar's hand and he felt that he must not give way. He sprang forward and upset an old woman who was catching at a biscuit; the old woman did not consider herself defeated though she was lying on the ground--she grabbed at some biscuits but her hand did not reach them. Petya pushed her hand away with his knee, seized a biscuit, and as if fearing to be too late, again shouted "Hurrah!" with a voice already hoarse.

The Emperor went in, and after that the greater part of the crowd began to disperse.

"There! I said if only we waited--and so it was!" was being joyfully said by various people.

Happy as Petya was, he felt sad at having to go home knowing that all the enjoyment of that day was over. He did not go straight home from the Kremlin, but called on his friend Obolenski, who was fifteen and was also entering the regiment. On returning home Petya announced resolutely and firmly that if he was not allowed to enter the service he would run away. And next day, Count Ilya Rostov--though he had not yet quite yielded--went to inquire how he could arrange for Petya to serve where there would be least danger.


Two days later, on the fifteenth of July, an immense number of carriages were standing outside the Sloboda Palace.

The great halls were full. In the first were the nobility and gentry in their uniforms, in the second bearded merchants in full-skirted coats of blue cloth and wearing medals. In the noblemen's hall there was an incessant movement and buzz of voices. The chief magnates sat on high-backed chairs at a large table under the portrait of the Emperor, but most of the gentry were strolling about the room.

All these nobles, whom Pierre met every day at the Club or in their own houses, were in uniform--some in that of Catherine's day, others in that of Emperor Paul, others again in the new uniforms of Alexander's time or the ordinary uniform of the nobility, and the general characteristic of being in uniform imparted something strange and fantastic to these diverse and familiar personalities, both old and young. The old men, dim-eyed, toothless, bald, sallow, and bloated, or gaunt and wrinkled, were especially striking. For the most part they sat quietly in their places and were silent, or, if they walked about and talked, attached themselves to someone younger. On all these faces, as on the faces of the crowd Petya had seen in the Square, there was a striking contradiction: the general expectation of a solemn event, and at the same time the everyday interests in a boston card party, Peter the cook, Zinaida Dmitrievna's health, and so on.

Pierre was there too, buttoned up since early morning in a nobleman's uniform that had become too tight for him. He was agitated; this extraordinary gathering not only of nobles but also of the merchant-class--les etats generaux (States-General)--evoked in him a whole series of ideas he had long laid aside but which were deeply graven in his soul: thoughts of the Contrat social and the French Revolution. The words that had struck him in the Emperor's appeal- that the sovereign was coming to the capital for consultation with his people--strengthened this idea. And imagining that in this direction something important which he had long awaited was drawing near, he strolled about watching and listening to conversations, but nowhere finding any confirmation of the ideas that occupied him.

The Emperor's manifesto was read, evoking enthusiasm, and then all moved about discussing it. Besides the ordinary topics of conversation, Pierre heard questions of where the marshals of the nobility were to stand when the Emperor entered, when a ball should be given in the Emperor's honor, whether they should group themselves by districts or by whole provinces... and so on; but as soon as the war was touched on, or what the nobility had been convened for, the talk became undecided and indefinite. Then all preferred listening to speaking.

A middle-aged man, handsome and virile, in the uniform of a retired naval officer, was speaking in one of the rooms, and a small crowd was pressing round him. Pierre went up to the circle that had formed round the speaker and listened. Count Ilya Rostov, in a military uniform of Catherine's time, was sauntering with a pleasant smile among the crowd, with all of whom he was acquainted. He too approached that group and listened with a kindly smile and nods of approval, as he always did, to what the speaker was saying. The retired naval man was speaking very boldly, as was evident from the expression on the faces of the listeners and from the fact that some people Pierre knew as the meekest and quietest of men walked away disapprovingly or expressed disagreement with him. Pierre pushed his way into the middle of the group, listened, and convinced himself that the man was indeed a liberal, but of views quite different from his own. The naval officer spoke in a particularly sonorous, musical, and aristocratic baritone voice, pleasantly swallowing his r's and generally slurring his consonants: the voice of a man calling out to his servant, "Heah! Bwing me my pipe!" It was indicative of dissipation and the exercise of authority.

"What if the Smolensk people have offahd to waise militia for the Empewah? Ah we to take Smolensk as our patte'n? If the noble awistocwacy of the pwovince of Moscow thinks fit, it can show its loyalty to our sov'weign the Empewah in other ways. Have we fo'gotten the waising of the militia in the yeah 'seven? All that did was to enwich the pwiests' sons and thieves and wobbahs...."

Count Ilya Rostov smiled blandly and nodded approval.

"And was our militia of any use to the Empia? Not at all! It only wuined our farming! Bettah have another conscwiption... o' ou' men will wetu'n neithah soldiers no' peasants, and we'll get only depwavity fwom them. The nobility don't gwudge theah lives--evewy one of us will go and bwing in more wecwuits, and the sov'weign" (that was the way he referred to the Emperor) "need only say the word and we'll all die fo' him!" added the orator with animation.

Count Rostov's mouth watered with pleasure and he nudged Pierre, but Pierre wanted to speak himself. He pushed forward, feeling stirred, but not yet sure what stirred him or what he would say. Scarcely had he opened his mouth when one of the senators, a man without a tooth in his head, with a shrewd though angry expression, standing near the first speaker, interrupted him. Evidently accustomed to managing debates and to maintaining an argument, he began in low but distinct tones:

"I imagine, sir," said he, mumbling with his toothless mouth, "that we have been summoned here not to discuss whether it's best for the empire at the present moment to adopt conscription or to call out the militia. We have been summoned to reply to the appeal with which our sovereign the Emperor has honored us. But to judge what is best--conscription or the militia--we can leave to the supreme authority...."

Pierre suddenly saw an outlet for his excitement. He hardened his heart against the senator who was introducing this set and narrow attitude into the deliberations of the nobility. Pierre stepped forward and interrupted him. He himself did not yet know what he would say, but he began to speak eagerly, occasionally lapsing into French or expressing himself in bookish Russian.

"Excuse me, your excellency," he began. (He was well acquainted with the senator, but thought it necessary on this occasion to address him formally.) "Though I don't agree with the gentleman..." (he hesitated: he wished to say, "Mon tres honorable preopinant"--"My very honorable opponent") "with the gentleman... whom I have not the honor of knowing, I suppose that the nobility have been summoned not merely to express their sympathy and enthusiasm but also to consider the means by which we can assist our Fatherland! I imagine," he went on, warming to his subject, "that the Emperor himself would not be satisfied to find in us merely owners of serfs whom we are willing to devote to his service, and chair a canon* we are ready to make of ourselves--and not to obtain from us any co-co-counsel."

*"Food for cannon."

Many persons withdrew from the circle, noticing the senator's sarcastic smile and the freedom of Pierre's remarks. Only Count Rostov was pleased with them as he had been pleased with those of the naval officer, the senator, and in general with whatever speech he had last heard.

"I think that before discussing these questions," Pierre continued, "we should ask the Emperor--most respectfully ask His Majesty--to let us know the number of our troops and the position in which our army and our forces now are, and then..."

But scarcely had Pierre uttered these words before he was attacked from three sides. The most vigorous attack came from an old acquaintance, a boston player who had always been well disposed toward him, Stepan Stepanovich Adraksin. Adraksin was in uniform, and whether as a result of the uniform or from some other cause Pierre saw before him quite a different man. With a sudden expression of malevolence on his aged face, Adraksin shouted at Pierre:

"In the first place, I tell you we have no right to question the Emperor about that, and secondly, if the Russian nobility had that right, the Emperor could not answer such a question. The troops are moved according to the enemy's movements and the number of men increases and decreases..."

Another voice, that of a nobleman of medium height and about forty years of age, whom Pierre had formerly met at the gypsies' and knew as a bad cardplayer, and who, also transformed by his uniform, came up to Pierre, interrupted Adraksin.

"Yes, and this is not a time for discussing," he continued, "but for acting: there is war in Russia! The enemy is advancing to destroy Russia, to desecrate the tombs of our fathers, to carry off our wives and children." The nobleman smote his breast. "We will all arise, every one of us will go, for our father the Tsar!" he shouted, rolling his bloodshot eyes. Several approving voices were heard in the crowd. "We are Russians and will not grudge our blood in defense of our faith, the throne, and the Fatherland! We must cease raving if we are sons of our Fatherland! We will show Europe how Russia rises to the defense of Russia!"

Pierre wished to reply, but could not get in a word. He felt that his words, apart from what meaning they conveyed, were less audible than the sound of his opponent's voice.

Count Rostov at the back of the crowd was expressing approval; several persons, briskly turning a shoulder to the orator at the end of a phrase, said:

"That's right, quite right! Just so!"

Pierre wished to say that he was ready to sacrifice his money, his serfs, or himself, only one ought to know the state of affairs in order to be able to improve it, but he was unable to speak. Many voices shouted and talked at the same time, so that Count Rostov had not time to signify his approval of them all, and the group increased, dispersed, re-formed, and then moved with a hum of talk into the largest hall and to the big table. Not only was Pierre's attempt to speak unsuccessful, but he was rudely interrupted, pushed aside, and people turned away from him as from a common enemy. This happened not because they were displeased by the substance of his speech, which had even been forgotten after the many subsequent speeches, but to animate it the crowd needed a tangible object to love and a tangible object to hate. Pierre became the latter. Many other orators spoke after the excited nobleman, and all in the same tone. Many spoke eloquently and with originality.

Glinka, the editor of the Russian Messenger, who was recognized (cries of "author! author!" were heard in the crowd), said that "hell must be repulsed by hell," and that he had seen a child smiling at lightning flashes and thunderclaps, but "we will not be that child."

"Yes, yes, at thunderclaps!" was repeated approvingly in the back rows of the crowd.

The crowd drew up to the large table, at which sat gray-haired or bald seventy-year-old magnates, uniformed and besashed almost all of whom Pierre had seen in their own homes with their buffoons, or playing boston at the clubs. With an incessant hum of voices the crowd advanced to the table. Pressed by the throng against the high backs of the chairs, the orators spoke one after another and sometimes two together. Those standing behind noticed what a speaker omitted to say and hastened to supply it. Others in that heat and crush racked their brains to find some thought and hastened to utter it. The old magnates, whom Pierre knew, sat and turned to look first at one and then at another, and their faces for the most part only expressed the fact that they found it very hot. Pierre, however, felt excited, and the general desire to show that they were ready to go to all lengths--which found expression in the tones and looks more than in the substance of the speeches--infected him too. He did not renounce his opinions, but felt himself in some way to blame and wished to justify himself.

"I only said that it would be more to the purpose to make sacrifices when we know what is needed!" said he, trying to be heard above the other voices.

One of the old men nearest to him looked round, but his attention was immediately diverted by an exclamation at the other side of the table.

"Yes, Moscow will be surrendered! She will be our expiation!" shouted one man.

"He is the enemy of mankind!" cried another. "Allow me to speak...." "Gentlemen, you are crushing me!..."


At that moment Count Rostopchin with his protruding chin and alert eyes, wearing the uniform of a general with sash over his shoulder, entered the room, stepping briskly to the front of the crowd of gentry.

"Our sovereign the Emperor will be here in a moment," said Rostopchin. "I am straight from the palace. Seeing the position we are in, I think there is little need for discussion. The Emperor has deigned to summon us and the merchants. Millions will pour forth from there"--he pointed to the merchants' hall--"but our business is to supply men and not spare ourselves... That is the least we can do!"

A conference took place confined to the magnates sitting at the table. The whole consultation passed more than quietly. After all the preceding noise the sound of their old voices saying one after another, "I agree," or for variety, "I too am of that opinion," and so on had even a mournful effect.

The secretary was told to write down the resolution of the Moscow nobility and gentry, that they would furnish ten men, fully equipped, out of every thousand serfs, as the Smolensk gentry had done. Their chairs made a scraping noise as the gentlemen who had conferred rose with apparent relief, and began walking up and down, arm in arm, to stretch their legs and converse in couples.

"The Emperor! The Emperor!" a sudden cry resounded through the halls and the whole throng hurried to the entrance.

The Emperor entered the hall through a broad path between two lines of nobles. Every face expressed respectful, awe-struck curiosity. Pierre stood rather far off and could not hear all that the Emperor said. From what he did hear he understood that the Emperor spoke of the danger threatening the empire and of the hopes he placed on the Moscow nobility. He was answered by a voice which informed him of the resolution just arrived at.

"Gentlemen!" said the Emperor with a quivering voice.

There was a rustling among the crowd and it again subsided, so that Pierre distinctly heard the pleasantly human voice of the Emperor saying with emotion:

"I never doubted the devotion of the Russian nobles, but today it has surpassed my expectations. I thank you in the name of the Fatherland! Gentlemen, let us act! Time is most precious..."

The Emperor ceased speaking, the crowd began pressing round him, and rapturous exclamations were heard from all sides.

"Yes, most precious... a royal word," said Count Rostov, with a sob. He stood at the back, and, though he had heard hardly anything, understood everything in his own way.

From the hall of the nobility the Emperor went to that of the merchants. There he remained about ten minutes. Pierre was among those who saw him come out from the merchants' hall with tears of emotion in his eyes. As became known later, he had scarcely begun to address the merchants before tears gushed from his eyes and he concluded in a trembling voice. When Pierre saw the Emperor he was coming out accompanied by two merchants, one of whom Pierre knew, a fat otkupshchik. The other was the mayor, a man with a thin sallow face and narrow beard. Both were weeping. Tears filled the thin man's eyes, and the fat otkupshchik sobbed outright like a child and kept repeating:

"Our lives and property--take them, Your Majesty!"

Pierre's one feeling at the moment was a desire to show that he was ready to go all lengths and was prepared to sacrifice everything. He now felt ashamed of his speech with its constitutional tendency and sought an opportunity of effacing it. Having heard that Count Mamonov was furnishing a regiment, Bezukhov at once informed Rostopchin that he would give a thousand men and their maintenance.

Old Rostov could not tell his wife of what had passed without tears, and at once consented to Petya's request and went himself to enter his name.

Next day the Emperor left Moscow. The assembled nobles all took off their uniforms and settled down again in their homes and clubs, and not without some groans gave orders to their stewards about the enrollment, feeling amazed themselves at what they had done.