Though Balashev was used to imperial pomp, he was amazed at the luxury and magnificence of Napoleon's court.
The Comte de Turenne showed him into a big reception room where many generals, gentlemen-in-waiting, and Polish magnates--several of whom Balashev had seen at the court of the Emperor of Russia--were waiting. Duroc said that Napoleon would receive the Russian general before going for his ride.
After some minutes, the gentleman-in-waiting who was on duty came into the great reception room and, bowing politely, asked Balashev to follow him.
Balashev went into a small reception room, one door of which led into a study, the very one from which the Russian Emperor had dispatched him on his mission. He stood a minute or two, waiting. He heard hurried footsteps beyond the door, both halves of it were opened rapidly; all was silent and then from the study the sound was heard of other steps, firm and resolute--they were those of Napoleon. He had just finished dressing for his ride, and wore a blue uniform, opening in front over a white waistcoat so long that it covered his rotund stomach, white leather breeches tightly fitting the fat thighs of his short legs, and Hessian boots. His short hair had evidently just been brushed, but one lock hung down in the middle of his broad forehead. His plump white neck stood out sharply above the black collar of his uniform, and he smelled of Eau de Cologne. His full face, rather young-looking, with its prominent chin, wore a gracious and majestic expression of imperial welcome.
He entered briskly, with a jerk at every step and his head slightly thrown back. His whole short corpulent figure with broad thick shoulders, and chest and stomach involuntarily protruding, had that imposing and stately appearance one sees in men of forty who live in comfort. It was evident, too, that he was in the best of spirits that day.
He nodded in answer to Balashav's low and respectful bow, and coming up to him at once began speaking like a man who values every moment of his time and does not condescend to prepare what he has to say but is sure he will always say the right thing and say it well.
"Good day, General!" said he. "I have received the letter you brought from the Emperor Alexander and am very glad to see you." He glanced with his large eyes into Balashav's face and immediately looked past him.
It was plain that Balashev's personality did not interest him at all. Evidently only what took place within his own mind interested him. Nothing outside himself had any significance for him, because everything in the world, it seemed to him, depended entirely on his will.
"I do not, and did not, desire war," he continued, "but it has been forced on me. Even now" (he emphasized the word) "I am ready to receive any explanations you can give me."
And he began clearly and concisely to explain his reasons for dissatisfaction with the Russian government. Judging by the calmly moderate and amicable tone in which the French Emperor spoke, Balashev was firmly persuaded that he wished for peace and intended to enter into negotiations.
When Napoleon, having finished speaking, looked inquiringly at the Russian envoy, Balashev began a speech he had prepared long before: "Sire! The Emperor, my master..." but the sight of the Emperor's eyes bent on him confused him. "You are flurried--compose yourself!" Napoleon seemed to say, as with a scarcely perceptible smile he looked at Balashev's uniform and sword.
Balashev recovered himself and began to speak. He said that the Emperor Alexander did not consider Kurakin's demand for his passports a sufficient cause for war; that Kurakin had acted on his own initiative and without his sovereign's assent, that the Emperor Alexander did not desire war, and had no relations with England.
"Not yet!" interposed Napoleon, and, as if fearing to give vent to his feelings, he frowned and nodded slightly as a sign that Balashev might proceed.
After saying all he had been instructed to say, Balashev added that the Emperor Alexander wished for peace, but would not enter into negotiations except on condition that... Here Balashev hesitated: he remembered the words the Emperor Alexander had not written in his letter, but had specially inserted in the rescript to Saltykov and had told Balashev to repeat to Napoleon. Balashev remembered these words, "So long as a single armed foe remains on Russian soil," but some complex feeling restrained him. He could not utter them, though he wished to do so. He grew confused and said: "On condition that the French army retires beyond the Niemen."
Napoleon noticed Balashev's embarrassment when uttering these last words; his face twitched and the calf of his left leg began to quiver rhythmically. Without moving from where he stood he began speaking in a louder tone and more hurriedly than before. During the speech that followed, Balashev, who more than once lowered his eyes, involuntarily noticed the quivering of Napoleon's left leg which increased the more Napoleon raised his voice.
"I desire peace, no less than the Emperor Alexander," he began. "Have I not for eighteen months been doing everything to obtain it? I have waited eighteen months for explanations. But in order to begin negotiations, what is demanded of me?" he said, frowning and making an energetic gesture of inquiry with his small white plump hand.
"The withdrawal of your army beyond the Niemen, sire," replied Balashev.
"The Niemen?" repeated Napoleon. "So now you want me to retire beyond the Niemen--only the Niemen?" repeated Napoleon, looking straight at Balashev.
The latter bowed his head respectfully.
Instead of the demand of four months earlier to withdraw from Pomerania, only a withdrawal beyond the Niemen was now demanded. Napoleon turned quickly and began to pace the room.
"You say the demand now is that I am to withdraw beyond the Niemen before commencing negotiations, but in just the same way two months ago the demand was that I should withdraw beyond the Vistula and the Oder, and yet you are willing to negotiate."
He went in silence from one corner of the room to the other and again stopped in front of Balashev. Balashev noticed that his left leg was quivering faster than before and his face seemed petrified in its stern expression. This quivering of his left leg was a thing Napoleon was conscious of. "The vibration of my left calf is a great sign with me," he remarked at a later date.
"Such demands as to retreat beyond the Vistula and Oder may be made to a Prince of Baden, but not to me!" Napoleon almost screamed, quite to his own surprise. "If you gave me Petersburg and Moscow I could not accept such conditions. You say I have begun this war! But who first joined his army? The Emperor Alexander, not I! And you offer me negotiations when I have expended millions, when you are in alliance with England, and when your position is a bad one. You offer me negotiations! But what is the aim of your alliance with England? What has she given you?" he continued hurriedly, evidently no longer trying to show the advantages of peace and discuss its possibility, but only to prove his own rectitude and power and Alexander's errors and duplicity.
The commencement of his speech had obviously been made with the intention of demonstrating the advantages of his position and showing that he was nevertheless willing to negotiate. But he had begun talking, and the more he talked the less could he control his words.
The whole purport of his remarks now was evidently to exalt himself and insult Alexander--just what he had least desired at the commencement of the interview.
"I hear you have made peace with Turkey?"
Balashev bowed his head affirmatively.
"Peace has been concluded..." he began.
But Napoleon did not let him speak. He evidently wanted to do all the talking himself, and continued to talk with the sort of eloquence and unrestrained irritability to which spoiled people are so prone.
"Yes, I know you have made peace with the Turks without obtaining Moldavia and Wallachia; I would have given your sovereign those provinces as I gave him Finland. Yes," he went on, "I promised and would have given the Emperor Alexander Moldavia and Wallachia, and now he won't have those splendid provinces. Yet he might have united them to his empire and in a single reign would have extended Russia from the Gulf of Bothnia to the mouths of the Danube. Catherine the Great could not have done more," said Napoleon, growing more and more excited as he paced up and down the room, repeating to Balashev almost the very words he had used to Alexander himself at Tilsit. "All that, he would have owed to my friendship. Oh, what a splendid reign!" he repeated several times, then paused, drew from his pocket a gold snuffbox, lifted it to his nose, and greedily sniffed at it.
"What a splendid reign the Emperor Alexander's might have been!"
He looked compassionately at Balashev, and as soon as the latter tried to make some rejoinder hastily interrupted him.
"What could he wish or look for that he would not have obtained through my friendship?" demanded Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders in perplexity. "But no, he has preferred to surround himself with my enemies, and with whom? With Steins, Armfeldts, Bennigsens, and Wintzingerodes! Stein, a traitor expelled from his own country; Armfeldt, a rake and an intriguer; Wintzingerode, a fugitive French subject; Bennigsen, rather more of a soldier than the others, but all the same an incompetent who was unable to do anything in 1807 and who should awaken terrible memories in the Emperor Alexander's mind.... Granted that were they competent they might be made use of," continued Napoleon--hardly able to keep pace in words with the rush of thoughts that incessantly sprang up, proving how right and strong he was (in his perception the two were one and the same)- "but they are not even that! They are neither fit for war nor peace! Barclay is said to be the most capable of them all, but I cannot say so, judging by his first movements. And what are they doing, all these courtiers? Pfuel proposes, Armfeldt disputes, Bennigsen considers, and Barclay, called on to act, does not know what to decide on, and time passes bringing no result. Bagration alone is a military man. He's stupid, but he has experience, a quick eye, and resolution.... And what role is your young monarch playing in that monstrous crowd? They compromise him and throw on him the responsibility for all that happens. A sovereign should not be with the army unless he is a general!" said Napoleon, evidently uttering these words as a direct challenge to the Emperor. He knew how Alexander desired to be a military commander.
"The campaign began only a week ago, and you haven't even been able to defend Vilna. You are cut in two and have been driven out of the Polish provinces. Your army is grumbling."
"On the contrary, Your Majesty," said Balashev, hardly able to remember what had been said to him and following these verbal fireworks with difficulty, "the troops are burning with eagerness..."
"I know everything!" Napoleon interrupted him. "I know everything. I know the number of your battalions as exactly as I know my own. You have not two hundred thousand men, and I have three times that number. I give you my word of honor," said Napoleon, forgetting that his word of honor could carry no weight--"I give you my word of honor that I have five hundred and thirty thousand men this side of the Vistula. The Turks will be of no use to you; they are worth nothing and have shown it by making peace with you. As for the Swedes--it is their fate to be governed by mad kings. Their king was insane and they changed him for another--Bernadotte, who promptly went mad--for no Swede would ally himself with Russia unless he were mad."
Napoleon grinned maliciously and again raised his snuffbox to his nose.
Balashev knew how to reply to each of Napoleon's remarks, and would have done so; he continually made the gesture of a man wishing to say something, but Napoleon always interrupted him. To the alleged insanity of the Swedes, Balashev wished to reply that when Russia is on her side Sweden is practically an island: but Napoleon gave an angry exclamation to drown his voice. Napoleon was in that state of irritability in which a man has to talk, talk, and talk, merely to convince himself that he is in the right. Balashev began to feel uncomfortable: as envoy he feared to demean his dignity and felt the necessity of replying; but, as a man, he shrank before the transport of groundless wrath that had evidently seized Napoleon. He knew that none of the words now uttered by Napoleon had any significance, and that Napoleon himself would be ashamed of them when he came to his senses. Balashev stood with downcast eyes, looking at the movements of Napoleon's stout legs and trying to avoid meeting his eyes.
"But what do I care about your allies?" said Napoleon. "I have allies--the Poles. There are eighty thousand of them and they fight like lions. And there will be two hundred thousand of them."
And probably still more perturbed by the fact that he had uttered this obvious falsehood, and that Balashev still stood silently before him in the same attitude of submission to fate, Napoleon abruptly turned round, drew close to Balashev's face, and, gesticulating rapidly and energetically with his white hands, almost shouted:
"Know that if you stir up Prussia against me, I'll wipe it off the map of Europe!" he declared, his face pale and distorted by anger, and he struck one of his small hands energetically with the other. "Yes, I will throw you back beyond the Dvina and beyond the Dnieper, and will re-erect against you that barrier which it was criminal and blind of Europe to allow to be destroyed. Yes, that is what will happen to you. That is what you have gained by alienating me!" And he walked silently several times up and down the room, his fat shoulders twitching.
He put his snuffbox into his waistcoat pocket, took it out again, lifted it several times to his nose, and stopped in front of Balashev. He paused, looked ironically straight into Balashev's eyes, and said in a quiet voice:
"And yet what a splendid reign your master might have had!"
Balashev, feeling it incumbent on him to reply, said that from the Russian side things did not appear in so gloomy a light. Napoleon was silent, still looking derisively at him and evidently not listening to him. Balashev said that in Russia the best results were expected from the war. Napoleon nodded condescendingly, as if to say, "I know it's your duty to say that, but you don't believe it yourself. I have convinced you."
When Balashev had ended, Napoleon again took out his snuffbox, sniffed at it, and stamped his foot twice on the floor as a signal. The door opened, a gentleman-in-waiting, bending respectfully, handed the Emperor his hat and gloves; another brought him a pocket handkerchief. Napoleon, without giving them a glance, turned to Balashev:
"Assure the Emperor Alexander from me," said he, taking his hat, "that I am as devoted to him as before: I know him thoroughly and very highly esteem his lofty qualities. I will detain you no longer, General; you shall receive my letter to the Emperor."
And Napoleon went quickly to the door. Everyone in the reception room rushed forward and descended the staircase.
After all that Napoleon had said to him--those bursts of anger and the last dryly spoken words: "I will detain you no longer, General; you shall receive my letter," Balashev felt convinced that Napoleon would not wish to see him, and would even avoid another meeting with him--an insulted envoy--especially as he had witnessed his unseemly anger. But, to his surprise, Balashev received, through Duroc, an invitation to dine with the Emperor that day.
Bessieres, Caulaincourt, and Berthier were present at that dinner.
Napoleon met Balashev cheerfully and amiably. He not only showed no sign of constraint or self-reproach on account of his outburst that morning, but, on the contrary, tried to reassure Balashev. It was evident that he had long been convinced that it was impossible for him to make a mistake, and that in his perception whatever he did was right, not because it harmonized with any idea of right and wrong, but because he did it.
The Emperor was in very good spirits after his ride through Vilna, where crowds of people had rapturously greeted and followed him. From all the windows of the streets through which he rode, rugs, flags, and his monogram were displayed, and the Polish ladies, welcoming him, waved their handkerchiefs to him.
At dinner, having placed Balashev beside him, Napoleon not only treated him amiably but behaved as if Balashev were one of his own courtiers, one of those who sympathized with his plans and ought to rejoice at his success. In the course of conversation he mentioned Moscow and questioned Balashev about the Russian capital, not merely as an interested traveler asks about a new city he intends to visit, but as if convinced that Balashev, as a Russian, must be flattered by his curiosity.
"How many inhabitants are there in Moscow? How many houses? Is it true that Moscow is called 'Holy Moscow'? How many churches are there in Moscow?" he asked.
And receiving the reply that there were more than two hundred churches, he remarked:
"Why such a quantity of churches?"
"The Russians are very devout," replied Balashev.
"But a large number of monasteries and churches is always a sign of the backwardness of a people," said Napoleon, turning to Caulaincourt for appreciation of this remark.
Balashev respectfully ventured to disagree with the French Emperor.
"Every country has its own character," said he.
"But nowhere in Europe is there anything like that," said Napoleon.
"I beg your Majesty's pardon," returned Balashev, "besides Russia there is Spain, where there are also many churches and monasteries."
This reply of Balashev's, which hinted at the recent defeats of the French in Spain, was much appreciated when he related it at Alexander's court, but it was not much appreciated at Napoleon's dinner, where it passed unnoticed.
The uninterested and perplexed faces of the marshals showed that they were puzzled as to what Balashev's tone suggested. "If there is a point we don't see it, or it is not at all witty," their expressions seemed to say. So little was his rejoinder appreciated that Napoleon did not notice it at all and naively asked Balashev through what towns the direct road from there to Moscow passed. Balashev, who was on the alert all through the dinner, replied that just as "all roads lead to Rome," so all roads lead to Moscow: there were many roads, and "among them the road through Poltava, which Charles XII chose." Balashev involuntarily flushed with pleasure at the aptitude of this reply, but hardly had he uttered the word Poltava before Caulaincourt began speaking of the badness of the road from Petersburg to Moscow and of his Petersburg reminiscences.
After dinner they went to drink coffee in Napoleon's study, which four days previously had been that of the Emperor Alexander. Napoleon sat down, toying with his Sevres coffee cup, and motioned Balashev to a chair beside him.
Napoleon was in that well-known after-dinner mood which, more than any reasoned cause, makes a man contented with himself and disposed to consider everyone his friend. It seemed to him that he was surrounded by men who adored him: and he felt convinced that, after his dinner, Balashev too was his friend and worshiper. Napoleon turned to him with a pleasant, though slightly ironic, smile.
"They tell me this is the room the Emperor Alexander occupied? Strange, isn't it, General?" he said, evidently not doubting that this remark would be agreeable to his hearer since it went to prove his, Napoleon's, superiority to Alexander.
Balashev made no reply and bowed his head in silence.
"Yes. Four days ago in this room, Wintzingerode and Stein were deliberating," continued Napoleon with the same derisive and self-confident smile. "What I can't understand," he went on, "is that the Emperor Alexander has surrounded himself with my personal enemies. That I do not... understand. Has he not thought that I may the same?" and he turned inquiringly to Balashev, and evidently this thought turned him back on to the track of his morning's anger, which was still fresh in him.
"And let him know that I will do so!" said Napoleon, rising and pushing his cup away with his hand. "I'll drive all his Wurttemberg, Baden, and Weimar relations out of Germany.... Yes. I'll drive them out. Let him prepare an asylum for them in Russia!"
Balashev bowed his head with an air indicating that he would like to make his bow and leave, and only listened because he could not help hearing what was said to him. Napoleon did not notice this expression; he treated Balashev not as an envoy from his enemy, but as a man now fully devoted to him and who must rejoice at his former master's humiliation.
"And why has the Emperor Alexander taken command of the armies? What is the good of that? War is my profession, but his business is to reign and not to command armies! Why has he taken on himself such a responsibility?"
Again Napoleon brought out his snuffbox, paced several times up and down the room in silence, and then, suddenly and unexpectedly, went up to Balashev and with a slight smile, as confidently, quickly, and simply as if he were doing something not merely important but pleasing to Balashev, he raised his hand to the forty-year-old Russian general's face and, taking him by the ear, pulled it gently, smiling with his lips only.
To have one's ear pulled by the Emperor was considered the greatest honor and mark of favor at the French court.
"Well, adorer and courtier of the Emperor Alexander, why don't you say anything?" said he, as if it was ridiculous, in his presence, to be the adorer and courtier of anyone but himself, Napoleon. "Are the horses ready for the general?" he added, with a slight inclination of his head in reply to Balashev's bow. "Let him have mine, he has a long way to go!"
The letter taken by Balashev was the last Napoleon sent to Alexander. Every detail of the interview was communicated to the Russian monarch, and the war began...
After his interview with Pierre in Moscow, Prince Andrew went to Petersburg, on business as he told his family, but really to meet Anatole Kuragin whom he felt it necessary to encounter. On reaching Petersburg he inquired for Kuragin but the latter had already left the city. Pierre had warned his brother-in-law that Prince Andrew was on his track. Anatole Kuragin promptly obtained an appointment from the Minister of War and went to join the army in Moldavia. While in Petersburg Prince Andrew met Kutuzov, his former commander who was always well disposed toward him, and Kutuzov suggested that he should accompany him to the army in Moldavia, to which the old general had been appointed commander in chief. So Prince Andrew, having received an appointment on the headquarters staff, left for Turkey.
Prince Andrew did not think it proper to write and challenge Kuragin. He thought that if he challenged him without some fresh cause it might compromise the young Countess Rostova and so he wanted to meet Kuragin personally in order to find a fresh pretext for a duel. But he again failed to meet Kuragin in Turkey, for soon after Prince Andrew arrived, the latter returned to Russia. In a new country, amid new conditions, Prince Andrew found life easier to bear. After his betrothed had broken faith with him--which he felt the more acutely the more he tried to conceal its effects--the surroundings in which he had been happy became trying to him, and the freedom and independence he had once prized so highly were still more so. Not only could he no longer think the thoughts that had first come to him as he lay gazing at the sky on the field of Austerlitz and had later enlarged upon with Pierre, and which had filled his solitude at Bogucharovo and then in Switzerland and Rome, but he even dreaded to recall them and the bright and boundless horizons they had revealed. He was now concerned only with the nearest practical matters unrelated to his past interests, and he seized on these the more eagerly the more those past interests were closed to him. It was as if that lofty, infinite canopy of heaven that had once towered above him had suddenly turned into a low, solid vault that weighed him down, in which all was clear, but nothing eternal or mysterious.
Of the activities that presented themselves to him, army service was the simplest and most familiar. As a general on duty on Kutuzov's staff, he applied himself to business with zeal and perseverance and surprised Kutuzov by his willingness and accuracy in work. Not having found Kuragin in Turkey, Prince Andrew did not think it necessary to rush back to Russia after him, but all the same he knew that however long it might be before he met Kuragin, despite his contempt for him and despite all the proofs he deduced to convince himself that it was not worth stooping to a conflict with him--he knew that when he did meet him he would not be able to resist calling him out, any more than a ravenous man can help snatching at food. And the consciousness that the insult was not yet avenged, that his rancor was still unspent, weighed on his heart and poisoned the artificial tranquillity which he managed to obtain in Turkey by means of restless, plodding, and rather vainglorious and ambitious activity.
In the year 1812, when news of the war with Napoleon reached Bucharest--where Kutuzov had been living for two months, passing his days and nights with a Wallachian woman--Prince Andrew asked Kutuzov to transfer him to the Western Army. Kutuzov, who was already weary of Bolkonski's activity which seemed to reproach his own idleness, very readily let him go and gave him a mission to Barclay de Tolly.
Before joining the Western Army which was then, in May, encamped at Drissa, Prince Andrew visited Bald Hills which was directly on his way, being only two miles off the Smolensk highroad. During the last three years there had been so many changes in his life, he had thought, felt, and seen so much (having traveled both in the east and the west), that on reaching Bald Hills it struck him as strange and unexpected to find the way of life there unchanged and still the same in every detail. He entered through the gates with their stone pillars and drove up the avenue leading to the house as if he were entering an enchanted, sleeping castle. The same old stateliness, the same cleanliness, the same stillness reigned there, and inside there was the same furniture, the same walls, sounds, and smell, and the same timid faces, only somewhat older. Princess Mary was still the same timid, plain maiden getting on in years, uselessly and joylessly passing the best years of her life in fear and constant suffering. Mademoiselle Bourienne was the same coquettish, self-satisfied girl, enjoying every moment of her existence and full of joyous hopes for the future. She had merely become more self-confident, Prince Andrew thought. Dessalles, the tutor he had brought from Switzerland, was wearing a coat of Russian cut and talking broken Russian to the servants, but was still the same narrowly intelligent, conscientious, and pedantic preceptor. The old prince had changed in appearance only by the loss of a tooth, which left a noticeable gap on one side of his mouth; in character he was the same as ever, only showing still more irritability and skepticism as to what was happening in the world. Little Nicholas alone had changed. He had grown, become rosier, had curly dark hair, and, when merry and laughing, quite unconsciously lifted the upper lip of his pretty little mouth just as the little princess used to do. He alone did not obey the law of immutability in the enchanted, sleeping castle. But though externally all remained as of old, the inner relations of all these people had changed since Prince Andrew had seen them last. The household was divided into two alien and hostile camps, who changed their habits for his sake and only met because he was there. To the one camp belonged the old prince, Madmoiselle Bourienne, and the architect; to the other Princess Mary, Dessalles, little Nicholas, and all the old nurses and maids.
During his stay at Bald Hills all the family dined together, but they were ill at ease and Prince Andrew felt that he was a visitor for whose sake an exception was being made and that his presence made them all feel awkward. Involuntarily feeling this at dinner on the first day, he was taciturn, and the old prince noticing this also became morosely dumb and retired to his apartments directly after dinner. In the evening, when Prince Andrew went to him and, trying to rouse him, began to tell him of the young Count Kamensky's campaign, the old prince began unexpectedly to talk about Princess Mary, blaming her for her superstitions and her dislike of Mademoiselle Bourienne, who, he said, was the only person really attached to him.
The old prince said that if he was ill it was only because of Princess Mary: that she purposely worried and irritated him, and that by indulgence and silly talk she was spoiling little Prince Nicholas. The old prince knew very well that he tormented his daughter and that her life was very hard, but he also knew that he could not help tormenting her and that she deserved it. "Why does Prince Andrew, who sees this, say nothing to me about his sister? Does he think me a scoundrel, or an old fool who, without any reason, keeps his own daughter at a distance and attaches this Frenchwoman to himself? He doesn't understand, so I must explain it, and he must hear me out," thought the old prince. And he began explaining why he could not put up with his daughter's unreasonable character.
"If you ask me," said Prince Andrew, without looking up (he was censuring his father for the first time in his life), "I did not wish to speak about it, but as you ask me I will give you my frank opinion. If there is any misunderstanding and discord between you and Mary, I can't blame her for it at all. I know how she loves and respects you. Since you ask me," continued Prince Andrew, becoming irritable--as he was always liable to do of late--"I can only say that if there are any misunderstandings they are caused by that worthless woman, who is not fit to be my sister's companion."
The old man at first stared fixedly at his son, and an unnatural smile disclosed the fresh gap between his teeth to which Prince Andrew could not get accustomed.
"What companion, my dear boy? Eh? You've already been talking it over! Eh?"
"Father, I did not want to judge," said Prince Andrew, in a hard and bitter tone, "but you challenged me, and I have said, and always shall say, that Mary is not to blame, but those to blame--the one to blame--is that Frenchwoman."
"Ah, he has passed judgment... passed judgement!" said the old man in a low voice and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, with some embarrassment, but then he suddenly jumped up and cried: "Be off, be off! Let not a trace of you remain here!..."
Prince Andrew wished to leave at once, but Princess Mary persuaded him to stay another day. That day he did not see his father, who did not leave his room and admitted no one but Mademoiselle Bourienne and Tikhon, but asked several times whether his son had gone. Next day, before leaving, Prince Andrew went to his son's rooms. The boy, curly-headed like his mother and glowing with health, sat on his knee, and Prince Andrew began telling him the story of Bluebeard, but fell into a reverie without finishing the story. He thought not of this pretty child, his son whom he held on his knee, but of himself. He sought in himself either remorse for having angered his father or regret at leaving home for the first time in his life on bad terms with him, and was horrified to find neither. What meant still more to him was that he sought and did not find in himself the former tenderness for his son which he had hoped to reawaken by caressing the boy and taking him on his knee.
"Well, go on!" said his son.
Prince Andrew, without replying, put him down from his knee and went out of the room.
As soon as Prince Andrew had given up his daily occupations, and especially on returning to the old conditions of life amid which he had been happy, weariness of life overcame him with its former intensity, and he hastened to escape from these memories and to find some work as soon as possible.
"So you've decided to go, Andrew?" asked his sister.
"Thank God that I can," replied Prince Andrew. "I am very sorry you can't."
"Why do you say that?" replied Princess Mary. "Why do you say that, when you are going to this terrible war, and he is so old? Mademoiselle Bourienne says he has been asking about you...."
As soon as she began to speak of that, her lips trembled and her tears began to fall. Prince Andrew turned away and began pacing the room.
"Ah, my God! my God! When one thinks who and what--what trash--can cause people misery!" he said with a malignity that alarmed Princess Mary.
She understood that when speaking of "trash" he referred not only to Mademoiselle Bourienne, the cause of her misery, but also to the man who had ruined his own happiness.
"Andrew! One thing I beg, I entreat of you!" she said, touching his elbow and looking at him with eyes that shone through her tears. "I understand you" (she looked down). "Don't imagine that sorrow is the work of men. Men are His tools." She looked a little above Prince Andrew's head with the confident, accustomed look with which one looks at the place where a familiar portrait hangs. "Sorrow is sent by Him, not by men. Men are His instruments, they are not to blame. If you think someone has wronged you, forget it and forgive! We have no right to punish. And then you will know the happiness of forgiving."
"If I were a woman I would do so, Mary. That is a woman's virtue. But a man should not and cannot forgive and forget," he replied, and though till that moment he had not been thinking of Kuragin, all his unexpended anger suddenly swelled up in his heart.
"If Mary is already persuading me forgive, it means that I ought long ago to have punished him," he thought. And giving her no further reply, he began thinking of the glad vindictive moment when he would meet Kuragin who he knew was now in the army.
Princess Mary begged him to stay one day more, saying that she knew how unhappy her father would be if Andrew left without being reconciled to him, but Prince Andrew replied that he would probably soon be back again from the army and would certainly write to his father, but that the longer he stayed now the more embittered their differences would become.
"Good-by, Andrew! Remember that misfortunes come from God, and men are never to blame," were the last words he heard from his sister when he took leave of her.
"Then it must be so!" thought Prince Andrew as he drove out of the avenue from the house at Bald Hills. "She, poor innocent creature, is left to be victimized by an old man who has outlived his wits. The old man feels he is guilty, but cannot change himself. My boy is growing up and rejoices in life, in which like everybody else he will deceive or be deceived. And I am off to the army. Why? I myself don't know. I want to meet that man whom I despise, so as to give him a chance to kill and laugh at me!"
These conditions of life had been the same before, but then they were all connected, while now they had all tumbled to pieces. Only senseless things, lacking coherence, presented themselves one after another to Prince Andrew's mind.
Prince Andrew reached the general headquarters of the army at the end of June. The first army, with which was the Emperor, occupied the fortified camp at Drissa; the second army was retreating, trying to effect a junction with the first one from which it was said to be cut off by large French forces. Everyone was dissatisfied with the general course of affairs in the Russian army, but no one anticipated any danger of invasion of the Russian provinces, and no one thought the war would extend farther than the western, the Polish, provinces.
Prince Andrew found Barclay de Tolly, to whom he had been assigned, on the bank of the Drissa. As there was not a single town or large village in the vicinity of the camp, the immense number of generals and courtiers accompanying the army were living in the best houses of the villages on both sides of the river, over a radius of six miles. Barclay de Tolly was quartered nearly three miles from the Emperor. He received Bolkonski stiffly and coldly and told him in his foreign accent that he would mention him to the Emperor for a decision as to his employment, but asked him meanwhile to remain on his staff. Anatole Kuragin, whom Prince Andrew had hoped to find with the army, was not there. He had gone to Petersburg, but Prince Andrew was glad to hear this. His mind was occupied by the interests of the center that was conducting a gigantic war, and he was glad to be free for a while from the distraction caused by the thought of Kuragin. During the first four days, while no duties were required of him, Prince Andrew rode round the whole fortified camp and, by the aid of his own knowledge and by talks with experts, tried to form a definite opinion about it. But the question whether the camp was advantageous or disadvantageous remained for him undecided. Already from his military experience and what he had seen in the Austrian campaign, he had come to the conclusion that in war the most deeply considered plans have no significance and that all depends on the way unexpected movements of the enemy--that cannot be foreseen- are met, and on how and by whom the whole matter is handled. To clear up this last point for himself, Prince Andrew, utilizing his position and acquaintances, tried to fathom the character of the control of the army and of the men and parties engaged in it, and he deduced for himself the following of the state of affairs.
While the Emperor had still been at Vilna, the forces had been divided into three armies. First, the army under Barclay de Tolly, secondly, the army under Bagration, and thirdly, the one commanded by Tormasov. The Emperor was with the first army, but not as commander in chief. In the orders issued it was stated, not that the Emperor would take command, but only that he would be with the army. The Emperor, moreover, had with him not a commander in chief's staff but the imperial headquarters staff. In attendance on him was the head of the imperial staff, Quartermaster General Prince Volkonski, as well as generals, imperial aides-de-camp, diplomatic officials, and a large number of foreigners, but not the army staff. Besides these, there were in attendance on the Emperor without any definite appointments: Arakcheev, the ex-Minister of War; Count Bennigsen, the senior general in rank; the Grand Duke Tsarevich Constantine Pavlovich; Count Rumyantsev, the Chancellor; Stein, a former Prussian minister; Armfeldt, a Swedish general; Pfuel, the chief author of the plan of campaign; Paulucci, an adjutant general and Sardinian emigre; Wolzogen--and many others. Though these men had no military appointment in the army, their position gave them influence, and often a corps commander, or even the commander in chief, did not know in what capacity he was questioned by Bennigsen, the Grand Duke, Arakcheev, or Prince Volkonski, or was given this or that advice and did not know whether a certain order received in the form of advice emanated from the man who gave it or from the Emperor and whether it had to be executed or not. But this was only the external condition; the essential significance of the presence of the Emperor and of all these people, from a courtier's point of view (and in an Emperor's vicinity all became courtiers), was clear to everyone. It was this: the Emperor did not assume the title of commander in chief, but disposed of all the armies; the men around him were his assistants. Arakcheev was a faithful custodian to enforce order and acted as the sovereign's bodyguard. Bennigsen was a landlord in the Vilna province who appeared to be doing the honors of the district, but was in reality a good general, useful as an adviser and ready at hand to replace Barclay. The Grand Duke was there because it suited him to be. The ex-Minister Stein was there because his advice was useful and the Emperor Alexander held him in high esteem personally. Armfeldt virulently hated Napoleon and was a general full of self-confidence, a quality that always influenced Alexander. Paulucci was there because he was bold and decided in speech. The adjutants general were there because they always accompanied the Emperor, and lastly and chiefly Pfuel was there because he had drawn up the plan of campaign against Napoleon and, having induced Alexander to believe in the efficacy of that plan, was directing the whole business of the war. With Pfuel was Wolzogen, who expressed Pfuel's thoughts in a more comprehensible way than Pfuel himself (who was a harsh, bookish theorist, self-confident to the point of despising everyone else) was able to do.
Besides these Russians and foreigners who propounded new and unexpected ideas every day--especially the foreigners, who did so with a boldness characteristic of people employed in a country not their own--there were many secondary personages accompanying the army because their principals were there.
Among the opinions and voices in this immense, restless, brilliant, and proud sphere, Prince Andrew noticed the following sharply defined subdivisions of and parties:
The first party consisted of Pfuel and his adherents--military theorists who believed in a science of war with immutable laws--laws of oblique movements, outflankings, and so forth. Pfuel and his adherents demanded a retirement into the depths of the country in accordance with precise laws defined by a pseudo-theory of war, and they saw only barbarism, ignorance, or evil intention in every deviation from that theory. To this party belonged the foreign nobles, Wolzogen, Wintzingerode, and others, chiefly Germans.
The second party was directly opposed to the first; one extreme, as always happens, was met by representatives of the other. The members of this party were those who had demanded an advance from Vilna into Poland and freedom from all prearranged plans. Besides being advocates of bold action, this section also represented nationalism, which made them still more one-sided in the dispute. They were Russians: Bagration, Ermolov (who was beginning to come to the front), and others. At that time a famous joke of Ermolov's was being circulated, that as a great favor he had petitioned the Emperor to make him a German. The men of that party, remembering Suvorov, said that what one had to do was not to reason, or stick pins into maps, but to fight, beat the enemy, keep him out of Russia, and not let the army get discouraged.
To the third party--in which the Emperor had most confidence- belonged the courtiers who tried to arrange compromises between the other two. The members of this party, chiefly civilians and to whom Arakcheev belonged, thought and said what men who have no convictions but wish to seem to have some generally say. They said that undoubtedly war, particularly against such a genius as Bonaparte (they called him Bonaparte now), needs most deeply devised plans and profound scientific knowledge and in that respect Pfuel was a genius, but at the same time it had to be acknowledged that the theorists are often one sided, and therefore one should not trust them absolutely, but should also listen to what Pfuel's opponents and practical men of experience in warfare had to say, and then choose a middle course. They insisted on the retention of the camp at Drissa, according to Pfuel's plan, but on changing the movements of the other armies. Though, by this course, neither one aim nor the other could be attained, yet it seemed best to the adherents of this third party.
Of a fourth opinion the most conspicuous representative was the Tsarevich, who could not forget his disillusionment at Austerlitz, where he had ridden out at the head of the Guards, in his casque and cavalry uniform as to a review, expecting to crush the French gallantly; but unexpectedly finding himself in the front line had narrowly escaped amid the general confusion. The men of this party had both the quality and the defect of frankness in their opinions. They feared Napoleon, recognized his strength and their own weakness, and frankly said so. They said: "Nothing but sorrow, shame, and ruin will come of all this! We have abandoned Vilna and Vitebsk and shall abandon Drissa. The only reasonable thing left to do is to conclude peace as soon as possible, before we are turned out of Petersburg."
This view was very general in the upper army circles and found support also in Petersburg and from the chancellor, Rumyantsev, who, for other reasons of state, was in favor of peace.
The fifth party consisted of those who were adherents of Barclay de Tolly, not so much as a man but as minister of war and commander in chief. "Be he what he may" (they always began like that), "he is an honest, practical man and we have nobody better. Give him real power, for war cannot be conducted successfully without unity of command, and he will show what he can do, as he did in Finland. If our army is well organized and strong and has withdrawn to Drissa without suffering any defeats, we owe this entirely to Barclay. If Barclay is now to be superseded by Bennigsen all will be lost, for Bennigsen showed his incapacity already in 1807."
The sixth party, the Bennigsenites, said, on the contrary, that at any rate there was no one more active and experienced than Bennigsen: "and twist about as you may, you will have to come to Bennigsen eventually. Let the others make mistakes now!" said they, arguing that our retirement to Drissa was a most shameful reverse and an unbroken series of blunders. "The more mistakes that are made the better. It will at any rate be understood all the sooner that things cannot go on like this. What is wanted is not some Barclay or other, but a man like Bennigsen, who made his mark in 1807, and to whom Napoleon himself did justice--a man whose authority would be willingly recognized, and Bennigsen is the only such man."
The seventh party consisted of the sort of people who are always to be found, especially around young sovereigns, and of whom there were particularly many round Alexander--generals and imperial aides-de-camp passionately devoted to the Emperor, not merely as a monarch but as a man, adoring him sincerely and disinterestedly, as Rostov had done in 1805, and who saw in him not only all the virtues but all human capabilities as well. These men, though enchanted with the sovereign for refusing the command of the army, yet blamed him for such excessive modesty, and only desired and insisted that their adored sovereign should abandon his diffidence and openly announce that he would place himself at the head of the army, gather round him a commander in chief's staff, and, consulting experienced theoreticians and practical men where necessary, would himself lead the troops, whose spirits would thereby be raised to the highest pitch.
The eighth and largest group, which in its enormous numbers was to the others as ninety-nine to one, consisted of men who desired neither peace nor war, neither an advance nor a defensive camp at the Drissa or anywhere else, neither Barclay nor the Emperor, neither Pfuel nor Bennigsen, but only the one most essential thing--as much advantage and pleasure for themselves as possible. In the troubled waters of conflicting and intersecting intrigues that eddied about the Emperor's headquarters, it was possible to succeed in many ways unthinkable at other times. A man who simply wished to retain his lucrative post would today agree with Pfuel, tomorrow with his opponent, and the day after, merely to avoid responsibility or to please the Emperor, would declare that he had no opinion at all on the matter. Another who wished to gain some advantage would attract the Emperor's attention by loudly advocating the very thing the Emperor had hinted at the day before, and would dispute and shout at the council, beating his breast and challenging those who did not agree with him to duels, thereby proving that he was prepared to sacrifice himself for the common good. A third, in the absence of opponents, between two councils would simply solicit a special gratuity for his faithful services, well knowing that at that moment people would be too busy to refuse him. A fourth while seemingly overwhelmed with work would often come accidentally under the Emperor's eye. A fifth, to achieve his long-cherished aim of dining with the Emperor, would stubbornly insist on the correctness or falsity of some newly emerging opinion and for this object would produce arguments more or less forcible and correct.
All the men of this party were fishing for rubles, decorations, and promotions, and in this pursuit watched only the weathercock of imperial favor, and directly they noticed it turning in any direction, this whole drone population of the army began blowing hard that way, so that it was all the harder for the Emperor to turn it elsewhere. Amid the uncertainties of the position, with the menace of serious danger giving a peculiarly threatening character to everything, amid this vortex of intrigue, egotism, conflict of views and feelings, and the diversity of race among these people--this eighth and largest party of those preoccupied with personal interests imparted great confusion and obscurity to the common task. Whatever question arose, a swarm of these drones, without having finished their buzzing on a previous theme, flew over to the new one and by their hum drowned and obscured the voices of those who were disputing honestly.
From among all these parties, just at the time Prince Andrew reached the army, another, a ninth party, was being formed and was beginning to raise its voice. This was the party of the elders, reasonable men experienced and capable in state affairs, who, without sharing any of those conflicting opinions, were able to take a detached view of what was going on at the staff at headquarters and to consider means of escape from this muddle, indecision, intricacy, and weakness.
The men of this party said and thought that what was wrong resulted chiefly from the Emperor's presence in the army with his military court and from the consequent presence there of an indefinite, conditional, and unsteady fluctuation of relations, which is in place at court but harmful in an army; that a sovereign should reign but not command the army, and that the only way out of the position would be for the Emperor and his court to leave the army; that the mere presence of the Emperor paralyzed the action of fifty thousand men required to secure his personal safety, and that the worst commander in chief if independent would be better than the very best one trammeled by the presence and authority of the monarch.
Just at the time Prince Andrew was living unoccupied at Drissa, Shishkov, the Secretary of State and one of the chief representatives of this party, wrote a letter to the Emperor which Arakcheev and Balashev agreed to sign. In this letter, availing himself of permission given him by the Emperor to discuss the general course of affairs, he respectfully suggested--on the plea that it was necessary for the sovereign to arouse a warlike spirit in the people of the capital--that the Emperor should leave the army.
That arousing of the people by their sovereign and his call to them to defend their country--the very incitement which was the chief cause of Russia's triumph in so far as it was produced by the Tsar's personal presence in Moscow--was suggested to the Emperor, and accepted by him, as a pretext for quitting the army.
This letter had not yet been presented to the Emperor when Barclay, one day at dinner, informed Bolkonski that the sovereign wished to see him personally, to question him about Turkey, and that Prince Andrew was to present himself at Bennigsen's quarters at six that evening.
News was received at the Emperor's quarters that very day of a fresh movement by Napoleon which might endanger the army--news subsequently found to be false. And that morning Colonel Michaud had ridden round the Drissa fortifications with the Emperor and had pointed out to him that this fortified camp constructed by Pfuel, and till then considered a chef-d'oeuvre of tactical science which would ensure Napoleon's destruction, was an absurdity, threatening the destruction of the Russian army.
Prince Andrew arrived at Bennigsen's quarters--a country gentleman's house of moderate size, situated on the very banks of the river. Neither Bennigsen nor the Emperor was there, but Chernyshev, the Emperor's aide-de-camp, received Bolkonski and informed him that the Emperor, accompanied by General Bennigsen and Marquis Paulucci, had gone a second time that day to inspect the fortifications of the Drissa camp, of the suitability of which serious doubts were beginning to be felt.
Chernyshev was sitting at a window in the first room with a French novel in his hand. This room had probably been a music room; there was still an organ in it on which some rugs were piled, and in one corner stood the folding bedstead of Bennigsen's adjutant. This adjutant was also there and sat dozing on the rolled-up bedding, evidently exhausted by work or by feasting. Two doors led from the room, one straight on into what had been the drawing room, and another, on the right, to the study. Through the first door came the sound of voices conversing in German and occasionally in French. In that drawing room were gathered, by the Emperor's wish, not a military council (the Emperor preferred indefiniteness), but certain persons whose opinions he wished to know in view of the impending difficulties. It was not a council of war, but, as it were, a council to elucidate certain questions for the Emperor personally. To this semicouncil had been invited the Swedish General Armfeldt, Adjutant General Wolzogen, Wintzingerode (whom Napoleon had referred to as a renegade French subject), Michaud, Toll, Count Stein who was not a military man at all, and Pfuel himself, who, as Prince Andrew had heard, was the mainspring of the whole affair. Prince Andrew had an opportunity of getting a good look at him, for Pfuel arrived soon after himself and, in passing through to the drawing room, stopped a minute to speak to Chernyshev.
At first sight, Pfuel, in his ill-made uniform of a Russian general, which fitted him badly like a fancy costume, seemed familiar to Prince Andrew, though he saw him now for the first time. There was about him something of Weyrother, Mack, and Schmidt, and many other German theorist-generals whom Prince Andrew had seen in 1805, but he was more typical than any of them. Prince Andrew had never yet seen a German theorist in whom all the characteristics of those others were united to such an extent.
Pfuel was short and very thin but broad-boned, of coarse, robust build, broad in the hips, and with prominent shoulder blades. His face was much wrinkled and his eyes deep set. His hair had evidently been hastily brushed smooth in front of the temples, but stuck up behind in quaint little tufts. He entered the room, looking restlessly and angrily around, as if afraid of everything in that large apartment. Awkwardly holding up his sword, he addressed Chernyshev and asked in German where the Emperor was. One could see that he wished to pass through the rooms as quickly as possible, finish with the bows and greetings, and sit down to business in front of a map, where he would feel at home. He nodded hurriedly in reply to Chernyshev, and smiled ironically on hearing that the sovereign was inspecting the fortifications that he, Pfuel, had planned in accord with his theory. He muttered something to himself abruptly and in a bass voice, as self-assured Germans do--it might have been "stupid fellow"... or "the whole affair will be ruined," or "something absurd will come of it."... Prince Andrew did not catch what he said and would have passed on, but Chernyshev introduced him to Pfuel, remarking that Prince Andrew was just back from Turkey where the war had terminated so fortunately. Pfuel barely glanced--not so much at Prince Andrew as past him--and said, with a laugh: "That must have been a fine tactical war"; and, laughing contemptuously, went on into the room from which the sound of voices was heard.
Pfuel, always inclined to be irritably sarcastic, was particularly disturbed that day, evidently by the fact that they had dared to inspect and criticize his camp in his absence. From this short interview with Pfuel, Prince Andrew, thanks to his Austerlitz experiences, was able to form a clear conception of the man. Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion--science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth- science--which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
Pfuel was evidently of that sort. He had a science--the theory of oblique movements deduced by him from the history of Frederick the Great's wars, and all he came across in the history of more recent warfare seemed to him absurd and barbarous--monstrous collisions in which so many blunders were committed by both sides that these wars could not be called wars, they did not accord with the theory, and therefore could not serve as material for science.
In 1806 Pfuel had been one of those responsible, for the plan of campaign that ended in Jena and Auerstadt, but he did not see the least proof of the fallibility of his theory in the disasters of that war. On the contrary, the deviations made from his theory were, in his opinion, the sole cause of the whole disaster, and with characteristically gleeful sarcasm he would remark, "There, I said the whole affair would go to the devil!" Pfuel was one of those theoreticians who so love their theory that they lose sight of the theory's object--its practical application. His love of theory made him hate everything practical, and he would not listen to it. He was even pleased by failures, for failures resulting from deviations in practice from the theory only proved to him the accuracy of his theory.
He said a few words to Prince Andrew and Chernyshev about the present war, with the air of a man who knows beforehand that all will go wrong, and who is not displeased that it should be so. The unbrushed tufts of hair sticking up behind and the hastily brushed hair on his temples expressed this most eloquently.
He passed into the next room, and the deep, querulous sounds of his voice were at once heard from there.