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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 10
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 10 Post by :matrix_mlm Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3568

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 10 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 10

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.

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Prince Andrew's eyes were still following Pfuel out of the room whenCount Bennigsen entered hurriedly, and nodding to Bolkonski, but notpausing, went into the study, giving instructions to his adjutant ashe went. The Emperor was following him, and Bennigsen had hastenedon to make some preparations and to be ready to receive the sovereign.Chernyshev and Prince Andrew went out into the porch theEmperor, who looked fatigued, was dismounting. Marquis Paulucci wastalking to him with particular warmth and the Emperor, with his headbent to the left, was listening with a dissatisfied air. The Emperormoved forward evidently wishing to end the conversation, but
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Prince Andrew reached the general headquarters of the army at theend of June. The first army, with which was the Emperor, occupiedthe fortified camp at Drissa; the second army was retreating, tryingto effect a junction with the first one from which it was said to becut off by large French forces. Everyone was dissatisfied with thegeneral course of affairs in the Russian army, but no oneanticipated any danger of invasion of the Russian provinces, and noone thought the war would extend farther than the western, the Polish,provinces.Prince Andrew found Barclay de Tolly, to whom he had beenassigned, on the bank of
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