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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 22
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 22 Post by :finnour Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1191

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 22 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 22

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!..."

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At that moment Count Rostopchin with his protruding chin and alerteyes, wearing the uniform of a general with sash over his shoulder,entered the room, stepping briskly to the front of the crowd ofgentry."Our sovereign the Emperor will be here in a moment," saidRostopchin. "I am straight from the palace. Seeing the position we arein, I think there is little need for discussion. The Emperor hasdeigned to summon us and the merchants. Millions will pour forthfrom there"- he pointed to the merchants' hall- "but our business isto supply men and not spare ourselves... That is the least we can do!"A conference took
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After the definite refusal he had received, Petya went to his roomand there locked himself in and wept bitterly. When he came in to tea,silent, morose, and with tear-stained face, everybody pretended not tonotice anything.Next day the Emperor arrived in Moscow, and several of theRostovs' domestic serfs begged permission to go to have a look at him.That morning Petya was a long time dressing and arranging his hair andcollar to look like a grown-up man. He frowned before his lookingglass, gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and finally, withoutsaying a word to anyone, took his cap and left the house by the backdoor,
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