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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 4
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 4 Post by :Bill_V Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1916

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 4 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 4

Prince Andrew arrived in Petersburg in August, 1809. It was the time
when the youthful Speranski was at the zenith of his fame and his
reforms were being pushed forward with the greatest energy. That
same August the Emperor was thrown from his caleche, injured his
leg, and remained three weeks at Peterhof, receiving Speranski every
day and no one else. At that time the two famous decrees were being
prepared that so agitated society- abolishing court ranks and
introducing examinations to qualify for the grades of Collegiate
Assessor and State Councilor- and not merely these but a whole state
constitution, intended to change the existing order of government in
Russia: legal, administrative, and financial, from the Council of
State down to the district tribunals. Now those vague liberal dreams
with which the Emperor Alexander had ascended the throne, and which he
had tried to put into effect with the aid of his associates,
Czartoryski, Novosiltsev, Kochubey, and Strogonov- whom he himself
in jest had called his Comite de salut public- were taking shape and
being realized.

Now all these men were replaced by Speranski on the civil side,
and Arakcheev on the military. Soon after his arrival Prince Andrew,
as a gentleman of the chamber, presented himself at court and at a
levee. The Emperor, though he met him twice, did not favor him with
a single word. It had always seemed to Prince Andrew before that he
was antipathetic to the Emperor and that the latter disliked his
face and personality generally, and in the cold, repellent glance
the Emperor gave him, he now found further confirmation of this
surmise. The courtiers explained the Emperor's neglect of him by His
Majesty's displeasure at Bolkonski's not having served since 1805.

"I know myself that one cannot help one's sympathies and
antipathies," thought Prince Andrew, "so it will not do to present
my proposal for the reform of the army regulations to the Emperor
personally, but the project will speak for itself."

He mentioned what he had written to an old field marshal, a friend
of his father's. The field marshal made an appointment to see him,
received him graciously, and promised to inform the Emperor. A few
days later Prince Andrew received notice that he was to go to see
the Minister of War, Count Arakcheev.


On the appointed day Prince Andrew entered Count Arakcheev's waiting
room at nine in the morning.

He did not know Arakcheev personally, had never seen him, and all he
had heard of him inspired him with but little respect for the man.

"He is Minister of War, a man trusted by the Emperor, and I need not
concern myself about his personal qualities: he has been
commissioned to consider my project, so he alone can get it
adopted," thought Prince Andrew as he waited among a number of
important and unimportant people in Count Arakcheev's waiting room.

During his service, chiefly as an adjutant, Prince Andrew had seen
the anterooms of many important men, and the different types of such
rooms were well known to him. Count Arakcheev's anteroom had quite a
special character. The faces of the unimportant people awaiting
their turn for an audience showed embarrassment and servility; the
faces of those of higher rank expressed a common feeling of
awkwardness, covered by a mask of unconcern and ridicule of
themselves, their situation, and the person for whom they were
waiting. Some walked thoughtfully up and down, others whispered and
laughed. Prince Andrew heard the nickname "Sila Andreevich" and the
words, "Uncle will give it to us hot," in reference to Count
Arakcheev. One general (an important personage), evidently feeling
offended at having to wait so long, sat crossing and uncrossing his
legs and smiling contemptuously to himself.

But the moment the door opened one feeling alone appeared on all
faces- that of fear. Prince Andrew for the second time asked the
adjutant on duty to take in his name, but received an ironical look
and was told that his turn would come in due course. After some others
had been shown in and out of the minister's room by the adjutant on
duty, an officer who struck Prince Andrew by his humiliated and
frightened air was admitted at that terrible door. This officer's
audience lasted a long time. Then suddenly the grating sound of a
harsh voice was heard from the other side of the door, and the
officer- with pale face and trembling lips- came out and passed
through the waiting room, clutching his head.

After this Prince Andrew was conducted to the door and the officer
on duty said in a whisper, "To the right, at the window."

Prince Andrew entered a plain tidy room and saw at the table a man
of forty with a long waist, a long closely cropped head, deep
wrinkles, scowling brows above dull greenish-hazel eyes and an
overhanging red nose. Arakcheev turned his head toward him without
looking at him.

"What is your petition?" asked Arakcheev.

"I am not petitioning, your excellency," returned Prince Andrew
quietly.

Arakcheev's eyes turned toward him.

"Sit down," said he. "Prince Bolkonski?"

"I am not petitioning about anything. His Majesty the Emperor has
deigned to send your excellency a project submitted by me..."

"You see, my dear sir, I have read your project," interrupted
Arakcheev, uttering only the first words amiably and then- again
without looking at Prince Andrew- relapsing gradually into a tone of
grumbling contempt. "You are proposing new military laws? There are
many laws but no one to carry out the old ones. Nowadays everybody
designs laws, it is easier writing than doing."

"I came at His Majesty the Emperor's wish to learn from your
excellency how you propose to deal with the memorandum I have
presented," said Prince Andrew politely.

"I have endorsed a resolution on your memorandum and sent it to
the committee. I do not approve of it," said Arakcheev, rising and
taking a paper from his writing table. "Here!" and he handed it to
Prince Andrew.

Across the paper was scrawled in pencil, without capital letters,
misspelled, and without punctuation: "Unsoundly constructed because
resembles an imitation of the French military code and from the
Articles of War needlessly deviating."

"To what committee has the memorandum been referred?" inquired
Prince Andrew.

"To the Committee on Army Regulations, and I have recommended that
your honor should be appointed a member, but without a salary."

Prince Andrew smiled.

"I don't want one."

"A member without salary," repeated Arakcheev. "I have the
honor... Eh! Call the next one! Who else is there?" he shouted, bowing
to Prince Andrew.

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While waiting for the announcement of his appointment to thecommittee Prince Andrew looked up his former acquaintances,particularly those he knew to be in power and whose aid he might need.In Petersburg he now experienced the same feeling he had had on theeve of a battle, when troubled by anxious curiosity and irresistiblyattracted to the ruling circles where the future, on which the fate ofmillions depended, was being shaped. From the irritation of theolder men, the curiosity of the uninitiated. the reserve of theinitiated, the hurry and preoccupation of everyone, and theinnumerable committees and commissions of whose existence he learnedevery day, he
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Next morning, having taken leave of no one but the count, and notwaiting for the ladies to appear, Prince Andrew set off for home.It was already the beginning of June when on his return journey hedrove into the birch forest where the gnarled old oak had made sostrange and memorable an impression on him. In the forest theharness bells sounded yet more muffled than they had done six weeksbefore, for now all was thick, shady, and dense, and the young firsdotted about in the forest did not jar on the general beauty but,lending themselves to the mood around, were delicately green
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