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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 6
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 6 Post by :jennm Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2262

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 6 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 6

During the first weeks of his stay in Petersburg Prince Andrew
felt the whole trend of thought he had formed during his life of
seclusion quite overshadowed by the trifling cares that engrossed
him in that city.

On returning home in the evening he would jot down in his notebook
four or five necessary calls or appointments for certain hours. The
mechanism of life, the arrangement of the day so as to be in time
everywhere, absorbed the greater part of his vital energy. He did
nothing, did not even think or find time to think, but only talked,
and talked successfully, of what he had thought while in the country.

He sometimes noticed with dissatisfaction that he repeated the
same remark on the same day in different circles. But he was so busy
for whole days together that he had no time to notice that he was
thinking of nothing.

As he had done on their first meeting at Kochubey's, Speranski
produced a strong impression on Prince Andrew on the Wednesday, when
he received him tete-a-tate at his own house and talked to him long
and confidentially.

To Bolkonski so many people appeared contemptible and
insignificant creatures, and he so longed to find in someone the
living ideal of that perfection toward which he strove, that he
readily believed that in Speranski he had found this ideal of a
perfectly rational and virtuous man. Had Speranski sprung from the
same class as himself and possessed the same breeding and
traditions, Bolkonski would soon have discovered his weak, human,
unheroic sides; but as it was, Speranski's strange and logical turn of
mind inspired him with respect all the more because he did not quite
understand him. Moreover, Speranski, either because he appreciated the
other's capacity or because he considered it necessary to win him to
his side, showed off his dispassionate calm reasonableness before
Prince Andrew and flattered him with that subtle flattery which goes
hand in hand with self-assurance and consists in a tacit assumption
that one's companion is the only man besides oneself capable of
understanding the folly of the rest of mankind and the
reasonableness and profundity of one's own ideas.

During their long conversation on Wednesday evening, Speranski
more than once remarked: "We regard everything that is above the
common level of rooted custom..." or, with a smile: "But we want the
wolves to be fed and the sheep to be safe..." or: "They cannot
understand this..." and all in a way that seemed to say: "We, you
and I, understand what they are and who we are."

This first long conversation with Speranski only strengthened in
Prince Andrew the feeling he had experienced toward him at their first
meeting. He saw in him a remarkable, clear-thinking man of vast
intellect who by his energy and persistence had attained power,
which he was using solely for the welfare of Russia. In Prince
Andrew's eyes Speranski was the man he would himself have wished to
be- one who explained all the facts of life reasonably, considered
important only what was rational, and was capable of applying the
standard of reason to everything. Everything seemed so simple and
clear in Speranski's exposition that Prince Andrew involuntarily
agreed with him about everything. If he replied and argued, it was
only because he wished to maintain his independence and not submit
to Speranski's opinions entirely. Everything was right and
everything was as it should be: only one thing disconcerted Prince
Andrew. This was Speranski's cold, mirrorlike look, which did not
allow one to penetrate to his soul, and his delicate white hands,
which Prince Andrew involuntarily watched as one does watch the
hands of those who possess power. This mirrorlike gaze and those
delicate hands irritated Prince Andrew, he knew not why. He was
unpleasantly struck, too, by the excessive contempt for others that he
observed in Speranski, and by the diversity of lines of argument he
used to support his opinions. He made use of every kind of mental
device, except analogy, and passed too boldly, it seemed to Prince
Andrew, from one to another. Now he would take up the position of a
practical man and condemn dreamers; now that of a satirist, and
laugh ironically at his opponents; now grow severely logical, or
suddenly rise to the realm of metaphysics. (This last resource was one
he very frequently employed.) He would transfer a question to
metaphysical heights, pass on to definitions of space, time, and
thought, and, having deduced the refutation he needed, would again
descend to the level of the original discussion.

In general the trait of Speranski's mentality which struck Prince
Andrew most was his absolute and unshakable belief in the power and
authority of reason. It was evident that the thought could never occur
to him which to Prince Andrew seemed so natural, namely, that it is
after all impossible to express all one thinks; and that he had
never felt the doubt, "Is not all I think and believe nonsense?" And
it was just this peculiarity of Speranski's mind that particularly
attracted Prince Andrew.

During the first period of their acquaintance Bolkonski felt a
passionate admiration for him similar to that which he had once felt
for Bonaparte. The fact that Speranski was the son of a village
priest, and that stupid people might meanly despise him on account
of his humble origin (as in fact many did), caused Prince Andrew to
cherish his sentiment for him the more, and unconsciously to
strengthen it.

On that first evening Bolkonski spent with him, having mentioned the
Commission for the Revision of the Code of Laws, Speranski told him
sarcastically that the Commission had existed for a hundred and
fifty years, had cost millions, and had done nothing except that
Rosenkampf had stuck labels on the corresponding paragraphs of the
different codes.

"And that is all the state has for the millions it has spent,"
said he. "We want to give the Senate new juridical powers, but we have
no laws. That is why it is a sin for men like you, Prince, not to
serve in these times!"

Prince Andrew said that for that work an education in
jurisprudence was needed which he did not possess.

"But nobody possesses it, so what would you have? It is a vicious
circle from which we must break a way out."

A week later Prince Andrew was a member of the Committee on Army
Regulations and- what he had not at all expected- was chairman of a
section of the committee for the revision of the laws. At
Speranski's request he took the first part of the Civil Code that
was being drawn up and, with the aid of the Code Napoleon and the
Institutes of Justinian, he worked at formulating the section on
Personal Rights.

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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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