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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 25
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 25 Post by :vanyon Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2761

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 25

The officers were about to take leave, but Prince Andrew, apparently
reluctant to be left alone with his friend, asked them to stay and
have tea. Seats were brought in and so was the tea. The officers gazed
with surprise at Pierre's huge stout figure and listened to his talk
of Moscow and the position of our army, round which he had ridden.
Prince Andrew remained silent, and his expression was so forbidding
that Pierre addressed his remarks chiefly to the good-natured
battalion commander.

"So you understand the whole position of our troops?" Prince
Andrew interrupted him.

"Yes- that is, how do you mean?" said Pierre. "Not being a
military man I can't say I have understood it fully, but I
understand the general position."

"Well, then, you know more than anyone else, be it who it may," said
Prince Andrew.

"Oh!" said Pierre, looking over his spectacles in perplexity at
Prince Andrew. "Well, and what do think of Kutuzov's appointment?"
he asked.

"I was very glad of his appointment, that's all I know," replied
Prince Andrew.

"And tell me your opinion of Barclay de Tolly. In Moscow they are
saying heaven knows what about him.... What do you think of him?"

"Ask them," replied Prince Andrew, indicating the officers.

Pierre looked at Timokhin with the condescendingly interrogative
smile with which everybody involuntarily addressed that officer.

"We see light again, since his Serenity has been appointed, your
excellency," said Timokhin timidly, and continually turning to
glance at his colonel.

"Why so?" asked Pierre.

"Well, to mention only firewood and fodder, let me inform you.
Why, when we were retreating from Sventsyani we dare not touch a stick
or a wisp of hay or anything. You see, we were going away, so he would
get it all; wasn't it so, your excellency?" and again Timokhin
turned to the prince. "But we daren't. In our regiment two officers
were court-martialed for that kind of thing. But when his Serenity
took command everything became straight forward. Now we see light..."

"Then why was it forbidden?"

Timokhin looked about in confusion, not knowing what or how to
answer such a question. Pierre put the same question to Prince Andrew.

"Why, so as not to lay waste the country we were abandoning to the
enemy," said Prince Andrew with venomous irony. "It is very sound: one
can't permit the land to be pillaged and accustom the troops to
marauding. At Smolensk too he judged correctly that the French might
outflank us, as they had larger forces. But he could not understand
this," cried Prince Andrew in a shrill voice that seemed to escape him
involuntarily: "he could not understand that there, for the first
time, we were fighting for Russian soil, and that there was a spirit
in the men such as I had never seen before, that we had held the
French for two days, and that that success had increased our
strength tenfold. He ordered us to retreat, and all our efforts and
losses went for nothing. He had no thought of betraying us, he tried
to do the best he could, he thought out everything, and that is why he
is unsuitable. He is unsuitable now, just because he plans out
everything very thoroughly and accurately as every German has to.
How can I explain?... Well, say your father has a German valet, and he
is a splendid valet and satisfies your father's requirements better
than you could, then it's all right to let him serve. But if your
father is mortally sick you'll send the valet away and attend to
your father with your own unpracticed, awkward hands, and will
soothe him better than a skilled man who is a stranger could. So it
has been with Barclay. While Russia was well, a foreigner could
serve her and be a splendid minister; but as soon as she is in
danger she needs one of her own kin. But in your Club they have been
making him out a traitor! They slander him as a traitor, and the
only result will be that afterwards, ashamed of their false
accusations, they will make him out a hero or a genius instead of a
traitor, and that will be still more unjust. He is an honest and
very punctilious German."

"And they say he's a skillful commander," rejoined Pierre.

"I don't understand what is meant by 'a skillful commander,'"
replied Prince Andrew ironically.

"A skillful commander?" replied Pierre. "Why, one who foresees all
contingencies... and foresees the adversary's intentions."

"But that's impossible," said Prince Andrew as if it were a matter
settled long ago.

Pierre looked at him in surprise.

"And yet they say that war is like a game of chess?" he remarked.

"Yes," replied Prince Andrew, "but with this little difference, that
in chess you may think over each move as long as you please and are
not limited for time, and with this difference too, that a knight is
always stronger than a pawn, and two pawns are always stronger than
one, while in war a battalion is sometimes stronger than a division
and sometimes weaker than a company. The relative strength of bodies
of troops can never be known to anyone. Believe me," he went on, "if
things depended on arrangements made by the staff, I should be there
making arrangements, but instead of that I have the honor to serve
here in the regiment with these gentlemen, and I consider that on us
tomorrow's battle will depend and not on those others.... Success
never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or
even on numbers, and least of all on position."

"But on what then?"

"On the feeling that is in me and in him," he pointed to Timokhin,
"and in each soldier."

Prince Andrew glanced at Timokhin, who looked at his commander in
alarm and bewilderment. In contrast to his former reticent taciturnity
Prince Andrew now seemed excited. He could apparently not refrain from
expressing the thoughts that had suddenly occurred to him.

"A battle is won by those who firmly resolve to win it! Why did we
lose the battle at Austerlitz? The French losses were almost equal
to ours, but very early we said to ourselves that we were losing the
battle, and we did lose it. And we said so because we had nothing to
fight for there, we wanted to get away from the battlefield as soon as
we could. 'We've lost, so let us run,' and we ran. If we had not
said that till the evening, heaven knows what might not have happened.
But tomorrow we shan't say it! You talk about our position, the left
flank weak and the right flank too extended," he went on. "That's
all nonsense, there's nothing of the kind. But what awaits us
tomorrow? A hundred million most diverse chances which will be decided
on the instant by the fact that our men or theirs run or do not run,
and that this man or that man is killed, but all that is being done at
present is only play. The fact is that those men with whom you have
ridden round the position not only do not help matters, but hinder.
They are only concerned with their own petty interests."

"At such a moment?" said Pierre reproachfully.

"At such a moment!" Prince Andrew repeated. "To them it is only a
moment affording opportunities to undermine a rival and obtain an
extra cross or ribbon. For me tomorrow means this: a Russian army of a
hundred thousand and a French army of a hundred thousand have met to
fight, and the thing is that these two hundred thousand men will fight
and the side that fights more fiercely and spares itself least will
win. And if you like I will tell you that whatever happens and
whatever muddles those at the top may make, we shall win tomorrow's
battle. Tomorrow, happen what may, we shall win!"

"There now, your excellency! That's the truth, the real truth," said
Timokhin. "Who would spare himself now? The soldiers in my
battalion, believe me, wouldn't drink their vodka! 'It's not the day
for that!' they say."

All were silent. The officers rose. Prince Andrew went out of the
shed with them, giving final orders to the adjutant. After they had
gone Pierre approached Prince Andrew and was about to start a
conversation when they heard the clatter of three horses' hoofs on the
road not far from the shed, and looking in that direction Prince
Andrew recognized Wolzogen and Clausewitz accompanied by a Cossack.
They rode close by continuing to converse, and Prince Andrew
involuntarily heard these words:

"Der Krieg muss in Raum verlegt werden. Der Ansicht kann ich nicht
genug Preis geben,"* said one of them.

*"The war must be extended widely. I cannot sufficiently commend
that view."

"Oh, ja," said the other, "der Zweck ist nur den Feind zu schwachen,
so kann man gewiss nicht den Verlust der Privat-Personen in Achtung

*"Oh, yes, the only aim is to weaken the enemy, so of course one
cannot take into account the loss of private individuals."

"Oh, no," agreed the other.

"Extend widely!" said Prince Andrew with an angry snort, when they
had ridden past. "In that 'extend' were my father, son, and sister, at
Bald Hills. That's all the same to him! That's what I was saying to
you- those German gentlemen won't win the battle tomorrow but will
only make all the mess they can, because they have nothing in their
German heads but theories not worth an empty eggshell and haven't in
their hearts the one thing needed tomorrow- that which Timokhin has.
They have yielded up all Europe to him, and have now come to teach us.
Fine teachers!" and again his voice grew shrill.

"So you think we shall win tomorrow's battle?" asked Pierre.

"Yes, yes," answered Prince Andrew absently. "One thing I would do
if I had the power," he began again, "I would not take prisoners.
Why take prisoners? It's chivalry! The French have destroyed my home
and are on their way to destroy Moscow, they have outraged and are
outraging me every moment. They are my enemies. In my opinion they are
all criminals. And so thinks Timokhin and the whole army. They
should be executed! Since they are my foes they cannot be my
friends, whatever may have been said at Tilsit."

"Yes, yes," muttered Pierre, looking with shining eyes at Prince
Andrew. "I quite agree with you!"

The question that had perturbed Pierre on the Mozhaysk hill and
all that day now seemed to him quite clear and completely solved. He
now understood the whole meaning and importance of this war and of the
impending battle. All he had seen that day, all the significant and
stern expressions on the faces he had seen in passing, were lit up for
him by a new light. He understood that latent heat (as they say in
physics) of patriotism which was present in all these men he had seen,
and this explained to him why they all prepared for death calmly,
and as it were lightheartedly.

"Not take prisoners," Prince Andrew continued: "That by itself would
quite change the whole war and make it less cruel. As it is we have
played at war- that's what's vile! We play at magnanimity and all that
stuff. Such magnanimity and sensibility are like the magnanimity and
sensibility of a lady who faints when she sees a calf being killed:
she is so kind-hearted that she can't look at blood, but enjoys eating
the calf served up with sauce. They talk to us of the rules of war, of
chivalry, of flags of truce, of mercy to the unfortunate and so on.
It's all rubbish! I saw chivalry and flags of truce in 1805; they
humbugged us and we humbugged them. They plunder other people's
houses, issue false paper money, and worst of all they kill my
children and my father, and then talk of rules of war and
magnanimity to foes! Take no prisoners, but kill and be killed! He who
has come to this as I have through the same sufferings..."

Prince Andrew, who had thought it was all the same to him whether or
not Moscow was taken as Smolensk had been, was suddenly checked in his
speech by an unexpected cramp in his throat. He paced up and down a
few times in silence, but his eyes glittered feverishly and his lips
quivered as he began speaking.

"If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we should go to war
only when it was worth while going to certain death, as now. Then
there would not be war because Paul Ivanovich had offended Michael
Ivanovich. And when there was a war, like this one, it would be war!
And then the determination of the troops would be quite different.
Then all these Westphalians and Hessians whom Napoleon is leading
would not follow him into Russia, and we should not go to fight in
Austria and Prussia without knowing why. War is not courtesy but the
most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that and not
play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and
seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be
war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favorite pastime of the
idle and frivolous. The military calling is the most highly honored.

"But what is war? What is needed for success in warfare? What are
the habits of the military? The aim of war is murder; the methods of
war are spying, treachery, and their encouragement, the ruin of a
country's inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to provision the army,
and fraud and falsehood termed military craft. The habits of the
military class are the absence of freedom, that is, discipline,
idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in
spite of all this it is the highest class, respected by everyone.
All the kings, except the Chinese, wear military uniforms, and he
who kills most people receives the highest rewards.

"They meet, as we shall meet tomorrow, to murder one another; they
kill and maim tens of thousands, and then have thanksgiving services
for having killed so many people (they even exaggerate the number),
and they announce a victory, supposing that the more people they
have killed the greater their achievement. How does God above look
at them and hear them?" exclaimed Prince Andrew in a shrill,
piercing voice. "Ah, my friend, it has of late become hard for me to
live. I see that I have begun to understand too much. And it doesn't
do for man to taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil....
Ah, well, it's not for long!" he added.

"However, you're sleepy, and it's time for me to sleep. Go back to
Gorki!" said Prince Andrew suddenly.

"Oh no!" Pierre replied, looking at Prince Andrew with frightened,
compassionate eyes.

"Go, go! Before a battle one must have one's sleep out," repeated
Prince Andrew.

He came quickly up to Pierre and embraced and kissed him.
"Good-by, be off!" he shouted. "Whether we meet again or not..."
and turning away hurriedly he entered the shed.

It was already dark, and Pierre could not make out whether the
expression of Prince Andrew's face was angry or tender.

For some time he stood in silence considering whether he should
follow him or go away. "No, he does not want it!" Pierre concluded.
"And I know that this is our last meeting!" He sighed deeply and
rode back to Gorki.

On re-entering the shed Prince Andrew lay down on a rug, but he
could not sleep.

He closed his eyes. One picture succeeded another in his
imagination. On one of them he dwelt long and joyfully. He vividly
recalled an evening in Petersburg. Natasha with animated and excited
face was telling him how she had gone to look for mushrooms the
previous summer and had lost her way in the big forest. She
incoherently described the depths of the forest, her feelings, and a
talk with a beekeeper she met, and constantly interrupted her story to
say: "No, I can't! I'm not telling it right; no, you don't
understand," though he encouraged her by saying that he did
understand, and he really had understood all she wanted to say. But
Natasha was not satisfied with her own words: she felt that they did
not convey the passionately poetic feeling she had experienced that
day and wished to convey. "He was such a delightful old man, and it
was so dark in the forest... and he had such kind... No, I can't
describe it," she had said, flushed and excited. Prince Andrew
smiled now the same happy smile as then when he had looked into her
eyes. "I understood her," he thought. "I not only understood her,
but it was just that inner, spiritual force, that sincerity, that
frankness of soul- that very soul of hers which seemed to be
fettered by her body- it was that soul I loved in her... loved so
strongly and happily..." and suddenly he remembered how his love had
ended. "He did not need anything of that kind. He neither saw nor
understood anything of the sort. He only saw in her a pretty and fresh
young girl, with whom he did not deign to unite his fate. And I?...
and he is still alive and gay!"

Prince Andrew jumped up as if someone had burned him, and again
began pacing up and down in front of the shed.

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 26 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 26

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24

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