Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
Anna Pavlovna referring to Pierre,
"I said at the time and before anyone else" (she insisted on her
priority) "that that senseless young man was spoiled by the depraved
ideas of these days. I said so even at the time when everybody was
in raptures about him, when he had just returned from abroad, and
when, if you remember, he posed as a sort of Marat at one of my
soirees. And how has it ended? I was against this marriage even then
and foretold all that has happened."
Anna Pavlovna continued to give on free evenings the same kind of
soirees as before--such as she alone had the gift of arranging--at
which was to be found "the cream of really good society, the bloom
of the intellectual essence of Petersburg," as she herself put it.
Besides this refined selection of society Anna Pavlovnas receptions
were also distinguished by the fact that she always presented some new
and interesting person to the visitors and that nowhere else was the
state of the political thermometer of legitimate Petersburg court
society so dearly and distinctly indicated.
Toward the end of 1806, when all the sad details of Napoleons
destruction of the Prussian army at Jena and Auerstadt and the
surrender of most of the Prussian fortresses had been received, when
our troops had already entered Prussia and our second war with
Napoleon was beginning, Anna Pavlovna gave one of her soirees. The
"cream of really good society" consisted of the fascinating Helene,
forsaken by her husband, Mortemart, the delightful Prince Hippolyte
who had just returned from Vienna, two diplomatists, the old aunt, a
young man referred to in that drawing room as "a man of great merit"
(un homme de beaucoup de merite), a newly appointed maid of honor
and her mother, and several other less noteworthy persons.
The novelty Anna Pavlovna was setting before her guests that evening
was Boris Drubetskoy, who had just arrived as a special messenger from
the Prussian army and was aide-de-camp to a very important personage.
The temperature shown by the political thermometer to the company
that evening was this:
"Whatever the European sovereigns and commanders may do to
countenance Bonaparte, and to cause me, and us in general, annoyance
and mortification, our opinion of Bonaparte cannot alter. We shall not
cease to express our sincere views on that subject, and can only say
to the King of Prussia and others: So much the worse for you. Tu las
voulu, George Dandin, thats all we have to say about it!"
When Boris, who was to be served up to the guests, entered the
drawing room, almost all the company had assembled, and the
conversation, guided by Anna Pavlovna, was about our diplomatic
relations with Austria and the hope of an alliance with her.
Boris, grown more manly and looking fresh, rosy and
self-possessed, entered the drawing room elegantly dressed in the
uniform of an aide-de-camp and was duly conducted to pay his
respects to the aunt and then brought back to the general circle.
Anna Pavlovna gave him her shriveled hand to kiss and introduced him
to several persons whom he did not know, giving him a whispered
description of each.
"Prince Hippolyte Kuragin, M. Krug, the charge daffaires from
Copenhagen--a profound intellect," and simply, "Mr. Shitov--a
man of great merit"--this of the man usually so described.
Thanks to Anna Mikhaylovnas efforts, his own tastes, and the
peculiarities of his reserved nature, Boris had managed during his
service to place himself very advantageously. He was aide-de-camp to a
very important personage, had been sent on a very important mission to
Prussia, and had just returned from there as a special messenger. He
had become thoroughly conversant with that unwritten code with which
he had been so pleased at Olmutz and according to which an ensign
might rank incomparably higher than a general, and according to
which what was needed for success in the service was not effort or
work, or courage, or perseverance, but only the knowledge of how to
get on with those who can grant rewards, and he was himself often
surprised at the rapidity of his success and at the inability of
others to understand these things. In consequence of this discovery
his whole manner of life, all his relations with old friends, all
his plans for his future, were completely altered. He was not rich,
but would spend his last groat to be better dressed than others, and
would rather deprive himself of many pleasures than allow himself to
be seen in a shabby equipage or appear in the streets of Petersburg
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