Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
refusal to withdraw his troops beyond the Vistula and to
restore the duchy of Oldenburg; for had he not wished to serve, and
had a second, a third, and a thousandth corporal and private also
refused, there would have been so many less men in Napoleons army and
the war could not have occurred.
Had Napoleon not taken offense at the demand that he should withdraw
beyond the Vistula, and not ordered his troops to advance, there would
have been no war; but had all his sergeants objected to serving a
second term then also there could have been no war. Nor could there
have been a war had there been no English intrigues and no Duke of
Oldenburg, and had Alexander not felt insulted, and had there not been
an autocratic government in Russia, or a Revolution in France and a
subsequent dictatorship and Empire, or all the things that produced
the French Revolution, and so on. Without each of these causes nothing
could have happened. So all these causes--myriads of causes--coincided
to bring it about. And so there was no one cause for that
occurrence, but it had to occur because it had to. Millions of men,
renouncing their human feelings and reason, had to go from west to
east to slay their fellows, just as some centuries previously hordes
of men had come from the east to the west, slaying their fellows.
The actions of Napoleon and Alexander, on whose words the event seemed
to hang, were as little voluntary as the actions of any soldier who
was drawn into the campaign by lot or by conscription. This could not
be otherwise, for in order that the will of Napoleon and Alexander (on
whom the event seemed to depend) should be carried out, the
concurrence of innumerable circumstances was needed without any one of
which the event could not have taken place. It was necessary that
millions of men in whose hands lay the real power--the soldiers who
fired, or transported provisions and guns--should consent to carry out
the will of these weak individuals, and should have been induced to do
so by an infinite number of diverse and complex causes.
We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of
irrational events (that is to say, events the reasonableness of
which we do not understand). The more we try to explain such events in
history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they
become to us.
Each man lives for himself, using his freedom to attain his personal
aims, and feels with his whole being that he can now do or abstain
from doing this or that action; but as soon as he has done it, that
action performed at a certain moment in time becomes irrevocable and
belongs to history, in which it has not a free but a predestined
There are two sides to the life of every man, his individual life,
which is the more free the more abstract its interests, and his
elemental hive life in which he inevitably obeys laws laid down for
Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious
instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of
humanity. A deed done is irrevocable, and its result coinciding in
time with the actions of millions of other men assumes an historic
significance. The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the more
people he is connected with and the more power he has over others, the
more evident is the predestination and inevitability of his every
"The kings heart is in the hands of the Lord."
A king is historys slave.
History, that is, the unconscious, general, hive life of mankind,
uses every moment of the life of kings as a tool for its own purposes.
Though Napoleon at that time, in 1812, was more convinced than ever
that it depended on him, verser (ou ne pas verser) le sang de ses
peuples*--as Alexander expressed it in the last letter he wrote
him--he had never been so much in the grip of inevitable laws, which
compelled him, while thinking that he was acting on his own volition,
to perform for the hive life--that is to say, for history--whatever
had to be performed.
*"To shed (or not to shed) the blood of his peoples."
The people of the west moved eastwards to slay their fellow men, and
by the law of coincidence thousands of minute causes fitted in and
co-ordinated to produce that movement and war: reproaches for the
nonobservance of the Continental System, the Duke of Oldenburgs
wrongs, the movement of
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