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War And Peace 370

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War And Peace

exalt himself and insult Alexander--just what he had least desired at the commencement of the interview. "I hear you have made peace with Turkey?" Balashev bowed his head affirmatively. "Peace has been concluded..." he began. But Napoleon did not let him speak. He evidently wanted to do all the talking himself, and continued to talk with the sort of eloquence and unrestrained irritability to which spoiled people are so prone. "Yes, I know you have made peace with the Turks without obtaining Moldavia and Wallachia; I would have given your sovereign those provinces as I gave him Finland. Yes," he went on, "I promised and would have given the Emperor Alexander Moldavia and Wallachia, and now he wont have those splendid provinces. Yet he might have united them to his empire and in a single reign would have extended Russia from the Gulf of Bothnia to the mouths of the Danube. Catherine the Great could not have done more," said Napoleon, growing more and more excited as he paced up and down the room, repeating to Balashev almost the very words he had used to Alexander himself at Tilsit. "All that, he would have owed to my friendship. Oh, what a splendid reign!" he repeated several times, then paused, drew from his pocket a gold snuffbox, lifted it to his nose, and greedily sniffed at it. "What a splendid reign the Emperor Alexanders might have been!" He looked compassionately at Balashev, and as soon as the latter tried to make some rejoinder hastily interrupted him. "What could he wish or look for that he would not have obtained through my friendship?" demanded Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders in perplexity. "But no, he has preferred to surround himself with my enemies, and with whom? With Steins, Armfeldts, Bennigsens, and Wintzingerodes! Stein, a traitor expelled from his own country; Armfeldt, a rake and an intriguer; Wintzingerode, a fugitive French subject; Bennigsen, rather more of a soldier than the others, but all the same an incompetent who was unable to do anything in 1807 and who should awaken terrible memories in the Emperor Alexanders mind.... Granted that were they competent they might be made use of," continued Napoleon--hardly able to keep pace in words with the rush of thoughts that incessantly sprang up, proving how right and strong he was (in his perception the two were one and the same)--"but they are not even that! They are neither fit for war nor peace! Barclay is said to be the most capable of them all, but I cannot say so, judging by his first movements. And what are they doing, all these courtiers? Pfuel proposes, Armfeldt disputes, Bennigsen considers, and Barclay, called on to act, does not know what to decide on, and time passes bringing no result. Bagration alone is a military man. Hes stupid, but he has experience, a quick eye, and resolution.... And what role is your young monarch playing in that monstrous crowd? They compromise him and throw on him the responsibility for all that happens. A sovereign should not be with the army unless he is a general!" said Napoleon, evidently uttering these words as a direct challenge to the Emperor. He knew how Alexander desired to be a military commander. "The campaign began only a week ago, and you havent even been able to defend Vilna. You are cut in two and have been driven out of the Polish provinces. Your army is grumbling." "On the contrary, Your Majesty," said Balashev, hardly able to remember what had been said to him and following these verbal fireworks with difficulty, "the troops are burning with eagerness..." "I know everything!" Napoleon interrupted him. "I know everything. I know the number of your battalions as exactly as I know my own. You have not two hundred thousand men, and I have three times that number. I give you my word of honor," said Napoleon, forgetting that his word of honor could carry no weight--"I give you my word of honor that I have five hundred and thirty thousand men this side of the Vistula. The Turks will be of no use to you; they are worth nothing and have shown it by making peace with you. As for the Swedes--it is their fate to be governed by mad kings. Their king was insane and they changed him for another--Bernadotte, who promptly went mad--for no Swede would ally himself with Russia unless he were mad." Napoleon grinned maliciously and again raised his snuffbox to his nose. Balashev knew how to reply to each of Napoleons remarks, and would have done so; he continually made the

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