Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
of the streets through which he rode, rugs,
flags, and his monogram were displayed, and the Polish ladies,
welcoming him, waved their handkerchiefs to him.
At dinner, having placed Balashev beside him, Napoleon not only
treated him amiably but behaved as if Balashev were one of his own
courtiers, one of those who sympathized with his plans and ought to
rejoice at his success. In the course of conversation he mentioned
Moscow and questioned Balashev about the Russian capital, not merely
as an interested traveler asks about a new city he intends to visit,
but as if convinced that Balashev, as a Russian, must be flattered
by his curiosity.
"How many inhabitants are there in Moscow? How many houses? Is it
true that Moscow is called Holy Moscow? How many churches are
there in Moscow?" he asked.
And receiving the reply that there were more than two hundred
churches, he remarked:
"Why such a quantity of churches?"
"The Russians are very devout," replied Balashev.
"But a large number of monasteries and churches is always a sign
of the backwardness of a people," said Napoleon, turning to
Caulaincourt for appreciation of this remark.
Balashev respectfully ventured to disagree with the French Emperor.
"Every country has its own character," said he.
"But nowhere in Europe is there anything like that," said Napoleon.
"I beg your Majestys pardon," returned Balashev, "besides Russia
there is Spain, where there are also many churches and monasteries."
This reply of Balashevs, which hinted at the recent defeats of
the French in Spain, was much appreciated when he related it at
Alexanders court, but it was not much appreciated at Napoleons
dinner, where it passed unnoticed.
The uninterested and perplexed faces of the marshals showed that
they were puzzled as to what Balashevs tone suggested. "If there is a
point we dont see it, or it is not at all witty," their expressions
seemed to say. So little was his rejoinder appreciated that Napoleon
did not notice it at all and naively asked Balashev through what towns
the direct road from there to Moscow passed. Balashev, who was on
the alert all through the dinner, replied that just as "all roads lead
to Rome," so all roads lead to Moscow: there were many roads, and
"among them the road through Poltava, which Charles XII chose."
Balashev involuntarily flushed with pleasure at the aptitude of this
reply, but hardly had he uttered the word Poltava before
Caulaincourt began speaking of the badness of the road from Petersburg
to Moscow and of his Petersburg reminiscences.
After dinner they went to drink coffee in Napoleons study, which
four days previously had been that of the Emperor Alexander.
Napoleon sat down, toying with his Sevres coffee cup, and motioned
Balashev to a chair beside him.
Napoleon was in that well-known after-dinner mood which, more than
any reasoned cause, makes a man contented with himself and disposed to
consider everyone his friend. It seemed to him that he was
surrounded by men who adored him: and he felt convinced that, after
his dinner, Balashev too was his friend and worshiper. Napoleon turned
to him with a pleasant, though slightly ironic, smile.
"They tell me this is the room the Emperor Alexander occupied?
Strange, isnt it, General?" he said, evidently not doubting that this
remark would be agreeable to his hearer since it went to prove his,
Napoleons, superiority to Alexander.
Balashev made no reply and bowed his head in silence.
"Yes. Four days ago in this room, Wintzingerode and Stein were
deliberating," continued Napoleon with the same derisive and
self-confident smile. "What I cant understand," he went on, "is
that the Emperor Alexander has surrounded himself with my personal
enemies. That I do not... understand. Has he not thought that I may do
the same?" and he turned inquiringly to Balashev, and evidently this
thought turned him back on to the track of his mornings anger,
which was still fresh in him.
"And let him know that I will do so!" said Napoleon, rising and
pushing his cup away with his hand. "Ill drive all his Wurttemberg,
Baden, and Weimar relations out of Germany.... Yes. Ill drive them
out. Let him prepare an asylum for them in Russia!"
Balashev bowed his head with an air indicating that he would like to
make his bow and leave, and only listened because he could not help
hearing what was said to him. Napoleon did not notice this expression;
he treated Balashev not as an envoy from his enemy, but as a man now
fully devoted to him and who must rejoice at his former masters
"And why has the Emperor
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