Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
Helenes house, which every clever man was obliged to
visit--that not by gunpowder but by those who invented it would matters
be settled. In that circle the Moscow enthusiasm--news of which had
reached Petersburg simultaneously with the Emperors return--was
ridiculed sarcastically and very cleverly, though with much caution.
Anna Pavlovnas circle on the contrary was enraptured by this
enthusiasm and spoke of it as Plutarch speaks of the deeds of the
ancients. Prince Vasili, who still occupied his former important
posts, formed a connecting link between these two circles. He
visited his "good friend Anna Pavlovna" as well as his daughters
"diplomatic salon," and often in his constant comings and goings
between the two camps became confused and said at Helenes what he
should have said at Anna Pavlovnas and vice versa.
Soon after the Emperors return Prince Vasili in a conversation
about the war at Anna Pavlovnas severely condemned Barclay de
Tolly, but was undecided as to who ought to be appointed commander
in chief. One of the visitors, usually spoken of as "a man of great
merit," having described how he had that day seen Kutuzov, the newly
chosen chief of the Petersburg militia, presiding over the
enrollment of recruits at the Treasury, cautiously ventured to suggest
that Kutuzov would be the man to satisfy all requirements.
Anna Pavlovna remarked with a melancholy smile that Kutuzov had done
nothing but cause the Emperor annoyance.
"I have talked and talked at the Assembly of the Nobility," Prince
Vasili interrupted, "but they did not listen to me. I told them his
election as chief of the militia would not please the Emperor. They
did not listen to me.
"Its all this mania for opposition," he went on. "And who for? It is
all because we want to ape the foolish enthusiasm of those
Muscovites," Prince Vasili continued, forgetting for a moment that
though at Helenes one had to ridicule the Moscow enthusiasm, at Anna
Pavlovnas one had to be ecstatic about it. But he retrieved his
mistake at once. "Now, is it suitable that Count Kutuzov, the oldest
general in Russia, should preside at that tribunal? He will get
nothing for his pains! How could they make a man commander in chief
who cannot mount a horse, who drops asleep at a council, and has the
very worst morals! A good reputation he made for himself at Bucharest!
I dont speak of his capacity as a general, but at a time like this
how they appoint a decrepit, blind old man, positively blind? A fine
idea to have a blind general! He cant see anything. To play
blindmans bluff? He cant see at all!"
No one replied to his remarks.
This was quite correct on the twenty-fourth of July. But on the
twenty-ninth of July Kutuzov received the title of Prince. This
might indicate a wish to get rid of him, and therefore Prince Vasilis
opinion continued to be correct though he was not now in any hurry
to express it. But on the eighth of August a committee, consisting
of Field Marshal Saltykov, Arakcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopukhin, and
Kochubey met to consider the progress of the war. This committee
came to the conclusion that our failures were due to a want of unity
in the command and though the members of the committee were aware of
the Emperors dislike of Kutuzov, after a short deliberation they
agreed to advise his appointment as commander in chief. That same
day Kutuzov was appointed commander in chief with full powers over the
armies and over the whole region occupied by them.
On the ninth of August Prince Vasili at Anna Pavlovnas again met
the "man of great merit." The latter was very attentive to Anna
Pavlovna because he wanted to be appointed director of one of the
educational establishments for young ladies. Prince Vasili entered the
room with the air of a happy conqueror who has attained the object
of his desires.
"Well, have you heard the great news? Prince Kutuzov is field
marshal! All dissensions are at an end! I am so glad, so delighted! At
last we have a man!" said he, glancing sternly and significantly round
at everyone in the drawing room.
The "man of great merit," despite his desire to obtain the post of
director, could not refrain from reminding Prince Vasili of his former
opinion. Though this was impolite to Prince Vasili in Anna
Pavlovnas drawing room, and also to Anna Pavlovna herself who had
received the news with delight, he could not resist the temptation.
"But, Prince, they say he is blind!" said he, reminding Prince
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