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War And Peace 425

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War And Peace

his own words. "Eh? Nonsense! He sees well enough," said Prince Vasili rapidly, in a deep voice and with a slight cough--the voice and cough with which he was wont to dispose of all difficulties. "He sees well enough," he added. "And what I am so pleased about," he went on, "is that our sovereign has given him full powers over all the armies and the whole region--powers no commander in chief ever had before. He is a second autocrat," he concluded with a victorious smile. "God grant it! God grant it!" said Anna Pavlovna. The "man of great merit," who was still a novice in court circles, wishing to flatter Anna Pavlovna by defending her former position on this question, observed: "It is said that the Emperor was reluctant to give Kutuzov those powers. They say he blushed like a girl to whom Joconde is read, when he said to Kutuzov: Your Emperor and the Fatherland award you this honor." "Perhaps the heart took no part in that speech," said Anna Pavlovna. "Oh, no, no!" warmly rejoined Prince Vasili, who would not now yield Kutuzov to anyone; in his opinion Kutuzov was not only admirable himself, but was adored by everybody. "No, thats impossible," said he, "for our sovereign appreciated him so highly before." "God grant only that Prince Kutuzov assumes real power and does not allow anyone to put a spoke in his wheel," observed Anna Pavlovna. Understanding at once to whom she alluded, Prince Vasili said in a whisper: "I know for a fact that Kutuzov made it an absolute condition that the Tsarevich should not be with the army. Do you know what he said to the Emperor?" And Prince Vasili repeated the words supposed to have been spoken by Kutuzov to the Emperor. "I can neither punish him if he does wrong nor reward him if he does right." "Oh, a very wise man is Prince Kutuzov! I have known him a long time!" "They even say," remarked the "man of great merit" who did not yet possess courtly tact, "that his excellency made it an express condition that the sovereign himself should not be with the army." As soon as he said this both Prince Vasili and Anna Pavlovna turned away from him and glanced sadly at one another with a sigh at his naivete. CHAPTER VII While this was taking place in Petersburg the French had already passed Smolensk and were drawing nearer and nearer to Moscow. Napoleons historian Thiers, like other of his historians, trying to justify his hero says that he was drawn to the walls of Moscow against his will. He is as right as other historians who look for the explanation of historic events in the will of one man; he is as right as the Russian historians who maintain that Napoleon was drawn to Moscow by the skill of the Russian commanders. Here besides the law of retrospection, which regards all the past as a preparation for events that subsequently occur, the law of reciprocity comes in, confusing the whole matter. A good chessplayer having lost a game is sincerely convinced that his loss resulted from a mistake he made and looks for that mistake in the opening, but forgets that at each stage of the game there were similar mistakes and that none of his moves were perfect. He only notices the mistake to which he pays attention, because his opponent took advantage of it. How much more complex than this is the game of war, which occurs under certain limits of time, and where it is not one will that manipulates lifeless objects, but everything results from innumerable conflicts of various wills! After Smolensk Napoleon sought a battle beyond Dorogobuzh at Vyazma, and then at Tsarevo-Zaymishche, but it happened that owing to a conjunction of innumerable circumstances the Russians could not give battle till they reached Borodino, seventy miles from Moscow. From Vyazma Napoleon ordered a direct advance on Moscow. Moscou, la capitale asiatique de ce grand empire, la ville sacree des peuples dAlexandre, Moscou avec ses innombrables eglises en forme de pagodes chinoises,* this Moscow gave Napoleons imagination no rest. On the march from Vyazma to Tsarevo-Zaymishche he rode his light bay bobtailed ambler accompanied by his Guards, his bodyguard, his pages, and aides-de-camp. Berthier, his chief of staff, dropped behind to question a Russian prisoner captured by the cavalry. Followed by Lelorgne dIdeville, an interpreter, he overtook Napoleon at a gallop and reined in his horse with an amused expression. *"Moscow, the Asiatic capital of this great empire, the sacred city of Alexanders people, Moscow with its innumerable churches shaped like

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