Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
not less a man than the great Napoleon--demands the
acceptance of that solution of the question, and historic
investigation abundantly confirms it.
At the battle of Borodino Napoleon shot at no one and killed no one.
That was all done by the soldiers. Therefore it was not he who
The French soldiers went to kill and be killed at the battle of
Borodino not because of Napoleons orders but by their own volition.
The whole army--French, Italian, German, Polish, and Dutch--hungry,
ragged, and weary of the campaign, felt at the sight of an army
blocking their road to Moscow that the wine was drawn and must be
drunk. Had Napoleon then forbidden them to fight the Russians, they
would have killed him and have proceeded to fight the Russians because
it was inevitable.
When they heard Napoleons proclamation offering them, as
compensation for mutilation and death, the words of posterity about
their having been in the battle before Moscow, they cried "Vive
lEmpereur!" just as they had cried "Vive lEmpereur!" at the sight of
the portrait of the boy piercing the terrestrial globe with a toy
stick, and just as they would have cried "Vive lEmpereur!" at any
nonsense that might be told them. There was nothing left for them to
do but cry "Vive lEmpereur!" and go to fight, in order to get food
and rest as conquerors in Moscow. So it was not because of
Napoleons commands that they killed their fellow men.
And it was not Napoleon who directed the course of the battle, for
none of his orders were executed and during the battle he did not know
what was going on before him. So the way in which these people
killed one another was not decided by Napoleons will but occurred
independently of him, in accord with the will of hundreds of thousands
of people who took part in the common action. It only seemed to
Napoleon that it all took place by his will. And so the question
whether he had or had not a cold has no more historic interest than
the cold of the least of the transport soldiers.
Moreover, the assertion made by various writers that his cold was
the cause of his dispositions not being as well planned as on former
occasions, and of his orders during the battle not being as good as
previously, is quite baseless, which again shows that Napoleons
cold on the twenty-sixth of August was unimportant.
The dispositions cited above are not at all worse, but are even
better, than previous dispositions by which he had won victories.
His pseudo-orders during the battle were also no worse than
formerly, but much the same as usual. These dispositions and orders
only seem worse than previous ones because the battle of Borodino
was the first Napoleon did not win. The profoundest and most excellent
dispositions and orders seem very bad, and every learned militarist
criticizes them with looks of importance, when they relate to a
battle that has been lost, and the very worst dispositions and
orders seem very good, and serious people fill whole volumes to
demonstrate their merits, when they relate to a battle that has been
The dispositions drawn up by Weyrother for the battle of
Austerlitz were a model of perfection for that kind of composition,
but still they were criticized--criticized for their very
perfection, for their excessive minuteness.
Napoleon at the battle of Borodino fulfilled his office as
representative of authority as well as, and even better than, at other
battles. He did nothing harmful to the progress of the battle; he
inclined to the most reasonable opinions, he made no confusion, did
not contradict himself, did not get frightened or run away from the
field of battle, but with his great tact and military experience
carried out his role of appearing to command, calmly and with dignity.
On returning from a second inspection of the lines, Napoleon
"The chessmen are set up, the game will begin tomorrow!"
Having ordered punch and summoned de Beausset, he began to talk to him
about Paris and about some changes he meant to make in the Empress
household, surprising the prefect by his memory of minute details
relating to the court.
He showed an interest in trifles, joked about de Beaussets love
of travel, and chatted carelessly, as a famous, self-confident surgeon
who knows his job does when turning up his sleeves and putting on
his apron while a patient is being strapped to the operating table.
"The matter is in my hands and is clear and definite in my head.
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