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War And Peace 471

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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 killed people. 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 won. 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. CHAPTER XXIX On returning from a second inspection of the lines, Napoleon remarked: "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. When the

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