Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
utmost and could not have done
more without destroying itself.
During the movement of the Russian army from Tarutino to Krasnoe
it lost fifty thousand sick or stragglers, that is a number equal to
the population of a large provincial town. Half the men fell out of
the army without a battle.
And it is of this period of the campaign--when the army lacked boots
and sheepskin coats, was short of provisions and without vodka, and
was camping out at night for months in the snow with fifteen degrees
of frost, when there were only seven or eight hours of daylight and
the rest was night in which the influence of discipline cannot be
maintained, when men were taken into that region of death where
discipline fails, not for a few hours only as in a battle, but for
months, where they were every moment fighting death from hunger and
cold, when half the army perished in a single month--it is of this
period of the campaign that the historians tell us how Miloradovich
should have made a flank march to such and such a place, Tormasov to
another place, and Chichagov should have crossed (more than
knee-deep in snow) to somewhere else, and how so-and-so "routed" and
"cut off" the French and so on and so on.
The Russians, half of whom died, did all that could and should
have been done to attain an end worthy of the nation, and they are not
to blame because other Russians, sitting in warm rooms, proposed
that they should do what was impossible.
All that strange contradiction now difficult to understand between
the facts and the historical accounts only arises because the
historians dealing with the matter have written the history of the
beautiful words and sentiments of various generals, and not the
history of the events.
To them the words of Miloradovich seem very interesting, and so do
their surmises and the rewards this or that general received; but
the question of those fifty thousand men who were left in hospitals
and in graves does not even interest them, for it does not come within
the range of their investigation.
Yet one need only discard the study of the reports and general plans
and consider the movement of those hundreds of thousands of men who
took a direct part in the events, and all the questions that seemed
insoluble easily and simply receive an immediate and certain solution.
The aim of cutting off Napoleon and his army never existed except in
the imaginations of a dozen people. It could not exist because it
was senseless and unattainable.
The people had a single aim: to free their land from invasion.
That aim was attained in the first place of itself, as the French
ran away, and so it was only necessary not to stop their flight.
Secondly it was attained by the guerrilla warfare which was destroying
the French, and thirdly by the fact that a large Russian army was
following the French, ready to use its strength in case their movement
The Russian army had to act like a whip to a running animal. And the
experienced driver knew it was better to hold the whip raised as a
menace than to strike the running animal on the head.
BOOK FIFTEEN: 1812 --13
When seeing a dying animal a man feels a sense of horror:
substance similar to his own is perishing before his eyes. But when it
is a beloved and intimate human being that is dying, besides this
horror at the extinction of life there is a severance, a spiritual
wound, which like a physical wound is sometimes fatal and sometimes
heals, but always aches and shrinks at any external irritating touch.
After Prince Andrews death Natasha and Princess Mary alike felt
this. Drooping in spirit and closing their eyes before the menacing
cloud of death that overhung them, they dared not look life in the
face. They carefully guarded their open wounds from any rough and
painful contact. Everything: a carriage passing rapidly in the street,
a summons to dinner, the maids inquiry what dress to prepare, or
worse still any word of insincere or feeble sympathy, seemed an
insult, painfully irritated the wound, interrupting that necessary
quiet in which they both tried to listen to the stern and dreadful
choir that still resounded in their imagination, and hindered their
gazing into those mysterious limitless vistas that for an instant
had opened out before them.
Only when alone together were they free from such outrage and
pain. They spoke little even to one another, and when
War And Peace page 642 War And Peace page 644