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War And Peace 700

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War And Peace

going to ruin! Robbery in the law courts, in the army nothing but flogging, drilling, and Military Settlements; the people are tortured, enlightenment is suppressed. All that is young and honest is crushed! Everyone sees that this cannot go on. Everything is strained to such a degree that it will certainly break," said Pierre (as those who examine the actions of any government have always said since governments began). "I told them just one thing in Petersburg." "Told whom?" "Well, you know whom," said Pierre, with a meaning glance from under his brows. "Prince Theodore and all those. To encourage culture and philanthropy is all very well of course. The aim is excellent but in the present circumstances something else is needed." At that moment Nicholas noticed the presence of his nephew. His face darkened and he went up to the boy. "Why are you here?" "Why? Let him be," said Pierre, taking Nicholas by the arm and continuing. "That is not enough, I told them. Something else is needed. When you stand expecting the overstrained string to snap at any moment, when everyone is expecting the inevitable catastrophe, as many as possible must join hands as closely as they can to withstand the general calamity. Everything that is young and strong is being enticed away and depraved. One is lured by women, another by honors, a third by ambition or money, and they go over to that camp. No independent men, such as you or I, are left. What I say is widen the scope of our society, let the mot dordre be not virtue alone but independence and action as well!" Nicholas, who had left his nephew, irritably pushed up an armchair, sat down in it, and listened to Pierre, coughing discontentedly and frowning more and more. "But action with what aim?" he cried. "And what position will you adopt toward the government?" "Why, the position of assistants. The society need not be secret if the government allows it. Not merely is it not hostile to government, but it is a society of true conservatives--a society of gentlemen in the full meaning of that word. It is only to prevent some Pugachev or other from killing my children and yours, and Arakcheev from sending me off to some Military Settlement. We join hands only for the public welfare and the general safety." "Yes, but its a secret society and therefore a hostile and harmful one which can only cause harm." "Why? Did the Tugendbund which saved Europe" (they did not then venture to suggest that Russia had saved Europe) "do any harm? The Tugendbund is an alliance of virtue: it is love, mutual help... it is what Christ preached on the Cross." Natasha, who had come in during the conversation, looked joyfully at her husband. It was not what he was saying that pleased her--that did not even interest her, for it seemed to her that was all extremely simple and that she had known it a long time (it seemed so to her because she knew that it sprang from Pierres whole soul), but it was his animated and enthusiastic appearance that made her glad. The boy with the thin neck stretching out from the turn-down collar--whom everyone had forgotten--gazed at Pierre with even greater and more rapturous joy. Every word of Pierres burned into his heart, and with a nervous movement of his fingers he unconsciously broke the sealing wax and quill pens his hands came upon on his uncles table. "It is not at all what you suppose; but that is what the German Tugendbund was, and what I am proposing." "No, my fwiend! The Tugendbund is all vewy well for the sausage eaters, but I dont understand it and cant even pwonounce it," interposed Denisov in a loud and resolute voice. "I agwee that evewything here is wotten and howwible, but the Tugendbund I dont understand. If were not satisfied, let us have a bunt of our own. Thats all wight. Je suis vote homme!"* *"Im your man." Pierre smiled, Natasha began to laugh, but Nicholas knitted his brows still more and began proving to Pierre that there was no prospect of any great change and that all the danger he spoke of existed only in his imagination. Pierre maintained the contrary, and as his mental faculties were greater and more resourceful, Nicholas felt himself cornered. This made him still angrier, for he was fully convinced, not by reasoning but by something within him stronger than reason, of the justice of his opinion. "I will tell you this," he said, rising and trying with nervously twitching fingers to

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