War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book IX: Chapters 16–23

Another voice, that of a nobleman of medium height and about forty years of age, whom Pierre had formerly met at the gypsies' and knew as a bad cardplayer, and who, also transformed by his uniform, came up to Pierre, interrupted Adraksin.

"Yes, and this is not a time for discussing," he continued,"but for acting: there is war in Russia! The enemy is advancing to destroy Russia, to desecrate the tombs of our fathers, to carry off our wives and children." The nobleman smote his breast."We will all arise, every one of us will go, for our father the Tsar!" he shouted, rolling his bloodshot eyes. Several approving voices were heard in the crowd."We are Russians and will not grudge our blood in defense of our faith, the throne, and the Fatherland! We must cease raving if we are sons of our Fatherland! We will show Europe how Russia rises to the defense of Russia!"

Pierre wished to reply, but could not get in a word. He felt that his words, apart from what meaning they conveyed, were less audible than the sound of his opponent's voice.

Count Rostov at the back of the crowd was expressing approval; several persons, briskly turning a shoulder to the orator at the end of a phrase, said:

"That's right, quite right! Just so!"

Pierre wished to say that he was ready to sacrifice his money, his serfs, or himself, only one ought to know the state of affairs in order to be able to improve it, but he was unable to speak. Many voices shouted and talked at the same time, so that Count Rostov had not time to signify his approval of them all, and the group increased, dispersed, re-formed, and then moved with a hum of talk into the largest hall and to the big table. Not only was Pierre's attempt to speak unsuccessful, but he was rudely interrupted, pushed aside, and people turned away from him as from a common enemy. This happened not because they were displeased by the substance of his speech, which had even been forgotten after the many subsequent speeches, but to animate it the crowd needed a tangible object to love and a tangible object to hate. Pierre became the latter. Many other orators spoke after the excited nobleman, and all in the same tone. Many spoke eloquently and with originality.

Glinka, the editor of the Russian Messenger, who was recognized (cries of"author! author!" were heard in the crowd), said that"hell must be repulsed by hell," and that he had seen a child smiling at lightning flashes and thunderclaps, but"we will not be that child."

"Yes, yes, at thunderclaps!" was repeated approvingly in the back rows of the crowd.

The crowd drew up to the large table, at which sat gray-haired or bald seventy-year-old magnates, uniformed and besashed almost all of whom Pierre had seen in their own homes with their buffoons, or playing boston at the clubs. With an incessant hum of voices the crowd advanced to the table. Pressed by the throng against the high backs of the chairs, the orators spoke one after another and sometimes two together. Those standing behind noticed what a speaker omitted to say and hastened to supply it. Others in that heat and crush racked their brains to find some thought and hastened to utter it. The old magnates, whom Pierre knew, sat and turned to look first at one and then at another, and their faces for the most part only expressed the fact that they found it very hot. Pierre, however, felt excited, and the general desire to show that they were ready to go to all lengths — which found expression in the tones and looks more than in the substance of the speeches — infected him too. He did not renounce his opinions, but felt himself in some way to blame and wished to justify himself.

"I only said that it would be more to the purpose to make sacrifices when we know what is needed!" said he, trying to be heard above the other voices.

One of the old men nearest to him looked round, but his attention was immediately diverted by an exclamation at the other side of the table.

"Yes, Moscow will be surrendered! She will be our expiation!" shouted one man.

"He is the enemy of mankind!" cried another."Allow me to speak . . . .""Gentlemen, you are crushing me! . . ."

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