War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book X: Chapters 15–25

"Extend widely!" said Prince Andrew with an angry snort, when they had ridden past."In that 'extend' were my father, son, and sister, at Bald Hills. That's all the same to him! That's what I was saying to you — those German gentlemen won't win the battle tomorrow but will only make all the mess they can, because they have nothing in their German heads but theories not worth an empty eggshell and haven't in their hearts the one thing needed tomorrow — that which Timokhin has. They have yielded up all Europe to him, and have now come to teach us. Fine teachers!" and again his voice grew shrill.

"So you think we shall win tomorrow's battle?" asked Pierre.

"Yes, yes," answered Prince Andrew absently."One thing I would do if I had the power," he began again,"I would not take prisoners. Why take prisoners? It's chivalry! The French have destroyed my home and are on their way to destroy Moscow, they have outraged and are outraging me every moment. They are my enemies. In my opinion they are all criminals. And so thinks Timokhin and the whole army. They should be executed! Since they are my foes they cannot be my friends, whatever may have been said at Tilsit."

"Yes, yes," muttered Pierre, looking with shining eyes at Prince Andrew."I quite agree with you!"

The question that had perturbed Pierre on the Mozhaysk hill and all that day now seemed to him quite clear and completely solved. He now understood the whole meaning and importance of this war and of the impending battle. All he had seen that day, all the significant and stern expressions on the faces he had seen in passing, were lit up for him by a new light. He understood that latent heat (as they say in physics) of patriotism which was present in all these men he had seen, and this explained to him why they all prepared for death calmly, and as it were lightheartedly.

"Not take prisoners," Prince Andrew continued:"That by itself would quite change the whole war and make it less cruel. As it is we have played at war — that's what's vile! We play at magnanimity and all that stuff. Such magnanimity and sensibility are like the magnanimity and sensibility of a lady who faints when she sees a calf being killed: she is so kind-hearted that she can't look at blood, but enjoys eating the calf served up with sauce. They talk to us of the rules of war, of chivalry, of flags of truce, of mercy to the unfortunate and so on. It's all rubbish! I saw chivalry and flags of truce in 1805; they humbugged us and we humbugged them. They plunder other people's houses, issue false paper money, and worst of all they kill my children and my father, and then talk of rules of war and magnanimity to foes! Take no prisoners, but kill and be killed! He who has come to this as I have through the same sufferings . . ."

Prince Andrew, who had thought it was all the same to him whether or not Moscow was taken as Smolensk had been, was suddenly checked in his speech by an unexpected cramp in his throat. He paced up and down a few times in silence, but his eyes glittered feverishly and his lips quivered as he began speaking.

"If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we should go to war only when it was worth while going to certain death, as now. Then there would not be war because Paul Ivanovich had offended Michael Ivanovich. And when there was a war, like this one, it would be war! And then the determination of the troops would be quite different. Then all these Westphalians and Hessians whom Napoleon is leading would not follow him into Russia, and we should not go to fight in Austria and Prussia without knowing why. War is not courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous. The military calling is the most highly honored.

"But what is war? What is needed for success in warfare? What are the habits of the military? The aim of war is murder; the methods of war are spying, treachery, and their encouragement, the ruin of a country's inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to provision the army, and fraud and falsehood termed military craft. The habits of the military class are the absence of freedom, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in spite of all this it is the highest class, respected by everyone. All the kings, except the Chinese, wear military uniforms, and he who kills most people receives the highest rewards.

"They meet, as we shall meet tomorrow, to murder one another; they kill and maim tens of thousands, and then have thanksgiving services for having killed so many people (they even exaggerate the number), and they announce a victory, supposing that the more people they have killed the greater their achievement. How does God above look at them and hear them?" exclaimed Prince Andrew in a shrill, piercing voice."Ah, my friend, it has of late become hard for me to live. I see that I have begun to understand too much. And it doesn't do for man to taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . . . Ah, well, it's not for long!" he added.

"However, you're sleepy, and it's time for me to sleep. Go back to Gorki!" said Prince Andrew suddenly.

"Oh no!" Pierre replied, looking at Prince Andrew with frightened, compassionate eyes.

"Go, go! Before a battle one must have one's sleep out," repeated Prince Andrew.

He came quickly up to Pierre and embraced and kissed him."Good-by, be off!" he shouted."Whether we meet again or not . . ." and turning away hurriedly he entered the shed.

It was already dark, and Pierre could not make out whether the expression of Prince Andrew's face was angry or tender.

For some time he stood in silence considering whether he should follow him or go away."No, he does not want it!" Pierre concluded."And I know that this is our last meeting!" He sighed deeply and rode back to Gorki.

On re-entering the shed Prince Andrew lay down on a rug, but he could not sleep.

He closed his eyes. One picture succeeded another in his imagination. On one of them he dwelt long and joyfully. He vividly recalled an evening in Petersburg. Natasha with animated and excited face was telling him how she had gone to look for mushrooms the previous summer and had lost her way in the big forest. She incoherently described the depths of the forest, her feelings, and a talk with a beekeeper she met, and constantly interrupted her story to say:"No, I can't! I'm not telling it right; no, you don't understand," though he encouraged her by saying that he did understand, and he really had understood all she wanted to say. But Natasha was not satisfied with her own words: she felt that they did not convey the passionately poetic feeling she had experienced that day and wished to convey."He was such a delightful old man, and it was so dark in the forest . . . and he had such kind . . . No, I can't describe it," she had said, flushed and excited. Prince Andrew smiled now the same happy smile as then when he had looked into her eyes."I understood her," he thought."I not only understood her, but it was just that inner, spiritual force, that sincerity, that frankness of soul — that very soul of hers which seemed to be fettered by her body — it was that soul I loved in her . . . loved so strongly and happily . . ." and suddenly he remembered how his love had ended."He did not need anything of that kind. He neither saw nor understood anything of the sort. He only saw in her a pretty and fresh young girl, with whom he did not deign to unite his fate. And I? . . . and he is still alive and gay!"

Prince Andrew jumped up as if someone had burned him, and again began pacing up and down in front of the shed.

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