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The Complete Works op


Volume VII.

Prince Kutuzov in Council at Fili

Photogravure from Painting by A. A'ivshenko


iin t6 ПэпиоЭ n'\ vosulu^l ээпп'^




Translated from the Original Russian and Edited by


Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages at Harvard University




■' 1 ,.' A% Ч





Limited to One Thousand Copies,
of which this is

Copyright, igo4
By Dana Estes & Company

Entered at Stationers^ Hall

Colonial Press : Electrotvped and Printed by
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, Mass., U. S. A.

3 36,:;




Prince Kuxtjzov in Council at Fili (p. 391)


The Dorogomilov Barrier, 1811
First View of Moscow
VereshchXgin before Rostopchin
In the Kremlin : The Conflagration



1 864-1 869

Parts IX., X., and XI.



Toward the end of the year 1811 the Powers of Western
Europe began a more active armament and concentration
of their forces, and in 1812 these forces, consisting of
millions of people (including those who transported and
fed the army), moved from the West to the East, toward
the boundaries of Eussia, where, since the same year
1811, the Russian forces had been concentrating. On
the 12 th of June the forces of Western Europe crossed
the boundaries of Eussia, and the war began, that is,
there took place an event which was contrary to human
reason and to all human nature. Millions of people com-
mitted against each other an endless number of evil acts,
deceits, treasons, thefts, forgery and the putting into cir-
culation of spurious assignats, assaults, incendiarism, and
murders, such as the chronicles of all the courts of the
world will not record in ages, and yet such as at that
time were not looked upon as crimes by the people who
committed them.

What was it that had caused this extraordinary event ?
What were its causes ? The historians say, with naive
conviction, that the causes of this event were the insult



offoRHl to the Duke of Oldenburg, the non-observance of
the continental system, Napoleon's ambition, Alexander's
tirmne^s, the mistakes of the diplomats, etc.

Consequently, it would have sufficed for Metternich,
Kumyautsev, or Talleyrand, between the appearance of
the emiKMors at court and the receptions, to have made
an etVort and written a clever note, or for Napoleon to
have written to Alexander, " Monsieur monfrerejc consens
h reiidrc le ducJU au Due d'Oldcjibourg," and there would
have been no war.

Naturally, the matter so appeared to the contempora-
ries. Naturally, it seemed to Napoleon that the cause of
the war lay in the intrigues of England (as he expressed
himself on the island of St. Helena). Naturally, it seemed
to the members of the English Parliament that Napoleon's
ambition was the cause of the war ; to the Duke of Olden-
burg that the cause of war lay in the insult to which he
had been subjected ; to the merchants, that the cause of
war lay in the continental system which was ruining
Europe ; to the old soldiers and generals, that the chief
cause was to give them employment ; to the legitimists
of that time, that it was necessary to reestablish les boots
principes ; and to the diplomatists of that time, that
everything was due to the fact that Russia's alliance with
Austria in the year 1809 had not been kept sufficiently
secret from Napoleon, and that the memorandum No. 178
had been awkwardly composed. Naturally, these causes
and an endless, inexhaustible number of other causes,
which number depends on the endless variety of stand-
points, presented themselves to the contemporaries ; but
to us, the descendants, who contemplate the grandeur of
the event in all its volume, and who try to comprehend
its simple and terrible meaning, these causes appear insuf-
ficient. It is incomprehensible to us that millions of
Christians should have killed each other because Napoleon
was ambitious, Alexander firm, the diplomacy of England


insidious, and the Duke of Oldenburg insulted. It is
impossible to comprehend what connection these circum-
stances could have had with the fact of murder and
violence itself ; why, because the duke had been insulted,
thousands of people from the other end of Europe should
have killed and ruined the people of the Governments of
Smolensk and Moscow, and should have been killed by

To us, the descendants, the non-historians, who are not
carried away by the mere process of investigation, and
who therefore contemplate the event with undimmed,
healthy reason, the causes seem to be numberless. The
more we devote ourselves to the investigation of the
causes, the more of them are revealed to us, and all of
them, taken singly, or a whole series of causes, appear to
us equally just in themselves, and equally false on account
of their insignificance in comparison with the grandeur of
the event, and equally false on account of the impossi-
bility of their having produced the event, without the
participation of all other coincident causes. Napoleon's
refusal to take his army across the Vistula and to restore
the dukedom of Oldenburg appears to us as no more a
cause than the desire or reluctance of any French cor-
poral to enlist for a second term, for, if he had refused to
enter the service, and a second, third, and thousandth
corporal and soldier had acted likewise, there would have
been so many men less in Napoleon's army, and there
could have been no war.

If Napoleon had not been offended by the request to
retreat beyond the Vistula and had not commanded his
troops to advance, there would have been no war ; but,
at the same time, if all the sergeants had been unwilling
to reenlist, there could have been no war. Similarly
there could have been no war, if there had been no Eng-
lish intrigues, and no Prince of Oldenburg, and no feehng of
offence on the part of Alexander, and no autocratic power


iu Russia, and no French Kevolution with the resulting
dictatorship and empire, and all that which led up to the
Freuch Revolution, and so forth. Nothing could have
happened in the absence of one of these causes. Conse-
quently, all these causes, a billion causes, coincided in
order to produce that which happened. Consequently,
too, nothing was the exclusive cause of the event, and the
event had to take place, because it had to. It was neces-
sary for millions of people to renounce their human feel-
ings and reason, and to march from the West to the East
in order to kill their like, just as several centuries before
throngs had come from the East to the West killing their

The actions of Napoleon and Alexander, on whose
words it seemed to depend whether the event was to take
place or not, were as little arbitrary as the action of any
soldier who went into the campaign by lot or by recruit-
ment. It could not have been otherwise because, in
order that the will of Napoleon and Alexander (of those
people on whom the event seemed to have depended)
should be fulfilled, there was needed the coincidence of
an endless number of circumstances, without one of which
the event could not have occurred. It was necessary for
milhons of people, in the hands of whom was the real
power, for the soldiers who fired, and who transported
the provisions and the guns, to agree to do the will of a
few weak individuals, and to be brought to do this by an
endless number of complicated, complex causes.

Fatalism in history is necessary for the explanation of
unreasonable events, that is, of such as we do not compre-
hend the reason. The more reasonably we attempt to
explain these phenomena in history, the more unreason-
able and unintelhgible they become to us.

Every man lives for himself, enjoys liberty of action in
striving after his personal aims, and feels in his whole
being that he may, or may not, do such and such an act


at will ; but the moment he has done it, this action, com-
mitted at a given moment of time, becomes irretrievable
and the property of history, in which it has not a free,
but a preordained, meaning.

There are two sides in the life of each man : his per-
sonal life, which is free in proportion as its interests are
in the abstract, and his elemental, beehive life, where a
man unavoidably executes certain prescribed laws.

Man lives consciously for himself, but serves as an un-
conscious weapon for the working out of historical, uni-
versal ends. An accomplished deed is irretrievable, and
its action, coinciding in time wdth nulHons of actions of
other men, assumes an historic importance. The higher
a man stands in the social scale, the more numerous his
relations are with other men, the greater is the power
which he exercises over other men, and the more manifest
is the preordination and inevitableuess of his deed.

" The hearts of kings are in the hands of God."

A king is a slave of history.

History, that is, the unconscious, general, beehive life
of humanity, makes use of every minute of the lives of
kings for itself, as a weapon for its own ends.

Though now, in the year 1812, it seemed to Napoleon
that it more than ever depended upon him whether he
would " verser " or " ne pas verser le sang de ses peuples "
(as Alexander had written to him in his last letter), he
never before had been so subjected to the inevitable laws
which compelled him, though in respect to himself he
thought he was acting at will, to do for the common
course of events, for history, that which had to happen.

The men of the West moved toward the East to kill
and be killed ; and, by the law of coincident causes, thou-
sands of petty causes adapted themselves and coincided
with this incident for the purpose of the movement and of
the war: such were the dissatisfaction with the non-ob-


servance of the continental system ; and the Duke of Old-
enburg ; and the movement of the armies into Prussia,
undertaken, as Napoleon thought, simply in order to
obtain armed peace ; and the love and bias of the French
emperor for war, which coincided with the mood of his
nation ; and the enthusiasm for the magnificence of the
preparation ; and the expenses incurred for this prepara-
tion ; and the necessity of gaining such advantages as
would recoup these expenses ; and the intoxicating
honours which he had received in Dresden ; and the dip-
lomatic negotiations which, in the opinion of the contem-
poraries, had been introduced with the sincere desire to
obtain peace and which only wounded the self-love of
both parties ; and a million millions of other causes, which
adapted themselves and coincided with the event about to

When an apple is ripe and falls, — what is it that
makes it fall? Is it because it gravitates toward the
earth, because the stem has dried up, because the sun
withers it, because it is too heavy, because the wind
knocks it down, because the boy who is standing under-
neath it wants to eat it ?

Nothing is the cause of it. All is only the coincidence
of conditions under which every vital, organic, elemental
event takes place. The botanist who finds that the apple
falls because the cellular tissue is decomposing, and so
forth, is as much right as the little boy who, standing
under the tree, will say that it fell because he wanted to
eat it and because he had prayed for it. He who will say
that Napoleon went to Moscow because he wanted to, and
that he perished because Alexander had wished for his
destruction, will be as right or as wrong as he who will
say that an undermined mountain weighing a million puds
was made to crumble by the stroke of the last labourer's
sledge-hammer. In historical events, so called great men
are the tags which label them, and have as little to do


with the events themselves, as real tags have to do with
the substance which they label.

Every action of theirs, which seems to them dependent
on their own free will, is, in the historical sense, not free,
but stands in relation to the whole course of history and
has been predetermined from eternity.


On the 29th of May, Napoleon left Dresden, where he
had passed three weeks, surrounded by a court of princes,
dukes, kings, and even one emperor. Before his depar-
ture, Napoleon showed his favour to the princes, kings, and
the emperor, who had deserved it, scolded the kings and
princes with whom he was dissatisfied, presented to the
Queen of Austria his personal pearls and diamonds, that
is, such as he had taken away from other kings, and, ten-
derly embracing Empress Maria Theresa, as his historian
says, left her disconsolate at this parting, which she,
Maria Theresa, who regarded herself as his wife, although
another wife was living in Paris, seemed to be unable to

Although the diplomatists were still firmly convinced
of the possibility of peace and zealously worked for it,
although Emperor Napoleon himself wrote a letter to
Emperor Alexander, calling him " Monsieur топ fr ere, " and
assuring him sincerely that he did not wish any war,
and that he would always love and respect him, — he de-
parted for the army and gave at each station new orders,
the purpose of which was to hasten the movement of the
army from the West to the East. He travelled in a road-
carriage drawn by six horses, surrounded by pages, adju-
tants, and a convoy, on the highway toward Posen, Thorn,
Dantzic, and Konigsberg. In each of these cities thousands
of people met him with trepidation and with enthusiasm.

The army was moving from the West to the East, and
relays of six-spans carried him, too, thither. On the 10th



of June he caught up with the army and stayed over-
night in the forest of Wilkowiski, in quarters especially
prepared for him in the estate of a Polish count.

On the next day, Napoleon, outdistancing the army,
reached the Nyeman in a small carriage. He dressed
himself in a Polish uniform and drove out to the bank of
the river to examine the place of fording.

Upon seeing on the other side " les Cosaques " and the
expanse of the steppes, in the midst of which was " Mos-
cow, la ville sainte" the capital of the empire which
resembled the Scythian empire whither Alexander of
Macedon had gone, Napoleon suddenly ordered an advance,
contrary to all strategic and diplomatic considerations,
and, on the following day, his troops began to cross the

On the 12 th, early in the morning, he left the tent
which on that day had been pitched on the steep left bank
of the Nyeman, and looked through the spy-glass at the
streams of his troops issuing from the forest of Wilkowi-
ski, and pouring over three bridges thrown across the
river. The troops knew of the presence of the emperor,
sought for him with their eyes, and when they discovered
on the hill, in front of the tent, the figure in the long coat
and the hat, which distinguished him from his suite, they
threw up their hats and shouted, " Vive VEmpereur ! " and
one after the other, without cessation, kept pouring forth
from the immense wood which had concealed them here-
tofore, and, scattering, crossed to the other side over the
three bridges.

" On /era du chemin cette fois-ci. Oh ! quand il s'en
mele lui-meme, pa chauffe — Nom de Dieu — Le voilh ! —
Vive I'Empereur ! — Les voilti done, les steppes de I'Asie !
Vilain pays tout de тете. Au revoir, Beauche, je te
reserve le plus beau palais de Moscou. Au revoir, bonne
chance — L'as tu vu, Г Empereur ? Vive VEmpereur ! —
preur ! Si on me fait gouverneur aux Indes, Gerard, je


te fa is ministre du Cachemire, c'est arrete. Vive VEm-
■pcrcur ! Vive! Vive! Vive! Les gredins de cosaques,
comme ilsfiknt. Vive VErnpereur ! Le voila ! Le vois-tu ?
Je I'ai vu fois comme je te vois. Le -petit caporal. Je I'ai
vu donner la croix h I'un des vieux — Vive VErnpereur ! "
were heard the voices of old and young men, of all kinds
of characters and positions in society. On all the faces of
these people there was one common expression of joy
at the beginning of the long expected campaign, and of
enthusiasm and loyalty to the man in the gray coat, who
was standing on the hill.

On the 13th of June, Napoleon was given a small,
thoroughbred Arabian horse, and he mounted it and gal-
loped up to one of the bridges, continually deafened by
the shouts of transport, which he apparently bore only
because it was impossible to forbid the soldiers to express
their love of him by shouting ; still, these cries, which
accompanied him everywhere, vexed him and distracted
his attention from the military cares tha^ had taken pos-
session of him ever since he had joined the army. He
rode across one of the bridges which swayed on boats,
turned sharply to the left, and galloped away in the direc-
tion of Kovno, preceded by the chasseurs of the Guard,
who, trembling with happiness and carried away by en-
thusiasm, cleared the road for him through the troops
which were riding in front of him. Upon reaching the
broad river A^istula, he stopped near a Polish regiment of
uhlans, which was stationed on its bank.

" Vivat ! " the Poles cried just as enthusiastically,
breaking ranks and crushing each other in their desire to
see him. Napoleon examined the river, dismounted from
his horse, and sat down on a log which lay on the shore.

At a speechless sign of his, he was given a spy-glass,
which he placed on the back of a happy page, who had
run up to him, and through which he began to survey the
opposite side. Then he was absorbed in the study of a


map which had been spread between logs. Without
raising his head, he said something, and two of his
adjutants galloped up to the Polish uhlans.

" What ? What did he say ? " were heard the questions
in the ranks of the Polish uhlans, as one of the adjutants
rode up to them.

The order was given to find a ford and cross the river.
The Polish colonel of uhlans, a handsome old man, blush-
ing and mixing up his words from excitement, asked the
adjutant whether he would be permitted to swim with
his uhlans across the river, without looking for a ford.
With apparent fear lest he should be refused, like a boy
who asks permission to get on a horse, he begged to be
permitted to swim across in the presence of the emperor.
The adjutant said that, no doubt, the emperor would not
be dissatisfied with this superfluous zeal.

The moment the adjutant had said this, the old mus-
tachioed officer with a happy face and sparkling eyes
raised his sword, shouted " Vivat!" gave the command
to his uhlans to follow him, put spurs to the horse,
and galloped up to the river. He gave an angry kick to
the startled horse and splashed into the water, heading
toward the deep current. Hundreds of uhlans galloped
after him. In the middle of the stream and in the cur-
rent the water was cold. The uhlans fell from their
horses and clung to each other. Some of the horses were
drowned, and so were some men ; the others tried to
swim by holding on to the saddle or to the mane. They
tried to swim straight ahead of them and, although there
was a ford not more than half a verst away, were proud
of swimming and drowning in the sight of the man who
was sitting on a log and not even watching them. When
the adjutant, upon returning, chose an appropriate moment
in which to direct the emperor's attention to the loyalty
of the Poles to his person, the little man in the gray coat
rose and, calling up Berthier, began to walk up and dovm


along the shore, giving him orders, and now and then
looking with dissatisfaction at the drowning uhlans, who
diverted his attention.

It was not a new conviction for him that his presence
in all the ends of the world, from Africa to the steppes of
Muscovy, both startled people and threw them into a
maduess of self-forgetfulness. He ordered up his horse
and rode back to his camp.

About forty uhlans were drowned in the river, despite
the assistance sent them by boat. The majority retreated
to the shore from which they had started. The colonel
and a few men swam the river and with difficulty climbed
ou the other shore. But the moment they got out, with
the water streaming from their clothes, they shouted
" Vivat ! " looking in ecstasy at the place where Napoleon
had stood, but where he was no longer, and feeling them-
selves happy at that moment.

In the evening Napoleon, between two orders, — the
one about furnishing immediately the counterfeit Eussian
assignats, to be taken into Eussia, and the other, about
shooting a Saxon, upon whose person had been found a
letter containing information in regard to the movements
of the French army, — made a third order, which was
that the Polish colonel who had uselessly rushed into the
river should be added to the Legion of Honour, of which
Napoleon himself was the head,

Quos vult perdere, dementat.


The Russian emperor had in the meantime been living
in Vilna for more than a month, passing his time in
reviews and manoeuvres. Nothing was ready for the war,
which all were expecting, and for which the emperor had
left St. Petersburg to prepare himself. There was no
general plan of action. The hesitation about which plan
of all those which were proposed should be accepted had
only increased during the month that the emperor
had been at the headquarters. There was a separate com-
mander-in-chief to each of the three armies, but there was
no common head to all the armies, and the emperor did
not assume that appellation.

The longer the emperor hved in Vilna the less zealously
were preparations made for the war, for the emperor had
become tired waiting so long. All the efforts of the men
who surrounded the emperor seem to have been directed
toward making the emperor pass the time pleasantly, so
that he might forget the impending war.

After many balls and fetes given by the Polish mag-
nates, the courtiers, and the emperor himself, it occurred
in June to one of the adjutants-general of the emperor
to give the Tsar a ball in the name of his adjutants-
general. This idea was cheerfully received by all. The
emperor expressed his consent. The adjutants-general
collected money by subscription. The lady who more
than anybody else might be agreeable to the emperor was
invited to be the hostess of the ball. Count Benigsen,
a landed proprietor of the Government of Vilna, offered



his suburban mansion for the celebration, and on the
13th of June there were to be a ball, a dinner, boating, and
fireNvorks in Zakret, Count Benigsen's suburban estate.

On the very day when the order was given by Napoleon
to cross the Nyeman, and the van of his army, driving
away the Cossacks, crossed the Russian boundary, Alex-
ander was passing his evening at Benigsen's summer resi-
dence, attending the ball given by his adjutants-general.

It was a jolly and brilliant fete ; connoisseurs said that
there had rarely been gathered so many beauties in one
spot. Countess Bezukhi, who had followed the emperor
from St. Petersburg to Vilna, among a number of other
Russian ladies, was at the ball, where she, with her heavy,
so-called Russian beauty, overshadowed the refined Polish
ladies. She was observed, and the emperor honoured her
with a dance.

Boris Drubetsk6y, en gargon, as he said, having left his
wife in Moscow, was also at this ball, and, though not an
adjutant-general, took an active interest in it by subscrib-
ing a large sum toward it. Boris was now a rich man,
who had gone very far in the service, who no longer looked
for any protection, and who stood on the same footing as
the highest of his contemporaries. He met Helene in
Vilna, after a long lapse of time, and had forgotten the
past ; but as Helene enjoyed the favour of a very impor-
tant person, and Boris had but lately married, they again
met as good, old friends.

At midnight they were stHl dancing. Helene, who had
no worthy gentleman to dance with, herself proposed a
mazurka to Boris. They were sitting as the third pair.
Boris, coolly surveying the shining, nude shoulders of
Helene, as they protruded from a dark, gold-embroidered
gauze dress, was telling her about old acquaintances and,

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