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Chapter 11

  • Returning from his journey through South Russia in the happiest state of mind, Pierre carried out an intention he had long had of visiting his frien_olkonski, whom he had not seen for two years.
  • Bogucharovo lay in a flat uninteresting part of the country among fields an_orests of fir and birch, which were partly cut down. The house lay behind _ewly dug pond filled with water to the brink and with banks still bare o_rass. It was at the end of a village that stretched along the highroad in th_idst of a young copse in which were a few fir trees.
  • The homestead consisted of a threshing floor, outhouses, stables, a bathhouse, a lodge, and a large brick house with semicircular facade still in course o_onstruction. Round the house was a garden newly laid out. The fences an_ates were new and solid; two fire pumps and a water cart, painted green, stood in a shed; the paths were straight, the bridges were strong and ha_andrails. Everything bore an impress of tidiness and good management. Som_omestic serfs Pierre met, in reply to inquiries as to where the prince lived, pointed out a small newly built lodge close to the pond. Anton, a man who ha_ooked after Prince Andrew in his boyhood, helped Pierre out of his carriage, said that the prince was at home, and showed him into a clean little anteroom.
  • Pierre was struck by the modesty of the small though clean house after th_rilliant surroundings in which he had last met his friend in Petersburg.
  • He quickly entered the small reception room with its still-unplastered woode_alls redolent of pine, and would have gone farther, but Anton ran ahead o_iptoe and knocked at a door.
  • "Well, what is it?" came a sharp, unpleasant voice.
  • "A visitor," answered Anton.
  • "Ask him to wait," and the sound was heard of a chair being pushed back.
  • Pierre went with rapid steps to the door and suddenly came face to face wit_rince Andrew, who came out frowning and looking old. Pierre embraced him an_ifting his spectacles kissed his friend on the cheek and looked at hi_losely.
  • "Well, I did not expect you, I am very glad," said Prince Andrew.
  • Pierre said nothing; he looked fixedly at his friend with surprise. He wa_truck by the change in him. His words were kindly and there was a smile o_is lips and face, but his eyes were dull and lifeless and in spite of hi_vident wish to do so he could not give them a joyous and glad sparkle. Princ_ndrew had grown thinner, paler, and more manly-looking, but what amazed an_stranged Pierre till he got used to it were his inertia and a wrinkle on hi_row indicating prolonged concentration on some one thought.
  • As is usually the case with people meeting after a prolonged separation, i_as long before their conversation could settle on anything. They pu_uestions and gave brief replies about things they knew ought to be talke_ver at length. At last the conversation gradually settled on some of th_opics at first lightly touched on: their past life, plans for the future, Pierre's journeys and occupations, the war, and so on. The preoccupation an_espondency which Pierre had noticed in his friend's look was now still mor_learly expressed in the smile with which he listened to Pierre, especiall_hen he spoke with joyful animation of the past or the future. It was as i_rince Andrew would have liked to sympathize with what Pierre was saying, bu_ould not. The latter began to feel that it was in bad taste to speak of hi_nthusiasms, dreams, and hopes of happiness or goodness, in Prince Andrew'_resence. He was ashamed to express his new Masonic views, which had bee_articularly revived and strengthened by his late tour. He checked himself, fearing to seem naive, yet he felt an irresistible desire to show his frien_s soon as possible that he was now a quite different, and better, Pierre tha_e had been in Petersburg.
  • "I can't tell you how much I have lived through since then. I hardly kno_yself again."
  • "Yes, we have altered much, very much, since then," said Prince Andrew.
  • "Well, and you? What are your plans?"
  • "Plans!" repeated Prince Andrew ironically. "My plans?" he said, as i_stonished at the word. "Well, you see, I'm building. I mean to settle her_ltogether next year… ."
  • Pierre looked silently and searchingly into Prince Andrew's face, which ha_rown much older.
  • "No, I meant to ask… " Pierre began, but Prince Andrew interrupted him.
  • "But why talk of me?… Talk to me, yes, tell me about your travels and all yo_ave been doing on your estates."
  • Pierre began describing what he had done on his estates, trying as far a_ossible to conceal his own part in the improvements that had been made.
  • Prince Andrew several times prompted Pierre's story of what he had been doing, as though it were all an old-time story, and he listened not only withou_nterest but even as if ashamed of what Pierre was telling him.
  • Pierre felt uncomfortable and even depressed in his friend's company and a_ast became silent.
  • "I'll tell you what, my dear fellow," said Prince Andrew, who evidently als_elt depressed and constrained with his visitor, "I am only bivouacking her_nd have just come to look round. I am going back to my sister today. I wil_ntroduce you to her. But of course you know her already," he said, evidentl_rying to entertain a visitor with whom he now found nothing in common. "W_ill go after dinner. And would you now like to look round my place?"
  • They went out and walked about till dinnertime, talking of the political new_nd common acquaintances like people who do not know each other intimately.
  • Prince Andrew spoke with some animation and interest only of the new homestea_e was constructing and its buildings, but even here, while on th_caffolding, in the midst of a talk explaining the future arrangements of th_ouse, he interrupted himself:
  • "However, this is not at all interesting. Let us have dinner, and then we'l_et off."
  • At dinner, conversation turned on Pierre's marriage.
  • "I was very much surprised when I heard of it," said Prince Andrew.
  • Pierre blushed, as he always did when it was mentioned, and said hurriedly: "_ill tell you some time how it all happened. But you know it is all over, an_orever."
  • "Forever?" said Prince Andrew. "Nothing's forever."
  • "But you know how it all ended, don't you? You heard of the duel?"
  • "And so you had to go through that too!"
  • "One thing I thank God for is that I did not kill that man," said Pierre.
  • "Why so?" asked Prince Andrew. "To kill a vicious dog is a very good thin_eally."
  • "No, to kill a man is bad—wrong."
  • "Why is it wrong?" urged Prince Andrew. "It is not given to man to know wha_s right and what is wrong. Men always did and always will err, and in nothin_ore than in what they consider right and wrong."
  • "What does harm to another is wrong," said Pierre, feeling with pleasure tha_or the first time since his arrival Prince Andrew was roused, had begun t_alk, and wanted to express what had brought him to his present state.
  • "And who has told you what is bad for another man?" he asked.
  • "Bad! Bad!" exclaimed Pierre. "We all know what is bad for ourselves."
  • "Yes, we know that, but the harm I am conscious of in myself is something _annot inflict on others," said Prince Andrew, growing more and more animate_nd evidently wishing to express his new outlook to Pierre. He spoke i_rench. "I only know two very real evils in life: remorse and illness. Th_nly good is the absence of those evils. To live for myself avoiding those tw_vils is my whole philosophy now."
  • "And love of one's neighbor, and self-sacrifice?" began Pierre. "No, I can'_gree with you! To live only so as not to do evil and not to have to repent i_ot enough. I lived like that, I lived for myself and ruined my life. And onl_ow when I am living, or at least trying" (Pierre's modesty made him correc_imself) "to live for others, only now have I understood all the happiness o_ife. No, I shall not agree with you, and you do not really believe what yo_re saying." Prince Andrew looked silently at Pierre with an ironic smile.
  • "When you see my sister, Princess Mary, you'll get on with her," he said.
  • "Perhaps you are right for yourself," he added after a short pause, "bu_veryone lives in his own way. You lived for yourself and say you nearl_uined your life and only found happiness when you began living for others. _xperienced just the reverse. I lived for glory.—And after all what is glory?
  • The same love of others, a desire to do something for them, a desire for thei_pproval.—So I lived for others, and not almost, but quite, ruined my life.
  • And I have become calmer since I began to live only for myself."
  • "But what do you mean by living only for yourself?" asked Pierre, growin_xcited. "What about your son, your sister, and your father?"
  • "But that's just the same as myself—they are not others," explained Princ_ndrew. "The others, one's neighbors, le prochain, as you and Princess Mar_all it, are the chief source of all error and evil. Le prochain—your Kie_easants to whom you want to do good."
  • And he looked at Pierre with a mocking, challenging expression. He evidentl_ished to draw him on.
  • "You are joking," replied Pierre, growing more and more excited. "What erro_r evil can there be in my wishing to do good, and even doing a little—thoug_ did very little and did it very badly? What evil can there be in it i_nfortunate people, our serfs, people like ourselves, were growing up an_ying with no idea of God and truth beyond ceremonies and meaningless prayer_nd are now instructed in a comforting belief in future life, retribution, recompense, and consolation? What evil and error are there in it, if peopl_ere dying of disease without help while material assistance could so easil_e rendered, and I supplied them with a doctor, a hospital, and an asylum fo_he aged? And is it not a palpable, unquestionable good if a peasant, or _oman with a baby, has no rest day or night and I give them rest and leisure?"
  • said Pierre, hurrying and lisping. "And I have done that though badly and to _mall extent; but I have done something toward it and you cannot persuade m_hat it was not a good action, and more than that, you can't make me believ_hat you do not think so yourself. And the main thing is," he continued, "tha_ know, and know for certain, that the enjoyment of doing this good is th_nly sure happiness in life."
  • "Yes, if you put it like that it's quite a different matter," said Princ_ndrew. "I build a house and lay out a garden, and you build hospitals. Th_ne and the other may serve as a pastime. But what's right and what's goo_ust be judged by one who knows all, but not by us. Well, you want a_rgument," he added, "come on then."
  • They rose from the table and sat down in the entrance porch which served as _eranda.
  • "Come, let's argue then," said Prince Andrew, "You talk of schools," he wen_n, crooking a finger, "education and so forth; that is, you want to rais_im" (pointing to a peasant who passed by them taking off his cap) "from hi_nimal condition and awaken in him spiritual needs, while it seems to me tha_nimal happiness is the only happiness possible, and that is just what yo_ant to deprive him of. I envy him, but you want to make him what I am, without giving him my means. Then you say, 'lighten his toil.' But as I se_t, physical labor is as essential to him, as much a condition of hi_xistence, as mental activity is to you or me. You can't help thinking. I g_o bed after two in the morning, thoughts come and I can't sleep but tos_bout till dawn, because I think and can't help thinking, just as he can'_elp plowing and mowing; if he didn't, he would go to the drink shop or fal_ll. Just as I could not stand his terrible physical labor but should die o_t in a week, so he could not stand my physical idleness, but would grow fa_nd die. The third thing—what else was it you talked about?" and Prince Andre_rooked a third finger. "Ah, yes, hospitals, medicine. He has a fit, he i_ying, and you come and bleed him and patch him up. He will drag about as _ripple, a burden to everybody, for another ten years. It would be far easie_nd simpler for him to die. Others are being born and there are plenty of the_s it is. It would be different if you grudged losing a laborer—that's how _egard him—but you want to cure him from love of him. And he does not wan_hat. And besides, what a notion that medicine ever cured anyone! Killed them, yes!" said he, frowning angrily and turning away from Pierre.
  • Prince Andrew expressed his ideas so clearly and distinctly that it wa_vident he had reflected on this subject more than once, and he spoke readil_nd rapidly like a man who has not talked for a long time. His glance becam_ore animated as his conclusions became more hopeless.
  • "Oh, that is dreadful, dreadful!" said Pierre. "I don't understand how one ca_ive with such ideas. I had such moments myself not long ago, in Moscow an_hen traveling, but at such times I collapsed so that I don't live a_ll—everything seems hateful to me… myself most of all. Then I don't eat, don't wash… and how is it with you?… "
  • "Why not wash? That is not cleanly," said Prince Andrew; "on the contrary on_ust try to make one's life as pleasant as possible. I'm alive, that is not m_ault, so I must live out my life as best I can without hurting others."
  • "But with such ideas what motive have you for living? One would sit withou_oving, undertaking nothing… ."
  • "Life as it is leaves one no peace. I should be thankful to do nothing, bu_ere on the one hand the local nobility have done me the honor to choose me t_e their marshal; it was all I could do to get out of it. They could no_nderstand that I have not the necessary qualifications for it—the kind o_ood-natured, fussy shallowness necessary for the position. Then there's thi_ouse, which must be built in order to have a nook of one's own in which to b_uiet. And now there's this recruiting."
  • "Why aren't you serving in the army?"
  • "After Austerlitz!" said Prince Andrew gloomily. "No, thank you very much! _ave promised myself not to serve again in the active Russian army. And _on't—not even if Bonaparte were here at Smolensk threatening Bald Hills—eve_hen I wouldn't serve in the Russian army! Well, as I was saying," h_ontinued, recovering his composure, "now there's this recruiting. My fathe_s chief in command of the Third District, and my only way of avoiding activ_ervice is to serve under him."
  • "Then you are serving?"
  • "I am."
  • He paused a little while.
  • "And why do you serve?"
  • "Why, for this reason! My father is one of the most remarkable men of hi_ime. But he is growing old, and though not exactly cruel he has too energeti_ character. He is so accustomed to unlimited power that he is terrible, an_ow he has this authority of a commander in chief of the recruiting, grante_y the Emperor. If I had been two hours late a fortnight ago he would have ha_ paymaster's clerk at Yukhnovna hanged," said Prince Andrew with a smile. "S_ am serving because I alone have any influence with my father, and now an_hen can save him from actions which would torment him afterwards."
  • "Well, there you see!"
  • "Yes, but it is not as you imagine," Prince Andrew continued. "I did not, an_o not, in the least care about that scoundrel of a clerk who had stolen som_oots from the recruits; I should even have been very glad to see him hanged, but I was sorry for my father—that again is for myself."
  • Prince Andrew grew more and more animated. His eyes glittered feverishly whil_e tried to prove to Pierre that in his actions there was no desire to do goo_o his neighbor.
  • "There now, you wish to liberate your serfs," he continued; "that is a ver_ood thing, but not for you—I don't suppose you ever had anyone flogged o_ent to Siberia—and still less for your serfs. If they are beaten, flogged, o_ent to Siberia, I don't suppose they are any the worse off. In Siberia the_ead the same animal life, and the stripes on their bodies heal, and they ar_appy as before. But it is a good thing for proprietors who perish morally, bring remorse upon themselves, stifle this remorse and grow callous, as _esult of being able to inflict punishments justly and unjustly. It is thos_eople I pity, and for their sake I should like to liberate the serfs. You ma_ot have seen, but I have seen, how good men brought up in those traditions o_nlimited power, in time when they grow more irritable, become cruel an_arsh, are conscious of it, but cannot restrain themselves and grow more an_ore miserable."
  • Prince Andrew spoke so earnestly that Pierre could not help thinking tha_hese thoughts had been suggested to Prince Andrew by his father's case.
  • He did not reply.
  • "So that's what I'm sorry for—human dignity, peace of mind, purity, and no_he serfs' backs and foreheads, which, beat and shave as you may, alway_emain the same backs and foreheads."
  • "No, no! A thousand times no! I shall never agree with you," said Pierre.