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Chapter 19

  • From the day when Pierre, after leaving the Rostovs' with Natasha's gratefu_ook fresh in his mind, had gazed at the comet that seemed to be fixed in th_ky and felt that something new was appearing on his own horizon—from that da_he problem of the vanity and uselessness of all earthly things, that ha_ncessantly tormented him, no longer presented itself. That terrible question
  • "Why?" "Wherefore?" which had come to him amid every occupation, was no_eplaced, not by another question or by a reply to the former question, but b_er image. When he listened to, or himself took part in, trivia_onversations, when he read or heard of human baseness or folly, he was no_orrified as formerly, and did not ask himself why men struggled so abou_hese things when all is so transient and incomprehensible—but he remembere_er as he had last seen her, and all his doubts vanished—not because she ha_nswered the questions that had haunted him, but because his conception of he_ransferred him instantly to another, a brighter, realm of spiritual activit_n which no one could be justified or guilty—a realm of beauty and love whic_t was worth living for. Whatever worldly baseness presented itself to him, h_aid to himself:
  • "Well, supposing N. N. swindled the country and the Tsar, and the country an_he Tsar confer honors upon him, what does that matter? She smiled at m_esterday and asked me to come again, and I love her, and no one will eve_now it." And his soul felt calm and peaceful.
  • Pierre still went into society, drank as much and led the same idle an_issipated life, because besides the hours he spent at the Rostovs' there wer_ther hours he had to spend somehow, and the habits and acquaintances he ha_ade in Moscow formed a current that bore him along irresistibly. Bu_atterly, when more and more disquieting reports came from the seat of war an_atasha's health began to improve and she no longer aroused in him the forme_eeling of careful pity, an ever-increasing restlessness, which he could no_xplain, took possession of him. He felt that the condition he was in coul_ot continue long, that a catastrophe was coming which would change his whol_ife, and he impatiently sought everywhere for signs of that approachin_atastrophe. One of his brother Masons had revealed to Pierre the followin_rophecy concerning Napoleon, drawn from the Revelation of St. John.
  • In chapter 13, verse 18, of the Apocalypse, it is said:
  • Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
  • for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore an_ix.
  • And in the fifth verse of the same chapter:
  • And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies;
  • and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
  • The French alphabet, written out with the same numerical values as the Hebrew,
  • in which the first nine letters denote units and the others tens, will hav_he following significance:
  • {verbatim
  • a b c d e f g h i k
  • 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • l m n o p q r s
  • 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
  • t u v w x y
  • 100 110 120 130 140 150
  • z
  • 160
  • {verbatim
  • Writing the words L'Empereur Napoleon in numbers, it appears that the sum o_hem is 666, and that Napoleon therefore the beast foretold in the Apocalypse.
  • Moreover, by applying the same system to the words quarante-
  • deux,[[76]](footnotes.xml#footnote_76) which was the term allowed to the beas_hat "spoke great things and blasphemies," the same number 666 was obtained;
  • from which it followed that the limit fixed for Napoleon's power had come i_he year 1812 when the French emperor was forty-two. This prophecy please_ierre very much and he often asked himself what would put an end to the powe_f the beast, that is, of Napoleon, and tried by the same system of usin_etters as numbers and adding them up, to find an answer to the question tha_ngrossed him. He wrote the words L'Empereur Alexandre, La nation russe an_dded up their numbers, but the sums were either more or less than 666. Onc_hen making such calculations he wrote down his own name in French, Comt_ierre Besouhoff, but the sum of the numbers did not come right. Then h_hanged the spelling, substituting a z for the s and adding de and the articl_e, still without obtaining the desired result. Then it occurred to him: i_he answer to the question were contained in his name, his nationality woul_lso be given in the answer. So he wrote Le russe Besuhof and adding up th_umbers got 671\. This was only five too much, and five was represented by e,
  • the very letter elided from the article le before the word Empereur. B_mitting the e, though incorrectly, Pierre got the answer he sought. L'russ_esuhof made 666. This discovery excited him. How, or by what means, he wa_onnected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, bu_e did not doubt that connection for a moment. His love for Natasha,
  • Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L'Empereur Napoleon, an_'russe Besuhof—all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of tha_pellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself hel_aptive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness. On the eve o_he Sunday when the special prayer was read, Pierre had promised the Rostov_o bring them, from Count Rostopchin whom he knew well, both the appeal to th_eople and the news from the army. In the morning, when he went to call a_ostopchin's he met there a courier fresh from the army, an acquaintance o_is own, who often danced at Moscow balls. "Do, please, for heaven's sake,
  • relieve me of something!" said the courier. "I have a sackful of letters t_arents." Among these letters was one from Nicholas Rostov to his father.
  • Pierre took that letter, and Rostopchin also gave him the Emperor's appeal t_oscow, which had just been printed, the last army orders, and his own mos_ecent bulletin. Glancing through the army orders, Pierre found in one o_hem, in the lists of killed, wounded, and rewarded, the name of Nichola_ostov, awarded a St. George's Cross of the Fourth Class for courage shown i_he Ostrovna affair, and in the same order the name of Prince Andre_olkonski, appointed to the command of a regiment of Chasseurs. Though he di_ot want to remind the Rostovs of Bolkonski, Pierre could not refrain fro_aking them happy by the news of their son's having received a decoration, s_e sent that printed army order and Nicholas' letter to the Rostovs, keepin_he appeal, the bulletin, and the other orders to take with him when he wen_o dinner. His conversation with Count Rostopchin and the latter's tone o_nxious hurry, the meeting with the courier who talked casually of how badl_hings were going in the army, the rumors of the discovery of spies in Mosco_nd of a leaflet in circulation stating that Napoleon promised to be in bot_he Russian capitals by the autumn, and the talk of the Emperor's bein_xpected to arrive next day—all aroused with fresh force that feeling o_gitation and expectation in Pierre which he had been conscious of ever sinc_he appearance of the comet, and especially since the beginning of the war. H_ad long been thinking of entering the army and would have done so had he no_een hindered, first, by his membership of the Society of Freemasons to whic_e was bound by oath and which preached perpetual peace and the abolition o_ar, and secondly, by the fact that when he saw the great mass of Muscovite_ho had donned uniform and were talking patriotism, he somehow felt ashamed t_ake the step. But the chief reason for not carrying out his intention t_nter the army lay in the vague idea that he was L'russe Besuhof who had th_umber of the beast, 666; that his part in the great affair of setting a limi_o the power of the beast that spoke great and blasphemous things had bee_redestined from eternity, and that therefore he ought not to undertak_nything, but wait for what was bound to come to pass.