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Chapter 4

  • Prince Andrew arrived in Petersburg in August, 1809. It was the time when th_outhful Speranski was at the zenith of his fame and his reforms were bein_ushed forward with the greatest energy. That same August the Emperor wa_hrown from his caleche, injured his leg, and remained three weeks a_eterhof, receiving Speranski every day and no one else. At that time the tw_amous decrees were being prepared that so agitated society—abolishing cour_anks and introducing examinations to qualify for the grades of Collegiat_ssessor and State Councilor—and not merely these but a whole stat_onstitution, intended to change the existing order of government in Russia:
  • legal, administrative, and financial, from the Council of State down to th_istrict tribunals. Now those vague liberal dreams with which the Empero_lexander had ascended the throne, and which he had tried to put into effec_ith the aid of his associates, Czartoryski, Novosiltsev, Kochubey, an_trogonov—whom he himself in jest had called his Comite de salut public—wer_aking shape and being realized.
  • Now all these men were replaced by Speranski on the civil side, and Arakchee_n the military. Soon after his arrival Prince Andrew, as a gentleman of th_hamber, presented himself at court and at a levee. The Emperor, though he me_im twice, did not favor him with a single word. It had always seemed t_rince Andrew before that he was antipathetic to the Emperor and that th_atter disliked his face and personality generally, and in the cold, repellen_lance the Emperor gave him, he now found further confirmation of thi_urmise. The courtiers explained the Emperor's neglect of him by His Majesty'_ispleasure at Bolkonski's not having served since 1805.
  • "I know myself that one cannot help one's sympathies and antipathies," though_rince Andrew, "so it will not do to present my proposal for the reform of th_rmy regulations to the Emperor personally, but the project will speak fo_tself."
  • He mentioned what he had written to an old field marshal, a friend of hi_ather's. The field marshal made an appointment to see him, received hi_raciously, and promised to inform the Emperor. A few days later Prince Andre_eceived notice that he was to go to see the Minister of War, Count Arakcheev.
  • On the appointed day Prince Andrew entered Count Arakcheev's waiting room a_ine in the morning.
  • He did not know Arakcheev personally, had never seen him, and all he had hear_f him inspired him with but little respect for the man.
  • "He is Minister of War, a man trusted by the Emperor, and I need not concer_yself about his personal qualities: he has been commissioned to consider m_roject, so he alone can get it adopted," thought Prince Andrew as he waite_mong a number of important and unimportant people in Count Arakcheev'_aiting room.
  • During his service, chiefly as an adjutant, Prince Andrew had seen th_nterooms of many important men, and the different types of such rooms wer_ell known to him. Count Arakcheev's anteroom had quite a special character.
  • The faces of the unimportant people awaiting their turn for an audience showe_mbarrassment and servility; the faces of those of higher rank expressed _ommon feeling of awkwardness, covered by a mask of unconcern and ridicule o_hemselves, their situation, and the person for whom they were waiting. Som_alked thoughtfully up and down, others whispered and laughed. Prince Andre_eard the nickname "Sila Andreevich" and the words, "Uncle will give it to u_ot," in reference to Count Arakcheev. One general (an important personage),
  • evidently feeling offended at having to wait so long, sat crossing an_ncrossing his legs and smiling contemptuously to himself.
  • But the moment the door opened one feeling alone appeared on all faces—that o_ear. Prince Andrew for the second time asked the adjutant on duty to take i_is name, but received an ironical look and was told that his turn would com_n due course. After some others had been shown in and out of the minister'_oom by the adjutant on duty, an officer who struck Prince Andrew by hi_umiliated and frightened air was admitted at that terrible door. Thi_fficer's audience lasted a long time. Then suddenly the grating sound of _arsh voice was heard from the other side of the door, and the officer—wit_ale face and trembling lips—came out and passed through the waiting room,
  • clutching his head.
  • After this Prince Andrew was conducted to the door and the officer on dut_aid in a whisper, "To the right, at the window."
  • Prince Andrew entered a plain tidy room and saw at the table a man of fort_ith a long waist, a long closely cropped head, deep wrinkles, scowling brow_bove dull greenish-hazel eyes and an overhanging red nose. Arakcheev turne_is head toward him without looking at him.
  • "What is your petition?" asked Arakcheev.
  • "I am not petitioning, your excellency," returned Prince Andrew quietly.
  • Arakcheev's eyes turned toward him.
  • "Sit down," said he. "Prince Bolkonski?"
  • "I am not petitioning about anything. His Majesty the Emperor has deigned t_end your excellency a project submitted by me… "
  • "You see, my dear sir, I have read your project," interrupted Arakcheev,
  • uttering only the first words amiably and then—again without looking at Princ_ndrew—relapsing gradually into a tone of grumbling contempt. "You ar_roposing new military laws? There are many laws but no one to carry out th_ld ones. Nowadays everybody designs laws, it is easier writing than doing."
  • "I came at His Majesty the Emperor's wish to learn from your excellency ho_ou propose to deal with the memorandum I have presented," said Prince Andre_olitely.
  • "I have endorsed a resolution on your memorandum and sent it to the committee.
  • I do not approve of it," said Arakcheev, rising and taking a paper from hi_riting table. "Here!" and he handed it to Prince Andrew.
  • Across the paper was scrawled in pencil, without capital letters, misspelled,
  • and without punctuation: "Unsoundly constructed because resembles an imitatio_f the French military code and from the Articles of War needlessl_eviating."
  • "To what committee has the memorandum been referred?" inquired Prince Andrew.
  • "To the Committee on Army Regulations, and I have recommended that your hono_hould be appointed a member, but without a salary."
  • Prince Andrew smiled.
  • "I don't want one."
  • "A member without salary," repeated Arakcheev. "I have the honor… Eh! Call th_ext one! Who else is there?" he shouted, bowing to Prince Andrew.