“There’s war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom, I could understand it, I’d be the first to go into military service; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world . . . is not right.”
Prince Andrei merely shrugged his shoulders at Pierre’s childish talk. He made it look as though he could not reply to such stupidity; but in fact it was hard to reply to this naive question in any other way than Prince Andrei had done.
“If everyone made war only according to his own convictions, there would be no war,” he said. […]
“Well, what makes you go to war?” asked Pierre.
“What makes me? I don’t know. I have to. Besides, I’m going . . .” He paused. “I’m going because this life I lead here, this life— is not for me!”
Rostov, preoccupied by his relations with Bogdanych, stopped on the bridge, not knowing what to do with himself. There was no one to cut down (as he had always pictured battle to himself), nor could he help set fire to the bridge, because, unlike the other soldiers, he had not brought a plait of straw with him. He was standing and looking about, when suddenly there was a rattling on the bridge, as if someone had spilled nuts, and one of the hussars, the one nearest him, fell on the railing with a groan. […]
Nikolai Rostov turned away, and, as if searching for something, began looking at the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, at the sun! How good the sky seemed, how blue, calm, and deep!
And the flushed alien physiognomy of this man who, with lowered bayonet, holding his breath, was running lightly towards him, frightened Rostov. He seized his pistol and, instead of firing it, threw it at the Frenchman, and ran for the bushes as fast as he could. […] One undivided feeling of fear for his young, happy life possessed his entire being. Quickly leaping over the hedges, with that swiftness with which he had run playing tag, he flew across the field, turning his pale, kind young face back from time to time, and a chill of terror ran down his spine. […] “Something must be wrong,” he thought, “it’s impossible that they should want to kill me.”
“All this had to be so and could not be otherwise,” thought Pierre, “therefore there’s no point in asking whether it’s good or bad. It’s good because it’s definite, and there’s no more of the old tormenting doubt.” […]
“Something special is said on these occasions,” he thought, but he simply could not remember precisely what was said on these occasions. […]
“It’s too late now, it’s all over; and anyway I love her,” thought Pierre.
“Je vous aime!” he said, having remembered what needed to be said on these occasions; but the words sounded so meager that he felt ashamed of himself.
A month and a half later he was married and settled down, as they say, the happy possessor of a beautiful wife and millions of roubles, in the big, newly done-over house of the counts Bezukhov in Petersburg.
Thinking of marriage, Princess Marya dreamed of family happiness and children, but her chiefest, strongest, and most secret dream was of earthly love. […] “My God,” she said, “how can I suppress these devil’s thoughts in my heart? How can I renounce evil imaginings forever, so as peacefully to do Thy will?” And she had barely asked this question, when God answered her in her own heart: “[…] The future of people and your own fate must be unknown to you; but live so as to be ready for anything. If God should see fit to test you in the duties of marriage, be ready to fulfill His will.” With this reassuring thought (but still with a hope that her forbidden earthly dream would be fulfilled), Princess Marya sighed, crossed herself, and went downstairs without thinking about her dress, or her hairstyle, or how she would walk in, or what she would say. What could all that mean in comparison with the predestination of God, without whose will not one hair falls from man’s head.
Rostov was a truthful young man, not for anything would he have deliberately told an untruth. He began telling the story with the intention of telling it exactly as it had been, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably for himself, he went over into untruth. If he had told the truth to these listeners, who, like himself, had already heard accounts of attacks numerous times and had formed for themselves a definite notion of what an attack was, and were expecting exactly the same sort of account—they either would not have believed him or, worse still, would have thought it was Rostov’s own fault that what usually happens in stories of cavalry attacks had not happened with him. He could not simply tell them that they all set out at a trot, he fell off his horse, dislocated his arm, and ran to the woods as fast as he could to escape a Frenchman. […] They were expecting an account of how he got all fired up, forgetting himself […] how his saber tasted flesh, how he fell exhausted, and so on. And he told them all that.
As in a clock the result of the complex movement of numberless wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and measured movement of the hands pointing to the time, so also the result of all the complex human movements of these hundred and sixty thousand Russians and French—all the passions, desires, regrets, humiliations, sufferings, bursts of pride, fear, rapture—was merely the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so-called battle of the three emperors, that is, a slow movement of the world-historical hand on the clockface of human history.
That night Rostov was on the picket line with his platoon forward of Bagration’s detachment. […] His eyes kept closing, and in his imagination the sovereign appeared, then Denisov, then Moscow memories […] “Why not? It might well be,” thought Rostov, “that the sovereign, meeting me, gives me some assignment, saying as to any officer: ‘Go and find out what’s there.’ There are many stories about how he got to know some officer quite by chance and attached him to himself. What if he attached me to himself? Oh, how I’d protect him, how I’d tell him the whole truth, how I’d expose the deceivers!”
There was nothing over him now except the sky—the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds slowly creeping across it. “How quiet, calm, and solemn, not at all like when I was running,” thought Prince Andrei, “not like when we were running, shouting, and fighting; not at all like when the Frenchman and the artillerist, with angry and frightened faces, were pulling at the swab— it’s quite different the way the clouds creep across this lofty, infinite sky. How is it I haven’t seen this lofty sky before? And how happy I am that I’ve finally come to know it. Yes! everything is empty, everything is a deception, except this infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing except that. But there is not even that, there is nothing except silence, tranquillity. And thank God!...”
“But that can’t be him, alone in the middle of this empty field,” thought Rostov. Just then Alexander turned his head, and Rostov saw the beloved features so vividly imprinted on his memory. The sovereign was pale, his cheeks were hollow, his eyes sunken; but there was all the more loveliness and mildness in his features. […]
But as a young man in love trembles and thrills, not daring to utter what he dreams of by night, and looks about fearfully, seeking help or the possibility of delay and flight, when the desired moment comes and he stands alone with her, so now Rostov, having attained what he desired more than anything in the world, did not know how to approach the sovereign and presented thousands of considerations to himself for why it was unsuitable, improper, and impossible.
“Voilà une belle mort,” said Napoleon, looking at Bolkonsky.
Prince Andrei understood that it had been said about him, and that it was Napoleon speaking. […] But he heard these words as if he was hearing the buzzing of a fly. He not only was not interested, he did not even notice, and at once forgot them. […] He knew that it was Napoleon— his hero— but at that moment, Napoleon seemed to him such a small, insignificant man compared with what was now happening between his soul and this lofty, infinite sky with clouds racing across it. To him it was all completely the same at that moment who was standing over him or what he said about him; he was only glad that people had stopped over him and only wished that those people would help him and bring him back to life, which seemed so beautiful to him, because he now understood it so differently.
“For centuries, starting with our forefather Adam and down to our days, we have been working towards that knowledge and are infinitely far from reaching our goal; but we see our incomprehension only as our weakness and His grandeur . . .”
With a swelling heart, with glittering eyes, Pierre gazed into the Mason’s face, listened to him, did not interrupt him, did not ask anything, and believed with his whole soul what this stranger was telling him. Whether he believed those reasonable arguments in the Mason’s speech, or believed, as children do, the intonations, convictions, and heartfelt emotion in the Mason’s speech […] in any case he wanted to believe with his whole soul, and did believe, and experienced a joyful feeling of peace, renewal, and return to life.
Pierre did not know that the village where he was offered bread and salt and where a chapel to Peter and Paul was being built was a market village with a fair on St. Peter’s Day, that the chapel had been begun long ago by the wealthy peasants, who were the ones that welcomed him, and that nine-tenths of the peasants in that village were completely destitute. […]
“How easy it is, how little effort it takes, to do so much good,” thought Pierre, “and how little we care about it!”
“To live only so as not to do evil, so as not to repent, is too little. I used to live that way, I lived for myself, and I ruined my life. And only now, when I live, or at least try to live” (Pierre corrected himself out of modesty) “for others, only now have I understood all the happiness of life. No, I won’t agree with you, and you don’t really think what you’re saying.” Prince Andrei silently gazed at Pierre with a mocking smile.
“Maybe you’re right for yourself,” he went on after a brief pause, “[…] But I experienced the opposite. I used to live for glory. (What is glory? The same as love for others, the desire to do something for them, the desire for their praise.) So I lived for others and ruined my life— and not almost, but completely. And I’ve been at peace since I began living for myself alone.”
Here in the regiment everything was clear and simple. The whole world was divided into two unequal parts: one was our Pavlogradsky regiment, the other— all the rest. And with this rest he had nothing to do. In the regiment, everything was known: who was a lieutenant, who a captain, who was a good and who a bad man, and— above all— who was a comrade. […]
Having entered once more into these definite conditions of regimental life, Rostov experienced a joy and peace similar to what a weary man feels when he lies down to rest. This regimental life was the more pleasurable for Rostov during this campaign in that, after losing to Dolokhov (an act for which, despite all his family’s reassurances, he could not forgive himself), he had resolved to serve not as before, but, in order to smooth over his guilt, to serve well and be a perfectly excellent comrade and officer, that is, a fine human being— which seemed so difficult in the world, but so possible in the regiment.
Rostov stood at the corner for a long time, looking at the feasting men from a distance. Painful work was going on in his mind, which he could not bring to an end. Terrible doubts arose in his soul. Now he remembered […] the whole hospital with those torn-off arms and legs, that filth and disease. He imagined so vividly now that hospital stench of dead flesh that he looked around to see where the stench could be coming from. Then he remembered that self-satisfied Bonaparte with his white little hand, who was now an emperor, whom the emperor Alexander liked and respected. Why, then, those torn-off arms and legs, those dead people? […] He caught himself in such strange thoughts that it made him frightened.
The old oak, quite transformed, spreading out a canopy of juicy, dark greenery, basked, barely swaying, in the rays of the evening sun. Of the gnarled fingers, the scars, the old grief and mistrust— nothing could be seen. Juicy green leaves without branches broke through the stiff, hundred-year-old bark, and it was impossible to believe that this old fellow had produced them. “Yes, it’s the same oak,” thought Prince Andrei, and suddenly a causeless springtime feeling of joy and renewal came over him. All the best moments of his life suddenly recalled themselves to him at the same time. Austerlitz with the lofty sky, and the dead, reproachful face of his wife, and Pierre on the ferry, and a girl excited by the beauty of the night, and that night itself, and the moon— all of it suddenly recalled itself to him.
On returning home, Prince Andrei began to recall his Petersburg life of those last four months as if it was something new. […] He recalled his work on legislation, the concern with which he had translated the articles of the Roman and French codes into Russian, and he felt ashamed of himself. Then he vividly pictured Bogucharovo, his occupations in the country, his trip to Ryazan, recalled the muzhiks, the headman Dron, and applying to them the personal rights he had classified by paragraphs, he felt astonished that he could have been occupied with such idle work for so long.
“Forgive me,” said Prince Andrei, “but you’re so young, and I’ve already experienced so much of this life. I fear for you. You don’t know yourself.”
Natasha listened with concentrated attention, trying to understand the meaning of his words, and not understanding.
“Hard as this year that postpones my happiness will be for me,” Prince Andrei went on, “during this time you will test yourself. I ask you to make me happy in a year; but you’re free: our engagement will remain a secret, and if you become convinced that you don’t love me, or that you love ...” Prince Andrei said with an unnatural smile.
“Why are you saying this?” Natasha interrupted him. “You know I’ve loved you from the very day you first came to Otradnoe,” she said, firmly convinced that she was speaking the truth.
Where, how, and when had this little countess, brought up by an émigré Frenchwoman, sucked this spirit in from the Russian air she breathed, where had she gotten these ways[?] Yet that spirit and these ways were those very inimitable, unstudied Russian ones which the uncle expected of her. […]
She did it exactly right, and so precisely, so perfectly precisely, that Anisya Fyodorovna, who at once handed Natasha the kerchief she needed for it, wept through her laughter, looking at this slender, graceful countess, brought up in silk and velvet, so foreign to her, who was able to understand everything that was in Anisya and in Anisya’s father, and in her aunt, and in her mother, and in every Russian.
The curtain rose again. Anatole left the box calm and cheerful. Natasha returned to her father’s box, now totally subjected to the world she was in. Everything that was happening before her now seemed perfectly natural to her; but instead all her former thoughts about her fiancé, about Princess Marya, about country life, never once entered her head, as if it was all long ago, long past.
In the fourth act there was a devil, who sang, waving his arm, until the boards were pulled out from under him, and he sank down below. That was all Natasha saw of the fourth act: something excited and tormented her, and the cause of it was Kuragin, whom she involuntarily followed with her eyes.
Understandably, these and a countless, endless number of other causes, the number of which depends on countless different points of view, presented themselves to contemporaries; but for us, the descendants, who contemplate the enormity of the event in all its scope and delve into its simple and terrible meaning, these causes seem insufficient. For us it is not understandable that millions of Christians killed and tortured each other because Napoleon was a lover of power, Alexander was firm, English policy cunning, and the duke of Oldenburg offended.
It is only because military men are clothed in splendor and power, and masses of scoundrels flatter power, endowing it with qualities of genius it does not have, that they are called geniuses. On the contrary, the best generals I knew were stupid or absentminded people. […] A good commander not only does not need genius or any special qualities, but, on the contrary, he needs the absence of the best and highest human qualities— love, poetry, tenderness, a searching philosophical doubt. […] The merit of success in military affairs does not depend on them, but on the man in the ranks who shouts ‘We’re lost!’ or shouts ‘Hurrah!’ And it is only in the ranks that one can serve with the assurance of being useful!
Rostov kept thinking about that brilliant feat of his, which, to his surprise, had gained him the St. George Cross and even given him the reputation of a brave man— and there was something in it that he was unable to understand. “So they’re even more afraid than we are!” he thought. “So that’s all there is to so-called heroism? And did I really do it for the fatherland? And what harm had he done, with his dimple and his light blue eyes? But how frightened he was! He thought I’d kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand faltered. And they gave me the St. George Cross. I understand nothing, nothing!”
[A] new feeling of humility would come over Natasha before the great, the unknowable, when at this unaccustomed hour of morning, looking at the blackened face of the Mother of God lit by candles and the light of morning coming from the window, she listened to the words of the service, which she tried to follow and understand. When she understood them, her personal feeling, with its nuances, joined with her prayer; when she did not, the sweeter it was for her to think that the wish to understand everything was pride, that it was impossible to understand everything, that she only had to believe and give herself to God, who in those moments— she felt— was guiding her soul. […] Natasha experienced a new feeling of the possibility of correcting her vices and the possibility of a new, pure life and happiness.
“Angel! Father! Hurrah! Dearest! . . .” cried the people and Petya, and again peasant women and a few men of the weaker sort, including Petya, wept with happiness. A rather large piece of the biscuit that the sovereign was holding broke off, fell onto the railing of the balcony, and from there to the ground. A cabby in a jerkin, who was standing closest of all, rushed to this piece of biscuit and snatched it up. Some people in the crowd rushed to the cabby. Noticing that, the sovereign asked for a plate of biscuits to be brought and began tossing biscuits from the balcony. Petya’s eyes became bloodshot, the danger of being crushed aroused him still more, he rushed for the biscuits. He did not know why, but it was necessary to take a biscuit from the tsar’s hands, and necessary not to give it up. He rushed and tripped up a little old woman who was trying to catch a biscuit. […] Petya knocked her arm aside with his knee, snatched a biscuit, and, as if afraid to be late, again shouted “Hurrah!” in a voice now grown hoarse.
“Well, what if I really have fallen in love with him?” thought Princess Marya.
Ashamed as she was to admit to herself that she had fallen in love first with a man who, perhaps, would never love her, she comforted herself with the thought that no one would ever know of it, and that she would not be to blame if, to the end of her life, without speaking of it to anyone, she should love the one she loved for the first and last time.
Sometimes she remembered his glances, his sympathy, his words, and happiness did not seem impossible to her. And it was then that Dunyasha noticed her, smiling, looking out the window of the carriage.
“And it had to be that he came to Bogucharovo, and at that very moment!” thought Princess Marya. […] And in all of that Princess Marya saw the will of Providence.
“Take no prisoners,” Prince Andrei went on. “That alone would change the whole war and make it less cruel. As it is, we’ve been playing at war— that’s the nasty thing, we act magnanimously and all that. It’s like the magnanimity and sentimentality of the lady who swoons when she sees a calf slaughtered […] We’re told about the rules of war, about chivalry, about parleying, sparing the unfortunate, and so on. It’s all nonsense. I saw chivalry and parleying in 1805: they cheated us, we cheated them. They loot other people’s houses, spread false banknotes, and worst of all— kill my children and my father, and then talk about the rules of war and magnanimity towards the enemy. […]
If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we’d go to it only when it was worth going to certain death, as now.”
In the unfortunate, sobbing, exhausted man whose leg had just been removed, he recognized Anatole Kuragin. […] Anatole was sobbing deeply. “Yes, it’s he; yes, this man is closely and painfully connected with me by something,” thought Prince Andrei, not yet understanding clearly what he saw before him. […] And suddenly a new and unexpected memory from the world of childhood, purity, and love came to Prince Andrei. He remembered Natasha as he had seen her for the first time at the ball in 1810, with her slender neck and arms, with her frightened, happy face ready for rapture, and in his soul love and tenderness for her awakened, stronger and more alive than ever. He now remembered the connection between him and this man, who was looking at him dully through the tears that filled his swollen eyes. Prince Andrei remembered everything, and a rapturous pity and love for this man filled his happy heart.
“Here it is, the reward for all those of little faith,” he thought, looking at his retinue and at the troops approaching and forming up. “One word from me, one movement of my hand, and this ancient capital des Czars is destroyed. […] [H]ere she is lying at my feet, her golden cupolas and crosses playing and glittering in the sunlight. But I will spare her. On the ancient monuments of barbarism and despotism, I will write great words of justice and mercy . . . Alexander will take precisely that most painfully of all— I know him.” (It seemed to Napoleon that the main significance of what was happening lay in his personal struggle with Alexander.) “From the heights of the Kremlin—yes, yes, that’s the Kremlin—I will give them the laws of justice, I will show them the meaning of true civilization; I will make the generations of boyars remember the name of their conqueror with love.”
But after the exclamation of surprise that escaped Vereshchagin, he uttered a pitiful cry of pain, and that cry was the end of him. The barrier of human feeling, strained to the utmost in holding back the crowd, instantly broke. The crime had begun, it was necessary to go through with it. The pitiful moan of reproach was stifled by the menacing and wrathful roar of the crowd. […] The dragoon who had struck Vereshchagin was about to repeat his blow. Vereshchagin, with a cry of terror, shielding himself with his hands, rushed towards the people. The tall fellow, whom he ran into, seized Vereshchagin’s thin neck with his hands and, uttering a wild cry, fell with him under the feet of the pushing, tearing people.
At that time when Russia was half conquered and the inhabitants of Moscow were fleeing to the distant provinces, and one popular militia after another was rising to the defense of the fatherland, we, who were not living at that time, involuntarily imagine that all Russian people, great and small, were taken up only with sacrificing themselves, saving the fatherland, or weeping over its loss. The stories and descriptions of that time all speak without exception of self-sacrifice, love of the fatherland, despair, grief, and the heroism of the Russians. In reality, it was not like that. It seems so to us only because all we see in the past is the general historical interest of the time, and we do not see all those personal, human interests that the people of that time had.
From the moment when Pierre saw this horrible murder performed by people who did not want to do it, it was as if the spring that upheld everything and made it seem alive had been pulled from his soul, and it had all collapsed into a heap of meaningless trash. Though he did not account for it to himself, his faith in the world’s good order, in humanity’s and his own soul, and in God, was destroyed. Pierre had experienced this state before, but never with such force as now. […] But now he felt that it was not his guilt that caused the world to collapse in front of his eyes and leave only meaningless ruins. He felt that to return to faith in life was not in his power.
Karataev had no attachments, friendships, or love, as Pierre understood them; but he loved and lived lovingly with everything that life brought his way, especially other people— not any specific people, but those who were there before his eyes. He loved his mutt, his comrades, the French, he loved Pierre, who was his neighbor; but Pierre sensed that, despite all his gentle tenderness towards him […] Karataev would not have been upset for a moment to be parted from him. And Pierre was beginning to experience the same feeling towards Karataev. […]
But for Pierre he remained forever as he had seen him the first night, the unfathomable, round, and eternal embodiment of the spirit of simplicity and truth.
In those hours of suffering solitude and half delirium that he spent after being wounded, the more he pondered the new principle of eternal love revealed to him, the more, though without feeling it himself, he renounced earthly life. To love everything, everybody, always to sacrifice oneself for love, meant to love no one, meant not to live this earthly life. And the more imbued he was with this principle of love, the more he renounced life and the more completely he destroyed that dreadful barrier which, without love, stands between life and death. When, in that first time, he remembered that he had to die, he said to himself: “Well, so much the better.”
The satisfaction of his needs— for good food, cleanliness, freedom— now that he was deprived of them all, seemed perfect happiness to Pierre, and the choice of an occupation, that is, of a life, now, when that choice was so limited, seemed to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of life’s comforts destroys all the happiness of the satisfaction of one’s needs, and that a greater freedom to choose one’s occupation, the freedom which in this life was granted him by education, wealth, social position— precisely that freedom made the choice of an occupation insolubly difficult and destroyed the very need and possibility of an occupation.
All Pierre’s dreams were now turned to the time when he would be free. And yet afterwards and for the whole of his life Pierre thought and spoke with rapture of that month of captivity, of those irrevocable, strong, and joyful sensations, and above all of that full peace of mind, that perfect inner freedom, which he experienced only in that time.
…[W]hen it is no longer possible to stretch the so-elastic threads of historical discourse any further, when an action clearly contradicts all that mankind calls good and even just, historians resort to the saving notion of greatness. It is as if greatness excludes the possibility of the measure of good and bad. For the great man there is no bad. There is no horror that can be laid to the blame of someone who is great.
[…] Grand, to their minds, is the property of some sort of special animals known as heroes. And Napoleon, in his warm fur coat, clearing off for home from his perishing men […] feels que c’est grand, and his soul is at peace.
Morally bowed down and shutting their eyes to the menacing cloud of death that hung over them, they did not dare to look life in the face. They carefully protected their open wounds from any offensive, painful touch. Everything— a carriage driving quickly down the street, a reminder of dinner, a maid’s question about what dress to prepare; still worse, a word of insincere, weak sympathy— everything painfully irritated the wound, seemed offensive, and violated the necessary quiet in which they both tried to listen to the dread, stern choir not yet silenced in their imagination, and prevented them from peering into those mysterious, infinite distances which for a moment had opened before them.
The wound in the mother’s soul could not heal. Petya’s death tore away half of her life. A month after the news of Petya’s death, which had found her a fresh and cheerful fifty-year-old woman, she came out of her room an old woman— half-dead and taking no part in life. But the same wound that half killed the countess, this new wound called Natasha to life. […]
[A] wound in the soul, like a physical wound, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside. This was the way Natasha’s wound healed. She thought her life was over. But suddenly her love for her mother showed her that the essence of life— love— was still alive in her. Love awoke, and life awoke.
For Russian historians— strange and terrible to say— Napoleon, that most insignificant instrument of history, who never and nowhere, even in exile, displayed any human dignity— Napoleon is the object of admiration and enthusiasm; he is grand. While Kutuzov, a man who, from the beginning to the end of his activity in 1812, from Borodino to Vilno, while always being true to himself in all his acts and words, shows an example uncommon in history of self-denial and awareness in the present of the future significance of the event— Kutuzov seems to them something indefinite and pathetic, and when they speak of Kutuzov and the year twelve, it is as if they are always slightly embarrassed.
Formerly he had been unable to see the great, the unfathomable and infinite, in anything. […] He had armed himself with a mental spyglass and gazed into the distance, where the petty and humdrum, disappearing in the distant mist, had seemed to him great and infinite, only because it was not clearly visible. Thus he had looked at European life, politics, Masonry, philosophy, philanthropy. But even then, in moments he regarded as his own weakness, his mind had penetrated this distance, and there, too, he had seen the petty, the humdrum, the meaningless. Now he had learned to see the great, the eternal, and the infinite in everything, and therefore, in order to see it, to enjoy contemplating it, he had naturally abandoned the spyglass he had been looking through until then over people’s heads […] And the closer he looked, the calmer and happier he became.
Pierre told of his adventures as he had never told them to anyone, as he had never yet recalled them to himself. It was as if he now saw a new significance in everything he had lived through. […] Natasha, not knowing it herself, was all attention: she did not miss a word of Pierre’s, not a waver in his voice, not a glance, not the twitch of a facial muscle, not a gesture. She caught the not-yet-spoken word in flight and brought it straight into her open heart, guessing the secret meaning of all Pierre’s inner work.
[Historians’ reproaches consist in the fact] that a historical figure such as Alexander I, a figure who stood on the highest possible step of human power […] a figure who felt upon himself at every moment of his life the responsibility for all that was happening in Europe; and not an invented figure, but a living one, and, like every man, with his personal habits, passions, strivings for goodness, beauty, truth—that this figure, fifty years ago, was not so much not virtuous (the historians do not reproach him for that), but did not have those views of the good of mankind now possessed by a professor who from his youth has been taken up with learning, that is, reading books, attending lectures, and copying things from these books and lectures into a notebook.
She, as they put it, let herself go. Natasha took no trouble either about her manners, or about the delicacy of her speech, or about showing herself to her husband in the most advantageous poses, or about her toilette, or about not hampering her husband with her demands. She did everything contrary to these rules. […]
The subject that absorbed Natasha fully was her family— that is, her husband, who had to be kept in such a way as to belong entirely to her, to the household; and her children, whom she had to carry, give birth to, nurse, and bring up.
Sometimes the thought occurred to her that this difference was caused by age; but she felt that she was guilty before him, and in her heart she promised herself to mend her ways and do the impossible— that is, in this life to love her husband, and her children, and Nikolenka, and all who were close to her as Christ loved mankind. Countess Marya’s soul always strove towards the infinite, eternal, and perfect, and therefore could never be at peace. The stern expression of concealed, lofty suffering of a soul burdened by a body came to her face. Nikolai looked at her […] and, standing in front of the icon, he began to recite the evening prayers.