War and Peace

3 01 2009

I’ve been reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and came across this passage today.  Thought it was worthy of posting…

In the little German town of Wischau, Rostof saw the emperor yet a second time.  In the town square, where just before the sovereign’s arrival there had been a lively interchange of shots, still lay a number of men, killed and wounded, whom there had not as yet been time to remove.  The sovereign, surrounded by his suite of military and civil attendants, and riding a chestnut mare groomed in English style, leaning over and gracefully holding a gold lorgnette to his eyes, was looking at a soldier stretched out on the ground, without his shako and with his head all covered with blood.  The soldier was so filthy, rough, and disgusting that Rostof was quite affronted that he should be so near his majesty.  Rostof saw how the sovereign’s stooping shoulders contracted, as if a chill ran down his back, and how his left heel convulsively pressed the spur into the horse’s side, and how the admirably trained animal looked around good-naturedly and did not stir from his place.  An adjutant dismounted, and taking the soldier under the arm assisted to lift him to a stretcher that had just been brought.  The soldier groaned.

“Gently, gently!  Can’t you lift him more gently?” exclaimed the sovereign, apparently suffering more keenly than the dying soldier, and he rode away.

Rostof saw the tears that filled his monarch’s eyes, and heard him say in French to Czartorisky as he rode away: “What is so terrible as war!  What a terrible thing!”

Track the progress of my goals for 2009.

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