Book 9 Chapter 10

THIS LETTER had not yet been given to the Tsar, when Barclay, at dinner one day, informed Bolkonsky that his majesty would be graciously pleased to see Prince Andrey in person, to ask him some questions about Turkey, and that Prince Andrey was to present himself at Bennigsen's quarters at six o'clock in the evening.

That day news had reached the Tsar's quarters of a fresh advance on Napoleon's part that might be regarded as menacing the army—news that turned out in the sequel to be false. And that morning Colonel Michaud had accompanied the Tsar on a tour of inspection about the Drissa fortifications; and had tried to convince the Tsar that the fortified camp, constructed on Pfuhl's theory, and hitherto regarded as the chef d'?uvre of tactical science, destined to overthrow Napoleon—that that camp was a senseless absurdity that would lead to the destruction of the Russian army.

Prince Andrey arrived at Bennigsen's quarters, a small manor-house on the very bank of the river. Neither Bennigsen nor the Tsar was there; but Tchernishev, the Tsar's aide-de-camp, received Bolkonsky, and informed him that the Tsar had set off with General Bennigsen and Marchese Paulucci to make his second inspection that day of the fortifications of the Drissa camp, of the utility of which they were beginning to entertain grave doubts.

Tchernishev sat in the window of the outer room with a French novel. This room had once probably been the main hall; there was still an organ in it, on which were piled rugs of some sort, and in the corner of the room was a folding bedstead belonging to Bennigsen's adjutant. The owner of the bedstead, too, was there. Apparently exhausted by work or festivities, he sat dozing on the folded bed. Two doors led from the room: one straight in front opening into the drawing-room, another on the right opening into the study. From the first door came the sound of voices speaking German and occasionally French. In the drawing-room there was being held, by the Tsar's desire, not a military council—the Tsar loved to have things vague—but a meeting of a few persons, whose opinions he wished to hear in the present difficult position. It was not a military council, but a sort of council for the elucidation of certain questions for the benefit of the Tsar personally. To this sort of semi-council had been bidden the Swedish general, Armfeldt, the general on the staff Woltzogen, Wintzengerode (whom Napoleon had called a renegade French subject), Michaud, Toll, Count Stein—by no means a military man—and finally Pfuhl, who was, so Prince Andrey had heard, la cheville ouvrière of everything. Prince Andrey had the opportunity of getting a good view of him, as Pfuhl came in shortly after his arrival and stopped for a minute to say a few words to Tchernishev before going on into the drawing-room.

At the first glance Pfuhl, in his badly cut uniform of a Russian general, which looked out of keeping, like some fancy dress costume on him, seemed to Prince Andrey like a familiar figure, though he had never seen him before. He was of the same order as Weierother, and Mack, and Schmidt, and many other German generals, men of theory, whom Prince Andrey had seen in the war of 1808; but he was a more perfect type of the class than any of them. Such a typical German theorist, combining in himself all the characteristics of those other Germans, Prince Andrey had never seen before.

Pfuhl was short and very thin, but broad-boned, of a coarsely robust build, with broad hips and projecting shoulder-blades. His face was wrinkled; he had deep-set eyes; his hair had obviously been hastily brushed smooth in front, but stuck out behind in quaint wisps. Looking nervously and irritably about him, he walked in as though he were afraid of everything in the great room he had entered. With a clumsy gesture, holding his sword, he turned to Tchernishev, asking him where the Tsar was. He was unmistakably eager to get through the rooms, to get the bows and greetings over as quickly as possible, and to sit down to work at a map, where he would feel at home. He gave a hurried nod in response to Tchernishev's words, and smiled ironically on hearing that the Tsar was inspecting the fortifications that he, Pfuhl, had planned in accordance with his theory. He muttered something in the jerky bass, in which conceited Germans often speak, “silly fool…” or “damn the whole business…” or “some idiocy's sure to come of that.” Prince Andrey did not catch his words, and would have passed on, but Tchernishev introduced him to Pfuhl, observing that he had just come from Turkey, where the war had been so successfully concluded. Pfuhl barely glanced, not at, but across Prince Andrey, and commented, laughing: “A model that war must have been of every principle of tactics!” And, laughing contemptuously, he went on into the room, from which the sound of voices came.

It was evident that Pfuhl—disposed at all times to be irritable and sarcastic—was that day particularly irritated at their having dared to inspect his camp and to criticise it without him. Thanks to his Austerlitz experiences, Prince Andrey could from this one brief interview form a clear idea of the man's character. Pfuhl was one of those hopelessly, immutably conceited men, ready to face martyrdom for their own ideas, conceited as only Germans can be, just because it is only a German's conceit that is based on an abstract idea—science, that is, the supposed possession of absolute truth. The Frenchman is conceited from supposing himself mentally and physically to be inordinately fascinating both to men and to women. An Englishman is conceited on the ground of being a citizen of the best-constituted state in the world, and also because he as an Englishman always knows what is the correct thing to do, and knows that everything that he, as an Englishman, does do is indisputably the correct thing. An Italian is conceited from being excitable and easily forgetting himself and other people. A Russian is conceited precisely because he knows nothing and cares to know nothing, since he does not believe it possible to know anything fully. A conceited German is the worst of them all, and the most hardened of all, and the most repulsive of all; for he imagines that he possesses the truth in a science of his own invention, which is to him absolute truth.

Pfuhl was evidently one of these men. He had a science—the theory of the oblique attack—which he had deduced from the wars of Frederick the Great; and everything he came across in more recent military history seemed to him imbecility, barbarism, crude struggles in which so many blunders were committed on both sides that those wars could not be called war at all. They had no place in his theory and could not be made a subject for science at all.

In 1806 Pfuhl had been one of those responsible for the plan of campaign that ended in Jena and Auerstadt. But in the failure of that war he did not see the slightest evidence of the weakness of his theory. On the contrary, the whole failure was to his thinking entirely due to the departures that had been made from his theory, and he used to say with his characteristic gleeful sarcasm: “Didn't I always say the whole thing was going to the devil?” Pfuhl was one of those theorists who so love their theory that they lose sight of the object of the theory—its application to practice. His love for his theory led him to hate all practical considerations, and he would not hear of them. He positively rejoiced in failure, for failure, being due to some departure in practice from the purity of the abstract theory, only convinced him of the correctness of his theory.

He said a few words about the present war to Prince Andrey and Tchernishev with the expression of a man who knows beforehand that everything will go wrong, and is not, indeed, displeased at this being so. The uncombed wisps of hairs sticking out straight from his head behind, and the hurriedly brushed locks in front, seemed to suggest this with a peculiar eloquence.

He went on into the next room, and the querulous bass notes of his voice were at once audible there.





切尔内绍夫拿着一本法国小说坐在第一间屋的窗子旁边,大概这间房屋以前曾是大厅;屋内还有一架风琴,风琴上堆放着地毯,屋角里放着贝尼格森的副官的行军床。这个副官正在那儿,显然他被宴会或事务累得疲惫不堪,坐在卷着的被盖上打瞌睡,大厅有两道门:一道门直通原先的客厅,另一道往右通向书房。从第一道门里传来用德语、偶尔也用法语谈话的声音。那里,原先的客厅里,按皇帝的旨意正举行非军事性会议(皇帝喜欢含糊),他希望知道在目前困境下几个人的意见。这不是军事会议,好像是为皇帝个人阐明某些问题而召开的特邀会议。被邀出席这次非正式会议的有,瑞典将军阿姆菲尔德,侍从武官沃尔佐根,温岑格罗德,他被拿破仑称为法国逃亡者,米绍,托尔,完全不是军人的施泰因伯爵,最后是普弗尔本人,正如安德烈公爵听说的那样,他是所有事情的la cheville ouvrière①。安德烈公爵有机会仔细打量他,因为普弗尔在安德烈到后不久就来了,去客厅时他停下来与切尔内绍夫谈过一会儿话。



普弗尔身材不高,很瘦,但骨架宽大、体格健康,臀部宽阔,肩胛骨棱角分明。他满脸绉纹,眼窝深隐,额前的鬓发显然匆匆地梳理过,脑后的头发却一撮撮地翘起显得幼稚可笑。他一边走进房间,一边心神不宁地忿忿地四处张望,好像他害怕他走进的那一大间房中的一切似的。他笨手笨脚地扶着佩刀,用德语向切尔内绍夫打听皇帝在哪儿。显然,他想尽快穿过房间,结束礼仪和问候,在地图边坐下来着手工作,他觉得那才是舒适的地方,他一边听切尔内绍夫说皇帝去视察他普弗尔按自己的理论构筑的工事,一边匆匆地点着头,带着讥讽的意味微笑着,他自言自语地嘟囔了一句什么,仿佛像所有自信的德国人那样低沉而急促地抱怨Dummkopf……①或者:Zu Grunde die ganze Geschichte……②或者:S'wird was gescheites d'raus werden……③安德烈公爵没有听清他说什么,想走过去,但是切尔内绍夫把安德烈公爵介绍给普弗尔认识,并说安德烈公爵刚从土耳其回来,那里的战事幸运地结束了,普弗尔瞟了一眼安德烈公爵,与其说是看他,毋宁说是眼光一扫而过,大笑着说:“DaMuss ein schoCner tactischer Krieg gewesen sein.”④随后,轻蔑地笑笑,向那传出谈话声的房间走去。






一八○六年,普弗尔是结束于耶那和奥尔施泰特的那场战争的计划拟定人之一;但是在这场战争的结局中他没有看见自己的理论有任何错误。相反,他认为所有失败的唯一原因是没有按照他的理论去做。他用自己特有的幸灾乐祸的讽刺口吻说:“Ich sagteja,dass die ganze Geschichte zum Teufel gehen werde.”①普弗尔是那种理论家之一,这种理论家如此偏爱自己的理论,以致于忘掉了理论的目的——应用于实际,他们由于偏爱理论而憎恨一切实际,连了解也不愿意。他甚至为失败而高兴,因为实际是由于背离理论而导致失败的,对他来说这种失败只能证明其理论的正确性。