BOOK ELEVEN: 1812
25. CHAPTER XXV
Toward nine o'clock in the morning, when the troops were already
moving through Moscow, nobody came to the count any more for
instructions. Those who were able to get away were going of their
own accord, those who remained behind decided for themselves what they
The count ordered his carriage that he might drive to Sokolniki, and
sat in his study with folded hands, morose, sallow, and taciturn.
In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that
it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule
is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable
every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts.
While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his
frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people
and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the
ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea
begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer
possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion,
the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the
administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power,
becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.
Rostopchin felt this, and it was this which exasperated him.
The superintendent of police, whom the crowd had stopped, went in to
see him at the same time as an adjutant who informed the count that
the horses were harnessed. They were both pale, and the superintendent
of police, after reporting that he had executed the instructions he
had received, informed the count that an immense crowd had collected
in the courtyard and wished to see him.
Without saying a word Rostopchin rose and walked hastily to his
light, luxurious drawing room, went to the balcony door, took hold
of the handle, let it go again, and went to the window from which he
had a better view of the whole crowd. The tall lad was standing in
front, flourishing his arm and saying something with a stern look. The
blood stained smith stood beside him with a gloomy face. A drone of
voices was audible through the closed window.