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Chapter VI.4

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Prince Andrew arrived in Petersburg in August, 1809. It was the time when the youthful Speranski was at the zenith of his fame and his reforms were being pushed forward with the greatest energy. That same August the Emperor was thrown from his caleche, injured his leg, and remained three weeks at Peterhof, receiving Speranski every day and no one else. At that time the two famous decrees were being prepared that so agitated society- abolishing court ranks and introducing examinations to qualify for the grades of Collegiate Assessor and State Councilor- and not merely these but a whole state constitution, intended to change the existing order of government in Russia: legal, administrative, and financial, from the Council of State down to the district tribunals. Now those vague liberal dreams with which the Emperor Alexander had ascended the throne, and which he had tried to put into effect with the aid of his associates, Czartoryski, Novosiltsev, Kochubey, and Strogonov- whom he himself in jest had called his Comite de salut public- were taking shape and being realized.

Now all these men were replaced by Speranski on the civil side, and Arakcheev on the military. Soon after his arrival Prince Andrew, as a gentleman of the chamber, presented himself at court and at a levee. The Emperor, though he met him twice, did not favor him with a single word. It had always seemed to Prince Andrew before that he was antipathetic to the Emperor and that the latter disliked his face and personality generally, and in the cold, repellent glance the Emperor gave him, he now found further confirmation of this surmise. The courtiers explained the Emperor's neglect of him by His Majesty's displeasure at Bolkonski's not having served since 1805.

"I know myself that one cannot help one's sympathies and antipathies," thought Prince Andrew, "so it will not do to present my proposal for the reform of the army regulations to the Emperor personally, but the project will speak for itself."

He mentioned what he had written to an old field marshal, a friend of his father's. The field marshal made an appointment to see him, received him graciously, and promised to inform the Emperor. A few days later Prince Andrew received 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 at nine in the morning.

He did not know Arakcheev personally, had never seen him, and all he had heard of 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 concern myself about his personal qualities: he has been commissioned to consider my project, so he alone can get it adopted," thought Prince Andrew as he waited among a number of important and unimportant people in Count Arakcheev's waiting room.

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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