While retaining for a time the old ministers who had served and overthrown the emperor Paul, one of the first acts of his reign was to appoint a secret committee, called ironically the " Comite du salut public," consisting of young and enthusiastic friends of his own - Victor Gavovich Kochubey, Nikolai Nikolaevich Novosiltsov, Paul Alexandrovich Strogonov and Adam Czartoryski - to draw up a scheme of internal reform.
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.
He told the count of his interview with Sila Andreevich (Kochubey spoke of Arakcheev by that nickname with the same vague irony Prince Andrew had noticed in the Minister of War's anteroom).
Kochubey shook his head smilingly, as if surprised at Bolkonski's simplicity.
"We were talking to him about you a few days ago," Kochubey continued, "and about your freed plowmen."
"Those who pass the examinations, I suppose," replied Kochubey, crossing his legs and glancing round.
Count Kochubey did not finish.
Speranski told Kochubey he was sorry he had been unable to come sooner as he had been detained at the palace.
When Kochubey introduced Prince Andrew, Speranski slowly turned his eyes to Bolkonski with his customary smile and looked at him in silence.
Kochubey said a few words about the reception Arakcheev had given Bolkonski.