A number of persons in the entourage of the emperor, including the grand-duchess Catherine, Karamzin, Rostopchin and the Swedish general Baron Armfield, intrigued to involve him in a charge of treason.'
The men who set the tone in conversation--Count Rostopchin, Prince Yuri Dolgorukov, Valuev, Count Markov, and Prince Vyazemski--did not show themselves at the club, but met in private houses in intimate circles, and the Moscovites who took their opinions from others--Ilya Rostov among them--remained for a while without any definite opinion on the subject of the war and without leaders.
All Moscow repeated Prince Dolgorukov's saying: "If you go on modeling and modeling you must get smeared with clay," suggesting consolation for our defeat by the memory of former victories; and the words of Rostopchin, that French soldiers have to be incited to battle by highfalutin words, and Germans by logical arguments to show them that it is more dangerous to run away than to advance, but that Russian soldiers only need to be restrained and held back!
The largest circles formed round Count Rostopchin, Valuev, and Naryshkin.
Rostopchin was describing how the Russians had been overwhelmed by flying Austrians and had had to force their way through them with bayonets.
These guests--the famous Count Rostopchin, Prince Lopukhin with his nephew, General Chatrov an old war comrade of the prince's, and of the younger generation Pierre and Boris Drubetskoy--awaited the prince in the drawing room.
Boris had realized this the week before when the commander-in-chief in his presence invited Rostopchin to dinner on St. Nicholas' Day, and Rostopchin had replied that he could not come:
Count Rostopchin alone kept the conversation going, now relating the latest town news, and now the latest political gossip.
"Bonaparte treats Europe as a pirate does a captured vessel," said Count Rostopchin, repeating a phrase he had uttered several times before.
Count Rostopchin paused, feeling that he had reached the limit beyond which censure was impossible.
"I have read our protests about the Oldenburg affair and was surprised how badly the Note was worded," remarked Count Rostopchin in the casual tone of a man dealing with a subject quite familiar to him.
Pierre looked at Rostopchin with naive astonishment, not understanding why he should be disturbed by the bad composition of the Note.
The old prince looked at Rostopchin with a smile and wagged his head approvingly.
"Well, good-by, your excellency, keep well!" said Rostopchin, getting up with characteristic briskness and holding out his hand to the prince.
On the eve of the Sunday when the special prayer was read, Pierre had promised the Rostovs to bring them, from Count Rostopchin whom he knew well, both the appeal to the people and the news from the army.
Pierre took that letter, and Rostopchin also gave him the Emperor's appeal to Moscow, which had just been printed, the last army orders, and his own most recent bulletin.
At dinner, at which champagne was drunk to the health of the new chevalier of St. George, Shinshin told them the town news, of the illness of the old Georgian princess, of Metivier's disappearance from Moscow, and of how some German fellow had been brought to Rostopchin and accused of being a French "spyer" (so Count Rostopchin had told the story), and how Rostopchin let him go and assured the people that he was "not a spire at all, but only an old German ruin."
At that moment Count Rostopchin with his protruding chin and alert eyes, wearing the uniform of a general with sash over his shoulder, entered the room, stepping briskly to the front of the crowd of gentry.
Having heard that Count Mamonov was furnishing a regiment, Bezukhov at once informed Rostopchin that he would give a thousand men and their maintenance.
The foreigners were deported to Nizhni by boat, and Rostopchin had said to them in French: "Rentrez en vousmemes; entrez dans la barque, et n'en faites pas une barque de Charon." * There was talk of all the government offices having been already removed from Moscow, and to this Shinshin's witticism was added--that for that alone Moscow ought to be grateful to Napoleon.
The first declared that the report that Count Rostopchin had forbidden people to leave Moscow was false; on the contrary he was glad that ladies and tradesmen's wives were leaving the city.
Count Rostopchin writes that he will stake his life on it that the enemy will not enter Moscow.
The Emperor had written to Count Rostopchin as follows:
A great crowd of generals gathered round him, and Count Rostopchin, who had come out from Moscow, joined them.
Count Rostopchin was telling a fourth group that he was prepared to die with the city train bands under the walls of the capital, but that he still could not help regretting having been left in ignorance of what was happening, and that had he known it sooner things would have been different....
At that very time, in circumstances even more important than retreating without a battle, namely the evacuation and burning of Moscow, Rostopchin, who is usually represented as being the instigator of that event, acted in an altogether different manner from Kutuzov.