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.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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