said Prince Vassily, forgetting for a moment that it was at Ellen’s that that enthusiasm was jeered at, while at Anna Pavlovna’s it was as well to admire it. But he hastened to retrieve his mistake. “Is it suitable for Kutuzov, the oldest general in Russia, to be presiding in the Court? Et il en restera pour sa peine! Did any one hear of such a thing as appointing a man commander-in-chief who cannot sit a horse, who drops asleep at a council—a man, too, of the lowest morals! A pretty reputation he gained for himself in Bucharest! To say nothing of his qualities as a general, can we appoint, at such a moment, a man decrepit and blind—yes, simply blind! A fine idea—a blind general! He sees nothing. Playing blind- man’s buff—that’s all he’s fit for!”

No one opposed that view.

On the 24th of July it was accepted as perfectly correct. But on the 29th Kutuzov received the title of prince. The bestowal of this title might be taken to indicate a desire to shelve him, and therefore Prince Vassily’s dictum still remained correct, though he was in no such hurry now to express it. But on the 8th of August a committee, consisting of General Field-Marshal Saltykov, Araktcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopuhin, and Kotchubey was held to consider the progress of the war. This committee decided that the disasters were due to divided authority; and although the members of the committee were aware of the Tsar’s dislike of Kutuzov, after a deliberation they advised the appointment of Kutuzov as commander-in-chief. And that same day Kutuzov was appointed commander-in-chief of the army, and intrusted with unlimited authority over the whole region occupied by the troops.

On the 9th of August Prince Vassily once more met the “man of great abilities” at Anna Pavlovna’s. The latter gentleman was assiduous in his attendance at Anna Pavlovna’s, in the hope of receiving, through her influence, an appointment on one of the institutions of female education. Prince Vassily strode into the room with the air of a victorious general, of a man who has succeeded in attaining the object of his desires.

“Well, you know the great news! Prince Kutuzov is marshal! All differences of opinion are at an end. I am so glad, so delighted!” said Prince Vassily. “At last here is a man!” he declared, looking sternly and significantly at all the company. In spite of his desire to secure the post he coveted, the “man of great abilities” could not refrain from reminding Prince Vassily of the view he had expressed shortly before. (This was a breach of civility to Prince Vassily in Anna Pavlovna’s drawing-room, and also to Anna Pavlovna, who had received the tidings with equal enthusiasm; but he could not refrain.)

“But they say he is blind, prince,” he said to recall to Prince Vassily his own words.

Allez donc, il y voit assez,” said Prince Vassily, with the rapid bass voice and the cough with which he always disposed of all difficulties. “He sees quite enough,” he repeated. “And what I’m particularly glad of,” he went on, “is that the Emperor has given him unlimited authority over all the troops, over the whole region, an authority no commander-in-chief has ever had before. It’s another autocrat,” he concluded, with a victorious smile.

“God grant it may be,” said Anna Pavlovna.

The “man of great abilities,” a novice in court society, was anxious to flatter Anna Pavlovna by maintaining her former opinion against this new view of the position. He said: “They say the Emperor was unwilling to give Kutuzov such authority. They say he blushed like a young lady to whom Joconde is read, saying to him, ‘The sovereign and the country decree you this honour.’ ”

“Perhaps the heart was not of the party,” said Anna Pavlovna.

“Oh no, no,” Prince Vassily maintained warmly. Now he would not put Kutuzov second to any one. To hear Prince Vassily now Kutuzov was not simply a good man in himself, but idolised by every one. “No, that’s impossible, for the sovereign has always known how to appreciate him,” he added.

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