War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war. Our attitude towards the fearful necessity of war ought to be stern. It boils down to this: we should have done with humbug, and let war be war and not a game. Otherwise, war is a favourite pastime of the idle and frivolous..
To us, it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg was wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have the with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them.
Davout looked up and gazed intently at him. For some seconds they looked at one another, and that look saved Pierre. Apart from conditions of war and law, that look established human relations between the two men. At that moment an immense number of things passed dimly through both their minds, and they realized that they were both children of humanity and were brothers.
But all these hints at foreseeing what actually did happen on the French as well as on the Russian side are only conspicuous now because the event has justified them. If the event had not come to pass, these hints would have been forgotten, as thousands and millions of suggestions and supposition are now forgotten that were current at the period, but have been shown by time to be unfounded and so have been consigned to oblivion.
But to us of a later generation.. It is inconceivable that millions of Christian men should have killed and tortured each other, because Napoleon was ambitious, Alexander firm, English policy crafty, and the Duke of Oldenburg hardly treated. We cannot grasp the connections between these circumstances and the bare fact of murder and violence, nor why the duke's wrongs should induce thousands of men from the other side of Europe to pillage and murder the inhabitants of the Smolensk and Moscow provinces and to be slaughtered by them.
Life meanwhile, the actual life of men with their real interests of health and sickness, labour and rest, with their interests of thought, science, poetry, music, love, affection, hatred, passion, went its way, as always, independently, apart from the political amity or enmity of Napoleon Bonaparte, and apart from all possible reforms.