In Wischau itself, a petty German town, Rostov saw the Emperor again.
They are only concerned with their own petty interests.
But even then, at moments of weakness as he had accounted them, his mind had penetrated to those distances and he had there seen the same pettiness, worldliness, and senselessness.
Two witnesses for the mock marriage—Khvostikov, a retired petty official whom Dolokhov made use of in his gambling transactions, and Makarin, a retired hussar, a kindly, weak fellow who had an unbounded affection for Kuragin—were sitting at tea in Dolokhov’s front room.
In everything near and comprehensible he had only what was limited, petty, commonplace, and senseless.
There is no step, no crime or petty fraud he commits, which in the mouths of those around him is not at once represented as a great deed.
Lavrushka was one of those coarse, bare-faced lackeys who have seen all sorts of things, consider it necessary to do everything in a mean and cunning way, are ready to render any sort of service to their master, and are keen at guessing their master’s baser impulses, especially those prompted by vanity and pettiness.
Five years have passed since then, and already I, with my petty understanding, begin to see clearly why she had to die, and in what way that death was but an expression of the infinite goodness of the Creator, whose every action, though generally incomprehensible to us, is but a manifestation of His infinite love for His creatures.
His love for Natasha, Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L’Empereur Napoleon, and L’russe Besuhof—all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of that spellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself held captive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness.
He had equipped himself with a mental telescope and looked into remote space, where petty worldliness hiding itself in misty distance had seemed to him great and infinite merely because it was not clearly seen.
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What was needed was a sense of justice and a sympathy with European affairs, but a remote sympathy not dulled by petty interests; a moral superiority over those sovereigns of the day who co-operated with him; a mild and attractive personality; and a personal grievance against Napoleon.
Apart from that, the chief source of our error in this matter is due to the fact that in the historical accounts a whole series of innumerable, diverse, and petty events, such for instance as all those which led the French armies to Russia, is generalized into one event in accord with the result produced by that series of events, and corresponding with this generalization the whole series of commands is also generalized into a single expression of will.