Prince Andrew gives it straight to Nicholas Rostov
Listen to Prince Andrew tell it how it is to Nicholas Rostov!
'"Let me tell you something," Prince Andrei interrupted him with calm authority in his voice. "Perhaps you wish to insult me, and I am willing to agree that it is very easy to do so, if you are lacking in respect for yourself; but you must agree that the time and place for doing so have been chosen very badly. In a few days we shall all have to attend to a far greater, and far more serious duel, and furthermore Drubetskoy, who tells me he is your old friend, is in no way to blame that my character has had the misfortune to provoke your dislike. However," he said, getting up, "you know my name and you know where to find me: but do not forget," he added, "that I do not consider either myself or yourself insulted in the least, and my advice to you, as a somewhat older man, is to let the matter drop. So I'll be expecting you on Friday after the review, Boris, goodbye" - and he went out.
Rostov only remembered how he ought to have answered when the prince had already left the room...
...One moment he thought spitefully what great satisfaction he would get from calling this small, weak and proud man up to the barrier and the next he felt with surprise that of all the people he knew, there was no one whom he would have been so glad to make his friend.'
Page 324 of the original version of War and Peace.
This passage, with its mix of egotism and nobility, I find sublimely beautiful. So often I read Tolstoy with a sigh of relief: "Ah, so that is how it is!" I say to myself, and feel as if equanimity has been restored by Tolstoy's equally luminous depiction of vice and virtue existing all at once in the same soul.