Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion--science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth.
Those who had most of the king's confidence afterwards were Colbert for home affairs; Lionne for diplomacy; Louvois for war; but as his reign proceeded he became more self-confident and more intolerant of independence of judgment in his ministers.
With Pfuel was Wolzogen, who expressed Pfuel's thoughts in a more comprehensible way than Pfuel himself (who was a harsh, bookish theorist, self-confident to the point of despising everyone else) was able to do.
Of all these men Prince Andrew sympathized most with Pfuel, angry, determined, and absurdly self-confident as he was.
Seeing the self-confident and refined expression on the faces of those present he was always expecting to hear something very profound.
Most of those present were elderly, respected men with broad, self-confident faces, fat fingers, and resolute gestures and voices.
Louis XIV was a very proud and self-confident man; he had such and such mistresses and such and such ministers and he ruled France badly.
As soon as he had seen a visitor off he returned to one of those who were still in the drawing room, drew a chair toward him or her, and jauntily spreading out his legs and putting his hands on his knees with the air of a man who enjoys life and knows how to live, he swayed to and fro with dignity, offered surmises about the weather, or touched on questions of health, sometimes in Russian and sometimes in very bad but self-confident French; then again, like a man weary but unflinching in the fulfillment of duty, he rose to see some visitors off and, stroking his scanty gray hairs over his bald patch, also asked them to dinner.
He showed an interest in trifles, joked about de Beausset's love of travel, and chatted carelessly, as a famous, self-confident surgeon who knows his job does when turning up his sleeves and putting on his apron while a patient is being strapped to the operating table.
Only in our self-confident day of the popularization of knowledge-- thanks to that most powerful engine of ignorance, the diffusion of printed matter--has the question of the freedom of will been put on a level on which the question itself cannot exist.