On September 17 1812, from the Petrovskoie palace, Napoleon looks towards Moscow hoping to see that the fire had subsided. The fire continues to burn with great violence. The whole city appeared like a vast spout of fire rising in whirling eddies to the sky. "It was the spectacle of a sea and billows of fire, a sky and clouds of flame; mountains of red rolling flames, like immense waves of the sea, alternately bursting forth and elevating themselves to skies of fire, and then sinking into the ocean of flame below. Oh, it was the most grand, the most sublime, and the most terrifying sight the world ever beheld," Napoleon would later recall while in exile in Saint Helena. Absorbed by this melancholy contemplation, he was silent for a long time until he exclaimed, "This forebodes great misfortunes to us!"
The post above is a pastiche of different sources but mostly from Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign, the Gutenberg translation. The original French can be found here. The image above is entitled "Napoleon Near Moscow, Waiting for a Boyar Deputation" by Vasily Vereshchagin.