Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Boy Life of Napoleon by Eugenie Foa

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

call a man."

"A man! there you have it exactly!" cried old Nonesuch. "I am a man; and
so are you, Corsican, and you, Stephen, and you,--almost so,--youngster.
But my emperor--the Emperor Napoleon! was he a man? Away with you! It
was the English who invented that story; they did not know what he was
capable of, those English! The emperor a man? Bah!"

"What was he, then? A woman?" queried the Corsican.

"Ah, stupid one! where are your wits?" cried old Nonesuch, shaking pipe
and cane excitedly. "Are you, then, as dull as those English? Why, the
emperor was--the emperor! It is we, his soldiers, who were men."

The Corsican veteran shook his head musingly.

"It may be so; it may be so, good Nonesuch. I do not say no to you," he
said. "Ah, my dear emperor! I have seen him often. I knew him when he
was small; I knew him when he was grown. I saw him born; I saw him
die"--"Halt there!" cried old Nonesuch; "let me stop you once more,
good comrade Corsican. Do not make these other 'Not Entires' swallow
such impossible and indigestible things. The emperor was never born; the
emperor never died; the emperor has always been; the emperor always will
be. To prove it," he added quickly, holding up his cane, as he saw that
the Corsican was about to protest at this surprising statement, "to
prove it, let me tell you. He fought at Constantine; he fought at St.
Jean d'Ulloa; he fought at Sebastopol, and was conqueror."

"Come, come, Father Nonesuch!" broke in "the youngster," and others
of that group of veterans, "you are surely wandering. It was not the
Emperor Napoleon who fought at those places. That was long after he was
dead. It was the son of Louis Philippe, the Duke of Nemours, who fought
at Constantine; it was the Prince of Joinville who led at Ulloa; and, at
Sebastopol, the"--

[Illustration: "_Pif! paf! pouf! That is the way I
read"--Napoleon at the Battle of Jena. (From the Painting by Horace

"Bah!" broke in the old veteran. "You are all owls, you! What if they
did? I will not deny either the Duke of Nemours nor the Prince of
Joinville, nor Louis Philippe himself. But what then? You need not
deny, you youngster, nor you, the other shouters, that when the cannons
boom, when the battles rage, when, above all, one is conqueror for
France, there is something of my emperor in that. Could they have
conquered except for him? Ten thousand bullets! I say. He is

"But, see here, Father Nonesuch," protested the Corsican, "you must not
deny to me the emperor's birth; for I know, I know all about it. Was not
my mother, Saveria, Madame Letitia's servant? Was she not, too, nurse to
the little Napoleon? She was, my faith! And she has told me a hundred
times all about him. I know of what I speak. Our emperor, Napoleon
Bonaparte, was born on the fifteenth of August, 1769, and when he was
a baby, the cradle not being at hand, he was laid upon a rug in Madame
Letitia's room. And on that rug was a fine representation of Mars, the
god of war. And because his bed on that rug was on the very spot which
represented Mars, that, old Nonesuch, is why our emperor was ever
valiant in war. What say you to that?"

"Oh, very well, very well," said old Nonesuch, as if he made a great
concession; "if you say so from your own knowledge, if you insist that
he was born, let it go so. I admit that he was born. But as to his being
dead, eh? Will you insist on that too?"

"And why not?" replied the Corsican, still harping on his personal
knowledge of things in Ajaccio. "I knew the Bonapartes well, I tell you.
There was the father, Papa Charles, a fine, noble-looking man; and their
uncle, the canon--ah! he was a good man. He was short and fat and bald,
with little eyes, but with a look like an eagle. And the children!
how often I have seen them, though they were older than I--Joseph and
Lucien, and little Louis, and Eliza and Pauline and Caroline. Yes; I saw
them often. And Napoleon too. They say he never played much. But you
knew him at Brienne school, old Nonesuch."

"Yes," nodded the old veteran; "for there my father was the porter."

"He was ever grave and stern, was Napoleon;--not wicked, though"--"No,
no; never wicked," broke in old Nonesuch. "I remember his snow-ball

"A fight with snow-balls!" exclaimed the youngster. "Yes; with
snow-balls, youngster," replied old None-such.

[Illustration: "'The Emperor was--the Emperor' cried old Nonesuch"]

"Did you never hear of it? But you are too young. Only the Corsican and
I can remember that;" and the old man nodded to the Corsican with the
superiority of old age over these "babies," as he called the younger
veterans. "Let me see," said Nonesuch, crossing his wooden leg over his
leg of flesh; "I was the porter's boy at Brienne school. I was there to
blacken my shoes--not mine, you understand, but those of the scholars.
There was much snow that winter. The scholars could not play in the
courts nor out-of-doors. They were forced to walk in the halls. That
wearied them, but it rejoiced me. Why? Because I had but few shoes to
blacken. They could not get them dirty while they remained indoors. But,
look you! one day at recess I saw the scholars all out-of-doors,--all
out in the snow. 'Alas! alas! my poor shoes,' said I. It made me sad. I
hid behind the greenhouse doors, to see the meaning of this disorder.
Then I heard a sudden shout. 'Brooms, brooms! shovels, shovels!' they
cried. They rushed into the greenhouse: they took whatever they could
find; and one boy, who saw me standing idle, pushed me toward the door,
crying, 'Here, lazy-bones! take a shovel, take a broom! Get to work,
and help us!'--'Help you do what?' said I. 'To make the fort and roll
snow-balls,' he replied. 'Not I; it is too cold,' I answered. Then the
boys laughed at me. My faith! to-day I think they were right. Then they
tried to push me out-of-doors, I resisted; I would not go. Suddenly
appeared one whom I did not know. He said nothing. He simply looked at
me. He signed to me to take a broom--to march into the garden--to set to
work. And I obeyed. I dared not resist. I did whatever he told me; and,
my faith! so, too, did all the boys. 'Is this one a teacher?' I asked
one of the scholars. 'He does not look so; he is too small and pale
and thin.'--'No,' replied the boy; 'it is Napoleon.'--'And who is
Napoleon?' I asked; for at that time I was as ignorant as all of you
here. 'Is he our patron? Is he the king? Is he the pope?'--'No; he is
Napoleon,' the boy replied again, shrugging his shoulders. I did not ask
more. The boy was right. Napoleon was neither boy nor man, patron,
king, nor pope; he was Napoleon! You should have seen him while we
were working. His hand was pointing continually,--here, there,
everywhere,--indicating what he wished to have done; his clear voice was
ever explaining or commanding. Then, when we had cut paths in the snow,
and had built ramparts, dug trenches, raised fortifications, rolled
snow-balls--then the attack began. I had nothing more to do, I looked
on. But my heart beat fast; I wished that I might fight also. But I was
the porter's son, and did not dare to join in the scholars' play. Every
day for a week, while the snow lasted, the war was fought at each
recess. Snow-balls flew through the air, striking heads, faces, breasts,
backs. The shouting and the tumult gave me great pleasure; but, oh! the
shoes I had to blacken! Then I said to myself, 'I wish to be a soldier.'
And I kept my word."



"But why," asked the Corsican, as old Nonesuch concluded his story, and
all the veterans applauded with cane and boot, "why did you not say, 'I
wish to be a general,' and keep your word. Others like you have been
soldiers of the emperor--and generals, marshals, princes."

"Yes, Corsican," replied old Nonesuch sadly; "what you say is true. But
I will tell you what prevented my advancement. I did not know how to
read as well as a lot of the schemers who were in my regiment. In fact,"
old Nonesuch confessed, "I could not write; I could not read at all."

"Why did you not learn, then, father?" asked one of the veterans, who,
because he sat up late every night to read the daily paper, was called
by his comrades "the scholar."

"I did try to learn, Mr. Scholar," replied old Nonesuch, taking a pinch
of snuff from the Corsican's box; "but indeed it was not in the blood,
don't you see? Not one of my family could read or write; and then I saw
so much trouble over the pens and the books when I was blackening my
boots at Brienne school, that then I had no wish to learn. 'It is all
vexation,' I said. And when I became a soldier, what do you suppose
prevented my learning?"

"Were your brains shot away, old Nonesuch?" queried the scholar

"My brains, say you!" the old man cried indignantly. "And if they had
been, Mr. Scholar, I would still have more than you. No; it was an
adventure I had after Austerlitz. Ah, what a battle was that! I had the
good luck there to have this leg that I have not now, carried away by a

"Good luck! says he," broke in the youngster. "And how good luck, Father

"Tut, tut! boys are so impatient," said old Nonesuch with a frown. "Yes,
youngster, good luck, said I. Well, one day, after I had my timber-toe
put on, the emperor, who always had thoughts for those of his soldiers
who had been wounded, gave notice that he had certain small places at
his disposal which he wished to distribute among us crippled ones, in
order that we might rest from war. Then all of us set to wondering,
'What can I do? What shall I ask for? What do I like best to do?' My
wish was never to leave my own general. He was General Junot"--

"Ah, yes! I know of him," said the Corsican. "He married a Corsican
girl, Laura Permon, a friend of the Bonaparte children."

[Illustration: "_I know not if I know,' said I_."]

"The same," old Nonesuch said, with a nod at his comrade. "Now, I saw
that the person who was nearest to my General Junot was his secretary.
One day, when I was at Paris, the emperor, I was told, was to review his
troops in the courtyard of the Tuileries; so I dressed myself in my
best,--it was a grenadier's uniform,--a comrade wrote on a piece of
paper my desire; and, with my paper in my hand, I posted myself near a
battalion of lancers. 'The emperor will see me here,' said I. In truth,
he did come; he did see me. He came towards me, and, with the look that
pierced me through,--ten thousand bullets! as the plough cuts through
the ground,--'Are you not an Egyptian, my grenadier?' he asked me. (You
know, Corsican, he called all of us Egyptians who had fought with him in
Egypt.) 'Yes, my Emperor,' I replied, so glorified to see that he
recognized me, that, my faith! my heart swelled and swelled, so that I
thought it would crack with pride, and burst my coat open. The emperor
took the paper I held out toward him. He read it. 'So, so, my Egyptian!
you wish to be a secretary, eh?'--'Yes, my Emperor,' I answered. 'Do you
know how to read and write?' said he. 'Eh? Why! I know not if I know,'
said I. 'What! You do not know if you know?' he repeated. 'Why, no, my
Emperor,' said I; 'for, look you! I have never tried; but perhaps I do
know.' The emperor pulled my ear, as much as to say, 'Well, here is an
odd one!' 'But,' said he, 'to be a secretary one must know how to read
and write, comrade.' He called me his comrade, see you--me, who had
blackened his shoes at Brienne. I was the emperor's comrade. He had said
it. The tears came to my eyes for joy. 'Ah, then, my Emperor, let us say
no more about it,' said I. 'But if you would promise to learn,' said he.
'Oh, as for that, my Emperor,' I answered, 'by the faith of an Egyptian
of the guard, second division, first battalion! I do not promise it to
you.'--'Then ask me something else,' said he. I hesitated. I did not
know how to say just what I wished to ask; for it was worth to me very
much more than the place of secretary. 'Come, then, comrade; speak
quickly,' said the emperor; 'what is it you wish?'--'I wish, my
Emperor,' I stammered, 'to press my lips to your hand.'"

"Ho! was that all?" cried the youngster.

"All!" echoed the Nonesuch, turning upon the youngest veteran a look of
scorn. "All! It was more than anything!"

"Well, and what said the emperor?" asked Stephen breathlessly.

"He said nothing," responded Nonesuch. "He smiled; then instantly I felt
his hand in mine. I wonder I did not die with joy. I kissed his hand.
He grasped mine firmly. 'Thanks, my comrade,' he said. 'My Emperor,' I
said, 'I promise you never to learn to read and write.' And I said no
more. And that, comrades, is why I never learned."

"Which hand was it?" asked the youngster with interest.

"This one, thank God!" cried the veteran. "The other I lost at Jena. No,
I never learned to write; the hand that the emperor had clasped in his
should never, I vowed, be dishonored by a pen. I look at this hand with
veneration. See! it has been pressed by my emperor. I love it; I honor
it. Indeed, at one time I thought of cutting it off,--that was before
Jena,--and putting it in a frame, that I might have it always before my
eyes. But my General Junot, to whom I told my plan, said that then it
would be spoiled forever, and that the only way not to lose sight of it
was to let it always hang to my arm; thus, he said, it would always
be beside me. That is how you see it still, comrades. To write, to
write--bah! It always troubles me," old Nonesuch continued musingly, as
he regarded his precious hand, "when I see those poor fellows, their
noses over a bit of paper, their bodies bent double! Writing is not
a man's proper state; it does not agree with his valiant and warlike
nature. Talk to me of a charge, of an onset! that is the true
vocation; that is why the good God created the human race.
One--two--three--shoulder arms! that is clear; that is easily
understood. But to study a dozen letters; to remember which is _b_ and
which is _o,_ and that _b_ and _o_ make _bo_! that is not meant for the
head. I prefer to read a battle with my musket and my sword. Pif! paf!
pouf! that is the way I read. And now that I can read no more, I have
but one pleasure,--to tell of my battles. Is not that better than your
'Thousand and One Nights,' youngster?"

"You have, indeed, much to tell, old Nonesuch," replied the youngster
guardedly, "and you have, indeed, seen much."

"Ah, have I not, though!" old Nonesuch responded. "Do you not remember,
Corsican, in the third year of the republic, as our government was then
called, how the word came: 'The English are in Toulon! Soldiers of
France, you must dislodge them!'?"

"Ah, do I not, old Nonesuch! I was a conscript then," replied the

"So, too, was I," said the old veteran. "We marched to Toulon. The next
day there was an action. I ate a kind of small pills I had never tasted
at Paris. The English and the French kept up a conversation with these
sugar-plums. Our dialogue went on for days. They would toss their
sugar-plums into the town; we would throw these plums back to them,
especially into one bonbon box. You remember that box--that fort,
Corsican, do you not?"

"What, the Little Gibraltar?" queried the Corsican.

"The same," replied old Nonesuch, "for so the English called it. But
they had to give it up. We filled the Little Gibraltar so full of our
sugar-plums that the English had to get out. Then it was that I saw a
thin little captain at the guns. I knew him at once. It was Bonaparte of
Brienne school. This is what he did. An artillery man was killed while
charging his piece. I do not know how many had been cut off at that same
gun. It was warm--it was hot there, I can tell you! No one wished to
approach it. Then my little captain--my Bonaparte of Brienne--dashed at
the gun. He loaded it; he was not killed. Oh, what a pleasure-party that
was! There he met two other tough ones like himself,--Duroc and Junot.
Ah, that Junot! He became my general later. He was a cool joker.
Napoleon wished some one to write for him. He asked for a corporal or a
sergeant who could write and stand fire at the same time. Sergeant Junot
came to him. 'Write!' said Napoleon. And as Junot wrote, look you a
cannon-ball ploughed the earth at his feet, and scattered the dirt over
his paper. 'Good!' cried this Junot, never looking up from his paper. 'I
needed sand to blot my ink.' That made Napoleon his friend forever. Then
those in power at Paris took offence at something Napoleon did. They
called him back to Paris. He was disgraced. But he had courage, had my
Napoleon. He cared nothing for those stupid ones at Paris. 'I will
make them see,' said he, 'that I am master.' He took post for Paris.
Everything was wrong there. Every one was hungry. They fought for bread,
as horses when there is no hay in the rack. Then, crack! Napoleon came.
In two moves he had established order. Then who so great as he? He was
made general. He was sent to Italy. He fought at Lodi. You remember
Lodi, Corsican?"

"Ha! the fight on the bridge; do I not, though!" the Corsican answered
excitedly. "It was there he led everything; it was there he conquered
everything; it was there he sighted the cannon against the Austrians; it
was there he led us straight across the bridge; it was there we cheered
for him, and called him the 'Little Corporal!'"

"Eh, was it not! Cheer for the Little Corporal, comrades!" cried old
Nonesuch, swinging his hat; and all the veterans sprang up, and stamped
and shouted: "Long live the Little Corporal!"

"As he has!" said old Nonesuch. "See you, Corsican! what said I? The
emperor lives, I tell you!"

"And that was Italy, was it?" said the scholar.

"Yes; that was Italy," the veteran replied. "It was there we were
going; and, with our Little Corporal to lead us, turned everything into

"Tell us of it, Father Nonesuch," demanded the youngster.

"Yes; tell us of it," echoed the younger veterans, their scarred old
faces full of interest and excitement. "I will, my children. It was
thus, you see,"--puff--puff, "eh--Stephen, fill my pipe again!"

So Stephen filled the old fellow's pipe again, and set it aglow; and
all the others waited, silently watchful, until, after a few puffs and
whiffs, the old veteran began again.



"It was thus, you see," said old Nonesuch, crossing his legs--the wooden
one over the good one. "At that time our army in Italy was destitute of
everything. We had nothing--no bread, no ammunition, no shoes, no coats.
Ah, it was a poor army we were then! The people at Paris, called the
Directory, were worried over our condition. The army must have bread,
ammunition, shoes, coats, they said. We must send one to look after
this. And, as I told you, they sent Napoleon. It was in March, in the
year 1796, that he came to us at Nice. We were near by, in camp at
Abbenya. There the new general held his first review. He looked at us;
he pitied us. 'Soldiers!' he said to us, 'you are naked; you are badly
fed. The government owes you much; it can give you nothing. You are in
need of everything,--boots, bread, soup! Well, I will lead you into the
most fertile plains in the world. I have come to take you into a country
where you will find everything in plenty,--dollars, cattle, roast-meat,
salads, honor, palaces, what you will. Soldiers of Italy, how do you
like that?'"

"Ah! but that was grand," cried the youngster; "and you said?"

"We said, 'How do we like it, my general? Ten thousand bullets! March
you at our head, and you will see how we like it.' His words gave us new
heart; his promises seemed already to clothe us. We were ragged and
tired; but it seemed, after that speech, as if we walked on air, and
were dressed in silken robes. Forward, march! Boom--boom--boom! Ta-ra,
ta-ra-ra! Hear the drums! See us marching! We marched through the day;
we marched through the night. We were faint with hunger, but we marched.
We were at Montenotte on the eleventh of April. We whacked the
Austrians,--famous men, nevertheless; well furnished, good fighters!
But, bah! what was that to us? We whacked them at Montenotte. They ran;
we after them. We fell upon then at Millesimo, at Dego, at Mondovi, at
Cherasco. We had a taste of the glory of being conquerors. We routed the
Austrians in those fights that were called 'the Five Days' Campaign.' We
had brave generals with us; and we had Napoleon! From the heights of
Ceva he showed us the plains of Italy,--the rich, well-watered land
which he had promised us. Then we crossed the Alps. Mighty mountains!
Bah! what of that? We were Frenchmen; we had Napoleon! We turned the
flank of the Alps. We fought at Fombio; we fought on the bridge of Lodi;
we marched into Milan. We were Frenchmen; we had Napoleon! In fact, we
conquered Italy! We fought at Arcola; we conquered at Rivoli. Then who
so great as the Little Corporal? We planted the eagles upon the lion of
Saint Mark, at Venice--a famous lion, nevertheless. But who could resist
us? We had Napoleon! Then we returned to Toulon. Then Napoleon said,
'Soldiers! two years ago you had nothing. I made promises to you; have I
kept them?'--'You have; you have, my general!' every man of us shouted.
'Will you follow me again?' said Napoleon. 'To the death, my general!'
we shouted once more. Behold us now embarked in ships. 'And now, what
place are we to conquer?' we asked our generals. 'Egypt,' they answered.
'It is well,' we said. 'We will go to Egypt; we will take Egypt.'

[Illustration: "_What fates, my comrades!"--A Review Day under the First
Empire (From the Painting by H. Bellange_)]

"My faith! but you were brave, you old soldiers," cried the youngster
with enthusiasm. "But think of it, then! To Egypt!"

"Well, we took Egypt," resumed old Nonesuch. "We were Frenchmen. We had
Napoleon! And after that we undertook another little campaign in Italy.
Then we returned to France, our beautiful France, to install ourselves
in the Tuileries. Eh!"--puff--puff,--"Light my pipe, Stephen!"

And Stephen again lighted the old veteran's pipe.

"Yes; in the Tuileries"--puff--puff. "We gave ourselves up to _fetes_.
Ah! there were grand times--each one finer than the other. One might
call them _fetes_ indeed! Death of my life! Who was it said just now
that the emperor was a man? Why, look you! his enemies--those villains
of traitors--tried to kill him. They plotted against him. But, bah! they
could not. He rode over infernal machines as if they were roses. They
could not kill him. Those things are for men--for little kings. He was

"And at last he was crowned emperor," suggested the youngster.

"Yes; on the second of December, in the year 1804," answered old
Nonesuch. "And the Pope himself came from Rome to consecrate our
emperor. Ah, then, what _fetes_, my comrades! what _fetes_ and _fetes_
and _fetes_! It rained kings on all sides."

"But there came an end of _fetes_" said the scholar, who read in books
and newspapers.

"Well, what would you have?--always feasting? Perhaps you think that our
emperor once an emperor, would rest at home. Yes? Well, that would have
been good for you and me; but he had still to undertake battles and
victories,--battles and victories; they were the same thing! We were at
Austerlitz; there I left this leg. At Jena; there I dropped this hand.
Then came the peace, made upon the raft at Tilsit; then the war in
Spain--a villanous war, and one I did not like at all. Napoleon was not
there. Where he was not, the sun did not shine. Then we returned to
Paris. The emperor married a grand princess. He had a son--a baby
son--the King of Rome! Then, too, what _fetes!_ A fine child the King of
Rome! I saw him often in his little goat-carriage at the Tuileries. I
do not know what has become of him. They say he is dead; but I do not
believe that, any more than I believe that my emperor is dead. Two
deaths? Bah! old women's stories,--witch stories, good only to frighten
children to sleep. When my emperor and his son come back, we shall be
amazed that we ever believed them dead!"

"But he disappeared--the emperor disappeared--he vanished," persisted
the scholar.

[Illustration: "_Your
Emperor was banished to a rock"--The Exiled Emperor (From the Painting
by W Q Orchardson, entitled "Napoleon on board the Bellerophon_.")]

"Yes; he disappeared," the veteran admitted. "For after that came the
Russian Campaign. Ah, but it was a cold one! Such snow, such ice; so
cold, so cold! It was then I lost my eye. My leg I left at Austerlitz,
my arm at Jena; my eye I dropped somewhere in the Beresina,--so much the
better. I could not see that freeze-out. Then they sent me here. And
since that I do not know what has happened. They tell me--you tell
me--much. But to believe such foolish stories! Bah! I am not a baby.
They tell me that the emperor--my emperor--was exiled to Elba; that he
returned again to France; that he reigned a hundred days; that a battle
was fought at--where was it?"

"Waterloo," suggested the scholar.

"Eh, yes, you say, at Waterloo; and you say we lost it? As if we could
lose a battle, and Napoleon there! Then you will say that the empire was
no longer an empire, but a kingdom; and that he who governed was called
Louis the Eighteenth, and others after him, but not my emperor. Bah!
foolish stories all!"

"But they are true, old Nonesuch," said the youngster sadly.

"Yes; they are true," echoed the other veterans. And the scholar added,
"Yes; and your emperor was banished by those rascal English to a
rock--the rock of St. Helena--a horrid rock, miles and miles out in the
ocean. But he is here among us again." The Soldiers' Home, in the midst
of his veterans, in the heart of his beautiful Paris.

[Illustration: Napoleon (1. The General 2. The Consul 3. The Conqueror
4. The Emperor.)]

Old soldiers are apt to be boastful when they tell, as did the Nonesuch,
of the deeds of a leader whom they so often followed to victory. Madame
Foa's pen has long since stopped its task of writing of French heroism
for the boys and girls of France; but it never wrote anything more
attractive or inspiring than the delicious bit of boasting that it put
into the mouth of this dear and battered old veteran of Napoleon's
wars,--Corporal Nonesuch of the Soldiers' Home.

For, if the American boys and girls who have followed this story will
read, as I trust they will, the entire life-story of this marvellous
man,--Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French,--they will learn that
much of the boasting of old Nonesuch was true story, as he assured his
comrades; while some of it, too, was,--let us say, the exaggeration of

But there was much in the career of the great Napoleon to inspire
enthusiasm. The determined and persistent way in which, while but a
boy, he climbed steadily up, using the obstacles in his path but as the
rounds of a ladder to lift him higher, affords a lesson of pluck and
energy that every boy and girl can take to heart; while the story of his
later career, through the rapid changes that made him general, consul,
conqueror, emperor, is as full of interest, marvel, and romance as
any of those wonder-stories of the "Arabian Nights" for which "the
youngster" expressed so much admiration, but which old Nonesuch so
contemptuously cast aside.

There were dark sides to his character; there were shadows on his
career, there were blots on his name. Ambition, selfishness, and the
love of success, were alike his inspiration and his ruin. But, with
these, he possessed also the qualities that led men to follow him
enthusiastically and love him devotedly.

But people do not all see things alike in this world; and since the
downfall and death of Napoleon, those who recall his name have either
enshrined him as a hero or vilified him as a monster. Whichever side in
this controversy you make take as, when you grow older, you read and
ponder over the story of Napoleon, you will, I am sure, be ready to
admit his greatness as an historic character his ability as a soldier,
his energy as a ruler, and his eminence as a man. And in these you will
see but the logical outgrowth of his self-reliance, his determination,
and his pluck as a boy, when on the rocky shore of Corsica, or in the
schools of France, he was turned aside by no obstacle, and conquered
neither by privation nor persecution, but pressed steadily forward to
his great and matchless career as leader, soldier, and ruler--the most
commanding figure of the nineteenth century. I did not like at all.
Napoleon was not there. Where he was not, the sun did not shine. Then we
returned to Paris. The emperor married a grand princess. He had a son--a
baby son--the King of Rome! Then, too, what _fetes_! A fine child
the King of Rome! I saw him often in his little goat-carriage at the
Tuileries. I do not know what has become of him. They say he is dead;
but I do not believe that, any more than I believe that my emperor is
dead. Two deaths? Bah! old women's stories,--witch stories, good only to
frighten children to sleep. When my emperor and his son come back, we
shall be amazed that we ever believed them dead!"

"But he disappeared--the emperor disappeared--he vanished," persisted
the scholar.

"Yes; he disappeared," the veteran admitted. "For after that came the
Russian Campaign. Ah, but it was a cold one! Such snow, such ice; so
cold, so cold! It was then I lost my eye. My leg I left at Austerlitz,
my arm at Jena; my eye I dropped somewhere in the Beresina,--so much the
better. I could not see that freeze-out.

Book of the day: