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The Modern Regime, Volume 1 [Napoleon] The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 5 by Hippolyte A. Taine

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smashing every piece of furniture that comes in his way." A little
before the Empire, Talleyrand, a great mystifier, tells Berthier that
the First Consul wanted to assume the title of king. Berthier, in
eager haste, crosses the drawing-room full of company, accosts the
master of the house and, with a beaming smile, "congratulates him."[7]
At the word king, Bonaparte's eyes flash. Grasping Berthier by the
throat, he pushes him back against the wall, exclaiming, "You fool!
who told you to come here and stir up my bile in this way? Another
time don't come on such errands." - Such is the first impulse, the
instinctive action, to pounce on people and seize them by the throat;
we divine under each sentence, and on every page he writes, out-bursts
and assaults of this description, the physiognomy and intonation of a
man who rushes forward and knocks people down. Accordingly, when
dictating in his cabinet, "he strides up and down the room," and, " if
excited," which is often the case, " his language consists of violent
imprecations, and even of oaths, which are suppressed in what is
written."[8] But these are not always suppressed, for those who have
seen the original minutes of his correspondence on ecclesiastical
affairs find dozens of them, the b..., the p... and the swearwords of
the coarsest kind.[9]

Never was there such impatient touchiness. "When dressing
himself,[10] he throws on the floor or into the fire any part of his
attire which does not suit him. . . . On gala-days and on grand
ceremonial occasions his valets are obliged to agree together when
they shall seize the right moment to put some thing on him. . . He
tears off or breaks whatever causes him the slightest discomfort,
while the poor valet who has been the means of it meets with a violent
and positive proof of his anger. No thought was ever more carried
away by its own speed. "His handwriting, when he tries to write, "is
a mass of disconnected and undecipherable signs;[11] the words lack
one-half of their letters." On reading it over himself, he cannot tell
what it means. At last, he becomes almost incapable of producing a
handwritten letter, while his signature is a mere scrawl. He
accordingly dictates, but so fast that his secretaries can scarcely
keep pace with him: on their first attempt the perspiration flows
freely and they succeed in noting down only the half of what he says.
Bourrienne, de Meneval, and Maret invent a stenography of their own,
for he never repeats any of his phrases; so much the worse for the pen
if it lags behind, and so much the better if a volley of exclamations
or of oaths gives it a chance to catch up. - Never did speech flow and
overflow in such torrents, often without either discretion or
prudence, even when the outburst is neither useful nor creditable the
reason is that both spirit and intellect are charged to excess subject
to this inward pressure the improvisator and polemic, under full
headway,[12] take the place of the man of business and the statesman.

"With him," says a good observer,[13] "talking is a prime necessity,
and, assuredly, among the prerogatives of high rank, he ranks first
that of speaking without interruption."

Even at the Council of State he allows himself to run on, forgetting
the business on hand; he starts off right and left with some
digression or demonstration, some invective or other, for two or three
hours at a stretch,[14] insisting over and over again, bent on
convincing or prevailing, and ending in demanding of the others if he
is not right, "and, in this case, never failing to find that all have
yielded to the force of his arguments." On reflection, he knows the
value of an assent thus obtained, and, pointing to his chair, he

"It must be admitted that it is easy to be brilliant when one is in
that seat!"

Nevertheless he has enjoyed his intellectual exercise and given way to
his passion, which controls him far more than he controls it.

"My nerves are very irritable," he said of himself, "and when in this
state were my pulse not always regular I should risk going crazy."[15]

The tension of accumulated impressions is often too great, and it ends
in a physical break-down. Strangely enough in so great a warrior and
with such a statesman, "it is not infrequent, when excited, to see him
shed tears." He who has looked upon thousands of dying men, and who
has had thousands of men slaughtered, "sobs," after Wagram and after
Bautzen,[16] at the couch of a dying comrade. "I saw him," says his
valet, "weep while eating his breakfast, after coming from Marshal
Lannes's bedside; big tears rolled down his cheeks and fell on his
plate." It is not alone the physical sensation, the sight of a
bleeding, mangled body, which thus moves him acutely and deeply; for a
word, a simple idea, stings and penetrates almost as far. Before the
emotion of Dandolo, who pleads for Venice his country, which is sold
to Austria, he is agitated and his eyes moisten.[17] Speaking of the
capitulation of Baylen, at a full meeting of the Council of State,[18]
his voice trembles, and "he gives way to his grief, his eyes even
filling with tears." In 1806, setting out for the army and on taking
leave of Josephine, he has a nervous attack which is so severe as to
bring on vomiting.[19] "We had to make him sit down," says an eye-
witness, "and swallow some orange water; he shed tears, and this
lasted a quarter of an hour." The same nervous and stomachic crisis
came on in 1808, on deciding on the divorce; he tosses about a whole
night, and laments like a woman; he melts, and embraces Josephine; he
is weaker than she is: "My poor Josephine, I can never leave you!"
Folding her in his arms, he declares that she shall not quit him; he
abandons himself wholly to the sensation of the moment; she must
undress at once, sleep alongside of him, and he weeps over her ;
"literally," she says, " he soaked the bed with his tears." -
Evidently, in such an organism, however powerful the superimposed
regulator, there is a risk of the equilibrium being destroyed. He is
aware of this, for he knows himself well; he is afraid of his own
nervous sensibility, the same as of an easily frightened horse; at
critical moments, at Berezina, he refuses to receive the bad news
which might excite this, and, on the informer's insisting on it, he
asks him again,[20] "Why, sir, do you want to disturb me?" -
Nevertheless, in spite of his precautions, he is twice taken unawares,
at times when the peril was alarming and of a new kind; he, so clear
headed and so cool under fire, the boldest of military heroes and the
most audacious of political adventurers, quails twice in a
parliamentary storm and again in a popular crisis. On the 18th of
Brumaire, in the Corps Législatif, "he turned pale, trembled, and
seemed to lose his head at the shouts of outlawry . . . . they had to
drag him out . . . . they even thought for a moment that he was going
to faint."[21] After the abdication at Fontainebleau, on encountering
the rage and imprecations which greeted him in Provence, he seemed for
some days to be morally shattered; the animal instincts assert their
supremacy; he is afraid and makes no attempt at concealment.[22] After
borrowing the uniform of an Austrian colonel, the helmet of a Prussian
quartermaster, and the cloak of the Russian quartermaster, he still
considers that he is not sufficiently disguised. In the inn at
Calade, "he starts and changes color at the slightest noise"; the
commissaries, who repeatedly enter his room, "find him always in
tears." "He wearies them with his anxieties and irresolution"; he says
that the French government would like to have him assassinated on the
road, refuses to eat for fear of poison, and thinks that he might
escape by jumping out of the window. And yet he gives vent to his
feelings and lets his tongue run on about himself without stopping,
concerning his past, his character, unreservedly, indelicately,
trivially; like a cynic and one who is half-crazy; his ideas run loose
and crowd each other like the anarchical gatherings of a tumultuous
mob; he does not recover his mastery of them until he reaches Fréjus,
the end of his journey, where he feels himself safe and protected from
any highway assault; then only do they return within ordinary limits
and fall back in regular line under the control of the sovereign
intellect which, after sinking for a time, revives and resumes its
ascendancy. - There is nothing in him so extraordinary as this almost
perpetual domination of the lucid, calculating reason; his willpower
is still more formidable than his intelligence; before it can obtain
the mastery of others it must be master at home. To measure its
power, it does not suffice to note its fascinations; to enumerate the
millions of souls it captivates, to estimate the vastness of the
obstacles it overcomes: we must again, and especially, represent to
ourselves the energy and depth of the passions it keeps in check and
urges on like a team of prancing, rearing horses - it is the driver
who, bracing his arms, constantly restrains the almost ungovernable
steeds, who controls their excitement, who regulates their bounds, who
takes advantage even of their viciousness to guide his noisy vehicle
over precipices as it rushes on with thundering speed. If the pure
ideas of the reasoning brain thus maintain their daily supremacy it is
due to the vital flow which nourishes them; their roots are deep in
his heart and temperament, and those roots which give them their
vigorous sap constitute a primordial instinct more powerful than
intellect, more powerful even than his will, the instinct which leads
him to center everything on himself, in other words egoism.[23]

II. Will and Egoism.

Bonaparte's dominant passion. - His lucid, calculating mind. - Source
and power of the Will. - Early evidences of an active, absorbing
egoism. - His education derived from the lessons of things. - In
Corsica. - In France during the Revolution. - In Italy. - In Egypt. -
His idea of Society and of Right. - Maturing after the 18th of
Brumaire. - His idea of Man. - It conforms to his character

It is egoism, not a passive, but an active and intrusive egoism,
proportional to the energy and extension of his faculties developed by
his education and circumstances, exaggerated by his success and his
omnipotence to such a degree that a monstrous colossal I has been
erected in society. It expands unceasingly the circle of a tenacious
and rapacious grasp, which regards all resistance as offensive, which
all independence annoys, and which, on the boundless domain it assigns
to itself, is intolerant of anybody that does not become either an
appendix or a tool. - The germ of this absorbing personality is
already apparent in the youth and even in the infant.

"Character: dominating, imperious, and stubborn,"

says the record at Brienne.[24] And the notes of the Military
Academy add;[25]

"Extremely inclined to egoism," - "proud, ambitious, aspiring in all
directions, fond of solitude,"

undoubtedly because he is not master in a group of equals and is ill
at ease when he cannot rule.

"I lived apart from my comrades," he says at a later date.[26] - "I
had selected a little corner in the playgrounds, where I used to go
and sit down and indulge my fancies. When my comrades were disposed
to drive me out of this corner I defended it with all my might . My
instinct already told me that my will should prevail against other
wills, and that whatever pleased me ought to belong to me."

Referring to his early years under the paternal roof at Corsica, he
depicts himself as a little mischievous savage, rebelling against
every sort of restraint, and without any conscience.[27] " I respected
nothing and feared nobody; I beat one and scratched another; I made
everybody afraid of me. I beat my brother Joseph; I bit him and
complained of him almost before he knew what he was about." A clever
trick, and one which he was not slow to repeat. His talent for
improvising useful falsehoods is innate; later on, at maturity, he is
proud of this ; he makes it the index and measure of "political
superiority," and "delights in calling to mind one of his uncles who,
in his infancy, prognosticated to him that he would govern the world
because he was fond of lying."[28]

Remark this observation of the uncles - it sums up the experiences of
a man of his time and of his country; it is what social life in
Corsica inculcated; morals and manners there adapted themselves to
each other through an unfailing connection. The moral law, indeed, is
such because similar customs prevail in all countries and at all times
where the police is powerless, where justice cannot be obtained, where
public interests are in the hands of whoever can lay hold of them,
where private warfare is pitiless and not repressed, where every man
goes armed, where every sort of weapon is fair, and where
dissimulation, fraud, and trickery, as well as gun or poniard, are
allowed, which was the case in Corsica in the eighteenth century, as
in Italy in the fifteenth century. - Hence the early impressions of
Bonaparte similar to those of the Borgias and of Macchiavelli; hence,
in his case, that first stratum of half-thought which, later on,
serves as the basis of complete thought; hence, the whole foundation
of his future mental edifice and of the conceptions he subsequently
entertains of human society. Afterwards, on leaving the French
schools and every time he returns to them and spends any time in them,
the same impressions, often renewed, intensify in his mind the same
final conclusion. In this country, report the French
commissioners,[29] "the people have no idea of principle in the
abstract," nor of social interest or justice. "Justice does not
exist; one hundred and thirty assassinations have occurred in ten
years. . . . The institution of juries has deprived the country of all
the means for punishing crime; never do the strongest proofs, the
clearest evidence, lead a jury composed of men of the same party, or
of the same family as the accused, to convict him; and, if the accused
is of the opposite party, the juries likewise acquit him, so as not to
incur the risk of revenge, slow perhaps but always sure." - "Public
spirit is unknown." There is no social body, except any number of
small parties hostile to each other. . . . One is not a Corsican
without belonging to some family, and consequently attached to some
party; he who would serve none, would be detested by all. . . . All
the leaders have the same end in view, that of getting money no matter
by what means, and their first care is to surround themselves with
creatures entirely devoted to them and to whom they give all the
offices. . . . The elections are held under arms, and all with
violence. . . . The victorious party uses its authority to avenge
itself on their opponents, and multiplies vexations and outrages. . .
. The leaders form aristocratic leagues with each other. . . . and
mutually tolerate abuses. They impose no assessment or collection (of
taxes) to curry favor with electors through party spirit and
relationships. . . . Customs-duties serve simply to compensate friends
and relatives. . . . Salaries never reach those for whom they are
intended. The rural districts are uninhabitable for lack of security.
The peasants carry guns even when at the plow. One cannot take a step
without an escort; a detachment of five or six men is often sent to
carry a letter from one post-office to another."

Interpret this general statement by the thousands of facts of which it
is the summary; imagine these little daily occurrences narrated with
all their material accompaniments, and with sympathetic or angry
comments by interested neighbors, and we have the moral lessons taught
to young Bonaparte.[30] At table, the child has listened to the
conversation of his elders, and at a word uttered, for instance, by
his uncle, or at a physiognomic expression, a sign of approbation, a
shrug of the shoulders, he has divined that the ordinary march of
society is not that of peace but of war; he sees by what ruses one
maintains one's-self, by what acts of violence one makes ones way, by
what sort of help one mounts upward. Left to himself the rest of the
day, to the nurse Ilaria, or to Saveria the housekeeper, or to the
common people amongst whom he strays at will, he listens to the
conversation of sailors or of shepherds assembled on the public
square, and their simple exclamations, their frank admiration of well-
planned ambuscades and lucky surprises, impress more profoundly on
him, often repeated with so much energy, the lessons which he has
already learned at home. These are the lessons taught by things. At
this tender age they sink deep, especially when the disposition is
favorable, and in this case the heart sanctions them beforehand,
because education finds its confederate in instinct. Accordingly, at
the outbreak of the Revolution, on revisiting Corsica, he takes life
at once as he finds it there, a combat with any sort of weapon, and,
on this small arena, he acts unscrupulously, going farther than
anybody.[31] If he respects justice and law, it is only in words, and
even here ironically; in his eyes, law is a term of the code, justice
a book term, while might makes right.

A second blow of the coining-press gives another impression of the
same stamp on this character already so decided, while French anarchy
forces maxims into the mind of the young man, already traced in the
child's mind by Corsican anarchy; the lessons of things provided by a
society going to pieces are the same as those of a society which is
not yet formed. - His sharp eyes, at a very early period, see through
the flourish of theory and the parade of phrases; they detect the real
foundation of the Revolution, namely, the sovereignty of unbridled
passions and the conquest of the majority by the minority; conquering
or conquered, a choice must be made between these two extreme
conditions; there is no middle course. After the 9th of Thermidor,
the last veils are torn away, and the instincts of license and
domination, the ambitions of individuals, fully display themselves.
There is no concern for public interests or for the rights of the
people; it is clear that the rulers form a band, that France is their
prey, and that they intend to hold on to it for and against everybody,
by every possible means, including bayonets. Under this civil régime,
a clean sweep of the broom at the center makes it necessary to be on
the side of numbers. - In the armies, especially in the army of Italy,
republican faith and patriotic abnegation, since the territory became
free, have given way to natural appetites and military passions.[32]
Barefoot, in rags, with four ounces of bread a day, paid in assignats
which are not accepted in the markets, both officers and men desire
above all things to be relieved of their misery; "the poor fellows,
after three years of longing on the summits of the Alps, reach the
promised land, and want to enjoy it."[33] Another spur consists in the
pride which is stimulated by the imagination and by success; add to
this the necessity for finding an outlet for their energy, the steam
and high pressure of youth ; nearly all are very young men, who regard
life, in Gallic or French fashion, as a party of pleasure and as a
duel. But to feel brave and to prove that one is so, to face bullets
for amusement and defiantly, to abandon a successful adventure for a
battle and a battle for a ball, to enjoy ones-self and take risks to
excess, without dissimulating, and with no other object than the
sensation of the moment,[34] to revel in excitement through emulation
and danger, is no longer self-devotion, but giving one's-self up to
one's fancies ; and, for all who are not harebrained, to give one's-
self up to one's fancies means to make one's way, obtain promotion,
pillage so as to become rich, like Massena, and conquer so as to
become powerful, like Bonaparte. - All this is understood between the
general and his army from the very first,[35] and, after one year's
experience, the understanding is perfect. One moral is derived from
their common acts, vague in the army, precise in the general; what the
army only half sees, he sees clearly; if he urges his comrades on, it
is because they follow their own inclination. He simply has a start on
them, and is quicker to make up his mind that the world is a grand
banquet, free to the first-comer, but at which, to be well served, one
must have long arms, be the first to get helped, and let the rest take
what is left.

So natural does this seem to him, he says so openly and to men who are
not his intimates; to Miot, a diplomat, and to Melzi a foreigner:

"Do you suppose, says he to them,[36] after the preliminaries of
Leoben, "that to make great men out of Directory lawyers, the Carnots'
and the Barras, I triumph in Italy? Do you suppose also that it is for
the establishment of a republic? What an idea! A republic of thirty
million men! With our customs, our vices, how is that possible? It is
a delusion which the French are infatuated with and which will vanish
along with so many others. What they want is glory, the gratification
of vanity - they know nothing about liberty. Look at the army! Our
successes just obtained, our triumphs have already brought out the
true character of the French soldier. I am all for him. Let the
Directory deprive me of the command and it will see if it is master.
The nation needs a chief, one who is famous though his exploits, and
not theories of government, phrases and speeches by ideologists, which
Frenchmen do not comprehend. . . . As to your country, Monsieur de
Melzi, it has still fewer elements of republicanism than France, and
much less ceremony is essential with it than with any other. . . In
other respects, I have no idea of coming to terms so promptly with
Austria. It is not for my interest to make peace. You see what I am,
what I can do in Italy. If peace is brought about, if I am no longer
at the head of this army which has become attached to me, I must give
up this power, this high position I have reached, and go and pay court
to lawyers in the Luxembourg. I should not like to quit Italy for
France except to play a part there similar to that which I play here,
and the time for that has not yet come - the pear is not ripe."

To wait until the pear is ripe, but not to allow anybody else to
gather it, is the true motive of his political fealty and of his
Jacobin proclamations: "A party in favor of the Bourbons is raising
its head; I have no desire to help it along. One of these days I
shall weaken the republican party, but I shall do it for my own
advantage and not for that of the old dynasty. Meanwhile, it is
necessary to march with the Republicans," along with the worst, and'
the scoundrels about to purge the Five Hundred, the Ancients, and the
Directory itself, and then re-establish in France the Reign of Terror.
- In effect, he contributes to the 18th of Fructidor, and, the blow
struck, he explains very clearly why he took part in it:

"Do not believe[37] I did it in conformity with the ideas entertained
by those with whom I acted. I did - not want a return of the
Bourbons, and especially if brought back by Moreau's army and by
Pichegru. . . Finally, I will not take the part of Monk, I will not
play it, and I will not have others play it. . . . As for myself, my
dear Miot, I declare to you that I can no longer obey; I have tasted
command and I cannot give it up. My mind is made up. If I cannot be
master I will leave France."

There is no middle course for him between the two alter natives. On
returning to Paris he thinks of "overthrowing the Directory,[38]
dissolving the councils and of making himself dictator"; but, having
satisfied himself that there was but little chance of succeeding, "he
postpones his design" and falls back on the second course. "This is
the only motive of his expedition into Egypt."[39] - That, in the
actual condition of France and of Europe, the expedition is opposed to
public interests, that France deprives itself of its best army and
offers its best fleet to almost certain destruction, is of little
consequence provided, in this vast and gratuitous adventure, Bonaparte
finds the employment he wants, a large field of action and famous
victories which, like the blasts of a trumpet, will swell beyond the
seas and renew his prestige: in his eyes, the fleet, the army, France,
and humanity exist only for him and are created only for his service.
- If, in confirmation of this persuasion, another lesson in things is
still necessary, it will be furnished by Egypt. Here, absolute
sovereign, free of any restraint, contending with an inferior order of
humanity, he acts the sultan and accustoms himself to playing the
part.[40] His last scruples towards the human species disappear; "I
became disgusted with Rousseau"; he is to say, later on, "After seeing
the Orient: the savage man is a dog,"[41] and, in the civilized man,
the savage is just beneath the skin; if the intellect has become
somewhat polished, there is no change in his instincts. A master is
as necessary to one as to the other - a magician who subjugates his
imagination, disciplines him, keeps him from biting without occasion,
ties him up, cares for him, and takes him out hunting. He is born to
obey, does not deserve any better lot, and has no other right.

Become consul and afterward emperor, he applies the theory on a grand
scale, and, in his hands, experience daily furnishes fresh
verifications of the theory. At his first nod the French prostrate
themselves obediently, and there remain, as in a natural position; the
lower class, the peasants and the soldiers, with animal fidelity, and
the upper class, the dignitaries and the functionaries, with Byzantine
servility.- The republicans, on their side, make no resistance; on the
contrary, among these he has found his best governing instruments -
senators, deputies, state councilors, judges, and administrators of
every grade.[42] He has at once detected behind their sermonizing on
liberty and equality, their despotic instincts, their craving for
command, for leadership, even as subordinates; and, in addition to
this, with most of them, the appetite for money or for sensual
pleasures. The difference between the delegate of the Committee of
Public Safety and the minister, prefect, or subprefect under the
Empire is small; it is the same person in two costumes: at first in
the carmagnole, and later in the embroidered coat. If a rude, poor
puritan, like Cambon or Baudot, refuses to don the official uniform,
if two or three Jacobin generals, like Lecourbe and Delmas, grumble at
the coronation parade, Napoleon, who knows their mental grasp, regards
them as ignoramuses, limited to and rigid inside a fixed idea. - As to
the cultivated and intelligent liberals of 1789, he consigns them with
a word to the place where they belong; they are "ideologists"; in
other words, their pretended knowledge is mere drawing-room prejudice
and the imagination of the study. "Lafayette is a political ninny,"
the eternal "dupe of men and of things."[43] With Lafayette and some
others, one embarrassing detail remains namely:

* impartiality and generosity,
* constant care for the common good,
* respect for others,
* the authority of conscience,
* loyalty,
* and good faith.

In short, noble and pure motives.

Napoleon does not accept the denial thus given to his theory; when he
talks with people, he questions their moral nobleness. "General
Dumas,"[44] said he, abruptly, to Mathieu Dumas, "you were one of the
imbeciles who believed in liberty?" "Yes, sire, and I was and am still
one of that class." "And you, like the rest, took part in the
Revolution through ambition?" "No, sire, I should have calculated
badly, for I am now precisely where I stood in 1790."

"You were not sufficiently aware of the motives which prompted you;
you cannot be different from other people; it is all personal
interest. Now, take Massena. He has glory and honors enough; but he
is not content. He wants to be a prince, like Murat and like
Bernadotte. He would risk being shot to-morrow to be a prince. That
is the incentive of Frenchmen." -

His system is based on this. The most competent witnesses, and those
who were most familiar with him certify to his fixed idea on this

"His opinions on men," writes M. de Metternich,[45] "centered on one
idea, which, unfortunately for him, had acquired in his mind the force
of an axiom; he was persuaded that no man who was induced to appear on
the public stage, or who was merely engaged in the active pursuits of
life, governed himself, or was governed, otherwise than by his

According to him, Man is held through his egoistic passions, fear,
cupidity, sensuality, self-esteem, and emulation; these are the
mainsprings when he is not under excitement, when he reasons.
Moreover, it is not difficult to turn the brain of man; for he is
imaginative, credulous, and subject to being carried away; stimulate
his pride or vanity, provide him with an extreme and false opinion of
himself and of his fellow-men, and you can start him off head downward
wherever you please.[46] - None of these motives is entitled to much
respect, and beings thus fashioned form the natural material for an
absolute government, the mass of clay awaiting the potter's hand to
shape it. If parts of this mass are obdurate, the potter has only to
crush and pound them and mix them thoroughly.

Such is the final conception on which Napoleon has anchored himself,
and into which he sinks deeper and deeper, no matter how directly and
violently he may be contradicted by palpable facts. Nothing will
dislodge him; neither the stubborn energy of the English, nor the
inflexible gentleness of the Pope, nor the declared insurrection of
the Spaniards, nor the mute insurrection of the Germans, nor the
resistance of Catholic consciences, nor the gradual disaffection of
the French; the reason is, that his conception is imposed on him by
his character;[47] he sees man as he needs to see him.

III. Napoleon's Dominant Passion: Power.

His mastery of the will of others. - Degree of submission required by
him. - His mode of appreciating others and of profiting by them. -
Tone of command and of conversation.

We at last confront his dominant passion, the inward abyss into which
instinct, education, reflection, and theory have plunged him, and
which is to engulf the proud edifice of his fortune - I mean, his
ambition. It is the prime motor of his soul and the permanent
substance of his will, so profound that he no longer distinguishes
between it and himself, and of which he is sometimes unconscious.

"I," said he to Roederer,[48] "I have no ambition," and then,
recollecting himself, he adds, with his ordinary lucidity, "or, if I
have any, it is so natural to me, so innate, so intimately associated
with my existence, that it is like the blood which flows in my veins
and the atmosphere I breathe." -

Still more profoundly, he likens it to that unconscious, savage, and
irresistible emotion which vibrates the soul from one end to the
other, to this universal thrill moving all living beings, animal or
moral, to those keen and terrible tremors which we call the passion of

"I have but one passion,[49] one mistress, and that is France. I
sleep with her. She has never been false to me. She lavishes her
blood and treasures on me. If I need 500,000 men, she gives them to

Let no one come between him and her. Let Joseph, in relation to the
coronation, abstain from claiming his place, even secondary and
prospective, in the new empire; let him not put forth his fraternal
rights.[50] "It is to wound me in the most tender spot." This he does,
and, "Nothing can efface that from my souvenirs. It is as if he had
told an impassioned lover that he had slept with his mistress, or
merely that he hoped to succeed with her. My mistress is power. I
have worked too hard to obtain her, to let her be ravished from me, or
even suffer anybody to covet her." This ambition, as avid as it is
jealous, which becomes exasperated at the very idea of a rival, feels
hampered by the mere idea of setting a limit to it; however vast the
acquired power, he would like to have it still more vast; on quitting
the most copious banquet, he still remains insatiate. On the day
after the coronation he said to Decrés:[51]

"I come too late, there is no longer anything great to accomplish. I
admit that my career is brilliant and that I have made my way
successfully. But what a difference alongside of antiquity! Take
Alexander! After having conquered Asia, and proclaimed himself to the
people as the son of Jupiter, with the exception of Olympias, who knew
what all this meant, and Aristotle, and a few Athenian pedants, the
entire Orient believed him. Very well, should I now declare that I was
the son of God Almighty, and proclaim that I am going to worship him
under this title, every market woman would hoot at me as I walked
along the streets. People nowadays know too much. Nothing is left to

And yet, even on this secluded, elevated domain, and which twenty
centuries of civilization keeps inaccessible, he still encroaches, and
to the utmost, in a roundabout way, by laying his hand on the Church,
and next on the Pope; here, as elsewhere, he takes all he can get.
Nothing in his eyes, is more natural; he has a right to it, because he
is the only capable one.

"My Italian people[52] must know me well enough not to forget that
there is more in my little finger than in all their brains put

Alongside of him, they are children, "minors," the French also, and
likewise the rest of mankind. A diplomat, who often saw him and
studied him under all as aspects, sums up his character in one
conclusive phrase:

"He considered himself an isolated being in this world, made to govern
and direct all minds as he pleased."[53]

Hence, whoever has anything to do with him, must abandon his
independence and become his tool of government.

"That terrible man," often exclaimed Decrés[54] "has subjugated us
all! He holds all our imaginations in his hands, now of steel and now
of velvet, but whether one or the other during the day nobody knows,
and there is no way to escape from them whatever they seize on they
never let go!"

Independence of any kind, even eventual and merely possible, puts him
in a bad mood; intellectual or moral superiority is of this order, and
he gradually gets rid of it;[55] toward the end he no longer tolerates
alongside of him any but subject or captive spirits. His principal
servants are machines or fanatics, a devout worshipper, like Maret, a
gendarme, like Savary,[56] ready to do his bidding. From the outset,
he has reduced his ministers to the condition of clerks; for he is
administrator as well as ruler, and in each department he watches
details as closely as the entire mass. Accordingly, he requires
simply for head of departments active pen pushers, mute executors,
docile and special hands, no need for honest and independent advisers.

"I should not know what to do with them," he said, "if they were not
to a certain extent mediocre in mind and character."

As to his generals, he admits himself that "he likes to award fame
only to those who cannot stand it." In any event, "he must be sole
master in making or unmaking reputations," according to his personal
requirements. Too brilliant a soldier would become too important; a
subordinate should never be tempted to be less submissive. To this
end he studies what he will omit in his bulletins, what alterations
and what changes shall be made in them.

"It is convenient to keep silent about certain victories, or to
convert the defeat of this or that marshal into a success. Sometimes
a general learns by a bulletin of an action that he was never in and
of a speech that he never made."

If he complains, he is notified to keep still, or by way of recompense
he is allowed to pillage, levy contributions, and enrich himself. On
becoming duke or hereditary prince, with half a million or a million
of revenue from his estate, he is not less held in subjection, for the
creator has taken precautions against his own creations.

"There are men,"[57] he said, "who I have made independent, but I know
well where to find them and keep them from being ungrateful."

In effect, if he has endowed them magnificently it is with domains
assigned to them in conquered countries, which insures their fortune
being his fortune. Besides, in order that they may not enjoy any
pecuniary stability, he expressly encourages them and all his grand
dignitaries to make extravagant outlays; thus, through their financial
embarrassments be holds them in a leash. "We have seen most of his
marshals, constantly pressed by their creditors, come to him for
assistance, which he has given as he fancied, or as he found it for
his interest to attach some one to him."[58]

Thus, beyond the universal ascendancy which his power and genius have
conferred on him, he craves a personal, supplementary, and
irresistible hold on everybody. Consequently,[59]"he carefully
cultivates all the bad passions . . . . he is glad to find the bad
side in a man, so as to get him in his power"; the thirst for money in
Savary, the Jacobin defects of Fouché, the vanity and sensuality of
Cambacérès, the careless cynicism and "the easy immorality" of
Talleyrand, the "dry bluntness " of Duroc, the courtier-like
insipidity of Maret, "the silliness" of Berthier; he brings this out,
diverts himself with it, and profits by it. "Where he sees no vice,
he encourages weaknesses, and, in default of anything better, he
provokes fear, so that he may be ever and continually the strongest. .
. .He dreads ties of affection, and strives to alienate people from
each other. . . . He sells his favors only by arousing anxiety; he
thinks that the best way to attach individuals to him is to compromise
them, and often, even, to ruin them in public opinion." - " If
Caulaincourt is compromised," said he, after the murder of the Duc
d'Enghien, "it is no great matter, he will serve me all the better."

Once that the creature is in his clutches, let him not imagine that he
can escape or withhold anything of his own accord; all that he has
belongs to him. Zeal and success in the performance of duty, punctual
obedience within limits previously designated, is not enough; behind
the functionary he claims the man. "All that may well be," he
replies, to whatever may be said in praise of him,[60] "but he does
not belong to me as I would like." It is devotion which he exacts,
and, by devotion, he means the irrevocable and complete surrender "of
the entire person, in all his sentiments and opinions." According to
him, writes a witness, "one must abandon every old habit, even the
most trifling, and be governed by one thought alone,. that of his
will and interests."[61] For greater security, his servitors ought to
extinguish in themselves the critical sense. "What he fears the most
is that, close to him or far off, the faculty of judging should be
applied or even preserved."

"His idea is a marble groove," out of which no mind should
diverge.[62] Especially as no two minds could think of diverging at
the same time, and on the same side, their concurrence, even when
passive, their common understanding, even if kept to themselves, their
whispers, almost inaudible, constitute a league, a faction, and, if
they are functionaries, "a conspiracy." On his return from Spain he
declares, with a terrible explosion of wrath and threats,[63] "that
the ministers and high dignitaries whom he has created must stop
expressing their opinions and thoughts freely, that they cannot be
otherwise than his organs, that treason has already begun when they
begin to doubt, and that it is under full headway when, from doubt,
they proceed to dissent." If, against his constant encroachments, they
strive to preserve a last refuge, if they refuse to abandon their
conscience to him, their faith as Catholics or their honor as honest
men, he is surprised and gets irritated. In reply to the Bishop of
Ghent, who, in the most respectful manner, excuses himself for not
taking a second oath that is against his conscience, he rudely turns
his back, and says, "Very well, sir, your conscience is a
blockhead!"[64] Portalis, director of the publishing office,[65]
having received a papal brief from his cousin, the Abbé d'Astros,
respected a confidential communication; he simply recommended his
cousin to keep this document secret, and declared that, if it were
made public, he would prohibit its circulation; by way of extra
precaution he notified the prefect of police. But he did not
specially denounce his cousin, have the man arrested and the document
seized. On the strength of this, the Emperor, in full council of
state, apostrophizes him to his face, and, "with one of those looks
which go straight through one,"[66] declares that he has committed
"the vilest of perfidies"; he bestows on him for half an hour a
hailstorm of reproaches and insults, and then orders him out of the
room as if a lackey who had been guilty of a theft. Whether he keeps
within his function or not, the functionary must be content to do
whatever is demanded of him, and readily anticipate every commission.
If his scruples arrest him, if he alleges personal obligations, if he
had rather not fail in delicacy, or even in common loyalty, he incurs
the risk of offending or losing the favor of the master, which is the
case with M. de Rémusat,[67] who is unwilling to become his spy,
reporter, and denunciator for the Faubourg Saint-Germain, who does not
offer, at Vienna, to pump out of Madame d'André the address of her
husband so that M. d'André may be taken and immediately shot. Savary,
who was the negotiator for his being given up, kept constantly telling
M. de Rémusat, "You are going against your interest - I must say that
I do not comprehend you!" And yet Savary, himself minister of the
police, executor of most important services, head manager of the
murder of the Duc d'Enghien and of the ambuscade at Bayonne,
counterfeiter of Austrian bank-notes for the campaign of 1809 and of
Russian banknotes for that of 1812,[68] Savary ends in getting weary;
he is charged with too many dirty jobs; however hardened his
conscience it has a tender spot; he discovers at last that he has
scruples. It is with great repugnance that, in February, 1814, he
executes the order to have a small infernal machine prepared, moving
by clock-work, so as to blow up the Bourbons on their return into
France.[69] "Ah," said he, giving himself a blow on the forehead, "it
must be admitted that the Emperor is sometimes hard to serve!"

If he exacts so much from the human creature, it is because, in
playing the game he has to play, he must absorb everything; in the
situation in which be has placed himself, caution is unnecessary. "Is
a statesman," said he, "made to have feeling? Is he not wholly an
eccentric personage, always alone by himself, he on one side and the
world on the other?"[70]

In this duel without truce or mercy, people interest him only whilst
they are useful to him; their value depends on what he can make out of
them; his sole business is to squeeze them, to extract to the last
drop whatever is available in them.

"I find very little satisfaction in useless sentiments," said he
again,[71] "and Berthier is so mediocre that I do not know why I waste
my time on him. And yet when I am not set against him, I am not sure
that I do not like him."

He goes no further. According to him, this indifference is necessary
in a statesman. The glass he looks through is that of his own
policy;[72] he must take care that it does not magnify or diminish
objects. - Therefore, outside of explosions of nervous sensibility,
"he has no consideration for men other than that of a foreman for his
workmen,"[73] or, more precisely, for his tools; once the tool is worn
out, little does he care whether it rusts away in a corner or is cast
aside on a heap of scrap-iron. "Portalis, Minister of Justice,[74]
enters his room one day with a downcast look and his eyes filled with
tears. 'What's the matter with you, Portalis?' inquired Napoleon,
'are you ill? 'No, sire, but very wretched. The poor Archbishop of
Tours, my old schoolmate . . .' 'Eh, well, what has happened to him?'
'Alas, sire, he has just died.' 'What do I care? he was no longer good
for anything.'" Owning and making the most of men and of things, of
bodies and of souls, using and abusing them at discretion, even to
exhaustion, without being responsible to any one, he reaches that
point after a few years where he can say as glibly and more
despotically than Louis XIV. himself,

"My armies, my fleets, my cardinals, my councils, my senate, my
populations, my empire."[75]

Addressing army corps about to rush into battle:

"Soldiers, I need your lives, and you owe them to me."

He says to General Dorsenne and to the grenadiers of the guard:[76]

"I hear that you complain that you want to return to Paris, to your
mistresses. Undeceive yourselves. I shall keep you under arms until
you are eighty. You were born to the bivouac, and you shall die

How he treats his brothers and relations who have become kings; how he
reins them in; how he applies the spur and the whip and makes them
trot and jump fences and ditches, may be found in his correspondence;
every stray impulse to take the lead, even when justified by an
unforeseen urgency and with the most evident good intention, is
suppressed as a deviation, is arrested with a brusque roughness which
strains the loins and weakens the knees of the delinquent. The
amiable Prince Eugene, so obedient and so loyal,[77] is thus warned:

"If you want orders or advice from His Majesty in the alteration of
the ceiling of your room you should wait till you get them; were Milan
burning and you asked orders for putting out the fire, you should let
Milan burn until you got them. . . His Majesty is displeased, and very
much displeased, with you; you must never attempt to do his work.
Never does he like this, and he will never forgive it."

This enables us to judge of his tone with subalterns. The French
battalions are refused admission into certain places in Holland:[78]

"Announce to the King of Holland, that if his ministers have acted on
their own responsibility, I will have them arrested and all their
heads cut off."

He says to M. de Ségur, member of the Academy commission which had
just approved M. de Chateaubriand's discourse:[79]

"You, and M. de Fontaines, as state councillor and grand master, I
ought to put in Vincennes. . . . Tell the second class of the
Institute that I will have no political subjects treated at its
meetings. . . . .If it disobeys, I will break it up like a bad club.

Even when not angry or scolding,[80] when the claws are drawn in, one
feels the clutch. He says to Beugnot, whom he has just berated,
scandalously and unjustly, - conscious of having done him injustice
and with a view to produce an effect on the bystanders, -

"Well, you great imbecile, you have got back your brains?"

On this, Beugnot, tall as a drum-major, bows very low, while the
smaller man, raising his hand, seizes him by the ear, "a heady mark of
favor," says Beugnot, a sign of familiarity and of returning good
humor. And better yet, the master deigns to lecture Beugnot on his
personal tastes, on his regrets, on his wish to return to France: What
would he like? To be his minister in Paris? "Judging by what he saw of
me the other day I should not be there very long; I might die of worry
before the end of the month." He has already killed Portalis, Cretet,
and almost Treilhard, even though he had led a hard life: he could no
longer urinate, nor the others either. The same thing would have
happened to Beignot, if not worse. . . .

" Stay here . . . . after which you will be old, or rather we all
shall be old, and I will send you to the Senate to drivel at your

Evidently,[81 the nearer one is to his person the more disagreeable
life becomes.[82] "Admirably served, promptly obeyed to the minute, he
still delights in keeping everybody around him in terror concerning
the details of all that goes on in his palace." Has any difficult task
been accomplished? He expresses no thanks, never or scarcely ever
praises, and, which happens but once, in the case of M. de Champagny,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is praised for having finished the
treaty of Vienna in one night, and with unexpected advantages;[83]
this time, the Emperor has thought aloud, is taken by surprise;
"ordinarily, he manifests approbation only by his silence." - When M.
de Rémusat, prefect of the palace, has arranged "one of those
magnificent fêtes in which all the arts minister to his enjoyment,"
economically, correctly, with splendor and success, his wife never
asks her husband[84] if the Emperor is satisfied, but whether he has
scolded more or less.

"His leading general principle, which he applies in every way, in
great things as well as in small ones, is that a man's zeal depends
upon his anxiety."

How insupportable the constraint he exercises, with what crushing
weight his absolutism bears down on the most tried devotion and on the
most pliable characters, with what excess he tramples on and wounds
the best dispositions, up to what point he represses and stifles the
respiration of the human being, he knows as well as anybody. He was
heard to say,

"The lucky man is he who hides away from me in the depths of some

And, another day, having asked M. de Ségur what people would say of
him after his death, the latter enlarged on the regrets which would be
universally expressed. "Not at all," replied the Emperor; and then,
drawing in his breath in a significant manner indicative of universal
relief, he replied,

"They'll say, 'Whew!'"[85]

IV. His Bad Manners.

His bearings in Society. - His deportment toward Women. - His disdain
of Politeness.

There are very few monarchs, even absolute, who persistently, arid
from morning to night, maintain a despotic attitude. Generally, and
especially in France, the sovereign makes two divisions of his time,
one for business and the other for social duties, and, in the latter
case, while always head of the State, he is also head of his house:
for he welcomes visitors, entertains his guests, and, that his guests
may not be robots, he tries to put them at their ease. - That was the
case with Louis XIV.[86] - polite to everybody, always affable with
men, and sometimes gracious, always courteous with women, and some
times gallant, carefully avoiding brusqueness, ostentation, and
sarcasms, never allowing himself to use an offensive word, never
making people feel their inferiority and dependence, but, on the
contrary, encouraging them to express opinions, and even to converse,
tolerating in conversation a semblance of equality, smiling at a
repartee, playfully telling a story - such was his drawing-room
constitution. The drawing-room as well as every human society needs
one, and a liberal one; otherwise life dies out. Accordingly, the
observance of this constitution in by-gone society is known by the
phrase savoir-vivre, and, more rigidly than anybody else, Louis XIV.
submitted himself to this code of proprieties. Traditionally, and
through education, he had consideration for others, at least for the
people around him; his courtiers becoming his guests without ceasing
to be his subjects.

There is nothing of this sort with Napoleon. He preserves nothing of
the etiquette he borrows from the old court but its rigid discipline
and its pompous parade. "The ceremonial system," says an eyewitness,
"was carried out as if it had been regulated by the tap of a drum;
everything was done, in a certain sense, 'double-quick.'[87] . . .
This air of precipitation, this constant anxiety which it inspires,"
puts an end to all comfort, all ease, all entertainment, all agreeable
intercourse; there is no common bond but that of command and
obedience. " The few individuals he singles out, Savary, Duroc,
Maret, keep silent and simply transmit orders. . . . We did not appear
to them, in doing what we were ordered to do, and we did not appear to
ourselves, other than veritable machines, all resembling, or but
little short of it, the elegant gilded arm-chairs with which the
palaces of Saint-Cloud and the Tuileries had just been embellished."

For a machine to work well it is important that the machinist should
overhaul it frequently, which this one never fails to do, especially
after a long absence. Whilst he is on his way from Tilsit, "everybody
anxiously examines his conscience to ascertain what he has done that
this rigid master will find fault with on his return. Whether spouse,
family, or grand dignitary, each is more or less disturbed; while the
Empress, who knows him better than any one, naively says, 'As the
Emperor is so happy it is certain that he will do a deal of
scolding!'"[88] Actually, he has scarcely arrived when he gives a rude
and vigorous wrench of the bolt; and then, "satisfied at having
excited terror all around, he appears to have forgotten what has
passed and resumes the usual tenor of his life." "Through calculation
as well as from taste,[89] he never ceases to be a monarch"; hence, "a
mute, frigid court . . . . more dismal than dignified; every face
wears an expression of uneasiness . . . a silence both dull and
constrained." At Fontainebleau, "amidst splendors and pleasures,"
there is no real enjoyment nor anything agreeable, not even for
himself. "I pity you," said M. de Talleyrand to M. de Rémusat, "you
have to amuse the unamusable." At the theatre he is abstracted or
yawns. Applause is prohibited; the court, sitting out "the file of
eternal tragedies, is mortally bored . . . . the young ladies fall
asleep, people leave the theatre, gloomy and discontented." - There is
the same constraint in the drawing-room. "He did not know how to
appear at ease, and I believe that he never wanted anybody else to be
so, afraid of the slightest approach to familiarity, and inspiring
each with a fear of saying something offensive to his neighbor before
witnesses. . . . During the quadrille, he moves around amongst the
rows of ladies, addressing them with some trifling or disagreeable
remark," and never does he accost them otherwise than "awkwardly and
ill at his ease." At bottom, he distrusts them and is ill-disposed
toward them.[90] It is because "the power they have acquired in
society seems to him an intolerable usurpation. - "Never did he utter
to a woman a graceful or even a well-turned compliment, although the
effort to find one was often apparent on his face and in the tone of
his voice. . . . He talks to them only of their toilet, of which he
declares himself a severe and minute judge, and on which he indulges
in not very delicate jests; or again, on the number of their children,
demanding of them in rude language whether they nurse them themselves;
or again, lecturing them on their social relations."[91] Hence, "there
is not one who does not rejoice when he moves off."[92] He would often
amuse himself by putting them out of countenance, scandalizing and
bantering them to their faces, driving them into a corner the same as
a colonel worries his canteen women. "Yes, ladies, you furnish the
good people of the Faubourg Saint-Germain with something to talk
about. It is said, Madame A..., that you are intimate with Monsieur
B..., and you Madame C...., with Monsieur D ." On any intrigue
chancing to appear in the police reports, "he loses no time in
informing the husband of what is going on." - He is no less indiscreet
in relation to his own affairs;[93] when it is over he divulges the
fact and gives the name; furthermore, he informs Josephine in detail
and will not listen to any reproach: "I have a right to answer all
your objections with an eternal I!"

This term, indeed, answers to everything, and he explains it by
adding: "I stand apart from other men. I accept nobody's conditions,"
nor any species of obligation, no code whatever, not even the common
code of outward civility, which, diminishing or dissimulating
primitive brutality, allows men to associate together without
clashing. He does not comprehend it, and he repudiates it. "I have
little liking,"[94] he says, "for that vague, leveling word propriety
(convenances), which you people fling out every chance you get. It is
an invention of fools who want to pass for clever men; a kind of
social muzzle which annoys the strong and is useful only to the
mediocre. . . Ah, good taste ! Another classic expression which I do
not accept." "It is your personal enemy"; says Talleyrand to him, one
day, "if you could have shot it away with bullets, it would have
disappeared long ago!" - It is because good taste is the highest
attainment of civilization, the innermost vestment which drapes human
nudity, which best fits the person, the last garment retained after
the others have been cast off, and which delicate tissue continues to
hamper Napoleon; he throws it off instinctively, because it interferes
with his natural behavior, with the uncurbed, dominating, savage ways
of the vanquisher who knocks down his adversary and treats him as he

V. His Policy.

His tone and bearing towards Sovereigns. - His Policy. - His means and
ends.- After Sovereigns he sets populations against him. - Final
opinion of Europe.

Such behavior render social intercourse impossible, especially among
the independent and armed personages known as nations or States. This
is why they are outlawed in politics and in diplomacy and every head
of a State or representative of a country, carefully and on principle,
abstains from them, at least with those on his own level. He is bound
to treat these as his equals, humor them, and, accordingly, not to
give way to the irritation of the moment or to personal feeling; in
short, to exercise self-control and measure his words. To this is due
the tone of manifestos, protocols, dispatches, and other public
documents the formal language of legations, so cold, dry, and
elaborated, those expressions purposely attenuated and smoothed down,
those long phrases apparently spun out mechanically and always after
the same pattern, a sort of soft wadding or international buffer
interposed between contestants to lessen the shocks of collision. The
reciprocal irritations between States are already too great; there are
ever too many unavoidable and regrettable encounters, too many causes
of conflict, the consequences of which are too serious; it is
unnecessary to add to the wounds of interest the wounds of imagination
and of pride; and above all, it is unnecessary to amplify these
without reason, at the risk of increasing the obstacles of to-day and
the resentments of to-morrow. - With Napoleon it is just the opposite:
his attitude, even at peaceful interviews, remains aggressive and
militant; purposely or in-voluntarily, he raises his hand and the blow
is felt to be coming, while, in the meantime, he insults. In his
correspondence with sovereigns, in his official proclamations, in his
deliberations with ambassadors, and even at public audiences,[95] he
provokes, threatens, and defies.[96] He treats his adversary with a
lofty air, insults him often to his face, and charges him with the
most disgraceful imputations.[97] He divulges the secrets of his
private life, of his closet, and of his bed; he defames or calumniates
his ministers, his court, and his wife;[98] he purposely stabs him in
the most sensitive part. He tells one that he is a dupe, a betrayed
husband; another that he is an abettor of assassination; he assumes
the air of a judge condemning a criminal, or the tone of a superior
reprimanding an inferior, or, at best, that of a teacher taking a
scholar to task. With a smile of pity, he points out mistakes, weak
points, and incapacity, and shows him beforehand that he must be
defeated. On receiving the envoy of the Emperor Alexander at
Wilna,[99] be says to him:

"Russia does not want this war; none of the European powers are in
favor of it; England herself does not want it, for she foresees the
harm it will do to Russia, and even, perhaps, the greatest. . . I know
as well as yourself, and perhaps even better, how many troops you
have. Your infantry in all amounts to 120,000 men and your cavalry to
about 60,000 or 70,000; I have three times as many. . . . The Emperor
Alexander is badly advised. How can he tolerate such vile people
around him - an Armfeld, an intriguing, depraved, rascally fellow, a
ruined debauchee, who is known only by his crimes and who is the enemy
of Russia; a Stein, driven from his country like an outcast, a
miscreant with a price on his head; a Bennigsen, who, it is said, has
some military talent, of which I know nothing, but whose hands are
steeped in blood?[100] . . . . Let him surround himself with the
Russians and I will say nothing. . . . Have you no Russian gentlemen
among you who are certainly more attached to him than these
mercenaries? Does he imagine that they are fond of him personally? Let
him put Armfeld in command in Finland and I have nothing to say; but
to have him about his person, for shame ! . . . . What a superb
perspective opened out to the Emperor Alexander at Tilsit, and
especially at Erfurt! . . . . He has spoilt the finest reign Russia
ever saw. . . . How can he admit to his society such men as a Stein,
an Armfeld, a Vinzingerode? Say to the Emperor Alexander, that as he
gathers around him my personal enemies it means a desire to insult me
personally, and, consequently, that I must do the same to him. I will
drive all his Baden, Wurtemburg, and Weimar relations out of Germany.
Let him provide a refuge for them in Russia!"

Note what he means by - personal insult[101], how he intends to avenge
himself by reprisals of the worst kind, to what excess he carries his
interference, how he enters the cabinets of foreign sovereigns,
forcibly entering and breaking, to drive out their councilors and
control their meetings: like the Roman senate with an Antiochus or a
Prusias, like an English Resident with the King of Oude or of Lahore.
With others as at home, he cannot help but act as a master. The
aspiration for universal dominion is in his very nature; it may be
modified, kept in check, but never can it be completely stifled."[102]

It declares itself on the organization of the Consulate. It explains
why the peace of Amiens could not last; apart from the diplomatic
discussions and behind his alleged grievances, his character, his
exactions, his avowed plans, and the use he intends making of his
forces form the real and true causes of the rupture. In
comprehensible sometimes even in explicit terms, he tells the English:
Expel the Bourbons from your island and close the mouths of your
journalists. If this is against your constitution so much the worse
for it, or so much the worse for you. "There are general principles
of international law to which the (special) laws of states must give
way."[103] Change your fundamental laws. Suppress the freedom of the
press and the right of asylum on your soil, the same as I have done.
"I have a very poor opinion of a government which is not strong enough
to interdict things objectionable to foreign governments."[104] As to
mine, my interference with my neighbors, my late acquisitions of
territory, that does not concern you: "I suppose that you want to talk
about Piedmont and Switzerland? These are trifles"[105] "Europe
recognizes that Holland, Italy, and Switzerland are at the disposition
of France.[106] On the other hand, Spain submits to me and through her
I hold Portugal. Thus, from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, from Lisbon to
Cadiz and Genoa, from Leghorn to Naples and to Tarentum, I can close
every port to you; no treaty of commerce between us. Any treaty that
I might grant to you would be trifling: for each million of
merchandise that you would send into France a million of French
merchandise would be exported;[107] in other words, you would be
subject to an open or concealed continental blockade, which would
cause you as much distress in peace as if you were at war." My eyes
are nevertheless fixed on Egypt; "six thousand Frenchmen would now
suffice to re-conquer it";[108] forcibly, or otherwise, I shall return
there; opportunities will not be lacking, and I shall be on the watch
for them; "sooner or later she will belong to France, either through
the dissolution of the Ottoman empire, or through some arrangement
with the Porte."[109] Evacuate Malta so that the Mediterranean may
become a French lake; I must rule on sea as on land, and dispose of
the Orient as of the Occident. In sum, "with my France, England must
naturally end in becoming simply an appendix: nature has made her one
of our islands, the same as Oleron or Corsica."[110] Naturally, with
such a perspective before them, the English keep Malta and recommence
the war. He has anticipated such an occurrence, and his resolution is
taken; at a glance, he perceives and measures the path this will open
to him; with his usual clear-sightedness he has comprehended, and he
announces that the English resistance "forces him to conquer Europe. .
. ."[111] - "The First Consul is only thirty-three and has thus far
destroyed only the second-class governments. Who knows how much time
he will require to again change the face of Europe and resurrect the
Western Roman Empire?"

To subjugate the Continent in order to form a coalition against
England, such, henceforth, are his means, which are as violent as the
end in view, while the means, like the end, are given by his
character. Too imperious and too impatient to wait or to manage
others, he is incapable of yielding to their will except through
constraint, and his collaborators are to him nothing more than
subjects under the name of allies. - Later, at St. Helena, with his
indestructible imaginative energy and power of illusion, he plays on
the public with his humanitarian illusions.[112] But, as he himself
avows, the accomplishment of his retrospective dream required
beforehand the entire submission of all Europe; a liberal sovereign
and pacificator, "a crowned Washington, yes," he used to say, "but I
could not reasonably attain this point, except through a universal
dictatorship, which I aimed at."[113] In vain does common sense
demonstrate to him that such an enterprise inevitably rallies the
Continent to the side of England, and that his means divert him from
the end. In vain is it repeatedly represented to him that he needs
one sure great ally on the Continent;[114] that to obtain this he must
conciliate Austria; that he must not drive her to despair, but rather
win her over and compensate her on the side of the Orient; place her
in permanent conflict with Russia, and attach her to the new French
Empire by a community of vital interests. In vain does he, after
Tilsit, make a bargain of this kind with Russia. This bargain cannot
hold, because in this arrangement Napoleon, as usual with him, always
encroaching, threatening, and attacking, wants to reduce Alexander to
the role of a subordinate and a dupe.[115] No clear-sighted witness
can doubt this. In 1809, a diplomat writes: "The French system, which
is now triumphant, is directed against the whole body of great
states,"[116] not alone against England, Prussia, and Austria, but
against Russia, against every power capable of maintaining its
independence; for, if she remains independent, she may become hostile,
and as a precautionary step Napoleon crushes in her a probable enemy.

All the more so because this course once entered upon he cannot stop;
at the same time his character and the situation in which he has
placed himself impels him on while his past hurries him along to his
future.[117] At the moment of the rupture of the treaty of Amiens he
is already so strong and so aggressive that his neighbors are obliged,
for their own security, to form an alliance with England; this leads
him to break down all the old monarchies that are still intact, to
conquer Naples, to mutilate Austria the first time, to dismember and
cut up Prussia, to mutilate Austria the second time, to manufacture
kingdoms for his brothers at Naples, in Holland and in Westphalia. --
At this same date, all the ports of his empire are closed against the
English, which leads him to close against them all the ports of the
Continent, to organize against them the continental blockade, to
proclaim against them an European crusade, to prevent the neutrality
of sovereigns like the Pope, of lukewarm subalterns like his brother
Louis, of doubtful collaborators or inadequate, like the Braganzas of
Portugal and the Bourbons of Spain, and therefore to get hold of
Portugal, Spain, the Pontifical States, and Holland, and next of the
Hanseatic towns and the duchy of Oldenburg, to extending along the
entire coast, from the mouths of the Cattaro and Trieste to Hamburg
and Dantzic, his cordon of military chiefs, prefects, and custom-
houses, a sort of net of which he draws the meshes tighter and tighter
every day, even stifling not alone his home consumer, but the producer
and the merchant.[118] - And all this sometimes by a simple decree,
with no other alleged motive than his interest, his convenience, or
his pleasure,[119] brusquely and arbitrarily, in violation of
international law, humanity, and hospitality. It would take volumes
to describe his abuses of power, the tissue of brutalities and
knaveries,[120] the oppression of the ally and despoiling of the
vanquished, the military brigandage exercised over populations in time
of war, and by the systematic exactions practiced on them in times of

Accordingly, after 1808, these populations rise against him. He has so
deeply injured them in their interests, and hurt their feelings to
such an extent,[122] he has so trodden them down, ransomed, and forced
them into his service. He has destroyed, apart from French lives, so
many Spanish, Italian, Austrian, Prussian, Swiss, Bavarian, Saxon, and
Dutch lives, he has slain so many men as enemies, he has enlisted such
numbers at home, and slain so many under his own banners as
auxiliaries, that nations are still more hostile to him than
sovereigns. Unquestionably, nobody can live together with such a
character; his genius is too vast, too baneful, and all the more
because it is so vast. War will last as long as he reigns; it is in
vain to reduce him, to confine him at home, to drive him back within
the ancient frontiers of France; no barrier will restrain him; no
treaty will bind him; peace with him will never be other than a truce;
he will use it simply to recover himself, and, as soon as he has done
this, he will begin again;[123] he is in his very essence anti-social.
The mind of Europe in this respect is made up definitely and
unshakably. One petty detail alone shows how unanimous and profound
this conviction was. On the 7th of March the news reached Vienna that
he had escaped from the island of Elba, without its being yet known
where he would land. M. de Metternich[124] brings the news to the
Emperor of Austria before eight o'clock in the morning, who says to
him, "Lose no time in finding the King of Prussia and the Emperor of
Russia, and tell them that I am ready to order my army to march at
once for France." At a quarter past eight M. de Metternich is with the
Czar, and at half-past eight, with the King of Prussia; both of them
reply instantly in the same manner. "At nine o'clock," says M. de
Metternich, "I was back. At ten o'clock aids flew in every direction
countermanding army orders. . . . Thus was war declared in less than
an hour."

VI. Fundamental Defaults of his System.

Inward principle of his outward deportment. - He subordinates the
State to him instead of subordinating himself to the State. - Effect
of this.- His work merely a life-interest. - It is ephemeral. -
Injurious. - The number of lives it cost. - The mutilation of France.
- Vice of construction in his European edifice. - Analogous vice in
his French edifice.

Other heads of states have similarly passed their lives in doing
violence to mankind; but it was for something that was likely to last,
and for a national interest. What they deemed the public good was not
a phantom of the brain, a chimerical poem due to a caprice of the
imagination, to personal passions, to their own peculiar ambition and
pride. Outside of themselves and the coinage of their brain a real
and substantial object of prime importance existed, namely, the State,
the great body of society, the vast organism which lasts indefinitely
through the long series of interlinked and responsible generations.
If they drew blood from the passing generation it was for the benefit
of coming generations, to preserve them from civil war or from foreign
domination.[125] They have acted generally like able surgeons, if not
through virtue, at least through dynastic sentiment and family
traditions; having practiced from father to son, they had acquired the
professional conscience; their first and only aim was the safety and
health of their patient. It is for this reason that they have not
recklessly undertaken extravagant, bloody, and over-risky operations;
rarely have they given way to temptation through a desire to display
their skill, through the need of dazzling and astonishing the world,
through the novelty, keenness, and success of their saws and scalpels.
They felt that a longer and superior existence to their own was
imposed upon them; they looked beyond them-selves as far as their
sight would reach, and so took measures that the State after them
might do without them, live on intact, remain independent, vigorous,
and respected athwart the vicissitudes of European conflict and the
uncertain problems of coming history. Such, under the ancient régime,
was what were called reasons of state; these had prevailed in the
councils of princes for eight hundred years; along with unavoidable
failures and after temporary deviations, these had become for the time
being and remained the preponderating motive. Undoubtedly they
excused or authorized many breaches of faith, many outrages, and, to
come to the word, many crimes; but, in the political order of things,
especially in the management of external affairs, they furnished a
governing and a salutary principle. Under its constant influence
thirty monarchs had labored, and it is thus that, province after
province, they had solidly and enduringly built up France, by ways and
means beyond the reach of individuals but available to the heads of

Now, this principle is lacking with their improvised successor. On
the throne as in the camp, whether general, consul, or emperor, he
remains the military adventurer, and cares only for his own
advancement. Owing to the great defect in the education of both
conscience and sentiments, instead of subordinating himself to the
State, he subordinates the State to him; he does not look beyond his
own brief physical existence to the nation which is to survive him.
Consequently, he sacrifices the future to the present, and his work is
not to be enduring. After him the deluge! Little does he care who
utters this terrible phrase; and worse still, he earnestly wishes,
from the bottom of his heart that everybody should utter it.

"My brother," said Joseph, in 1803,[126] "desires that the necessity
of his existence should be so strongly felt, and the benefit of this
considered so great, that nobody could look beyond it without
shuddering. He knows, and be feels it, that he reigns through this
idea rather than through force or gratitude. If to-morrow, or on any
day, it could be said, 'Here is a tranquil, established order of
things, here is a known successor; Bonaparte might die without fear of
change or disturbance,' my brother would no longer think himself
secure. . . . Such is the principle which governs him."

In vain do years glide by, never does he think of putting France in a
way to subsist without him; on the contrary, he jeopardizes lasting
acquisitions by exaggerated annexations, and it is evident from the
very first day that the Empire will end with the Emperor. In 1805,
the five per cents being at eighty francs, his Minister of the
Finances, Gaudin, observes to him that this is a reasonable rate.[127]
"No complaint can now be made, since these funds are an annuity on
Your Majesty's life." - "What do you mean by that?" - "I mean that the
Empire has become so great as to be ungovernable without you." - "If
my successor is a fool so much the worse for him!" - "Yes, but so much
the worse for France!" Two years later, M. de Metternich, by way of a
political summing up, expresses his general opinion: "It is remarkable
that Napoleon, constantly disturbing and modifying the relations of
all Europe, has not yet taken a single step toward ensuring the
maintenance of his successors."[128] In 1809, adds the same
diplomat:[129] "His death will be the signal for a new and frightful
upheaval; so many divided elements all tend to combine. Deposed
sovereigns will be recalled by former subjects; new princes will have
new crowns to defend. A veritable civil war will rage for half a
century over the vast empire of the continent the day when the arms of
iron which held the reins are turned into dust." In 1811, "everybody
is convinced[130] that on the disappearance of Napoleon, the master in
whose hands all power is concentrated, the first inevitable
consequence will be a revolution." At home, in France, at this same
date, his own servitors begin to comprehend that his empire is not
merely a life-interest and will not last after he is gone, but that
the Empire is ephemeral and will not last during his life; for he is
constantly raising his edifice higher and higher, while all that his
building gains in elevation it loses in stability. "The Emperor is
crazy," said Decrees to Marmont,[131]"completely crazy. He will ruin
us all, numerous as we are, and all will end in some frightful
catastrophe." In effect, he is pushing France on to the abyss,
forcibly and by deceiving her, through a breach of trust which
willfully, and by his fault, grows worse and worse just as his own
interests, as he comprehends these, diverge from those of the public
from year to year.

At the treaty of Luneville and before the rupture of the peace of
Amiens,[132] this variance was already considerable. It becomes
manifest at the treaty of Presbourg and still more evident at the
treaty of Tilsit. It is glaring in 1808, after the deposition of the
Spanish Bourbons; it becomes scandalous and monstrous in 1812, when
the war with Russia took place. Napoleon himself admits that this war
is against the interests of France and yet he undertakes it.[133]
Later, at St. Helena, he falls into a melting mood over "the French
people whom he loved so dearly."[134] The truth is, he loves it as a
rider loves his horse; as he makes it rear and prance and show off its
paces, when he flatters and caresses it; it is not for the advantage
of the animal but for his own purposes, on account of its usefulness
to him; to be spurred on until exhausted, to jump ditches growing
wider and wider, and leap fences growing higher and higher; one ditch
more, and still another fence, the last obstacle which seems to be the
last, succeeded by others, while, in any event, the horse remains
forcibly and for ever, what it already is, namely, a beast of burden
and broken down. - For, on this Russian expedition, instead of
frightful disasters, let us imagine a brilliant success, a victory at
Smolensk equal to that of Friedland, a treaty of Moscow more
advantageous than that of Tilsit, and the Czar brought to heel. As a
result the Czar is probably strangled or dethroned, a patriotic
insurrection will take place in Russia as in Spain, two lasting wars,
at the two extremities of the Continent, against religious fanaticism,
more irreconcilable than positive interests, and against a scattered
barbarism more indomitable than a concentrated civilization. At best,
a European empire secretly mined by European resistance; an exterior
France forcibly superposed on the enslaved Continent;[135] French
residents and commanders at St. Petersburg and Riga as at Dantzic,
Hamburg, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Trieste. Every able-bodied
Frenchman that can be employed from Cadiz to Moscow in maintaining and
administering the conquest. All the able-bodied youth annually seized
by the conscription, and, if they have escaped this, seized again by
decrees.[136] The entire male population thus devoted to works of
constraint, nothing else in prospect for either the cultivated or the
uncultivated, no military or civil career other than a prolonged guard
duty, threatened and threatening, as soldier, customs-inspector, or
gendarme, as prefect, sub-prefect, or commissioner of police, that is
to say, as subaltern henchman and bully restraining subjects and
raising contributions, confiscating and burning merchandise, seizing
grumblers, and making the refractory toe the mark.[137] In 1810, one
hundred and sixty thousand of the refractory were already condemned by
name, and, moreover, penalties were imposed on their families to the
amount of one hundred and seventy millions of francs In 1811 and 1812
the roving columns which tracked fugitives gathered sixty thousand of
them, and drove them along the coast from the Adour to the Niemen; on
reaching the frontier, they were en-rolled in the grand army; but they
desert the very first month, they and their chained companions, at the
rate of four or five thousand a day.[138] Should England be conquered,
garrisons would have to be maintained there, and of soldiers equally
zealous. Such is the dark future which this system opens to the
French, even with the best of good luck. It turns out that the luck
is bad, and at the end of 1812 the grand army is freezing in the snow;
Napoleon's horse has let him tumble. Fortunately, the animal has
simply foundered; "His Majesty's health was never better";[139]
nothing has happened to the rider; he gets up on his legs, and what
concerns him at this moment is not the sufferings of his broken-down
steed, but his own mishap; his reputation as a horseman is
compromised; the effect on the public, the hooting of the audience, is
what troubles him, the comedy of a perilous leap, announced with such
a flourish of trumpets and ending in such a disgraceful fall. On
reaching Warsaw[140] he says to himself, ten times over:

"There is only a step from the sublime to the ridiculous."

The following year, at Dresden, he exposes still more foolishly,
openly, and nakedly his master passion, the motives which determine
him, the immensity and ferocity of his pitiless pride.

"What do they want of me?" said he to M. de Metternich.[141] " Do
they want me to dishonor myself? Never! I can die, but never will I
yield an inch of territory! Your sovereigns, born to the throne, may
be beaten twenty times over and yet return to their capitals: I cannot
do this, because I am a parvenu soldier. My domination will not
survive the day when I shall have ceased to be strong, and,
consequently, feared."

In effect, his despotism in France is founded on his European
omnipotence; if he does not remain master of the Continent," he must
settle with the corps législatif.[142] Rather than descend to an
inferior position, rather than be a constitutional monarch, controlled
by parliamentary chambers, he plays double or quits, and will risk
losing everything.

"I have seen your soldiers," says Metternich to him, "they are
children. When this army of boys is gone, what will you do then?"

At these words, which touch his heart, he grows pale, his features
contract, and his rage overcomes him; like a wounded man who has made
a false step and exposes himself, he says violently to Metternich:

"You are not a soldier You do not know the impulses of a soldier's
breast! I have grown up on the battle-field, and a man like me does
not give a damn for the lives of a million men! "[143]

His imperial pipe-dreams has devoured many more. Between 1804 and
1815 he has had slaughtered 1,700,000 Frenchmen, born within the
boundaries of ancient France,[144] to which must be added, probably,
2,000,000 men born outside of these limits, and slain for him, under
the title of allies, or slain by him under the title of enemies. All
that the poor, enthusiastic, and credulous Gauls have gained by
entrusting their public welfare to him is two invasions; all that he
bequeaths to them as a reward for their devotion, after this
prodigious waste of their blood and the blood of others, is a France
shorn of fifteen departments acquired by the republic, deprived of
Savoy, of the left bank of the Rhine and of Belgium, despoiled of the
northeast angle by which it completed its boundaries, fortified its
most vulnerable point, and, using the words of Vauban, "made its field
square," separated from 4,000,000 new Frenchmen which it had
assimilated after twenty years of life in common, and, worse still,
thrown back within the frontiers of 1789, alone, diminished in the
midst of its aggrandized neighbors, suspected by all Europe, and
lastingly surrounded by a threatening circle of distrust and rancor.

Such is the political work of Napoleon, the work of egoism served by
genius. In his European structure as in his French structure this
sovereign egoism has introduced a vice of construction. This
fundamental vice is manifest at the outset in the European edifice,
and, at the expiration of fifteen years, it brings about a sudden
downfall: in the French edifice it is equally serious but not so
apparent; only at the end of half a century, or even a whole century,
is it to be made clearly visible; but its gradual and slow effects
will be equally pernicious and they are no less sure.



[1] See my "Philosophy of Art" for texts and facts, Part II., ch. VI.
- Other analogies, which are too long for development here, may be
found, especially in all that concerns the imagination and love. "He
was disposed to accept the marvelous, presentiments, and even certain
mysterious communications between beings. . . . I have seen him
excited by the rustling of the wind, speak enthusiastically of the
roar of the sea, and sometimes inclined to believe in nocturnal
apparitions; in short, leaning to certain superstitions." (Madame de
Rémusat, I., 102, and III., 164.) - Meneval (III., 114) notes his
"crossing himself involuntarily on the occurrence of some great
danger, on the discovery of some important fact." During the
consulate, in the evening, in a circle of ladies, he sometimes
improvised and declaimed tragic "tales," Italian fashion, quite worthy
of the story-tellers of the XVth and XVIth centuries. (Bourrienne,
VI., 387, gives one of his improvisations. Cf. Madame de Rémusat, I.,
102.) - As to love, his letters to Josephine during the Italian
campaign form one of the best examples of Italian passion and "in most
piquant contrast with the temperate and graceful elegance of his
predecessor M. de Beauharnais." (Madame de Rémusat, I., 143). - His
other amours, simply physical, are too difficult to deal with; I have
gathered some details orally on this subject which are almost from
first hands and perfectly authentic. It is sufficient to cite one
text already published: "According to Josephine, he had no moral
principle whatever; did he not seduce his sisters one after the other?
" - "I am not a man like other men, he said of himself, "and moral
laws and those of propriety do not apply to me." (Madame de Rémusat,
I., 204, 206.) - Note again (II., 350) his proposals to Corvisart. -
Such are everywhere the sentiments, customs, and morality of the great
Italian personages of about the year 1500.

[2] De Pradt, "Histoire de l'ambassade dans le grand-duché de
Varsovie," p.96. "with the Emperor, desire springs out of his
imagination; his idea becomes passion the moment it comes into his

[3] Bourrienne, II., 298. - De Ségur, I., 426.

[4] Bodin, "Recherches sur l'Anjou," II., 325. - " Souvenirs d'un
nonagénaire," by Besnard. - Sainte-Beuve, "Causeries du Lundi,"
article on Volney. - Miot de Melito, I., 297. He wanted to adopt
Louis's son, and make him King of Italy. Louis refused, alleging that
this marked favor would give new life to the reports spread about at
one time in relation to this child." Thereupon, Napoleon, exasperated,
"seized Prince Louis by the waist and pushed him violently out of the
room." - " Mémorial," Oct.10, 1816. Napoleon relates that at the last
conference of Campo-Fermio, to put an end to the resistance of the
Austrian plenipotentiary, he suddenly arose, seized a set of porcelain
on a stand near him and dashed it to the floor, exclaiming, "Thus will
I shatter your monarchy before a month is over!" (Bourrienne questions
this story.)

[5] Varnhagen von Ense, "Ausgewahlte Schriften," III., 77 (Public
reception of July 22, 1810). Napoleon first speaks to the Austrian
Ambassador and next to the Russian Ambassador with a constrained air,
forcing himself to be polite, in which he cannot persist. "Treating
with I do not know what unknown personage, he interrogated him,
reprimanded him, threatened him, and kept him for a sufficiently long
time in a state of painful dismay. Those who stood near by and who
could not help feeling a dismayed, stated later that there had been
nothing to provoke such fury, that the Emperor had only sought an
opportunity to vent his ill-humor; that he did it purposely on some
poor devil so as to inspire fear in others and to put down in advance
any tendency to opposition. Cf. Beugnot, "Mémoires," I., 380, 386,
387. - This mixture of anger and calculation likewise explains his
conduct at Sainte Helena with Sir Hudson Lowe, his unbridled diatribes
and insults bestowed on the governor like so many slaps in the face.
(W. Forsyth, "History of the Captivity of Napoleon at Saint Helena,
from the letters and journals of Sir Hudson Lowe," III., 306.)

[6] Madame de Rémusat, II., 46.

[7] "Les Cahiers de Coignat." 191. "At Posen, already, I saw him
mount his horse in such a fury as to land on the other side and then
give his groom a cut of the whip."

[8] Madame de Rémusat, I., 222.

[9] Especially the letters addressed to Cardinal Consalvi and to the
Préfet of Montenotte (I am indebted to M. d'Haussonville for this
information). - Besides, he is lavish of the same expressions in
conversation. On a tour through Normandy, he sends for the bishop of
Séez and thus publicly addresses him: "Instead of merging the parties,
you distinguish between constitutionalists and non-constitutionalists.
Miserable fool! You are a poor subject, - hand in your resignation at
once!" - To the grand-vicars he says, "Which of you governs your
bishop - who is at best a fool? " - As M. Legallois is pointed out to
him, who had of late been absent. "Fuck, where were you then?" "With
my family." "With a bishop who is merely a damned fool, why are you so
often away, etc.?" (D'Haussonville,VI., 176, and Roederer, vol. III.)

[10] Madame de Rémusat - I., 101; II., 338.

[11] Ibid., I., 224. - M. de Meneval, I., 112, 347; III., 120: " On
account of the extraordinary event of his marriage, he sent a
handwritten letter to his future father-in-law (the Emperor of
Austria). It was a grand affair for him. Finally, after a great
effort, he succeeded in penning a letter that was readable." -
Meneval, nevertheless, was obliged "to correct the defective letters
without letting the corrections be too plainly seen."

[12] For example, at Bayonne and at Warsaw (De Pradt); the outrageous
and never-to-be forgotten scene which, on his return from Spain,
occurred with Talleyrand - ("Souvenirs", by PASQUIER Etienne-Dennis,
duc, Chancelier de France. Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. I., 357); -
The gratuitous insult of M. de Metternich, in 1813, the last word of
their interview ("Souvenirs du feu duc de Broglie," I., 230) . - Cf.
his not less gratuitous and hazardous confidential communications to
Miot de Melito, in 1797, and his five conversations with Sir Hudson
Lowe, immediately recorded by a witness, Major Gorrequer. (W. Forsyth,
I.,147, 161, 200.)

[13] De Pradt, preface X

[14] Pelet de la Lozére, p. 7. - Mollien, "Mémoires," II., 222. -
"Souvenirs du feu duc de Broglie," I., 66, 69.

[15] "Madame de Rémusat," I., 121: I have it from Corvisart that the
pulsations of his arteries are fewer than is usual with men. He never
experienced what is commonly called giddiness." With him, the nervous
apparatus is perfect in all its functions, incomparable for receiving,
recording, registering, combining, and reflecting, but other organs
suffer a reaction and are very sensitive." (De Ségur, VI., 15 and 16,
note of Drs. Yvan and Mestivier, his physicians.) "To preserve the
equilibrium it was necessary with him that the skin should always
fulfill its functions; as soon as the tissues were affected by any
moral or atmospheric cause . . . . irritation, cough, ischuria." Hence
his need of frequent prolonged and very hot baths. "The spasm was
generally shared by the stomach and the bladder. If in the stomach,
he had a nervous cough which exhausted his moral and physical
energies." Such was the case between the eve of the battle of Moscow
and the morning after his entry into Moscow: "a constant dry cough,
difficult and intermittent breathing; the pulse sluggish, weak, and
irregular; the urine thick and sedimentary, drop by drop and painful;
the lower part of the legs and the feet extremely oedematous."
Already, in 1806, at Warsaw, "after violent convulsions in the
stomach," he declared to the Count de Loban, "that he bore within him
the germs of a premature death, and that he would die of the same
disease as his father's." (De Ségur,VI., 82.) After the victory of
Dresden, having eaten a ragout containing garlic, he is seized with
such violent gripings as to make him think he was poisoned, and he
makes a retrograde movement, which causes the loss of Vandamme's
division, and, consequently, the ruin of 1813. "Souvenirs", by
Pasquier, Etienne-Dennis, duc, chancelier de France. Librarie Plon,
Paris 1893, (narrative of Daru, an eye-witness.) - This susceptibility
of the nerves and stomach is hereditary with him and shows itself in
early youth. "One day, at Brienne, obliged to drop on his knees, as a
punishment, on the sill of the refectory, he is seized with sudden
vomiting and a violent nervous attack." De Segur, I., 71. - It is
well known that he died of a cancer in the stomach, like his father
Charles Bonaparte. His grandfather Joseph Bonaparte, his uncle Fesch,
his brother Lucien, and his sister Caroline died of the same, or of an
analogous disease.

[16] Meneval, I., 269. Constant, "Mémoires," V., 62. De Ségur, VI.,
114, 117.

[17] Marshal Marmont, "Mémoires," I., 306. Bourrienne, II., 119:
"When off the political field he was sensitive, kind, open to pity."

[18] Pelet de la Lozére, p.7. De Champagny, " Souvenirs," p.103. At
first, the emotion was much stronger. "He had the fatal news for
nearly three hours; he had given vent to his despair alone by himself.
He summoned me . . . . plaintive cries involuntarily escaped him."

[19] Madame de Rémusat, I., 121, 342 ; II., 50 ; III., 61, 294, 312.

[20] De Ségur, V., 348.

[21] Yung, II., 329, 331. (Narrated by Lucien, and report to Louis

[22] "Nouvelle relation de l'Itinéraire de Napoléon, de Fontainebleau
à l'Ile de l'Elbe," by Count Waldberg-Truchsees, Prussian commissioner
(1885), pp.22, 24, 25, 26, 30, 32, 34, 37. - The violent scenes,
probably, of the abdication and the attempt at Fontainebleau to poison
himself had already disturbed his balance. On reaching Elba, he says
to the Austrian commissioner, Koller, "As to you, my dear general, I
have let you see my bare rump." - Cf. in "Madame de Rémusat," I., 108,
one of his confessions to Talleyrand: he crudely points out in himself
the distance between natural instinct and studied courage. - Here and
elsewhere, we obtain a glimpse of the actor and even of the Italian
buffoon; M. de Pradt called him "Jupiter Scapin." Read his
reflections before M. de Pradt, on his return from Russia, in which he
appears in the light of a comedian who, having played badly and failed
in his part, retires behind the scenes, runs down the piece, and
criticize the imperfections of the audience. (De Pradt, p.219.)

[23] The reader may find his comprehension of the author's meaning
strengthened by the following translation of a passage from his essay
on Jouffroy (Philosophes classiques du XIXth Siécle," 3rd ed.):

"What is a man, master of himself? He is one who, dying with thirst,
refrains from swallowing a cooling draft, merely moistening his lips:
who insulted in public, remains calm in calculating his most
appropriate revenge; who in battle, his nerves excited by a charge,
plans a difficult maneuver, thinks it out, and writes it down with a
lead-pencil while balls are whistling around him, and sends it to his
colonels. In other words, it is a man in whom the deliberate and
abstract idea of the greatest good is stronger than all other ideas
and sensations. The conception of the greatest good once attained,
every dislike, every species of indolence, every fear, every
seduction, every agitation, are found weak. The tendency which arise
from the idea of the greatest good constantly dominates all others and
determines all actions." TR.

[24] Bourrienne, I. 21.

[25] Yung, 1., 125.

[26] Madame de Rémusat, I., 267. - Yung, II., 109. On his return to
Corsica he takes upon himself the government of the whole family.
"Nobody could discuss with him, says his brother Lucien; he took
offence at the slightest observation and got in a passion at the
slightest resistance. Joseph (the eldest) dared not even reply to his

[27] Mémorial, August 27-31, 1815.

[28] "Madame de Rémusat," I., 105. - Never was there an abler and more
persevering sophist, more persuasive, more eloquent, in order to make
it appear that he was right. Hence his dictations at St. Helena; his
proclamations, messages, and diplomatic correspondence; his ascendancy
in talking as great as through his arms, over his subject and over his
adversaries; also his posthumous ascendancy over posterity. He is as
great a lawyer as he is a captain and administrator. The peculiarity
of this disposition is never submitting to truth, but always to speak
or write with reference to an audience, to plead a cause. Through
this talent one creates phantoms which dupe the audience; on the other
hand, as the author himself forms part of the audience, he ends in not
along leading others into error but likewise himself, which is the
case with Napoleon.

[29] Yung, II., 111. (Report by Volney, Corsican commissioner, 1791.
- II., 287. (Mémorial, giving a true account of the political and
military state of Corsica in December, 1790.) - II., 270. (Dispatch of
the representative Lacombe Saint-Michel, Sept. 10, 1793.) - Miot de
Melito I.,131, and following pages. (He is peace commissioner in
Corsica in 1797 and 1801.)

[30] Miot de Melito, II., 2. "The partisans of the First consul's
family . . . regarded me simply as the instrument of their passions,
of use only to rid them of their enemies, so as to center all favors
on their protégés."

[31] Yung., I., 220. (Manifest of October -31, 1789.) - I., 265.
(Loan on the seminary funds obtained by force, June 23, 1790.) - I.,
267, 269. (Arrest of M. de la Jaille and other officers; plan for
taking the citadel of Ajaccio.) - II., 115. (letter to Paoli, February
17, 1792.) "Laws are like the statues of certain divinities - veiled
on certain occasions." - II., 125. (Election of Bonaparte as
lieutenant-colonel of a battalion of volunteers, April1, 1792.) The
evening before he had Murati, one of the three departmental
commissioners, carried off by an armed band from the house of the
Peraldi, his adversaries, where he lodged. Murati, seized unawares,
is brought back by force and locked up in Bonaparte's house, who
gravely says to him "I wanted you to be free, entirely at liberty;
you were not so with the Peraldi." - His Corsican biographer (Nasica,
"Mémoires sur la jeunesse et l'enfance de Napoléon,") considers this a
very praiseworthy action

[32] Cf. on this point, the Memoirs of Marshal Marmont, I., 180, 196;
the Memoirs of Stendhal, on Napoleon; the Report of d'Antraigues
(Yung, III., 170, 171); the "Mercure Britannique" of Mallet-Dupan, and
the first chapter of "La Chartreuse de Parme," by Stendhal.

[33] "Correspondance de Napoléon," I. (Letter of Napoleon to the
Directory, April 26, 1796.) - Proclamation of the same date: "You have
made forced marches barefoot, bivouacked without brandy, and often
without bread."

[34] Stendhal, "Vie de Napoléon," p. 151. "The commonest officers were
crazy with delight at having white linen and fine new boots. All were
fond of music; many walked a league in the rain to secure a seat in
the La Scala Theatre. . . . In the sad plight in which the army found
itself before Castiglione and Arcole, everybody, except the knowing
officers, was disposed to attempt the impossible so as not to quit
Italy." - " Marmont," I., 296: "We were all of us very young, . . .
all aglow with strength and health, and enthusiastic for glory. . . .
This variety of our occupations and pleasures, this excessive
employment of body and mind gave value to existence, and made time
pass with extraordinary rapidity."

[35] "Correspondance de Napoléon," I. Proclamation of March 27, 1796:
' Soldiers, you are naked and poorly fed. The government is vastly
indebted to you; it has nothing to give you. . . . I am going to lead
you to the most fertile plains in the world; rich provinces, large
cities will be in your power; you will then obtain honor, glory, and
wealth." - Proclamation of April 26, 1796: - "Friends, I guarantee
that conquest to you!" - Cf. in Marmont's memoirs the way in which
Bonaparte plays the part of tempter in offering Marmont, who refuses,
an opportunity to rob a treasury chest.

[36] Miot de Melito, I., 154. (June, 1797, in the gardens of
Montebello.) "Such are substantially the most remarkable expressions
in this long discourse which I have recorded and preserved."

[37] Miot de Melito, I. 184. (Conversation with Bonaparte, November
18, 1797, at Turin.) "I remained an hour with the general tête-à-tête.
I shall relate the conversation exactly as it occurred, according to
my notes, made at the time."

[38] Mathieu Dumas, " Mémoires," III., 156. "It is certain that he
thought of it from this moment and seriously studied the obstacles,
means, and chances of success." (Mathieu Dumas cites the testimony of
Desaix, who was engaged in the enterprise): "It seems that all was
ready, when Bonaparte judged that things were not yet ripe, nor the
means sufficient." - Hence his departure. "He wanted to get out of
the way of the rule and caprices of these contemptible dictators,
while the latter wanted to get rid of him because his military fame
and influence in the army were obnoxious to them.

[39] Larevellière-Lepaux (one of the five directors on duty),
"Mémoires," II., 340. "All that is truly grand in this enterprise, as
well as all that is bold and extravagant, either in its conception or
execution, belongs wholly to Bonaparte. The idea of it never occurred
to the Directory nor to any of its members. . . . His ambition and his
pride could not endure the alternative of no longer being prominent or
of accepting a post which, however eminent, would have always
subjected him to the orders of the Directory."

[40] Madame de Rémusat, I., 142. "Josephine laid great stress on the
Egyptian expedition as the cause of his change of temper and of the
daily despotism which made her suffer so much."- "Mes souvenirs sur
Napoleon," 325 by the count Chaptal. (Bonaparte's own words to the
poet Lemercier who might have accompanied him to the Middle East and
there would have learned many things about human nature): "You would
have seen a country where the sovereign takes no account of the lives
of his subjects, and where the subject himself takes no account of his
own life. You would have got rid of your philanthropic 'notions."

[41] Roederer, III., 461 (Jan. 12, 1803)

[42] Cf. "The Revolution," Vol. p. 773. (Note I., on the situation, in
1806, of the Conventionalists who had survived the revolution.) For
instance, Fouché is minister; Jeanbon-Saint-André, prefect; Drouet (de
Varennes), sub-prefect; Chépy (of Grenoble), commissary-general of the
police at Brest; 131 regicides are functionaries, among whom we find
twenty one prefects and forty-two magistrates. - Occasionally, a
chance document that has been preserved allows one to catch "the man
in the act." ("Bulletins hebdomadaires de la censure, 1810 and 1814,"
published by M. Thurot, in the Revue Critique, 1871): "Seizure of 240
copies of an indecent work printed for account of M. Palloy, the
author. This Palloy enjoyed some celebrity during the Revolution,
being one of the famous patriots of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. The
constituent Assembly had conceded to him the ownership of the site of
the Bastille, of which he distributed its stones among all the
communes. He is a bon vivant, who took it into his head to write out
in a very bad style the filthy story of his amours with a prostitute
of the Palais-Royal. He was quite willing that the book should be
seized on condition that he might retain a few copies of his jovial
production. He professes high admiration for, and strong attachment
to His Majesty's person, and expresses his sentiments piquantly, in
the style of 1789."

[43] Mémorial," June 12, 1816.

[44] Mathieu Dumas, III., 363 (July 4, 1809, a few days before
Wagram). - Madame de Rémusat," I., 105: "I have never heard him
express any admiration or comprehension of a noble action." - I., 179:
On Augustus's clemency and his saying, "Let us be friends, Cinna," the
following is his interpretation of it: "I understand this action
simply as the feint of a tyrant, and approve as calculation what I
find puerile as sentiment."- "Notes par le Comte Chaptal": "He
believed neither in virtue nor in probity, often calling these two
words nothing but abstractions; this is what rendered him so
distrustful and so immoral. . . . He never experienced a generous
sentiment; this is why he was so cold in company, and why he never had
a friend. He regarded men as so much counterfeit coin or as mere

[45] M. de Metternich, "Mémoires," I., 241. - "Madame de Rémusat," I.,
93: "That man has been so harmful (si assommateur de toute vertu...)
to all virtue." - Madame de Staël, "Considerations sur la Revolution
Française, " 4th part, ch. 18. (Napoleon's conduct with M. de Melzi,
to destroy him in public opinion in Milan, in 1805.)

[46] Madame de Rémusat, I., 106; II., 247, 336: "His means for
governing man were all derived from those which tend to debase him. .
. . He tolerated virtue only when he could cover it with ridicule."

[47] Nearly all his false calculations are due to this defect,
combined with an excess of constructive imagination. - Cf. De Pradt,
p.94: "The Emperor is all system, all illusion, as one cannot fail to
be when one is all imagination. Whoever has watched his course has
noticed his creating for himself an imaginary Spain, an imaginary
Catholicism, an imaginary England, an imaginary financial state, an
imaginary noblesse, and still more an imaginary France, and, in late
times, an imaginary congress."

[48] Roederer, III., 495. (March 8, 1804.)

[49] Ibid., III., 537 (February 11, 1809.)

[50] Roederer, III., 514. (November 4, 1804.)

[51] Marmont, II., 242.

[52] Correspondance de Napoléon," I. (Letter to Prince Eugéne, April
14, 1806.)

[53] M. de Metternich, I., 284.

[54] Mollien, III., 427.

[55] "Notes par le Comte Chaptal": During the Consulate, "his opinion
not being yet formed on many points, he allowed discussion and it was
then possible to enlighten him and enforce an opinion once expressed
in his presence. But, from the moment that he possessed ideas of his
own, either true or false, on administrative subjects, he consulted no
one; . . . he treated everybody who differed from him in opinion
contemptuously, tried to make them appear ridiculous, and often
exclaimed, giving his forehead a slap, that here was an instrument far
more useful than the counsels of men who were commonly supposed to be
instructed and experienced. . . For four years, he sought to gather
around him the able men of both parties. After this, the choice of
his agents began to be indifferent to him. Regarding himself as strong
enough to rule and carry on the administration himself, the talents
and character of those who stood in his way were discarded. What he
wanted was valets and not councillors. . . The ministers were simply
head-clerks of the bureaus. The Council of State served only to give
form to the decrees emanating from him; he ruled even in petty
details. Everybody around him was timid and passive; his will was
regarded as that of an oracle and executed without reflection. . . .
Self-isolated from other men, having concentrated in his own hands all
powers and all action, thoroughly convinced that another's light and
experience could be of no use to him, he thought that arms and hands
were all that he required."

[56] "Souvenirs", by Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de
France. In VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. Vol I. chap. IX.
and X. pp. 225-268. (Admirable portraiture of his principal agents,
Cambacérès, Talleyrand, Maret, Cretet, Real, etc.) Lacuée, director of
the conscription, is a perfect type of the imperial functionary.
Having received the broad ribbon of the Legion d'Honneur, he
exclaimed, at the height of his enthusiasm: "what will not France
become under such a man? To what degree of happiness and glory will it
not ascend, always provided the conscription furnishes him with
200,000 men a year! And, indeed, that will not be difficult,
considering the extent of the empire." - And likewise with Merlin de
Douai: "I never knew a man less endowed with the sentiment of the just
and the unjust; everything seems to him right and good, as the
consequences of a legal text. He was even endowed with a kind of
satanic smile which involuntarily rose to his lips . . . every time
the opportunity occurred, when, in applying his odious science, he
reached the conclusion that severity is necessary or some
condemnation." The same with Defermon, in fiscal matters

[57] Madame de Rémusat, II., 278; II., 175.

[58] Ibid., III., 275, II., 45. (Apropos of Savary, his most intimate
agent.): "He is a man who must be constantly corrupted."

[59] Ibid., I., 109; II., 247; III., 366.

[60] "Madame de Rémusat," II., 142, 167, 245. (Napoleon's own words.)
"If I ordered Savary to rid himself of his wife and children, I am
sure he would not hesitate." - Marmont, II., 194: "We were at Vienna
in 1809. Davoust said, speaking of his own and Maret's devotion: "If
the Emperor should say to us both, 'My political interests require the
destruction of Paris without any one escaping,' Maret would keep the
secret, I am sure; but nevertheless he could not help letting it be
known by getting his own family out. I, rather than reveal it1 would
leave my wife and children there." (These are bravado expressions,
wordy exaggerations, but significant.)

[61] Madame de Rémusat, II., 379.

[62] Souvenirs du feu duc de Broglie," I., 230. (Words of Maret, at
Dresden, in 1813; he probably repeats one of Napoleon's figures.)

[63] Mollien, II., 9.

[64] D'Haussonville, "L'Église Romaine et le premier Empire,"VI., 190,
and passim.

[65] Ibid., III., 460-473. - Cf. on the same scene, "Souvenirs", by
Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), Chancelier de France. (He was both
witness and actor.)

[66] An expression of Cambacérès. M. de Lavalette, II., 154.

[67] Madame de Rémusat, III. 184

[68] "Souvenirs", by Pasquier, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893.-, I., 521.
Details of the manufacture of counterfeit money, by order of Savary,
in an isolated building on the plain of Montrouge. - Metternich, II.,
358. (Words of Napoleon to M. de Metternich): "I had 300 millions of
banknotes of the Bank of Vienna all ready and was going to flood you
with them." Ibid., Correspondence of M. de Metternich with M. de
Champagny on this subject (June, 1810).

[69] "Souvenirs", by Pasquier, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. - Vol. II.
p. 196.

[70] Madame de Rémusat, II., 335.

[71] Madame de Rémusat, I., 231.

[72] Ibid., 335.

[73] M. de Metternich, I., 284. "One of those to whom he seemed the
most attached was Duroc. 'He loves me the same as a dog loves his
master,' is the phrase he made use of in speaking of him to me. He
compared Berthier's sentiment for his person to that of a child's
nurse. Far from being opposed to his theory of the motives
influencing men these sentiments were its natural consequence whenever
he came across sentiments to which he could not apply the theory of
calculation based on cold interest, he sought the cause of it in a
kind of instinct."

[74] Beugnot, "Mémoires," II., 59.

[75] "Mémorial." "If I had returned victorious from Moscow, I would
have brought the Pope not to regret temporal power: I would have
converted him into an idol. . . I would have directed the religious
world as well as the political world. . . My councils would have
represented Christianity, and the Pope would have only been president
of them."

[76] De Ségur, III., 312. (In Spain, 1809.)

[77] "Mémoires du Prince Eugène." (Letters of Napoleon, August, 1806.)

[78] Letter of Napoleon to Fouché, March 3, 1810. (Left out in the
"Correspondance de Napoléon I.," and published by M. Thiers in
"Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire, XII., p. 115.

[79] De Ségur, III., 459.

[80] Words of Napoleon to Marmont, who, after three months in the
hospital, returns to him in Spain with a broken arm and his hand in a
black sling: "You hold on to that rag then?" Sainte-Beuve, who loves
the truth as it really is, quotes the words as they came, which
Marmont dared not reproduce. (Causeries du Lundi, VI., 16.) -
"Souvenirs", by Pasquier, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893: "M. de Champagny
having been dismissed and replaced, a courageous friend defended him
and insisted on his merit: "You are right," said the Emperor, "he had
some when I took him; but by cramming him too full, I have made him

[81] Beugnot, I., 456, 464

[82] Mme. de Rémusat, II., 272.

[83] M. de Champagny, "Souvenirs," 117.

[84] Madame de Rémusat, I., 125.

[85] De Ségur, III., 456.

[86] "The Ancient Regime," p. 125. - "Œuvres de Louis XIV.," 191:
"If there is any peculiar characteristic of this monarchy, it is the
free and easy access of the subjects to the king; it an egalité de
justice between both, and which, so to say, maintains both in a genial
and honest companionship, in spite of the almost infinite distance in
birth, rank, and power. This agreeable society, which enables persons
of the Court to associate familiarly with us, impresses them and

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