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Title: Napoleon - A Sketch of his Life, Character, Struggles, and Achievements
Author: Watson, Thomas E.
Language: English
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[Illustration: _Napoleon._

_From a portrait by Lassalle._]


  A Sketch of





  New York

  _All rights reserved_

  COPYRIGHT, 1902,

Set up and electrotyped February, 1902. Reprinted May, 1902; January,

  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
  Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


  Georgia Durham Watson


In this volume the author has made the effort to portray Napoleon as he
appears to an average man. Archives have not been rummaged, new sources
of information have not been discovered; the author merely claims to
have used such authorities, old and new, as are accessible to any
diligent student. No attempt has been made to give a full and detailed
account of Napoleon’s life or work. To do so would have required the
labor of a decade, and the result would be almost a library. The
author _has_ tried to give to the great Corsican his proper historical
position, his true rating as a man and a ruler,--together with a just
estimate of his achievements.

  Dec. 24, 1901.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
        I. CORSICA                                                     1

       II. BOYHOOD                                                    17

      III. LIEUTENANT                                                 37

       IV. REVOLUTION                                                 47

        V. RETURNS HOME                                               58

       VI. FIRST SERVICE                                              70

      VII. AT MARSEILLES                                              86

     VIII. 13TH OF VENDÉMIAIRE                                        94

       IX. THE YOUNG REPUBLIC                                        115

        X. JOSEPHINE                                                 123

       XI. THE ARMY OF ITALY                                         135

      XII. MILAN                                                     148

     XIII. MANTUA                                                    159

      XIV. CAMPO FORMIO                                              175

       XV. JOSEPHINE AT MILAN                                        188

      XVI. EGYPT                                                     196

     XVII. THE SIEGE OF ACRE                                         211

    XVIII. THE RETURN TO FRANCE                                      221

      XIX. THE REMOVAL OF THE COUNCILS                               230

       XX. THE FALL OF THE DIRECTORY                                 242

      XXI. FIRST CONSUL                                              256

     XXII. MARENGO                                                   275

    XXIII. THE CODE NAPOLÉON                                         294

     XXIV. PLOT AND CONSPIRACY                                       310

      XXV. EMPEROR                                                   329

     XXVI. DISTRIBUTION OF HONORS                                    349

    XXVII. JENA                                                      355

   XXVIII. ENTRY INTO BERLIN                                         363

     XXIX. WARSAW                                                    372

      XXX. HABITS AND CHARACTERISTICS                                386

     XXXI. HIGH-WATER MARK                                           412

    XXXII. SPAIN                                                     425

   XXXIII. WAGRAM                                                    435

    XXXIV. THE DIVORCE                                               450

     XXXV. MOSCOW                                                    470

    XXXVI. THE RETREAT                                               491

   XXXVII. IN PARIS AGAIN                                            502

  XXXVIII. METTERNICH                                                514

    XXXIX. DRESDEN AND LEIPSIC                                       523

       XL. RETREAT FROM LEIPSIC                                      543

      XLI. THE FRANKFORT PROPOSALS                                   557

     XLII. THE FALL OF PARIS                                         571

    XLIII. ELBA                                                      583

     XLIV. ELBA                                                      598

      XLV. LOUIS XVIII                                               612

     XLVI. THE RETURN FROM ELBA                                      628

    XLVII. REORGANIZATION                                            635

   XLVIII. WATERLOO                                                  647

     XLIX. WATERLOO                                                  657

        L. ST. HELENA                                                672

       LI. ST. HELENA                                                687

  INDEX                                                              705


  NAPOLEON. From a portrait by Lassalle                   _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE
  NAPOLEON. From an engraving by Tomkins of a drawing from life
    during the campaign in Italy                                      70

    facsimile                                                         80

  NAPOLEON. From a print in the collection of Mr. W. C. Crane.
    The original engraving by G. Fiesinger, after a miniature
    by Jean-Baptiste-Paulin Guérin. Deposited in the National
    Library, Paris, 1799                                             136


  JOSEPHINE IN 1800. From a pastel by P. P. Prud’hon                 188

  NAPOLEON. From the painting by Paul Delaroche entitled “General
    Buonaparte crossing the Alps”                                    200

    J. B. Isabey                                                     256

  JOSEPHINE IN 1809. From a water-color by Isabey                    338

  MARIA LOUISA. From the portrait by Gérard in the Louvre            460

    1814. In facsimile                                               562

  THE KING OF ROME. From the painting by Sir T. Lawrence             690



Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, has an extreme width of
52 miles and length of 116. It is within easy reach of Italy, France,
Spain, Sardinia, and the African coast. Within 54 miles lies Tuscany,
while Genoa is distant but 98, and the French coast at Nice is 106.
Across the island strides a chain of mountains, dividing it into two
nearly equal parts. The slopes of the hills are covered with dense
forests of gigantic pines and chestnuts, and on their summits rests
eternal snow. Down from these highlands rapid streams run to the sea.
There are many beautiful valleys and many fine bays and harbors.

The population of the island was, in the eighteenth century, about
130,000. The Italian type predominated. In religion it was Roman

The history of Corsica has been wonderfully dramatic. Peopled
originally by the Celts, perhaps, the island has been so often
war-swept, so often borne down under the rush of stronger nations,
that the native race almost disappeared. The Greeks from Asia Minor,
back in the dim ages, seized upon a part of the coast and colonized
it. Carthage, in her day of greatness, was its mistress; and then
came Rome, whose long period of supremacy left its stamp upon the
people, bringing as it did multitudes of Italians, with their language,
customs, and religion.

After the day of Rome came Germans, Byzantine Greeks, Moors, Goths,
Vandals, and Longobards. For centuries the island was torn by incessant
war, the Corsicans doing their utmost to keep themselves free from
foreign masters. The feudal system was fastened upon the struggling
people by the chiefs of the invaders. The crags were crowned with
castles, and half-savage feudal lords ruled by the law of their own
fierce lusts. They waged war upon each other, they ground down the
native races. Unable to defend themselves, miserably poor, but full of
desperate courage, the Corsicans fled from the coasts to escape the
pirate, and to the mountains to resist the feudal robber. In their
distress the peasants found a leader in Sambuccio, who organized them
into village communities,--a democratic, self-ruling confederation.
There were no serfs, no slaves, in Corsica; freedom and equality the
people claimed and fought for; and under Sambuccio they totally routed
the barons.

The great leader died; the barons took up arms again; the peasants
appealed to the margrave of Tuscany for aid; an army came from Italy,
the barons were beaten, and the village confederation restored. From
A.D. 1020 to A.D. 1070, Tuscany protected the Corsicans; but the popes,
having looked upon the land with eyes of desire, claimed it for the
Church, and, through skilful manipulations (such as are common in
cases of that kind), the people were persuaded to submit. In the year
1098 Pope Urban II. sold the island to Pisa, and for one hundred years
Corsica remained under the dominion of that republic.

Genoa, however, envied Pisa this increase of territory, claimed the
island for herself, and backed her claim by arms. Corsica was rent by
the struggle, and the Corsicans themselves were divided into hostile
camps, one favoring Pisa, the other Genoa.

The leader of the Pisan faction, Guidice della Rocca, kept up, for
many years, an unequal struggle, showing wonderful courage, fertility
of resource, rigorous justice, and rare clemency. He killed his own
nephew for having outraged a female prisoner for whose safety he, Della
Rocca, had given his word. Old and blind, this hero was betrayed by his
bastard son, delivered to the Genoese, and died in a wretched Genoese
dungeon; and with his downfall passed away the Pisan sovereignty.

A period of anarchy followed the death of Della Rocca. The barons were
unmerciful in their extortions, and the people were reduced to extreme
misery. After many years appeared another valiant patriot of the Rocca
race, Arrigo della Rocca (1392). He raised the standard of revolt, and
the people rallied to him. He beat the Genoese, was proclaimed Count of
Corsica, and ruled the land for four years. Defeated at length by the
Genoese, he went to Spain to ask aid. Returning with a small force, he
routed his enemies and became again master of the island. Genoa sent
another army, Arrigo della Rocca was poisoned (1401), and in the same
year Genoa submitted to France.

Corsica kept up the struggle for independence. Vincentello, nephew
of Arrigo della Rocca, was made Count of Corsica, and for two years
maintained a gallant contest. Genoa poured in more troops, and the
resistance was crushed. Vincentello left the island. Soon returning
with help from Aragon, he reconquered the county with the exception of
the strongholds of Calvi and Bonifaccio. Inspired by the success of
Vincentello, the young king of Aragon, Alfonso, came in person with
large forces to complete the conquest. Calvi was taken, but Bonifaccio
resisted all efforts. The place was strongly Genoese, and for months
the endurance of its defenders was desperately heroic. Women and
children and priests joined with those who manned the walls, and all
fought together. Spanish courage was balked, Spanish pride humbled, and
Alfonso sailed away. Vincentello, bereft of allies, lost ground. He
gave his own cause a death-blow by abusing a girl whose kinsmen rose to
avenge the wrong. The guilty man and indomitable patriot determined to
seek aid once more in Spain; but Genoa captured him at sea, and struck
off his head on the steps of her ducal palace (1434).

Then came anarchy in Corsica again. The barons fought, the peasants
suffered. Law was dead. Only the dreaded vendetta ruled--the law of
private vengeance. So harried were the people by continued feuds,
rival contentions, and miscellaneous tumult, that they met in general
assembly and decided to put themselves under the protection of the
bank of St. George of Genoa. The bank agreed to receive this singular
deposit (1453). The Corsican nobles resisted the bank, and terrible
scenes followed. Many a proud baron had his head struck off, many of
them left the country. Aragon favored the nobles, and they came back to
renew the fight, defeat the forces of the bank, and reconquer most of
the island.

In 1464 Francesco Sforza of Milan took Genoa, and claimed Corsica as
a part of his conquest. The islanders preferred Milan to Genoa, and
but for an accidental brawl, peaceful terms might have been arranged.
But the brawl occurred, and there was no peace. Years of war, rapine,
and universal wretchedness followed. Out of the murk appears a valiant
figure, Giampolo, taking up with marvellous tenacity and fortitude the
old fight of Corsica against oppression. After every defeat, he rose to
fight again. He never left the field till Corsican rivalry weakened and
ruined him. Then, defiant to the last, he went the way of the outlaw to
die in exile.

Renuccio della Rocca’s defection had caused Giampolo to fail. After a
while Rocca himself led the revolt against Genoa, and was overthrown.
He left the island, but came again, and yet again, to renew the
hopeless combat. Finally his own peasants killed him to put an end
to the miserable war, there being no other method of turning the
indomitable man (1511).

Resistance over, the bank of Genoa governed the island. The barons
were broken, their castles fell to ruin. The common people kept up
their local home-rule, enjoyed a share in the government, and were in
a position much better than that of the common people in other parts
of Europe. But the bank was not satisfied to let matters rest there; a
harsh spirit soon became apparent; and the privileges which the people
had enjoyed were suppressed.

Against this tyranny rose now the strongest leader the Corsicans had
yet found, Sampiero. Humbly born, this man had in his youth sought
adventures in foreign lands. He had served the House of Medici, and in
Florence became known for the loftiness and energy of his character.
Afterward he served King Francis I., of France, by whom he was made
colonel of the Corsican regiment which he had formed. Bayard was his
friend, and Charles of Bourbon said of him, “In the day of battle the
Corsican colonel is worth ten thousand men”; just as another great
warrior, Archduke Charles of Austria, said of another great Corsican,
serving then in France (1814), “Napoleon himself is equal to one
hundred thousand men.”

In 1547 Sampiero went back to Corsica to select a wife. So well
established was his renown that he was given the only daughter of the
Lord of Ornano, the beautiful Vannina. The bank of Genoa, alarmed by
the presence of such a man in the island, threw him into prison. His
father-in-law, Francesco Ornano, secured his release.

Genoa, since her delivery from French dominion by Andrea Doria, was in
league with the Emperor of Germany, with whom the French king and the
Turks were at war. Hence it was that Sampiero could induce France and
her allies to attack the Genoese in Corsica. In 1553 came Sampiero, the
French, and the Turks; and all Corsica, save Calvi and Bonifaccio, fell
into the hands of the invaders. Bonifaccio was besieged in vain, until,
by a stratagem, it was taken. Then the Turks, indignant that Sampiero
would not allow them to plunder the city and put all the Genoese to the
sword, abandoned the cause, and sailed away. Calvi still held out. The
Emperor sent an army of Germans and Spaniards; Cosmo de Medici also
sent troops; Andrea Doria took command, and the French were everywhere
beaten. Sampiero quarrelled with the incapable French commander, went
to France to defend himself from false reports, made good his purpose,
then returned to the island, where he became the lion of the struggle.
He beat the enemy in two pitched battles, and kept up a successful
contest for six years. Then came a crushing blow. By the treaty of
Cambray, France agreed with Spain that Corsica should be given back to

Under this terrible disaster, Sampiero did not despair. Forced to leave
the island, he wandered from court to court on the continent, seeking
aid. For four years he went this dreary round,--to France, to Navarre,
to Florence. He even went to Algiers and to Constantinople. During this
interval it was that Genoa deceived and entrapped Vannina, the wife
of the hero. She left her home and put herself in the hands of his
enemies. One of Sampiero’s relatives was fool enough to say to him, “I
had long expected this.”--“And you concealed it!” cried Sampiero in a
fury, striking his relative to the heart with a dagger. Vannina was
pursued and caught, Sampiero killed her with his own hand.

Failing in his efforts to obtain foreign help, the hero came back to
Corsica to make the fight alone (1564). With desperate courage he
marched from one small victory to another until Genoa was thoroughly
aroused. An army of German and Italian mercenaries was sent over,
and the command given to an able general, Stephen Doria. The war
assumed the most sanguinary character. Genoa seemed bent on utterly
exterminating the Corsicans and laying waste the entire country.
Sampiero rose to the crisis; and while he continued to beseech France
for aid, he continued to fight with savage ferocity. He beat Doria
in several encounters, and finally, in the pass of Luminada, almost
annihilated the enemy. Doria, in despair, left the island, and Sampiero
remained master of the field. With his pitifully small forces he had
foiled the Spanish fleet, fifteen thousand Spanish soldiers, and an
army of mercenaries; and had in succession beaten the best generals
Genoa could send. All this he had done with half-starved, half-armed
peasants, whose only strength lay in the inspiration of their
patriotism and the unconquerable spirit of their leader. Few stronger
men have lived and loved, hoped and dared, fought and suffered, than
this half-savage hero of Corsica. With all the world against him
Sampiero fought without fear, as another great Corsican was to do.

In open fight he was not to be crushed: on this his enemies were
agreed, therefore treachery was tried. Genoa bribed some of the
Corsican chiefs; Vannina’s cousins were roused to seek revenge;
Vittolo, a trusted lieutenant, turned against his chief; and a monk,
whom Sampiero could not suspect, joined the conspirators. The monk
delivered forged letters to Sampiero, which led him to the ambuscade
where his foes lay in wait. He fought like the lion he was. Wounded in
the face, he wiped the blood out of his eyes with one hand while his
sword was wielded by the other. Vittolo shot him in the back, and the
Ornanos rushed upon the dying man, and cut off his head (1567).

The fall of Sampiero created intense satisfaction in Genoa, where there
were bell-ringings and illuminations. In Corsica it aroused the people
to renewed exertions; but the effort was fitful, for the leader was
dead. In a great meeting at Orezzo, where three thousand patriots wept
for the lost hero, they chose his son Alfonso their commander-in-chief.

After a struggle of two years, in which the youth bore himself bravely,
he made peace and left the country. Accompanied by many companions
in arms, he went to France, formed his followers into a Corsican
regiment, of which Charles the Ninth appointed him colonel. Other
Corsicans, taking refuge in Rome, formed themselves into the Pope’s
Corsican guard.

Thrown back into the power of Genoa, Corsica suffered all the ills of
the oppressed. Wasted by war, famine, plague, misgovernment, a more
wretched land was not to be found. Deprived of its privileges, drained
of its resources, ravaged by Turks and pillaged by Christians, it bled
also from family feuds. The courts being corrupt, the vendetta raged
with fury. In many parts of the country, agriculture and peaceful
pursuits were abandoned. And this frightful condition prevailed for
half a century.

The Genoese administration became ever more unbearable. A tax of twelve
dollars was laid on every hearth. The governors of the island were
invested with the power to condemn to death without legal forms or

One day, a poor old man of Bustancio went to the Genoese collector
to pay his tax. His money was a little short of the amount due--a
penny or so. The official refused to receive what was offered, and
threatened to punish the old man if he did not pay the full amount.
The ancient citizen went away grumbling. To his neighbors, as he met
them, he told his trouble. He complained and wept. They sympathized and
wept. Frenzied by his own wrongs, the old man began to denounce the
Genoese generally,--their tyranny, cruelty, insolence, and oppression.
Crowds gathered, the excitement grew, insurrectionary feelings spread
throughout the land. Soon the alarm bells were rung, and the war
trumpet sounded from mountain to mountain. This was in October, 1729.

A war of forty years ensued. Genoa hired a large body of Germans from
the Emperor, and eight thousand of these mercenaries landed in Corsica.
At first they beat the ill-armed islanders, who marched to battle bare
of feet and head. But in 1732 the Germans were almost destroyed in the
battle of Calenzala. Genoa called on the Emperor for more hirelings.
They were sent; but before any decisive action had taken place, there
arrived orders from the Emperor to make peace. Corsica had appealed
to him against Genoa, and he had decided that the Corsicans had been
wronged. Corsica submitted to Genoa, but her ancient privileges were
restored, taxes were remitted, and other reforms promised.

No sooner had the Germans left the island than Genoese and Corsicans
fell to fighting again. Under Hyacinth Paoli and Giafferi, the brave
islanders defeated the Genoese, at all points; and Corsica, for the
moment, stood redeemed.

In 1735 the people held a great meeting at Corte and proclaimed their
independence. A government was organized, and the people were declared
to be the only source of the laws.

Genoa exerted all her power to put down the revolt. The island was
blockaded, troops poured in, the best generals were sent. The situation
of the Corsicans was desperate. They stood in need of almost everything
requisite to their defence, except brave men. The blockade cut off any
hope of getting aid from abroad. English sympathizers sent two vessels
laden with supplies, and keen was the joy of the poor islanders. With
the munitions thus obtained they stormed and took Alesia.

But their distress was soon extreme again, and the struggle hopeless.
At this, the darkest hour, came a very curious episode. A German
adventurer, Theodore de Neuhoff, a baron of Westphalia, entering the
port with a single ship, under the British flag, offered himself to the
Corsicans as their king. Promises of the most exhilarating description
he made as to the men, money, munitions of war he could bring to
Corsican relief. Easily believing what was so much to their interest,
and perhaps attaching too much importance to the three English ships
which had recently brought them supplies, the Corsican chiefs actually
accepted Neuhoff for their king.

The compact between King Theodore and the Corsicans was gravely reduced
to writing, signed, sealed, sworn to, and delivered. Then they all
went into the church, held solemn religious services, and crowned
Theodore with a circlet of oak and laurel leaves. Theodore took himself
seriously, went to work with zeal, appointed high dignitaries of the
crown, organized a court, created an order of knighthood, and acted as
if he were a king indeed. He marched against the oppressors, fought
like a madman, gained some advantages, and began to make the situation
look gloomy to the Genoese.

Resorting to a detestable plan, they turned loose upon the island a
band of fifteen hundred bandits, galley-slaves, and outlaws. These
villains made havoc wherever they went. In the meantime, the Corsican
chiefs began to be impatient about the succors which Theodore had
promised. Evasions and fresh assurances answered for a while, but
finally matters reached a crisis. Theodore was told, with more or less
pointedness, that either the succors must come or that he must go. To
avoid a storm, he went, saying that he would soon return with the
promised relief. Paoli and the other Corsican chiefs realized that in
catching at the straw this adventurer had held out to them, they had
made themselves and Corsica ridiculous. They accordingly laid heavy
blame on Theodore.

Cardinal Fleury, a good old Christian man, who was at this time (1737)
minister of France, came forward with a proposition to interfere in
behalf of Genoa, and reduce the Corsicans to submission. Accordingly
French troops were landed (1738), and the islanders rose _en masse_ to
resist. Bonfires blazed, bells clanged, war trumpets brayed. The whole
population ran to arms. The French were in no haste to fight, and for
six months negotiations dragged along. Strange to say, the Corsicans,
in their misery, gave hostages to the French, and agreed to trust
their cause to the king of France. At this stage who should enter but
Theodore! The indefatigable man had ransacked Europe, hunting sympathy
for Corsica, and had found it where Americans found it in a similar
hour of need--in Holland. He had managed to bring with him several
vessels laden with cannon, small arms, powder, lead, lances, flints,
bombs, and grenades. The Corsican people received him with delight,
and carried him in triumph to Cervione, where he had been crowned; but
the chiefs bore him no good-will, and told him that circumstances had
changed. Terms must be made with France; Corsica could not at this time
accept him as king--oaths, religious services, and written contract to
the contrary notwithstanding. Theodore sadly sailed away.

The appeal to the French king resulted in the treaty of Versailles,
by whose terms some concessions were made to the Corsicans, who were
positively commanded to lay down their arms and submit to Genoa.
Corsica resisted, but was overcome by France. In 1741 the French
withdrew from the island, and almost immediately war again raged
between Corsican and Genoese.

In 1748 King Theodore reappeared, bringing munitions of war which
the island greatly needed. He seems to have succeeded in getting the
Corsicans to accept his supplies, but they showed no inclination to
accept himself. Once again he departed--to return no more. The gallant,
generous adventurer went to London, where his creditors threw him into
prison. The minister, Walpole, opened a subscription which secured his
release. He died in England, and was buried in St. Anne’s churchyard,
London, December, 1756.

Peace was concluded between Genoa and Corsica, whose privileges were
restored. For two years quiet reigned. Family feuds then broke out, and
the island was thrown into confusion. Following this came a general
rising against the Genoese, in which the English and Sardinians aided
the Corsicans. Genoa applied to France, which sent an army. Dismayed
by the appearance of the French, the island came to terms. Cursay, the
commander of the French, secured for the unfortunate people the most
favorable treaty they had ever obtained. Dissatisfied with Cursay, the
Genoese prevailed on France to recall him. Whereupon the Corsicans rose
in arms, Gaffori being their chief. He displayed the genius and the
courage of Sampiero, met with the success of the earlier hero, and like
him fell by treachery. Enticed into an ambuscade, Gaffori was slain
by Corsicans, his own brother being one of the assassins. The fall
of the leader did not dismay the people. They chose other leaders,
and continued the fight. Finally, in July, 1755, the celebrated
Paschal Paoli was chosen commander-in-chief. At this time he was but
twenty-four years old. Well educated, mild, firm, clear-headed, and
well balanced, he was very much more of a statesman than a warrior. His
first measure, full of wisdom, was the abolition of the vendetta.

Mainly by the help of his brother Clemens, Paoli crushed a rival
Corsican, Matra, and established himself firmly as ruler of the island.
Under his administration it flourished and attracted the admiring
attention of all European liberals. Genoa, quite exhausted, appealed
to France, but was given little help. As a last resort, treachery was
tried: Corsican was set against Corsican. The Matra family was resorted
to, and brothers of him who had led the first revolt against Paoli took
the field at the head of Genoese troops. They were defeated.

Genoa again turned to France, and on August 6, 1764, was signed an
agreement by which Corsica was ceded to France for four years. French
garrisons took possession of the few places which Genoa still held.
During the four years Choiseul, the French minister, prepared the way
for the annexation of Corsica to France. As ever before, there were
Corsicans who could be used against Corsica. Buttafuoco, a noble of
the island, professed himself a convert to the policy of annexation.
He became Choiseul’s apostle for the conversion of others. So adroitly
did he work with bribes and other inducements, that Corsica was soon
divided against herself. A large party declared in favor of the
incorporation of the island with France. In 1768 the Genoese realized
that their dominion was gone. A bargain was made between two corrupt
and despotic powers by which the one sold to the other an island it
did not own, a people it could not conquer,--an island and a people
whose government was at that moment a model of wisdom, justice, and
enlightened progress. Alone of all the people of Europe, Corsica
enjoyed self-government, political and civil freedom, righteous laws,
and honest administration. Commerce, agriculture, manufactures, had
sprung into new life under Paoli’s guidance, schools had been founded,
religious toleration decreed, liberty of speech and conscience
proclaimed. After ages of combat against awful odds, the heroic people
had won freedom, and, by the manner in which it was used, proved that
they had deserved to win it. Such were the people who were bargained
for and bought by Choiseul, the minister of France, at and for the sum
of $400,000. The Bourbons had lost to England an empire beyond seas--by
this act of perfidy and brutality they hoped to recover some of their
lost grandeur.

Terrible passions raged in Corsica when this infamous bargain became
known. The people flew to arms, and their wrongs sent a throb of
sympathy far into many lands. But France sent troops by the tens of
thousands; and while the Corsicans accomplished wonders, they could not
beat foes who outnumbered them so heavily. Paoli was a faithful chief,
vigilant and brave, but he was no Sampiero. His forces were crushed at
Ponte Nuovo on June 12, 1769, and Corsica laid down her arms. The long
chapter was ended, and one more wrong triumphant.

Chief among the painful features of the drama was that Buttafuoco and a
few other Corsicans took service with France, and made war upon their
own people.

Paoli with a band of devoted supporters left the island. From Leghorn,
through Germany and Holland, his journey was a triumphal progress.
Acclaimed by the liberals, honors were showered upon him by the towns
through which he passed; and in England, where he made his home, he was
welcomed by the people and pensioned by the government.

The French organized their administration without difficulty. The
Buttafuoco element basked in the warmth of success and patronage.
For a while all was serene. Later on the French grip tightened, the
Corsican time-honored privileges were set aside, the old democracy
was no longer the support of a government which relied more and more
on French soldiers. Power, taken from the village communities, was
placed entirely in the hands of a military governor and a council of
twelve nobles. Frenchmen filled all the important offices. The seat of
government was moved from Corte to Bastia and Ajaccio. The discontent
which these changes caused broke into open rebellion. The French
crushed it with savage cruelty. After that Corsica was a conquered
land, which offered no further resistance; but whose people, excepting
always those who had taken part with France, nursed intensely bitter
feelings against their conquerors.

Of this fiery, war-worn, deeply wronged people, Napoleon Bonaparte was
born; and it must be remembered that before his eyes opened to the
light his mother had thrilled with all the passions of her people, her
feet had followed the march, her ears had heard the roar of battle. As
Dumas finely says, “The new-born child breathed air that was hot with
civil hates, and the bell which sounded his baptism still quivered with
the tocsin.”


“From St. Charles Street you enter on a very small square. An elm tree
stands before a yellowish gray plastered house, with a flat roof and
a projecting balcony. It has six front windows in each of its three
stories, and the doors look old and time-worn. On the corner of this
house is an inscription, _Letitia Square_. The traveller knocks in vain
at the door. No voice answers.”

Such is the picture, drawn in 1852, of the Bonaparte mansion in
Ajaccio. Few tourists go to see it, for Corsica lies not in the direct
routes of the world’s trade or travel. Yet it is a house whose story
is more fascinating, more marvellous, than that of any building which
cumbers the earth this day.

We shut our eyes, and we see a picture which is richer than the richest
page torn from romance. We see a lean, sallow, awkward, stunted lad
step forth from the door of the old house and go forth into the world,
with no money in his pocket, and no powerful friends to lift him over
the rough places. He is only nine years old when he leaves home, and
we see him weep bitterly as he bids his mother good-by. We see him at
school in France, isolated, wretched, unable at first to speak the
language, fiercely resenting the slights put upon his poverty, his
ignorance, his family, his country--suffering, but never subdued. We
see him rise against troubles as the eagle breasts the storm. We see
him lay the better half of the civilized world at his feet. We see him
bring sisters and brothers from the island home, and put crowns on
their heads. We see him shower millions upon his mother; and we hear
him say to his brother on the day he dons the robes of empire, “Joseph,
suppose father were here--!”

As long as time shall last, the inspiration of the poor and the
ambitious will be the Ajaccio lawyer’s son: not Alexander, the born
king; not Cæsar, the patrician; but Napoleon, the moneyless lad from
despised Corsica, who stormed the high places of the world, and by his
own colossal strength of character, genius, and industry took them!

As long as time shall last his name will inspire not only the
individual, but the masses also. Wherever a people have heard enough,
read enough, thought enough to feel that absolutism in king or priest
is wrong; that special privilege in clan or clique is wrong; that
monopoly of power, patronage, wealth, or opportunity is wrong, there
the name of Napoleon will be spoken with reverence, despot though he
became, for in his innermost fibre he was a man of the people, crushing
to atoms feudalism, caste, divine right, and hereditary imposture.

       *       *       *       *       *

As early as the year 947 there had been Bonapartes in Corsica, for
the name of one occurs as witness to a deed in that year. There were
also Bonapartes in Italy; and men of that name were classed with the
nobles of Bologna, Treviso, and Florence. It is said that during the
civil wars of Italy, members of the Bonaparte family took refuge in
Corsica, and that Napoleon’s origin can be traced to this source. It is
certain that the Bonapartes of Corsica continued to claim kindred with
the Italian family, and to class themselves as patricians of Italy;
and both these claims were recognized. In Corsica they ranked with the
nobility, a family of importance at Ajaccio.

At the time of the French invasion the representatives of the family
were Lucien, archdeacon of Ajaccio, and Charles Bonaparte, a young man
who had been left an orphan at the age of fourteen.

Born in 1746, Charles Bonaparte married, in 1764, Letitia Ramolino,
a Corsican girl of fifteen. She was of good family, and she brought
to her husband a dowry at least equal to his own estate. Beautiful,
high-spirited, and intelligent, Madame Letitia knew nothing of books,
knew little of the manners of polite society, and was more of the proud
peasant than of the grand lady. She did not know how to add up a column
of figures; but time was to prove that she possessed judgment, common
sense, inflexible courage, great loftiness and energy of character.
Misfortune did not break her spirit, and prosperity did not turn her
head. She was frugal, industrious, strong physically and mentally,
“with a man’s head on a woman’s shoulders,” as Napoleon said of her.

Charles Bonaparte was studying law in Italy when the war between France
and Corsica broke out. At the call of Paoli, the student dropped
his books and came home to join in the struggle. He was active and
efficient, one of Paoli’s trusted lieutenants. After the battle of
Ponte Nuovo, realizing that all was lost, he gave in his submission
(May 23, 1769) to the French, and returned to Ajaccio.

The policy of the French was to conciliate the leading Corsicans, and
special attention seems to have been given to Charles Bonaparte. His
mansion in Ajaccio, noted for its hospitality, became the favorite
resort of General Marbeuf, the bachelor French governor of the
island. With an ease which as some have thought indicated suppleness
or weakness of character, Bonaparte the patriot became Bonaparte the
courtier. He may have convinced himself that incorporation with France
was best for Corsica, and that his course in making the most out of the
new order of things was wisdom consistent with patriotism.

Resistance to France having been crushed, the policy of conciliation
inaugurated, and the Corsicans encouraged to take part in the
management of their own affairs, subject to France, one might hesitate
before condemning the course of Charles Bonaparte in Corsica, just as
we may hesitate between the policies of Kossuth and Déak in Hungary,
or of Kosciusko and Czartoryski in Poland. We may, and do, admire the
patriot who resists to the death; and, at the same time, respect the
citizen who fights till conquered, and then makes the best of a bad

In 1765 Madame Letitia Bonaparte gave birth to her first child; in
1767, to her second, both of whom died while infants. In 1768 was born
Joseph, and on August 15, 1769, Napoleon.[1]

    [1] During the period of this pregnancy, Corsica was in
        the storm of war; and Madame Bonaparte, following her
        husband, was in the midst of the sufferings, terrors, and
        brutalities which such a war creates. The air was still
        electrical with the hot passions of deadly strife when the
        young wife’s time came. On the 15th of August, 1769, Madame
        Bonaparte, a devout Catholic, attended service at the
        church; but feeling labor approaching, hastened home, and
        was barely able to reach her room before she was delivered
        of Napoleon on a rug upon the floor.

        The authority for this statement is Madame Bonaparte herself,
        who gave that account of the matter to the Permons in Paris,
        on the 18th of Brumaire, the day on which the son thus born
        was struggling for supreme power in France.

        The story which represents the greatest of men and warriors
        as having come into the world upon a piece of carpet,
        or tapestry, upon which the heroes of the “Iliad” were
        represented, is a fable, according to the express statement
        made by Madame Bonaparte to the American General Lee, in
        Rome, in 1830.

Other children came to the Bonapartes in the years following, the
survivors of these being: Elisa, Lucien, Louis, Pauline, Caroline, and
Jerome. To support this large family, and to live in the hospitable
fashion which custom required of a man of his rank, Charles Bonaparte
found a difficult matter, especially as he was a pleasure-loving,
extravagant man whose idea of work seemed to be that of a born
courtier. He returned to Italy after the peace; spent much of his
patrimony there; made the reputation of a sociable, intelligent,
easy-going gentleman; and took his degree of Doctor of Laws, at Pisa,
in November, 1769.

It was his misfortune to be cumbered with a mortgaged estate and a
hereditary lawsuit. Whatever surplus the mortgage failed to devour
was swallowed by the lawsuit. His father had expensively chased this
rainbow, pushed this hopeless attempt to get justice; and the steps of
the father were followed by the son. It was the old story of a sinner,
sick and therefore repentant; a priest holding the keys to heaven and
requiring payment in advance; a craven surrender of estate to purchase
the promise of salvation. Thus the Jesuits got Bonaparte houses and
lands, in violation of the terms of an ancestor’s will, the lawsuit
being the effort of the legal heirs to make good the testament of the
original owner.

In spite of all they could do, the Bonapartes were never able to
recover the property.

Charles Bonaparte, a man of handsome face and figure, seems to have
had a talent for making friends, for he was made assessor to the
highest court of Ajaccio, a member of the council of Corsican nobles,
and later, the representative of these nobles to France. With the
slender income from his wife’s estate and that from his own, aided by
his official earnings, he maintained his family fairly well; but his
pretensions and expenditures were so far beyond what he was really able
to afford that, financially, he was never at ease.

It was the familiar misery of the gentleman who strives to gratify a
rich man’s tastes with a poor man’s purse. There was his large stone
mansion, his landed estate, his aristocratic associates, his patent of
nobility signed by the Duke of Florence; and yet there was not enough
money in the house to school the children.

The widowed mother of Madame Letitia had married a second husband,
Fesch, a Swiss ex-captain of the Genoese service, and by this marriage
she had a son, Joseph Fesch, known to Napoleonic chronicles as “Uncle
Fesch.” This eleven-year-old uncle taught the young Napoleon the

In his sixth year Napoleon was sent to a dame’s school. For one of the
little girls at this school the lad showed such a fondness that he was
laughed at, and rhymed at, by the other boys.

    _Napoleon di mezza calzetta
    Fa l’armore a Giacominetta._[2]

        [2]Napoleon with his stockings half off
           Makes love to Giacominetta.

The jeers and the rhyme Napoleon answered with sticks and stones.

It is not very apparent that he learned anything here, for we are told
that it was the Abbé Recco who taught him to read; and it was this
Abbé whom Napoleon remembered in his will. As to little Giacominetta,
Napoleonic chronicles lose her completely, and she takes her place
among the “dream children” of very primitive poesy.

Just what sort of a boy Napoleon was at this early period, it is next
to impossible to say. Perhaps he did not differ greatly from other
boys of his own age. Probably he was more fractious, less inclined to
boyish sports, quicker to quarrel and fight. But had he never become
famous, his youthful symptoms would never have been thought to indicate
anything uncommon either for good or evil.

At St. Helena, the weary captive amused himself by picturing the young
Napoleon as the bad boy of the town. He quarrelled, he fought, he bit
and scratched, he terrorized his brothers and sisters, and so forth. It
may be true, it may not be; his mother is reported as saying that he
was a “perfect imp of a child,” but the authority is doubtful.

The Bonaparte family usually spent the summer at a small country-seat
called Milleli. Its grounds were beautiful, and there was a glorious
view of the sea. A large granite rock with a natural cavity, or grotto,
offered a cool, quiet retreat; and this is said to have been Napoleon’s
favorite resort. In after years he improved the spot, built a small
summer-house there, and used it for study and meditation.

It is natural to suppose that Napoleon as a child absorbed a good deal
of Corsican sentiment. His wet-nurse was a Corsican peasant, and from
her, his parents, his playmates, and his school companions he probably
heard the story of Corsica, her wrongs, her struggles, and her heroes.
Della Rocca, Sampiero, Gaffori, and Paoli were names familiar to his
ears. At a very early age he had all the passions of the Corsican
patriot. The French were masters, but they were hated. While the
Bonapartes had accepted the situation, they may not have loved it.
The very servants in the house vented their curses on “those dogs of

General Marbeuf, the warm friend of the family, encouraged Charles
Bonaparte to make the attempt to have the children educated at the
expense of France. In 1776 written application was made for the
admission of Joseph and Napoleon into the military school of Brienne.
At that time both the boys were on the safe side of the age-limit of
ten years. But the authorities demanded proofs of nobility,--four
generations thereof,--according to Bourbon law; and before these proofs
could be put into satisfactory shape, Joseph was too old for Brienne.

Chosen in 1777 by the nobles of Corsica as their deputy to France,
Charles Bonaparte set out for Versailles in 1778, taking with him his
sons Joseph and Napoleon. Joseph Fesch accompanied the party as far as
Aix, where he was to be given a free education for the priesthood by
the seminary at that place. Joseph and Napoleon both stated in after
years that their father visited Florence on the way to France, and was
given an honorable reception at the ducal court.

The Bishop of Autun, nephew of General Marbeuf, had been interested
in behalf of the Bonapartes; and it was at his school that Joseph was
to be educated for the Church. Napoleon was also placed there till he
could learn French enough for Brienne. On January 1, 1779, therefore,
he began his studies.

The Abbé Chardon, who was his teacher, says that he was a boy of
thoughtful and gloomy character. “He had no playmate and walked about
by himself.” Very naturally. He was a stranger to all the boys, he was
in a strange country, he could not at first speak the language, he
could not understand those who did speak it--how was the homesick lad
to be sociable and gay under such conditions? Besides, he was Corsican,
a despised representative of a conquered race. And the French boys
taunted him about it. One day, according to the teacher, the boys threw
at him the insult that “the Corsicans were a lot of cowards.” Napoleon
flashed out of his reserve and replied, “Had you been but four to one
you would never have conquered us, but you were ten to one.” To pacify
him the teacher remarked, “But you had a good general--Paoli.”--“Yes,”
answered the lad of ten, “and I would like to resemble him.”

According to the school register and to Napoleon’s own record, he
remained at Autun till the 12th of May, 1779. He had learned “enough
French to converse freely, and to make little themes and translations.”

In the meantime, Charles Bonaparte had been attending his king, the
young Louis XVI., at Versailles. Courtier in France as in Ajaccio, the
adroit lawyer had pleased. A bounty from the royal purse swelled the
pay of the Corsican delegates, a reward for “their excellent behavior”;
and for once Charles Bonaparte was moderately supplied with funds.

On May 19, 1779, Napoleon entered the college of Brienne. Its teachers
were incompetent monks. The pupils were mainly aristocratic French
scions of the privileged nobility, proud, idle, extravagant, vicious.
Most of these young men looked down upon Napoleon with scorn. In him
met almost every element necessary to stir their dislike, provoke
their ridicule, or excite their anger. In person he was pitifully thin
and short, with lank hair and awkward manners; his speech was broken
French, mispronounced and ungrammatical; it was obvious that he was
poor; he was a Corsican; and instead of being humble and submissive, he
was proud and defiant. During the five years Napoleon spent here he was
isolated, moody, tortured by his own discontent, and the cruelty of his
position. He studied diligently those branches he liked, the others he
neglected. In mathematics he stood first in the school, in history and
geography he did fairly well; Latin, German, and the ornamental studies
did not attract him at all. The German teacher considered him a dunce.
But he studied more in the library than in the schoolroom. While the
other boys were romping on the playground, Napoleon was buried in some
corner with a book.

On one occasion Napoleon, on entering a room and seeing a picture of
Choiseul which hung therein, burst into a torrent of invective against
the minister who had bought Corsica. The school authorities punished
the blasphemy.

At another time one of the young French nobles scornfully said to
Napoleon, “Your father is nothing but a wretched tipstaff.” Napoleon
challenged his insulter, and was imprisoned for his temerity.

Upon another occasion he was condemned by the quartermaster, for some
breach of the rules, to wear a penitential garb and to eat his dinner
on his knees at the door of the common dining-room. The humiliation was
real and severe; for doubtless the French lads who had been bullying
him were all witnesses to the disgrace, and were looking upon the
culprit with scornful eyes, while they jeered and laughed at him.
Napoleon became hysterical under the strain, and began to vomit. The
principal of the school happening to pass, was indignant that such a
degradation should be put upon so dutiful and diligent a scholar, and
relieved him from the torture.

“Ah, Bourrienne! I like you: you never make fun of me!” Is there
nothing pathetic in this cry of the heart-sick boy?

To his father, Napoleon wrote a passionate appeal to be taken from
the school where he was the butt of ridicule, or to be supplied
with sufficient funds to maintain himself more creditably. General
Marbeuf interfered in his behalf, and supplied him with a more liberal

The students, in turn, were invited to the table of the head-master.
One day when this honor was accorded Napoleon, one of the
monk-professors sweetened the boy’s satisfaction by a contemptuous
reference to Corsica and to Paoli. It seems well-nigh incredible
that the clerical teachers should have imitated the brutality of
the supercilious young nobles, but Bourrienne is authority for the
incident. Napoleon broke out defiantly against the teacher, just as
he had done against his fellow-students: “Paoli was a great man; he
loved his country; and I will never forgive my father for his share in
uniting Corsica to France. He should have followed Paoli.” Mocked by
some of the teachers and tormented by the richer students, Napoleon
withdrew almost completely within himself. He made no complaints,
prayed for no relief, but fell back on his own resources. When the boys
mimicked his pronunciation, turned his name into an offensive nickname,
and flouted him with the subjection of his native land, he either
remained disdainfully silent, or threw himself single-handed against
his tormentors.

To each student was given a bit of ground that he might use it as he
saw fit. Napoleon annexed to his own plat two adjacent strips which
their temporary owners had abandoned; and by hedging and fencing made
for himself a privacy, a solitude, which he could not otherwise get.
Here he took his books, here he read and pondered, here he indulged his
tendency to day-dreaming, to building castles in the air.

His schoolmates did not leave him at peace even here. Occasionally they
would band together and attack his fortress. Then, says Burgoing, one
of his fellow-students, “it was a sight to see him burst forth in a
fury to drive off the intruders, without the slightest regard to their

Much as he disliked his comrades, there was no trace of meanness in
his resentments. He suffered punishment for things he had not done
rather than report on the real offenders. Unsocial and unpopular, he
nevertheless enjoyed a certain distinction among the students as well
as with the teachers. His pride, courage, maturity of thought, and
quick intelligence arrested attention and compelled respect.

When the students, during the severe winter of 1783–84, were kept
within doors, it was Napoleon who suggested mimic war as a recreation.
A snow fort was built, and the fun was to attack and defend it with
snowballs. Then Napoleon’s natural capacity for leadership was seen.
He at one time led the assailants, at another the defenders, as
desperately in earnest as when he afterward attacked or defended
kingdoms. One student refusing to obey an order, Napoleon knocked him
down with a chunk of ice. Many years after this unlucky person turned
up with a scar on his face, and reminded the Emperor Napoleon of the
incident; whereupon Napoleon fell into one of his best moods, and dealt
liberally with the petitioner.

During the whole time Napoleon was at Brienne he remained savagely
Corsican. He hated the French, and did not hesitate to say so. Of
course the French here meant were the pupils of the school--the big
boys who jeered at his poverty, his parentage, his countrymen. It
is worth notice that he never by word or deed sought to disarm his
enemies by pandering to their prejudices. He made no effort whatever to
ingratiate himself with them by surrendering any of his own opinions.
He would not even compromise by concealing what he felt. He was a
Corsican to the core, proud of his island heroes, proud of Paoli,
frankly detesting those who had trampled upon his country. It must have
sounded even to the dull ears of ignorant monks as something remarkable
when this shabby-looking lad, hardly in his teens, cried out,
defiantly, “I hope one day to be able to give Corsica her freedom!”
He had drunk in the wild stories the peasants told of Sampiero; he had
devoured the vivid annals of Plutarch, and his hopes and dreams were
already those of a daring man.

During these years at Brienne, General Marbeuf continued to be
Napoleon’s active friend. He seems to have regularly supplied him with
money, and it was the General’s interference which secured his release
from imprisonment in the affair of the duel. Through the same influence
Napoleon secured the good-will of Madame de Brienne, who lived in the
château near the school. This lady warmed to the lad, took him to her
house to spend holidays and vacations, and treated him with a motherly
kindness which he never forgot.

The character which Napoleon established at Brienne varied with the
point of view. To the students generally he appeared to be unsocial,
quarrelsome, and savage. To some of the teachers he seemed to be mild,
studious, grateful. To others, imperious and headstrong. M. de Keralio
reported him officially as submissive, upright, thoughtful, “conduct
most exemplary.” On all he made the impression that he was inflexible,
not to be moved after he has taken his stand. Pichegru, afterward
conqueror of Holland, and after that supporter of the Bourbons, was a
pupil-teacher to Napoleon at Brienne, and is thought to have been the
quartermaster who put upon him the shame of eating on his knees at the
dining-room door. Bourbon emissaries were eager to win over to their
cause the brilliant young general, Bonaparte, and suggested the matter
to Pichegru. “Do not try it,” said he. “I knew him at Brienne. His
character is inflexible. He has taken his side, and will not change.”

When Napoleon, in his last years, came to speak of his school days,
he seemed to have forgotten all that was unpleasant. Time had swept
its effacing fingers over the actual facts, and he had come to believe
that he had not only been happy at Brienne, but had been a jolly,
frolicksome fellow--a very cheerful, sociable, popular lad. It was
some other youth who had shunned his fellows, fenced himself within a
garden wall, combated all intruders with sticks and stones, and hated
the French because they teased him so. The real Napoleon, according to
the captive Emperor, was a boy like other boys, full of fun, frolic,
tricks, and games. One of the sportive tricks of the merry and mythical
Bonaparte was this: An old commandant, upward of eighty, was practising
the boys at target-shooting with a cannon. He complained that the aim
was bad, none of the balls hit the target. Presently, he asked of
those near him if they had seen the ball strike. After half a dozen
discharges, the old general bethought himself of counting the balls.
Then the trick was exposed--the boys had slipped the balls aside each
time the gun was loaded.

Another anecdote told by the Emperor brings him more immediately within
the circle of our sympathies. Just above his own room at the college
was a fellow-student who was learning to play on the horn. He practised
loudly, and at all hours. Napoleon found it impossible to study.
Meeting the student on the stairs, Napoleon feelingly remonstrated.
The horn player was in a huff at once, as a matter of course. His room
was his own, and he would blow horns in it as much as he pleased. “We
will see about that,” said Napoleon, and he challenged the offender to
mortal combat. Death could have no terrors compared to the incessant
tooting in the room above, and Napoleon was determined to take his
chances on sudden sword thrust rather than the slow tortures of the
horn practice. Fellow-students interfered, a compromise was reached,
and the duel did not come off. The student who roused the ire of
Napoleon in this extreme manner was named Bussey, and in the campaign
of 1814 Napoleon met him again, received offers of service from him,
and named him aide-de-camp. It is a pleasure to be able to record that
this fellow-student of Brienne remained faithful to Napoleon to the
very last, in 1814 and again in 1815.

In the year 1810 the Emperor Napoleon, divorced from Josephine, was
spending a few days in seclusion in the Trianon at Versailles, awaiting
the coming of the Austrian wife, “the daughter of the Cæsars.” Hortense
and Stephanie Beauharnais were with him, and Stephanie mischievously
asked him if he knew how to waltz. Napoleon answered:--

“When I was at the military school I tried, I don’t know how many
times, to overcome the vertigo caused by waltzing, without being able
to succeed. Our dancing-master had advised us when practising to take a
chair in our arms instead of a lady. I never failed to fall down with
the chair, which I squeezed affectionately, and to break it. The chairs
in my room, and those of two or three of my comrades, disappeared one
after another.”

The Emperor told this story in his gayest manner, and the two ladies
laughed, of course; but Stephanie insisted that he should even now
learn to waltz, that all Germans waltzed, that his new wife would
expect it, and that as the Empress could only dance with the Emperor,
he must not deprive her of such a pleasure.

“You are right,” exclaimed Napoleon. “Come! give me a lesson.”

Thereupon he rose, took the merry Stephanie in his arms, and went
capering around the room to the music of his own voice, humming the
air of _The Queen of Prussia_. After two or three turns, his fair
teacher gave him up in despair; he was too hopelessly awkward; and she
flattered him, while pronouncing him a failure, by saying that he was
made to give lessons and not receive them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Toward the close of 1783 a royal inspector of the military schools,
Keralio by name, examined the students at Brienne for the purpose
of selecting those who were to be promoted to the higher military
school at Paris. M. de Keralio was greatly impressed by Napoleon, and
emphatically recommended his promotion. This inspector having died, his
successor examined Napoleon the second time, and passed him on to the
Paris school, which he entered on October 30, 1784. On the certificate
which went with him from Brienne were the words, “Character masterful,
imperious, and headstrong.”

When Napoleon alighted from the coach which brought him from Brienne to
Paris, and stood, a tiny foreign boy, in the midst of the hurly-burly
of a great city, he must have felt himself one of the loneliest and
most insignificant of mortals. Demetrius Permon found him in the Palais
Royal, “where he was gaping and staring with wonder at everything he
saw. Truly, he looked like a fresh importation.” M. Permon invited
the lad to dine, and found him “very morose,” and feared that he had
“more self-conceit than was suitable to his condition.” Napoleon made
this impression upon Permon by declaiming violently against the luxury
of the young men at the military school, denouncing the system of
education which prevailed there, comparing it unfavorably to the system
of ancient Sparta, and announcing his intention of memorializing the
minister of war on the subject.

Napoleon, at the military school of Paris, continued to be studious,
and to read almost constantly. He was obedient to the authorities,
and defiant to the young aristocrats who surrounded him and looked
down on him. The extravagance, indolence, and superciliousness of the
noble students, together with the general luxury which prevailed in
the establishment, disgusted and enraged a scholar who had no money to
spend, and who had come there to study. When he, as head of the State,
came to reorganize the educational system of France, he did not forget
the lessons taught by his own experience. As a man he adopted a system
which avoided all the abuses which as a boy he had denounced.

During this period he may have occasionally visited the Permons in
Paris and his sister Elisa, who had been admitted into the State
school at St. Cyr. Madame D’Abrantes so relates in her _Memoirs_;
and while there is a difficulty about dates, her narrative is,
perhaps, substantially correct. It is a lifelike picture she paints
of Napoleon’s gloom at Paris and Elisa’s sorrow at St. Cyr: Napoleon
wretched because he could not pay his way among the boys; Elisa
miserable because she could not keep step with the girls. Napoleon
sulked and denounced luxury; Elisa wept and bewailed her poverty. Elisa
was consoled by a tip given by Madame Permon. As for Napoleon, he
refused to borrow: “I have no right to add to the burdens of my mother.”

On final examination, August, 1785, Napoleon stood forty-second in his
class--not a brilliant mark, certainly, but it sufficed. He received
his appointment of sub-lieutenant with joy unbounded. His days of
tutelage were over: henceforth he was a man and an officer. Having
chosen the artillery service, he set out with Des Mazis, a friend he
had made at the military school, to join the regiment of La Fère, which
was stationed at Valence. According to one account, Napoleon borrowed
money from a cloth merchant to make this journey; according to another,
Des Mazis paid the way of both. However that may be, it seems that when
the young officers reached Lyons, a gay city of the south, they relaxed
the rigors of military discipline to such an extent that their money
all vanished. The remainder of the distance to Valence was made on foot.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those biographers who devote their lives to defaming Napoleon, lay
stress on the alleged fact that he was educated by the King. In
becoming an adherent of the Revolution, these writers say that he
betrayed an amount of moral obliquity quite appalling. Louis XVI. was
king while Napoleon was at Brienne, and the suggestion that Napoleon
owed a debt of gratitude to Louis XVI. is amusing. The tax-payers, the
people, educated Napoleon; and whatever debt of gratitude he owed, he
owed to them. In going with the Revolution, he went with those who had
paid his schooling. He himself drew this distinction at the time. When
M. Demetrius Permon rebuked him for criticising royalty, throwing the
alleged debt of gratitude in his teeth, the boy replied, “The State
educates me; not the King.”

Of course Permon could not admit the distinction, he being a noble of
the Old Order; nor can biographers who write in the interest of modern
Toryism admit it. But the distinction is there, nevertheless; the boy
saw it, and so does impartial history.


Napoleon carried with him to his new home a letter of introduction
from the Bishop of Autun to the ex-Abbot of St. Ruffe, and with this
leverage he made his way into the best society of Valence. For the
first time circumstances were favorable to him, and the good effects
of the change were at once evident. Occupying a better place in life
than before, he was more contented, more sociable. He mingled with the
people about him, and made friends. No longer a waif, a charity boy
from abroad, thrust among other boys who looked down upon him as a
social inferior, he was now an officer of State, housed, fed, clothed,
salaried at the public expense. No longer under the wheels, he held
a front seat in that wondrous vehicle which men call government, and
in which a few so comfortably ride while the many so contentedly wear
harness and pull. No longer subject to everybody’s orders, Napoleon
had become one of the masters in God’s world here below, and could
issue orders himself. Glorious change! And the sun began to look bright
to “Lieutenant Bonaparte of the King’s Royal Academy.” He cultivated
himself and others socially. He found some congenial spirits among the
elderly men of the place; also some among the young women. In the hours
not spent in study, and not claimed by his duties, he could be found
chatting at the coffee-house, strolling with brother officers, dancing
at the neighborhood balls, and playing the beau amid the belles of this
high provincial circle.

To one of these young ladies, according to tradition and his own
statement, he lost his heart. But when we seek to know something more
definite, tradition and his own statements differ. If we are to accept
his version, the courtship led to nothing beyond a few promenades, and
the eating of cherries together in the early morning. According to the
local tradition, however, he proposed and was rejected. Her parents
were local aristocrats, and had so little confidence in the future of
the little officer that they married their girl by preference to a M.
de Bressieux--a good, safe, commonplace gentleman of the province. In
after years the lady reminded Napoleon of their early friendship, and
he at once made generous provision for both herself and husband.

If possible, Napoleon studied more diligently at Valence than at
Brienne. Plutarch’s _Lives_ and Cæsar’s _Commentaries_ he had already
mastered while a child; Rousseau had opened a new world of ideas to
him in Paris: he now continued his historical studies by reading
Herodotus, Strabo, Diodorus. Anything relating to India, China, Arabia,
had a peculiar charm for him. Next he learned all he could of Germany
and England. French history he studied minutely, striving to exhaust
information on the subject. In his researches he was not content
merely with ordinary historical data: he sought to understand the
secret meaning of events, and the origin of institutions. He studied
legislation, statistics, the history of the Church, especially the
relation of the Church to the State. Likewise he read the masterpieces
of French literature and the critical judgments which had been passed
upon them. Novels he did not disdain, and for poetry of the heroic cast
he had a great fondness.

He read also the works of Voltaire, Necker, Filangieri, and Adam
Smith. With Napoleon to read was to study. He made copious notes, and
these notes prove that he bent every faculty of his mind to the book
in hand. He analyzed, commented, weighed statements in the balance of
his own judgment--in short, doing everything necessary to the complete
mastery of the subject. A paper on which he jotted down at that time
his ideas of the relations between Church and State appear to show that
he had reached at that time the conclusions he afterward embodied in
the Concordat. Rousseau he studied again, but the book which seems to
have taken his fancy more than any other was the Abbé Raynal’s famous
_History of the Institutions and Commerce of the Europeans in the Two
Indies_. This book was a miscellany of essays and extracts treating of
superstition, tyranny, etc., and predicting that a revolution was at
hand in France if abuses were not reformed.

How was it that Napoleon, with his meagre salary, could command so many
costly books? A recent biographer patly states that he “subscribed to a
public library.” This may be true, but Napoleon himself explained to an
audience of kings and princes at Erfurth, in 1808, that he was indebted
to the kindness of one Marcus Aurelius, a rich bookseller, “a most
obliging man who placed his books at my service.”

The personal appearance of the young lieutenant was not imposing. He
was short, painfully thin, and awkward. His legs were so much too small
for his boots that he looked ridiculous--at least to one young lady,
who nicknamed him “Puss in Boots.” He wore immense “dog’s ears,” which
fell to his shoulders, and this style of wearing the hair gave his dark
Italian face a rather sinister look, impressing a lady acquaintance
with the thought that he would not be the kind of man one would like
to meet near a wood at night. Generally he was silent, wrapped in
his own thoughts; but when he spoke, his ideas were striking and his
expressions energetic. He rather affected the laconic, oracular style,
and his attitude was somewhat that of a man posing for effect. In
familiar social intercourse he was different. His smile became winning,
his voice soft and tender, and his magnetism irresistible. He loved to
joke others and play little pranks with them; but he could not relish a
joke at his own expense, nor did he encourage familiarity. He had none
of the brag, bluster, or roughness of the soldier about him, but in a
quiet way he was imperious, self-confident, self-sufficient. So little
did his appearance then, or at any other time, conform to the popular
ideal of the soldier, that one old grenadier of the Bourbon armies, on
having Napoleon pointed out to him, after the Italian campaign, could
not believe such a man could possibly be a great warrior. “That a
general!” said the veteran with contempt; “why, when he walks he does
not even step out with the right foot first!”

Extremely egotistic he was, and so remained to his last hour. He had
no reverence, looked for fact in all directions, had almost unerring
judgment, and believed himself superior to his fellow-students, to his
teachers, and to his brother officers. At the age of fifteen he was
giving advice to his father--very sound advice, too. At that early
age he had taken family responsibilities upon his shoulders, and was
gravely disposing of Joseph and Lucien. In a remarkable letter he
elaborately analyzed Joseph’s character, and reached the conclusion
that he was an amiable nonentity, fit only for society. It had been
well for Napoleon if he had always remembered this, and acted upon it.

In August, 1786, Napoleon spent a short time in Lyons. After this he
was perhaps sent to Douay in Flanders, though he himself has written
that on September 1, 1786, he obtained leave of absence and set out for
Corsica, which he reached on the fifteenth of the same month.

       *       *       *       *       *

Napoleon found the condition of the family greatly changed. Charles
Bonaparte had died in France in February, 1785. General Marbeuf,
also, was dead. The French officials were not now so friendly to the
Bonapartes. Madame Letitia had been growing mulberry trees in order
to obtain the governmental bounty--the government being intent upon
building up the silk industry. Madame Bonaparte had apparently been
giving more thought to the bounty than to the trees, and the result was
that the officials had refused payment. Hence the supply of cash in
the household was cut down to Napoleon’s salary (about $225), and such
sums as could be teased out of the rich uncle--the miserly archdeacon.
Desperately worried as he must have been by the condition of the family
finances, Napoleon put a bold face upon it, strutting about town so
complacently that he gave much offence to the local magnates--the town
oracles whose kind words are not easily won by the neighborhood boys
who have gone to distant colleges for an education and have returned
for inspection and approval. To the sidewalk critics, who only nine
years ago had jeered at the slovenly lad and his girl sweetheart,
Napoleon’s style of walk and talk may have seemed that of inflated

Like a good son, Napoleon exerted himself to the utmost in behalf of
his mother, making every effort to have the mulberry bounty paid, and
to wring revenue out of the family property. He met with no success in
either direction, though it appears that he prevailed upon the local
authorities to grant some slight favor to the family. At one time
Madame Letitia was reduced to the necessity of doing all her housework
with her own hands.

At Elba, the Emperor related a story which belongs to this period of
his life. He said that one day his mother’s mother was hobbling along
the street in Ajaccio, and that he and Pauline followed the old lady,
and mimicked her. Their grandmother, happening to turn, caught them
in the act. She complained to Madame Letitia. Pauline was at once
“spanked” and disposed of; Napoleon, who was rigged out in regimentals,
could not be handled. His mother bided her time. Next day, when her
son was off his guard, she cried, “Quick, Napoleon! You are invited to
dine with the governor!” He ran up to his room to change clothing--she
quietly followed. When she judged that the proper time had come, she
rushed into the room, seized her undressed hero before he guessed
her purpose, laid him across the maternal knees, and belabored him
earnestly with the flat of her hand.

In October, 1787, Napoleon was again in Paris, petitioning the
government in behalf of his mother, and seeking to have his furlough
extended. Failing as to his mother, succeeding as to himself, he
was back home in January, 1788, and remained there until June of the
same year. While in Corsica, Napoleon frequently dined with brother
officers in the French army. Between him and them, however, there was
little congeniality. He was hotly Paolist, and his talk was either of
Corsican independence or of topics historical and governmental. His
brother officers did not enjoy these conversations. His patriotism
offended; his learning bored them. What did the average French officer
of that day know or care about history and the science of government?
The upshot of such a dinner-party usually was that Napoleon got into a
wrangle with that one of the officers who imagined he knew something
of the subject, while the others, who honestly realized that they did
not, would walk off in disgust. “My comrades, like myself,” says M. de
Renain, one of the officers in question, “lost patience with what we
considered ridiculous stuff and pedantry.”

So far did Napoleon carry his patriotic sentiments that he rather
plainly threatened to take sides with the Corsicans if any collision
should occur between the French and his countrymen. Upon this, one of
the officers who disliked him asked sharply, “Would you draw your sword
against the soldiers of the King?”

Napoleon, dressed in the King’s uniform, had the good sense to remain
silent. The officers were offended at his tone, and, says Renain, “This
is the last time he did me the honor of dining with me.”

Not for a day had Napoleon neglected his books. To escape the household
noises, he went to the attic, and there pursued his studies. Far
and wide ranged his restless mind, from the exact sciences, dry and
heavy, to Plato and Ossian, rich in suggestions to the most opulent
imagination nature ever gave a practical man. To the very last,
Napoleon remained half mystic; and when he stood in the storm the night
before Waterloo, and cast into the darkness the words, “We are agreed”;
or when he remained silent for hours at St. Helena watching the vast
wings of the mist whirl, and turn, and soar around the summit of the
bleak, barren mountain of rock, we feel that if pens were there to
trace his thought, Ossian would seem to live again. From his youth up
the most striking characteristic of his mind was its enormous range;
its wide sweep from the pettiest, prosiest details of fact to the
sublimest dreams and the most chimerical fancies. Not wholly satisfied
with reading and commentary, he strove to compose. Under the Bourbons,
his outlook in the army was not promising. He might hope, after many
tedious years of garrison service, to become a captain; after that it
would be a miracle if he rose higher. Hence his lack of interest in the
routine work of a soldier, and hence his ambition to become an author.
He wrote a story called _The Count of Essex_, also a novel founded on
Corsican life, and pulsing with hatred of France. Another story which
he called _The Masked Prophet_, is the same which Moore afterward used
in _The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan_.

His greatest exertions, however, were spent upon the _History of
Corsica_. To this work he clung with a tenacity of purpose that is
touching. All the long, tragic story of Corsica seems to have run
like fire in the boy’s veins, and the heroes of his country--Paoli,
Sampiero, Della Rocca--seemed to him to be as great as the men of
antiquity, as perhaps they were. Therefore, the young man wrote and
rewrote, trying to get the book properly written, his thoughts properly
expressed. He had turned to Raynal, as we have seen, and the Abbé had
kindly said, “Search further, and write it over.” And Napoleon had done
so. At least three times he had recast the entire book. He sought the
approval of a former teacher, Dupuy; he sent “copy” to Paoli. Dupuy
had a poor opinion of the performance; and Paoli told him flatly he
was too young to write history. But Napoleon persevered, finished the
work, and eagerly sought publishers. Alas! the publishers shook their
heads. Finally, at Paris was found a bold adventurer in the realm of
book-making, who was willing to undertake half the cost if the author
would furnish the other half. But for one reason or another the book
was never published.

The passionate earnestness with which Napoleon toiled at his book on
Corsican history, the intense sympathy with which he studied the lives
of Corsican heroes, the fiery wrath he nursed against those who had
stricken down Corsican liberties, were but so many evidences of the set
purpose of his youth--to free his country, to give it independence.
There is no doubt that the one consuming ambition of these early years
was as pure as it was great: he would do what Sampiero and Paoli had
failed to do--he would achieve the independence of Corsica!

Napoleon rejoined his regiment at Auxonne at the end of May, 1788.
That he did so with reluctance is apparent from the manner in which
he had distorted facts to obtain extension of his furlough. Garrison
duty had no charms for him; the dull drudgery of daily routine became
almost insupportable. It appears that he was put under arrest for the
unsatisfactory manner in which he had superintended some work on the
fortifications. When off duty he gave his time to his books. He became
ill, and wrote to his mother, “I have no resource but work. I dress but
once in eight days. I sleep but little, and take but one meal a day.”
Under this regimen of no exercise, hard work, and little sleep he came
near dying.

In September, 1789, came another furlough, and the wan-looking
lieutenant turned his face homeward. In passing through Marseilles he
paid his respects to the Abbé Raynal.


The French Revolution was now (1789–90) getting under full headway.
The States-General had met on May 5, 1789; the Third Estate had
asserted and made good its supremacy. The King having ordered up
troops and dismissed Necker, riots followed; the Bastille was taken
and demolished. The nobles who had persuaded Louis XVI. to adopt the
measures which provoked the riots, fled to foreign lands. Louis was
brought from Versailles to Paris, Bailly was made mayor of the city,
Lafayette commander of the National Guard, and on the night session of
August 4, feudalism, losing hope, offered itself up as a sacrifice to
the Revolution.

Liberty, fraternity, equality, freedom of conscience, liberty of the
press, were proclaimed; and the mighty movement which was shaking down
the Old Order was felt at Auxonne as in Paris. The officers, as a
rule, were for the King; the soldiers for the nation. Society ladies
and governmental officials were royalists, generally; so, also, the
higher clericals. The curés and the masses of the people were for the

Instinctively, and without the slightest hesitation, Napoleon took
sides with the nation. He needed no coercion, no change of heart; he
was already an enemy of the Ancien Régime, and had been so from his
first years in France.

“How does it happen that you, Napoleon, favor democracy? You are a
noble, educated at a school where none but nobles can enter; you are
an officer, a position none but nobles may hold; you wear the King’s
livery; you are fed on his bounty: where did you get your republican

Supposing such a question to have been put, we can imagine the answer
to have been something like this:--

“I go with the reformers partly because I hate the Old Order, partly
because I see in the coming changes a chance for me to rise, and partly
because I believe the reformers are right. I have read books which
gave me new ideas; I have thought for myself, and reached conclusions
of my own. The stupid monk who threw my schoolboy essay into the fire
at Brienne because it criticised royalty, only stimulated my defiance
and my independence. I have seen what your system of education is,
and condemn it; have learnt what your nobles are, and detest them. I
have seen the Church, which preaches the beauties of poverty, rob my
family of a rich inheritance, and I loathe the hypocrisy. I have read
Rousseau, and believe in his gospel; have studied Raynal, and agree
that abuses must be reformed. I have looked into the conduct of kings,
and believe that there are few who do not deserve to be dethroned. The
privileged have combined, have closed the avenues of progress to the
lower classes, have taken for a few what is the common heritage of all.
The people are the source of power--those below not those above. I am
poor, I hate those above me, I long to be rich, powerful, admired. If
things remain as they are, I shall never be heard of: revolution will
change all. New men will rise to make the most of new opportunities.
Hence I am a Jacobin, a democrat, a republican--call it what you will.
I am for putting the premium on manhood. The tools to him who can use
them! As to the King’s uniform and bounty--bah!--you must take me for a
child. The King gives nothing, is nothing; the nation gives all, and is
everything. I go with the nation!”

With such thoughts fermenting in his head, Napoleon reached home,
and at once began to agitate the politics of the island. Corsica
was far out of the track of the Revolution, and the people had not
been maddened by the abuses which prevailed in France. The one great
national grievance in Corsica was French domination. Therefore to
arouse the island and put it in line with revolutionary France, was
a huge task. Nevertheless Napoleon and other young men set about
it. Copying the approved French method, he formed a revolutionary
committee, and began to organize a national guard. He became a violent
speaker in the Jacobin club, and a most active agitator in the town.
Soon the little city of Ajaccio was in commotion.

Paoli’s agents bestirred themselves throughout the island. In some
towns the patriot party rose against the French authorities. In Ajaccio
the royalist party proved the stronger. The French commandant, De
Barrin, closed the democratic club and proclaimed martial law. The
patriots met in one of the churches, on the night of October 31, 1789,
and signed a vigorous protest and appeal to the National Assembly of
France. This paper was written by Napoleon, and he was one of those who

Baulked in Ajaccio, Napoleon turned to Bastia, the capital. Agitating
there and distributing tricolored cockades which he had ordered
from Leghorn, he soon got matters so well advanced that he headed a
deputation which waited upon the royal commandant and demanded that
he, too, should adopt the national cockade. De Barrin, the commandant,
refused. A riot broke out, and he consented. Napoleon agitated for
a national guard. Deputations sought the governor and requested his
sanction. He refused. One morning the streets were thronged with
patriots, armed, marching to one of the churches to be enrolled. De
Barrin called out his troops, trained cannon on the church, and set his
columns in motion to attack. Shots were exchanged, two French soldiers
killed, two wounded, and an officer got a bullet in the groin. Several
Bastians, including two children, were wounded. De Barrin lost his
head, yielded at all points, and ordered six hundred guns delivered to
the insurgents. Prompt obedience not having been given to his order,
the Bastians broke into the citadel, armed themselves, and insisted
that they, jointly with the French, should garrison the fortress. When
quiet was restored, the governor ordered Napoleon to leave, and he did

This episode in Napoleon’s career is related by an enemy of Napoleon,
and it is to be received with caution. Yet as it is a companion piece
to what he had attempted at Ajaccio, there is nothing violently
incredible about it. It is certain he was very active at that time, and
that he was often at Bastia. What was his purpose, if not to foment
revolutionary movements?

On November 30, 1789, the National Assembly of France decreed the
incorporation of Corsica with France, and amnesty for all political
offenders, including Paoli. Bonfires in Corsica and general joy greeted
the news. The triumph of the patriots was complete. A democratic town
government for Ajaccio was organized, a friend of Napoleon was chosen
mayor, and Joseph was put in place as secretary to the mayor. A local
guard was raised, and Napoleon served as private member of it. At the
club and on the streets he was one of the loudest agitators.

Paoli, now a hero in France as well as in Corsica, was called home
by these events, received a magnificent ovation from the French,
and reached Corsica, July, 1790. When he landed, after an exile of
twenty-one years, the old man knelt to the ground and kissed it.

Supported by the town government, Napoleon renewed his activity, the
immediate object aimed at being the capture of the citadel. He made
himself intensely disagreeable to the royalists. Upon one occasion,
during a religious procession, he was attacked by the Catholics, as an
enemy of the Church. His efforts to seize the citadel came to nothing.
There was an uprising of the revolutionists in the town, but the French
officials fled into the citadel and prepared to defend it. Napoleon
advised an attack, but the town authorities lost heart. They decided
not to fight, but to protest; and Napoleon drew up the paper.

The people of Corsica met in local district meetings and chose
delegates to an assembly which was to elect departmental and district
councils to govern the island. This general assembly met at Orezzo,
September 9, 1790, and remained in session a month. Among the delegates
were Joseph Bonaparte and Uncle Fesch. Napoleon attended and took an
active part in the various meetings which were held in connection with
the work of the assembly. He was a frequent speaker at these meetings,
and, while timid and awkward at first, soon became one of the most
popular orators.

It was while he was on his way to Orezzo, that Napoleon first met
Paoli. The old hero gave the young man a distinguished reception.
Attended by a large cavalcade, the two rode over the fatal field of
Ponte Nuovo. Paoli pointed out the various positions the troops had
occupied, and related the incidents of that lamentable day. Napoleon’s
comments, his peculiar and original thought and speech, struck Paoli
forcibly; and he is said to have remarked that Napoleon was not modern,
but reminded him of Plutarch’s heroes. Napoleon himself, when at St.
Helena, represents Paoli as often patting him on the head and making
the remark above mentioned.

The assembly at Orezzo voted that Corsica should constitute one
department, and that Paoli should be its president. He was also made
commander-in-chief of the National Guard. The conduct of Buttafuoco and
Peretti who had been representing Corsica in France, was condemned.
Pozzo di Borgo and Gentili were chosen to declare to the National
Assembly the loyalty of Corsica to the principles of the French

Napoleon had endeavored to secure the election of Joseph Bonaparte to
the general directory of the department. In this he failed, but Joseph
was chosen as one of the district directory for Ajaccio.

During the sitting of the convention Napoleon wiled away many an hour
in familiar intercourse with the peasantry. He visited them at their
huts, made himself at home by their firesides, and interested himself
in their affairs. He revived some of the old Corsican festivals, and
the target practice which had long been forbidden. Out of his own
purse he offered prizes for the best marksmen. In this manner he won
the hearts of the mountaineers--a popularity which was of value to him
soon afterward.

Returned to Ajaccio, Napoleon continued to take prominent part in the
debates of the club, and he also continued his efforts at authorship.
He threw off an impassioned “open letter” to Buttafuoco. This was his
first successful writing. With imperial pride, it is dated “from my
summer house of Milleli.” Stimulated perhaps by the applause with which
young Corsican patriots hailed his bitter and powerful arraignment of
a traitor, Napoleon ventured to compete for the prize which Raynal,
through the Academy of Lyons, had offered for the best essay on the
subject “_What truths and ideas should be inculcated in order best to
promote the happiness of mankind_.” His essay was severely criticised
by the learned professors, and its author, of course, failed of the

It was on the plea that his health was shattered, and that the waters
of Orezzo were good for his complaint, that Napoleon had been enabled
to prolong his stay in Corsica. In February, 1791, he rejoined his
regiment at Auxonne. His leave had expired long since, but his colonel
kindly antedated his return. Napoleon had procured false certificates,
to the effect that he had been kept in Corsica by storms. To ease his
mother’s burden, he brought with him his little brother Louis, now
twelve years old, whose support and schooling Napoleon proposed to take
upon himself. To maintain the two upon his slender pay of lieutenant
required the most rigorous economy. He avoided society, ate often
nothing but bread, carried on his own studies, and taught Louis. The
affectionate, fatherly, self-denying interest he took in the boy
beautifully illustrates the better side of his complex character.

During the Empire an officer, whose pay was $200 per month, complained
to Napoleon that it was not enough. The Emperor did not express the
contempt he felt, but spoke of the pittance upon which _he_ had been
made to live. “When I was lieutenant, I ate dry bread; but I shut the
door on my poverty.”

It was at Dôle, near Auxonne, that the letter to Buttafuoco was
printed. Napoleon used to rise early, walk to Dôle, correct the proofs,
and walk back to Auxonne, a distance of some twenty miles, before

In June, 1791, Napoleon became first lieutenant, with a yearly salary
of about $260, and was transferred to the Fourth Regiment, stationed
at Valence. Glad of the promotion and the slight increase in salary,
he did not relish the transfer, and he applied for leave to remain at
Auxonne. Permission was refused, and he quitted the place, owing (for
a new uniform, a sword, and some wood) about $23. Several years passed
before he was able to pay off these debts.

Back in Valence, he again lodged with old Mademoiselle Bou, he and
Louis. He continued his studies, and continued to teach Louis. His
former friends were dead, or had moved away, and he did not go into
society as he had done before; his position was too dismal, his poverty
too real. He lived much in his room, reading, studying, composing.
Travels, histories, works which treated of politics, of ecclesiastical
affairs and institutions, attracted him specially. No longer seen
in elegant drawing-rooms, he was the life of the political club. He
became, successively, librarian, secretary, and president.

All this while the Revolution had been rolling on. The wealth of the
Church was confiscated. Paper money was issued. The Festival of the
Federation was solemnized. Necker lost his grip on the situation, and
fled. Mirabeau became the hope of the moderates. Danton, Robespierre,
Marat, became influential radicals. The Jacobin club rose to power.
There developed the great feud between the Church and the Revolution,
and factions began to shed blood in many parts of France. The old-maid
aunts of the King fled the realm, causing immense excitement.

In April, 1791, Mirabeau died. His alliance with the court not being
then known, his death called forth universal sorrow and memorial
services. At Valence the republican club held such a service, and
Napoleon is said to have delivered an address. Then came the flight of
the King to Varennes. Upon this event also the club at Valence passed
judgment, amid excitement and violent harangues.

In July, 1791, the national oath of allegiance to the new order
of things was taken at Valence with imposing ceremony, as it was
throughout the country. The constitution had not been finished; but the
French of that day had the faith which works wonders, and they took the
oath with boundless enthusiasm.

There was a monster meeting near Valence: a huge altar, a grand coming
together, on common ground, of dignitaries high and low, officials
of Church and State, citizens of all degrees. Patriotism for one
brief moment made them all members of one fond family. “We swear to
be faithful to the Nation, the law, and the King; to maintain the
constitution; and to remain united to all Frenchmen by the bonds of
brotherhood.” They all swore it, amid patriotic shouts, songs, cannon
thunder, band music, and universal ecstasy. Mass had begun the
ceremony, a _Te Deum_ ended it. At night there was a grand banquet, and
one of those who proposed a toast was Napoleon. Of course he was one of
those who had taken the oath.

“Previous to this time,” said he, later, “had I been ordered to fire
upon the people, habit, prejudice, education, and the King’s name would
have induced me to obey. With the taking of the national oath it was
otherwise; my instinct and my duty were henceforth in harmony.”

Kings and aristocrats throughout the world were turning black looks
upon France, and an invasion was threatened. The Revolution must be
put down. It was a fire which might spread. This threat of foreign
intervention had an electrical effect upon the French, rousing them to

Paris was the storm centre, Napoleon was highly excited, and to Paris
he was most eager to go. Urgently he wrote to his great-uncle, the
archdeacon, to send him three hundred francs to pay his way to Paris.
“There one can push to the forefront. I feel assured of success. Will
you bar my road for the lack of a hundred crowns?” The archdeacon did
not send the money. Napoleon also wrote for six crowns his mother owed
him. The six crowns seem not to have been sent.

       *       *       *       *       *

This anecdote of Napoleon’s sojourn at Valence is preserved by the
local gossips: Early one morning the surgeon of the regiment went to
Napoleon’s room to speak to Louis. Napoleon had long since risen, and
was reading. Louis was yet asleep. To arouse the lad, Napoleon took his
sabre and knocked with the scabbard on the ceiling above. Louis soon
came down, rubbing his eyes and complaining of having been waked in
the midst of a beautiful dream--a dream in which Louis had figured as a
king. “You a king!” said Napoleon; “I suppose I was an emperor then.”

The keenest pang Napoleon ever suffered from the ingratitude of those
he had favored, was given him by this same Louis, for whom he had acted
the devoted, self-denying father. Not only was Louis basely ungrateful
in the days of the Napoleonic prosperity, but he pursued his brother
with vindictive meanness when that brother lay dying at St. Helena,
publishing a libel on him so late as 1820.

A traveller in Corsica (Gregorovius, 1852) writes: “We sat around a
large table and regaled ourselves with an excellent supper.... A dim
olive-oil lamp lit the Homeric wanderers’ meal. Many a bumper was drunk
to the heroes of Corsica. We were of four nations,--Corsicans, French,
Germans, and Lombards. I once mentioned the name of Louis Bonaparte,
and asked a question. The company suddenly became silent, and the gay
Frenchman looked ashamed.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In August, 1791, Napoleon obtained another furlough, and with about
$80, which he had borrowed from the paymaster of his regiment, he and
Louis set out for home. Again he left debts behind him, one of them
being his board bill.


Soon after Napoleon reached home, the rich uncle, the archdeacon,
died, and the Bonapartes got his money. The bulk of it was invested in
the confiscated lands of the Church. Some of it was probably spent in
Napoleon’s political enterprises.

Officers of the Corsican National Guard were soon to be elected,
and Napoleon formed his plans to secure for himself a lieutenant
colonelship. The leaders of the opposing faction were Peraldi and Pozzo
di Borgo.

Three commissioners, appointed by the Directory of the Island, had the
supervision of the election, and the influence of these officers would
have great weight in deciding the contest. Napoleon had recently been
over the island in company with Volney, inspector of agriculture and
manufactures, and had personally canvassed for votes among the country
people. He had made many friends; and, in spite of powerful opposition
in the towns, it appeared probable that he would win. It is said that
he resorted to the usual electioneering methods, including bribes,
threats, promises, and hospitality. Napoleon made a good combination
with Peretti and Quenza, yielding to that interest the first lieutenant
colonelship. The second was to his own. But one of the commissioners,
Murati, took up lodgings with Bonaparte’s rival candidate, Peraldi.
This was an ominous sign for Napoleon. On the night before the
election, he got together some of his more violent partisans, sent
them against the house of Peraldi, and had Murati seized and brought
to the house of the Bonapartes. “You were not free at Peraldi’s,” said
Napoleon to the amazed commissioner; “here you enjoy liberty.” Murati
enjoyed it so much that he was afraid to stir out of the house till the
election was over.

Next morning Pozzo di Borgo commenced a public and violent harangue,
denouncing the seizure of the commissioner. He was not allowed to
finish. The Bonaparte faction rushed upon the speaker, knocked
him down, kicked him, and would have killed him had not Napoleon
interfered. In this episode is said to have originated the deadly
hatred with which Pozzo ever afterward pursued Napoleon, who triumphed
over him in the election.

Ajaccio was torn by revolutionary passion and faction. Resisting the
decrees of the National Assembly of France, the Capuchin friars refused
to vacate their quarters. Riotous disputes between the revolutionists
and the partisans of the Old Order ensued. The public peace was
disturbed. The military ousted the friars, and took possession of the
cloister. This added fuel to the flames, and on Easter day there was a
collision between the factions. One of the officers of the militia was
killed. Next morning, reënforcements from outside the town poured in to
the military. Between the volunteer guards on the one hand, the citadel
garrison and the clerical faction on the other, a pitched battle seemed
inevitable. Commissioners, sent by Paoli, arrived, dismissed the
militia, and restored quiet by thus virtually deciding in favor of the

Napoleon was believed by the victorious faction to have been the
instigator of all the trouble. The commander of the garrison bitterly
denounced him to the war office in Paris. Napoleon, on the contrary,
published a manifesto in his own defence, hotly declaring that the
whole town government of Ajaccio was rotten, and should have been
overthrown. Unless Ajaccio differed radically from most towns, then and
now, the indictment was well founded.

At all events, his career in Corsica was at an end, for the time. He
had strained his relations with the French war office, had ignored
positive orders to rejoin his command, had been stricken off the list
for his disobedience, had exhausted every resource on his Corsican
schemes, and was now at the end of his rope. And what had he gained?
He had squandered much money, wasted much precious time, established
a character for trickiness, violence, and unscrupulous self-seeking;
and had aroused implacable enmities, one of which (that of Pozzo) had
no trifling share in giving him the death-wound in his final struggles
in 1814–15. What, after it all, must he now do? He must get up a lot
of certificates to his good conduct during the long time he had been
absent from France; he must go to Paris and petition the central
authority to be taken back to the French army. There was no trouble
in getting the certificates. Paoli and his party, the priests and the
wealthy towns-people, were so eager to get rid of this dangerous young
man that they were ready to sign any sort of paper, if only he would go
away. Armed with documentary evidence of his good behavior, Napoleon
left Corsica in May, 1792, and reached Paris on the 28th of that month.

Things were in a whirl in France. War had been declared against
Austria. Officers of royalist principles were resigning and fleeing the
country. Excitement, suspicion, alarm, uncertainty, were everywhere. No
attention could be given to Napoleon and his petition just then. He saw
that he would have to wait, be patient and persistent, if ever he won
reinstatement. Meanwhile he lived in great distress. With no money, no
work, no powerful friends, Paris was a cold place for the suppliant.
He sauntered about with Bourrienne, ate at the cheapest restaurants,
discussed many plans for putting money in his purse--none of which put
any there. He pawned his watch to get the bare necessaries of life.

Bearing in mind that Napoleon had been so active in the republican
clubs at Valence and Ajaccio, and recalling the urgent appeal for three
hundred francs which he had made to his great-uncle in order that he
might go to Paris and push himself to the front, his attitude now that
he was in Paris is a puzzle. According to his own account and that
of Bourrienne, he was a mere spectator. A royal officer, he felt no
inclination to defend the King. A violent democratic agitator, he took
no part in the revolutionary movements. Seeing the mob marching to the
Tuileries in June, his only thought was to get a good view of what was
going on; therefore he ran to the terrace on the bank of the river
and climbed an iron fence. He saw the rabble burst into the palace,
saw the King appear at the window with the red cap on his head. “The
poor driveller!” cried Napoleon. And according to Bourrienne he said
that four or five hundred of the mob should have been swept away with
cannon, and that the others would have taken to their heels.

During the exciting month of July, Napoleon was still in Paris. He
was promenading the streets daily, mingling with the people; he was
idle, discontented, ambitious; he was a violent revolutionist, and was
not in the habit of concealing his views: therefore the conclusion is
well-nigh irresistible that he kept in touch with events, and knew
what was in preparation. Where was Napoleon when the battalion from
Marseilles arrived? What was his attitude during Danton’s preparation
for the great day on which the throne was to be overturned? Was an
ardent, intensely active man like Napoleon listless and unconcerned,
while the tramp of the gathering thousands shook the city? He had long
since written “Most kings deserve to be dethroned”: did he by any
chance hear what Danton said at the Cordeliers,--said with flaming
eyes, thundering voice, and wild gesticulation,--“Let the tocsin sound
the last hour of kings. Let it peal forth the first hour of vengeance,
and of the liberty of the people! To arms! and it will go!”

However much we may wish for light on this epoch of Napoleon’s career,
we have no record of his movements. We only know that on the 10th of
August he went to see the spectacle, and saw it. From a window in
a neighboring house, he looked down upon the Westermann attack and
the Swiss defence. He saw the devoted guards of the palace drive the
assailants out, doubtless heard Westermann and the brave courtesan,
Théroigne de Méricourt, rally their forces and renew the assault; was
amazed perhaps, when the Swiss ceased firing; and looked on while the
triumphant Marseillaise broke into the palace. After the massacre, he
walked through the Tuileries, piled with the Swiss dead, and was more
impressed by the sight than he ever was by the dead on his own fields
of battle. He sauntered through the crowds and the neighboring cafés,
and was so cool and indifferent that he aroused suspicion. He met a
gang of patriots bearing a head on a pike. His manner did not, to this
gang, indicate sufficient enthusiasm. “Shout, ‘Live the nation,’”
demanded the gang; and Napoleon shouted, “Live the nation!”

He saw a man of Marseilles about to murder a wounded Swiss. He
said, “Southron, let us spare the unfortunate.”--“Art thou from the
South?”--“Yes.”--“Then we will spare him.”

According to Napoleon, if the King had appeared on horseback,--that is,
dared to come forth and lead the defence,--he would have won the day.

Other days of wrath Napoleon spent in Paris--the days of the September
massacres. What he saw, heard, and felt is not known. Only in a general
way is it known that during the idle summer in Paris, Napoleon lost
many of his republican illusions. He conceived a horror of mob violence
and popular license, which exerted a tremendous influence over him
throughout his career. He lost faith in the purity and patriotism of
the revolutionary leaders. He reached the conclusion that each man
was for himself, that each one sought only his own advantage. For the
people themselves, seeing them so easily led by lies, prejudices, and
passions, he expressed contempt. The Jacobins were, he thought, a
“parcel of fools”; the leaders of the Revolution “a sorry lot.”

This sweepingly severe judgment was most unfortunate; it bore bitter
fruit for Napoleon and for France. He never ceased to believe that each
man was governed by his interest--an opinion which is near the truth,
but is not the truth. If the truth at all, it is certainly not the
whole truth.

Napoleon, with the independence of his native land ever in mind, wrote
to his brother Joseph to cling to Paoli; that events were tending to
make him the all-powerful man, and might also evolve the independence
of Corsica.

During this weary period of waiting, Napoleon was often at the home
of the Permons. On the 7th or 8th of August an emissary of the
revolutionary government made his way into the Permon house without a
warrant, and, because M. Permon refused to recognize his authority and
threatened to take a stick to him, left in a rage to report against
Permon. Napoleon, happening to call at this time, learned the fact,
and hurried off to the section where he boldly denounced the illegal
conduct of the officer. Permon was not molested further.

       *       *       *       *       *

The King became a prisoner of the revolutionists, the moderates fell
from power, the radicals took the lead. Napoleon’s case had already
received attention, he had already been pronounced blameless, and
he was now, August 30, 1792, restored to his place in the army, and
promoted. He was not only made captain, but his commission and pay were
made to date from February 6, 1792, at which time he would have been
entitled to his promotion had he not fallen under official displeasure.
Such prompt and flattering treatment of the needy officer by the
radicals who had just upset the monarchy, gives one additional cause to
suspect that Napoleon’s relation to current events and Jacobin leaders
was closer than the record shows. It became good policy for him in
after years to suppress the evidence of his revolutionary period. Thus
he burnt the Lyons essay, and bought up, as he supposed, all copies
of _The Supper of Beaucaire_. The conclusion is irresistible that the
efforts to suppress have been more successful as to the summer of 1792
than in the other instances. It is impossible to believe that Napoleon,
who had been so hot in the garrison towns where he was stationed in
France, and who had turned all Corsica topsy-turvy with democratic
harangues and revolutionary plots, should have become a passionless
gazer at the show in Paris.

Whatever share he took, or did not take, in the events of the summer,
he now turned homeward. The Assembly having abolished the St. Cyr
school, where his sister Elisa was, Napoleon asked and was given leave
to escort her back to Corsica. Travelling expenses were liberally
provided by the State. Stopping at Valence, where he was warmly greeted
by local friends, including Mademoiselle Bou to whom he owed a board
bill, Napoleon and Elisa journeyed down the Rhone to Marseilles, and
sailed for Corsica, which they reached on the 17th of September, 1792.

The situation of the Bonaparte family was much improved. The estate was
larger, the revenues more satisfactory. Joseph was in office. Lucien
was a leading agitator in the Jacobin club. The estate of the rich
uncle had helped things wonderfully. It must have been from this source
that Napoleon derived the fine vineyard of which he spoke to Las Cases,
at St. Helena, as supplying him with funds--which vineyard he afterward
gave to his old nurse. The position which his promotion in the army
gave him ended the persecution which had virtually driven him from
home; and a reconciliation was patched up between him and Paoli.

Napoleon insisted upon holding both his offices,--the captaincy in the
regular army and the lieutenant colonelship in the Corsican National
Guard. Paoli strongly objected; but the younger man, partly by threats,
carried his point. It may have been at this period that Paoli slightly
modified the Plutarch opinion; he is said to have remarked: “You see
that little fellow? Well, he has in him the making of two or three men
like Marius and one like Sulla!”

During his sojourn in Corsica, Napoleon took part in the luckless
expedition which the French government sent against the island of
Sardinia. The Corsican forces were put under the command of Paoli’s
nephew, Colonna-Cæsari, whose orders, issued to him by Paoli, who
strongly opposed the enterprise, were, “See that this expedition ends
in smoke.” The nephew obeyed the uncle to the letter. In spite of
Napoleon’s good plan, in spite of his successful attack on the hostile
forts, Colonna declared that his troops were about to mutiny, and he
sailed back home.

Loudly denouncing Colonna as a traitor, Napoleon bade adieu to his
volunteers, and returned to Ajaccio.

There was great indignation felt by the Jacobins against Paoli. He
was blamed for the failure of the Sardinian expedition, for his
luke-warmness toward the French Revolution, and for his alleged leaning
to England. The September massacres, and the beheading of the King, had
been openly denounced by the old hero, and he had exerted his influence
in favor of conservatism in Corsica. The Bonaparte faction was much
too rabid, and the Bonaparte brothers altogether too feverishly eager
to push themselves forward. The friendship and mutual admiration which
Napoleon and Paoli had felt for each other had cooled. Paoli had thrown
ice water on the _History of Corsica_, and had refused to supply the
author with certain documents needed in the preparation of that work.
Neither had he approved the publication of the _Letter to Buttafuoco_;
it was too bitter and violent. Again, his influence seems to have been
thrown against the Bonapartes at the Orezzo assembly. All these things
had doubtless had their effect; but the radical difference between
the two men, Napoleon and Paoli, was one of Corsican policy. Napoleon
wished to revolutionize the island, and Paoli did not. If Corsican
independence could not be won, Napoleon favored the French connection.
Paoli, dismayed by the violence of the Revolution in France, favored
connection with England.

It is said that Lucien Bonaparte, in the club at Ajaccio, denounced
Paoli as a traitor. The club selected a delegation to go to Marseilles
and denounce the old hero to the Jacobin clubs there. Lucien was a
member of the delegation; but after delivering himself a wild tirade
against Paoli in Marseilles, he returned to Corsica. The delegation
went on to Paris. In April, 1793, Paoli was formally denounced in the
National Convention, and summoned to its bar for trial.

At first Napoleon warmly defended Paoli, and drew up an impassioned
address to the Convention in his favor. In this paper he expressly
defends his old chief from the accusation of wishing to put Corsica
into the hands of the English.

Within two weeks after writing the defence of Paoli, Napoleon joined
his enemies. What brought about this sudden change is not certain. His
own excuse was that Paoli was seeking to throw the island to England.
As a matter of fact, however, Napoleon’s course at this period seems
full of double dealing. For a time he did not have the confidence of
either faction.

Sémonville, one of the French commissioners then in Corsica, related to
Chancellor Pasquier, many years later, how Napoleon had come and roused
him, in the middle of the night, to say: “Mr. Commissioner, I have
come to say that I and mine will defend the cause of the union between
Corsica and France. People here are on the point of committing follies;
the Convention has doubtless committed a great crime”--in guillotining
the King--“which I deplore more than any one; but whatever may happen,
Corsica must always remain a part of France.”

As soon as this decision of the Bonapartes became known, the Paolists
turned upon them savagely, and their position became difficult. The
French commissioners, of whom the leader was Salicetti, appointed
Napoleon inspector general of artillery for Corsica. He immediately
set about the capture of the citadel of Ajaccio, the object of so much
of his toil. Force failed, stratagem availed not, attempted bribery
did not succeed; the citadel remained untaken. Ajaccians bitterly
resented his desertion of Paoli, and his life being in danger, Napoleon
in disguise fled to Bastia. Indomitable in his purpose, he proposed
to Salicetti’s commission another plan for the seizure of the coveted
citadel. Some French war vessels then at St. Florent were to surprise
Ajaccio, land men and guns, and with the help of some Swiss troops,
and of such Corsicans as felt disposed to help, the citadel was to be

Paoli was warned, and he prepared for the struggle. The French war
vessels sailed from St. Florent, Napoleon on board, and reached Ajaccio
on May 29. It was too late. The Paolists, fully prepared, received the
assailants with musketry. Napoleon captured an outpost, and held it
for two days; but the vessels could not coöperate efficiently, and the
assailants abandoned the attempt. Napoleon joined his family at Calvi.
They had fled from Ajaccio as Napoleon sailed to the attack, and the
Paolists were so furiously enraged against them that their estates were
pillaged and their home sacked. Paoli had made a last effort to conquer
the resolution of Madame Letitia, but she was immovable. On June 11
the fugitives left Corsica for France, escaping from their enemies by
hiding near the seashore till a boat could approach in the darkness
of night and take them away. Jerome and Caroline were left behind,
concealed by the Ramolinos.

Napoleon himself narrowly escaped with his life. He was saved from
a trap the Peraldis had set by the faithfulness of the Bonaparte
tenants. He was forced to disguise himself, and lay concealed till
arrangements could be made for his flight. Far-seeing was the judgment
and inflexible the courage which must have sustained him in cutting
loose entirely from his first love, Corsica, and casting himself upon
revolutionary France. For it would have been an easy matter for him to
have gone with the crowd and been a great man in Corsica.

In his will Napoleon left 100,000 francs to Costa, the loyal friend to
whom he owed life at the time the Paolists were hounding him down as a


The French revolutionists had overturned the absolute monarchy of the
Bourbons, but they themselves had split into factions. The Moderates
who favored constitutional monarchy had been trodden under foot by
the Girondins who favored a federated republic; and the Girondins, in
their turn, had been crushed by the Jacobins who favored an undivided
republic based upon the absolute political equality of all Frenchmen.
To this doctrine they welded State-socialism with a boldness which
shocked the world at the time, and converted it a few years later. The
Girondins did not yield without a struggle, drawing to themselves all
disaffected elements, including the royalists; and the revolt which
followed was supported by the English. Threatened thus from within and
without, the Revolution seemed doomed to perish.

It was in the midst of this turmoil that the Bonapartes landed at
Toulon in June, 1793. In a short while they removed to Marseilles.
Warmly greeted by the Jacobins, who regarded them as martyrs to the
good cause, the immediate necessities of the family were relieved by a
small pension which the government had provided for such cases. Still,
as they had fled in such haste from their house in Ajaccio that Madame
Letitia had to snatch up the little Jerome and bear him in her arms,
their condition upon reaching France was one of destitution.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON

From an engraving by Tomkins of a drawing from life during the campaign
in Italy. In the collection of Mr. W. C. Crane]

“One of the liveliest recollections of my youth,” said Prince Napoleon,
son of Jerome Bonaparte, “is the account my father gave of the arrival
of our family in a miserable house situated in the lanes of Meilhan,”
a poor district of Marseilles. “They found themselves in the greatest

Having arranged for the family as well as he could, Napoleon rejoined
his regiment at Nice. To shield himself from censure, on account of
his prolonged absence, he produced Salicetti’s certificate to the
effect that the Commissioner had kept him in Corsica. The statement was
false, but served its purpose. So many officers had fled their posts,
and affairs were so unsettled, that it was no time to reject offers of
service; nor was it a good time to ride rough-shod over the certificate
of so influential a Jacobin as Salicetti.

Napoleon’s first service in France was against the Girondin revolt. At
Avignon, which the insurgents held, and which the Convention forces had
invested, Napoleon, who had been sent from Nice to secure necessary
stores, was appointed to the command of a battery. Mr. Lanfrey says,
“It is certain that with his own hands he pointed the cannons with
which Carteaux cleared Avignon of the Marseilles federates.”

About this time it was that Napoleon came in contact with Augustin
Robespierre, brother of the great man in Paris. The Convention
had adopted the policy of sending commissioners to the armies to
stimulate, direct, and report. Robespierre was at the head of one of
these formidable delegations, and was now at Avignon in his official
capacity. With him, but on a separate commission, were Salicetti and

To these gentlemen Napoleon read a political pamphlet he had just
finished, and which he called _The Supper of Beaucaire_. The pamphlet
was a discussion of the political situation. The author threw it into
the attractive and unusual form of a dialogue between several guests
whom he supposed to have met at an inn in the town of Beaucaire. An
actual occurrence of the sort was doubtless the basis of the pamphlet.

A citizen of Nismes, two merchants of Marseilles, a manufacturer
of Montpellier, and a soldier (supposed to be Napoleon), finding
themselves at supper together, fell naturally into conversation and
debate, the subject being the recent convulsions. The purpose of the
pamphlet was to demonstrate the weakness of the insurgent cause, and
the necessity of submission to the established authorities at Paris.

The Commissioners were so well pleased with Napoleon’s production that
they ordered the work published at the expense of the government.
Exerting himself in behalf of his family, Napoleon secured positions in
the public service for Lucien, Joseph, and Uncle Fesch.

       *       *       *       *       *

Into the great seaport town of Toulon, thousands of the Girondin
insurgents had thrown themselves. The royalists and the Moderates of
the city made common cause with the revolting republicans, and England
was ready to help hold the place against the Convention.

The royalists, confident the counter-revolution had come, began to
massacre the Jacobins in the town. The white flag of the Bourbons was
run up, displacing the red, white, and blue. The little boy, son of
Louis XVI., who was lying in prison at Paris, was proclaimed king
under the name of Louis XVII. Sir Samuel Hood, commanding the British
fleet, sailed into the harbor and took possession of about twenty-five
French ships, “in trust” for the Bourbons; General O’Hara hurried
from Gibraltar with troops to aid in holding this “trust”; and to the
support of the English flocked Spaniards, Sardinians, and Neapolitans.
Even the Pope could not withhold his helping hand; he sent some priests
to lend their prayers and exhortations.

When it became known throughout France that Toulon had revolted,
had begun to exterminate patriots, had proclaimed a Bourbon king,
had surrendered to the British the arsenal, the harbor, the immense
magazines, and the French fleet, a tide of furious resentment rose
against the town. There was but one thought: Toulon must be taken,
Toulon must be punished. The hunger for revenge said it; the promptings
of self-preservation said it; the issue was one of life or death to the

The Convention realized the crisis; the Great Committee realized
it; and the measures taken were prompt. Commissioners hurried to
the scene, and troops poured in. Barras, a really effective man in
sudden emergencies, Fréron, Salicetti, Gasparin, Ricord, Albitte,
and Robespierre the Younger were all on hand to inspirit the army
and direct events. Some twenty odd thousand soldiers soon beleagured
the town. They were full of courage, fire, and enthusiasm; but
their commander was a painter, Carteaux, whose ideas of war were
very primitive. To find where the enemy was, and then cannonade him
vigorously, and then fall on him with muskets, was about the substance
of Carteaux’ military plans. At Toulon, owing to peculiarities of the
position, such a plan was not as excellent as it might have been at
some other places. Besides, he had no just conception of the means
needed for such a work as he had undertaken. Toulon, with its double
harbor, the inner and the outer, its defences by land and by sea, to
say nothing of the fortresses which Lord Mulgrave had constructed
on the strip of land which separated and commanded the two harbors,
presented difficulties which demanded a soldier. Carteaux was brave and
energetic, but no soldier; and week after week wasted away without any
material progress having been made in the siege.

Near the middle of September, 1793, Napoleon appeared at Toulon,--at
just the right moment,--for the artillery service had well-nigh broken
down. General Duteuil, who was to have directed it, had not arrived;
and Dommartin had been disabled by a wound. How did Napoleon, of the
army of Italy, happen to be at Toulon at this crisis? The question is
one of lasting interest, because his entire career pivots on Toulon.
Mr. Lanfrey states that, on his way from Avignon to Nice, Napoleon
stopped at Toulon, was invited by the Commissioners to inspect the
works, and so won upon them by his intelligent comments, criticisms,
and suggestions, that they appointed him at once to a command.

Napoleon’s own account of the matter was that the Minister of War
sent him to Toulon to take charge of the artillery, and that it was
with written authority that he confronted Carteaux, who was not at
all pleased to see him. “This was not necessary!” exclaimed Carteaux.
“Nevertheless, you are welcome. You will share the glory of taking the
town without having borne any of the toil!”

But the biographers are almost unanimous in refusing to credit this
account. Why Napoleon should have falsified it, is not apparent. Mr.
Lanfrey says that Napoleon’s reason for not wishing to admit that the
Commissioners appointed him was that he was unwilling to own that he
had been under obligations to Salicetti. But Salicetti was only one
of the Commissioners; he alone could not appoint. So far was Napoleon
from being ashamed to acknowledge debts of gratitude that he never
wearied of adding to the list. In his will he admits what he owed to
the protection of Gasparin at this very period, and left a legacy of
$20,000 to that Commissioner’s son. Hence Mr. Lanfrey’s reasoning is
not convincing. Napoleon surely ought to have known how he came to be
at Toulon, and his narrative is natural, is seemingly truthful, and is
most positive.

But these recent biographers who dig and delve, and turn things over,
and find out more about them a century after the occurrences than the
men who took part in them ever knew, assert most emphatically that
both Mr. Lanfrey and Napoleon are wrong. They insist that the way it
all happened was this: After Dommartin was wounded, Adjutant General
Cervoni, a Corsican, was sent to Marseilles to hunt around and find
a capable artillery officer. Apparently it was taken for granted by
whoever sent Cervoni, that capable artillery officers were straggling
about at random, and could be found by diligent searchers in the lanes
and by-ways of towns and cities. We are told that Cervoni, arrived in
Marseilles, was strolling the streets, his eyes ready for the capable
artillery officer,--when, who should he see coming down the road,
dusty and worn, but his fellow-Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte! Here,
indeed, was a capable artillery officer, one who had just been to
Avignon, and was on his way back to Nice.

That Cervoni should at once invite the dusty Napoleon into a café
to take a drink of punch was quite as natural as any other part of
this supernatural yarn. While drinking punch, Cervoni tells Napoleon
his business, and urges him to go to Toulon and take charge of the
artillery. And this ardently ambitious young man, who is yearning
for an opening, is represented as at first declining the brilliant
opportunity Cervoni thrusts upon him! But at length punch, persuasion,
and sober second thought soften Napoleon, and he consents to go.

All this you may read in some of the most recent works of the diggers
and delvers; and you may believe it, if you are very, very credulous.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arrival on the scene of an educated artillery officer like
Napoleon, one whose handling of his guns at Avignon had achieved
notable success, was a welcome event. His friends, the Commissioners,
took him over the field of operations to show him the placing and
serving of the batteries. He was astonished at the crude manner in
which all the arrangements had been made, and pointed out the errors
to the Commissioners. First of all, the batteries were not in range of
the enemy; the balls fell into the sea, far short of the mark. “Let us
try a proof-shot,” said Napoleon; and luckily he used a technical term,
_coup d’épreuve_. Favorably impressed with this scientific method of
expression, the Commissioners and Carteaux consented. The proof-shot
was fired, and the ball fell harmlessly into the sea, less than
halfway to its mark. “Damn the aristocrats!” said Carteaux; “they have
spoilt our powder.”

But the Commissioners had lost faith in Carteaux’ management of the
artillery; they determined to put Napoleon in charge of it.

On the 29th of September, Gasparin and Salicetti recommended his
promotion to the rank of major, and on the next day they reported that
Bonaparte was “the only artillery captain able to grasp the operations.”

From the first Napoleon threw his whole heart into his work. He never
seemed to sleep or to rest. He never left his batteries. If exhausted,
he wrapped himself in his cloak, and lay down on the ground beside the

From Lyons, Grenoble, Briançon, he requisitioned additional material.
From the army of Italy he got more cannon. From Marseilles he took
horses and workmen, to make gabions, hurdles, and fascines. Eight
bronze guns he took from Martigues; timbers from La Seyne; horses from
Nice, Valence, and Montpellier. At the ravine called Ollioules he
established an arsenal with forty workmen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights,
carpenters, all busy making those things the army needed; also a
gunsmith’s shop for the repair of muskets; and he took steps to
reëstablish the Dardennes gun foundry.

Thus he based his hopes of success upon _work_, intense, well-directed,
comprehensive work. All possible precautions were taken, all
possible preparations made, every energy bent to bring to bear those
means necessary to the end. Nothing was left to chance, good luck,
providence, or inspiration. Cold calculation governed all, tireless
labor provided all, colossal driving force moved it all. In ever so
short a time, Napoleon was felt to be “the soul of the siege.” In
November he was made acting commander of the artillery. Carteaux had
been dismissed, and to the painter succeeded a doctor named Doppet.
The physician had sense enough to soon see that an easier task than
the taking of Toulon would be an agreeable change, and he asked to be
sent elsewhere. To him succeeded Dugommier, an excellent soldier of
the old school. Dutiel, official commander of the artillery, at length
arrived, and he was so well pleased with Napoleon’s work that he did
not interfere.

The Committee of Public Safety, sitting in Paris, had sent a plan of
operations, the main idea of which was a complete investment of the
town. This would have required sixty thousand troops, whereas Dugommier
had but twenty-five thousand. But he dared not disobey the terrible
Committee. Between the loss of Toulon and his own head he wavered
painfully. A council of war met. The Commissioners of the Convention
were present, among them Barras, Ricord, and Fréron. Officers of the
army thought the committee plan bad, but hesitated to say so in plain
words. One, and the youngest, spoke out; it was Napoleon. He pointed to
the map lying unrolled on the table, explained that Toulon’s defence
depended on the British fleet, that the fleet could not stay if a land
battery commanded the harbor, and that by seizing a certain point, the
French would have complete mastery of the situation. On that point on
the map he put his finger, saying, “There is Toulon.”

He put his plan in writing, and it was sent to the war office in Paris.
A second council of war adopted his views, and ordered him to put them
into execution.

The English had realized the importance of the strategic point named by
Napoleon, and they had already fortified it. The redoubt was known as
Fort Mulgrave; also as Little Gibraltar.

On the 30th of November the English made a desperate attempt to storm
Napoleon’s works. They were repulsed, and their leader, General O’Hara,
was taken prisoner. At St. Helena Napoleon said that he himself had
seized the wounded Englishman and drawn him within the French lines.
This statement appears to have been one of his fancy sketches. Others
say that General O’Hara was taken by four obscure privates of Suchet’s

A cannoneer having been killed by his side, Napoleon seized the rammer
and repeatedly charged the gun. The dead man had had the itch; Napoleon
caught it, and was not cured until he became consul.

Constantly in the thick of the fighting, he got a bayonet thrust in the
thigh. He fell into the arms of Colonel Muiron, who bore him to a place
of safety. Napoleon showed the scar to O’Meara at St. Helena.

It was at Toulon that fame first took up that young dare-devil, Junot,
whom Napoleon afterward spoiled by lifting him too high.

Supping with some brother officers near the batteries, a shell from
the enemy fell into the tent, and was about to burst, when Junot rose,
glass in hand, and exclaimed, “I drink to those who are about to die!”
The shell burst, one poor fellow was killed, and Junot drank, “To the
memory of a hero!”

Some days after this incident Junot volunteered to make for Napoleon a
very dangerous reconnoissance. “Go in civilian’s dress; your uniform
will expose you to too much risk.”--“No,” replied Junot, “I will
not shrink from the chance of being shot like a soldier; but I will
not risk being hanged like a spy.” The reconnoissance made, Junot
came to Napoleon to report. “Put it in writing,” said Napoleon; and
Junot, using the parapet of the battery as a desk, began to write. As
he finished the first page, a shot meant for him struck the parapet,
covering him and the paper with earth. “Polite of these English,” he
cried, laughing, “to send me some sand just when I wanted it.” Before
very long Napoleon was a general, and Junot was his aide-de-camp.

On December 17 everything was ready for the grand assault on the
English works. Between midnight and day, and while a rainstorm was
raging, the forts, which for twenty-four hours had been bombarded by
five batteries, were attacked by the French. Repulsed at the first
onset, Dugommier’s nerve failed him, and he cried, “I am a lost man,”
thinking of that terrible committee in Paris which would cut off his
head. Fresh troops were hurried up, the attack renewed, and Little
Gibraltar taken. Thus Napoleon’s first great military success was won
in a fair square fight with the English.


Assaults on other points in the line of defence had also been made, and
had succeeded; and Toulon was at the mercy of Napoleon’s batteries. The
night that followed was one of the most frightful in the annals of war.
The English fleet was no longer safe in the harbor, and was preparing
to sail away. Toulon was frantic with terror. The royalists, the
Girondins, the refugees from Lyons and Marseilles, rushed from their
homes, crowded the quays, making every effort to reach the English
ships. The Jacobins of the town, now that their turn had come, made the
most of it, and pursued the royalists, committing every outrage which
hate and lust could prompt. Prisoners broke loose, to rob, to murder,
to ravish. The town became a pandemonium. Fathers, mothers, children,
rushed wildly for safety to the quays, screaming with terror, and
plunging into the boats in the maddest disorder. And all this while the
guns, the terrible guns of Napoleon, were playing on the harbor and
on the town, the balls crashing through dwellings, or cutting lanes
through the shrieking fugitives on the quays, or sinking the boats
which were carrying the wretched outcasts away. The English set fire
to the arsenal, dockyard, and such ships as could not be carried off,
and the glare shone far and wide over the ghastly tumult. Intensifying
the horror of this hideous night came the deafening explosion of the
magazine ships, and the rain of the fragments they scattered over all
the surrounding water.

Some fourteen thousand of the inhabitants of Toulon fled with the
English; some other thousands must have perished in the bombardment
and in the butcheries of the days that followed. Toulon’s baseness had
aroused the ire, the diabolism of the Revolution, and the vilest men of
all her ravening pack were sent to wreak revenge. There was Barras, the
renegade noble; Fréron, the Marat in ferocity without Marat’s honesty
or capacity; Fouché, the renegade priest. And the other Commissioners
were almost as ferocious; while from the Convention itself came the
voice of Barère demanding the total destruction of Toulon. Great
was the sin of the doomed city; ghastly was its punishment. Almost
indiscriminately people were herded and mown down with musketry.

On one of the days which ensued, Fouché wrote to his friend, Collot
d’Herbois: “We have sent to-day 213 rebels to hell fire. Tears of joy
run down my cheeks and flood my soul.” Royalist writers do not fail
to remind the reader that this miscreant, Fouché, became minister of
police to Napoleon. They omit the statement that he was used by Louis
XVIII. in the same capacity.

Napoleon exerted himself to put a stop to these atrocities, but he
was as yet without political influence, and he could do nothing. Some
unfortunates he rescued from his own soldiers, and secretly sent away.
He was forced to witness the execution of one old man of eighty-four,
whose crime was that he was a millionnaire. “When I saw this,” said
Napoleon afterward, “it seemed to me that the end of the world had

In his spiteful _Memoirs_, Barras labors hard to draw a repulsive
portrait of the Napoleon of Toulon. The young officer is represented
as bustling about with a bundle of his _Supper of Beaucaire_, handing
copies right and left to officers and men. He is made to profess rank
Jacobinism, and to allude to Robespierre and Marat as “my saints.”
He pays servile court to the wife of Commissioner Ricord, and to the
Convention potentates generally. Of course he was on his knees to
Barras. That lofty magnate stoops low enough to mention, as a matter
detrimental to Napoleon, that his uniform was worn out and dirty--as
if a tattered and soiled uniform at the close of such a siege, such
herculean work, could have been anything but a badge of honor to
the soldier who wore it! Dugommier’s official report on the taking
of Toulon contains no mention of Napoleon by name, but he uses this
expression, “The fire from our batteries, directed with the greatest
talent,” etc. This allusion could have been to no other than to

To the minister of war Duteil wrote on December 19, 1793, “I cannot
find words to describe the merit of Bonaparte; a considerable amount
of science, just as much intelligence, and too much bravery, such is a
feeble outline of the virtues of that rare officer.”

The Commissioners themselves, whose names crowded the name of Bonaparte
out of the official report, recognized his services by at once
nominating him to the post of general of brigade.

       *       *       *       *       *

English authors dwell extensively on Napoleon’s hatred of their
country: do they never recall the origin of the feeling? Had not
England deceived old Paoli, crushed the opposite faction, and treated
Corsica as a conquest? Was it not the English faction which had sacked
the home, confiscated the property, and sought the lives of the
Bonaparte family? Had not England been striving to force the Bourbons
back on France; had it not seized the French ships at Toulon “in
trust”; had it not then given to the flames not only the ships, but
dockyards, arsenals, and magazines? Did not William Pitt, in the King’s
speech of 1794, include among the subjects of congratulation “the
circumstances attending the evacuation of Toulon”? Had not England,
in 1793, bargained with Austria to despoil France and divide the
booty: Austria to have Alsace and Lorraine; and England to have the
foreign settlements and colonies of France? “His Majesty” (of England)
“has an interest in seeing the house of Austria strengthen itself by
acquisitions on the French frontier; the Emperor” (of Austria) “must
see with pleasure the relative increase of the naval and commercial
resources of this country” (England) “over those of France.”

Historians have long said that England’s war with France was forced
upon her, that it was defensive. Does the language just quoted
(official despatches) sound like the terms of self-defence? It is the
language of aggression, of unscrupulous conquest; and the spirit which
dictated this bargain between two powers to despoil a third is the
same which gave life to each successive combination against the French
Republic and the Napoleonic Empire.

Like master, like man: the British ministry having adopted the policy
of blind and rancorous hostility in dealing with France, the same
fury of hatred pervaded the entire public service. Edmund Burke and
William Pitt inoculated the whole nation. “Young gentlemen,” said
Nelson to his midshipmen, “among the things you must constantly bear
in mind is to hate a Frenchman as you would the devil.” At another
time, the same illustrious Englishman declared, “I hate all Frenchmen;
they are equally the object of my detestation, whether royalists or
republicans.” Writing to the Duke of Clarence, he stated: “To serve my
king and to destroy the French, I consider the great order of all....
Down, down with the damned French villains! My blood boils at the name
of Frenchman!” At Naples he exclaimed, “Down, down with the French! is
my constant prayer.”

I quote Nelson simply because he was a controlling factor in these
wars, a representative Englishman, a man in full touch with the policy,
purpose, and passion of his government.

Consider England’s bargain with Austria; consider her bribes to Prussia
to continue the struggle when even Austria had withdrawn; consider the
animus of such leading actors as Burke and Nelson--is it any wonder
that Napoleon regarded Great Britain as the one irreconcilable and
mortal enemy of France?

And what was England’s grievance? Her rival across the Channel had
overturned a throne, slain a king, and proclaimed principles which were
at war with established tyranny. But had England never upset a throne,
slain a king, and proclaimed a republic?

Was it any matter of rightful concern to Great Britain that France had
cast out the Bourbons, and resorted to self-government? Did England, by
any law human or divine, have the right to impose her own will upon a
sister state? Was she right in seizing and destroying the French fleet
at Toulon, which she had accepted as a trust? Unless all these can be
answered Yes, Napoleon deserves no deep damnation for his hatred of
Great Britain.


The Mediterranean coast of France being almost at the mercy of the
English fleet, Napoleon was sent, immediately after the fall of Toulon,
to inspect the defences and put them into proper condition. He threw
into this task the same activity and thoroughness which had marked him
at Toulon, and in a short while the coast and the coasting trade were
secure from attack.

His duties carried him to Marseilles, where he found that a fortress
necessary to the defence of the harbor and town had been dismantled by
the patriots, who detested it as a local Bastille. Napoleon advised
that the fortifications be restored “so as to command the town.” This
raised a storm. The Marseilles Jacobins denounced Bonaparte to the
Convention. By that body he was summoned to appear at its bar. He had
no inclination to take such a risk, and hastened to Toulon, where he
put himself under the protection of Salicetti and Augustin Robespierre.
At their instance he wrote to the Paris authorities an exculpatory
letter, and the storm blew over.

In March, 1794, Napoleon returned to headquarters at Nice. By his
influence over the Commissioners of the Convention, young Robespierre
in particular, he became the dominant spirit of the army of Italy.

General Dumerbion, commander-in-chief, a capable officer but too old,
had been wasting time, or the strength of his troops, for several
months, in attacks upon the enemy (Piedmontese and Austrians) who were
intrenched at the foot of the maritime Alps. Despondent after repeated
failures, officers and men were contenting themselves with holding
their positions, and conducting such operations as were consistent with
extreme prudence. Napoleon had no sooner made a careful study of the
positions of the opposing forces, than he drew up a plan of campaign,
and submitted it to the commander-in-chief and the Commissioners. In
a council of war it was discussed and approved. Early in April, the
army was in motion; the position of the enemy was to be turned. Masséna
led the corps which was to do what fighting was necessary. The enemy
was beaten in two engagements, and Piedmont entered by the victorious
French, who then turned back toward the Alps. The communications
between Piedmont and the fortified camps of the enemy being thus
endangered, they abandoned them without a fight; and thus in a campaign
of a month the French won command of the whole range of the Alps, which
had so long resisted every attack in front.

At this time the Bonaparte family was living in Nice, and Napoleon,
during the months of May and June, 1794, spent much of his time with
his mother and sisters. Uncle Fesch, Joseph, and Lucien were in good
positions; and Napoleon secured for Louis, by the telling of some
falsehoods and the use of the influence of Salicetti, the rank of
lieutenant in the army. Louis was represented as having served as a
volunteer at Toulon, and as having been wounded there. As a matter of
fact, Louis had visited Napoleon during the siege, but had not served,
and had not been wounded.

Joseph Bonaparte was made war commissioner of the first class.
Napoleon, in securing him the place, represented Joseph as being the
holder of the commission of lieutenant colonel of Corsican volunteers,
the commission which Napoleon had won for himself at such a cost in his
native land. The fraud was discovered later on; but, for the present,
his brother Joseph was snugly berthed.

In July, 1794, Napoleon went to Genoa on a twofold mission. That
republic, which was wholly controlled by a few rich families, had been
giving aid and comfort to the enemies of republican France. The English
and the Austrians had been allowed to violate Genoa’s neutrality.
Also, the English had been permitted to set up an establishment for
the manufacture of counterfeit assignats--that peculiar policy of the
British ministry which had been used with good effect against the
revolted American colonies. Besides, there was a complaint that certain
stores bought from Genoa, and paid for, had not been delivered to the

Ostensibly, therefore, Napoleon’s mission was about the stores which
Genoa withheld, and about the neutrality which she was allowing to
be violated. But within this purpose lay another. Genoa, and her
neutrality was an obstacle to French military plans; she was weak, and
the temptation to seize upon her was strong. Napoleon while at Genoa
was to look about him with the keen eyes of a military expert, and to
form an opinion as to the ease with which the little republic could be
made the victim of a sudden spring.

This mission, which bears an unpleasant resemblance to that of a spy,
was undertaken at the instance of the younger Robespierre. Salicetti
and Albitte had not been consulted, and knew nothing of the secret
instructions given to Napoleon. Suddenly recalled to Paris by his
brother, Robespierre wished to take with him the young officer whose
“transcendent merit” he had applauded. With Napoleon to command the
Paris troops, instead of Henriot, the Robespierres might confidently
expect victory in the crisis they saw coming. But it was a part of
Napoleon’s “transcendent merit” to possess excellent judgment, and he
declined to go to Paris. So the friends parted: the one to visit little
Genoa and bully its feeble Doge, the other to return to the raging
capital and to meet sudden death there in generous devotion to his

Napoleon reached Nice again, July 21, 1794, after his successful
mission to Genoa, and in a few days later came the crash. The
Robespierres were overthrown, and the Bonapartes, classed with that
faction, fell with it. Napoleon was put under arrest; his brothers
thrown out of employment. For some reason Salicetti and Albitte,
previously so friendly to Napoleon, had turned upon him, had denounced
him to the Convention, and had signed the order of arrest--an order
almost equivalent to a death warrant.

It was a stunning, unexpected blow. Madame Junot, in her _Memoirs_,
hints that the traditional woman was at the bottom of it; that the
younger man, Napoleon, had found favor in the eyes of a lady who
looked coldly upon the suit of Salicetti. But this explanation does
not explain the hostility of other commissioners, for members of two
separate commissioners signed against Napoleon. Surely he had not cut
them all off from the smiles of their ladies. No; it would seem that
Napoleon owed his tumble to the fact that he was standing upon the
Robespierre scaffolding when it fell. He merely fell with it.

He was known as a Robespierre man, and to a very great extent he
was. He had been put under heavy obligations by the younger brother
whom he liked, and he did not believe that the elder was at heart
a bad man. He had seen private letters which the elder brother had
written to the younger, in which letters the crimes of the more rabid
and corrupt revolutionists were deplored, and the necessity for
moderation and purity expressed. Among those who befouled the names
of the Robespierres, either then or afterward, Napoleon is not to be
found. He understood well enough that the convulsion of July 27, 1794
(Thermidor), was the work of a gang of scoundrels (Barras, Fouché,
Carrier, Tallien, Billaud, Collot), who took advantage of circumstances
to pull down a man who had threatened to punish them for their crimes.
Napoleon believed then and afterward that Robespierre had been a
scapegoat, and that he had not been responsible for the awful days of
the Terror in June and July 1794. The manly constancy with which he
always clung to his own estimates of men and events is shown by the
way in which he spoke well of the Robespierre brothers when all others
damned them, and by his granting Charlotte Robespierre a pension at a
time when the act could not have been one of policy. Marvellous was
the complexity of Napoleon’s character; but like a thread of gold runs
through all the tangled warp and woof of his life the splendid loyalty
with which he remembered those who had ever been kind to him. Not once
did he ever pursue a foe and take revenge so far as I can discover;
not once did he ever fail to reward a friend, so far as the record is

Napoleon’s arrest created such indignation among the young officers of
the army of Italy that a scheme for his forcible release was broached.
Junot, Marmont, and other ardent friends were to take him out of prison
and flee with him into Genoese territory. Napoleon would not hear of
it. “Do nothing,” he wrote Junot. “You would only compromise me.”

Junot the hot-headed, Junot the tender-hearted, was beside himself
with grief; and he wept like a child as he told the bad news to Madame

But Napoleon himself was not idle. He knew that to be sent to Paris
for trial at that time was almost like going to the scaffold, and he
made his appeal directly to the Commissioners. By name he addressed
Salicetti and Albitte, in words manly, bold, and passionate, protesting
against the wrong done him, demanding that they investigate the case,
and appealing to his past record and services for proofs of his
republican loyalty. This protest had its effect. Salicetti himself
examined Napoleon’s papers, and found nothing against him. The
suspicious trip to Genoa was no longer suspicious, for his official
instructions for that trip were found.

After an imprisonment of about two weeks, he was released, but his
employment was gone. He still held his rank in the army, but he was
not on duty. It was only as an adviser and spectator that he remained,
and, at the request of Dumerbion, furnished a plan of campaign, which
was successful to the extent that Dumerbion pushed it. He did not push
it far enough to gain any very solid advantages, much to Napoleon’s

It was at this time that the incident occurred which he related at
St. Helena. He was taking a stroll with the wife of the influential
Commissioner Turreau, when it occurred to him to divert and interest
her by giving her an illustration of what war was like. Accordingly he
gave orders to a French outpost to attack the Austrian pickets. It was
a mere whim; the attack could not lead to anything. It was done merely
to entertain a lady friend. The soldiers could but obey orders. The
attack was made and resisted. There was a little battle, and there were
soldiers wounded, there were soldiers killed. And the entertainment
which the lady got out of it was the sole other result of the attack.

It was Napoleon who told this story on himself: he declared that he had
never ceased to regret the occurrence.

Corsican affairs now claimed attention for a moment in the counsels of
the government at Paris (September, 1794). For after the Bonapartes had
fled the island, Paoli had called the English in. The old hero intended
that there should be a protectorate, thought that England would be
satisfied with an arrangement of that sort, and that he, Paoli, would
be left in control as viceroy or something of the kind. But the English
had no idea of putting forth their strength for any such halfway
purpose. They intended that Corsica should belong to England, and that
an English governor should rule it. They intrigued with Paoli’s stanch
friend, Pozzo di Borgo, and Pozzo became a convert to the English
policy. King George III. of England wrote Paoli a polite and pressing
invitation to visit England, and Paoli accepted.

England bombarded and took the remaining French strongholds (February,
1794), went into quiet and peaceable possession of the island, and
appointed Sir Gilbert Elliott, governor. Of course Paoli’s stanch
friend, Pozzo di Borgo, was not forgotten; he was made president of the
state council under Elliott.

When commissioners from Paris came to the headquarters of the army of
Italy, instructed to suspend the operations of the army and to prepare
for an expedition against Corsica, Napoleon saw an opportunity to get
back into active service again. He sought and obtained, perhaps by the
favor of Salicetti, command of the artillery for the expedition. Great
preparations were made at Toulon to organize the forces and to equip
the fleet. In this work Napoleon was intensely engaged for several
months. His mother and the younger children took up their residence in
pleasant quarters near Antibes, and he was able to enjoy the luxury
of the home circle while getting ready to drive the English out of
Corsica. In due time the French fleet set sail; in due time it did what
French fleets have usually done--failed dismally. The English were on
the alert, swooped down, and captured two French vessels. The others
ran to shelter under the guns of shore forts. The conquest of Corsica
was postponed.


It must have been a sadly disappointed young man who rejoined his
family, now at Marseilles, in the spring of 1795. Gone was the Toulon
glory; gone the prestige of the confidential friend of commissioners
who governed France. Barely escaping with his life from the Robespierre
wreck, here he now was, stranded by the failure, the miserable
collapse, of an expedition from which so much had been expected. Very
gloomy must have been Napoleon’s “yellowish green” face, very sombre
those piercing eyes, as he came back to his seat at the hearth of the
humble home in Marseilles. Ten years had passed since he had donned his
uniform; they had been years of unceasing effort, painful labor, and
repeated failure. A demon of ill-luck had dogged his footsteps, foiled
him at every turn, made null all his well-laid plans. Even success had
come to him only to mock him and then drop him to a harder fall. Not
only had he lost ground, but his brothers had been thrown out of the
places he had obtained for them. In the midst of these discouragements
came another: Lacombe St. Michel, a commissioner who bore him no
good-will, urged the government to remove him from the army of Italy
and to transfer him to the West. An order to that effect had been
issued. This transfer would take him away from an army where he had
made some reputation and some friends, and from a field of operations
with which he was thoroughly familiar. It would put him in La Vendée,
where the war was the worst of all wars,--civil strife, brother against
brother, Frenchman against Frenchman,--and it would put him under the
command of a masterful young man named Hoche.

Absolutely determined not to go to this post, and yet desperately
tenacious in his purpose of keeping his feet upon the ladder, Napoleon
set out for Paris early in May, 1795, to exert himself with the
authorities. In the capital he had some powerful friends, Barras and
Fréron among them. Other friends he could make. In a government where
committees ruled, and where the committees were undergoing continual
changes, everything was possible to one who could work, and wait, and
intrigue. Therefore to Paris he hastened, taking with him his aides
Junot and Marmont, and his brother Louis.

Lodged in a cheap hotel, he set himself to the task of getting the
order of transfer cancelled. A general overhauling of the army list had
been going on recently, and many changes were being made. Napoleon’s
was not an isolated case. The mere transfer from one army to the other,
his rank not being lowered, was, in itself, no disgrace; but Aubrey,
who was now at the head of the war committee, decided upon a step which
became a real grievance. The artillery service was overstocked with
officers; it became necessary to cut down this surplus; and Napoleon,
as a junior officer, was ordered to the army of the West as general of
a brigade of infantry.

Napoleon regarded this as an insult, a serious injury, and he never
forgave the minister who dealt him the blow. Aubrey had been a
Girondin, and was at heart a royalist. He knew Napoleon to be a
Jacobin, if not a Terrorist. Without supposing that there were any
causes for personal ill-will, here were sufficient grounds for positive
dislike in times so hot as those. In vain Napoleon applied in person,
and brought to bear the powerful influence of Barras, Fréron, and the
Bishop of Marboz. Either his advocates were lukewarm, or his cause was
considered weak. Neither from the full committee nor from Aubrey could
any concession be wrung. Aubrey, himself a soldier of the perfunctory,
non-combative sort, believed that Napoleon had been advanced too
rapidly. “You are too young to be commander-in-chief of artillery,” he
said to the little Corsican. “Men age fast on the field of battle,” was
the retort which widened the breach;--for Aubrey had not come by any of
his age on fields of battle.

Foiled in his attempt on the committees as then constituted, Napoleon’s
only hope was to wait until these members should go out and others come
in by the system of rotation.

In the meantime he stuck to Paris with supple tenacity. By producing
certificates of ill-health, he procured and then lengthened leave of
absence from this obnoxious post in the West. He clung to old friends,
and made new ones. Brother Lucien having been cast into prison as a
rabid Jacobin, Napoleon was able to secure his release. Peremptory
orders were issued that Napoleon should go to his post of duty, but he
succeeded, through his friends, in evading the blow. Louis, however,
lost his place as lieutenant, and was sent back to school at Châlons.

In spite of all his courage and his resources, Napoleon became, at
times, very despondent. He wrote his brother Joseph that “if this
continues, I shall not care to get out of the way of the carriages
as they pass.” The faithful Junot shared with his chief the money he
received from home, and also his winnings at the gaming table;--for
Junot was a reckless gambler, and, being young, sometimes had good
luck. Bourrienne and Talma may also have made loans to Napoleon in
these days of distress, but this is not so certain. There is a letter
which purports to have been from Napoleon to Talma, asking the loan
of a few crowns, and offering repayment “out of the first kingdom I
win with my sword.” But Napoleon himself declared that he did not meet
Talma before the time of the consulate.

Idle, unhappy, out of pocket, Napoleon became morose and unsocial. If
he seemed gay, the merriment struck his friends as forced and hollow.
At the theatre, while the audience might be convulsed with laughter,
Napoleon was solemn and silent. If he was with a party of friends,
their chatter seemed to fret him, and he would steal away, to be seen
later sitting alone in some box of an upper tier, and “looking rather

Pacing the streets from day to day, gloomy, empty of pocket, his career
seemingly closed, his thoughts were bitter. He envied and hated the
young men who dashed by him on their fine horses, and he railed out at
them and at fate. He envied his brother Joseph, who had married the
daughter of a man who had got rich in the business of soap-making and
soap-selling. “Ah, that lucky rogue, Joseph!” But might not Napoleon
marry Désirée, the other daughter of the soap man? It would appear
that he wished it, and that she was not unwilling, but the soap-boiler
objected. “One Bonaparte in the family is enough.”

Napoleon traced his misfortunes back to the date of his arrest:
“Salicetti has cast a cloud over the bright dawn of my youth. He has
blighted my hopes of glory.” At another time he said mournfully,
striking his forehead, “Yet I am only twenty-six.” Ruined by a
fellow-Corsican! Yet to all outward appearance Salicetti and Napoleon
continued to be good friends. They met at Madame Permon’s from time to
time, and Salicetti was often in Napoleon’s room. Bourrienne states
that the two men had much to say to each other in secret. It was as
though they were concerned in some conspiracy.

On May 20, 1795 (1st of Prairial), there was a riot, formidable and
ferocious, directed by the extreme democrats against the Convention
and its moderates. The Tuileries was forced by the mob, and a deputy
killed. Intending to kill Fréron, the crowd slew Ferraud. The head of
the deputy was cut off, stuck on a pike, and pushed into the face of
Boissy d’Anglas, the president. Gravely the president took off his hat
and bowed to the dead. The Convention troops arrived, cleared the hall,
and put down the riot.

Napoleon was a witness to this frightful scene. After it was over, he
dropped in at Madame Permon’s to get something to eat. The restaurants
were all closed, and he had tasted nothing since morning. While eating,
he related what had happened at the Tuileries. Suddenly he inquired,
“Have you seen Salicetti?” He then went on to complain of the injury
Salicetti had done him. “But I bear him no ill-will.” Salicetti was
implicated in the revolt, and the conspiracy which preceded it may have
been the subject of those private conversations he had been having at
Napoleon’s room--conversations which, according to Bourrienne, left
Napoleon “pensive, melancholy, and anxious.”

The conspiracy had ripened, had burst into riot, and the riot had
been crushed. “Have you seen Salicetti?” A very pertinent inquiry
was this, for Salicetti was being hunted, and in a few days would be
proscribed. If caught, he would probably be executed. Madame Junot says
that while Napoleon spoke of Salicetti he “appeared very abstracted.”
Briefly to conclude this curious episode, Salicetti was proscribed,
fled for refuge to Madame Permon’s house, was hidden by her, and was
finally smuggled out of Paris disguised as her valet. Napoleon had
known where Salicetti lay concealed, but did not betray him. Was his
conduct dictated by prudence or by generosity? There was something
generous in it, no doubt; but the conclusion is almost unavoidable that
there was policy, too. If driven to the wall, Salicetti could have
disclosed matters hurtful to Napoleon. Those private interviews, secret
conferences, daily visits to Napoleon’s room on the days the conspiracy
was being formed--would they not look bad for a young officer who
was known to have a grievance, and who had been heard frequently and
publicly to denounce the government? This may have been what was on
Napoleon’s mind while he was so much buried in thought at Madame

It was fine proof of Napoleon’s judgment that he did not allow himself
to be drawn into the conspiracy. Angered against the government,
despising many of the men who composed it, restlessly ambitious, and
intensely yearning for action, the wonder is that he came within the
secrets of the leaders of the revolt and yet kept his skirts clear.

Napoleon at this period was sallow and thin; his chestnut hair hung
long and badly powdered. His speech was generally terse and abrupt.
He had not yet developed grace of speech and manner. When he came to
present Madame Permon a bunch of violets, he did it awkwardly--so much
so that his ungainly manner provoked smiles. His dress was plain. A
gray overcoat buttoned to the chin; a round hat pulled over his eyes,
or stuck on the back of his head; no gloves, and a black cravat, badly
tied; boots coarse, and generally unclean. When the weather was bad,
these boots would be muddy and wet, and Napoleon would put them on
the fender to dry, to the irritation of those who had exacting noses.
Madame Permon’s being a nose of that class, her handkerchief rose to
her nose whenever the Bonaparte boots rose to the fender. Napoleon, an
observant man, took the hint, and got into the habit of stopping in
the area for the chambermaid to clean his boots with her broom. His
clothes had become threadbare, his hat dilapidated. The bootmaker who
gave him credit in this dark hour was never forgotten. The Emperor
Napoleon persisted in patronizing the clumsy cobbler whose heart had
not hardened itself against the forlorn brigadier.

One night at St. Helena, when Napoleon, unable to sleep, was trying
to rob time of its tedium by recalling the vicissitudes of his past,
he related this incident: “I was at this period, on one occasion,
suffering from that extreme depression of spirits which renders life
a burden too great to be borne. I had just received a letter from
my mother, revealing to me the utter destitution into which she was
plunged. My own salary had been cut off, and I had but five francs
in my pocket. I wandered along the banks of the river, tempted to
commit suicide. In a few moments I should have thrown myself into the
water, when I ran against a man dressed like a mechanic. ‘Is that you,
Napoleon?’ and he threw himself upon my neck. It was my old friend, Des
Mazis, who had emigrated, and who had now returned in disguise to visit
his mother. ‘But what is the matter, Napoleon? You do not listen to me!
You do not seem to hear me!’

“I confessed everything to him.

“‘Is that all?’ said he, and unbuttoning his coarse waistcoat and
taking off a belt which he handed me, ‘Here are 30,000 francs which I
can spare; take them and relieve your mother.’”

Napoleon told how he was so overjoyed that he rushed away to send the
money to his mother, without having waited to thank his friend. Ashamed
of his conduct, he soon went back to seek Des Mazis, but failed to find
him anywhere. It was under the Empire that the two again met. Napoleon
forced ten times the amount of the loan upon Des Mazis, and appointed
him to a position which paid him 30,000 francs per year.

Low as he was in purse and spirit, Napoleon was too young, too strong,
too self-reliant to yield to despair for any length of time. His active
brain teemed with schemes for the future. His airy fancy soared all
the way from plans which involved a book store, and a leasing and
sub-letting of apartment houses, to service in Turkey and an empire in
the East. Sometimes his friends thought him almost crazy. Going with
Bourrienne, who was looking about for a suitable house, Napoleon took
a fancy to the house opposite, and thought of hiring it for himself,
Uncle Fesch, and his old Brienne teacher, Patrault: “With that house,
my friends in it, and a horse and cabriolet, I should be the happiest
fellow in the world.”

Junot relates that one evening when the two were walking in Jardin
des Plantes, Napoleon appeared to be overcome by the beauties of
his surroundings and the charms of the night. He made Junot his
confidant--he was in love, and his affection was not returned.
Junot listened, sympathized, condoled, and then made Napoleon _his_
confidant. Junot was also in love--he loved Pauline Bonaparte,
and wished to wed her. At once Napoleon recovered himself. Firmly
he rejected the proposition: Junot had no fortune, Pauline had
none--marriage was out of the question.

“You must wait. We shall see better days, my friend.--Yes! We shall
have them even should I go to seek them in another quarter of the

But where should he go? This question he put to himself and to the
few friends who felt interest in his fate. One of his former teachers
at Brienne, D’Harved, met him at this time in Paris, and was struck
by his dejected appearance. “Chagrin and discontent were vividly
painted on his face. He broke out into abuse of the government.”
D’Harved was afraid that such talk would endanger listener as well
as speaker, and at his instance they retired into the garden of the
Palais Royal, accompanied by an Englishman named Blinkam or Blencowe.
Napoleon continued to complain of the manner in which the authorities
had treated him, and he declared his purpose of leaving the country.
The Englishman proposed that they enter a restaurant. There the
conversation was resumed. Napoleon did not favor D’Harved’s suggestion,
that he offer his services to England. Nor did Germany attract him.
Spain might do, for “there is not a single warrior in that country.”

Then the Englishman proposed Turkey, promising to write letters which
would favorably dispose certain influential persons in Constantinople
to the luckless adventurer. Napoleon jumped at the idea. “His
countenance beamed with delight and hope.” He exclaimed, “I shall at
once solicit permission to depart to Constantinople.” And he did so.

At the end of July, Aubrey went out of office, and was succeeded in
the war committee by Doulcet de Pontécoulant. One of the first matters
which engaged his attention was the condition of the army of Italy.
It had been losing ground. Doulcet needed the advice of some one who
was familiar with the situation there; and Boissy d’Anglas recommended
Napoleon. Summoned to the war office, Napoleon answered all questions
promptly, and made suggestions as to what ought to be done, which so
dazzled the minister that he said to Napoleon, “General, take time
and write out what you propose, so that it may be laid before the

“Time!” cried Napoleon, “give me a couple of sheets of paper and a pen.
In half an hour I will have the plan of campaign ready.” He sat down
and wrote, but who could read that awful writing? Taking it home with
him, he made Junot copy it, and the plan was submitted to the full
committee, which sent it on to the army. Doulcet, favorably impressed
by Napoleon, retained him in the topographical bureau, where he and
three others drew up plans and directions for all the armies.

On the 16th of August the order was issued peremptorily, that Napoleon
should proceed to the post assigned him in the army of the West.
He did not obey, and powerful friends screened him. On August 30 he
applied to be sent to Turkey to increase the military resources of the
Sultan. On September 15 or 25 (for authorities differ painfully on the
date), a report signed by Cambacérès and others decreed that his name
be stricken from the list of generals in active service.

One reason given for the sudden harshness of the Committee in striking
his name off the list is that he had pressed for payment of fraudulent
accounts. He had claimed and received mileage from Nice to Paris, when
he had come from Marseilles only. He had also claimed pay for horses
sold by him according to orders, when he set forth on the Corsican
expedition. The authorities had no faith in these horses, considered
them purely imaginary; and, in consequence, Napoleon was spoken of very
harshly by government officials. Letourneur, who had succeeded Doulcet
on the Committee, was one of those who disliked and opposed him.

On September 15 a subcommittee reported to the full committee in favor
of the proposition, that Napoleon be sent, with officers of his suite,
to reorganize the military system of the Turks. Only in government by
committee could such a contradictory series of orders and resolutions
be possible. Napoleon had seriously canvassed the officers who were
to compose his suite on the mission to Turkey, when symptoms of
another revolutionary convulsion attracted his notice and halted his

The Convention, which had reeled and rocked along for three years, was
now about to adjourn. It felt that it must, and yet it did not wish to
do so. They therefore decreed that two-thirds of the next legislature
should be composed of themselves. The other third, the people might
elect. One reason for this strange law was that the royalist reaction
had become extremely threatening. The Count of Artois was said to be
hovering on the coast, ready to land an expedition from England, and to
march on Paris. The army of Condé was expecting to coöperate from the
Rhine. Paris was to give the signal by a revolt which should upset the

Besides the royalists, there were other formidable malcontents. There
were the poorer classes, who had been deprived of their votes by the
property qualification of the new constitution. In the revolt which
ensued, however, the royalists were the soul of the movement. The
extreme democrats, though hotly opposed to the property qualification,
hated royalism worse. Santerre was ready to sustain the Convention,
and did so. The very prisoners who had been lying in chains since the
democratic revolt of May (1st of Prairial) were now willing to fight
for the Convention, and did fight for it.

The centre of the insurrection against the Convention, its new
constitution, and its decrees was the Section Lepelletier, the home
of the rich men of the middle class. The National Guards from this
section, it will be remembered, had fought in defence of the King on
the famous 10th of August. It was now ready to fight for royalty again.

On the 4th of October (12th of Vendémiaire) the Section Lepelletier
declared itself in insurrection, and it became the rallying-point for
insurgents from all the sections of Paris. The National Guard, forty
thousand strong, had been so reorganized that it was now with the
insurgents. To the royalists the situation seemed full of promise,
for the Convention had but seven or eight thousand troops upon which
it could rely. General Dumas was selected by the Convention to take
command of its forces, but he had left town three days before.

General Menou, in command of the Convention forces, was ordered to
go and disarm and disperse the insurgents. For some reason, either
because he failed to realize the gravity of the crisis, or because he
was unnerved by it, he did the worst thing possible. He parleyed, and
compromised. He agreed to withdraw his troops on the promise of the
insurgents to withdraw theirs. He then retreated, and the insurgents
held their ground and their arms, loudly proclaiming their triumph.

As the nerveless and witless Menou was drawing off his men, a young
officer, on the steps of the Feydau Theatre, exclaimed to his
companion, “Where can that fellow be going?” It was Napoleon speaking
to Junot. And he continued: “Ah, if the sections would only let me lead
them, I would guarantee to place them in the Tuileries in two hours,
and have all those Convention rascals driven out!” Then he hurried to
the Tuileries to see what the Convention would do next.

It was evident that on the morrow the insurgents would attack. They
proclaimed their intention of doing so, and they were confident of

The Convention removed Menou from command, and placed him under arrest.
They then chose Barras commander-in-chief, remembering his vigor and
success in July, 1794, when Robespierre fell. Napoleon was made second
in command.

Just how this appointment came to be made, will always be a matter of
dispute. It is certain that Barras suggested Bonaparte’s name to the
Committee in the words: “I have precisely the man we want. It is a
little Corsican officer, who will not stand on ceremony.” Baron Fain
states that Napoleon was at this time in the topographical office, that
he was sent for, and sworn in by the Committee in the committee-room.
Napoleon himself, in one of his different versions, relates that he was
at the Feydau Theatre, was told what was happening at the Lepelletier
section, left the theatre, witnessed Menou’s retreat, and then hurried
to the Convention to see how the news would be received. Arrived at the
Tuileries, he mixed with the crowd in the galleries, and heard his name
called. Announcement was made that he had been appointed as aide to

Barras, in his turn, says that on this fateful evening Bonaparte could
not be found at any of his usual haunts, that he came to the Tuileries
late, looking confused, and that in answer to sharp questions he
admitted that he had come from the section Lepelletier, where he had
been reconnoitring the enemy. Barras charges that he had been dickering
with the other side.

By whatever means it came about, Napoleon Bonaparte was acting chief in
the famous 13th of Vendémiaire (5th of October, 1795). It was he whose
genius converted the Tuileries, which the Parisian mobs had time and
again stormed, into a fortress an army could not have taken. Cannon
were at Sablons, cannon he must have, and Murat at the head of three
hundred horse went in a gallop to bring the guns. In the nick of time
the order was given, for the insurgents had sent also. Murat’s mounted
men reached Sablons in advance of the unmounted insurgents, and the
cannon were whirled away to the Tuileries. Planted so as to command
all avenues of approach, they made the position invulnerable, for the
insurgents had no cannon.

General Thiébault says: “From the first, his activity was astonishing:
he seemed to be everywhere at once, or rather he only vanished at
one point to reappear instantly. He surprised people further by his
laconic, clear, and prompt orders, imperative to the last degree.
Everybody was struck also by the vigor of his arrangements, and passed
from admiration to confidence, and from confidence to enthusiasm.”

Morning came, and with it the insurgents; but at sight of the
formidable defences which had been the work of the night, they halted.
Hour after hour passed away in hoots, yells, threats, negotiation.
Toward evening it seemed that the Convention troops might be brought
to fraternize with the insurgents. Suddenly a musket was fired, and
the battle opened; or rather the cannonade commenced, for battle it
could not be called. The insurgents showed courage, but had no chance
of success whatever. It was cannon against muskets, an army intrenched
against a packed mob in the streets. The firing commenced at about four
in the evening. By six all was over.

A few attempts to rally the insurgents were made, but were easily
frustrated. The Convention forces carried out the orders Menou had
received by disarming the turbulent sections. A few of the ringleaders
of the revolt were tried and punished, but only one, Lafond, was

During this disarmament, which recent writers say never happened, but
which Menou had been officially instructed to effect, and which both
Napoleon and Barras say they _did_ effect, the victorious conventionals
made one of those mistakes incident to the prevailing darkness and
confusion. The house of Madame de Beauharnais was entered, the sword of
her late husband, the Viscount Beauharnais, was carried off. In a day
or so the son of the widow Beauharnais went to Napoleon and asked for
the return of his dead father’s sword. His request immediately granted,
and the sacred relic being placed in his hands, the boy covered the
handle of the weapon with kisses, and burst in tears. Napoleon’s
interest was deeply aroused, and he treated the lad with that winning
kindness which fascinated all who came within its influence. Such
report did Eugène Beauharnais carry home that his mother felt bound
to call upon the General, and thank him in person; and it was thus,
perhaps, that these two first met.

Later biographers scout this story as a romance fashioned by Napoleon
himself, and they say that (1) no disarmament took place; and (2)
that if such disarmament did take place, Madame Beauharnais, a friend
of Barras, would not have been molested. To say nothing of further
proof, the contemporaneous letter of Napoleon to Joseph shows that the
sections _were_ disarmed; and as to Madame Beauharnais being screened
by her friendly relations with Barras, _that_ presupposes every soldier
in the Convention army to have known all about Barras’s private
affairs. How could the thousands of Convention troops, fifteen hundred
of whom were democrats just out of jail, know who was or was not a
personal friend of Barras? The Convention was in the minority; it had
less than eight thousand troops: would it have left arms in the hands
of the majority and the forty thousand National Guards?

Captious critics call attention to the fact that Napoleon elsewhere
stated that he met his future wife at the house of Barras. This
assertion does not necessarily conflict with the other. A call at
the office of an official does not constitute a social meeting. When
Napoleon said he met Madame Beauharnais at the house of Barras, his
meaning probably was that he there first knew her socially. And why
should a man like Napoleon, who could lie so superbly when he tried,
invent so bungling a hoax as one which involved a disarmament of Paris
which did not take place, and the return of a sword which had never
been seized?

General Thiébault says: “A few days after the 13 of Vendémiaire
I happened to be at the office of the general staff when General
Bonaparte came in. I can still see his little hat surmounted by a
chance plume badly fastened on, his tricolor sash more than carelessly
tied, his coat cut anyhow, and a sword which did not seem the kind of
weapon to make his fortune. Flinging his hat on a large table in the
middle of the room, he went up to an old general, named Krieg, a man
of wonderful knowledge of military detail and author of a soldier’s
manual. He made him take a seat beside him at the table, and began
questioning him, pen in hand, about a host of facts connected with the
service and discipline. Some of his questions showed such complete
ignorance of some of the most ordinary things that several of my
comrades smiled. I was myself struck by the number of his questions,
their order, and their rapidity, no less than by the way in which the
answers were caught up, and often found to resolve themselves into
new questions, which he deduced as consequences from them. But what
struck me still more was the sight of a commander-in-chief perfectly
indifferent about showing his subordinates how completely ignorant
he was of various points of the business which the junior of them was
supposed to know perfectly, and this raised him a hundred cubits in my

Here we see Napoleon drawn to the life. Instead of sitting down to
gloat over his recent brilliant success, he had gone to work with the
devouring zeal of a man who had done just enough to encourage him to
do more. He did not idle away any time listening to congratulations.
His cannon having opened one door in his advance, his eager eyes were
already fixed far ahead on another, and his restless feet were in
the path. In his garrison days he had not loved the details of his
profession. Dull routine had been hateful, keeping him away from his
books and his solitary musings. Now it was different. He saw the need
of mastering everything which related to war, and, before he had even
arrayed himself in new uniform, he had sought the old officer, Krieg,
and was exhausting that source of information. In such direct, honest,
practical way he came by that knowledge of war which justified him in
saying in later years: “I know my profession thoroughly. Everything
which enters into war I can do. If there is no powder, I can make
it. If there are no cannon, I will cast them.” He knew better how to
construct a road or a bridge than any engineer in the army. He had the
best eye for ground, could best estimate distances, could best tell
what men could do on the march or in the field. Down to the pettiest
details, he studied it all. “Do you know how the shirts which come in
from the wash should be placed in the drawer? No? Then I will tell you.
Put them always at the bottom of the drawer, else the same shirts will
be constantly in use.” This advice he volunteered to the astonished
matron who had charge of the soldiers’ linen at the Invalides.

On October 12, 1795, Napoleon was restored to his grade in the
artillery, and was named second commandant in the Army of the Interior.
Ten days later, Barras having resigned his generalship, Napoleon became
general of division and commander-in-chief of the Army of the Interior.

On October 26, 1795, the Convention finally adjourned; and on the next
day it began to govern the country again with its two-thirds of the
new legislatures (councils of Ancients and of Five Hundred) and its
five regicide directors,--Barras, Carnot, Rewbell, Letourneur, and

Napoleon had become one of the dominant men of the State. In his every
movement was the sense of his power. His position good, he lost no
time in making it better. He took up suitable quarters in the _Rue
des Capuchines_, surrounded himself with a brilliant staff, donned a
handsome uniform, sported carriages and fine horses, and appeared in

He did not narrow himself to any clique or faction, but sought friends
in all parties. He protected and conciliated royalists, called back to
the service officers who had been retired, found good places for his
friends, sent bread and wood to famishing families in the districts of
the poor. At the same time he held down lawless outbreaks with a hand
of iron, and went in person to close the great club of the Panthéon,
the hot-bed of political agitation. He thoroughly reorganized the
Army of the Interior and the National Guard, formed guards for the
legislative councils and for the Directory, acting almost always on
his own responsibility, and consulting his superiors but little.

Uncle Fesch came to town to be nominally Napoleon’s secretary. Joseph
received money and the promise of a consulship. Lucien was reinstalled
in the fruitful commissary. Louis was once more lieutenant, and Jerome
was placed in school in Paris. Of course Madame Letitia and the sisters
basked in the sunshine also; for Napoleon could never do too much
for his family. Nor did he overlook the Permons. According to Madame
Junot, he had always liked them in the days of his poverty. Now that
prosperity had come, he loved them better than ever: so much so indeed
that he proposed that the Bonapartes should matrimonially absorb the
entire Permon family. Jerome was to be married to Laura Permon, Pauline
to Albert Permon, and Napoleon, himself, was to wed the widow Permon.
According to Laura (afterward Madame Junot), this proposition was
formally made by Napoleon, and laughed out of court by Madame Permon.
The baffled matchmaker continued his visits, however, and frequently
came to the house, accompanied by members of his staff.

One day as he stepped from his carriage, a poor woman held out toward
him a dead child in her arms--the youngest of her six children. It had
died of starvation, and the others would die if she could not get help.
Napoleon was deeply moved, gave the woman kind words and money, and
followed the matter up by getting her pensioned.

There was widespread squalor and misery in Paris during the winter
of 1795, and Napoleon showed tact as well as kindness and firmness
in preventing tumult. Consider that little picture which is usually
passed over so lightly: an angry mob of the unemployed, hungry,
desperate, threatening, and on the brink of violence. They suffer,
their wives starve, their children die in the garrets. Of course they
blame the government. How could such misery exist where there was
so much wealth and food, if the government was treating all fairly?
Furious women stir about in the crowd lashing the upper classes with
bitter tongues, and goading the men on to the point of rioting.
Napoleon and his escort arrive. One fat fisherwoman bustles and
bawls: “Don’t mind these dandies in uniform with epaulettes on their
shoulders! Don’t disperse! They care not if the poor people starve, if
they can but eat well and grow fat.”

Think of Napoleon, the leanest of all lean men, “the thinnest and
oddest object I ever laid eyes on,” sitting there on his horse
representing the unpopular “they”! “Madame, pray look at me: tell us
which of us two is the fatter.” The paunchy fisherwoman was stunned;
the crowd laughed, and fell to pieces.


The young Republic found itself beset by the old governments of Europe.
Because the Revolution proclaimed a new gospel, because it asserted the
divine right of the people to govern themselves, because it made war
upon caste and privilege, because it asserted the equal right of every
citizen to take his share in the benefits as well as the burdens of
society, because it threatened the tyranny of both Church and State, it
was hated with intense bitterness by the kings, the high-priests, and
the aristocracy of Europe.

In 1793 the first great league was formed to crush it, and to restore
the Old Order in France. The strong member of this combination against
human progress was Great Britain. Rendered secure from attack by her
ocean girdle and her invincible fleets, she nevertheless dreaded what
were called “French principles.” In these principles she saw everything
to dread; for they were most insidious, and few were the men of the
masses who, having learned what the new doctrine was, did not embrace

The common man, the average man, the full-grown man, the man who had
not been stunted by the Orthodox pedagogue or priest, could not listen
to the creed of the French republicans without feeling in his heart of
hearts that it offered to the world an escape from the system which
then enslaved it. Into Great Britain, in Germany, in Italy, in the
Netherlands, in Russia itself, the shock with which the Old Order had
fallen in France sent its vibrations--tremors which made the kings,
princes, and privileged who dwelt in the upper stories of the social
fabric quake with terror for the safety of the entire building.

The controlling man in England was William Pitt, able, proud,
cold, ambitious. Personally honest, his policy sounded the deepest
depravities of statecraft. Under his administration India was looted,
ravaged, enslaved; Ireland coerced and dragooned; France outlawed
because she dared to kill a king and call into life a republic; Europe
bribed to a generation of war; freedom of thought, and speech, and
conduct denied, and the cause of feudalism given a new lease of life.
The aims and ends of this man’s statesmanship were eternally bad; his
methods would have warmed the heart of a Jesuit. He would not stoop to
base deeds himself, would not speak the deliberately false word, would
not convey the bribe, would not manufacture counterfeit money, would
not arm the assassin, would not burn cities nor massacre innocent women
and children. No, no!--he belonged to what Lord Wolseley complacently
calls “the highest type of English gentleman,” and his lofty soul
would not permit him to do things like these himself. He would not
corrupt Irish politicians to vote for the Union; but he would supply
Castlereagh with the money from which the bribes were paid. He would
not himself debauch editor or pamphleteer to slander a political foe,
and deceive the British nation; but he supplied funds to those who
did. Nor would he have put daggers into the hands of fanatics that
they might do murder; but he protected and aided in England those who
did. Not a political criminal himself, he used criminals and garnered
the harvest of their crimes. Not himself capable of political theft,
he countenanced the political thief, approved his success, and as a
receiver of stolen goods, knowing them to have been stolen, haughtily
added huge gains to his political wealth.

The same lofty-minded minister who had debauched Ireland--an enemy to
Irish independence--made war upon free speech and political liberty in
England, and exhausted the resources of diplomacy and force to stamp
out the revolutionary movement of France. Under his sanction, his
emissaries attacked the French Republic by forging and counterfeiting
her paper currency; by arming her factions the one against the other;
by corrupting her trusted leaders; by nerving the hand of the assassin
when the corruptionist could not prevail. That London harbored the
Bourbon and his paid assassin was due to the influence of William Pitt.
That the Bourbon could land on the French coast the emissaries who came
to rouse Vendeans to revolt, or to murder Bonaparte in Paris, was due
to the position of William Pitt.

To the same eminent statesman was due the fact that for a whole
generation British newspapers were so filled with falsehoods against
France and Napoleon that an Englishman could not know the truth without
leaving his country to hear it. To the same cause was due the league
after league of Europe against France, which, beginning in 1793,
reunited and renewed the struggle as often as opportunity offered until
France was crushed, and the hands upon the clock of human progress put
back a hundred years.

Without England, the coalitions against republican France would have
had trifling results. It was England which furnished inexhaustible
supplies of money; England which scoured the ocean with her fleets and
maintained the blockade.

There had been a time when the French Revolution was not unpopular in
Great Britain. This was when the reform movement was under the control
of leaders who proclaimed their purpose to be to model the monarchy
in France upon that of England. So long as professions of this sort
were made, there was nothing to awaken distrust in staid, conservative
England. Even aristocracy loves a fettered king. But when more radical
men wrested leadership from the constitutionals, and boldly declared
that the work of reform must strike deeper, must destroy feudalism
root and branch, must consign a corpulent Church to the poverty whose
beauties it preached, the lords and the bishops of Great Britain
realized that the time had come when they must legislate, preach, pray,
and fight against inovations which, if successful in France, would
inevitably cross the narrow Channel.

All the machinery of repression was put to work. Books were written
against the Revolution, and paid for by pensions drawn from the common
treasury. Sermons were preached against the Revolution, and paid for
in salaries drawn from the State funds. Parliament was set in motion
to enact rigorously oppressive laws, and courts were set in motion to
enforce the statutes. The political system in England might be ever
so bad, but the people should not discuss it. Public meetings became
criminal; public reading rooms, unlicensed, were criminal. By the
plain letter of the law of Christian England, if any citizen opened
his house or room “for the purpose of reading books, or pamphlets,
or newspapers,” such citizen became a criminal and such house “a
disorderly house.” Before the citizen could permit others to use his
books for pay, he must secure the approval and the license of bigoted
Tory officials. No public meeting at all could be held unless a notice
of such meeting signed by a householder, and stating the object of the
meeting, should be inserted in a newspaper at least five days previous
to the meeting. And even then the Tory justice of the peace was
empowered to break up the meeting and imprison the persons attending
it, if he thought the language held by the speaker of the meeting was
calculated to bring the King or the government into contempt. Not even
in the open fields could any lecture, speech, or debate be had without
a license from a Tory official.

The government spy, the paid informer, went abroad, searching,
listening, reporting, persecuting, and prosecuting. No privacy was
sacred, no individual rights were respected, terrorism became a system.
Paine’s _Rights of Man_ threw the upper classes into convulsions; his
_Common Sense_ became a hideous nightmare. Men were arrested like
felons, tried like felons, punished like felons for reading pamphlets
and books which are now such commonplace exponents of democracy that
they are well-nigh forgotten. It was a time of misrule, of class
legislation, of misery among the masses. It was a time when the laborer
had almost no rights, almost no opportunities, almost no inducement
to live, beyond the animal instinct which preserves the brute. It was
a time when the landlord was almost absolute master of land and man;
when the nobleman controlled the King, the House of Lords, and the
House of Commons. It was a time when a duke might send half a dozen of
his retainers to take seats in Parliament, or when he might advertise
the seats for sale and knock them down to the highest bidder. It was
a time when a close corporation of hereditary aristocrats controlled
England like a private estate, taxed her people, dictated her laws,
ruled her domestic and foreign policies, and made war or peace
according to their own good pleasure. It was a time when it might have
been said of most English towns as the town-crier reported to his Tory
masters in reference to the village of Bolton--that he had diligently
searched the place and had found in it neither _The Rights of Man_ nor
_Common Sense_.

There was one class which shared with the nobles the control of
English national policies, and this was that of the great merchants
and manufacturers. The exporter, The Prince of Trade, was a power
behind the throne, and in foreign affairs his selfish greed dominated
England’s policy.

This governing class, as Napoleon said, looked upon the public, the
people, as a milch cow; the only interest which they had in the cow was
that it should not go dry. Offices, dignities, salaries, were handed
down from sire to son. By hereditary right the government, its purse
and its sword, belonged to these noble creatures whose merit frequently
consisted solely in being the sons of their sires. To fill the ships
which fought for the supremacy of this oligarchy, press-gangs prowled
about the streets on the hunt for victims. Poor men, common laborers,
and people of the lowlier sort were pounced upon by these press gangs,
and forcibly carried off to that “hell on earth,” a British man-of-war
of a century ago. One instance is recorded of a groom coming from the
church where he had just been married, and who was snatched from the
arms of his frantic bride and borne off--to return after many years to
seek for a wife long since dead, in a neighborhood where he had long
been forgotten.

In the army and in the fleet soldiers and sailors were lashed like dogs
to keep them under; and it was no uncommon thing for the victims to die
from the effects of the brutal beating.

Considering all these things, the reader will understand why England
made such determined war upon republican France. Against that country
she launched armies and fleets, bribed kings and ministers, subsidized
coalitions, straining every nerve year in and year out to put the
Bourbons back on the throne, and to stay the advance of democracy. She
temporarily succeeded. Her selfish King, nobles, and clericals held
their grip, and postponed the day of reform. But the delay was dearly
bought. The statesmanship of Pitt, Canning, Castlereagh, and Burke
strewed Europe with dead men, and loaded nations with appalling debts.
Upon land and sea, in almost every clime, men of almost every race were
armed, enraged, and set to killing each other in order that the same
few might continue to milk the cow.

In forming an opinion about Napoleon, it must be remembered that
when he first came upon the scene he found these conditions already
in existence,--Europe in league against republican France. With the
creation of those conditions he had had nothing to do. Not his was
the beginning of the Revolution; not his the execution of Louis XVI.;
not his the quarrel with England. If Great Britain and her allies
afterward concentrated all their abuse, hatred, and hostility upon him,
it was because he had become France; he had become, as Pitt himself
said, “the child and champion of democracy”; he had become as Toryism
throughout the world said, the “embodiment of the French Revolution.”

This is the great basic truth of Napoleon’s relations with Europe; and
if we overlook it, we utterly fail to understand his career. In an
evil hour for France, as well as for him, the allied kings succeeded
in making the French forget her past. It was not till the Bourbons
had returned to France, to Spain, to Italy; it was not till feudalism
had returned to Germany with its privilege, its abuses, its stick for
the soldier, its rack and wheel for the civilian; it was not till
Metternich and his Holy Alliance had smashed with iron heel every
struggle for popular rights on the Continent; it was not till Napoleon,
dead at St. Helena, was remembered in vivid contrast to the soulless
despots who succeeded him, that liberalism, not only in France, but
throughout the world, realized how exceeding great had been the folly
of the French when they allowed the kings to divorce the cause of
Napoleon from that of the French people.


The French Revolution was no longer guided by the men of ideals. With
the downfall of Robespierre had come the triumph of those who bothered
themselves with no dreams of social regeneration, but whose energies
were directed with an eye single to their own advantage. Here and there
was left a relic of the better type of revolutionist, “a rose of the
garden left on its stalk to show where the garden had been”; but to one
Carnot there were dozens of the brood of Barras.

The stern, single-minded, terribly resolute men of the Great Committee,
who had worked fourteen hours a day in a plainly furnished room of the
Tuileries, taking their lunch like common clerks as they stood about
the table at which they wrote,--smiling perhaps, as they ate, at some
jest of Barère,--with no thought of enriching themselves, intent only
upon working out the problems of the Revolution in order that France
might find her way to a future of glory and happiness--these men were
gone, to come no more. Fiercely attached to variant creeds, they had
warred among themselves, destroying each other, wearying the world with
violence, and giving the scoundrels the opportunity to cry “Peace!”
and to seize control. True, the work of the Revolution had been done
too well to be wholly undone. Feudalism had been torn up root and
branch; it could never be so flourishing again. Absolutism, royal
and papal infallibility, had been trodden into the mire where they
belonged; they might be set in place again, but they would never more
look quite so dazzling, nor be worshipped with quite such blindness
of devotion. Great principles of civil and religious liberty had been
planted; they could never be wholly plucked out. The human race had
for once seen a great people fill its lungs and its brain with the air
and the inspiration of absolute freedom from priest, king, aristocrat,
precedent, conventionality, and caste-made law; the spectacle would
never be forgotten, nor the example cease to blaze as a beacon,
lighting the feet and kindling the hopes of the world.

But, for the time, the triumph of the venal brought with it shame
and disaster to the entire body politic. The public service corrupt,
the moral tone of society sank. Ideals came into contempt, idealists
into ridicule. The “man of the world,” calling himself practical,
and priding himself on his ability to play to the baser passions
of humanity, laughed revolutionary dogmas aside, put revolutionary
simplicity and honesty out of fashion, made a jest of duty and
patriotism, and prostituted public office into a private opportunity.

Hordes of adventurers, male and female, stormed the administration,
took it, and looted it. The professional money-getter controlled the
Directory: the contractor, stock-jobber, fund-holder, peculator, and
speculator. In all matters pertaining to finance, the Bourse was
the government. The nobility of the Old Order had monopolized the
State’s favors under the kings; the rich men of the middle class, the
Bourgeoisie, did so now. The giver and the taker of bribes met and
smiled upon each other; the lobbyist hunted his prey and found it.
Once again the woman, beautiful, shrewd, and unchaste, became greater
than the libertine official who had surrendered to her charms; and she
awarded fat contracts, trafficked in pardons and appointments, and
influenced the choice of army chiefs.

The government no longer concerned itself with chimeras, dreams of
better men and methods, visions of beneficent laws dealing impartially
with an improving mass of citizenship. Just as the Grand Monarch’s
court had revelled in the fairyland of joy and light and plenty at
Versailles while peasants in the provinces fed on grass and roots,
dying like flies in noisome huts and garrets; just as the Pompadour of
Louis the XV. had squandered national treasures upon diamonds, palaces,
endless festivities, while the soldiers of France starved and shivered
in Canada, losing an empire for want of ammunition to hold it! so,
under the Directory, Barras held court in splendor, while workmen died
of want in the garrets of Paris; and he feasted with his Madame Tallien
or his Josephine Beauharnais, while the soldiers on the Rhine or on
the Alps faced the winter in rags, and were forced to rob to keep from

This wretched state of things had not reached its climax at the period
I am treating, but the beginnings had been made, the germs were all
present and active.

In this revival of mock royalty, Barras outshone his peers. He was of
most noble descent, his family “as old as the rocks of Provence”; his
manners redolent of the Old Régime, and much more so his morals. His
honesty, like his patriotism, delighted in large bribes; and he never
by any chance told the truth if a lie would do as well. His person
was tall and commanding; his voice, in a crisis, had sometimes rung
out like a trumpet and rallied the wavering, for the man was brave and
capable of energetic action. But he was a sensualist, base to the core,
vulgar in mind and heart, true to no creed, and capable of no high,
noble, strenuous rôle. Rotten himself, he believed that other men were
as degraded. As to women, they never stirred a thought in him which
would not, if worded in the ears of a true woman, have mantled her
cheek with shame.

This was the man to whom Napoleon had attached himself; this was the
man in whose house Josephine was living when Napoleon met her. Barras
was the strong man of the hour; Barras had places to give and favors to
divide; Barras was the candle around which fluttered moths large and
small; and to this light had come the adventurer from Corsica, and the
adventuress from Martinique. Usually it is the candle which singes the
moth; in this case it was the moths which put out the candle.

Napoleon had become a thorough man of the world. Hard experience had
driven away sentimental illusions. The visionary of the Corsican
sea-lulled grotto, the patriotic dreamer of the Brienne garden-harbor,
had died some time ago. The man who now commanded the Army of the
Interior was different altogether. Reading, experience, observation,
the stern teachings of necessity, had taught him to believe that the
Italian proverb was true, “One must not be too good, if one would
succeed.” He believed now that rigid principles were like a plank
strapped across the breast: not troublesome when the path led through
the open, but extremely detrimental to speed in going through a wood.
He had studied the lives of great men,--Alexander, Cæsar, Richelieu,
Frederick, Cromwell,--and the study had not tended to his elevation
in matters of method. He had studied the politics of the world, the
records of national aggrandizement, the inner secrets of government,
and his conceptions of public honor had not been made more lofty.
He had come to believe that interest governed all men; that no such
things as disinterested patriotism, truth, honor, and virtue existed on
earth. He believed that life was a fight, a scramble, an unscrupulous
rush for place, power, riches; and that the strongest, fleetest, most
artful would win--especially if they would take all the short cuts.
Idealogists he despised.

Cold, calculating, disillusioned, he took the world as he found it.
New men and women he could not create, nor could he create other
conditions, moral, social, political, or material. He must recognize
facts, must deal with actualities. If bad men alone could give him what
he wanted, he must court the bad men. If bad men only could do the
work he wanted done, he must use the bad men. Barras, Fréron, Tallien,
being in power, he would get all he could out of them, just as he had
exhausted the friendship of Robespierre and Salicetti, and just as he
afterward used Fouché and Talleyrand.

Nor was he more scrupulous in his relations with women. He must have
known the character of Madame Tallien, mistress and then wife of the
man of July, and now mistress of Barras; but nevertheless he sought
her acquaintance, and cultivated her friendship. Knowing the character
of Madame Tallien, he must have felt that her bosom friend, Madame
Beauharnais, could not be wholly pure. He saw them together night and
day, he witnessed their influence with Barras; it is impossible that he
did not hear some of the talk which coupled their names with that of
the libertine Director. He must have heard of the early life of this
creole widow, whose husband, the Viscount Beauharnais, had separated
from her, accusing her of scandalous immorality. He must have heard
that after her husband had been guillotined, and she herself released
from prison by the overthrow of Robespierre, she had begun a life of
fashionable dissipation. He must have heard the talk which coupled her
name with that of such women as Madame Tallien, Madame Hamelin, and a
dozen other Aspasias of like kind. The names of her lovers were bruited
about like those of Madame Tallien, one of these lovers having been
General Hoche. Now that she, a widow just out of prison, having no
visible income or property, and whose children had been apprenticed at
manual labor, sported a magnificent establishment, wore most expensive
toilets, led the life of the gayest of women,--the favorite of those
who had recently beheaded her husband,--the world classed her with
those with whom she was most intimate, and thought her morals could
not be purer than those of her associates. Justly or unjustly, she was
regarded as one of the lights of the harem of Barras; and people were
beginning to hint that she and her extravagance had become a burden of
which the Director would gladly be rid.

Napoleon had never come under the spell of such society as that which
he had now entered. That fleeting glimpse of polite society which
he had caught at Valence bore no comparison to this. In his limited
experience he had not met such women as Madame Tallien and Josephine.
He moved in a new sphere. Around him was the brilliance of a court. In
apartments adorned with every ornament and luxury, night was turned
into day; and with music, the dance, the song, the feast, men and
women gave themselves to pleasure. He, the unsocial man of books and
camps, was not fitted to shine in this social circle. He was uncouth,
spoke the language with an unpleasant accent, had no graces of manner
or speech, had nothing imposing in figure or bearing, and he felt
almost abashed in the high presence of these elegant nullities of the

Shy, ill at ease, he was not much noticed and not much liked by the
ladies of the directorial court, with one exception--Josephine. Either
because of the alleged return of the sword, and the good impression
then made, or because of her natural tact and kindness of heart, Madame
Beauharnais paid the uncouth soldier those little attentions which
attract, and those skilful compliments which flatter, and almost before
he was aware of it Napoleon was fascinated. Here was a woman to take a
man off his feet, to inflame him with passion. She was no longer young,
but she was in the glorious Indian summer of her charms. Her perfect
form was trained in movements of grace. Her musical voice knew its own
melody, and made the most of it. Her large, dark eyes with long lashes
were soft and dreamy. Her mouth was sweet and sensuous. Her chestnut
hair was elegantly disordered, her shoulders and bust hid behind no
covering, and of her little feet and shapely ankles just enough was
seen to please the eye and stimulate the imagination.

As to her costume and her general toilet, it was all that studied art
and cultivated taste could do for generous nature. Madame Tallien was
more beautiful and more queenly than Josephine, many others excelled
her in wit, accomplishments, and mere good looks; but it may be doubted
whether any lady of that court, or other courts, ever excelled the
gentle Josephine in the grace, the tact, the charm, which unites in the
make-up of a fascinating society woman.

Add to this that she was sensual, elegantly voluptuous, finished in
the subtle mysteries of coquetry, fully alive to the power which the
physically tempting woman exerts over the passions of men, and it
can be better understood how this languishing but artful widow of
thirty-three intoxicated Napoleon Bonaparte, the raw provincial of

That he _was_ madly infatuated, there can be no doubt. He loved her,
and he never wholly ceased to love her. Never before, never afterward,
did he meet a woman who inspired him with a feeling at all like that
he felt for her. If he did not know at that time what she had been,
he knew after the marriage what she continued to be, and he made a
desperate effort to break the spell. He could not completely do so.
She might betray his confidence, laugh at his love-letters, neglect
his appeals, squander his money, sell his secrets, tell him all sorts
of falsehoods, underrate his value, misconceive his character, and
befoul his honor with shameless sin; but against her repentance and her
childlike prayers for pardon, the iron of his nature became as wax.
Before those quivering lips, before those tear-filled eyes, before
that tenderly sweet voice, all broken with grief, he could rarely
stand. “I will divorce her!” he said fiercely to his brothers, when
they put before him proofs of her guilt, after the Egyptian campaign.
But through the locked door came the sobs of the stricken wife, came
her plaintive pleadings. “_Mon ami!_” she called softly, called hour
after hour, piteously knocking at the door. It was too much; the cold
resolution melted; the soldier was once more the lover, and the door
flew open. When the brothers came next day to talk further about the
divorce, they found little Josephine, happy as a bird, sitting on
Napoleon’s knee, and nestling in his arms.

“Listen, Bourrienne!” exclaimed Napoleon, joyously, on his return to
Paris from Marengo, “listen to the shouts of the people! It is sweet to
my ears, this praise of the French--as sweet as the voice of Josephine!”

Even when cold policy demanded the divorce, it was he who wept the
most. “Josephine! my noble Josephine! The few moments of happiness I
have ever enjoyed, I owe to you!”

And in the closing scene at St. Helena it was the same. The dying
man thought no more of the Austrian woman. Even in his delirium, the
wandering memory recalled and the fast freezing lips named “Josephine!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet calculation played its part in Napoleon’s marriage, as it did in
everything he undertook. He was made to believe that Josephine had
fortune and high station in society. He weighed these advantages in
considering the match. Both the fortune and the social position would
be valuable to him. In fact, Josephine had no fortune, nor any standing
in society. Men of high station were her visitors; their wives were
not. All the evidence tends to show that Barras arranged the match
between his two hangers-on, and that the appointment to the command of
the Army of Italy became involved in the negotiation. Napoleon received
this coveted commission March 7, 1796; two days later the marriage

On the register both Napoleon and Josephine misrepresented their ages.
He had made himself one year older, and she three years younger, than
the facts justified. There was a difference of six years between them,
and Madame Letitia angrily predicted that they would have no children.

In forty-eight hours after the marriage, Napoleon set out for Italy. At
Marseilles he stopped, spending a few days with his mother and sisters.
On March 22, 1796, he was at Nice, the headquarters of the army with
which he was to win immortality.

Almost at every pause in his journey Napoleon had dashed off hot
love-letters to the languid Josephine whom he left at Paris. The bride,
far from sharing the groom’s passion, did not even understand it--was
slightly bored by it, in fact. Now that he had gone off to the wars,
she relapsed into her favorite dissipations, she and her graceful
daughter Hortense.

Madame Junot gives an account of a ball at the banker Thellusson’s,
which not only illustrates the social status of Josephine, but also the
mixed conditions which the Revolution had brought about in society.

Thellusson was a rich man, and not a nobleman; one of those unfortunate
creatures who, in the eyes of lank-pursed aristocrats, have more money
than respectability. In our day he would be called a plutocrat, and
he would hire some bankrupt imbecile with a decayed title to marry
his idiotic daughter. For Thellusson, just like a plutocrat with
more money than respectability, craved what he did not have, and was
giving entertainments to foist himself up the social height. Of course
he crowded his sumptuous rooms with a miscellany of people, most of
whom despised him, while they feasted with him. It was one of these
entertainments, a ball, at which took place the incidents Madame Junot

It seems that a captious, querulous, nose-in-the-air _Grand Dame_,
Madame de D., had been decoyed to this Thellusson ball by the assurance
of the Marquis de Hautefort that she would meet none but the best
people--her friends of the Old Régime. Very anxious to see former
glories return, and very eager to meet her friends of this bewitching
Old Régime, Madame de D. not only came to the ball herself, but
consented to bring her daughter, Ernestine. As all high-born people
should, Madame de D. and her daughter Ernestine arrived late. The
ballroom was brilliant, but crowded. The high-born late comers could
find no seats, an annoyance which the Marquis de Hautefort, who was on
the lookout for them, at once tried to remedy.

A sylph-like young lady, who had been divinely dancing, was being led
to her place beside another beautifully dressed woman who seemed to be
an elder sister. So charming was the look of these seeming sisters that
even Madame de D. admired.

“Who are those persons?” she inquired of the Marquis, before the seats
had been brought.

“What!” he exclaimed, “is it possible that you do not recognize
Viscountess Beauharnais, now Madame Bonaparte, and her daughter
Hortense? Come, let me seat you beside her; there is a vacant place by
her, and you can renew your acquaintance.”

Madame de D. stiffened with indignation and made no reply. Taking the
old Marquis by the arm, she led him to a side room and burst forth:
“Are you mad? Seat me beside Madame Bonaparte! Ernestine would be
obliged to make the acquaintance of her daughter. I will never connect
myself with such persons--people who disgrace their misfortunes!”

Presently there entered the ballroom a woman, queen-like, lovely as
a dream, dressed in a plain robe of Indian muslin, a gold belt about
her waist, gold bracelets on her arms, and a red cashmere shawl draped
gracefully about her shoulders.

“Eh! my God! who is that?” cried Madame de D.

“That is Madame Tallien,” quoth the Marquis.

The high-born relic of the Old Régime flamed with wrath, and was
beginning a tirade against the Marquis for having dared to bring her to
such a place, when the door flew open, and in burst a wave of perfume
and--Madame Hamelin, the fastest woman of the fastest set in Paris. All
the young men crowded around her.

“And now in heaven’s name, Marquis, who may _that_ be?”

At the words demurely uttered, “It is Madame Hamelin,” the high-born
Madame de D. unfurled the red banner of revolt. It was the one shock
too much.

“Come, Ernestine! Put on your wrap! We must go, child. I can’t stand
it any longer. To think that the Marquis assured me I should meet my
former society here! And for the last hour I have been falling from the
frying-pan into the fire! Come, Ernestine!”

And out they went.


The year 1796 found the Republic in sorry plight. The treasury was
empty, labor unemployed, business at a standstill. So much paper
money, genuine and counterfeit, had been issued, that it almost took a
cord of assignats to pay for a cord of wood. Landlords who had leased
houses before the Revolution, and who had now to accept pay in paper,
could hardly buy a pullet with a year’s rental of a house. There was
famine, stagnation, maladministration. The hope of the Republic was its
armies. Drawn from the bosom of the aroused people at the time when
revolutionary ardor was at its height, the soldiers, after three years
of service, were veterans who were still devoted to republican ideals.
Great victories had given them confidence, and they only needed proper
equipment and proper direction to accomplish still greater results. At
the end of 1795, Moreau commanded the army of the Rhine, Jourdan that
of the Sambre and Meuse, Hoche that of the West. Schérer commanded the
Army of Italy, where, on November 24, 1795, he beat the Austrians and
Sardinians in the battle of Loano. He did not follow up his victory,
however, and the Directory complained of him. On his part he complained
of the Directory. They sent him no money with which to pay his troops,
no clothing for them, and only bread to feed them on. The commissary
was corrupt; and the Directory, which was corrupt, winked at the
robbery of the troops by thievish contractors. Schérer, discouraged,
wished to resign. It was to this ill-fed, scantily clothed, unpaid, and
discouraged army that Napoleon was sent; and it was this army which he
thrilled with a trumpet-like proclamation.

“Soldiers! You are naked, badly fed. The government owes you much; it
can give you nothing. Your endurance, and the courage you have shown,
do you credit, but gain you no advantage, get you no glory. I will lead
you into the most fertile plains in the world. Rich provinces, great
cities, will be in your power; and there you will find honor, glory,
and riches. Soldiers of Italy, can you be found wanting in courage?”

The army was electrified by this brief address, which touched
masterfully the chords most likely to respond. Courage, pride,
patriotism, and cupidity were all invoked and aroused. For the first
time the soldiers of the Revolution were tempted with the promise of
the loot of the vanquished. “Italy is the richest land in the world;
let us go and despoil it.” Here, indeed, was the beginning of a new
chapter in the history of republican France.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON

  From a print in the collection of Mr. W. C. Crane. The
    original engraving by G. Fiesinger, after a miniature by
    Jean-Baptiste-Paulin Guérin. Deposited in the National Library,
    Paris, 1799.]

Not without a purpose did Napoleon so word his proclamation. There had
been an understanding between himself and the Directory that his army
must be self-sustaining; he must forage on the enemy as did Wallenstein
in the Thirty Years’ War. The government had exerted itself to the
utmost for Napoleon, and had supplied him with a small sum of specie
and good bills; but, this done, he understood that the Directors could
do no more. As rapidly as possible he put his army in marching order,
and then marched. From the defensive attitude in which Schérer had
left it, he passed at once to the offensive. The plan of campaign
which Napoleon, the year before, had drawn up for the revolutionary
committee, and which, when forwarded to the army, Kellermann had
pronounced “the dream of a madman,” was about to be inaugurated by the
lunatic himself.

The generals of division in the Army of Italy were older men, older
officers than Napoleon, and they resented his appointment. Masséna,
Augereau, Sérurier, Laharpe, Kilmaine, Cervoni, but especially the two
first, murmured discontentedly, calling Napoleon, “one of Barras’s
favorites,” a “mere street general,” a “dreamer” who had “never been in

Napoleon, aware of this feeling, adopted the wisest course. He drew
around himself the line of ceremony, repelled with steady look all
inclination toward familiarity, abruptly cut short those who ventured
to give advice, adopted a stern, imperative, distant manner, took the
earliest opportunity of showing his absolute self-confidence and his
superiority, indulged in no levity or dissipation, and issued his
orders in a tone so laconic and authoritative that, after his first
formal interview with his division commanders at Albenga, his power
over them was established. On leaving the tent of the new chief,
Augereau remarked to Masséna, “That little ---- of a general frightened
me,” and Masséna confessed to the same experience.

The military plans of the Directory, emanating from such men as
Carnot and Bonaparte, were bold and practical. Austria, which had
invaded France from the Rhine, was to be held in check there by
Moreau and Jourdan at the same time that she was assailed by way of
Italy. The three armies of the republic, operating far apart, were to
coöperate in general design, and were finally to converge upon Vienna.
Incidentally to this plan of campaign, Genoa was to be brought to terms
for violations of neutrality; the Pope was to be punished for his
constant encouragement to La Vendée and the royalists generally; and
also because he had screened the assassins of the French ambassador,
Basseville. Sardinia (whose king was father-in-law to the Counts of
Provence and Artois, afterward respectively Louis XVIII. and Charles
X.) was to be humbled for its alliance with Austria against France.

The armies opposed to Napoleon were commanded by old men, excellent
officers so long as war was conducted with a sword in one hand and a
book of etiquette in the other. Opposed to a man like Napoleon, who
set all rules at naught, and put into practice a new system, they were
sadly outclassed and bewildered.

Napoleon intended to force his way into Italy at the point where the
Alps and the Apennines join. From Savona on the Mediterranean to Cairo
it is about nine miles by a road practicable for artillery. From Cairo
carriage roads led into Italy. At no other point could the country be
entered save by crossing lofty mountains. Therefore Napoleon’s plan
was to turn the Alps instead of crossing them, and to enter Piedmont
through the pass of Cadibona.

Putting his troops in motion, he threw forward toward Genoa a
detachment under Laharpe. The Austrian commander, thinking that
Bonaparte’s plan was to seize Genoa, divided his forces into three
bodies,--the Sardinians on the right at Ceva, the centre under
D’Argenteau marching toward Montenotte, and the right under Beaulieu
himself moved from Novi upon Voltri, a town within ten miles of Genoa.
Between these three divisions there was no connection; and, on account
of the mountainous country, it was difficult for them to communicate
with each other, or be concentrated.

On April 10, 1796, Beaulieu attacked Cervoni, leading the van of the
French in their march toward Genoa, and drove him.

But D’Argenteau, who had advanced on Montenotte, was less fortunate.
Colonel Rampon, who commanded twelve hundred Frenchmen at this point,
realized the immense importance of checking the Austrian advance,
to prevent it from falling upon the flank of Napoleon’s army as it
moved along the Corniche road. Throwing himself into the redoubt
of Montelegino, Rampon barred the way of the Austrians with heroic
gallantry. Three times he threw back the assault of the entire
Austrian-Sardinian division. During the combat he called upon his
little band to swear that they would die in the redoubt rather than
give it up, and the oath was taken with the greatest enthusiasm.

Had D’Argenteau continued his efforts, the oath-bound defenders would
probably have been exterminated, but he did not persevere. He drew off
his forces in the evening, to wait till next morning, and then renew
the attack. Morning came, but so did Napoleon. D’Argenteau looked
around him, and lo! he was a lost man. Three French divisions enveloped
the one division of their foe, and to the discomfited Austrians was
left the dismal alternative of surrender or a desperate fight against
overwhelming odds. The battle was fought, and Napoleon won his first
individual and undivided triumph, the victory of Montenotte. The enemy
lost colors and cannon, a thousand slain, and two thousand prisoners.

Napoleon had kept the divisions of his army so skilfully placed
that each could support the other, and all could concentrate. Thus
he crushed the Austrian centre, which could get no support from its
two wings, and with his small force triumphed over the larger armies
opposed to him.

But in this his first campaign, Napoleon’s tactics presented that weak
point which was in the end to be his ruin; he risked so much that one
slip in his combination was too likely to bring about a Waterloo.
Had Rampon been merely an average officer, or had D’Argenteau been a
Rampon, or had the gallant twelve hundred been merely average soldiers,
the road through the pass at Montenotte would have been cleared, the
Austrians would have been on Napoleon’s flank, and only a miracle could
have saved him from disaster. But Napoleon was young, and luck was with
him: the time was far distant when he himself was to be angrily amazed
at seeing Fortune mock his best combinations, and trivial accidents
ruin his campaigns.

Swiftly following up his advantage, Napoleon pushed forward to Cairo,
to wedge his army in between the separated wings of the enemy. At Dego,
lower down the valley of the Bormida, in which the French were now
operating, were the rallying Austrians, guarding the road from Acqui
into Lombardy. To the left of the French were the Sardinians in the
gorges of Millesimo, blocking the route from Ceva into Piedmont. It was
necessary for Napoleon to strike the enemy at both points, drive them
farther apart, so that he might combat each in detail.

On April 13 the French moved forward, Augereau to the attack of the
Sardinians, Masséna and Laharpe against the Austrians. The Sardinians
were strongly posted on high ground, but the onset of the French
carried all before it. So impetuous had been the rush of Augereau, that
one of the divisions of the enemy under General Provera was cut off.
That brave soldier threw himself into the old castle of Cossario, and
could not be dislodged. Napoleon in person came up and directed three
separate assaults, which were heavily repulsed. Provera was then left
in possession, the castle blockaded, and the strength of the French
reserved for the remaining divisions of the Sardinian army. On the
next day (April 14) General Colli, commander-in-chief of the Sardinian
army, made every effort to relieve Provera, but was repulsed and driven
back upon Ceva, farther than ever from the Austrians. Provera then

While the battle raged at Millesimo, Laharpe had crossed the Bormida,
his troops wading up to their waists, and attacked the Austrian
flank and rear at Dego; at the same time Masséna struck the line of
communication between the two armies on the heights of Biastro. Both
attacks succeeded; and as Colli retreated on Turin, Beaulieu drew off
toward Milan.

On the morning after these victories a fresh Austrian division, which
had come from Voltri on the seacoast to join the main army, reached
Dego, and drove out the few French they found there. The appearance
of this force in his rear gave Napoleon a surprise, and a feeling of
alarm ran through his army. He immediately marched upon the town, and
gave battle. The French were twice beaten off. A third charge led by
Lanusse, waving his hat on the point of his sword, carried all before

For his gallantry in this action, Lanusse was made brigadier general on
the recommendation of Napoleon, under whose eyes the splendid charge
had been made. Lieutenant Colonel Lannes distinguished himself greatly
also, and Napoleon made him colonel on the field.

The result of these battles were nine thousand of the enemy taken
prisoners, other thousands killed, besides thirty cannon taken, and
a great quantity of baggage. Napoleon was now master of the valley
of the Bormida, and of all the roads into Italy. It was his duty,
for Carnot had so ordered, to leave the Sardinians and pursue the
Austrians. He took just the opposite course. Turning to his left, he
entered the gorges of Millesimo, and followed the road to Piedmont.
Laharpe’s division was left to watch the Austrians. On April 28 the
French were in full march upon Mondovi. When they reached the height of
Mount Lemota, “the richest provinces in the world” lay beneath them,
stretching from the foot of the height as far as eye could reach. The
troops, so wonderfully led and so daringly fought, were in raptures
with themselves and their chief.

As they looked down upon the lovely Italian plains, dotted with towns
and silvered with rivers, they broke into enthusiastic cheers for the
young Napoleon. For him and for them it was a proud moment. “Hannibal
forced the Alps; we have turned them.”

Passing the Tanaro, the French entered the plains, and for the first
time cavalry was in demand. On April 22 the Sardinians made a stubborn
fight at Mondovi. They had repulsed Sérurier with heavy loss on the
day before; but now Sérurier was joined by Masséna and the Sardinians
routed. The Piedmontese cavalry, however, turned upon the French
horse, which had pursued too far, and General Stengel, its commander,
was killed. Murat, at the head of three regiments, dashed against
the Sardinian cavalry with such reckless courage that they broke.
The Sardinians, defeated at all points, lost three thousand, slain
or prisoners, eight cannon, ten stand of colors. Colli requested an
armistice which Napoleon refused to grant. The French continued their
advance upon Turin. The king of Sardinia, Amadeus, wished to prolong
the struggle; but his courtiers clamored for peace, and prevailed.
Overtures were made, Napoleon gladly accepted. Such terror had Napoleon
inspired by his rapid and brilliant victories that he practically
dictated his own terms to the king. The “Keys of the Alps,” Coni and
Tortona, besides Alessandria and other fortresses, were surrendered to
him pending negotiations, and the immense magazines they contained were
appropriated to the use of the French army. The Sardinian army was to
be retired from the field, and the roads of Piedmont were to be opened
to the French. The Austrian alliance should cease, and the royalist
émigrés from France should be expelled. This armistice was signed April
29, 1796. As to a definitive peace, plenipotentiaries were to be sent
at once to Paris to conclude it.

Napoleon had violated both the letter and the spirit of his
instructions in virtually making peace with the king of Sardinia. The
Directory, many republicans in France, and many in the army maintained
that Amadeus, a kinsman of the Bourbons, should have been dethroned,
and his country revolutionized. Augereau and others boldly declared
their disapproval of Napoleon’s course. He himself was serenely certain
that he had done the proper thing, and he gave himself no concern about
the grumblers.

To Paris he sent his brilliant cavalry-officer, Murat, with twenty-one
flags taken from the enemy. To his troops he issued a stirring address,
recounting their great achievements, and inspiring them to still
greater efforts.

With hands freed, Napoleon turned upon the Austrians. Deceiving them as
to the point at which he would cross the Po, they prepared for him at
one place while he dashed at another. While Beaulieu waited at Valenza,
Napoleon was crossing at Placenza, May 7, 1796. On the next day an
Austrian division arrived at Fombio, a league from Placenza. Napoleon
attacked and routed it, taking two thousand prisoners and all their
cannon. Beaulieu put his troops in motion, hoping to catch the French
in the act of crossing the river.

As the Austrians, preceded by a regiment of cavalry, approached,
they struck the advance posts of Laharpe. That general rode forward
to reconnoitre, and, returning by a different road, was fired upon
and killed by his own troops, in almost precisely the same manner
as the great Confederate soldier, Stonewall Jackson, was slain at

The Austrians, realizing that they were too late, drew off toward Lodi.
On May 10, Napoleon overtook them there. The town was on that side of
the river Adda on which were the French, and Napoleon drove out the
small detachment of Austrians which held it.

On the opposite side of the river Beaulieu had stationed twelve
thousand infantry, two thousand horse, and twenty cannon to dispute
the passage. A single wooden bridge, which the retreating Austrians
had not had time to burn, spanned the river. In the face of an army
sixteen thousand strong, and twenty pieces of artillery ready to rain
a torrent of iron on the bridge, Napoleon determined to pass. Behind
the walls of the town of Lodi the French army was sheltered. Napoleon,
under fire, went out to the bank of the river to explore the ground and
form his plan. Returning, he selected six thousand grenadiers, and to
these he spoke brief words of praise and encouragement, holding them
ready, screened behind the houses of the town, to dash for the bridge
at the word. But he had also sent his cavalry up the stream to find a
ford to cross, and to come upon the Austrian flank. Meanwhile his own
artillery rained a hail of deadly missiles upon the Austrian position,
making it impossible for them to approach the bridge. The anxious
eyes of Napoleon at last saw that his cavalry had forded the river,
and were turning the Austrians’ flank. Quick as a flash the word went
to the waiting grenadiers, and with a shout of “Live the Republic,”
they ran for the bridge. A terrific fire from the Austrian batteries
played upon the advancing column, and the effect was so deadly that it
hesitated, wavered, seemed about to break. The French generals sprang
to the front,--Napoleon, Lannes, Masséna, Berthier, Cervoni,--rallied
the column, and carried it over the bridge. Lannes was the first man
across, Napoleon the second. The Austrian gunners were bayoneted before
the infantry could come to their support. In a few minutes the Austrian
army was routed.

The moral effect of this victory, “the terrible passage of the bridge
of Lodi,” as Napoleon himself called it, was tremendous. Beaulieu
afterward told Graham that had Napoleon pushed on, he might have taken
Mantua without difficulty--no preparations for its defence having then
been made. The Austrians lost heart, uncovered Milan in their retreat;
and, five days after the battle, Napoleon entered the Lombard capital,
under a triumphal arch and amid thousands of admiring Italians.

It was after this battle that some of the soldiers got together and
gave Napoleon the name of the “Little Corporal,” an affectionate
nickname which clung to him, in the army, throughout his career. His
personal bravery at Lodi, and his readiness to share the danger, made
a profound impression on his troops, and when he next appeared he was
greeted with shouts of “Live the Little Corporal.”

Napoleon asked a Hungarian prisoner, an old officer, what he now
thought of the war. The prisoner, not knowing that Napoleon himself
was the questioner, replied: “There is no understanding it at all. You
French have a young general who knows nothing about the rules of war.
To-day he is in your front, to-morrow in the rear. Now he is on your
left, and then on your right. One does not know where to place one’s
self. Such violation of the rules is intolerable.”

Upon the victor himself Lodi made a lasting impression; it was the
spark, as he said afterward, “which kindled a great ambition.” Already
Napoleon had begun to levy contributions and to seize precious works
of art. The Duke of Parma, pleading for peace and protection, had been
required to pay $400,000, to furnish sixteen hundred horses and large
quantities of provisions. His gallery was stripped of twenty of its
best paintings, one of which was the “Jerome” of Correggio. The Duke
offered $200,000 to redeem this painting, but Napoleon refused. The
offence which this duke had committed was his adhesion to the coalition
against France, and his contributing three thousand soldiers to aid in
the glorious work of maintaining feudalism.

In France the effect of Napoleon’s victories upon the excitable,
glory-loving people was prodigious. His name was on every tongue.
Crowds gathered around the bulletins, and the streets rang with
acclamations. Murat and Junot, bringing to Paris the captured
colors, were given enthusiastic ovations by government and people.
But the Directors began to be uneasy. They would have been more or
less than human had they relished the autocratic manner in which
Napoleon behaved. He had ignored their plans and their instructions.
He had developed an imperiousness which brooked no control. His fame
was dwarfing all others to an extent which gave rise to unpleasant
forebodings. All things considered, the Directors thought it would be
a good idea to divide the Italian command. To that effect they wrote
Napoleon. In reply he offered to resign. A partner he would not have:
he must be chief, or nothing. The Directors dared not make such an
issue with him at a time when all France was in raptures over his
triumphs; and they yielded.


Throughout Italy the principles of the French Revolution had made
considerable progress, and in every province there were intelligent men
who welcomed the advent of Napoleon as the dawn of a new era. The young
warrior was an astute politician, and he assumed the pose of liberator.
With the same pen he wrote proclamations to Italy and letters to
France: in the one he dwelt on the delights of liberty; in the other
on the amount of the loot. And while apparently there was shameful
inconsistency here, really there was much sincerity. He was in earnest
when he spoke of tributes to be levied upon princes and municipalities;
he was also in earnest when he spoke of planting in Italy the
principles of the French Revolution. The extreme type of misgovernment
which prevailed throughout the Italian peninsula shocked his reason,
his sense of justice.

He despised the pampered nobles who could neither govern, fight, nor
die like men. He loathed an idle, ignorant, ferocious priesthood which
robbed the peasantry in the name of religion, and which compelled rich
and poor to bow before such idols as the black doll of Loretto. Hence,
while he compelled the defeated enemies of France, the ruling princes,
to pay heavy sums by way of indemnity, he did, in fact, replace the old
feudal institutions with new ones and better ones.

Napoleon has been heartily abused because he stripped the art galleries
of Italy of their gems--statuary and paintings. French writers of
the royalist school swell the cry and emphasize the guilt. Lanfrey,
particularly, calls the world to witness the fact that he hangs
his head in shame, so much is his conscience pricked by Napoleon’s
seizure of pictures. How absurd is all this! If to the victor belong
the spoils, where is the line to be drawn? If one may take the purse
of the vanquished, his jewels, his house, his lands, why are his
pictures sacred? If the civilized world insists upon maintaining the
trained soldier, and continues to hunger after the alleged glories
of wars of conquest, we must get accustomed to the results. Wars of
conquest are waged for very practical purposes. We combat the enemy
because he happens to be in possession of something which we want
and which we mean to have. When we have taken the trouble to go up
against this adversary, prepared to smite him hip and thigh, in robust,
Old-Testament style, and have prevailed against him by the help of the
Lord, shall we not Biblically despoil him of all such things as seem
good in our own eyes? Are we to allow the vanquished heathen--heathen
because vanquished--to choose for us those things which we shall take
with us when we go back home? If mine enemy has a golden crown, or a
golden throne, the appearance and the weight and the fineness of which
please me exceedingly, shall I not take it? If I happen to be a king,
shall I not include such trophies among my “crown jewels” in my strong
“Tower of London”?

And if by chance there should be in the land of mine enemy, the land
which the Lord has given me as the conquest of my sword, a diamond of
surpassing size and purity,--a gem so rich and rare that the mouth of
the whole world waters at the mere mention of Kohinoor--the heathen
name thereof,--shall I not take this rare gem from among unappreciative
heathen, and carry it to my own land, where people worship the only
true and living God and cultivate ennobling fondness for the best
diamonds? If I should chance to be king of my native land, shall I not
gladden the heart of my queen by the gift of the marvellous gem, so
that she may wear it upon her royal brow, and so outshine all royal
ladies whomsoever?

Between such trophies as these and paintings, Napoleon could see
no difference in principle. Numerous are the historians, tracking
dutifully after other historians, who have been, these many years,
heaping abuse upon Napoleon concerning those Italian paintings. It so
happens that while the present chronicler has been engaged with this
book, the world has witnessed quite a variety of warfare. There has
been battle and conquest in China, South Africa, the Philippines; and
the Christian soldiers of Europe and America have prevailed mightily
against the heathen and the insurgent. There has been much victory and
much loot; and with the record of what our Christian soldiers took in
Africa, Asia, and the islands of the sea fresh in mind, it seems to me
that we might all become silent about Napoleon’s Italian “works of art.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Lombardy, in 1796, was a possession of the house of Austria, and was
nominally ruled by the Archduke Ferdinand, who lived at Milan in
magnificent state. The victorious approach of the French filled him
and his court with terror, and he called on the Church for help.
The priests aroused themselves, put forth the arm ecclesiastic, and
endeavored to avert the storm by religious ceremonies. The bones of
the saints were brought out, processions formed, and street parades
held. Also there were chants, prayers, mystical invocations. Heaven
was implored to interfere and save the city. Heaven, as usual, had
no smiles for the weak; the angels, who save no doves from hawks, no
shrieking virgin from the ravisher, concerned themselves not at all
(so far as any one could see) with the terrors of the priests and the
nobles of Milan. The Archduke with his Duchess, and the ever faithful
few, deserted his beautiful capital; and Count Melzi went forth with a
deputation to soften the wrath of the conqueror.

Napoleon’s terms were not hard. Money he needed to pay his troops,
also provisions, clothing, munitions of war. These he must have, and
these Milan could supply. About $4,000,000 was the sum demanded, but
he allowed this to be reduced by payments in such things as the army
needed. The conquered province was reorganized on a liberal basis, a
national guard enrolled, new officials appointed, and a constitution
framed for it--all this being provisional, of course.

The Duke of Modena sued for peace, and was made to pay $2,000,000,
furnish provisions and horses, and to give up many precious works of

During the negotiations with Modena, Salicetti came into Napoleon’s
room one day and said: “The brother of the Duke is here with four
coffers of gold, 4,000,000 francs. He offers them to you in his
brother’s name, and I advise you to accept them.”

“Thank you,” answered Napoleon, “I shall not for that sum place myself
in the power of the Duke of Modena.”

Such rivulets of gold as Napoleon had set flowing into the army chest
had far-reaching influence. First of all, the army itself was put
into first-class condition. The troops were newly clothed, well fed,
punctually paid. The pockets of the generals were filled with coin. The
cavalry was splendidly mounted; the artillery brought to perfection. As
a war machine, the Army of Italy was now one of the best the world ever
saw. The Directors were not forgotten. Napoleon gladdened the souls of
Barras and his colleagues with $1,000,000 in hard cash. Other millions
followed the first, Napoleon doling out the sums judiciously, until his
contributions exceeded $4,000,000.

To Moreau, sitting idly on the Rhine, purse empty and spirit low,
Napoleon sent a million in French money. To Kellermann, commanding in
Savoy, he sent 1,200,000 francs. It is hardly necessary to add that he
kept the lion’s share of all his booty for his own army chest. Austria
was rousing herself to renew the struggle, France could send him no
supplies, and it would have been lunacy for him to have emptied his
pockets at the opening of another campaign.

After a rest of a week in Milan, the French army was pushed forward
toward Austria. Napoleon advanced his headquarters to Lodi on the
24th of May, 1796. Shortly after his arrival, he learned that a
revolt had broken out behind him, that the French garrison at Pavia
had surrendered, and that insurrection had spread to many towns of
Lombardy, and that in Milan itself there was revolt.

He immediately turned back with a small force, reëntered Milan, fought
the insurgents at Binasco, where Lannes took and burned the town,
and then with fifteen hundred men stormed Pavia, defended by thirty
thousand insurgents, forced his way in, and gave it over to pillage,
butchery, and the flames. The French officer who had signed the order
of capitulation was court-martialled and shot.

Why had the Italians risen against their liberator? There are those who
say that his exactions in money, provisions, horses, paintings, and
so forth caused it. This could hardly have been the sole cause, for
Napoleon’s exactions did not directly reach the peasants. His heavy
hand was felt by the rich men of the Church and the State; but upon the
poor he laid no burden. A more reasonable explanation seems to be that
the priests, encouraged by aristocrats, preached a crusade against the
French marauders, who looted rich temples, and made spoil of things
that were believed to be holy. Besides, these marauders were infidel
French who had trampled upon the Church in France, confiscating the
riches thereof, and ousting fat clericals from high, soft places. The
Pope knew that his turn would come,--Basseville’s ghost not yet being
laid,--and that he would have to suffer for all the cruel blows he
had aimed at republican France. Therefore as Napoleon marched off to
meet the Austrians, who were reported to be mustering in overwhelming
numbers, it was thought to be a good time to kindle flames in his rear.
Priests rushed frantically to and fro, the cross was lifted on high,
church bells pealed from every steeple, and the ignorant peasants flew
to arms to win a place in heaven by shedding the blood of heretics.

The insurrection stamped out, Napoleon proved what _he_ thought of
its origin. He demanded hostages, not from the peasants, but from the
nobles. The hostages were given, and there was no further revolt.

The Austrian army, in its retreat from Lodi, had taken up the line
of the Mincio, its left at Mantua and its right at Peschiera, a city
belonging to Venice. This violation of neutral ground by Beaulieu gave
Napoleon an excuse, and he seized upon the Venetian town of Brescia. He
proclaimed his purpose to do nothing against Venice, to preserve strict
discipline, and to pay for whatever he might take. Pursuing his march,
he again deceived the aged Beaulieu as to the place where he meant
to cross the river; and he was over the Mincio before the Austrians
could mass sufficient troops to make any considerable resistance. On
the other side of the river, Napoleon, in passing with a small escort
from the division of Augereau to that of Masséna, narrowly missed
falling into the hands of an Austrian corps which was hastening up the
river to join Beaulieu. Napoleon, after having ridden some distance
with Augereau, had returned to Valeggio, where he stopped to get a
foot-bath to relieve a headache. At this moment the light cavalry of
the enemy dashed into the village. There was barely time to sound the
alarm, close the gates of the carriage-way, and to post the escort to
defend the place. Napoleon ran out the back way with only one boot on,
made his escape through the garden, jumped on his horse, and galloped
as hard as he could to Masséna, whose troops, near by, were cooking
their dinner. Masséna promptly aroused his men, rushed them against the
enemy--and then it was the turn of the Austrians to run.

The danger which he had incurred caused Napoleon to form a personal
guard for his own protection. Called by the modest name of _Guides_
at first, the force swelled in numbers and importance until it became
the immortal Imperial Guard. Its commander was Bessières, a young
officer of humble birth, who had attracted Napoleon’s notice during the
campaign by his coolness and courage. He became Marshal of France and
Duke of Istria.

In the fighting which took place at Borghetta, the cavalry began
to show its capacity for achieving brilliant results. It was young
Murat, the innkeeper’s son, who inspired, led it, and impetuously
fought it. A finer cavalier never sat a horse. A better leader of
cavalry never headed a charge. It was a sight to see him,--brilliantly
dressed, superbly mounted, on fire with the ardor of battle, leading
his magnificent squadrons to the charge. Even Napoleon thrilled with
unwonted admiration in looking upon Murat in battle. “Had I been at
Waterloo,” said Murat, the outcast, in 1815, with a flash of his old
pride, “the day had been ours.”

And the sad, lonely man of St. Helena assented:--

“It is probable. There were turning-points in that battle when such a
diversion as Murat could have made might have been decisive.”

Beaulieu fell back to the Tyrol, and Napoleon occupied Peschiera. He
was furiously angry with Venice because she had allowed Beaulieu to
take possession of this town, which cost the lives of many Frenchmen
before it was retaken. The Venetian Senate, bewildered and dismayed,
sent envoys to propitiate the terrible young warrior. Napoleon assumed
his haughtiest tone, and threatened vengeance.

Finally, when the Venetians had opened to him the gates of Verona, and
had agreed to supply his army, he began to soften, and to talk to the
envoys of a possible alliance between Venice and France.

On June 5, 1796, one of these envoys wrote of Napoleon, in a letter to
Venice, “That man will some day have great influence over his country.”

The French were now masters of the line of the Adige, which Napoleon
considered the strongest for the defence of Italy. This line was of
vast importance to him, for he knew that Austria was recruiting her
strength and preparing to retrieve her losses. He had won Italy; could
he hold it? That was now the issue.

Before reënforcements from Austria could arrive, Napoleon calculated
that he would have time to punish the Pope and to humble Naples.
Leaving Mantua invested, and the line of the Adige well defended, he
took one division and turned to the South. There were many reasons
why he should do so. The Bourbons of Tuscany had welcomed the English
to Leghorn, and in Naples preparations were being made to equip a
large force to act against the French. Genoa was giving trouble, her
nobles being very unfriendly to France. In Genoese territories troops
of disbanded Piedmontese soldiers, escaped Austrian prisoners and
deserters, infested the Apennine passes, stopped couriers, plundered
convoys, and massacred French detachments.

Reaching Milan, Napoleon directed Augereau upon Bologna, and Vaubois
on Modena. To the Senate of Genoa was sent a haughty letter demanding
to know whether that state could put down the disorders of which the
French complained. Murat, the bearer of the message, read it to the
trembling Senate. It had the effect desired: Genoa promised, and did
all that was asked.

Lannes, with twelve hundred men, sent to chastise the feudatory
families of Austria and Naples, resident in Genoese territories, did
the work with energy and success. Châteaux of conspiring nobles were
burnt; and wherever any of the bands which had been molesting the
French could be found, they were summarily shot down.

Naples was cowed before she had been struck, and she sent in her
submission to the conqueror. He dealt with her leniently. She must
abandon the coalition against France, open all her ports to the
French, withdraw her ships from England, and deliver to Napoleon
the twenty-four hundred cavalry which she had furnished to Austria.
This armistice signed, he turned his attention and his troops in the
direction of Rome. Bologna, a papal fief, was seized. Ferrara, another
papal domain, threw off the papal yoke.

The Pope, smitten with fear, sent Azara, the ambassador of Spain, to
negotiate terms; and again Napoleon was mild. He required that Ancona
should receive a French garrison, that Bologna and Ferrara should
remain independent, that an indemnity of 21,000,000 francs should
be paid, that one hundred statues and paintings should be given up,
besides grain and cattle for the army. The Pope consented. Here again
Napoleon gave great offence to the Directory, and to many republicans
in France, as well as in the army.

The Pope had been the centre of the hostility against the Revolution
and its principles. He had actively coöperated with the enemies of
France, had torn her with civil strife, had suffered her ambassador
to be brutally murdered, and had given aid, comfort, blessings, and
pontifical inspiration to her enemies wherever he could. The Directory
wished that the papal power should be totally destroyed. Napoleon had
no such intention. Catholicism was a fact, a power, and he proposed to
deal with it accordingly. He accepted the money and the paintings and
the marbles: Basseville’s ghost being left to lay itself as best it
could. In delicate compliment to the Pope, the young conqueror did not
enter Rome. In all his passings to and fro, this modern Cæsar, this
restorer of the Empire of the West, never set his foot in the Sacred

On June 26, 1796, Napoleon crossed the Apennines into Tuscany. By
forced marches, a division was thrown forward to Leghorn, where, it
was hoped, the English ships would be taken. Warned in time, they had
sailed away, but the French seized large quantities of English goods.
Leaving a garrison at Leghorn, Napoleon proceeded to Florence, where
the grand-duke fêted him royally. The grand-duchess did not appear at
the banquet: she was “indisposed.” Italy having been pacified in this
swift manner, Napoleon returned to his army headquarters near Mantua.


Even Austria could now see that Beaulieu was no match for Napoleon. In
his place the Emperor sent the aged Wurmser, another officer excellent
in the old leisurely cut-and-dried style of campaigning. If Napoleon
would rest satisfied to wage war according to the rules laid down in
the books, Wurmser would perhaps crush him, for to the 34,000 French
there would be 53,000 Austrians in the field, not counting the 15,000
Austrians who were blockaded in Mantua by 8000 French.

Napoleon was at Milan when news came that Wurmser had issued from the
mountain passes and was in full march to envelop the French below Lake
Garda. Hastening back to the front, Napoleon established headquarters
at Castel-Nuovo. Wurmser was confident; Napoleon anxious, watchful, and
determined. The Austrians were divided into three columns,--one came
down the western bank of Lake Garda, and the other two down the eastern
shore. At first the Austrians drove the French at all points, and
Napoleon’s line was broken, July 30, 1796. This brought on the crisis
in which it is said that he lost his nerve, threw up the command, and
was saved by doughty Augereau. The evidence upon which this alleged
loss of nerve is based is of the frailest, and the undisputed record
of the campaign discloses Napoleon’s plan, Napoleon’s orders, and
Napoleon’s presence throughout. His only hope was to prevent the
junction of the Austrian divisions. Could he hold two off while he
concentrated on the third? Practically the same tactics which won
at Montenotte prevailed again. While Wurmser was passing forward to
Mantua by forced marches, Napoleon had already called in Sérurier;
and when the Austrians arrived, expecting to capture the besiegers,
no besiegers were there. They had spiked their siege guns, destroyed
surplus ammunition, and gone to join the main army of Napoleon, and to
aid in crushing one of Wurmser’s lieutenants while Wurmser was idling
uselessly at Mantua. Almost identically the same thing had occurred at
Montenotte, where Beaulieu had rushed upon Voltri to capture French who
had been withdrawn, and who were destroying Colli at Montenotte while
Beaulieu at Voltri talked idly with Lord Nelson of the English fleet,
devising plans whereby Napoleon was to be annihilated. Napoleon struck
the first blow at Quasdanovitch, who led the Austrian division which
had come down the western side of the lake. At Lonato, July 31, 1796,
the French beat the Austrians, driving them back, recovering the line
of communication with Milan which had been cut. Then Napoleon hastened
back to confront the Austrian centre. Twenty-five thousand Austrians,
marching to join Quasdanovitch, reached Lonato. On August 3, Napoleon
threw himself upon this force, and almost destroyed it. So demoralized
were the Austrians that a force of four thousand surrendered to twelve
hundred French.

[Illustration: LETTER TO JOSEPHINE.]

Next day Wurmser came up offering battle. Stretching his line too far
and leaving his centre weak, Napoleon struck him there, beat him with
heavy loss, and sent him flying back toward the mountains. In these
various operations, Austria had lost about forty thousand men; France
about ten thousand. Mantua had been revictualled, and the French now
invested it again. Their siege outfit having been destroyed, they could
only rely upon a blockade to starve the enemy out.

Both armies were exhausted, and there followed a period of rest.
Reënforcements were received by Wurmser, and by Napoleon also. The
Austrians still outnumbered him, but Napoleon took the offensive.
Wurmser had committed the familiar mistake of dividing his forces.
Napoleon fell upon Davidovitch at Roveredo and routed him. Then turning
upon Wurmser, who was advancing to the relief of Mantua, Napoleon
captured at Primolano the Austrian advance guard. Next day, September
8, 1796, he defeated the main army at Bassano.

Wurmser was now in a desperate situation. Shut in by the French on one
side and the river Adige on the other, his ruin seemed inevitable.
By the mistake of a lieutenant colonel, Legnano had been left by the
French without a garrison, and the bridge not destroyed. Here Wurmser
crossed, and continued his retreat on Mantua. He gained some brilliant
successes over French forces, which sought to cut him off, and he
reached Mantua in such good spirits that he called out the garrison and
fought the battle of St. George. Defeated in this, he withdrew into the
town. He had lost about twenty-seven thousand men in the brief campaign.

At length the armies on the Rhine had got in motion. Moreau crossed
that river at Kehl, defeated the Austrians, and entered Munich. Jourdan
crossed at Dusseldorf, and won the battle of Alten Kirchen. Then the
young Archduke Charles, learning a lesson from Napoleon, left a
small force to hold Moreau in check, and massed his strength against
Jourdan. The French were badly beaten, and both their armies fell back
to the Rhine. The original plan of a junction of Jourdan, Moreau, and
Bonaparte for an advance upon Vienna was, for the present, frustrated.

Encouraged by the success, Austria sent a new army of fifty-three
thousand men, under Alvinczy, to recover the lost ground in Italy.
Napoleon had about forty thousand troops, several thousand of whom were
in hospitals, and once more his safety depended upon preventing the
concentration of the enemy.

As in the former campaign, Austria won the first encounters. Vaubois
was driven to Trent, and from Trent to Roveredo, and from thence to
Rivoli. Masséna fell back, before superior numbers, from Bassano.
Napoleon, with the division of Augereau, went to Masséna’s support.
All day, November 6, 1796, Augereau fought at Bassano, and Masséna at
Citadella. Alvinczy gave ground, but the French retreated, because of
the defeat of Vaubois. It seemed now that the two Austrian divisions
would unite, but they did not. At Rivoli a French division, eager to
win back the respect of their chief, who had publicly reproved them
and degraded their commander, held Davidovitch in check, and prevented
his junction with Alvinczy. Fearful that Rivoli might be forced, and
the Austrian divisions united, Napoleon again attacked Alvinczy. This
time the French were repulsed with heavy loss, some three thousand men
(November 13, 1796). Napoleon now had a fresh Austrian army on each
flank, and Wurmser on his rear.

Should the three Austrian commanders coöperate, the French were lost.
But Napoleon calculated upon there being no coöperation, and he was
correct. Nevertheless, he almost desponded, and in the army there was

As night closed round the dejected French, Napoleon ordered his troops
to take up arms. Leaving a garrison to hold the town, he led his troops
out of Verona, and crossed to the right side of the Adige. Apparently
he was in retreat upon the Mincio. Down the Adige he marched as far
as Ronco. There he recrossed the river on a bridge of boats which he
had prepared. On this march the French had followed the bend which the
river here makes to the Adriatic. Therefore he had reached the rear of
the enemy simply by crossing the Adige and following its natural curve.
Arrived at Ronco and crossing the river again, the troops saw at a
glance the masterly move their chief had made; their gloom gave way to
enthusiastic confidence.

It is a marshy country about Ronco, and the roadways are high dikes
lifted above the swamp,--one of these raised roads leading to Verona
in Alvinczy’s front, another leading from Ronco to Villanova in the
Austrian rear. Early in the morning, November 15, 1796, Masséna
advanced from Ronco on the first of these roads, and Augereau on the
other. Masséna passed the swamp without opposition, but Augereau met
an unforeseen and bloody resistance at the bridge of Arcole, a town
between Ronco and Villanova, where the little river Alpon crosses the
road on its way to the Adige. Two battalions of Croats with two pieces
of artillery defended this bridge, and so bravely was their task done
that Augereau’s column was thrown back in disorder. There was no
better soldier in the army than he, and Augereau seized the standard
himself, rallied his men, and led them to the bridge. Again the Croats
drove them back with enfilading fire. The bridge must be taken; it was
a matter of vital necessity, and Napoleon dashed forward to head the
charge. Seizing the colors, he called upon the troops to follow, and
with his own hands planted the flag on the bridge. But the fire of the
enemy was too hot, their bayonets too determined: the Croats drove the
French from the bridge, and in the confusion of the backward struggle,
Napoleon got pushed off the dike into the swamp where he sank to his
waist. “Forward! forward! To save our general!”

With this cry the French grenadiers rallied their broken line, made a
desperate rush, drove back the Croats, and pulled Napoleon out of the

It was in the charge led by Napoleon that Muiron, his aide, threw
himself in front of his chief, as a shield, saved Napoleon’s life, and
lost his own.

It was not till a French corps, which had crossed the Adige lower down
at a ferry, came upon the Austrian flank, that the French were able
to carry the bridge and take Arcole. By this time, owing to stubborn
fight at the bridge, Alvinczy had had time to get out of the trap which
Napoleon had planned. The Austrians took up a new position farther
back, and were still superior in numbers and position to the French.
If Davidovitch would only brush Vaubois out of his way and come upon
Napoleon’s flank, and if Wurmser would only bestir himself against the
weakened blockading force at Mantua and make trouble in Napoleon’s
rear, it would be the French, not the Austrians, who would feel the
inconvenience of the trap! But Davidovitch did nothing; Wurmser did
nothing; and Alvinczy continued to make mistakes. For when Napoleon,
after the first day’s fighting before Arcole, fell back to Ronco in
fear that Davidovitch might come, Alvinczy took up the idea that the
French were in full retreat, and he started in pursuit, using the
raised roads for his march. On these dikes only the heads of columns
could meet, the Austrian superiority in numbers was of no advantage,
and Napoleon could not have been better served than by the offer of
battle under such conditions. Again there was a day of fighting.
Napoleon attempted to get to Alvinczy’s rear by crossing the Alpon, but
failed. Night came, both armies drew off, and nothing decisive had been

Again Napoleon fell back to Ronco to be prepared for Davidovitch, and
again the son of David was not at hand. Neither was Wurmser doing
anything in the rear. In front, Alvinczy, stubbornly bent on staying
just where Napoleon wanted him, came upon the narrow dikes again. Once
more it was a battle between heads of columns, where the veteran French
had the advantage of the recent recruits of Austria. For a moment the
giving way of part of the bridge the French had made over the Adige
threatened them with disaster. The Austrians came forward in force to
cut off a demi-brigade left on their side of the broken bridge. But the
bridge was repaired, French troops rushed over, and threw the Austrians
back on the marsh. Napoleon laid an ambuscade in some willows bordering
the Alpon, and when the enemy, in retreat, passed along the dike, the
soldiers in the ambuscade poured a deadly fire on their flank, and
then charged with the bayonet. Taken by surprise, assailed on front
of flank, some three thousand Croats were thrown into the swamp, where
most of them perished.

Calculating that in the battles of the last three days Alvinczy had
lost so many men that his army did not now outnumber the French,
Napoleon determined to leave the swamps, advance to the open, dry
ground, and beat the Austrians in pitched battle. Crossing the Alpon by
a bridge built during the night, the French fought a sternly contested
field on the afternoon of the 17th of November, 1796, and finally
won it. Napoleon had sent about twenty-five mounted guides with four
trumpets to the swamp on which rested the Austrian left, and this
trifling force breaking through the swamp, and making a tremendous
noise with their trumpets, caused the Austrians to think that another
ambuscade was being sprung. This fear, falling upon them at a time when
they were almost overcome by the stress of actual battle, decided the
day. Alvinczy retreated on Montebello, and the long struggle was ended.
It is said that Napoleon, who had not taken off his clothes for a week,
and who for nearly three days had not closed his eyes, threw himself
upon his couch and slept for thirty-six hours.

At last Davidovitch roused himself, swept Vaubois out of his path, and
came marching down to join Alvinczy. There was no Alvinczy to join;
Davidovitch was some three or more days too late. And Wurmser down at
Mantua made brilliant sally, to create apprehension in the rear. The
old man was a week or so behind time. The grip of Napoleon still held;
the line of the Adige was intact.

But while Napoleon had succeeded in holding his own, he had done so
by such desperate straits and narrow margins, leaving the Austrian
armies unbroken, that the Emperor decided on another great effort.
Recruits and volunteers were enrolled to reënforce Alvinczy, and
hurried forward, bearing a banner embroidered by the Empress. Once more
the Austrians took the field with superior numbers; once more these
forces were divided; once more Napoleon beat them in detail by skilful

General Provera was to lead a division to the relief of Mantua;
Alvinczy was to overwhelm Napoleon. Provera was to follow the Brenta,
pass the Adige low down, and march across to Mantua. Alvinczy was to
move along the Adige from Trent, and fall upon the main French army,
which it was hoped would have been drawn to the lower Adige by the
demonstration of Provera.

The heights of Rivoli on Monte Baldo command the valley of the Adige;
and no sooner had the preliminary movements of the enemy revealed their
plan of campaign, than Napoleon sent orders to Joubert to seize and
fortify the plateau of Rivoli, and to hold it at all hazards. This was
on January 13, 1797. That night Napoleon himself marched to Rivoli with
twenty thousand men, reaching the heights by a forced march at two in
the morning.

Alvinczy felt so confident of enclosing and capturing the small force
of Joubert that he had gone to sleep, ranging his army in a semicircle
below to await the dawn, when Joubert was to be taken immediately after

When Napoleon arrived, between midnight and day, he looked down
from the heights, and there below, peacefully snoring and bathed in
moonlight, were the confident Austrians--five divisions strong. Leaving
them to slumber, he spent the balance of the wintry night getting
ready for the battle that would come with the day. As morning broke,
the Austrians attacked the French right at St. Mark, and the contest
soon raged along the whole line as far as Caprino, where the French
left was driven. Berthier and Masséna restored order, and repulsed
every charge. Strongly posted on the heights, the French had all the
advantage. Alvinczy found it impossible to use his cavalry or artillery
with effect, and many of his troops could not be brought into action.
In relative position, Napoleon held the place of Meade at Gettysburg,
and Alvinczy that of Lee. Perhaps Napoleon was even better intrenched
than Meade, and Alvinczy less able to bring his forces up the heights
than Lee. The result was what it was almost bound to be--the Austrians
were routed with terrible loss, and fled in disorder. So great was
the panic that a young French officer, René, in command of fifty men
at a village on Lake Garda, successfully “bluffed” and captured a
retreating body of fifteen hundred Austrians. Joubert and Murat pursued
vigorously, and in two days they took thirteen thousand prisoners.
It was not till the battle of Rivoli had raged for three hours that
Alvinczy realized that he was attempting the foolhardy feat of storming
the main French army, posted by Napoleon himself, in almost impregnable

Leaving Joubert and Murat to follow up the victory, Napoleon went at
full speed to head off Provera. That gallant officer had fought his way
against Augereau and Guieu, and had reached the suburb of St. George,
before Mantua, with six thousand men. He had lost the remainder on the
way--some twelve thousand. Throughout the day of January 15, 1797, he
was held in check by Sérurier. Next morning the battle was renewed;
but Napoleon had arrived. Provera attacked the French in front; Wurmser
in the rear. Sérurier threw Wurmser back into Mantua; and Victor,
who had come with Napoleon, vanquished Provera so completely that he
laid down his arms. This action is known as that of La Favorita (the
name of a country-seat of the Dukes of Mantua near by), and threw
into the hands of the French six thousand prisoners, including the
Vienna volunteers and many cannon. One of the trophies was the banner
embroidered by the Empress of Austria.

A few days later Mantua capitulated, and the last stronghold of the
Austrians in Italy was in the hands of the French.

Critics who understand all the mysteries of Napoleon’s character
say that there was not a trace of chivalry or generosity in him.
Yet at Mantua he, a young soldier, would not stay to gloat over the
humiliation of the veteran Wurmser. He praised that old man by word and
by letter, he granted him liberal terms, and he left the older Sérurier
to receive Wurmser’s sword. Was not this delicate, even chivalrous to
Wurmser? Was it not even more generous to Sérurier? Mr. Lanfrey hints
“No”; but Wurmser thought “Yes,” for he warmly expressed his admiration
for Napoleon; and out of gratitude warned him, while he was at Bologna,
of a plot the papal party had made to poison him--a warning which
probably saved his life.

The Pope, believing that Napoleon could not possibly escape final
defeat at the hands of Austria, had broken their friendly compact.
A crusade had been preached against the French, sacred processions
paraded, and miracles worked. The bones of martyrs bled, images of the
Virgin wept. Heaven was outspoken on the side of Rome beyond all doubt.
Aroused by these means, the peasants flocked to the standard of the
Pope; and an army, formidable in numbers, had been raised.

Leaving Sérurier to receive the capitulation of Mantua, Napoleon
hastened to Bologna, and organized a force of French, Italians, and
Poles to operate against the papal troops. Despatching the greater part
of his little army to Ancona, he advanced with about three thousand
men into the States of the Church. Cardinal Busca with an army of
mercenaries, fanatical peasants, and miscellaneous Italian recruits was
intrenched on the banks of the Senio to dispute its passage. The French
came marching up in the afternoon of a pleasant spring day; and the
Cardinal, with a solicitude which did honor to his conscience, sent a
messenger, under flag of truce, to notify Napoleon that if he continued
to advance, he would be fired upon. Greeting this as the joke of the
campaign, the French became hilarious; but Napoleon gravely returned
a polite answer to the Cardinal, informing him that as the French had
been marching all day, were tired, and did not wish to be shot at,
they would stop. Accordingly, camp was struck for the night. Before
morning, Lannes had taken the cavalry, crossed the river above, and
got in the Cardinal’s rear. Day broke, and there was some fighting. In
a short while the Cardinal fled, and the greater part of his motley
army were prisoners. Advancing on Faenza, which had closed its gates
and manned its ramparts, the French battered their way in with cannon,
and routed the defenders. Napoleon’s policy with the Pope was not that
of the Directory; it was his own, and it was subtle and far-sighted.
Prisoners were kindly treated and released. Cardinals and influential
priests were caressed. Papal officers recently captured were visited,
soothed by conciliatory speech, assured that the French were liberators
and desired only the welfare of a regenerated Italy--redeemed from
papal thraldom and rusty feudalism. For the first time modern Italians
heard a great man outlining the future of a united Italy.

At Loretto were found the relics which made that place one of the
holiest of shrines. The very house in which Mary, the mother of Jesus,
had received the visit of Gabriel was at Loretto. Had you asked how
came it there, the answer would have been that the angels carried
it from Nazareth to Dalmatia to keep the Saracens from getting it.
From Dalmatia the angels, for reasons equally good, had carried it
to Loretto. Within this holy hut was a wooden image of Mary, old,
blackened, crudely carved. The angels had carved it. In times of
clerical distress this image of Mary was seen to shed tears. As there
had been quite an access of clerical woe recently, in consequence
of Napoleon’s brutal disregard of papal armies led by priests with
crucifixes in their hands, the wooden Virgin had been weeping profusely.

Napoleon had doubtless familiarized himself with the methods by which
pagan priests had kept up their stupendous impostures, and he had a
curiosity to see the old wooden doll which was worshipped by latter-day
pagans at Loretto. He found a string of glass beads so arranged that
they fell, one after another, from the inside, athwart the Virgin’s
eyes, and as she was kept at some distance from the devotees, and
behind a glass case, the optical illusion was complete. Napoleon
exposed the trick, and imprisoned the priests who had caused the
recent tears to flow.

To add to the sanctity of the shrine at Loretto, there was a porringer
which had belonged to the Holy Family, and a bed-quilt which had
belonged to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Thousands of devout Catholics
prostrated themselves every year before these relics, and countless
were the rich offerings to the shrine.

Napoleon took from the church pretty much all the treasure which the
priests had not carried off; and the wooden Madonna was sent to Paris.
In 1802 he restored it to the Pope, and it was put back in its old
place in the Virgin’s hut.

Many of the French priests who had refused the oath of allegiance
to the new order of things in France had taken refuge in the papal
States. The Directory wished Napoleon to drive these men out of
Italy. He not only refused to do that, but he gave them the benefit
of his protection. In a proclamation to his troops he directed that
the unfortunate exiles should be kindly treated; and he compelled the
Italian monasteries, which had indeed grown weary of these come-to-stay
visitors, to receive them and supply all their wants.

The breadth and depth of Napoleon’s liberalism was also shown by the
protection he gave to the Jews. These people had, at Ancona, been
treated with mediæval barbarity. Napoleon relieved their disabilities,
putting them upon an exact political equality with other citizens. In
favor of certain Mohammedans, who resided there, he adopted the same

Capturing or dispersing the Pope’s troops as he went, and winning by
his clemency the good-will of the people, Napoleon drew near Rome. The
Vatican was in dismay, and the Pontiff listened to those who advised
peace. The treaty of Tolentino was soon agreed upon, and the papal
power once again escaped that complete destruction which the Directory
wished. A mere push then, an additional day’s march, the capture of
another priest-led mob, would have toppled the sovereignty which was
at war with creed, sound policy, and common sense. It cost torrents of
blood, later, to finish the work which Napoleon had almost completed

By the treaty of Tolentino, February 19, 1797, the Pope lost $3,000,000
more by way of indemnity; the legations of Bologna and Ferrara,
together with the Romagna, were surrendered; papal claims on Avignon
and the Venaisson were released, and the murder of Basseville was to be
formally disavowed. To his credit be it said that Napoleon demanded the
suppression of the Inquisition; to his discredit, that he allowed the
priests to wheedle him into a waiver of the demand.

“The Inquisition was formerly a bad thing, no doubt, but it is harmless
now--merely a mild police institution. Pray let it be.” Napoleon
really was, or pretended to be, deceived by this assurance, and the
Inquisition remained to purify faith with dungeon, living death in
foul tombs, torture of mind and of body in Italy, in Spain, in South
America, in the far Philippines.

“Most Holy Father,” wrote Bonaparte to the Pope; “My Dear Son,” wrote
the Pope to Bonaparte; and so they closed _that_ lesson.

Amid all the changes made and to be made in Italy there was one
government Napoleon did not touch. This was the little republic of San
Marino, perched upon the Apennines, where from its rain-drenched,
wind-swept heights it had for a thousand years or more looked
tranquilly down upon troubled Italy. Governed by a mixed council of
nobles, burgesses, and farmers, it was satisfied with itself, and asked
only to be let alone. Now and then a pope had shown a disposition to
reach out and seize the little republic, but it had always managed to
elude the fatherly clutch. Napoleon respected the rights of San Marino,
and offered to increase its territory. San Marino declined; it had
enough. More would bring trouble. Presenting it with four cannon as
a token of his esteem, the great Napoleon got out of the sunshine of
this Italian Diogenes, and left it in peace. In 1852 the Pope again
hungered for San Marino; but Napoleon III. interfered, and the smallest
and oldest republic in the world was left to its independence in its
mountain home.


The hope of Austria was now the Archduke Charles, who had so
brilliantly forced the two French armies on the Rhine to retreat. He
was a young man, younger even than Napoleon, being but twenty-five
years of age. The Aulic Council at Vienna decided to pit youth against
youth, and the Archduke was ordered to take chief command in Italy.
Aware of the fact that the Archduke was waiting for reënforcements from
the army of the Rhine, Napoleon decided to take the initiative, and
strike his enemy before the succors arrived.

Masséna was ordered up the Piave, to attack a separate division under
Lusignan, while Napoleon moved against the Archduke on the Tagliamento.
By forced marches, the French reached the river before they were
expected (March 16, 1797). Making as if they meant to force a passage,
they opened upon the Austrians, who awaited them upon the other side,
and gave them a soldierly reception. Then, as if he had suddenly
changed his mind and meant to bivouac there, Napoleon drew back his
troops, and preparations for a meal were made. The Archduke, deceived
by this, drew off also, and returned to his tent. Suddenly the French
sprang to arms, and dashed for the fords. Bernadotte’s division led,
and before the Austrians could get into line, the French were safely
over, and prepared for action. The Austrians fought, and fought well;
but they were outnumbered, as they had been outgeneralled, and they
were beaten, losing prisoners and cannon. Masséna, equally successful,
had defeated and captured Lusignan, and was nearing the Pass of Tarvis,
which leads into Germany from the Italian side. The Archduke hurried
to the defence of this vital point, gathering in all his forces as he
went. Taking position in front of the pass, he awaited Masséna. By
forced marches that intrepid soldier, “the pet child of victory,” came
up, battle was joined, and desperately contested. Masséna won; and the
road to Vienna was cleared. The Archduke fell back to Villachi; Masséna
waited at Tarvis, hoping to capture an Austrian division which was
advancing to the pass, pursued by General Guieu. Not till the Austrians
reached Tarvis did they perceive that they were enclosed, front and
rear. Demoralized, they surrendered after feeble resistance.

Bernadotte and Sérurier took Gradisca and its garrison, after the
former had sacrificed several hundred men in reckless assault upon the

On March 28, 1797, Napoleon, with the main body of his army, passed
into Corinthia by the Col de Tarvis. Pressing on, he reached
Klagenfurth, from which he wrote to the retreating Archduke a letter
suggesting peace, March 31, 1797. In reply, the Austrian commander
stated that he had no authority to treat. The French continued a
vigorous advance, and near Newmarket the Archduke, having received
four battalions of the long-expected reënforcements, stood and fought.
He was beaten with a loss of three thousand men. He then asked for an
armistice, which was refused. Napoleon would treat for peace, but a
truce he would not grant. At Unzmark the Archduke was again worsted,
and his retreat became almost a rout. On April 2, 1797, the advance
guard of Napoleon was at Leoben, and the hills of Vienna were in sight
from the outposts. Then came officers to ask a suspension of arms to
treat for peace; and the preliminaries of Leoben, after some delays,
were signed.

Many reasons have been suggested for Napoleon’s course in tendering
peace when he was apparently carrying all before him. It is said that
he became alarmed at non-coöperation of the armies of the Rhine; again,
that he was discouraged by Joubert’s want of success in the Tyrol;
again, that he feared insurrection in his rear. Whatever the motive,
it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he made a huge mistake.
The French on the Rhine had moved. Desaix was driving one Austrian army
through the Black Forest; Hoche had beaten and was about to surround
the other. Austria’s situation was desperate, and Vienna must have
fallen. There are those who suggest that Napoleon hastened to suspend
the war to deprive rival generals, Hoche especially, of a share in his
glory. This is far-fetched, to say the least of it. Month after month
he had done all in his power to get those rival generals to move. To
the Directory he sent appeals, one after another, to order the Rhine
armies to cross and coöperate. He even sent money from his own army
chest; and for fear the funds might lodge somewhere in Paris, he sent
them directly to the Rhine.

Bourrienne is not an authority friendly to Napoleon, and yet Bourrienne
states that when Napoleon, after the truce, received the despatches
announcing the progress of Desaix and Hoche, he was almost beside
himself with chagrin. He even wanted to break the armistice, and his
generals had to remonstrate. This testimony would seem to conclusively
prove that Napoleon offered peace because he had lost hope in the
coöperation which had been promised him, and which was necessary to his
triumph. Singly he was not able to hold disaffected Italy down, guard
a long line of communications, and overthrow the Austrian Empire. The
preliminaries of Leoben and the treaty of Campo Formio will always be
subject of debate. The part which Venice was made to play--that of
victim to the perfidy of Napoleon and the greed of Austria--aroused
pity and indignation then, and has not ceased to be a favorite pivot
for Napoleonic denunciation. Austria was very anxious to hold Lombardy.
Napoleon was determined to hold both Lombardy and Belgium. Venice was
coldly thrown to Austria as compensation, because it was easier to
seize upon decrepit Venetia than to meet another effort of the great
Empire whose courage and resources seemed inexhaustible. Perhaps a
clearer case of political hard-heartedness had not been seen since
Russia, Prussia, and Austria cut up Poland and devoured it.

But after this has been said, let the other side of the picture be
viewed. Venice had undertaken to maintain neutrality, and had not
maintained it. She had allowed both belligerents to take her towns,
use her fortresses, eat her supplies, and pocket her money. Trying to
please both, she pleased neither; and they united to despoil her.

Again, there was the quarrel between the city of Venice and the
Venetian territories on the mainland. Venice had its Golden Book
in which were written the names of her nobles. Aristocrats on the
mainland craved the writing of their names in this Golden Book, and
were refused that bliss; hence heartburnings, which were referred to
Napoleon. He advised the Venetian Senate to write the names in the
book, and the Senate refused. Venice had long been governed by a few
families, and these few had the customary obstinacy and prejudice of a
caste. They treated Venetia simply as a fief--an estate belonging to
the nobles.

Again, republican leaven had been at work throughout Venetia, and
Napoleon had advised the Senate to remodel its mediæval institutions.
Other states in Italy were yielding to the trend of the times, and
Venice should do likewise. The Senate refused, until its consent came
too late to avert its doom.

Again, Napoleon had warned Venice that she was too weak to maintain
neutrality, and had advised her to make an alliance with France. She
had refused.

Again, as Napoleon was about to set out to join his army for the
invasion of Germany, he warned Venice to make no trouble in his rear.
Things he might forgive were he in Italy, would be unpardonable if
done while he was in Germany. Venetia could not, or would not, profit
by this warning. While Napoleon was in Germany, tumults arose in the
Venetian states, and the French in considerable numbers were massacred.
At Verona the outbreak was particularly savage, three hundred of the
French have been butchered, including the sick in the hospitals. To
leave nothing undone which could be done to give Napoleon the excuses
he wanted, a French vessel, which, chased by two Austrian cruisers, had
taken refuge in the harbor at Venice, was ordered to leave (according
to the law of the port), and when she refused, was fired upon. Her
commander and others were killed, and some horrible details aggravated
the offence.

Napoleon may have had his intentions from the first to sacrifice
Venetia. He may have been insincere in offering the weak old oligarchy
the protection of liberal institutions and a French alliance. Letters
of his, inconsistent with each other, have been published. They prove
his duplicity, his craft, his cunning, his callousness; but this was
long after Venice had provoked him.

However cold-blooded Napoleon’s treatment of Venice may have been, the
European conscience could not have been as much shocked as royalist
writers pretend, for after Napoleon’s overthrow, Venice, which he had
reformed and regenerated, was thrown back as a victim to Austria.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a brilliant gathering which surrounded Napoleon and Josephine
in the summer of 1797. Diplomats, statesmen, adventurers, soldiers,
men of science and literature, thronged Milan, and paid court at
beautiful Montebello, the palatial country-seat where Napoleon had
taken up his residence after the preliminaries of Leoben. Many subjects
of importance needed his thought, his fertile resources, his ready
hand. His republics needed guidance, the affairs of Genoa and Venice
were unsettled, German princelets from along the Rhine had a natural
curiosity to know just who they belonged to, and details of the coming
treaty of Campo Formio needed to be worked out. It was a busy and a
glorious season for Napoleon. He stood on the highest of pinnacles,
his renown blazing to the uttermost parts of Europe; and to him was
drawn the enthusiastic admiration which turns so warmly to heroes
who are young. He had, as yet, made few enemies. All France was in
raptures over him; even Austrians admired him. The aristocrats, lay and
clerical, in Italy doubtless wished him dead; but the masses of the
people looked up to him in wonder and esteem. Of Italian extraction, he
spoke their language, knew their character, despised it, imperiously
dominated it, and was therefore loved and obeyed.

Miot de Melito, an unfavorable witness, declares that Napoleon already
harbored designs for his own sovereignty, and made no secret thereof.
“Do you think I am doing all this for those rascally lawyers of the
Directory?” He may possibly have said so, but it is not probable. A
man like Napoleon, meditating the seizure of power and the overturn of
government, does not, as a rule, talk it to the Miots de Melito. Had
Napoleon had any such clearcut design as Miot records, he would not
have allowed the wealth of Italy to roll through his army chest, while
he himself was left poor. Like Cæsar, he would have returned laden with
spoil, to be used in furthering his plans. Napoleon doubtless took
something for Napoleon out of the millions which he handled, but the
amount was so inconsiderable that he keenly felt the burden of debt
which Josephine had made in furnishing his modest home in Paris. And
when the time _did_ come to overturn the “rascally lawyers,” he had
to borrow the money he needed for that brief campaign. No; the simple
truth is that Napoleon indulged no sordid appetites in his Italian
campaign. He made less money out of it than any of his lieutenants,
than any of the army contractors, than any of the lucky spoilsmen who
followed in his wake. If he had harbored, the designs attributed to
him by Miot, it was obviously a mistake for him to have declined the
$800,000 in gold secretly offered him by the Duke of Modena. At St.
Helena he uttered something which sounds like an admission that, in
view of his subsequent necessities in Paris, he should have accepted
the money. For wealth itself Napoleon had no longing--glory, power,
fame, all these stood higher with him. The 7,000,000 francs Venice
offered were as coolly refused as the smaller sum tendered by Modena,
and the principality offered by the Emperor of Germany.

       *       *       *       *       *

The elections of 1797 were not favorable to the Directory. Many
royalists found seats in the Assembly, and the presiding officer of
each legislative body was an opponent to the government. Two of the
Directors, Carnot and Barthélemy, joined the opposition.

Openly and boldly, the malcontents, including royalists,
constitutionals, and moderates, declared their purpose of upsetting
the Directory. Barras, Rewbell, and Larévellière were united, and
Barras still retained sufficient vigor to act promptly at a crisis.
Seeing that bayonets were needed, he called on Hoche for aid. Hoche was
willing enough, but he involved himself in a too hasty violation of
law, and became useless. Then Barras turned to Napoleon, and Napoleon
was ready. Angry with the legislative councils for having criticised
his high-handed conduct in Italy, and feeling that for the present
his own interest was linked with that of the Directory, he did not
hesitate. He sent Augereau to take command of the government forces
at Paris, and Augereau did his work with the directness of a bluff
soldier. “I am come to kill the royalists,” he announced by way of
public explanation of his presence in town. “What a swaggering brigand
is this!” cried Rewbell when he looked up from the directorial chair
at Augereau’s stalwart, martial figure. Augereau marched thousands of
troops into Paris at night, seized all the approaches to the Tuileries
where the councils sat, and to the guard of the councils he called out
through the closed gates, “Are you republicans?” and the gates opened.
Augereau broke in upon the conspirators, seized with his own hand
the royalist commander of the legislative guard, tore the epaulettes
from his shoulders, and threw them in his face. Roughly handled like
common criminals, the conspirators were carted off to prison. Carnot
fled; Barthélemy was arrested at the Luxembourg palace. With them
fell Pichegru, the conqueror of Holland. While still in command of
the republican army, he had entered into treasonable relations with
the royalists, and had agreed to use his republican troops to bring
about a restoration of the monarchy. This plot, this treason, had not
been known when Pichegru, returned from the army, had been elected to
one of the councils and made its president. Moreau had captured the
correspondence from the Austrians, and had concealed the facts. After
Pichegru’s arrest by Augereau, the secret of the captured despatches
came to light. Moreau himself made the report, and the question
which sprang to every lip was, Why did he not speak out before? This
universal and most natural query became the first cloud upon the career
of the illustrious Moreau. As Napoleon tersely put it, “By not speaking
earlier, he betrayed his country; by speaking when he did, he struck
a man who was already down.” After having saved the government, as
Augereau fancied he alone had done, that magnificent soldier’s opinion
of himself began to soar. Why should he not become a director, turn
statesman, and help rule the republic? Very influential people, among
them Napoleon and all the Directors, were able to give good reasons
to the contrary, and Augereau was compelled to content himself with
remaining a soldier. Although he bragged that he was a better man than
Bonaparte, he yielded to the silent, invisible pressure of the little
Corsican, and he went to take command of the unemployed army of the
Rhine. In a few months the same fine, Italian hand transferred him to
the command of the tenth division in Perpignan, where he gradually, if
not gracefully, disappeared from the political horizon.

The negotiation for final peace between Austria and France continued
to drag its slow length along. Diplomats on either side exhausted
the skill of their trade, each trying to outwit the other. How many
crooked things were done during those weary months, how many bribes
were offered and taken, how many secrets were bought and sold, how much
finesse was practised, how many lies were told, only a professional
and experienced diplomatist would be competent to guess. Into all
these wire-drawn subtleties of negotiation Napoleon threw a new
element,--military abruptness, the gleam of the sword. Not that he
lacked subtlety, for he was full of it. Not that he was unable to
finesse, for he was an expert. Not that he scorned to lie, for he
delighted in artistic deception. But on such points as these the
veteran Cobentzel and the other old-time diplomats could meet him on
something like an equality. To throw in a new element altogether,
to hide his perfect skill as a machinator under the brusque manners
of a rude soldier, was to take the professionals at a disadvantage.
Just as the Hungarian veteran had complained that Napoleon would not
fight according to rule, Cobentzel and his band were now embarrassed
to find that he would not treat by established precedent. Wearied with
delays, indignant that they should threaten him with a renewal of the
war, and determined to startle the antiquated Austrian envoys into a
decision, Napoleon is said to have sprung up from his seat, apparently
in furious wrath, exclaiming, “Very well, then! Let the war begin
again, but remember! I will shatter your monarchy in three months, as
I now shatter this vase,” dashing to the floor a precious vase which
Catherine II. of Russia had given Cobentzel.

This story, told by so many, is denied by about an equal number.
Cobentzel himself contradicted it, but he makes an admission which
almost amounts to the same thing. He says that Napoleon became
irritated by the delays, worked himself into a passion, tossed off
glass after glass of punch, became rude to the negotiators, flung out
of the room, and required a good deal of pacification at the hands of
his aides. Says Cobentzel: “He started up in a rage, poured out a flood
of abuse, put on his hat in the conference room itself” (an awful thing
to do!), “and left us. He behaved as if he had just escaped from a
lunatic asylum.”

Between this Austrian admission and the Austrian denial the substantial
difference is not great. Reading between Cobentzel’s lines, one sees
that the brutal young soldier ran over Austria’s delicate old diplomat
just as he had been running over a lot of Austria’s delicate old

The next day after this violent scene, the treaty of Campo Formio was
signed. By its terms Austria ceded Lombardy, Belgium, and the German
principalities on the Rhine. It recognized the Italian republic; the
Cisalpine, composed of Lombardy, Modena, Ferrara; the Romagna, Mantua,
Massa-e-Carrara; the Venetian territory, west of the Adige and the
Valtelline. It also recognized the Ligurian republic, recently formed
by Napoleon out of Genoa and its states. France kept the Ionian Isles,
and the Venetian factories opposite on the mainland. To Austria was
given the Italian lands eastward from the Adige. Within this concession
was embraced the venerable city of Venice.

In the treaty of Campo Formio, Napoleon insisted that Austria should
liberate the prisoner of Olmutz, Lafayette, who had been lying in a
dungeon since 1793.

To regulate the redistribution of German territory, made necessary by
the treaty, a congress was to be convened at Rastadt. It may as well be
stated in this place that the congress met, remained in session a long
while, and could not reach an agreement. Napoleon having gone to Egypt,
Austria renewed the war, broke up the congress, and murdered the French

The Directors were strongly opposed to the terms of the Campo Formio
treaty, but they were powerless. Napoleon disregarded their positive
instructions, relying for his support upon the enthusiasm with which
the French would hail peace. His calculations proved correct. The
nation at large welcomed the treaty as gladly as they had done his
victories. It seemed the final triumph and permanent establishment of
the new order. Against so strong a current in Bonaparte’s favor, the
Directory did not venture to steer.

Setting out for Paris, November 17, 1797, Napoleon passed through
a portion of Switzerland, where he was encouraging the democratic
movement which led to the formation of the Helvetian republic. At
Geneva and Lausanne he was given popular and most hearty ovations. He
put in appearance at Rastadt, where the congress was in session, and
remained just long enough to exchange ratifications of the Campo Formio
treaty with Cobentzel; and to hector, insult, and drive away Count
Fersen, the old friend of Marie Antoinette. Count Fersen had come as
Swedish envoy; and to Napoleon his presence seemed improper, as perhaps
it was.


Military critics agree that the Italian campaign was a masterpiece; and
many say that Napoleon himself never surpassed it. At no other time was
he perhaps quite the man he was at that early period. He had his spurs
to win, his fame to establish. Ambition, the thirst for glory, his
youth, his intense activity of mind and body, the stimulus of deadly
peril, formed a combination which did not quite exist again. To the
last a tremendous worker, he probably never was on the rack quite as he
was in this campaign. In Italy he did all the planning, and saw to all
the execution. He marched with his troops night and day, fair weather
and foul. He shared the dangers like a common soldier, pointing cannon,
leading charges, checking retreat, taking great risks in reconnoitring.
He went without food, sleep, or shelter for days at a time. Horses
dropped under him, some from wounds, some from fatigue. He marched
all night before the battle of Rivoli, directed his forces during the
battle, galloped himself to bring up support at critical points; and
then, at two or three in the afternoon, when Alvinczy was beaten, he
set out to the relief of Sérurier, marched again all night, and again
directed a battle--that of La Favorita. This was but one instance;
there were dozens of others, some even more remarkable. For Napoleon
never seemed to tire: mind and body were like a machine. He was thin,
looked sickly, and indeed suffered from the skin disease caught from
the dead cannoneer at Toulon; but his muscles were of steel, his
endurance phenomenal, his vitality inexhaustible. The impression he
made upon one close observer at this period was condensed in the words,
“the little tiger.”

[Illustration: JOSEPHINE IN 1800

From a pastel by P. P. Prud’hon]

Inexorably as he marched and fought his men, he as carefully looked
after their proper treatment. He was tireless in his efforts to
have them shod, clothed, fed as they should be; when sick or
wounded, he redoubled his attention. Oppressed as he was by work and
responsibility, he found time to write letters of condolence to the
bereaved, those who had lost husbands, sons, or nephews in his service.
Quick to condemn and punish negligence, stupidity, or cowardice, he was
as ready to recognize and reward vigilance, intelligence, and courage.
He cashiered General Vallette in the field, but Rampon, Murat, Junot,
Marmont, Bessières, Lannes, and hundreds of others he picked out of the
ranks and put in the lead. “I am ashamed of you. You no longer deserve
to belong to the army. Let it be written on your colors, ‘They no
longer belong to the army of Italy.’” Thus in stern tones he spoke to
Vallette’s troops, who had done too much running as compared to their
fighting. The soldiers were in despair. Some groaned; some wept; all
were ashamed. “Try us again, General. We have been misrepresented. Give
us another chance, General!” Napoleon softened, spoke as his matchless
tact suggested, and in the battles that followed no troops fought
better than these.

Complete genius for war Napoleon displayed in the campaign:
masterly plans, perfection of detail, penetration of the enemy’s
plan, concealment of his own, swift marching, cautious manœuvring,
intrepidity in fighting, absolute self-possession, sound judgment,
inflexible will power, capacity to inspire his own army with confidence
and the enemy with almost superstitious terror.[3] An incident occurred
after the battle of Lonato, attested by Marmont and Joubert, which
reads like fiction. Napoleon with twelve hundred men was at Lonato
making arrangements for another battle. An Austrian column of four
thousand, bewildered in the general confusion, strayed into the
neighborhood, and were told by some peasants that only twelve hundred
French were in the place. The Austrians advanced to capture this band
and sent a summons. Napoleon ordered that the herald should be brought
in blindfolded. When the bandage was removed, the herald found himself
in the presence of Napoleon, around whom stood his brilliant staff.
“What means this insolence? Demand my surrender in the midst of my
army? Go tell your commander that I give him eight minutes to lay down
his arms.” And the Austrian commander had time to his credit when his
surrender of his four thousand had been made.

    [3] It was a curious remark Napoleon made at St. Helena, that
        his whole military career had taught him nothing about a
        battle which he did not know at the time he fought his
        first; subsequent campaigns taught him no more than the

It was at this period that Napoleon developed his wonderful fascination
of manner. As he could intimidate by frowns, harsh tones, fierce looks,
and cutting words, he could charm with the sweetest of smiles, the
kindest of glances, the most caressing words. If he wished to please,
he could, as a rule, do so; if he wished to terrify, it was rarely
he failed. Already there were hundreds of young officers who swore
by him, lived for his praise, and were ready to die for him. Muiron
had done so; Lannes, Junot, Marmont, Bessières, Berthier, Murat, were
as ready. As to the army itself, Cæsar had never more completely the
heart of the Tenth Legion than the young Napoleon that of the army
of Italy. No higher reward did his soldiers crave than his words of
praise. His proclamations intoxicated them like strong wine. They were
ready to dare all, endure all, to please him, win his smile, wear his
splendid tribute. “I was at ease; the Thirty-second was there;” and the
delighted regiment embroidered the words on its flag. “The terrible
Fifty-seventh” were proud to see on their banner that battle name given
them by their “Little Corporal”; just as, at Toulon, he had kept the
most exposed of the batteries filled with men by posting the words,
“The Battery of those who are not afraid.”

Planning, executing, marching, fighting, organizing new states,
Napoleon was still the ardent lover. Josephine he never neglected.
Courier sped after courier, bearing short, hasty, passionate
love-letters to Josephine. He was in all the stress and storm, often
cold, drenched by wintry rains, pierced by wintry winds, hungry,
overwhelmed with work and care, yet not a day did he forget his bride.
She was lapped in luxury at Paris,--warmth, light, pleasure, joyous
ease, and companionship about her; and she laughed at the love-letters,
thinking them wild, crude, extravagant. “Bonaparte is so queer!”

In June, 1796, Napoleon was made to believe that Josephine was in
a fair way to become a mother. His raptures knew no bounds. The
letter which he then wrote her is certainly the most ardently tender,
furiously affectionate scrawl ever penned. It drives in upon the
impartial reader the conviction that this strange man possessed the
uxorious and paternal spirit in its most heroic form; and that had
he been fitly mated, his developing character would have reached a
perfect harmony and equilibrium. It was in him to have found exquisite
enjoyment in home-life; it was in him to have bent caressingly over
wife and child, to have found at the fireside repose and happiness.
As it was, his marriage was one source of his ruin. In Josephine he
found no loyalty, no sympathy of the higher sort, and she bore him no
children. She froze his hot affection with that shallow amiability
which smiled on him as it smiled on all the others. She outraged his
best feelings by her infidelities. She destroyed his enthusiasm, his
hopes, his ideal of pure and lofty womanhood. He waited on her too
long for children. His character, undeveloped on that side, hardened
into imperial lines, until he himself was the slave of political
necessities. The second marriage, and the son he idolized, came too

Napoleon, the lover-husband, who had quitted his bride in forty-eight
hours after the marriage, repeatedly implored her to join him at
headquarters. Josephine had no inclination to obey: Paris was too
delightful. Upon various excuses she delayed, and it was not till July,
1796, that she reached Italy.

Arrived in Milan, she was rapturously welcomed by Napoleon, and found
herself treated by the Italians almost as a queen. She was lodged in
a palace, surrounded with luxury, and flattered by the attentions of
thronging courtiers. She moved from place to place as the months
passed on, shared some of the dangers of the campaign, and by her
grace, amiability, and tact made many a conquest useful to her
many-sided lord. One conquest she made for herself, and not for her
lord. A certain officer named Hypolite Charles, attached to Leclerc’s
staff, was young, handsome, gallant,--_such_ a contrast to the wan,
wasted, ungainly, skin-diseased Napoleon! Josephine looked upon Charles
and found him pleasing. The husband, engrossed by war and business,
was often absent. Charles was not engrossed with war, was present, and
was not a Joseph. Here was youth, inclination, opportunity--and the
old result. Scandal ensued, Napoleon’s sisters made shrill outcry, the
husband heard the story, and Charles joined the absent. It was thought
for a while that Napoleon would have him shot, but apparently there was
some invincible reason to the contrary. He went to Paris and obtained a
good position--rumor said by the influence of Josephine.

If Napoleon was imperious at school, a tyrant in his childhood,
self-willed and indomitable when out of employment and threatened with
starvation, how were the Directors to curb him now? Just as natural as
it seemed to be for him to command when among soldiers, it was for him
to treat king, duke, and pope as equals, lay down the law of national
relations, and create new governments in Italy. He assumed the power
as a matter of course, and his assumption of authority was nowhere
questioned. “Bless me! I was made that way,” exclaimed Napoleon. “It is
natural for me to command.”

The Directors would gladly have dismissed him, for they doubted,
disliked, and feared him; but they dared not face him and France
on such an issue. He rode rough-shod over their policies and their
instructions, and they could do nothing. They had thought of sending
Kellermann, had actually appointed him to share the command; Napoleon
flatly said the command could not be shared, and Kellermann had to go

They sent General Clarke as agent to manage negotiations, treaties,
and to supervise matters generally. Napoleon said to Clarke, “If you
have come here to obey me, well and good; but if you think to hamper
me, the sooner you pack up and leave, the better.” Clarke found himself
completely set aside and reduced to nothing. The Directory itself,
overawed by Napoleon’s tone, wrote Clarke, in effect, that he must not
oppose the imperious commander-in-chief.

There were official commissioners in the field, Salicetti and others.
How powerful and dreaded these commissioners had formerly been! Had not
Napoleon courted them and their wives with all the haughty cajolery of
a proud nature which stoops to conquer? Now he would stoop no more; he
had conquered. Salicetti and company did the stooping; and when, at
length, their doings displeased the conqueror of Italy, he ordered them

The Milanese, historic Lombardy, was the first province which he
fashioned into a republic. Here he met Count Melzi, almost the only
_man_ Italy could boast. Working with Melzi and others, the Transpadane
republic was established--the child of Napoleon’s brain and energy.

Afterward as liberalism spread, and the papal yoke was thrown off,
Bologna, Reggio, Ferrara, clamored for republican institutions. The
dream of Italian unity began to be a reality.

Modena caught the infection; its miserly duke had already run away,
carrying his treasure. He had failed to pay 500,000 francs of his fine;
and, seizing upon this pretext, Napoleon granted the petitions of the
people, grouped Modena with the papal legations, and gave organization
under a liberal constitution to the Cispadane republic. At a later day
the two republics were united into one, and became the Cisalpine.

In the wake of the victorious army skulked the hungry civilian, the
adventurer seeking gain, the vultures grouping to the carcass. It was
feast-day for the contractor, the speculator, the swindler, the robber,
the thief. It threw Napoleon into rage to see himself surrounded by a
horde of imitators, puny plunderers doing on a small scale, without
risking battle, what he did in grand style, after a fair fight.
Soldiers who brought scandal on the army by too notorious pillage he
could shoot, and did shoot; he resented the limitations of power which
kept the civilian buccaneers from being shot.

An indirect result of Napoleon’s victories in Italy was the loss
of Corsica to England. The rule of Britannia had not pleased the
Corsicans, nor been of any special benefit to England. Toward the close
of 1796 the islanders revolted, and the English withdrew. Corsica
became again a province of France.


On December 5, 1797, Napoleon returned to Paris. With studious eye for
effect, he adopted that line of conduct most calculated, as he thought,
to preserve his reputation and to inflame public curiosity. He was
determined not to stale his presence. Making no display, and avoiding
commonplace demonstrations, he doffed his uniform, put on the sober
dress of a member of the Institute, to which he was elected in place of
Carnot, screened himself within the privacy of his home, and cultivated
the society of scholars, authors, scientists, and non-combatants
generally. When he went out, it was as a private citizen, his two-horse
carriage unattended by aides or escort. He demurely attended the
meetings of the Institute, and on public occasions was to be found in
his place, in his class, among the savants, just as though he had set
his mind now on literary matters and was going to write a book. His
brother Joseph gave it out that Napoleon’s ambition was to settle down
and be quiet, to enjoy literature, friends, and, possibly, the luxuries
of the office of Justice of the Peace. It must have been a queer sight
to have seen the little Corsican dress-parading as a guileless man
of letters; it is very doubtful whether many were deceived by his
exaggerated modesty. Those who were in place and power, the men whom he
would have to combat and overcome, were not for a moment duped. They
suspected, dreaded, and watched him. Prepare for him they could not,
for they had not the means. He had said nothing and done nothing which
they had not indorsed; with hearts full of repugnance, with faces more
or less wry, they had sanctioned even when their instructions had been
disobeyed. They could not seize him by brute force, or put him out of
the way. They were too weak; he too strong. He was the idol of soldiers
and civilians alike; the Directors were not the idols of anybody.
They could not even have him poisoned, or stabbed, for he was on his
guard against that very thing. Soon after his return to Paris he had
received warning of a plot to poison him; he had caused the bearer of
the note to be accompanied by a magistrate to the house of the woman
who had furnished the information, and she was found lying dead on the
floor, her throat cut and her body mutilated. The would-be murderers
had, doubtless, discovered her betrayal of them, and had in this manner
taken vengeance and assured their own safety. After such an occurrence,
Napoleon was not the man to be caught napping; and it was noticed that
at the official banquets to which he was invited he either ate nothing,
or slightly lunched on wine and bread brought by one of his aides.

The Directory gave him, in due time, a grand public reception at the
Luxembourg, which was attended by immense numbers, and which was
as imposing as the pomp of ceremony and the genuine enthusiasm of
the people could make it. But the part played by the Directory and
Talleyrand was theatrically overdone, and gave a tone of bombast and
insincerity to the whole.

What now must Napoleon do? There was peace on the Continent; he was
too young for a place in the Directory, and if he remained in Paris
too long, France would forget him. This was the reasoning of Napoleon,
the most impatient of men. Evidently the reasoning was unsound; it was
dictated only by his feverish, constitutional need of action. There was
no danger of his sinking out of notice or importance in France. There
was the danger of his being identified with a party, but even this
peril has been exaggerated. Astute and coldly calculating as he was,
the party he would have chosen, had he seen fit to choose one at all,
would probably have been the strongest, and political success comes to
that in the long run.

He had been too impatient in Corsica in his earlier struggles; he
had there alienated the wise and lovable Paoli, who wanted to be his
friend, but could not sympathize with his too violent, too selfishly
ambitious character. He had been too impatient to get on in France, and
had been perilously near losing his head as a terrorist in the fall
of Robespierre. Too anxious for social recognition and independent
military command, he had fallen into the snares of Barras and the shady
adventuress of whom the libertine Director was tired, and had rushed
into a marriage which proved fatal to him as a man and a monarch. The
same feverish haste was again upon him, and was to continue to be upon
him all the days of his life, until his final premature rush from Elba
was to lead him, through the bloody portals of Waterloo, to his prison
on the bleak rock of St. Helena.

How could a few months of quiet in Paris have tarnished his fame? Had
he not seen the heart of liberalism throughout all Europe warm to
Paoli,--the time having come,--although the patriot exile had been
sitting quietly at English firesides for twenty-one years?

Who in France was likely to outstrip Napoleon in one year, two years,
ten years? Hoche was dead, Moreau in disgrace, Jourdan under the cloud
of defeat, Augereau on the shelf, Carnot an exile, Pichegru banished.
In the Directory there was not a man who could give him the slightest

But to Napoleon it seemed absolutely necessary that he must be actively
engaged--publicly, and as master. He could not get the law changed so
that he could become a director; he could not quite risk an attack in
the Directory. _That_ pear was not yet ripe. He had wished to be sent
to Rastadt to straighten matters there, but the Directory chose another
man. Napoleon, resenting the slight, threatened, once too often, to
resign. A Director (some say Rewbell, others Larévellière) handed him a
pen, with the challenge, “Write it, General!” Moulins interposed, and
Napoleon beat a retreat, checkmated for the time.

Apparently, as a last resort, the expedition to Egypt was planned, both
Napoleon and the Directory cordially agreeing upon one thing--that it
was best for him to leave France for a while.

The attack on Egypt suggested itself naturally enough as a flank
movement against England. The idea did not originate with Napoleon; it
was familiar to the foreign policy of France, and had been urged upon
the Bourbon kings repeatedly. With his partiality for the East, whose
vague, mysterious grandeurs and infinite possibilities never ceased
to fascinate him, the oft-rejected plan became to Napoleon a welcome
diversion. Veiling his design under the pretence of a direct attack
upon England, he bent all his energies to the preparations for the
invasion of Egypt. Nominally belonging to Turkey, the ancient ally
of France, Egypt was in fact ruled by the Mamelukes, a military caste
which had, in course of time, evolved from the personal body-guard of
Saladin. The reign of the Mamelukes was harsh and despotic; they paid
little respect to religion, and none to law; and Napoleon thought that
by telling the Sultan he would overthrow the Mamelukes in the Sultan’s
interest, while he assured the subject Egyptians that he came to
liberate them from Mameluke tyranny, he would deceive both Sultan and
Egyptians. As it happened, he deceived neither.

It was a part of the scheme agreed on by Napoleon and the Directors
that Talleyrand should go to Constantinople and gain over the Sultan
to neutrality, if to nothing more favorable. With this understanding,
Napoleon gathered up the best generals, the best troops, the best
vessels, swept the magazines, cleaned out the directorial treasury, and
even borrowed from the Institute its best savants, and weighed anchor
at Toulon, May 18, 1798, for Alexandria. The wily Talleyrand did not go
to Turkey, had apparently never intended to go, and that part of the
plan failed from the beginning. English diplomats took possession of
the Sultanic mind; and what they saw, the heir of the Prophet saw. To
save herself from a movement which threatened her in the East, Great
Britain warmed to the infidel, forgot crusading vows and traditions,
guided infidel counsels, supplied infidel needs, and aimed infidel
guns. So that from the day he set sail, Napoleon had against him all
the resources of England, all the power of Ottoman arms, all the
strength of Mameluke resistance, all the discouragement of native
Egyptian hostility.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON

From the painting by Paul Delaroche entitled “General Buonaparte
crossing the Alps”]

To reach Egypt at all it was necessary that he should run the extreme
risk of encountering the British fleet. By the victory England had
won over the Spanish allies of France off Cape St. Vincent (February,
1797), and over the Dutch at Camperdown (October, 1797), France was
left without naval support. In a sea-fight between herself and England,
all the advantage would have been with her foe. Conscious of this,
Nelson did his utmost to come upon Napoleon during his voyage, and the
two fleets passed each other once in the night; but Napoleon’s rare
luck favored him, and Nelson missed his prey.

The capture of Malta was a part of Napoleon’s plan. This island
fortress belonged to the Knights of St. John, a belated remnant of
the ancient orders of chivalry, created for the purpose of retrieving
Palestine from the infidel. These soldiers of the Cross had fallen
upon evil days and ways; their armor very rusty indeed, their banners
covered with dust, their spurs very, very cold. In a world which had
seen a new dispensation come, the knights were dismally, somewhat
ludicrously, out of place. Asked, What are you doing here? What do you
intend to do? What is your excuse for not being dead? the knights would
have been stricken dumb. No intelligible reply was possible. Camped
there upon a place of strength and beauty, a fortress girdled by the
Mediterranean, they were, in theory, Christendom’s outpost against
the infidel. Christendom, in theory, was yet intent upon raising
up champions who would tread in the steps of Godfrey, of Tancred,
of Richard Cœur de Lion. In theory, Christendom was never going to
rest till the tomb of Jesus had been redeemed, till the shadow of
Mahomet should be lifted from the Holy Land. And so it happened that
the knights had stopped at Malta, long ages ago, resting upon their
arms, until such time as Christendom should rouse itself and send
reënforcement. The time had never come. The knights, they waited; but
the crusader of Europe had gone home to stay. Once and again, as the
centuries crept slowly by, the Church had turned in its sleep and
mumbled something about the tomb of Christ; but the Church was only
talking in its sleep, and the knights had continued to wait. A king,
now and then, suddenly awakened to the fact that he was a very great
scoundrel, must finally die, would probably go to hell, and therefore
needed to redeem himself at the expense of the infidel, swore a great
oath to renew the crusades; but such vows bore no fruit; the spasm of
remorse passed over, and the knights continued to wait. Really, it
was not so hard upon them. They had a royal home, a royal treasury, a
royal standing and a sacred. They lived a pleasant life; they doffed
iron armor, and wore silks, velvets, and other precious stuffs more
congenial to the flesh than metallic plates. They came to love such
things as good eating, joyous entertainments, the smiles and the favors
of fair ladies, and the sweetness of doing nothing generally.

Malta being defended by such decadent champions, it was easily captured
by such a man as Napoleon Bonaparte. There was, perhaps, bribery; there
was, certainly, collusion, and the resistance offered was but nominal.
General Caffarelli probably voiced the general sentiment when he said,
looking around at the vast strength of the fortress, “It is lucky we
had some one to let us in.”

Leaving a garrison under Vaubois to hold the place, Napoleon again set
sail for Egypt.

Nelson was flying hither and thither, on the keenest of hunts, hoping
to pounce upon the crowded vessels of the French, and to sink them.
Storms, fog, bad guessing, and Napoleonic luck fought against the
English, and they missed the quarry completely. Napoleon hastily landed
near Alexandria, July 2, 1798, marched upon the city, and easily took
it. After a short rest, the army set out by the shortest route for
Cairo. The sun was terribly hot, the desert a burning torment, water
it was almost impossible to supply, food failed, and the skirmishes of
the enemy from behind sandhills, rocks, or scraggy bushes harassed the
march, cutting off every straggler. Bitterly the soldiers complained,
contrasting this torrid wilderness to the fertile beauty of Italian
plains. Even the generals became disheartened, indignant, almost
mutinous. Men like Murat and Lannes dashed their plumed and braided
hats on the ground, trampled them, and damned the day that had brought
them to this barren Hades.

The common soldiers bitterly recalled Napoleon’s promise that each of
them should make enough out of the campaign to buy seven acres of land.
Was this desert a fair sample of the land they were to get? If so, why
the limit of seven acres?

The trying march was over at last, the Nile was reached, and then
came the relief of battle and easy victory. The Mamelukes were great
horsemen, the best in the world, perhaps; but they had no infantry
and no artillery worth the name. In the hands of Napoleon they were
children. Battle with Mamelukes was target practice, during which
French marksmen, in hollow square, shot out of their saddles the
simple-minded Mamelukes, who fancied that they could do everything with

In all of the battles which took place, the tactics of the French
were the same: “Form square: savants and asses to the centre.” Then,
while the baggage, the learned men, and the long-eared donkeys rested
securely within the lines, a steady fire of musketry and cannon emptied
the saddles of the heroes of the desert.

To see the Mamelukes come thundering on to the attack, was magnificent;
to see them drop in the sand without having been able to reach the
French, was pitiful.

After a skirmish at Shebreis, in which the Mamelukes were driven off
without any difficulty (July 13), came the encounter known as the
Battle of the Pyramids (July 21), chiefly remembered now as that in
which Napoleon dramatically exclaimed to his troops as they were being
made ready for the struggle, “Soldiers, from yonder pyramids forty
centuries look down upon you!” The telescope had revealed to him the
fact that the artillery of the enemy consisted of guns taken from
their flotilla on the river. These guns were not on carriages, like
field artillery, and therefore they could not be moved at will during
battle. This suggested to him a change in his own dispositions. A
portion of his army being left to deal with the stationary artillery
and the infantry which manned the feeble, sand-bank intrenchments,
he directed the other to march out of the range of the guns, for
the purpose of throwing against the Mameluke horse his own cavalry,
supported by infantry and artillery. Murad Bey, the commander-in-chief
of the opposing army, seized the moment when this change was being made
by Napoleon to launch against him a mass of seven thousand Mameluke
horse. This mighty host struck the division of Desaix when it was
in motion, and therefore unprepared for cavalry. For an instant the
French, at least of that column, were in peril. So quickly, however,
did the veterans of Desaix form squares, so quickly did Napoleon see
the point of danger and send relief, that the battle was never in
real doubt. The camp of the Arabs was stormed, the Mameluke cavalry
slaughtered; and, inflicting a loss computed at ten thousand on the
enemy, the French had but a score or two killed and one hundred and
twenty wounded.

The Mameluke power was shattered by the Battle of the Pyramids, and the
conquest of Egypt was practically achieved. For some days Frenchmen
fished the Nile for dead Mamelukes, to secure the wealth which those
warriors carried on their persons.

Arrived in Cairo, Napoleon did his utmost to assure the permanence
of his triumph. He caused the religion, the laws, the customs of the
country, to be respected. Pursuing his policy of trying to deceive
the Mahometans, he proclaimed that the French were the true champions
of the Prophet; that they had chastised the Pope, and conquered the
Knights of Malta; therefore the people of Egypt should be convinced
that they were the enemies of the Christians.

“We are the true Mussulmans!” read the proclamation. “Did we not
destroy the Pope because he had preached a crusade against the
Mahometans? Did we not destroy the Knights of Malta because they said
that God had directed them to fight the followers of Mahomet?”

He cultivated the influential men of the country, and encouraged the
belief that he himself might become a Mussulman. In truth, Napoleon
admired Mahomet greatly, and he never shrank from saying so, then or
afterward. In the classification of the books of his private library,
made in his own writing, he grouped under the same head the Bible, the
Koran, the Vedas, and Mythology, and Montesquieu’s _Spirit of Laws_.
These he enumerated in the class of _Politics and Morals_. He reminded
his soldiers that the Roman legions had respected all religions. He
did not remind them that Roman rulers had considered all religions as
equally useful for purposes of government; nor that Roman philosophers
had regarded them all as equally sons and daughters of that primeval
pair, Fear and Fraud--fear of the unknown, and the fraud which
practises upon it.

Napoleon found that Mahometan priests were as eager to convert him
as Christian priests had been to capture Constantine and Clovis. In
the one case as in the other, the priests were willing to compromise
the creed to gain the convert. Napoleon did not quite join the
faithful himself, but he approved of General Menou’s apostasy, and he
ostentatiously observed the Mahometan festivals.

Both Napoleon and Bourrienne denied, as others assert, that he went
into the mosque, sat cross-legged on the cushion amid the faithful,
muttered Koran verses as they did, and rolled head and body about as a
good Mussulman should. If he did not do so it was because he thought,
as a matter of policy, that the act would not compensate him for the
trouble and the ridicule. He afterward did just about that much for the
Christian religion; and faith had no more to do with his conduct in the
one case than in the other.

As he went farther with the Jacobins than it was pleasant to remember,
so he probably went farther with the Mahometans than he cared to
admit; for he certainly prevailed upon the priesthood to do that which
was forbidden by the Koran unless he was a convert. They officially
directed the people to obey him and pay him tribute. Nor is there
any doubt that the leaders among the priests liked him well enough,
personally, to watch over his personal safety. General Kléber, who
succeeded him in command, neglected to pay the chiefs those attentions
Napoleon had lavished upon them, and in turn they neglected him. To
this, perhaps, his assassination was due.

Regarding Egypt as a colony to be developed, rather than a conquest
to be despoiled, Napoleon devoted every attention to civil affairs.
He reorganized the administration, conforming as nearly as possible
to established customs. He set up a printing-press, established
foundries and manufactories, planned storage dams and canals to add to
the cultivable soil, organized an institute, and started a newspaper.
He sent his savants abroad to dig, delve, excavate, explore, map the
present and decipher the past of Egypt. Napoleon himself used his
leisure in visiting historic places and making plans for the material
progress of the benighted land. He discovered traces of the ancient
canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea, and formed the resolution
of reopening it. He himself located the lines for new canals. He
crossed the Red Sea ford which the Israelites used in fleeing from
bondage, and, staying too long on the opposite shore, was caught by the
rising tide, and came near meeting the fate of Pharaoh and his host.
More self-possessed than Pharaoh, Napoleon halted when he realized his
peril, caused his escort to form a circle around him, and each to
ride outward. Those who found themselves going into deeper water drew
back, followed those who had found fordable places; and, by this simple
manœuvre, he deprived needy Christendom of a new text and a modern

While on the farther shore Napoleon visited the Wells of Moses,
and heard the petition of the monks of Sinai. At their request, he
confirmed their privileges, and put his name to the charters which bore
the signature of Saladin.

A terrible blow fell upon him in August when Nelson destroyed the
French fleet in the famous battle of the Nile. There is doubt as to
who was to blame for this calamity. Napoleon cast it upon Brueys, the
French admiral who lost the battle; and Brueys, killed in the action,
could not be heard in reply. He had drawn up his ships in semicircle
so close to the shore that he considered himself comparatively safe,
protected as he was by land batteries at the doubtful end of his line.

But Nelson, on the waters, was what Bonaparte was on land--the boldest
of planners and the most desperate of fighters. He came up at sunset,
and did not wait till morning, as Brueys expected. He went right to
work, reconnoitred his enemy, conceived the idea of turning his line,
getting in behind with some of his ships, and thus putting the French
between two fires. The manœuvre was difficult and dangerous, but
succeeded. Nelson rammed some of his ships in on the land side of the
amazed Brueys, who had made no preparations for such a manœuvre. Caught
between two terrible fires, Brueys was a lost man from the beginning.
It was a night battle, awful beyond the power of description. When it
ended next day, the English had practically obliterated the French
fleet; Napoleon was cut off from Europe. When the news reached him,
he was stunned, almost crushed; but rallying immediately, he wrote to
Kléber, “The English will compel us to do greater things in Egypt than
we had intended.”

Desaix conquered Upper Egypt; organized resistance to the invaders
ceased for the time, and from the cataracts to the sea Napoleon held
the valley down. The administration began to work smoothly, taxes
seemed lighter because more equitably distributed, and the various
enterprises Napoleon had set on foot began to show some life. He
enrolled natives in his army, and formed a body of Mamelukes which
afterward appeared so picturesquely in France. Two young Mamelukes,
Roustan and Ibrahim, given him by one of the pachas, became his
personal attendants, and served him faithfully till his power was
broken in 1814.

The ruin of the fleet was not the only grief of Napoleon in the months
which followed. Junot had acted the part of the candid friend, and had
revealed to Napoleon the secret of Josephine’s infidelities. Captain
Hypolite Charles had reappeared in the absence of the husband, and was
now living with the wife at Malmaison. So openly was this connection
kept up that the Director, Gohier, a friend of Josephine, advised her
to divorce Napoleon and marry Charles. The first shock of Junot’s
revelation threw Napoleon into a paroxism of wrath, then into a stupor
of despair and dull disgust with everything. Then, by a reaction,
natural, perhaps, to a man of his temperament, he threw himself into
libertine excesses. Prior to this period his morals, considering the
times and the temptations, had been remarkably pure. Henceforth he
was occasionally to give himself a license which scandalized even the
French officers. Scorning subterfuge and concealment, he became as
bold as any born king, a rake by divine right, in the shamelessness
of his amours. He appeared in public at Cairo with Madame Foures, his
mistress, riding in the carriage by his side; and if Bourrienne tells
the truth on Napoleon, and Carlyle tells no lie on Peter the Great,
the one was about as obscene as the other while the lustful impulse


Carefully as Napoleon had cultivated the native authorities, deferred
to prejudice and custom, and maintained discipline, native opposition
to French rule seems to have been intense. A revolt in Cairo took him
by surprise. It had been preached from the minaret by the Muezzins in
their daily calls to prayer. It broke out with sudden fury, and many
Frenchmen were slaughtered in Cairo and the surrounding villages.
Napoleon quelled it promptly and with awful severity. The insurrection,
coming as it did upon the heels of all his attempts at conciliation,
filled him with indignant resentment, and, in his retaliation, he left
nothing undone to strike terror to the Arab soul. Insurgents were shot
or beheaded without mercy. Donkey trains bearing sacks were driven to
the public square, and the sacks being untied, human heads rolled out
upon the ground--a ghastly warning to the on-looking natives. Such is
war; such is conquest. The conquered must be tamed. Upon this principle
acted the man of no religion, Napoleon, in Egypt, and the Christian
soldier, Havelock, in Hindustan. The Christian Englishmen who put down
the Indian mutiny were as deaf to humanity as was the Deist who quelled
the revolt in Cairo. Like all the cruelty whose injury society really
feels, the crime is in the system, not the individual. War is war; and
as long as Christendom must have war to work out the mysterious ways
of God, we must be content with the thorns as well as the fruits. If
it be a part of the white man’s burden to exterminate black and brown
and yellow races to clear the way for the thing we call Christian
civilization, Napoleon’s course in Egypt was temperate and humane.
Upon all his deeds a blessing might be asked by the preachers who
incited the soldiers of America, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, in the
wars of the year 1900; and the chaplains who went, on good salaries,
to pray for those who shot down Filipinos, Chinamen, or even South
African Boers could just as easily have given pious sanction to the
murders-in-mass committed by Bonaparte.

Inspired by the result of the battle of the Nile, England, Turkey, the
Mamelukes, and the Arabs made great preparations to drive Napoleon out
of Egypt. A Turkish army was to be sent from Rhodes; Achmet, Pacha of
Acre, surnamed Djezzar, the Butcher, was raising forces in Syria, and
Commodore Sir Sidney Smith was cruising on the coast ready to help
Turks, Mamelukes, and Arabs against the French. Sir Sidney had been
a political prisoner in Paris, had recently made his escape, and had
been assisted in so doing by Napoleon’s old schoolmate, Phélippeaux.
Following Sir Sidney to the East, Phélippeaux, a royalist, was now at
hand eager to oppose the republican army of Napoleon, and capable of
rendering the Turks valuable service. There is no evidence that he
was actuated by personal hatred of Napoleon. They had not liked each
other at school, and had kicked each other’s shins under the table;
but, as men, they had taken different sides as a matter of policy or
principle, and it was this which now arrayed them against each other.

Napoleon’s invariable rule being to anticipate his enemy, he now
marched into Syria to crush Djezzar before the Turkish army from Rhodes
could arrive. Leaving Desaix, Lanusse, and other lieutenants to hold
Egypt, he set out with the main army February 11, 1799. El Arish was
taken February 20, 1799, and Gaza followed. Jaffa, the ancient Joppa,
came next (March 6), and its name will always be associated with a
horrible occurrence. Summoned to surrender, the Arabs had beheaded
the French messenger. The place was stormed, and the troops gave way
to unbridled license and butchery. The massacre went on so long and
was so hideous that Napoleon grew sick of it, and sent his step-son,
Eugène, and another aide, Croisier, to put a stop to it. He meant, as
he claimed, that they were sent to save the non-combatants,--old men,
women, and children. He did not mean them to save soldiers, for, by the
benign rules of war, all defenders of a place taken by assault could
be slain. Misunderstanding Napoleon, or not knowing the benign rules,
Eugène and Croisier accepted the surrender of three or four thousand
Arab warriors, and brought them toward headquarters. As soon as
Napoleon, walking in front of his tent, saw these prisoners coming, he
exclaimed, in tones of grief: “Why do they bring those men to me? What
am I to do with them?” Eugène and Croisier were severely reprimanded,
and he again asked: “What am I to do with these men? Why did you bring
them here?”

Under the alleged necessity of the case, want of food to feed them,
or vessels to send them away, a council of war unanimously decided
that they should be shot. With great reluctance, and after delaying
until the murmurs of the troops became mutinous, Napoleon yielded, and
the prisoners were marched to the beach and massacred. That this was
a horribly cruel deed no one can deny; but the barbarity was in the
situation and the system, not the individual. Napoleon himself was
neither blood-thirsty nor inhumane. The last thing he had done before
quitting France had been to denounce the cruelty of the authorities in
dealing with émigrés who were non-combatants. His proclamation, which
really invited soldiers to disobey a cruel law, closed with the ringing
statement, “The soldier who signs a death-warrant against a person
incapable of bearing arms is a coward!”

In passing judgment upon Napoleon, we must adopt some standard of
comparison; we must know what military precedents have been, and what
the present practice is. Three days after the battle of Culloden the
Duke of Cumberland, being informed that the field was strewn with
wounded Highlanders who still lived,--through rain and sun and the
agony of undressed wounds,--marched his royal person and his royal
army back to the field and, in cold blood, butchered every man who lay
there. A barn, near the battle-field, was full of wounded Scotchmen;
the royal Duke set it on fire, and all within were burned to death.

During the conquest of Algiers, in 1830, a French commander, a
royalist, came upon a multitude of Arabs--men, women, children--who had
taken refuge in a cave. He made a fire at the cavern’s mouth and smoked
them all to death.

In the year 1900, Russians, Germans, and other Christians invaded
China to punish the heathen for barbarities practised upon Christian
missionaries. A German emperor (Christian, of course) said, “Give no
quarter.” Germans and Russians killed everything that was Chinese--men
and women and children. Armed or not armed, working in fields or idle,
walking in streets or standing still, giving cause or giving none,
the heathen were shot and bayoneted and sabred and clubbed, until the
streets were choked with dead Chinese, the rivers were putrid with
dead Chinese, the very waters of the ocean stank with dead Chinese.
Prisoners were made to dig their own graves, were then shot, tumbled
into the hole, and other prisoners made to fill the grave. Girls and
matrons were outraged in the presence of brothers, sons, husbands,
fathers; and were then shot, or stabbed to death with swords or

Were it not for examples such as these, the reader might feel inclined
to agree with the anti-Bonaparte biographers who say that the Jaffa
massacre was the blackest in the annals of civilized warfare.

Rid of his prisoners, Napoleon moved forward on the Syrian coast and
laid siege to St. Jean d’Acre. The town had strong, high walls, behind
which were desperate defenders. The lesson from Jaffa had taught the
Arab that it was death to surrender. To him, then, it was a stern
necessity to conquer or die. The English were there to help. Sir Sidney
Smith furnished guns, men to serve them, and skilled engineers.

Napoleon was not properly equipped for the siege, for his battering
train, on its way in transports, was stupidly lost by the captain in
charge. Sir Sidney took it and appropriated it to the defence. In vain
Napoleon lingered till days grew into weeks, weeks into months. He was
completely baffled. There were many sorties, many assaults, dreadful
loss of life, reckless deeds of courage done on both sides. Once,
twice, the French breached the walls, made good their assault, and
entered the town, once reaching Djezzar’s very palace. It was all in
vain. Every house was a fortress, every street an ambuscade, every Arab
a hero,--the very women frantically screaming “Fight!”

With bitterness in his soul, Napoleon turned away: “that miserable hole
has thwarted my destiny!” And he never ceased to ring the changes on
the subject. Had he taken Acre, his next step would have been to the
Euphrates; hordes of Asiatics would have flocked to his banner; the
empire of Alexander would have risen again under his touch; India would
have been his booty; Constantinople his prize; and then, from the rear,
he would have trodden Europe into submission. He saw all this on the
other side of Acre, or thought he saw it. But the town stood, and the
château in Spain fell.

Once he had been drawn from the siege to go toward Nazareth to the
aid of Kléber, who was encompassed by an army outnumbering his own by
ten to one. As Napoleon came within sight, he could see a tumultuous
host of cavalry enveloping a small force of infantry. The throngs of
horsemen surged and charged, wheeled and turned, like a tossing sea. In
the midst was an island, a volcano belching fire. The tossing sea was
the Mameluke cavalry; the island in the midst of it was Kléber. Forming
so that his line, added to Kléber’s, would envelop the enemy, Napoleon
advanced; and great was the rout and the slaughter of the foe. No
organized force was left afield either in Syria or Egypt.

Now that the siege of Acre was abandoned, the army must be got back to
Cairo, and the country laid waste to prevent Djezzar from harassing
the retreat. What could not be moved, must be destroyed. The plague,
brought from Damietta by Kléber’s corps, had stricken down almost as
many as had perished in the siege. To move the wounded and the sick was
a heavy undertaking, but it was done. On the night of May 20, 1799,
Napoleon began his retreat. A terrible retreat it was, over burning
sands, under brazen skies, amid stifling dust, maddening thirst--and
over all the dread shadow of the plague. In their selfish fears, the
French became callous to the sufferings of the wounded and the sick.
The weak, the helpless, were left to die in the desert. Every hamlet
was fired, the fields laden with harvest were in flames, desolation
spread far and wide. “The whole country was in a blaze.”

Napoleon doggedly kept his course, full of dumb rage--seeing all,
feeling all, powerless in the midst of its horrors. At Tentoura he
roused himself to a final effort to save the sick and the wounded.
“Let every man dismount; let every horse, mule, camel, and litter be
given to the disabled; let the able go on foot.” The order so written,
despatched to Berthier, and made known through the camp, Vigogne,
groom to the chief, came to ask, “What horse shall I reserve for you,

It was the touch that caused an explosion. Napoleon struck the man with
his whip! “Off, you rascal! Every one on foot, I the first. Did you not
hear the order?”

The hungry desert swallowed horses and men. The heavy guns were
abandoned. The army pressed on in sullen grief, anger, despondency. The
chief trudged heavily forward, in grim silence.

On May 24, the French were at Jaffa again. Here the hospitals were full
of the plague-stricken and the wounded. Napoleon visited these men,
spoke encouraging words to them, and, according to Savary, touched
one of the victims of the plague in order to inspire confidence--the
disease being one with whose spread imagination is said to have much
to do. Bourrienne denies this story; but according to a report written
by Monsieur d’Ause, administrator of the army of the East, and dated
May 8, 1829, Napoleon not only touched the afflicted, but helped to
lift one of them off the floor. Substantially to the same effect is the
testimony of the chief surgeon of the army, Desgenettes. Bourrienne
also denies that the sick were taken away by the retreating French.
Monsieur d’Ause reports that the wounded and the sick were put on board
seven vessels (he names the vessels), and sent by sea to Damietta.
This statement is corroborated by Grobert, Commissioner of War, who
gives the names of the officers placed in charge of the removal. A few
of the plague-stricken were so hopelessly ill that Napoleon requested
the surgeon to administer opium. It would put the poor creatures out
of their misery, and prevent them from falling into the hands of
the enemy. Desgenettes made the noble reply which Napoleon himself
quoted admiringly, “My duty is to cure, not to kill.” But Napoleon’s
suggestion was really humane; as he says, any man in the condition of
these hopeless, pain-racked invalids would choose the painless sleep of
opium rather than the prolonged agony of the disease.

In the year 1900 the Europeans, beleaguered by the Chinese in
Tien-Tsin, adopted the view of Napoleon. They killed their own wounded
to prevent them from falling into the hands of the heathen. According
to reports published throughout Christendom and not contradicted,
Admiral Seymour of the British Navy issued orders to that effect. And
when the barbarities which the Christians inflicted upon the heathen
became worse than death, Chinamen did as Seymour had done--killed their
own friends to escape the torture.

Napoleon not insisting on poison, the few invalids who could not be
moved were left alive, and several of these yet breathed when Sir
Sidney Smith took possession of Jaffa.

After another dreadful desert-march, in which Napoleon tramped in
the sand at the head of his troops, the army reached Cairo, June 14,
1799. With all his art, Napoleon only partially made the impression
that he had returned victorious. During his absence there had been
local revolts, soon repressed, and he found the country comparatively
quiet. It was probably a relief to him when news came that the expected
Turkish army had arrived at Aboukir. In open fight on fair field he
could wipe out the shame of Acre. With all his celerity of decision,
movement, and concentration, he was at Aboukir on July 25, 1799,
where the Turkish army had landed. But for an accident, he would have
taken it by surprise. In the battle which followed, the Turks were
annihilated. Out of a force of twelve thousand scarce a man escaped.
Its commander, Mustapha, was taken prisoner by Murat, after he had
fired his pistol in the Frenchman’s face, wounding him in the head. A
blow of Murat’s sabre almost severed the Turk’s hand. Carried before
Napoleon, the latter generously said, “I will report to the Sultan how
bravely you have fought.”--“You may save yourself the trouble,” the
proud Turk answered; “my master knows me better than you can.”

The aid, counsel, and presence of Sir Sidney Smith had not availed the
enemy at Aboukir as at Acre. It was with difficulty that he escaped to
his ships. As to Phélippeaux, he had been stricken by the plague and
was mortally ill, or already dead.

On his return to Alexandria, Napoleon sent a flag of truce to Sir
Sidney, proposing an exchange of prisoners. During the negotiations,
the English commodore sent Napoleon a file of English newspapers and a
copy of the _Frankfort Gazette_. Throughout the night Napoleon did not
sleep; he was devouring the contents of these papers. The story which
they told him was enough to drive sleep away.

It is possible that Talleyrand, by way of Tripoli, may have been
corresponding with Napoleon; and it seems that a letter from Joseph
Bonaparte had also reached him; but Bourrienne, his private secretary,
positively denies that he knew of conditions in France prior to the
battle of Aboukir. Although it is possible he may have received letters
which his private secretary knew nothing about, it is not probable. It
would seem, therefore, that his knowledge of the situation in Europe
was derived from the newspapers sent him by Sir Sidney Smith.


With the first coming of the armies of revolutionary France to Italy,
the establishment of republics in the peninsula, and the talk of
Italian unity, even Rome and Naples began to move in their shrouds.
Probably two systems of government more utterly wretched than those of
the Pope and the Neapolitan Bourbons never existed. While changes for
the better were taking place in the immediate neighborhood of these
misruled states, it was natural that certain elements at Rome and
Naples should begin to hope for reforms.

The support of the Pope and of the Bourbons was the ignorance of the
lowest orders and the fanaticism of the priests. The middle classes,
the educated, and even many of the nobles favored more liberal
principles. In December, 1797, the democratic faction at Rome came into
collision with the papal mob; and the papal troops worsted in the riot,
the democrats sought shelter at the French embassy, Joseph Bonaparte
being at that time the minister of France. The papal faction, pursuing
their advantage, violated the privilege of the French ministry, and
General Duphot, a member of the embassy, was killed. This was the
second time a diplomatic agent of France had been slain by the Pope’s
partisans in Rome. Joseph Bonaparte left the city, and General Berthier
marched in at the head of a French army. The Pope was removed, and
finally sent to Valence, where he died in 1799. His temporal power
having been overthrown, the liberals of Rome, including many clericals
who were disgusted with the papal management of political affairs, held
a great meeting in the forum, renounced the authority of the Pope,
planted a liberty tree in front of the Capitol, and declared the Roman
republic, February 15, 1798.

In the spring of 1798 the democratic cantons in Switzerland had risen
against the aristocracy of Berne, had called in the French, and on
April 12, 1798, the Helvetic republic had been proclaimed.

This continued and successful advance of republican principles
profoundly alarmed the courts and kings of Europe. Great Britain,
having failed in her efforts to make favorable terms of peace with the
French Directory, and having gained immense prestige from the battle
of the Nile, organized a second great coalition in the autumn of 1798.
Russia, Turkey, Naples, and England combined their efforts to crush
republican France.

A Neapolitan army, led by the Austrian general, Mack, marched upon
Rome for the purpose of restoring the temporal power of the Pope. Its
strength was overwhelming, the French retreated, and Ferdinand of
Naples made his triumphant entrance into Rome in November, 1798. The
liberty tree was thrown down, an immense cross set up in its place,
many liberals put to death in spite of Ferdinand’s pledge to the
contrary, and a few Jews baptized in the Tiber. The French, having left
a garrison in the castle of St. Angelo, General Mack issued a written
threat to shoot one of the sick French soldiers in the hospital for
every shot fired from the castle.

Ferdinand gave the credit of his victory to “the most miraculous
St. Januarius.” To the King of Piedmont, who had urged Ferdinand to
encourage the peasants to assassinate the French, he wrote that the
Neapolitans, guided by Mack, had “proclaimed to Europe, from the summit
of the Capitol, that the time of the kings had come.”

We do not know of any incident which more fully illustrates the meaning
of the gigantic efforts made by Europe against France and Napoleon
than this. Ferdinand called to the Pope to return, to sweep away
all reforms, to restore all abuses, to become master again of life,
liberty, and property: “The time of the kings has come!” And back of
the Bourbon king, back of these efforts of Naples to inaugurate the
return of the Old Order and all its monstrous wrongs, was Nelson and
the English government.

If “the most miraculous St. Januarius” had joined Ferdinand in his
Roman campaign, the saint soon wearied of it, for the conquest was
lost as soon as made. The Neapolitan forces were badly handled, and
the favorites of the saint fell easy prey to the heretic French. King
Ferdinand, losing faith in Januarius, fled, the French reëntered Rome,
the republic was set up again; and Championnet, the French general,
invaded Neapolitan territory. In December, 1798, the royal family of
Naples took refuge on Nelson’s ship, and soon sailed for Sicily. The
republicans of Naples rose, opened communications with the French, who
entered the city, January 23, 1799; and the Parthenopean republic was
proclaimed. Representative government took the place of intolerant
priest-rule and feudalism. Against this new order of things the clergy
preached a crusade. The ignorant peasants of the rural districts and
the lowest rabble of the city flew to arms, and civil war in its worst
form was soon raging between the two factions--that which favored and
that which opposed the republic.

In the meantime the forces of the great coalition were getting under
way. A Russian army, led by the celebrated Suwarow, was on the march
toward Italy. Austria had recuperated her strength, and the Archduke
Charles beat the French, under Jourdan, at the battle of Stockach,
March 25, 1799. On the 28th of April of the same year, as the French
envoys to the Congress of Rastadt were leaving that place, they were
assailed by Austrian hussars, two of them killed, and the third left
for dead. The Archduke Charles commenced an investigation of this
crime, but was stopped by the Austrian Cabinet. The evidence which he
collected was spirited away, and has never since been found.

On April 5, 1799, the army of Italy, under Schérer, was defeated by the
Austrians, who recovered at one blow Italian territory almost to Milan.
In June, Masséna was beaten by the Archduke Charles at Zurich, and fell
back to a strong position a few miles from that city.

Suwarow having reached Italy in April, 1799, began a career of victory
which would have been followed by momentous results had not Austrian
jealousy marred the campaign. His impetuous valor overwhelmed Schérer;
and, by the time Moreau was put in command of the French, the army was
too much of a wreck for even that able officer to stand the onset of
the Russians. General Macdonald, hastening to Moreau’s aid, was not
quite quick enough. The dauntless and vigilant old Russian commander
made a dash at Macdonald, struck him at the Trebbia, and well-nigh
destroyed him, June 18, 1799.

Southern Italy rose against the French. Cardinal Ruffo, at the head
of an army of peasants, ravaged Calabria and Apulia. On the 15th of
June, 1799, this army, assisted by the lazzeroni of Naples, attacked
the republican forces in the suburbs of that city, and for five days
there was a carnival of massacre and outrage. On the 19th the Cardinal
proposed a truce. The republicans who remained in possession of the
forts agreed; negotiations followed, and on the 23d terms of peace were
signed by Ruffo on behalf of the King of Naples, and guaranteed by the
representatives of Russia and Great Britain. It was agreed that the
republicans should march out with the honors of war, that their persons
and property should be respected, and that they should have the choice
of remaining, unmolested at home, or of being safely landed at Toulon.
On the faith of this treaty the democrats yielded up the forts, and
ceased all resistance. At this juncture, Nelson sailed into the harbor
and annulled the treaty. A reign of terror followed.

The Queen of Naples was the sister of Marie Antoinette,--a violent,
cruel, profligate woman. She and her friend, Lady Hamilton, wife of the
English minister and mistress of Lord Nelson, hounded on the avengers
of the republican revolt, and Naples became a slaughter-pen. Perhaps
the blackest of all the black deeds done in that revel of revenge was
the murder of Admiral Carraccioli.

This man was a prince by birth, a member of one of the noblest Italian
houses; his character was as lofty as his birth, and he was seventy
years old. He had joined the republicans, and had commanded their naval
forces. Involved in the failure of his cause, he was entitled to the
protection of the treaty of capitulation.

Nelson, returning from his Victory of the Nile, and inflated with
pride and political rancor, annulled the terms which Cardinal Ruffo
had accepted--doing so over the Cardinal’s protest, be it said to his
honor. The republican garrisons of the castles were delivered by Nelson
to the vengeance of their enemies. As to Prince Carraccioli, Nelson
himself took charge of his case. The gray-haired man, who had honorably
served his country for forty years, was brought on board the English
vessel, with hands tied behind him, at nine o’clock in the forenoon.
By ten his trial had begun; in two hours it was ended. Sentenced to
death immediately, he was, at five o’clock in the afternoon of the same
day, hanged at the yard-arm, his body cut down at sunset, and thrown
into the sea. In vain the old man had pleaded that the president of
the court-martial was his personal enemy. In vain he had asked for
time, a rehearing, a chance to get witnesses. Nelson was unrelenting.
Then the victim of this cold-blooded murder begged that he might be
shot. “I am an old man, sir. I leave no family to grieve for me, and
therefore cannot be supposed to be very anxious to live; but the
disgrace of being hanged is dreadful to me!” And again Nelson refused
all concession.

Lady Hamilton, Nelson’s mistress, looked on with unconcealed
satisfaction as the prince-republican was choked to death with a rope;
and if ever Nelson felt a pang because of his shocking inhumanity, it
has escaped the record.

Who has not had his ears deafened by royalist diatribes concerning the
murder of the Duke d’Enghien? And how silent are the same royalist
authors concerning the murder of the Prince Carraccioli!

The closer the facts of history are studied and compared, the less
certain the reader will be that Napoleon Bonaparte was a whit worse in
any respect than the average public man of his time.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the newspapers which Napoleon read at Alexandria during the night
of July 25, 1799, he first learned the full extent of the disasters
which had befallen France in his absence.

“Great heavens, the fools have lost Italy! I must return to France!”

In the East his work was done. He had crushed organized resistance.
From the cataracts to the sea all was quietude. True, he had not
conquered Syria, but he had broken Djezzar’s strength, and destroyed
the relieving army of Turks. What remained? What more had he to do in
Egypt? Was he, when France was in such dire distress, to stay at Cairo
running the newspaper, making pencils, supervising canals and schools,
and dawdling along the Nile as local governor?

In France itself there was no division of sentiment on the subject. All
felt that the best soldier of the Republic was needed at home. “Where
is Bonaparte?” was the cry throughout the country. The need for him was
felt in Italy as well as France, on the Rhine as on the Seine.

Even the Directory realized the necessity for the presence of the
one Frenchman who could restore courage, inspire confidence, assure
victory. They despatched a special messenger to call him home
(September, 1799). This courier did not reach Egypt, and the order
of recall was revoked; but the fact that it was issued, proves that
Napoleon, in returning to France, obeyed an impulse which even his
enemies shared.

Hastily and secretly making the necessary arrangements, and taking with
him a chosen few of his soldiers and his savants, Napoleon embarked in
four small vessels, August 23, 1799, and next morning made sail for

In the army left behind there was a wail of despair, a burst of wrath.
Napoleon’s name was cursed,--the traitor, the deserter, the coward!
This was very natural, and very unjust. Kléber himself, to whom
Napoleon had delegated the chief command, was as indignant as the rest.
In bitter, unmeasured terms he denounced Bonaparte in letters to the
Directory--despatches which, when opened, were opened by Bonaparte,
First Consul. Kléber had grossly exaggerated the difficulties of his
situation, and soon gave proof of that fact. He was in no real danger.
When other armies were thrown against him, he gloriously defeated them,
and held his ground.

Uncontrollable circumstances, the continued hostility of England, the
unforeseen inability of Napoleon to throw succors into Egypt, alone
defeated his plans, finally. Never did a man strive harder to send
relief to a lieutenant. There is something positively pathetic in the
strenuous and fruitless efforts made by Napoleon to triumph over the
incompetence of his naval commanders, and to compel them to exhibit
enterprise, courage, and zeal in the relief of Egypt. It was all in
vain. “I cannot create men,” he said sadly. He certainly never was able
to find effective aid in his navy, and Egypt was finally lost, in spite
of all he could do.

That he was correct in his judgment in attaching so much importance to
the conquest of Egypt, subsequent events have proved. In seizing upon
the exhaustless granary of the East, the enormously important midway
station on the road to India, his was the conception of a far-sighted
statesman. It was his fate to teach the world, England especially, the
vital importance of Malta and of Egypt, and to lose both.


The seas were infested with hostile ships, and a more perilous voyage
than Napoleon’s from Egypt few men ever risked. His little sailing
vessels had but one element of security--their insignificance. They
could hope to slip by where larger ships would be sighted; and they
could retreat into shoal water where men-of-war could not follow.
Napoleon had with him some four or five hundred picked troops and a
few cannon; his plan was to run ashore on the African coast, and make
his way overland, if he should find his escape cut off on the ocean by
English ships. Keeping close to the shore, he made tedious progress
against contrary winds, and did not arrive off Corsica till the last
days of September, 1799. He had not intended to land on his native
soil, but the adverse gales made it necessary to put into the harbor of
Ajaccio. Sending ashore for fruit and the latest journals, he sat up
all night on board reading. He now learned that the battle of Novi had
been fought, and Joubert killed.

The presence of Napoleon in the harbor of Ajaccio created a sensation
on shore, and the people thronged the streets and the quays, eager
for a sight of the hero of Italy and of Egypt. His victories in the
East were known, for he himself had dictated the reports, and had not
weakened them with any dashes of modesty. Around his name, therefore,
had formed a halo, and even those Corsicans who had scorned him when
feeble, admired him now that he was strong. Yielding to popular
pressure, Napoleon landed. His reception was enthusiastic. The square
was filled with shouting multitudes, the windows and the roofs crowded
with the curious, everybody wanting to catch sight of the wondrous
little man who had so quickly become the first soldier of the world.
Crowds of admiring islanders remembered that they were his cousins. The
number of god-children laid to him was immense. His old nurse hobbled
to him, hugged him, gave him a blessing, and a bottle of goat’s milk.

He walked St. Charles Street, into the little square, and into the
old Bonaparte home, which the English troops had used as a barrack.
He visited the country-seat, the grotto of Milleli, all the old
familiar scenes. He showed his staff, with some pride, the estates of
his family; and to the tenants and the herdsmen he gave cattle and
land. The soldiers of the garrison, drawn up to receive him, were in
a wretched condition; they had received no pay for more than a year.
Napoleon gave them $8000, all he had, saving necessary travelling
expenses. To his nurse he gave a vineyard and a house in Ajaccio.

The Corsicans tell the story that during the time when the young
Lieutenant Bonaparte was trying to revolutionize the island, a priest,
standing at the window of a house overlooking the street, aimed a gun
at the little Jacobin’s head. Napoleon, ever watchful, saw the movement
just in time to dodge. The bullet struck the wall, and Napoleon
scurried off.

This priest, having remained in Ajaccio, and the situation having
undergone a change, was very uncomfortable; for Napoleon now had it in
his power to make his old enemy do the dodging. But he bore no malice.
He offered the embarrassed priest his hand, made a joke of the shot out
of the window, and put the good man quite at his ease.

It was while attending a ball given in his honor in Ajaccio that
Admiral Ganteaume sent word that the wind had changed, and the voyage
could be resumed. Hurriedly bidding adieu to friends, he quitted
Corsica for the last time.

On October 8, 1799, the four vessels entered the roads of Fréjus, and
immediately upon its becoming known that Napoleon was on board, the
water was covered with the boats of hundreds crowding to meet him.
It was in this spontaneous rush of the people to greet the returning
hero that the quarantine law was violated. The joy of the people was
unbounded. They rang the bells, they filled the streets with shouting
multitudes, they hailed him as the deliverer of France. A king in the
best of Bourbon days had never drawn a warmer welcome. On his way from
the coast he met with a prolonged ovation. At Lyons it was as though
Napoleon had already become the ruler of France.

General Marbot, late commander of Paris, now passing through Lyons on
his way to Italy, was somewhat scandalized and offended to see that
Bonaparte was treated like a sovereign. Says his son in his _Memoirs_:--

“The houses were all illuminated, and decorated with flags, fireworks
were being let off; our carriage could hardly make its way through the
crowd. People were dancing in the open spaces, and the air rang with
cries of: ‘Hurrah for Bonaparte! He will save the country!’”

The hotel keeper had given to Napoleon the rooms for which General
Marbot had spoken, and Napoleon was in them. Learning how General
Marbot had been treated, Napoleon invited him to come and share the
rooms comrade-like. Marbot went to another hotel, rather in a huff, it
would seem; and Napoleon, determined not to make an enemy out of such
an occurrence, went on foot and at once to apologize and express his
regrets to General Marbot in his rooms at the other hotel. As he passed
along the street he was followed by a cheering crowd.

“General Marbot,” says his son, “was so shocked at the manner in which
the people of Lyons were running after Napoleon, as though he were
already king, that the journey to Italy was resumed as speedily as

Napoleon’s route led him through Valence, where there was not only the
miscellaneous crowd to cheer him, but some true and tried personal
friends. For example, there was old Mademoiselle Bou, who had credited
him for board. Napoleon greeted her affectionately and made her some
valuable presents, which are now to be seen in the museum of the town.
Indeed, the news, flashed to all parts of France, “Bonaparte has come!”
created a kind of universal transport. One deputy, Baudin by name, died
of joy. Chancellor Pasquier relates that he was at the theatre one
evening in Paris, when he saw two very pretty women, sitting in the box
next to him, receive a message. They rose in excitement and hurried
away. These very pretty women, as Pasquier learned, were the sisters of
Bonaparte. A courier had brought the news that their brother had landed
at Fréjus. Béranger says in his autobiography: “I was sitting in our
reading room with thirty or forty others, when suddenly the news was
brought in that Bonaparte had returned from Egypt. At the words every
man in the room started to his feet, and burst into one long shout of

By the signal telegraph of that day, the news had flown to the capital,
and in a short while carriages were rumbling along the road out of
Paris toward Lyons, bearing relatives and friends to meet the returning
hero. One of these lumbering vehicles bore the uneasy Josephine.
At Lyons, Napoleon, suspicious of political foes perhaps, changed
his course, and hastened toward Paris by a different road. Would-be
assassins, if there were any, as well as faithful friends, would fix
their plans for nothing.

When Napoleon got down from his carriage before his house in the street
which was called, in compliment to him, the street of Victory, there
was no wife, no relative, no friend to greet him. His home was a dismal
picture of darkness, silence, desertion; and it chilled him with a
painful shock which he never ceased to remember. The anxious Josephine,
the faithless wife, had gone to meet him, to weep away her sins on his
breast, had missed him because of his change of route; and Napoleon,
not knowing this, believed she had fled his home to escape his just
anger. Bitter days and nights this eminently human Bonaparte had known;
bitter days and nights he was to know again; but it may be doubted
whether any of them gave to him a bitterer cup to drink than this of
his return from Egypt.

Josephine came posting back as fast as she could, worn out with fear
and fatigue. Napoleon refused to see her. Locked in his room, he paced
the floor, his mind in a tempest of wrath, grief, mortification,
wounded love. The guilty wife grovelled at the door, assaulting the
barriers with sobs, plaintive cries, soft entreaties. Her friends,
Madame Tallien, the Director Gohier, her children, Eugène and Hortense,
and some of Napoleon’s friends, besieged the infuriated husband,
appealing to his pride, his generosity, his self-interest, his fondness
for the children,--in short, using every conceivable inducement,--and
at length Napoleon, worn out and softened, allowed Eugène and Hortense
to put Josephine into his arms.

Bourrienne relates that many years afterward, strolling along the
boulevard with Napoleon, he felt the Emperor’s hand suddenly close on
his arm with spasmodic grip. A carriage had just passed, and within
it Napoleon had recognized Hypolite Charles, Josephine’s old-time
paramour. That this coxcomb still lived, is proof enough that Napoleon
the Great scorned personal revenge.

While the hope of the Bonaparte family was in the East, its interest
had not been neglected in France. Joseph had been established in
state at Paris (town house, country house, etc.) and had cultivated
influential men of all parties. Lucien had been elected in Corsica as
deputy to the Council of Five Hundred. Bold, and gifted with eloquence,
he had become a power in the council, and had been elected its
president. Josephine herself had been effective, so splendid had been
her establishment, so charming her tact and gracious ways. Therefore,
when the returning soldier cast his eye over the political field,
there was much to give him satisfaction. He was committed to no party;
he was weighed down by no record; he was held in no rigid grooves.
Towering above all other heads, he alone could draw strength from all
parties. As he himself said, in his march to power he was marching
with the nation. Barras admits that all France was rushing to him as
to a new existence. That he would become the ruler was expected, was
desired; it was only a question of when and how. The almost unanimous
voice of the people would have made him Director. Details alone caused
differences of opinion. Should the constitution be set aside? Should
Bonaparte be one of five Directors? Or should he be vested with a
virtual dictatorship? Should the powers of government be distributed,
as under the Directory, or should they be concentrated? It was on
details like these that differences arose; but as to the importance of
having the benefit of Napoleon’s services, the great mass of Frenchmen
were agreed. True, the brilliant triumphs of Masséna around Zurich,
and the overthrow of the English and Russians in Holland, by Brune,
had saved the Republic from the pressing dangers of foreign invasion;
but the foreign invasion was not the only cause of disquiet in France.
The root of the evil was thought to be weakness of the government.
The constitution had been violated by the Directors in Fructidor when
Augereau had broken in upon the councils and arrested so many members.
Three Directors, it will be remembered, had driven out two, Carnot and
Barthélemy. Afterward, in Floréal (May 11, 1798), the elections had
been set aside to get rid of objectionable members. In each of these
cases the vacancies made by force had been filled by the victors.

Then, finally, the reaction had become too strong, and in Prairial
(June 18, 1799) the Fructidorians had in turn been beaten, and the
Directory changed by the putting in of Sieyès, Gohier, Moulins, and

People grew weary of so many convulsions, so much uncertainty, so much
vacillation, so much disorder. Besides, the finances were in hopeless
confusion. National bankruptcy virtually existed, and a forced loan
of 100,000,000 francs, the law of hostages, and the vexatious manner
in which the new Sunday law was enforced gave offence in all classes.
Barras had managed to keep his place in the Directory, but not his
power. Sieyès had entered the Directory, but wished to overthrow
it. Even had there been no Bonaparte to plan a change, a change was
inevitable. Sieyès had said, “France needs a head and a sword.” With
Sieyès present, only the sword was lacking, and he had tried to find
one. Joubert was chosen, but got killed. Bernadotte was mentioned, but
he would not take the risk. Moreau was sounded, but would not agree to
act. Nevertheless, it was but a question of time when the man and the
opportunity would meet. It might possibly have happened that Sieyès
with his new constitution and his new executive would have saved the
Republic. Better men, coming to the front and casting out the scum
which had floated to the top of the revolutionary current, might have
established the Republic on a solid basis, and saved the world from the
hideous revel of blood and carnage which marked the era of Napoleon.
No one can tell. It is easy to say that the directorial régime had
failed; it is no less easy to say that a change could have been made
without rushing into imperialism. Republics, being merely human, cannot
be perfected in a day; and there is some injustice in cutting down the
tree because it is not laden with fruit as soon as it is planted.

While Napoleon was exploring the ground and selecting his point of
attack, the Directory adopted no measures of self-defence. In a general
way they suspected Bonaparte and dreaded him, but they had no proofs
upon which they could act. Their minister of war, Dubois de Crancé told
them a plot was brewing, and advised the arrest of Napoleon. “Where
are your proofs?” demanded Gohier and Moulins. The minister could not
furnish them. Then a police agent warned them. Locking the informer in
a room, the Directors began to discuss the matter. The agent became
alarmed for his own safety, and escaped through a window.

Anxious to get Napoleon away from Paris, the Directors offered him
his choice of the armies. He pleaded shattered health, and declined.
There were two parties, possibly three, with the aid of either of which
Napoleon might have won his way to power. There were the Jacobins, the
remnants of the thorough-going democrats, who had made the Revolution.
These were represented in the Directory by Gohier and Moulins, men of
moderate capacity and fine character. But Napoleon had been cured of
his youthful Jacobinism, and believed that if he now conquered with
the democrats, he would soon be called on to conquer against them.
Again, there were the moderates, the politicians, who were sincere
republicans, but who opposed the radicalism of the democrats on the
one hand, and the weakness of the Directory on the other. Sieyès and
Roger-Ducos represented these in the Directory, and their following
among the rich and middle-class republicans was very large. Lastly came
the Barras following, the Rotten, as Napoleon called them, who would
agree to pretty much any change which would not take from them the
opportunities of jobbery.

Each of these parties courted Napoleon, who listened to them all,
used them all, and deceived them all. Barras he despised, yet lulled
to the last moment. Gohier and Moulins were carefully manipulated and
elaborately duped. Sieyès and his associates were used as tools, and
then, after the bridge had been crossed, thrown over.

Even the royalists were taken in; they were beguiled with hints that
Napoleon was preparing a way for the return of the Bourbons--he to act
the part of Monk to the exiled King.

Napoleon’s first plan was to oust from the Directory the hateful
Sieyès,--“that priest sold to Prussia,” and this proposition he urged
upon Gohier and Moulins. As there were no legal grounds upon which
the election of Sieyès could be annulled, and as Napoleon himself had
not reached the age of forty, required by the constitution, Gohier
and Moulins refused to have anything to do with the scheme. Its mere
mention should have put them on guard; but it did not. Then Napoleon
seemed, for a moment, to consider an alliance with Barras. Fouché and
other friends of that Director brought the two together, and there
was a dinner which was to have smoothed the way to an agreement.
Unfortunately for Barras he blundered heavily in proposing an
arrangement which meant that he should have the executive power, while
Napoleon should merely be military chief. Napoleon, in disgust, looked
the Director out of countenance, and, taking his carriage, returned
home to tell Fouché what a fool Barras had made of himself. The friends
of the Director, going to him at once, were able to convince even him
that he had bungled stupidly; and next day he hastened to Bonaparte
to try again. He was too late. Napoleon, upon leaving Barras the day
before had called in to see Sieyès, and to tell him that the alliance
of the Bonapartes would be made with him alone.

Naturally these two men were antagonistic. When Napoleon, quitting
the army without orders, had landed at Fréjus, Sieyès had proposed to
his colleagues in the Directory to have the deserter shot. The weak
Directory had no such nerve as such a plan required, and the advice was
ignored. Sieyès detested the abrupt, imperious soldier; and Napoleon
despised the ex-priest as a confirmed, unpractical, and conceited
visionary. Before he had failed with Gohier and Moulins, Napoleon had
treated Sieyès with such contempt as to ignore his presence, when they
were thrown together at one of the official banquets. The enraged
ex-priest exclaimed to his friends, “See the insolence of that little
fellow to a member of the government which ought to have had him shot!”
Napoleon, intent upon the plan of ousting Sieyès from the Directory,
asked _his_ friends, “What were they thinking about to put into the
Directory that--priest sold to Prussia?”

Powerful as were these feelings of reciprocal dislike, they were
overcome. Talleyrand, Joseph Bonaparte, Cabanis, and others plied both
the warrior and the priest with those arguments best suited to each.
The promptings of self-interest, as well as the necessities of the
case, drew them together. With Sieyès--jealous, irritable, suspicious,
impracticable--the task had been most difficult. He knew he was being
ensnared,--emphatically said so,--but yielded.

“Once Napoleon gets in he will push his colleagues behind him, like
this,” and Sieyès forcibly illustrated what he meant by bustling
between Joseph and Cabanis, and then thrusting them back. Among the
civilians the Bonaparte campaign at this crisis was actively aided
by Talleyrand, Cambacérès, Roger-Ducos, Roederer, Boulay, Regnier,
Cabanis, the friend of Mirabeau. Among the soldiery the leading
canvassers were Sébastiani, Murat, Leclerc, Marmont, Lannes, Macdonald.

The plan agreed on was that the Council of Ancients, a majority having
been gained over, should decree the removal of the legislative sessions
to St. Cloud, name Napoleon commander of all the troops in Paris,
appoint a provisional consulate (Napoleon, Sieyès, and Roger-Ducos),
during which the councils should stand adjourned and a new constitution
be framed. The day fixed upon was the 18th of Brumaire (November 9,
1799), and the Ancients were to meet at seven and pass the decrees
agreed on by the Bonaparte steering committee. The Five Hundred, a
majority of which had not been won, were to meet _after_ the Ancients
should have voted the removal of the councils to St. Cloud. Hence they
would be powerless to prevent Napoleon from doing what he proposed for
the 18th. Whether they would be able to resist him after they formed
themselves at St. Cloud on the 19th, was another matter.


There were in Paris at this time certain battalions which had served
under Napoleon in Italy; also the directorial, legislative, and
national guards, which he had organized. Naturally these troops were
all favorably disposed toward him. They had been urging the great
soldier to review them. The officers of the garrison and of the
National Guard who had not been presented to him had asked him to
receive them. Napoleon had postponed action on these requests, thereby
increasing the eagerness of officers and men. Now that his plans were
matured, he named the 18th of Brumaire (November 9, 1799) for the
review, and invited the officers to call upon him early in the morning.
His excuse for this unusual hour was that he would have to leave town.
Other appointments of interest Napoleon made at about the same time. He
had agreed to have a conference with Barras on the night of the 17th of
Brumaire, and the Director had caught at the promise as the drowning
catch at anything within reach. When Bourrienne went, about midnight,
to plead headache for the absent Napoleon, he saw Barras’s face fall
as soon as the door opened. The worn-out debauchee had no faith in the
headache of Napoleon; but yet he had lacked the wish, or the energy, or
the influence, to oppose the plot which he now felt sure was aimed at
him as well as the others.

Gohier also had his appointments with Bonaparte. The Director was to
breakfast, he and wife, with Napoleon on the 18th of Brumaire, and
Napoleon was to dine with Gohier on the same day. The minister of war,
Dubois de Crancé, had warned both Gohier and Moulins; but it was not
till this late day that Gohier became suspicious enough to stay away
from Bonaparte’s house on the morning of the 18th. His wife went, found
the place thronged with officers in brilliant uniform, and soon left.

In this assembly of soldiers stood the conspicuous figure of Moreau.
Discontented with the government, and without plan of his own, he had
allowed Napoleon to win him by flattering words, accompanied by the
complimentary gift of a jewelled sword. He had joined the movement with
his eyes shut. He did not know the plan, and would not listen when
Napoleon offered to explain it.

Bernadotte, the jealous, had stood aloof. Inasmuch as he was, in some
sort, a member of the Bonaparte family (he and Joseph having married
sisters), earnest efforts had been made to neutralize him, if nothing
more. Napoleon afterward stated that Bernadotte would have joined him,
had he been willing to accept Bernadotte as a colleague.

Whatever efforts were made to gain this inveterate enemy of Napoleon
had no other result than to put him in possession of the secret, and
to fill him with a cautious desire to defeat the plot. Augereau and
Jourdan, both members of the Five Hundred, and known Jacobins, were not
approached at all. General Beumonville, the ex-Girondin, had joined.

Meanwhile the conspiracy was at work from the Sieyès-Talleyrand end of
the line. The Council of Ancients, convoked at seven in the morning in
order that unfriendly and unnotified deputies might not be present,
voted that the councils should meet at St. Cloud, and that Napoleon
should be invested with command of all the troops in Paris. This
decree, brought to him at his house, was immediately read by him from
the balcony, and heard with cheers by the officers below.

The Napoleonic campaign was based upon the assumption that the
country was in danger, that the Jacobins had made a plot to overthrow
everything, and that all good citizens must rush to the rescue. Upon
this idea the council had voted its own removal to a place of safety,
and had appointed Napoleon to defend the government from the plotters
who were about to pounce upon it. Therefore when Napoleon read the
decree, he called aloud to the brilliant throng of uniformed officers,
“Will you help me save the country?” Wildly they shouted “Yes,” and
waved their swords aloft. Bernadotte and a few others did not like
the looks of things, and drew apart; but, with these exceptions,
all were enthusiastic; and when Napoleon mounted his horse, they
followed. He went to the Council of Ancients, where he took the oath
of office, swearing not to the constitution then in existence, but
that France should have a republic based on civil liberty and national

The councils stood adjourned to St. Cloud, and Napoleon went into the
gardens of the Tuileries to review the troops. He briefly harangued
them, and was everywhere hailed by them with shouts of “Long live
Bonaparte!” So strong ran the current that Fouché volunteered aid that
had not been asked, and closed the city gates. “My God! what is that
for?” said Napoleon. “Order the gates opened. I march with the nation,
and I want nothing done which would recall the days when factious
minorities terrorized the people.”

Augereau, seeing victory assured, regretted that he had not been
taken into the confidence of his former chief, “Why, General, have
you forgotten your old comrade, Augereau?” (Literally, “Your little
Augereau.”) Napoleon had no confidence in him, no use for him, and
virtually told him so.

The Directory fell of its own weight; Sieyès and Roger-Ducos, as it
had been agreed, resigned. Gohier and Moulins would not violate the
constitution, which forbade less than three Directors to consult
together; and the third man, Barras, could not be got to act. The plot
had caught him unprepared. He knew that something of the kind was
on foot, and had tried to get on the inside; but he did not suspect
that Napoleon would spring the trap so soon. He had forgotten one of
the very essential elements in Napoleonic strategy. Barras bitterly
denies that the calamity dropped upon him while he was in his bath. He
strenuously contends that he was shaving. When Talleyrand and Bruix
came walking in with a paper ready-drawn for him to sign, he signed. It
was his resignation as Director. Bitterly exclaiming, “That--Bonaparte
has fooled us all,” he made his swift preparations, left the palace,
and was driven, under Napoleonic escort, to his country-seat of
Gros-Bois. His signature had been obtained, partly by threats, partly
by promises. He was to have protection, keep his ill-gotten wealth,
and, perhaps, finger at least one more bribe. It is said that
Talleyrand, in paying over this last, kept the lion’s share for himself.

The minister of war, Dubois de Crancé, had been running about seeking
Directors who would give him the order to arrest Napoleon. How he
expected to execute such an order if he got it, is not stated. As
Napoleon was legally in command of eight thousand soldiers, who were
even then bawling his name at the top of their voices, and as there
were no other troops in Paris, it may have been a fortunate thing for
the minister of war that he failed to get what he was running after.

From this distant point of view, the sight of Dubois de Crancé, chasing
the Napoleonic programme, suggests a striking resemblance to the
excitable small dog who runs, frantically barking, after the swiftly
moving train of cars. “What would he do with it if he caught it?” is as
natural a query in the one case as in the other.

So irresistible was the flow of the Bonaparte tide that even Lefebvre,
commander of the guard of the Directory, a man who had not been taken
into the secret, and who went to Bonaparte’s house in ill-humor,
to know what such a movement of troops meant, was won by a word, a
magnetic glance, a caressing touch, and the tactful gift of the sabre
“which I wore at the Battle of the Pyramids.” “Will you, a republican,
see the lawyers ruin the Republic? Will you help me?” “Let us throw the
lawyers into the river!” answered the simple-minded soldier, promptly.

According to Fouché, it was about nine o’clock in the morning when
Dubois found the two Directors, Gohier and Moulins, and asked for the
order to arrest Bonaparte. While they were in doubt and hesitating,
the secretary of the Directory, Lagarde, stated that he would not
countersign such an order unless three Directors signed it.

“After all,” remarked Gohier, encouragingly, “how can they have a
revolution at St. Cloud when I have the seals of the Republic in my
possession?” Nothing legal could be attested without the seals. Gohier
had the seals; hence, Gohier was master of the situation. Of such
lawyers, in such a crisis, well might Lefebvre say, “Let us pitch them
into the river.”

Quite relieved by the statement about the seals, Moulins remembered
another crumb of comfort: he had been invited to meet Napoleon at
dinner that very day at Gohier’s. Between the soup and the cheese,
the two honest Directors would penetrate the designs of the schemer,
Napoleon, and then checkmate him.

Moreau had already been commissioned to keep these confiding legists
from running at large. However, it was not a great while before
they realized the true situation, and then they came to a grotesque
conclusion. They would go to Napoleon and talk him out of his purpose.
Barras had already sent Bottot, his private secretary, to see if
anything could be arranged. Napoleon had sternly said, “Tell that man
I have done with him.” He had also addressed the astonished Bottot a
short harangue intended for publication: “What have you done with that
France I left so brilliant? In place of victory, I find defeat”--and so

Gohier and Moulins were civilly treated, but their protests were set
aside. They reminded Napoleon of the constitution, and of the oath of
allegiance. He demanded their resignations. They refused, and continued
to remonstrate. At this moment word came that Santerre was rousing
the section St. Antoine. Napoleon said to Moulins, “Send word to your
friend Santerre that at the first movement St. Antoine makes, I will
have him shot.” No impression having been made by the Directors on
Napoleon, nor by him on them, they went back to their temporary prison
in the Luxembourg.

Thus far there had been no hitch in the Bonaparte programme. The
alleged Jacobin plot nowhere showed head; the Napoleonic plot was
in full and peaceable possession. There was no great excitement in
Paris, no unusual crowds collecting anywhere. Proclamation had been
issued to put the people at ease, and the attitude of the public was
one of curiosity and expectancy, rather than alarm. Not a single man
had rallied to the defence of the Directory. Their own guard had
quietly departed to swell the ranks which were shouting, “Hurrah for
Bonaparte!” Victor Grand, aide-de-camp to Barras, did indeed wait upon
that forlorn Director at seven o’clock in the morning of the 18th, and
report to him that one veteran of the guards was still at his post. “I
am here alone,” said the old soldier; “all have left.”

Here and there were members of the councils and generals of the army
who were willing enough to check the conspiracy of Napoleon, if they
had only known how. With the Directory smashed, the councils divided
and removed, the troops on Napoleon’s side, and Paris indifferent, how
could Bernadotte, Jourdan, and Augereau do anything?

They could hold dismal little meetings behind closed doors, discuss
the situation, and decide that Napoleon must be checked. But who was
to bell the cat? At a meeting held by a few deputies and Bernadotte in
the house of Salicetti, it was agreed that they should go to St. Cloud
next morning, get Bernadotte appointed commander of the legislative
guard, and that he should then combat the conspirators. Salicetti
betrayed this secret to Napoleon; and, through Fouché, he frustrated
the plan by adroitly detaining its authors in Paris next morning.

To make assurance doubly sure, orders were issued that any one
attempting to harangue the troops should be cut down.

Sieyès advised that the forty or fifty members of the councils most
violently opposed to the Bonaparte programme be arrested during the
night. Napoleon refused. “I will not break the oath I took this

By noon of the 19th of Brumaire (November 10, 1799) the members of
the councils were at St. Cloud, excited, suspicious, indignant. Even
among the Ancients, a reaction against Napoleon had taken place. Many
of the members had supported him on the 18th of Brumaire because they
believed he would be satisfied with a place in the Directory. Since
then further conferences and rumors had convinced them that he aimed
at a dictatorship. Besides, those deputies who had been tricked out of
attending the session of the day before, resented the wrong, and were
ready to resist the tricksters. During the couple of hours which (owing
to some blunder) they had to wait for their halls to be got ready,
the members of the two councils had full opportunity to intermingle,
consult, and measure the strength of the opposition. When at length
they met in their respective chambers, they were in the frame of mind
which produces that species of disturbance known as a parliamentary
storm. Napoleon and his officers were grimly waiting in another room of
the palace for the cut-and-dried programme to be proposed and voted.
Sieyès had a coach and six ready at the gates to flee in case of mishap.

In the Five Hundred the uproar began with the session. The overwhelming
majority was against Bonaparte--this much the members had already
ascertained. But the opposition had not had time to arrange a
programme. Deputy after deputy sprang to his feet and made motions, but
opinions had not been focussed. One suggestion, however, carried; they
would all swear again to support the constitution: this would uncover
the traitors. It did nothing of the kind. The conspirators took the
oath without a grimace--Lucien Bonaparte and all. As each member had to
swear separately, some two hours were consumed in this childish attempt
to uncover traitors and buttress a falling constitution.

In the Ancients, also, a tempest was brewing. When the men, selected
by the Bonaparte managers, made their opening speeches and motions,
opposition was heard, explanations were demanded, and awkward questions
asked. Why move the councils to St. Cloud? Why vest extraordinary
command in Bonaparte? Where was this great Jacobin plot? Give facts and
name names!

No satisfaction could be given to such demands. The confusion was
increased by the report made to the body that four of the Directors had
resigned. Proceedings were suspended until the Council of Five Hundred
could receive this report, and some action be suggested for filling the
places thus made vacant.

At this point Napoleon entered the hall. He could hear the wrangle
going on in the Five Hundred, but he had not expected trouble in
the Ancients. The situation had begun to look dangerous. Augereau,
thinking it safe to vent his true feeling, had jeeringly said to
Napoleon, “Now you are in a pretty fix.”

“It was worse at Arcole,” was the reply.

Napoleon had harangued sympathetic Jacobins in small political
meetings; but to address a legislative body was new to him. His
talk to the Ancients was incoherent and weak. He could not give the
true reasons for his conduct, and the pretended reason could not be
strengthened by explanation or fact. He was asked to specify the
dangers which he said threatened the Republic, asked to describe the
conspiracy, and name the conspirators. He could not do so, and after
rambling all round the subject, his friends pulled him out of the
chamber. Notwithstanding his disastrous speech, the conspiracy asserted
its strength, and the Council of Ancients was held to the Bonaparte
programme. Napoleon at once went to the Council of Five Hundred, and
his appearance, accompanied by armed men, caused a tumult. “Down with
the Dictator! For shame! Was it for this you conquered. Get out! Put
him out!” Excited members sprang to their feet shouting, gesticulating,
threatening. Rough hands were laid upon him. Knives may have been
drawn. The Corsican, Peretti, had threatened Mirabeau with a knife in
the assembly hall: Tallien had menaced Robespierre with a dagger; there
is no inherent improbability in the story that the Corsican, Arena,
a bitter enemy of Napoleon, now struck at him with a knife. At all
events, the soldiers thought Napoleon in such danger that they drew him
out of the press, General Gardanne (it is said) bearing him backward in
his arms.

“_Hors la loi!_” was shouted in the hall--the cry before which
Robespierre had gone down. “Outlaw him! Outlaw him!”

Lucien Bonaparte, president of the body, refused to put the motion.
The anger of the Assembly then vented itself upon Lucien, who vainly
attempted to be heard in defence of his brother. “He wanted to
explain,” cried Lucien, “and you would not hear him!” Finding the
tumult grow worse, and the demand that he put the motion grow more
imperative, he stripped himself of the robe of office, sent for an
escort of soldiers, and was borne out by Napoleon’s grenadiers.

While the council chamber rang with its uproar, there had been
consternation outside. For a moment the Bonaparte managers hesitated.
They had not foreseen such a check. Napoleon himself harangued the
troops; and telling them that an attempt had been made on his life,
was answered by cries of “Long live Bonaparte!” It was noticed that he
changed his position every moment, zig-zagging as much as possible,
like a man who feared some assassin might aim at him from a window in
the palace. He said to Sieyès, “They want to outlaw me!” Seated in his
carriage, ready to run, but not yet dismayed, the ex-priest is said
to have answered: “Then do you outlaw them. Put them out.” Napoleon,
reëntering the room where the officers were sitting or standing,
in dismay and inaction, struck the table with his riding-whip, and
said, “I must put an end to this.” They all followed him out. Lucien,
springing upon a horse, harangued the troops, calling upon them to
drive out from the hall the factious minority which was intimidating
the virtuous majority of the council. The soldiers hesitated. Drawing
his sword, Lucien shouted, “I swear that I will stab my brother to the
heart if ever he attempt anything against the liberties of the people!”

This was dramatic, and it succeeded. The troops responded with cheers,
and Napoleon saw that they were at length ready. “_Now_ I will soon
settle those gentlemen!” He gave Murat the signal; Murat and Le
Clerc took the lead; and to the roll of drums the file advanced. The
legislators would have spoken to the troops, but the drums drowned the
protest. Before the advancing line of steel, the members fled their
hall, and the Bonaparte campaign was decided.

But once more Sieyès was the giver of sage advice. Legal forms must
be respected. France was not yet ready for the bared sword of the
military despot. The friendly members of the Council of Five Hundred
must be sought out and brought back to the hall. The deputies were
not yet gone, were still lingering in astonishment and grief and rage
about the palace. Lucien Bonaparte, the hero of this eventful day,
contrived to assemble about thirty members of the Council of Five
Hundred who would vote the Bonaparte programme through. They spent most
of the night adopting the measures proposed. It was past midnight when
the decrees of this Rump Parliament were presented to the Ancients
for ratification. In that assembly the Bonaparte influence was again
supreme, and no bayonets were needed there. Napoleon, Sieyès, and
Roger-Ducos having been named provisional consuls, appeared before the
Five Hundred between midnight and day to take the oath of office.

The legislative councils then stood adjourned till February 19, 1800.
Commissions had been selected to aid in framing the constitution.
Lucien made the last speech of the Revolution, and, according to Mr.
Lanfrey, it was the most bombastic piece of nonsense and falsehood that
had been uttered during the entire period. He compared the Tennis Court
Oath to the work just done, and said that, as the former had given
birth to liberty, this day’s work had given it manhood and permanence.

Not until the last detail of the work had been finished and put in
legal form, did Napoleon quit St. Cloud. He had even dictated a
proclamation in which he gave to the public his own account of the
events of the day. He again laid stress on the Jacobin plot which had
threatened the Republic, he again renewed his vows to that Republic, he
praised the conduct of the Ancients, and claimed that the violence used
against the Five Hundred had been made necessary by the factious men,
would-be assassins, who had sought to intimidate the good men of that
body. This proclamation was posted in Paris before day.

To humor the fiction, if it was a fiction, that Napoleon had been
threatened with knives, a grenadier, Thomas Thomé, was brought forward,
who said that he had warded off the blow. He showed where his clothes
had been cut or torn. As soon as the stage could be properly arranged
for the scene, the amiable and grateful Josephine publicly embraced
Thomé and made him a present of jewels. Napoleon promoted him later to
a captaincy.

The men who stood by Napoleon in this crisis left him under a debt
which he never ceased to acknowledge and to pay. With one possible
exception, he loaded them with honors and riches. The possible
exception was Collot, the banker, who, according to Fouché, supplied
the campaign fund. The bare fact that Napoleon did not at any time
treat Collot with favor, is strong circumstantial evidence that he
rendered no such aid at this crisis as created a debt of gratitude.

It was morning, but before daybreak, when Napoleon, tired but exultant,
reached home from St. Cloud. As he threw himself upon the bed by the
side of Josephine, he called out to his secretary:--

“Remember, Bourrienne, we shall sleep in the Luxembourg to-morrow.”


On Sunday evening, Brumaire 19, Napoleon had been a desperate political
gambler, staking fortune and life upon a throw; on Monday morning
following he calmly seated himself in the armchair at the palace of the
Luxembourg and began to give laws to France. He took the first place
and held it, not by any trick or legal contrivance, but by his native
imperiousness and superiority. In genius, in cunning, in courage,
he was the master of the doctrinaire Sieyès, and of the second-rate
lawyer, Roger-Ducos; besides, he held the army in the hollow of his

The sad comfort of saying “I told you so,” was all that was left to
Sieyès. “Gentlemen, we have a master,” said he to his friends that
Monday evening; and the will of this imperious colleague he did not
seriously try to oppose. In the very first meeting of the consuls,
Napoleon had won the complete supremacy by refusing to share in the
secret fund which the Directors had hidden away for their own uses.
They had emptied the treasury, and had spent $15,000,000 in advance
of the revenues, yet they had laid by for the rainy day which might
overtake themselves personally the sum of 800,000 francs or about
$160,000. Sieyès blandly called attention to this fact, and proposed
that he, Ducos, and Napoleon should divide the fund. “Share it between
you,” said Napoleon, who refused to touch it.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON

As First Consul, at Malmaison. From a painting by J. B. Isabey]

       *       *       *       *       *

Without the slightest apparent effort, Napoleon’s genius expanded to
the great work of reorganizing the Republic. Heretofore he had been
a man of camps and battle-fields; but he had so completely mastered
everything connected with the recruiting equipment and maintenance
of an army, had served so useful an apprenticeship in organizing the
Italian republics, and had been to school to such purpose in dealing
with politicians of all sorts, negotiating treaties, and sounding the
secrets of parties, that he really came to his great task magnificently
trained by actual experience.

In theory the new government of the three consuls was only
experimental, limited to sixty days. The two councils had not been
dissolved. Purged of about sixty violently anti-Bonaparte members,
the Ancients and the Five Hundred were but adjourned to the 19th of
February, 1800. If by that time the consuls had not been able to offer
to France a new scheme of government which would be accepted, the
councils were to meet again and decide what should be done. On paper,
therefore, Napoleon was a consul on probation, a pilot on a trial trip.
In his own eyes he was permanent chief of the State; and his every
motion was made under the impulse of that conviction.

Determined that there should be no reaction, that the scattered forces
of the opposition should have no common cause and centre of revolt, he
stationed his soldiers at threatened points; and then used all the art
of the finished politician to deceive and divide the enemy. To the
royalists he held out the terror of a Jacobin revival; to the Jacobin,
the dread of a Bourbon restoration. To the clergy he hinted a return
of the good old days when no man could legally be born, innocently
married, decently die, or be buried with hope of heaven, unless a
priest had charge of the functions. But above all was his pledge of
strong government, one which would quell faction, restore order, secure
property, guarantee civil liberty, and make the Republic prosperous and
happy. The belief that he would make good his word was the foundation
of the almost universal approval with which his seizure of power was
regarded. He was felt to be the one man who could drag the Republic
out of the ditch, reinspire the armies, cleanse the public service,
restore the ruined finances, establish law and order, and blend into a
harmonious nationality the factions which were rending France. Besides,
it was thought that a strong government would be the surest guarantee
of peace with foreign nations, as it was believed that the weakness
of the Directory was an encouragement to the foreign enemies of the

One of Napoleon’s first acts was to proclaim amnesty for political
offences. He went in person to set free the hostages imprisoned in the
Temple. Certain priests and émigrés who had been cast into prison, he
released. The law of hostages, which held relatives responsible for the
conduct of relatives, he repealed.

The victims of Fructidor (September, 1797) who had been banished, he
recalled--Pichegru and Aubrey excepted.

Mr. Lanfrey says that this exception from the pardon is proof of
Napoleon’s “mean and cruel nature.” Let us see. Pichegru, a republican
general, in command of a republican army, had taken gold from the
Bourbons, and had agreed to betray his army and his country. Not only
that, he had purposely allowed that army to be beaten by the enemy. As
Desaix remarked, Pichegru was perhaps the only general known to history
who had ever done a thing of the kind. Was Napoleon mean and cruel in
letting such a man remain in exile? Had Washington captured and shot
Benedict Arnold, would that have been proof that Washington’s nature
was mean and cruel? In leaving Pichegru where he was, Napoleon acted as
leniently as possible with a self-convicted traitor.

As to Aubrey, he had held a position of the highest trust under the
Republic, while he was at heart a royalist; he had used that position
to abet royalist conspiracies; he had gone out of his way to degrade
Napoleon, had refused to listen to other members of the government in
Napoleon’s favor, and had urged against Napoleon two reasons which
revealed personal malice,--Napoleon’s youth, and Napoleon’s politics.
To pardon such a man might have been magnanimous; to leave him under
just condemnation was neither mean nor cruel.

Under the law of that time, there were about 142,000 émigrés who
had forfeited life and estate. They had staked all in opposition to
the Revolution, had lost, and had been put under penalty. Almost
immediately, Napoleon began to open the way for the return of these
exiles and for the restoration of their property. As rapidly as
possible, he broadened the scope of his leniency until all émigrés had
been restored to citizenship save the very few (about one thousand) who
were so identified with the Bourbons, or who had so conspicuously made
war on France, that their pardon was not deemed judicious.

Priests were gradually relieved from all penalties and allowed to
exercise their office. Churches were used by Christians on the
seventh-day Sabbath, and by Theophilanthropists on the Decadi--the
tenth-day holiday. The one sect came on the seventh day with holy
water, candles, holy image, beads, crucifix, song, prayer, and sermon
on faith, hope, and charity,--with the emphasis thrown on the word,
Faith. The other sect came on the tenth day with flowers for the altar,
hymns and addresses in honor of those noble traits which constitute
lofty character, and with the emphasis laid upon such words as
Brotherhood, Charity, Mercy, and Love.

It was not a great while, of course, before the Christians (so recently
pardoned) found it impossible to tolerate the tenth-day people; and
they were quietly suppressed in the Concordat.

One of the Directors, Larévellière, was an ardent Theophilanthropist,
and he had made vigorous effort to enroll Napoleon on that side, soon
after the Italian campaign. The sect, being young and weak, found no
favor whatever in the eyes of the ambitious politician; and he who in
Egypt sat cross-legged among the ulemas and muftis, demurely taking
lessons from the Koran, had no hesitation in repelling the advances of

Going, perhaps, too far in his leniency to the émigrés (Napoleon
said later that it was the greatest mistake he ever made!), the new
government certainly erred in its severity toward the Jacobins. Some
fifty-nine of these were proscribed for old offences, and sentenced to
banishment. Public sentiment declared against this arbitrary _ex post
facto_ measure so strongly that it was not enforced.

The men of the wealthy class were drawn to the government by the
repeal of the law called the Forced Loan. This was really an income
tax, the purpose of which was to compel the capitalists to contribute
to the support of the State. The Directors, fearing that the rich men
who were subject to the tax might not make true estimates and returns,
assessed it by means of a jury. Dismal and resonant wails arose from
among the stricken capitalists.

Although the government created the tax as a loan, to be repaid
from the proceeds of the national domain, the antagonism it excited
was intense. In England, Mr. Pitt had (1798) imposed a tax upon
incomes,--very heavy in its demands, and containing the progressive
principle of the larger tax for the larger income,--but the Directors
were too feeble to mould the same instrument to their purpose in
France. Faultily assessed, stubbornly resisted, irregularly collected,
it yielded the Directory more odium than cash.

The five per cent funds which had fallen to one and a half per cent
of their par value before the 18th of Brumaire, had risen at once to
twelve per cent, and were soon quoted at seventeen.

Confidence having returned, Napoleon was able to borrow 12,000,000
francs for the immediate necessities of the State. The income tax
having been abolished, an advance of twenty-five per cent was made in
the taxes on realty, personalty, and polls. Heretofore, these taxes
had been badly assessed, badly collected, imperfectly paid into the
treasury. Napoleon at once remodelled the methods of assessment,
collection, and accounting. Tax collectors were required to give bonds
in cash; were made responsible for the amount of the taxes legally
assessed; were given a certain time within which to make collection,
and were required to give their own bills for the amount assessed.
These bills, backed by the cash deposit of the collectors, became good
commercial paper immediately, and thus the government was supplied with
funds even before the taxes had been paid.

It was with this cash deposit of the collectors that Napoleon paid for
the stock which the government took in the Bank of France which he
organized in January, 1800.

There yet remained in the hands of the government a large amount of
the confiscated land, and some of this was sold. To these sources of
revenue were soon added the contributions levied upon neighboring and
dependent states, such as Genoa, Holland, and the Hanse towns.

Under the Directory, tax-collecting and recruiting for the army had
been badly done because the work had been left to local authorities.
The central government could not act upon the citizen directly; it
had to rely upon these local authorities. When, therefore, the local
authorities failed to act, the machinery of administration was at a
standstill. Napoleon changed all this, and devised a system by which
the government dealt directly with the citizen. It was a national
officer, assisted by a council, who assessed and collected taxes. The
prefects appointed by Napoleon took the place of the royal intendants
of the Bourbon system. Holding office directly from the central
government, and accountable to it alone, these local authorities became
cogs in the wheel of a vast, resistless machine controlled entirely by
the First Consul. So perfect was the system of internal administration
which he devised, that it has stood the shock of all the changes which
have since occurred in France.

Keeping himself clear of parties, and adhering steadily to the
policy of fusion, Napoleon gave employment to men of all creeds. He
detested rogues, speculators, embezzlers. He despised mere talkers
and professional orators. He wanted workers, strenuous and practical.
He cared nothing for antecedents, nor for private morals. He knew the
depravity of Fouché and Talleyrand, yet used them. He gave employment
to royalists, Jacobins, Girondins, Deists, Christians, and infidels.
“Can he do the work, and will he do it honestly?” these were the
supreme tests. No enmity would deprive him of the service of the honest
and capable. No friendship would tolerate the continuance in office of
the dishonest or incompetent. Resolute in this policy of taking men as
he found them, of making the most of the materials at hand, he gave
high employment to many a man whom he personally disliked. He gave
to Talleyrand the ministry of foreign affairs, to Fouché that of the
police, to Carnot that of war. To Moreau he gave the largest of French
armies; Augereau, Bernadotte, Jourdan, he continued to employ. “I
cannot create men; I must use those I find.” Again he said, “The 18th
of Brumaire is a wall of brass, separating the past from the present.”

If they were capable, if they were honest, it did not matter to
Napoleon whether they had voted to kill the King or to save him; he put
them to work for France. Once in office, they must work. No sinecures,
no salaries paid as hush money, or indirect bribe, or pension for past
service, or screen for the privileged; without exception all must
earn their wages. “Come, gentlemen!” Napoleon would say cheerfully
to counsellors of State who had already been hammering away for ten
or twelve hours, “Come, gentlemen, it is only two o’clock! Let us
get on to something else; we must earn the money the State pays us.”
He himself labored from twelve to eighteen hours each day, and his
activity ran the whole gamut of public work,--from the inspection of
the soldier’s outfit, the planning of roads, bridges, quays, monuments,
churches, public buildings, the selection of a sub-prefect, the choice
of a statue for the palace, the review of a regiment, the dictation of
a despatch, or the details of a tax-digest, to the grand outlines of
organic law, national policy, and the movements of all the armies of
the Republic.

Under the Directory, the military administration had broken down so
completely that the war office had lost touch with the army. Soldiers
were not fed, clothed, or paid by the State. They could subsist only by
plundering friends and foes alike. Frightful ravages were committed by
civil and military agents of the French Republic in Italy, Switzerland,
and along the German frontier. When Napoleon applied to the late
minister of war, Dubois de Crancé, for information about the army, he
could get none. Special couriers had to be sent to the various commands
to obtain the most necessary reports. Under such mismanagement,
desertions had become frequent in the army, and recruiting had
almost ceased. The old patriotic enthusiasm had disappeared; the
“Marseillaise” performed at the theatres, by order of the Directory,
was received with hoots. To breathe new life into Frenchmen, to inspire
them again with confidence, hope, enthusiasm, was the great task of the
new government. The Jacobin was to be made to tolerate the royalist,
the Girondin, the Feuillant, and the priest. Each of these in turn
must be made to tolerate each other and the Jacobin. The noble must
consent to live quietly within the Republic which had confiscated his
property, and by the side of the man who now owned it. The republican
must dwell in harmony with the emigrant aristocracy which had once
trodden him to the earth, and which had leagued all Europe against
France in the efforts to restore old abuses. In the equality created
by law, the democrat must grow accustomed to the sight of nobles and
churchmen in office; and the man of the highest birth must be content
to work with a colleague whose birth was of the lowest. Ever since the
Revolution began, there had been alternate massacres of Catholics by
revolutionists, and of revolutionists by Catholics. It is impossible
to say which shed the greatest amount of blood--the Red Terror of the
Jacobins, or the White Terror of the Catholics. Fanaticism in the
one case as in the other had shown a ferocity of the most relentless
description. The cruel strife was now to be put down, and the men who
had been cutting each other’s throats were to be made to keep the peace.

Napoleon, in less than a year, had completely triumphed over the
difficulties of his position. The machinery of state was working with
resistless vigor throughout the realm. The taxes were paid, the laws
enforced, order reëstablished, brigandage put down, La Vendée pacified,
civil strife ended. The credit of the government was restored, public
funds rose, confidence returned. Men of all parties, of all creeds,
found themselves working zealously to win the favor of him who worked
harder than any mortal known to history.

Meanwhile Sieyès and the two commissions had been at work on the new
constitution. Dreading absolute monarchy on the one hand, and unbridled
democracy on the other, Sieyès had devised a plan of government which,
as he believed, combined the best features of both systems. There was
to be universal suffrage. Every tax-paying adult Frenchman who cared
enough about the franchise to go and register should have a vote.
But these voters did not choose office-holders. They simply elected
those from whom the office-holders should be chosen. The great mass
of the people were to elect one-tenth of their number, who would be
the notables of the commune. These would, in turn, elect one-tenth of
their number, who would be the notables of the department. These again
would elect one-tenth, who would be the national notables. From these
notables would be chosen the office-holders,--national, departmental,
and communal. This selection was made, not by the people, but by the
executive. There was to be a council of state working immediately with
the executive by whom its members were appointed. This council acting
with the executive would propose laws to the tribunate, an assembly
which could debate these prepared measures and which could send three
of its members to the legislative council to favor or oppose the law.
This legislature could hear the champions of the tribunate, and also
the delegates from the council of state; and after the speeches of
these advocates, pro and con, the legislature, as a constitutional jury
which heard debate without itself debating, could vote on the proposed
law. Besides, there was to be a Senate, named by the executive,
holding office for life. This Senate was to choose the members of the
legislative council and of the tribunate, as well as the judges of the
high court of appeals. In the Senate was lodged the power of deciding
whether laws were constitutional.

According to the Sieyès plan, there were to have been two consuls, of
war and of peace respectively; and these consuls were to have named
ministers to carry on the government through their appointees. Above
the two consuls was to be placed a grand elector, who should be lodged
in a palace, maintained in great state, magnificently salaried, but who
should have no power beyond the choice of the consuls. If the Senate
should be of the opinion, at any time, that the grand elector was not
conducting himself properly, it could absorb him into its own body, and
choose another.

Sieyès had been one of the charter members of the revolutionary party,
had helped to rock the cradle when the infant was newly born, had
lived through all the changes of its growth, manhood, madness, and
decline. Much of the permanent good work of the Revolution was his.
He now wished to frame for the French such a fundamental law as would
guard their future against the defects of their national character,
while it preserved to them what was best in the great principles of the

Once a churchman himself, he knew the Church and dreaded it. He feared
that the priests, working through superstitious fears upon the minds of
ignorant masses, would finally educate them into hostility to the new
order--train them to believe that the Old Régime had been the best, and
should be restored. To get rid of this danger (the peril of royalists
and priests from above acting upon the ignorant masses below), the
far-sighted statesman, dealing with France as it was, did not favor
popular sovereignty. Only by indirection were the masses to be allowed
to choose their rulers. The people could choose the local notables from
whom the local officers must be taken; and these local notables could
vote for departmental notables from whom departmental officers should
be chosen; and those departmental notables would select from their own
numbers the national notables from whom holders for national positions
must be taken.

These electoral bodies grew smaller as they went upward. The 5,000,000
voters of the nation first elected 500,000 local notables; these chose
from themselves 50,000 departmental electors; and these in turn took
by vote 5000 of their own number to constitute the electoral class for
national appointments. The executive filled all offices from these
various groups. From below, the masses furnished the material to be
used in governing; from above, the executive made its own selection
from that material.

This was far from being representative government; but it was far from
being mere despotism, military or otherwise. It was considered as free
a system as France was then prepared for; and he is indeed a wise man
who knows that she would have done better under a constitution which
granted unlimited popular control. The French had not been educated or
trained in republican government, and the efforts which had been made
to uphold a republic in the absence of such education and experience
had resulted in the dictatorship of the Great Committee and of the

Napoleon and Sieyès were agreed on the subject of popular suffrage;
they were far apart on the question of the executive. By nature
“imperious, obstinate, masterful,” the great Corsican had no idea of
becoming a fatuous, functionless elector. “What man of talent and honor
would consent to such a rôle,--to feed and fatten like a pig in a stye
on so many millions a year?” Before this scornful opposition the grand
elector vanished. In his place was put a First Consul, in whom were
vested all executive powers. Two associate consuls were given him, but
their functions in no way trenched upon his.

The constitution, rapidly completed, was submitted to the people by the
middle of December, 1799. It was adopted by three million votes--the
negative vote being insignificant.

“This constitution is founded on the true principles of representative
government, on the sacred rights of property, equality, and liberty.”
“The Revolution is ended.” So ran the proclamation published by the
provisional government.

It was a foregone conclusion that Napoleon would be named First Consul
in the new government which the people had ratified. It is no less
true that he dictated the choice of his two colleagues,--Cambacérès
and Lebrun. These were men whose ability was not of the alarming kind,
and who could be relied upon to count the stars whenever Napoleon, at
midday, should declare that it was night. Sieyès was soothed with the
gift of the fine estate of Crosne, and the presidency of the Senate.
Roger-Ducos also sank peacefully into the bosom of that august,
well-paid Assembly.

It was on Christmas Eve of 1799 that the government of the three
permanent consuls began; by the law of its creation it was to live for
ten years.

This consular government was a magnificent machine, capable of
accomplishing wonders when controlled by an able ruler. The gist of
it was concentration and uniformity. All the strength of the nation
was placed at the disposal of its chief. He could plan and execute,
legislate and enforce legislation, declare war and marshal armies,
and make peace. He was master at home and abroad. In him was centred
France. He laid down her laws, fixed her taxes, dictated her system of
schools, superintended her roads and bridges, policed her towns and
cities, licensed her books, named the number of her armies; pensioned
the old, the weak, and the deserving; censored her press, controlled
rewards and punishments,--his finger ever on the pulse-beat of the
nation, his will its master, his ideals its inspiration.

No initiative remained with the people. Political liberty was a
reminiscence. The town bridge could not be rebuilt or the lights of
the village changed without authority granted from the Consul or his
agents. “Confidence coming from below; power descending from above,”
was the principle of the new Sieyès system. Under just such a scheme
it was possible that it might happen that the power of the ruler would
continue to come down long after the confidence of the subject had
ceased to go up.

The Revolution had gone to the extreme limits of popular sovereignty
by giving to every citizen the ballot, to every community the right
of local self-government; and to the masses the privilege of electing
judicial and military as well as political officers. France was
said to be cut up into forty thousand little republics. The central
authority was almost null; the local power almost absolute. It was
this federative system carried to excess (as under the Articles of
the Confederation in our own country) which had made necessary the
despotism of the Great Committee. The consular constitution was the
reverse of this. Local government became null, the central authority
almost absolute. Prefects and sub-prefects, appointed by the executive,
directed local affairs, nominally assisted by local boards, which met
once a year. Even the mayors held their offices from the central power.
From the lowest round of the official ladder to the highest, was a
steady climb of one rung above the other. The First Consul was chief,
restrained by the constitution; below him, moving at his touch, came
all the other officers of state.

Under Napoleon the burden of supporting the State rested on the
shoulders of the strong. Land, wealth, paid the direct taxes; the
customs duties were levied mainly upon luxuries, not upon the
necessaries of life. Prior to the Revolution the taxes of the
unprivileged had amounted to more than three-fourths of the net produce
of land and labor. Under the Napoleonic system the taxes amounted to
less than one-fourth of the net income.

Before the Revolution the poor man lost fifty-nine days out of every
year in service to the State by way of tax. Three-fifths of the French
were in this condition. After the Revolution the artisan, mechanic,
and day laborer lost from nine to sixteen days per year. Before the
Revolution Champfort could say, “In France seven millions of men beg
and twelve millions are unable to give anything.” To the same purport
is the testimony of Voltaire that one-third of the French people had

Under Napoleon an American traveller, Colonel Pinkney could write,
“There are no tithes, no church taxes, no taxation of the poor. All the
taxes together do not go beyond one-sixth of a man’s rent-roll.”

Before the Revolution the peasant proprietor and small farmer, out
of 100 francs net income, paid 14 francs to the seigneur, 14 to the
Church, and 53 to the State. After Napoleon’s rise to power, the same
farmer out of the same amount of income paid nothing to the seigneur,
nothing to the Church, very little to the State, and only 21 francs to
the commune and department. Under the Bourbons such a farmer kept for
his own use less than 20 francs out of 100; under Napoleon he kept 79.

Under the Bourbons the citizen was compelled to buy from the government
seven pounds of salt every year at the price of thirteen sous per
pound, for himself and each member of his family. Under Napoleon he
bought no more than he needed, and the price was two sous per pound.

Under the Bourbons the constant dread of the peasant, for centuries,
had been Famine--national, universal, horribly destructive Famine. With
Napoleon’s rise to power, the spectre passed away; and, excepting local
and accidental dearths in 1812 and 1817, France heard of Famine no more.

Napoleon believed that each generation should pay its own way. He had
no grudge against posterity, and did not wish to live at its expense.
Hence he “floated” no loans, issued no bonds, and piled up no national

The best of the Bourbon line, Henry IV., lives in kindly remembrance
because he wished the time to come when the French peasant might, once
a week, have a fowl for the pot. Compare this with what Lafayette
writes (in 1800): “You know how many beggars there were, people dying
of hunger in our country. We see no more of them. The peasants are
richer, the land better tilled, and the women better clad.”

Morris Birkbeck, an English traveller, writes, “Everybody assures
me that the riches and comfort of the farmers have been doubled in
twenty-five years.

“From Dieppe to this place, Montpellier, we have not seen among the
laboring people one such famished, worn-out, wretched object as may
be met in every parish in England, I had almost said on almost every
farm.... A really rich country, and yet there are few rich individuals.”

As one reads paragraphs like these, the words of John Ruskin come to
mind, “Though England is deafened with spinning-wheels, her people have
no clothes; though she is black with digging coal, her people have no
fuel, and they die of cold; and though she has sold her soul for gain,
they die of hunger!”

       *       *       *       *       *

How the government which was overthrown by Napoleon could have gone on
much longer even Mr. Lanfrey does not explain. It had neither money nor
credit; the very cash box of the opera had been seized to obtain funds
to forward couriers to the armies. It had neither honesty nor capacity.
Talleyrand, treating with the American envoys, declined to do business
till his hands had been crossed, according to custom; brigands robbed
mail coaches in the vicinity of Paris; the public roads and canals were
almost impassable; rebellion defied the government in La Vendée. The
Directory did not even have the simple virtue of patriotism; Barras was
sold to the Bourbons, and held in his possession letters-patent issued
to him by the Count of Provence, appointing him royal commissioner
to proclaim and reëstablish the monarchy. “Had I known of the
letters-patent on the 18th of Brumaire,” exclaimed Napoleon afterward,
“I would have pinned them upon his breast and had him shot.”


All honor to the ruler who commences his reign by words and deeds
which suggest that he has somewhere heard and heeded the golden text,
“Blessed are the peacemakers!”

There had been riots in France and the clash of faction; there had
been massacre of Catholic by Protestant and of Protestant by Catholic;
there had been civil war in La Vendée. Napoleon had no sooner become
master than his orders went forth for peace, and a year had not passed
before quiet reigned from Paris to all the frontiers. Royally he
pardoned all who would accept his clemency, giving life and power to
many a secret foe who was to help pull him down in the years to come.
France tranquillized within, the First Consul turned to the enemies
without,--to the foreign powers which had combined against her.

On Christmas Day, December 25, 1799, Napoleon wrote to the King of
England and to the Emperor of Austria nobly worded letters praying
that the war might cease. Written with his own hand, and addressed
personally to these monarchs, the question of etiquette is raised
by royalist writers. They contend that letters, so addressed, were
improper. Think of the coldness of nature which would make the lives
of thousands of men turn on a pitiful point like that! These letters
were not sincere, according to Napoleon’s detractors. How they come to
know this, they cannot explain; but they know it. The average reader,
not gifted with the acumen of the professional detractor, can only be
certain of the plain facts of the case, and those are, that Napoleon
made the first overtures for peace; that his words have the ring of
sincerity, and the virtue of being positive; and that his conciliatory
advances were repelled, mildly by Austria, insolently by Great Britain.

So arrogant was the letter of reply which Grenville, the English
minister, sent to the French foreign office that even George III.
disapproved of it. With incredible superciliousness the French were
told by the English aristocrat that they had better restore the
Bourbons under whose rule France had enjoyed so much prosperity at
home and consideration abroad. Inasmuch as England had but recently
despoiled Bourbon France of nearly every scrap of territory she had in
the world,--Canada, India, etc.,--Grenville’s letter was as stupidly
scornful of fact as it was of good manners. The Bourbon “glory” which
had sunk so low that France had not even been invited to the feast when
Poland was devoured; so low that the French flag had been covered with
shameful defeat on land and sea, was a subject which might have made
even a British cabinet officer hesitate before he took the wrong side
of it.

The honors of the correspondence remained with Napoleon; and by way
of retort to Grenville’s plea, that the Bourbons were the legitimate
rulers of France, whom the people had no right to displace, the surly
Englishman was reminded that the logic of his argument would bring the
Stuarts back to the throne of England, from which a revolting people
had driven them. The truth is that Pitt’s ministry believed France
exhausted. Malta and Egypt were both coveted by Great Britain, and it
was believed that each would soon be lost by France. It was for reasons
like these that Napoleon’s overtures were rejected.

With the Emperor of Russia the First Consul was more fortunate. The
Czar had not liked the manner in which he had been used by his allies,
England and Austria. In fact, he had been shabbily treated by both.
Added to this was his dissatisfaction with England because of her
designs on Malta, in whose fate he took an interest as protector of the
Knights of St. John.

Napoleon cleverly played upon the passions of the Czar (who was more or
less of a lunatic), flattered him by releasing the Russian prisoners
held by France, and sending them home in new uniforms. Soon Napoleon
had no admirer more ardent than the mad autocrat Paul, who wrote him a
personal letter proposing a joint expedition against India.

Prussia had declared her neutrality. Napoleon sent Duroc and a letter
to the young King urging an alliance, Hamburg being the bait dangled
before the Prussian monarch’s eyes. He was gracious, and he was
tempted, but he did not yield: Prussia remained neutral.

Great Britain had good reasons for wishing for the restoration of the
Bourbons, from whose feeble hands so much of the colonial Empire of
France had dropped; she had good reason to believe that a continuation
of the war would increase her own colonial empire, but the manner in
which she repelled Napoleon’s advances gave to France just the insult
that was needed to arouse her in passionate support of the First Consul.

Forced to continue the war, his preparations were soon made.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be doubted whether any victory that he ever won held a higher
place in the memory of the great captain than that of Marengo. He never
ceased to recall it as one of the most glorious days of his life. We
see a proof of this in the Memoirs of General Marbot. The year was
1807, the battle of Eylau had been fought, the armies were in motion
again; and Lannes, hard-pressed by the Russian host at Friedland, had
sent his aide-de-camp speeding to the Emperor to hurry up support.

“Mounted on my swift Lisette, I met the Emperor leaving Eylau. His
face was beaming. He made me ride up by his side, and as we galloped
I had to give him an account of what had taken place on the field of
battle before I had left. The report finished, the Emperor smiled,
and asked, “Have you a good memory?”--“Pretty fair, sire.”--“Well,
what anniversary is it to-day, the 14th of June?”--“Marengo.”--“Yes,”
replied the Emperor, “and I am going to beat the Russians to-day as I
beat the Austrians at Marengo.” And as Napoleon reached the field, and
rode along the lines, he called out to his troops, “It is a lucky day,
the anniversary of Marengo!” The troops cheered him as he rode, and
they won for him the great battle of Friedland.”

The old uniform, sabre, spurs, hat, he had worn on that sunny day in
Italy, in 1800, he scrupulously kept. In the year he was crowned
Emperor he carried Josephine to see the plain he had immortalized,
fought again in sham fight the battle of Marengo, wearing the faded
uniform he had worn on that eventful day.

Even on his last journey to dismal St. Helena, it seems that these
relics of a glorious past were not forgotten. We read that when the
dead warrior lay stark and stiff in his coffin on that distant rock,
they spread over his feet “the cloak he had worn at Marengo.”

       *       *       *       *       *

It was indeed a brilliant campaign, great in conception, execution,

Moreau’s army lay upon the Rhine, more than one hundred thousand
strong. Masséna with the army of Italy guarded the Apennines, facing
overwhelming odds. From Paris the First Consul urged Masséna to hold
his ground, and Moreau to advance. Against the latter was a weak
Austrian commander, Kray, and forces about equal to the French. Much
time was lost, Napoleon proposing a plan which Moreau thought too
bold, and was not willing to risk. Finally the First Consul yielded,
gave Moreau a free hand, and the advance movement began. The Rhine was
crossed, and Moreau began a series of victories over Kray which brought
him to the Danube. But the Austrians, taking the offensive against the
army of Italy, cut it in two, and shut up Masséna in Genoa, where the
English fleet could coöperate against the French.

It was then that Napoleon, almost by stealth, got together another
army, composed partly of conscripts, partly of veterans from the armies
of La Vendée and Holland, and hurried it to the foot of the Alps. The
plan was to pass these mountains, fall upon the Austrian rear, and
redeem Italy at a blow. His enemies heard of the Army of the Reserve
which he was collecting at Dijon. Spies went there, saw a few thousand
raw recruits, and reported that Napoleon had no Army of Reserve--that
he was merely trying to bluff old Melas into loosening his grip on
Genoa. It suited Napoleon precisely to have his new army treated as a
joke. With consummate art he encouraged the jest while he collected,
drilled, and equipped at different points the various detachments with
which he intended to march.

Under the constitution the First Consul could not legally command the
army. He was not forbidden, however, to be present as an interested
spectator while some one else commanded. So he appointed Berthier,

Early in May, 1800, all was ready, and the First Consul left Paris to
become the interested spectator of the movements of the Army of the
Reserve. At the front, form and fiction gave way to actuality, and
Napoleon’s word was that of chief. At four different passes the troops
entered the mountains, the main army crossing by the Great St. Bernard.

Modern students, who sit in snug libraries and rectify the arduous
campaigns of the past, have discovered that Napoleon’s passage of the
Alps was no great thing after all. They say that his troops had plenty
to eat, drink, and wear; thousands of mules and peasants to aid in the
heavy work of the march; no foes to fight on the way; and that his
march was little more than a military parade. Indeed, it was one of
those things which looked a deal easier after it had been done than
before. And yet it must have been a notable feat to have scaled those
mighty barriers on which lay the snow, to have threaded those paths up
in the air over which the avalanche hung, and below which the precipice
yawned--all this having been done with such speed that the French were
in Italy before the Austrians knew they had left France. Much of the
route was along narrow ledges where the shepherd walked warily. To
take a fully equipped army over these rocky shelves,--horse, foot,
artillery, ammunition, supplies,--seems even at this admire-nothing
day to have been a triumph of organization, skill, foresight, and
hardihood. Only a few months previously a Russian army, led by Suwarow,
had ventured to cross the Alps--and had crossed; but only half of them
got out alive.

In less than a week the French made good the daring attempt, and were
in the valleys of Italy marching upon the Austrian rear. They had
brought cavalry and infantry almost without loss. Cannon had been laid
in hollowed logs and pulled up by ropes. The little fort of Bard, stuck
right in the road out of the mountains, had, for a moment, threatened
the whole enterprise with ruin. Napoleon had known of the fortress, but
had underrated its importance. For some hours a panic seemed imminent
in the vanguard, but a goat-path was found which led past the fort on
rocks higher up. The cannon were slipped by at night, over the road
covered with litter.

Remaining on the French side to despatch the troops forward as rapidly
as possible, Napoleon was one of the last to enter the mountains. He
rode a sure-footed mule, and by his side walked his guide, a young
peasant who unbosomed himself as they went forward. This peasant, also,
had his eyes on the future, and wished to rise in the world. His heart
yearned for a farm in the Alps, where he might pasture a small flock,
grow a few necessaries, marry a girl he loved, and live happily ever
afterward. The traveller on the mule seemed much absorbed in thought;
but, nevertheless, he heard all the mountaineer was saying.

He gave to the young peasant the funds wherewith to buy house and land;
and when Napoleon’s empire had fallen to pieces, the family of his
old-time guide yet dwelt contentedly in the home the First Consul had

So completely had Napoleon hoodwinked the Austrians that the Army of
the Reserve was still considered a myth. Mountain passes where a few
battalions could have vanquished an army had been left unguarded; and
when the French, about sixty thousand strong, stood upon the Italian
plains, Melas could with difficulty be made to believe the news.

Now that he was in Italy, it would seem that Napoleon should have
relieved Genoa, as he had promised. Masséna and his heroic band were
there suffering all the tortures of war, of famine, and of pestilence.
But Napoleon had conceived a grander plan. To march upon Genoa,
fighting detachments of Austrians as he went, and going from one
hum-drum victory to another was too commonplace. Napoleon wished to
strike a blow which would annihilate the enemy and astound the world.
So he deliberately left Masséna’s army to starve while he himself
marched upon Milan. One after another, Lannes, leading the vanguard,
beat the Austrian detachments which opposed his progress, and Napoleon
entered Milan in triumph.

Here he spent several days in festivals and ceremonials, lapping
himself in the luxury of boundless adulation. In the meantime he threw
his forces upon the rear of Melas, spreading a vast net around that
brave but almost demoralized commander.

On June 4 Masséna consented to evacuate Genoa. His troops, after having
been fed by the Austrians, marched off to join the French in Italy.
Thus, also, a strong Austrian force was released, and it hastened to
join Melas.

When Bourrienne went into Napoleon’s room late at night, June 8, and
shook him out of a sound sleep to announce that Genoa had fallen, he
refused at first to believe it. But he immediately rose, and in a short
while orders were flying in all directions, changing the dispositions
of the army.

On June 9, Lannes, with the aid of Victor, who came up late in the day,
won a memorable victory at Montebello.

Napoleon, who had left Milan and taken up a strong position at
Stradella, was in a state of the utmost anxiety, fearing that Melas was
about to escape the net. The 10th and 11th of June passed without any
definite information of the Austrian movements. On the 12th of June his
impatience became so great that he abandoned his position at Stradella
and advanced to the heights of Tortona. On the next day he passed the
Scrivia and entered the plain of Marengo, and drove a small Austrian
force from the village. Napoleon was convinced that Melas had escaped,
and it is queer commentary upon the kind of scouting done at the time
that the whereabouts of the Austrian army was totally unknown to the
French, although the two were but a few miles apart. Leaving Victor in
possession of the village of Marengo, and placing Lannes on the plain,
Napoleon started back to headquarters at Voghera. By a lucky chance
the Scrivia had overflowed its banks, and he could not cross. Thus
he remained near enough to Marengo to repair his terrible mistake in
concluding that Melas meant to shut himself up in Genoa. Desaix, just
returned from Egypt, reached headquarters June 11, and was at once put
in command of the Boudet division. On June 13 Desaix was ordered to
march upon Novi, by which route Melas would have to pass to Genoa.

Thus on the eve of one of the most famous battles in history, the
soldier who won it was completely at fault as to the position and the
purpose of his foe. His own army was widely scattered, and it was only
by accident that he was within reach of the point where the blow fell.
The staff-officer whom he had sent to reconnoitre, had reported that
the Austrians were not in possession of the bridges over the Bormida.
In fact they were in possession of these bridges, and at daybreak, June
14, they began to pour across them with the intention of crushing the
weak French forces at Marengo and of breaking through Napoleon’s net.
About thirty-six thousand Austrians fell upon the sixteen thousand
French. Victor was driven out of the village, and by ten o’clock in
the morning his troops were in disorderly retreat. The superb courage
of Lannes stayed the rout. With the utmost firmness he held his troops
in hand, falling back slowly and fighting desperately as he retired.
At full speed Napoleon came upon the field, bringing the consular
guard and Monnier’s division. Couriers had already been sent to bring
Desaix back to the main army; but before these messengers reached him,
he had heard the cannonade, guessed that Melas had struck the French
at Marengo, and at once set his columns in motion toward the field of

Napoleon’s presence, his reënforcements, his skilful dispositions,
had put new life into the struggle; but as the morning wore away, and
the afternoon commenced, it was evident that the Austrians would win.
The French gave way at all points, and in parts of the field the rout
was complete. Napoleon sat by the roadside swishing his riding-whip
and calling to the fugitives who passed him to stop; but their flight
continued. A commercial traveller left the field and sped away to carry
the news to Paris that Napoleon had suffered a great defeat.

Melas, oppressed by age and worn out by the heat and fatigue of the
day, thought the battle won; went to his headquarters to send off
despatches to that effect, and left to his subordinate, Zach, the task
of the pursuit. But Desaix had come--“the battle is lost, but there is
time to gain another.”

Only twelve pieces of artillery were left to the French. Marmont massed
these, and opened on the dense Austrian column advancing _en échelon_
along the road. Desaix charged, and almost immediately got a ball in
the breast and died “a soldier’s beautiful death.” But his troops
pressed forward with fury, throwing back in confusion the head of the
Austrian column. At this moment, “in the very nick of time” as Napoleon
himself admitted to Bourrienne, Kellermann made his famous cavalry
charge on the flank of the Austrian column, cut it in two, and decided
the day. The French lines everywhere advanced, the Austrians broke.
They were bewildered at the sudden change: they had no chief, Zach
being a prisoner, and Melas absent. In wildest confusion they fled
toward the bridges over the Bormida, Austrian horse trampling Austrian
foot, and the French in hot pursuit.

Some sixteen thousand men were killed or wounded in this bloody battle,
and very nearly half of these were French. But the Austrians were
demoralized, and Melas so overcome that he hastened to treat. To save
the relics of his army, he was willing to abandon northern Italy, give
up Genoa, and all fortresses recently taken.

From the field of Marengo, surrounded by so many dead and mangled,
Napoleon wrote a long letter to the Emperor of Austria, urgently
pleading for a general peace.

Returning to Milan, he was welcomed with infinite enthusiasm. He spent
some days there reëstablishing the Cisalpine republic, reorganizing the
administration, and putting himself in accord with the Roman Catholic
Church. Just as earnestly as he had assured the Mahometans in Egypt
that his mission on earth was to crush the Pope and lower the Cross, he
now set himself up as the restorer of the Christian religion. He went
in state to the cathedral of Milan to appear in a clerical pageant; and
he took great pains to have it published abroad that the priests might
rely upon him for protection.

Leaving Masséna in command of the army of Italy, Napoleon returned
to Paris by way of Lyons. The ovations which greeted him were as
spontaneous as they were hearty. Never before, never afterward, did
his presence call forth such universal, sincere, and joyous applause.
He was still young, still the first magistrate of a republic, still
conciliatory and magnetic, still posing as a public servant who could
modestly write that “he hoped France would be satisfied with its
army.” He was not yet the all-absorbing egotist who must be everything.
Moreau was still at the head of an army, Carnot at the war office,
there was a tribunate which could debate governmental policies; there
was a public opinion which could not be openly braved.

Hence it was a national hero whom the French welcomed home, not a
master before whom flatterers fawned. All Paris was illuminated from
hut to palace. Thousands pressed forward but to see him; the Tuileries
were surrounded by the best people of Paris, all eager to catch a
glimpse of him at a window, and greeting him wherever he appeared with
rapturous shouts. He himself was deeply touched, and said afterward
that these were the happiest days of his life. The time was yet to come
when he would appear at these same windows to answer the shouts of a
few boys and loafers, on the dreary days before Waterloo.

With that talent for effect which was one of Napoleon’s most highly
developed traits, he had ordered the Consular Guard back to France
almost immediately after Marengo, timing its march so that it would
arrive in Paris on the day of the great national fête of July 14. On
that day when so many thousands of Frenchmen, dressed in gala attire,
thronged the Field of Mars and gave themselves up to rejoicings, the
column from Marengo, dust-covered, clad in their old uniform, and
bearing their smoke-begrimed, bullet-rent banners, suddenly entered the
vast amphitheatre. The effect was electrical. Shout upon shout greeted
the returning heroes; and with an uncontrollable impulse the people
rushed upon these veterans from Italy with every demonstration of joy,
affection, and wild enthusiasm. So great was the disorder that the
regular programme of the day was thrust aside; the men of Marengo had
dwarfed every other attraction.

About this time the Bourbons made efforts to persuade Napoleon to play
the part of Monk in restoring the monarchy. Suasive priests bearing
letters, and lovely women bearing secret offers, were employed, the
facile Josephine lending herself gracefully to the intrigue. The First
Consul was the last of men to rake chestnuts out of the fire for other
people, and the Bourbons were firmly advised to accept a situation
which left them in exile.

Failing in their efforts to bribe him, the monarchists determined to
kill him; and the more violent Jacobins, seeing his imperial trend,
were equally envenomed. It was the latter faction which made the
first attempt upon his life. The Conspiracy of Ceracchi, Arena, and
Topino-Lebrun was betrayed to the police. Ceracchi was an Italian
sculptor who had modelled a bust of Napoleon. Arena was a Corsican
whose brother had aimed a knife at Napoleon on the 19th of Brumaire.
Topino-Lebrun was the juryman who had doubted the guilt of Danton, and
who had been bullied into voting death by the painter David. They were
condemned and executed.

A yet more dangerous plot was that of the royalists. An infernal
machine was contrived by which Napoleon was to have been blown up while
on his way to the opera. The explosion occurred, but a trifle too
late. Napoleon had just passed. The man in charge of the machine did
not know Josephine’s carriage from Napoleon’s, and approached too near
in the effort to make certain. A guard kicked him away, and while he
was recovering himself Napoleon’s coachman drove furiously round the
corner. A sound like thunder was heard, many houses were shattered,
many people killed and wounded.

“Drive on!” shouted Napoleon; and when he entered his box at the opera,
he looked as if nothing had occurred. “The rascals tried to blow me
up,” he said coolly as he took his seat and called for an opera-book.
But when he returned to the Tuileries he was in a rage, and violently
accused the Jacobins of being the authors of the plot. Fouché in vain
insisted that the royalists were the guilty parties; the First Consul
refused to listen. Taking advantage of the feeling aroused in his
favor by the attempts to assassinate him, he caused a new tribunal
to be created, composed of eight judges, who were to try political
offenders without jury, and without appeal or revision. By another law
he was empowered to banish without trial such persons as he considered
“enemies of the State.” One hundred and thirty of the more violent
republicans were banished to the penal colonies.

For the purpose of feeling the public pulse, a pamphlet was put forward
by Fontanes and Lucien Bonaparte, called a “Parallel between Cæsar,
Cromwell, Monk, and Bonaparte.” It was hinted that supreme power should
be vested in Napoleon, that he should be made king. The pear was not
quite ripe, the pamphlet created a bad effect. Napoleon, who had
undoubtedly encouraged its publication, promptly repudiated it; and
Lucien, dismissed from his office as Secretary of the Interior, was
sent to Spain as ambassador.

       *       *       *       *       *

However willing Austria might be for peace, she could not make it
without the consent of England, her ally. The British ministry viewed
with the spirit of philosophy the crushing blows which France had
dealt Austria, and, secure from attack themselves, encouraged Austria
to keep on fighting. Not able to send troops, England sent money.
With $10,000,000 she bought the further use of German soldiers to
keep France employed on the Continent, while Great Britain bent her
energies to the capture of Malta and of Egypt. Thus it happened that
the armistice expired without a treaty having been agreed on; and the
war between the Republic and the Empire recommenced (November, 1800).
Brune defeated the Austrians on the Mincio; Macdonald made the heroic
march through the Splügen Pass; Moreau won the magnificent victory of
Hohenlinden (December 4, 1800).

It seems that, with a little more dash, Moreau might have taken Vienna,
exposed as it was to the march of three victorious armies. But Austria
asked for a truce, gave pledges of good faith, and the French halted.
On February 9, 1801, the Peace of Lunéville put an end to the war.
France had won the boundary of the Rhine; and, in addition to the
territory made hers by the treaty of Campo Formio, gained Tuscany,
which Napoleon had promised to Spain, in exchange for Louisiana.

Napoleon’s position on the Continent was now very strong. Prussia was a
friendly neutral; Spain an ally; Italy and Switzerland little more than
French provinces; the Batavian republic and Genoa submissive subjects;
Portugal in his power by reason of his compact with Spain; and the
Czar of Russia an enthusiastic friend. England was shut out from the
Continent almost completely.

Her insolent exercise of the right of search of neutral vessels on the
high seas, a right which had no basis in law or justice, had provoked
the hatred of the world, and Napoleon took advantage of this feeling
and of Russia’s friendship to reorganize the armed neutrality of the
northern powers for the purpose of bringing England to reason. Her
reply was brutal and effective. She sent her fleet, under Parker and
Nelson, to bombard Copenhagen and to destroy the Danish navy. The work
was savagely done, and the northern league shattered. The English party
at St. Petersburg followed up this blow by the murder of the Czar Paul.
Hardly had the young Alexander been proclaimed before he announced
his adhesion to the English and his antagonism to the French. He may,
possibly, have been free from the guilt of conniving at his father’s
murder; but it is not to be denied that he continued to reward with the
highest offices the chief assassins--Bennigsen, for example.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kléber, who had gloriously maintained himself in Egypt, was
assassinated on the day of Marengo. It is one of the mysteries of
Napoleon’s career that he allowed the incompetent Menou to succeed
to a command where so much executive and administrative ability was
required. One is tempted to think that even at this early date the
genius of Napoleon was overtaxed. In trying to do so many things,
he neglected some. Egypt he certainly tried to relieve by sending
reënforcements; but he slurred all, neglected all, and lost all, by
allowing so notorious an imbecile as Menou to remain in chief command.
Why he did not appoint Reynier or Lanusse, both of whom were already
in Egypt, or why he did not send some good officer from France, can
only be explained upon the theory that his mind was so much preoccupied
with other matters that he failed to attach due importance to the
situation of the Army of the East.

Menou’s administration was one dreary chapter of stupidities; and when
the English landed at Alexandria, they found an easy conquest. With
little effort and little bloodshed the French were beaten in detail,
and agreed to quit the country.

When the tidings reached Napoleon, his anger and chagrin were extreme.
He jumped upon his horse and dashed off into the forest of Bougival
as if the furies were after him. Hour after hour he rode frantically
in the wood, to the wonder of his staff, who could not guess what it
was all about. At last, when the storm had spent itself, he unbosomed
himself to the faithful Junot. That night Junot said to his wife,
“Ah, my General suffered cruelly to-day: Egypt has been taken by the

Malta having been captured also, Napoleon had the mortification of
realizing that his expedition to the East had had no other result than
to sow seed for an English harvest.

However, Great Britain was dismayed at the increase of her public debt,
oppressed by the load of taxation, and somewhat intimidated by the
energy which Napoleon began to show in building up the French navy. A
monster demonstration at Boulogne,--where he gathered an immense number
of armed sloops, apparently for the purpose of invading England,--and
the failure of an attack which Nelson made on this flotilla, had an
effect; and in March, 1802, to the joy of the world, the Peace of
Amiens was signed.

For the first time since 1792 universal peace prevailed in Europe.


Nothing but memories now remains to France, or to the human race,
of the splendors of Marengo, of Austerlitz, Jena, and Wagram; but
the work which Napoleon did while Europe allowed him a few years of
peace will endure for ages. Had the Treaty of Amiens been lasting,
had England kept faith, had the old world dynasties been willing to
accept at that time those necessary changes which have since cost
so much labor, blood, and treasure, Napoleon might have gone down
to history, not as the typical fighter of modern times, but as the
peerless developer, organizer, administrator, and lawgiver. In his
many-sided character there was the well-rounded man of peace, who
delighted in improvement, in embellishment, in the growth of commerce,
agriculture, and manufactures; in the progress of art, science, and
literature; in the thorough training of the young, the care of the
weaker members of society, the just administration of wise laws, the
recognition of merit of all kinds. The orderly march of the legions of
industry was no less satisfying to him than the march of armies. We
have read so much of his battles that we have come to think of him as
a man who was never so happy as when at war. This view is superficial
and incorrect. It appears that he was never more energetic, capable,
effective, never more at ease, never more cheerful, contented, kind,
and magnetic than in the work connected with his schools, hospitals,
public monuments, public improvements of all sorts, the codification of
the laws, the encouragement and development of the various industries
of France. No trophy of any of his campaigns did he exhibit with more
satisfaction than he took in showing to visitors a piece of sugar made
by Frenchmen from the beet--a triumph of home industry due largely to
his stimulating impulse.

In all such matters his interest was intelligent, persistent, and
intense. Few were the months given to him in which to devote himself
to such labor; but he took enormous strides in constructing a new
system for France which worked wonders for her, and which has had its
influence throughout the civilized world.

The men of the Revolution had sketched a grand scheme of state
education, but it remained a sketch. Napoleon studied their scheme,
improved it, adopted it, and put it into successful operation. His
thorough system of instruction, controlled by the State, from the
primary schools to the Lyceums and the Technological Institute remain
in France to-day substantially as he left them.

Under the Directory society had become disorganized and morals corrupt.
Napoleon, hard at work on finance, laws, education, military and
civil administration, inaugurated the reform of social abuses also.
With his removal to the Tuileries, February 1800, may be dated the
reconstruction of society in France. The beginnings of a court formed
about him, and into this circle the notoriously immoral women could not
enter. It must have been a cruel surprise to Madame Tallien--coming to
visit her old friend Josephine--when the door was shut in her face by
the usher. Of course it was by Napoleon’s command that this was done,
never by Josephine’s. Applying similar rules to the men, Napoleon
compelled Talleyrand to marry the woman with whom he openly lived; and
even the favorite Berthier, too scandalously connected with Madame
Visconti, was made to take a wife. Sternly frowning upon all flaunting
immoralities, the First Consul’s will power and example so impressed
itself upon the nation that the moral tone of society throughout the
land was elevated, and a loftier moral standard fixed.

Under the Directory the material well-being of the country, internally,
had been so neglected that even the waterways fell into disuse. Under
the consular government the French system of internal improvements soon
began to excite the admiration of Europe. Englishmen, coming over after
the peace, and expecting to see what their editors and politicians had
described as a country ruined by revolution, were amazed to see that
in many directions French progress could give England useful lessons.
Agriculture had doubled its produce, for the idle lands of former
grandees had been put into cultivation. The farmer was more prosperous,
for the lord was not on the lookout to seize the crop with feudal dues
as soon as made. Nor was the priest seen standing at the gate, grabbing
a tenth of everything. Nor were state taxes levied with an eye single
to making the burden as heavy as peasant shoulders could bear.

Wonder of wonders! the man in control had said, and kept saying,
“Better to let the peasant keep what he makes than to lock it up in
the public treasury!” The same man said, “Beautify the markets, render
them clean, attractive, healthy--they are the Louvres of the common
people.” It was such a man who would talk with the poor whenever he
could, to learn the facts of their condition. In his stroll he would
stop, chat with the farmer, and, taking the plough in his own white
hands, trace a wobbly furrow.

Commerce was inspired to new efforts, for the First Consul put himself
forward as champion of liberty of the seas, combatting England’s harsh
policy of searching neutral vessels and seizing goods covered by the
neutral flag.

Manufactures he encouraged to the utmost of his power, by shutting off
foreign competition, by setting the example of using home-made goods,
and by direct subsidies. He even went so far as to experiment with the
government warehouse plan, advancing money out of the treasury to the
manufactures on the deposit of products of the mills.

No drone, be he the haughtiest Montmorency, whose ancestor had been in
remote ages a murderer and a thief, could hold office under Napoleon.
Unless he were willing to work, he could not enter into the hive. For
the first time in the political life of the modern French, men became
prouder of the fact that they were workers, doers of notable deeds,
than that they were the fifteenth cousin of some spindle-shanked duke
whose great-great-grandfather had held the stirrup when Louis XIII. had
straddled his horse.

Having founded the Bank of France, January, 1800, Napoleon jealously
scrutinized its management, controlled its operations, and made
it useful to the State as well as to the bankers. He watched the
quotations of government securities, took pride in seeing them command
high prices, and considered it a point of honor that they should not
fall below eighty. When they dropped considerably below that figure,
some years later, the Emperor went into the market, made “a campaign
against the Bears,” and forced the price up again--many a crippled bear
limping painfully off the lost field.

The First Consul also elaborated a system of state education. Here he
was no Columbus, no creator, no original inventor. His glory is that
he accomplished what others had suggested, had attempted, but had not
done. He took hold, gave the scheme the benefit of his tremendous
driving force, and pushed it through. It will be his glory forever
that in all things pertaining to civil life he was the highest type of
democrat. Distinctions of character, merit, conduct, talent, he could
understand; distinctions of mere birth he abhorred. The very soul of
his system was the rewarding of worth. In the army, the civil service,
the schools, in art and science and literature, his great object was to
discover the real men,--the men of positive ability,--and to open to
these the doors of preferment.

Remembering the sufferings he and his sister had endured at the Bourbon
schools where the poor scholars were cruelly humiliated, he founded his
training-schools, military and civil, upon the plan which as a boy he
had sketched. The young men at his military academies kept no troops
of servants, and indulged in no hurtful luxury. They not only attended
to their own personal needs, but fed, curried, and saddled their own

It was such a man as Napoleon who would turn from state business to
examine in person an ambitious boy who had been studying at home for
admission into one of the state schools, and who had been refused
because he had not studied under a professor. “This boy is competent;
let him enter the school,” wrote Napoleon after the examination: and
the young man’s career was safe.

It was such a man who would invite the grenadiers to the grand banquets
at the palace, and who would direct that special courtesies should be
shown these humblest of the guests.

It was such a man who would read every letter, every petition
addressed to him, and find time to answer all. Never too proud or
too busy to hear the cry of the humblest, to reward the merit of the
obscurest, to redress the grievance of the weakest, he was the man to
make the highest headed general in the army--Vandamme himself, for
instance,--apologized to the obscure captain who had been wantonly
insulted. Any private in the ranks--the drummer boy, the grenadier--was
free to step out and speak to Napoleon, and was sure to be heard as
patiently as Talleyrand or Murat or Cambacérès in the palace. If
any difference was made, it was in favor of the private soldier.
Any citizen, male or female, high or low, could count with absolute
certainty on reaching Napoleon in person or by petition in writing,
and upon a reply being promptly given. One day a careless secretary
mislaid one of these prayers of the lowly, and the palace was in terror
at Napoleon’s wrath until the paper was found. Josephine might take a
petition, smile sweetly on the supplicant, forget all about it, and
suavely assure the poor dupe when meeting him next that his case was
being considered. Not so Napoleon. He might not do the sweet smile, he
might refuse the request, but he would give the man his answer, and if
his prayers were denied, would tell him why.

The Revolution having levelled all ranks, there were no visible
marks of distinction between man and man. Napoleon was too astute
a politician not to pander to mankind’s innate craving for outward
tokens of superiority. The Legion of Honor was created against stubborn
opposition, to reward with ribbons, buttons, and pensions those who had
distinguished themselves by their own efforts in any walk of life. It
embraced merit of every kind,--civil, military, scientific, literary,
artistic. Men of all creeds, of every rank, every calling, were
eligible. The test of fitness for membership was meritorious service
to the State. Such at least was Napoleon’s theory: whether he or any
one else ever strictly hewed to so rigid a line may be doubted. His
order of nobility had this merit: it was not hereditary, it carried
no special privileges, it could not build up a caste, it kept alive
the idea that success must be founded upon worth, not birth. In theory
such an order of nobility was democratic to the core. Lafayette, whom
Napoleon had freed from captivity, recalled to France, and reinstated
in his ancestral domain, scornfully declined to enter this new order
of nobility. So did many others--some because they were royalists,
some because they were republicans. In a few years the institution had
become so much a part of national life that the restored Bourbons dared
not abolish it.

       *       *       *       *       *

“I will go down to posterity with the Code in my hand,” said Napoleon
with just pride, for time has proven that as a lawgiver, a modern
Justinian, his work has endured.

Early in his consulate he began the great labor of codifying the laws
of France,--a work which had often been suggested, and which the
Convention had partially finished, but which had never been completed.

To realize the magnitude of the undertaking, we must bear in mind that,
under the Old Order, there were all sorts of law and all kinds of
courts. What was right in one province was wrong in another. A citizen
who was familiar with the system in Languedoc would have found himself
grossly ignorant in Brittany. Roman law, feudal law, royal edicts,
local customs, seigniorial mandates, municipal practices, varied and
clashed throughout the realm. The Revolution had prostrated the old
system and had proposed to establish one uniform, modern, and equitable
code of law for the whole country; but the actual carrying out of the
plan was left to Napoleon.

Calling to his aid the best legal talent of the land, the First Consul
set to work. Under his supervision the huge task was completed, after
the steady labor of several years. The Civil Code and the Code of
Civil Procedure, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure,
were the four parts of the completed system, which, adopted in France,
followed the advance of the Empire and still constitutes the law of a
large portion of the civilized world.

Every statute passed under Napoleon’s eye. He presided over the
meetings when the finished work of the codifiers came up for sanction,
and his suggestions, reasoning, experience, and natural wisdom left
their impress upon every page. “Never did we adjourn,” said one of the
colaborers of Napoleon, “without learning something we had not known

It is the glory of this Code that it put into final and permanent shape
the best work of the Revolution. It was based upon the great principle
that all citizens were legally equals; that primogeniture, hereditary
nobility, class privileges, and exemptions were unjust; that property
was sacred; that conscience was free; that state employment should be
open to all, opportunities equal to all, state duties and state burdens
the same to all; that laws should be simple, and legal proceedings
public, swift, cheap, and just; and that personal liberty, civil right,
should be inviolable.

Recognizing his right as master-builder, his persistence, zeal, active
coöperation in the actual work, and the modern tone which he gave to
it, the world does him no more than justice in calling it the Code

Another great distinctive work of the First Consul is the Concordat;
and here his claim to approval must ever remain a question. Those who
believe that the State should unite with the Church and virtually deny
to posterity the right to investigate the most important of subjects,
will always strain the language of praise in giving thanks to Napoleon
for the Concordat. On the contrary, those who believe that the State
should not unite with the hierarchy of any creed, but should let the
question of religion alone,--leave it to be settled by each citizen for
himself,--will forever condemn the Concordat as the colossal mistake of
Napoleon’s career.

It will be remembered that the Revolution had confiscated the enormous,
ill-gotten, and ill-used wealth of the Catholic Church, but in lieu of
this source of revenue had provided ample salaries to the clergy, to
be paid from the public treasury. It is not true that the Christian
worship was forbidden or religion abolished. Throughout the Reign
of Terror the Catholic Church continued to be a state institution.
Only those priests who refused to take the oath of allegiance to
the New Order were treated as criminals. It was not till September,
1794, that the Convention abolished the salaries paid by the State,
thus separating Church and State. After this all creeds were on a
level, and each citizen could voluntarily support that which he
preferred,--Catholic, Protestant, or the Theophilanthropist.

It was the princely bishop, archbishop, and cardinal who had brought
reproach upon the Church under the Old Régime; it was the humble parish
priest who had maintained some hold upon the love and the respect
of the people. When the Revolution burst upon the land, it was the
prince of the Church who fled to foreign shores; it was the parish
priest who remained at the post of duty. Bravely taking up the cross
where the cardinals and bishops had dropped it, the curés reorganized
their Church, pledged themselves to the new order of things, and
throughout France their constitutional Church was at work--a voluntary
association, independent of Rome, and supporting itself without help
from the State. In one very essential particular it stood nearer to the
Christ standard than the Church it replaced--it charged no fees for
administering the sacraments.

This revived Gallican Church was distasteful to Napoleon, for he wished
the State, the executive, to be the head, centre, and controlling power
of everything. Voluntary movements of all sorts were his aversion.

To the Pope this independent Gallican Church was a menace, an
impertinence, a revolt. Catholicism, be it never so pure in creed,
must yield obedience and lucre to Rome, else it savors of heresy,
schism, and dire sinfulness.

Again, to the Pope and to the princes of the Church this equality
among the denominations in France was a matter that was almost
intolerable. Where creeds stand on the same footing, they will compete
for converts; where there is room for competition, there is license
for investigation, debate, reason, and common sense. And we have the
word of Leo XIII., echoing that of so many of his predecessors, that
religion has no enemy so subtle, so much to be dreaded, so much needing
to be ruthlessly crushed, as reason, investigation.

The Pope of Napoleon’s day held this view, as a matter of course; and
in order to bring about a renewal of the union between the Catholic
Church and the government of France he was ready to concede almost
anything Napoleon might demand. Once the union had been accomplished,
no matter on what terms, the papacy would feel safe. Evolution and
time would work marvels; the essential thing was to bring about the
union. Napoleon was mortal, he would die some day, and weaker men
would succeed him--a stronger would never appear. Let the Pope bend a
little to that imperious will, let concessions be made while the Church
was getting fulcrum for its lever. Once adjusted, the lever would do
the rest. So it appeared from the point of view of the Pope: time has
proven him right.

On the part of Napoleon there were reasons of policy which lured him
into the toils of Rome. Immense results, immediate and personal, would
follow his compact with the Pope; for these he grasped, leaving the
future to take care of itself.

For Napoleon was personally undergoing a great transformation.
Gradually his mind had filled with dreams of empire. The cannon of
Marengo had hardly ceased to echo before he began to speak of “My
beautiful France.” Between himself and those about him he steadily
increased the distance. His tone was that of Master. Tuscany having
been taken from Austria, he made a kingdom out of it, put a feeble
Bourbon upon its throne, dubbed the puppet King of Etruria, and brought
him to Paris where the people of France could behold a king playing
courtier to a French consul. At the Tuileries the ceremony and royalty
encroached constantly upon republican forms, and the lip service
of flatterers began to displace military frankness and democratic

Looking forward to supreme power, Napoleon was too astute a politician
to neglect the priest. As Alexander had bent his head in seeming
reverence at altars, and listened with apparent faith to Grecian
oracles; as Cæsar had posed as Roman chief priest, and leagued himself
to paganism; so Napoleon, who had been a Mussulman at Cairo, would now
become a Catholic in Paris. It was a matter of policy, nothing more.

“Ah, General,” said Lafayette to him, “what you want is that the little
vial should be broken over your head.”

It all led up to that.

Monarchy was to be restore, and its natural supports--the aristocrat
and the priest--were needed to give it strength. By coming to terms
with the Pope, Napoleon would win, and the Bourbons lose, the
disciplined hosts of the Catholic Church.

Therefore the Concordat was negotiated, and the French Church, which
even under the Bourbons had enjoyed a certain amount of independence,
was put under the feet of the Italian priest, under the tyranny of Rome.

By this compact the Pope held to himself the right to approve the
clerical nominees of the State, while the tax-payers were annually
to furnish $10,000,000 to pay clerical salaries. By this compact was
brought back into France the subtle, resistless power of a corporation
which, identifying itself with God, demands supreme control.

Napoleon himself soon felt the strength of this released giant, and the
France of to-day is in a death grapple with it.

The time may come when the Concordat will be considered Napoleon’s
greatest blunder, his unpardonable political sin. It was not faith,
it was not even philanthropy which governed his conduct. It was cold
calculation. It was merely a move in the game of ambition. At the very
moment that he claimed the gratitude of Christians for the restoration
of religion, he sought to soothe the non-believers by telling them that
under his system religion would disappear from France within fifty

It is not true that a majority of the French clamored for a return
of the old forms of worship. On the contrary, the vast majority
were indifferent, if not hostile. In the army it caused a dangerous
conspiracy among the officers, against Napoleon’s life.

When the Concordat came to be celebrated by a pompous pagan ceremonial
in the cathedral of Notre Dame, it required all of his authority to
compel a respectful attendance, as it had required the utmost exercise
of his power to secure the sanction of the state authorities to the
Concordat itself. More than one saddened Frenchman thought what
General Delmas is reported to have said, when Napoleon asked his
opinion of the ceremonial at Notre Dame; “It is a fine harlequinade,
needing only the presence of the million men who died to do away with
all that.”

Yes, a million Frenchmen had died to do away with that,--the worst
feature of the Old Order,--and now it had all come back again. Once
more the children of France were to have their brains put under the
spell of superstition. They were to be taught the loveliness of
swallowing every marvel the priest might utter, and the damnation of
thinking for oneself upon any subject ecclesiastical. They were to be
crammed from the cradle, on one narrow creed, and incessantly told that
hell yawned for the luckless wight who doubted or demurred.

With a line of writing, with a spurt of the pen, Napoleon reënslaved
the nation. So well had the image breakers of the Convention done
their work that it appeared to be only a question of time when France,
“having by her own exertions freed herself, would, by the force of her
example, free the world.” As Méneval states, “Catholicism seemed at
its last gasp.” Rapidly Europe was being weaned from a worn-out creed,
a threadbare paganism. Idols had been broken, miracles laughed out
of countenance, the bones of alleged saints allowed to rest, and the
mummeries of heathen ceremonial mocked till even the performers were

A few bigots or fanatics, chained by an education which had left them
no room for unfettered thought, longed for the return of the old
forms; but the mass of the French people had no more wish for their
reëstablishment than for the restoration of the Bourbons. France was
religiously free: every citizen could believe or not believe, worship
or not worship, just as he pleased.

Of all rulers, Napoleon had the best opportunity to give mental
independence an open field and a fair fight. No ruler less strong than
he could have achieved the task of lifting the Church from the dust,
and frowning down the ridicule which had covered with discredit idol,
shrine, creed, and ceremonial rite.

He did it--he alone! And verily he reaped his reward. The forlorn
prisoner of St. Helena, sitting in misery beside the cheerless hearth
in the night of endless despair, cursed himself bitterly for his huge

Some who defend the Concordat say that it enabled Napoleon to make
alliances which otherwise he could not have made. The facts do not
support the assertion. He was at peace with Continental Europe already,
and Great Britain was certainly not influenced to peace by France’s
agreement with the Pope. No alliances which Napoleon ever made after
the Concordat were stronger than those he had made before; and as
the restorer of Catholicism in France, he was not nearer the sincere
friendships of monarchs and aristocracies abroad than he had been
previous to that time.

In the murk of modern politics the truth is hard to find, but even a
timid man might venture to say that the question of religion is the
last of all questions to influence international relations. Comparing
the prolonged security which Turkey has enjoyed with the fate which
recently befell Catholic Spain and Protestant South African republics,
the casual observer might hazard the statement that it is at least as
safe to be Mahometan as Christian, so far as winning international
friendship is concerned.

“Don’t strike! I am of the same faith as you--both of us hope for
salvation in the blood of the same Savior!” is a plea which is so
worthless among Christians that the weaker brother never even wastes
breath to make it.


To say that the French were pleased with the consular government,
would convey no idea of the facts. France was delighted, France was in
raptures. Excepting the inevitable few,--some royalists, some Jacobins
and some lineal descendants of the Athenians who grew tired of hearing
Aristides called _The Just_,--all Frenchmen heartily united in praise
of Bonaparte.

As proudly as Richelieu, in Bulwer’s play, stands before his king and
tells what he has done for France,--a nation found lying in poverty,
shame, defeat, deathly decay, and lifted by the magic touch of genius
to wealth, pride, victory, and radiant strength,--so the First Consul
could have pointed to what France had been and what she had become, and
justly claim the love and admiration of his people.

What reward should be given such a magistrate? In 1802 his consulship,
which had already been lengthened by ten years, was, by the almost
unanimous vote of the people, changed into a life tenure.

Consul for life (August, 1802), with the power to name his own
successor, Napoleon was now virtually the king of France.

       *       *       *       *       *

In St. Domingo, the Revolution in France had borne bitter fruit. The
blacks rose against the whites, and a war of extermination ensued.

The negroes, immensely superior in numbers, overcame the whites, and
established their independence. Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of
the blacks, and a great man, became president of the black republic,
which he patterned somewhat after Napoleon’s consulate.

The rich French planters, who had the ear of Napoleon in Paris, urged
him to put down the revolt, or to bring the island back under French
dominion. Thus these Bourbon nobles led Napoleon into one of his worst
mistakes. He aligned himself with those who wished to reëstablish
slavery, put himself at enmity with the trend of liberalism everywhere,
and plunged himself into a ruinous war.

Mainly from the army of the Rhine, which was republican and unfriendly
to himself, he drew out of France twenty thousand of her best troops,
put them under command of Leclerc, his brother-in-law, and despatched
them to St. Domingo, to reconquer the island.

Here again it is impossible to escape the conclusion that Napoleon had
not duly considered what he was doing. There is evidence of haste,
want of investigation, lack of foresight and precaution. The whole
plan, from inception to end, bears the marks of that rashness which is
forever punishing the man who tries to do everything.

The negroes gave way before Leclerc’s overwhelming numbers; and, by
treachery, Toussaint was captured and sent to France to die in a
dungeon; but the yellow fever soon came to the rescue of the blacks,
and the expedition, after causing great loss of life, ended in shameful
failure. Leclerc died, the remnants of the French army were brought
back to Europe in English ships, and the negroes established their
semi-barbarous Republic of Hayti (1804).

This much may be said by way of defence for Napoleon’s treatment
of San Domingo: it had been one of the choicest possessions of the
French crown, and he wished to regain it for his country, just as he
regained Louisiana, and just as he yearned for the lost territories in
Hindustan. Visions of a vast colonial empire haunted his imagination,
and the spirit which influenced him in his efforts in the West Indies
was, perhaps, the same which lured him to Egypt, which caused him to
attach such extreme importance to Malta, and which caused him to send
men-of-war to South Australia to survey the coast for settlement.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meantime the Peace of Amiens was becoming a very frail thing, indeed.
To all men, war in the near future seemed inevitable. Very positively
England had pledged herself to restore Malta to the Knights of St.
John; very emphatically she now refused to do so. By way of excuse
she alleged that France had violated the spirit of the treaty by her
aggressions on the Continent. In reply, Napoleon insisted that France
had done nothing which it was not well known she intended at the time
peace was made. He also reminded England that she had taken India.
And this was true, but truth sometimes cuts a poor figure in debate.
In vain such splendid types of English manhood as Charles Fox stood
forth boldly in the British Parliament, and defended the First Consul.
England was determined not to give up the Mediterranean fortress.
France had no navy, no sailor with a spark of Nelson’s genius, and
Malta was safe. On the Continent Napoleon might rage and might destroy;
but England had proved how easy it was for her to bear the losses
inflicted upon Continental Europe, and she was prepared to prove it
again. Safe in her sea-girt isle, she was not to be intimidated by
armies hurled against her allies.

In this crisis, when conciliatory measures might have availed to avert
war, Lord Whitworth was sent to Paris as British ambassador. With his
coming all hope of accommodation vanished. He was a typical English
aristocrat, the very worst man who could have been sent if peace was
desired. From the first, his letters to his government show that he
was intensely hostile to Napoleon and to the consular government. To
his superiors at home he misrepresented the situation in France, and
where he did not misrepresent, he exaggerated. Finally, when Napoleon
went out of his way to have a long conference with him, and to urge
that England should keep her contract, he showed himself coldly
irresponsive, and hinted that Malta would not be given up. Following
this private and urgent conference came the public reception, in which
Napoleon, with some natural display of temper and with the frankness of
a soldier, asked Whitworth why England wanted war, and why she would
not respect treaties. Whereupon Whitworth represented to his court that
he had been grossly insulted, and all England rang with indignation.
A falser statement never caused more woe to the human race. Bismarck
cynically confessed that he it was who changed the form, the wording,
and the tone of “the Ems telegram” which caused the Franco-German War
of 1870–1. It is not too much to say that Whitworth’s exaggerated
report, and the changes for the worse which the British ministry made
in it when making it public, was one of the controlling causes of the
wars, the bloodshed, and the misery which followed the year 1804.

During all this while the English newspapers were filled with the
bitterest abuse of Napoleon. The most shameful lies that were ever
published against a human being were constantly repeated against him
in the British journals. That he should be subjected to such treatment
during years of peace, and while he was giving most cordial welcome
to the thousands of Englishmen who were now visiting France, filled
Napoleon with wrath. He knew that by law the press of Great Britain was
free; but he also knew that these papers, especially the ministerial
papers, would not be filled with scurrilous personal abuse of him
unless the government encouraged it. He knew that the political press
reflects the views of the political party, and that when ministerial
journals hounded him with libels, the ministers had given the signal.
In vain he protested to the English ministry; he was told that in
England the press was free. Then, as all his admirers must regret, he,
also, stooped to libels and began to fill the official organs in France
with outrageous attacks upon England.

Another grievance Napoleon had against Great Britain--she harbored
men who openly declared their intention of assassinating him. English
protection, English ships, English money, were ever at the command
of the royalists who wished to stir up revolt in France, or to land
assassins who wished to creep to Paris. On this subject, also, the
English government would give no satisfaction. It coldly denied the
accusation, disavowed the assassins, and continued to encourage

While relations were thus strained, a report of General Sébastiani
on the eastern situation was published. In the paper, Sébastiani
had ventured to say that six thousand French troops might reconquer
Egypt. Here was another insult to England. Here was another excuse for
editorial thunder, another provocative of parliamentary eloquence.
England did not choose to remember that Sir Robert Wilson had just
published a book, also on the eastern situation, and that in this
publication Napoleon had been represented as the murderer of prisoners
at Jaffa, and the poisoner of his own sick in the hospitals. This book
had been dedicated to the Duke of York by permission, and had been
presented by the author to George III., at a public levee.

England was bent on war; no explanations or remonstrances would
soothe her, and on May 18 war was declared. But she had already
seized, without the slightest warning, hundreds of French ships
laden with millions of merchandise--ships which had come to English
harbors trusting to her faith pledged in the treaty. This capture and
confiscation excited almost no comment, but when Napoleon retaliated
by throwing into prison thousands of Englishmen who were travelling
in France, England could find no words harsh enough to condemn the
outrage. Even so intelligent a historian as Lockhart is aghast at
Napoleon’s perfidy. For, mark you, England had _always_ seized what she
could of the enemy’s property previous to a declaration of war, whereas
Napoleon’s counterstroke was a novelty. It had never been done before,
therefore it was an unspeakable atrocity--“It moved universal sympathy,
indignation, and disgust.” So says Lockhart, repeating dutifully what
his father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott, had already said. And the most
recent British historian, J. H. Rose, writing of that period, falls
into the well-worn path of Tory prejudice, and ambles along composedly
in the hallowed footprints of Lockhart and Sir Walter.

Their style of putting the case is like this: It was wrong to seize an
enemy’s ships and sailors previous to a declaration of war, but Great
Britain had always done it, and, consequently, she had a right to do
it again. It was right for France to retaliate, but France had never
retaliated, and, consequently, she had no right to do it now. Thus
England’s hoary wrong had become a saintly precedent, while Napoleon’s
novelty of retaliation was a damnable innovation. In this neat manner,
entirely satisfactory to itself, Tory logic makes mesmeric passes over
facts, and wrongs become rights while rights become wrongs.

The eminent J. H. Rose, Master of Arts, and “Late Scholar of Christ’s
College, Cambridge,” remarks:

“Napoleon showed his rancour by ordering some eight or ten thousand
English travellers in France to be kept prisoners.” Why the eminent
Master of Arts and “Late Scholar of Christ’s College” did so studiously
omit to state that England had already seized French ships and sailors
before Napoleon seized the travellers, can be explained by no one but a
master of the art of writing partisan history.

“Napoleon showed his rancour”--by hitting back when Britain dealt him
a sudden unprovoked and dastardly blow. Showed his rancour! “Sir, the
phrase is neat,” as Mirabeau said to Mounier upon a certain historic

Napoleon hastened to put Louisiana beyond England’s reach. This
imperial, but undeveloped, province had been lost to France by the
Bourbon, Louis XV. and had only recently been recovered. Napoleon
profoundly regretted the necessity which compelled him to sell it to
the United States, for he realized its value.

The war recommenced with vigor on both sides. Great Britain seized
again upon all the colonies which she had released by treaty, and
French armies in Italy or Germany added territory to France.

Spain refusing to join the league against Napoleon, Great Britain made
war upon her, captured her treasure ships upon the high seas, and thus
forced her into the arms of France. She not only put her fleet at
Napoleon’s disposal, but agreed to furnish him a monthly subsidy of
more than $1,000,000.

Definitely threatening to invade Great Britain, Napoleon made
preparations for that purpose on a scale equal to the mighty task.
Along the French and Dutch coasts 160,000 men were assembled, and vast
flotillas built to take them across the Channel. So great was the alarm
felt in England that her coasts were watched by every available ship,
and almost the entire manhood of the island enrolled itself in the
militia, and prepared for a desperate struggle.

So prominently did Napoleon stand forth as the embodiment of all that
monarchical Europe detested, so completely did he represent all that
England and the Bourbons most dreaded, that a mad determination to kill
him took possession of his enemies. The head of the conspiracy was the
Count of Artois, afterward king of France under the name of Charles X.
The meetings of the conspirators were held in London. The plan adopted
was that Pichegru (who had escaped from South America) and Moreau
should be brought together to head the malcontents in the army; Georges
Cadoudal, and a band of royalists equally resolute, should be landed
on the Norman coast, should proceed to Paris, and should kill the
First Consul; a royalist revolt should follow, and the Count of Artois
should then himself land on the Norman coast to head the insurrection.
The English minister to Bavaria, Mr. Drake, was actively at work in
the plot, and in one of his letters to a correspondent, wrote: “All
plots against the First Consul must be forwarded; for it is a matter
of little consequence by whom the animal be stricken down, provided
you are all in the hunt.” Among others who were in the background and
winding sonorous horns to those who were “in the hunt,” were certain
British agents,--Spencer Smith at Stuttgard, Taylor at Cassel, and
Wickham at Berne. Directly in communication with the heads of the
conspiracy in London was the under secretary of state, Hammond, the
same who was so intolerably insolent to the United States during the
second term of President Jefferson.

Lavishly supplied with money by the English government, a ship of the
royal navy was put at their service,--Captain Wright, an officer of
that navy, being in command.

The assassins were landed at the foot of a sea-washed cliff on the
coast of Normandy in the night. Using a secret path and the rope-ladder
of smugglers, they climbed the precipice and made their way secretly
to Paris. Here they spent some weeks in organizing the conspiracy. The
danger to Napoleon became so urgent that those who had the care of his
personal safety felt that no precautions could be too great. De Ségur,
captain of the body-guard, relates how Caulaincourt, Grand Marshal of
the palace _pro tem_, woke him up after twelve o’clock at night toward
the end of January, 1804, with: “Get up! Change the parole and the
countersign immediately. There is not an instant to lose. The duties
must be carried out as if in the presence of the enemy!”

Napoleon himself remained cool, but gradually became very stern. Asked
by one of his councillors if he were afraid, he replied: “I, afraid!
Ah, if I were afraid, it would be a bad day for France.”

The first great object of the conspirators was to bring Pichegru and
Moreau together. It was hoped and believed that this could be readily
done. It was remembered that Moreau had concealed the treasonable
correspondence of Pichegru which had fallen into his hands in 1796. It
was known that Moreau heartily disliked Napoleon. It was known that
Moreau, sulking in his tent, and bitterly regretting his share in
Napoleon’s elevation to power, was in that frame of mind which leads
men into desperate enterprises.

Nevertheless, the conspirators found him very shy. By nature he was
irresolute and weak, strong only when in command of an army. He
consented to meet Pichegru, and did meet him at night, and have a few
words with him in the street. Afterward Pichegru visited Moreau’s
house, but the proof that Moreau agreed to take any part in the
conspiracy is not satisfactory. It seems that Moreau had no objection
to the “removal” of Napoleon and the overthrow of the government.
He even spoke vaguely of the support which he and his friends in
authority might bring to those who were conspiring; but Moreau was
a republican,--one of those ardent young men of 1789 who had left
school to fight for the Republic, and he was not ready to aid in the
restoration of the Bourbons. Willing to countenance the overthrow
of Napoleon, he was not willing to undo the work of the Revolution.
According to one account, he himself aspired to succeed Bonaparte. This
disgusted Cadoudal, who in scornful anger declared that he preferred
Napoleon “to this brainless, heartless Moreau.” Inasmuch as Moreau had
already become disgusted with Cadoudal, the conspiracy could not knit
itself together.

Meanwhile, repeated conferences were held between the assassins and
various royalists of Paris who were in the plot, the most prominent of
these being the brothers Polignac and De La Rivière. Napoleon knew in
a general way that his life was being threatened, knowing just enough
to be convinced that he must learn more or perish. His police seemed
powerless, and as a last resort he tried a plan of his own. Causing
a list of the suspected persons to be brought to him, his attention
became fixed upon the name of a surgeon, Querel. In the belief that
this man must be less of a fanatic than the others, he ordered that the
surgeon should be brought to trial, and the attempt made to wring a
confession from him. Tried accordingly, condemned, sentenced, and about
to be shot, Querel broke down and confessed.

Learning from him that the most dangerous of the conspirators were
even then in Paris, a cordon of troops was thrown around the city,
and a vigilant search begun. Pichegu, after dodging from house to
house, was at length betrayed by an old friend with whom he had sought
shelter. Georges was taken after a desperate fight in the street.
Captain Wright was seized at the coast and sent to Paris. Moreau had
already been arrested. Many other of the Georges band were in prison.
Napoleon’s fury was extreme, and not unnatural. He had been lenient,
liberal, conciliatory to his political foes. He had pushed to the
verge of imprudence the policy of reconciliation. Vendeans, royalists,
priests--all had felt his kindness. Some of the very men who were now
threatening him with assassination were émigrés whom he had relieved
from sentence of death and had restored to fortune. What had he done
to England or to the Bourbons that they should put him beyond the pale
of humanity? Had he not almost gone upon his knees in his efforts to
secure peace? Had he ever lifted his hand against a Bourbon save in
open war which they themselves had commenced? And now what was he to do
to put a stop to these plots hatched in London? To what court could he
appeal? With the Bourbons safely housed in England and supplied with
British money, ever ready to arm against him the fanatics of royalism,
what was he to do to protect his life? Was he to await the attack,
living in constant apprehension, never knowing when the blow would
fall, uncertain how the attack would be made, ignorant who the assassin
might be, and in eternal doubt as to whether he could escape the peril?
Can mortal man be placed in a position more trying than that of one who
knows that sworn murderers are upon his track, and that some one moment
of every day and every night may give the opportunity to the unsleeping
vigilance of the assassin?

Roused as he had never been, Napoleon determined not to wait, not to
stand upon literal self-defence. He would strike back, would anticipate
his enemies, would paralyze their plans by carrying terror into their
own ranks.

The head of the conspiracy, Artois, could not be reached. Expected on
the French coast, he had not come. But his cousin, the Duke d’Enghien
was at Ettenheim, close to the French border.

What was he doing there? He had borne arms against France, a crime
which under the law of nations is treason, and which under the law of
all lands is punishable with death. By French law, existing at the
time, he had forfeited his life as a traitor. He was in the pay of
England, the enemy of France. He was closely related by blood and by
interest to the two brothers, Provence and Artois, who were making
desperate efforts to recover the crown for the Bourbon family. What
was the young Bourbon duke doing so near to the French border at this
particular time?

Royalist authors say that he was there to enjoy the pleasures of the
chase; also to enjoy the society of the Princess de Rohan, to whom they
now say, without evidence, that he was secretly married.

Sir Walter Scott, a most unfriendly witness for Napoleon, admits that
d’Enghien “fixed himself on the frontier for the purpose of being ready
to put himself at the head of the royalists in East France, or Paris

That he was on the Rhine awaiting some event, some change in France
in which he would have “a part to play,” was confessed, and cannot be

What was the movement at whose head he was waiting to place himself?
What other plan did the royalists have in progress at the time other
than the Georges-Pichegru plot? If d’Enghien was waiting on the
Rhine until they should have dealt the blow in Paris, was he not an
accomplice, a principal in the second degree? It does not matter
whether he knew the details of the Georges-Pichegru conspiracy or not.
If he had been instructed to hold himself in readiness on the French
frontier to enter the country and “act a part” therein, his common
sense told him that a plot was on foot, and if he did not wish to be
treated as an accomplice, he should not have acted as one. The cowardly
d’Artois had not left London, and the Duke d’Enghien was to enter
France as representative of the Bourbon family after the First Consul
should have been killed.

The rule in law and equity is that where one is put upon notice of a
transaction, he is to be held as knowing all that he could have learned
by reasonable inquiry. The instructions issued to d’Enghien put him
upon notice that something unusual was in progress, that it concerned
him, and that he had a part to play. Prudent inquiry made by him of his
Bourbon relatives in London would have put him in possession of the
facts. This inquiry he either made or he did not: if he made it, he
learned of the plot; if he did not make it, his was the negligence of
being ignorant of the plan in which he was to “act a part.”

It is very improbable that the Count of Artois, who had sent word to
the Count of Provence at Warsaw asking his adhesion to the conspiracy,
should have given his cousin, d’Enghien, a “part to act” in it without
informing him of the nature of the drama itself.

The police reports made to Napoleon led him to believe that the young
duke was privy to the plot, and was waiting at Ettenheim ready to take
part in it. Here was a Bourbon he could reach. Through this one, he
would strike terror into the others. “Neither is my blood ditchwater!
I will teach these Bourbons a lesson they will not soon forget. Am I a
dog to be shot down in the street?”

After deliberating with his councillors, Talleyrand and all the rest,
the First Consul issued his orders. A French squadron rode rapidly to
the Rhine, crossed over to Ettenheim, seized the Duke, who had been
warned in vain, and hurried him to Paris. Stopped at the barrier, he
was sent to Vincennes, tried by court-martial that night, condemned
upon his own confession, sentenced to death, shot at daybreak, and
buried in the moat of the castle.

This harsh act of retaliation had met the approval of Talleyrand--an
approval given in a written paper which he was quick to seize and
destroy upon Napoleon’s fall in 1814. During the day upon which the
Duke was being taken to Vincennes, Talleyrand was asked, “What is to be
done with the Duke d’Enghien?” and had replied to the questioner, “He
is to be shot.”

The Consul Cambacérès, who had voted for death at the trial of Louis
XVI., opposed the arrest, giving his reasons at length. Napoleon
replied: “I know your motive for speaking--your devotion to me. I thank
you for it; but I will not allow myself put to death without defending
myself. I will make these people tremble, and teach them to keep quiet
for all time to come.”

Poor Josephine, who could never meet a member of the old noblesse
without a collapse of spirit, a gush of adulation, and a yielding
sensation at the knees, made a feeble effort to turn her husband from
his purpose; but when Napoleon reminded her that she was a mere child
in politics, and had better attend to her own small affairs, she
dried her tears, and went into the garden to amuse herself with her

Napoleon himself made a thorough study of the papers, taken with the
Duke at Ettenheim, and drew up a series of questions which were to
be put to the prisoner by Réal, state councillor. The messenger sent
by the First Consul did not see Réal, and the paper was not handed
him till five o’clock next morning. Worn out by continuous toil, the
councillor had gone to bed the evening before, leaving instructions
with his household that he was not to be disturbed. Next morning when
he was posting along the highway to Vincennes, he met Savary on his way
back to Paris. Savary had already carried out the death-sentence, and
the victim was in his grave.

It seems that the young Duke had not realized his danger. A term of
imprisonment, at most, was all he feared. In vain the court-martial
endeavored to hint at the fatal consequence of the admissions he was
making. Unconscious of the fact that he was convicting himself, he
repeated the statements that he had borne arms against France, that
he had been in the pay of England, that he had tampered with French
soldiers on the Rhine, that he had been instructed to place himself
near the Rhine where he could enter France, arms in hand, and be ready
for the part he was to play; and that he intended to continue to bear
arms against the government of France which he regarded as a usurpation.

It must not be forgotten that in sending the Duke d’Enghien before a
court-martial, Napoleon had before him certain documentary evidence
which we do not now possess. The Duke’s own papers, Talleyrand’s
opinion, and the reports of certain officials disappeared from the
archives after the Bourbons returned in 1814--just as the documentary
evidence against Marie Antoinette was destroyed, and the letters which
crowned heads of Europe had written Napoleon stolen and carried away.

Peculiarly awful must have been the vision of sudden death to this
youthful prince of the blood-royal, as he was dragged from bed in the
dismal darkness of early morning, and hurried to face a file of silent
soldiers beside an open grave. After the first shock and outcry of
amazement, the courage in which his race has rarely been wanting came
to the condemned, and he met his fate with a soldier’s nerve.

In 1805, during the march upon Vienna, Napoleon received at his bivouac
M. de Thiard, who had known d’Enghien well. For a long while the
Emperor sat talking with this officer, asking many questions about the
Duke, and listening with interest to all that was told him.

“He was really a man, then, that prince?” he asked, and this casual
remark was his sole comment.

Among all those who believe that the life of a prince is more sacred
than that of a plebeian, among aristocrats of all countries, and among
the crowned heads of Europe, there was a burst of grief and rage when
it became known that Napoleon had shot a Bourbon duke. Thousands
of pages were written then, thousands have been written since, in
denunciation of this so-called murder. Men who had never uttered a word
in condemnation of Lord Nelson’s treatment of Carraccioli, could find
no words harsh enough for Napoleon’s usage of d’Enghien. Alexander of
Russia, who had whimpered in the palace while his father was being
stamped, choked, and smothered to death in the adjoining room, and who
had promoted the assassins to high trusts in his own service, took
Napoleon’s conduct more to heart than did any of the royal fraternity.
Assuming the lofty moral attitude of one who is missioned to rebuke
sin, he broke off diplomatic relations with France and put the Russian
court in mourning. Napoleon launched at the Czar a crushing reminder on
the subject of Paul’s death, and Alexander suffered the subject to drop.

Paris, stunned at first by the tragedy, recovered itself immediately;
and when Napoleon appeared at the theatre a few nights afterward, he
was acclaimed as usual. Talleyrand gave a ball, and society was there
with the same old stereotyped smile upon its vacuous face.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the death of this young Duke injured
Napoleon in public esteem, was of no political service to him, armed
his enemies with a terrible weapon against him, and gave to the exiled
Bourbons a sympathy they had not enjoyed since the Revolution. Said
Fouché, “It is worse than a crime; it is a blunder.” But there is no
evidence that Napoleon ever regretted it. It is true that he became
enraged when Talleyrand denied his share in the transaction, and that
he always maintained that Talleyrand had advised it; but he never
shirked his own responsibility.

When he lay upon his death-bed at St. Helena, an attendant read to him
from an English publication a bitter attack upon those guilty of the
alleged murder of d’Enghien. The dying Emperor had already made his
will; but he roused himself, had the paper brought, and interlined
with his own hands these final words in which he assumed full

“I had the Duke d’Enghien arrested and tried because it was necessary
to do so for the safety, the honor, and the interest of the French
people at a time when the Count of Artois openly admitted that he had
sixty paid assassins in Paris. Under similar circumstances I would do
so again.”

The trials of Moreau, Georges, and the other conspirators did not take
place until Napoleon had become emperor. The prosecution was clumsily
managed; and as to Moreau, public opinion was divided. His services,
so recent and so great, gave some color to the story that Napoleon was
actuated by jealousy in having him classed with criminals. However,
Moreau weakened his defence by an exculpatory letter he wrote Napoleon,
and this together with such proofs as the government could furnish,
and such influence as it could bring to bear on the court, resulted in
a conviction and a sentence of two years in confinement. This penalty
Napoleon changed into one of banishment. Georges and a number of others
were shot. Pichegru and Wright committed suicide. The Polignacs and
Rivière, as guilty as the guiltiest, were pardoned--they being of
gentle birth, and being fortunate in having the friendship of some who
stood near Napoleon.


During the years of the peace (1801–1804), French influence upon the
Continent kept marching on. Napoleon’s diplomacy was as effective as
his cannon. Holland became a subject state, with a new constitution
dictated by France, and a governing council which took guidance from
France (1801).

Lombardy dropped its title of the Cisalpine, and became the Italian
republic, with Napoleon for President. French troops entered
Switzerland, put down civil strife, and the country for ten years
enjoyed peace and prosperity under a constitution given it by Napoleon,
he being virtually its ruler under the name of Mediator of the Helvetic

In Germany, a general shaking up and breaking up of political fossils
and governmental dry bones occurred. The territory ceded to France by
the treaty of Lunéville needed to be reorganized. The German princes,
who were dispossessed, required compensation. Prussia had to be paid
for her neutrality. Austria wished to recoup her losses. How was it
possible for diplomacy to satisfy at the same time France, which had
fought and won; Austria which had fought and lost; and Prussia, which
had not fought at all?

Napoleon was ready with his answer. Let the strong help themselves to
the territories of the weak. At Rastadt, Napoleon had remarked to
Marten, “Does not public law nowadays consist simply in the right of
the stronger?” Evidently it did, as it does yet, and ever has done.
Upon this theory the German complication was worked out. There were
fifty so-called Free Cities which, being weak and in debt, might be
forcibly absorbed. There were a number of ecclesiastical princes,
ruling wretchedly over wide and rich domains, whose tempting wealth
might be confiscated. There were hundreds of knights of the German
Empire, decayed relics of mediævalism, each holding as private property
a snug territory, whose people the knight taxed, judged, and outraged
at his own good pleasure. The Congress of Rastadt had been laboring
upon this German problem at the time Austria murdered the French envoys
(1798). The task was now resumed (1801) nominally by the Congress at
Ratisbon, but really by French diplomats in Paris. Talleyrand, as
Minister of Foreign Affairs, had a magnificent opportunity to feather
his nest with bribes, and he made the most of it. German diplomatists
posted to Paris, paid court to the corrupt minister, laughed at all
his good sayings, fondled his poodle, petted his supposed bastard, and
lavished their gold upon him to win his influence.

When the process of reorganization was completed, Germany had been
revolutionized. Most of the Free Cities were no longer free, but were
incorporated with the territory of the government in which they were
located. The ecclesiastical princes were reduced to the condition
of salaried priests, their domains confiscated to the governments.
Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, were given large increase of territory;
Prussia was not left unrewarded; France got all she was entitled to;
and Austria, the defeated nation, lost almost nothing. The happy
combination of France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia, to settle their
differences at the expense of the Free Cities and the Princes of the
German Catholic Church, had been blessed with brilliant success.

Following the redistribution of German lands came changes yet more
vital. The wretched little feudal sovereignties disappeared. The
imperial knights lost their out-of-date principalities. The leaven of
the French Revolution penetrated far beyond the Rhine. Offices ceased
to be bought, sold, and inherited. Regular systems of taxation, police,
and legal procedure came into use. The trades and professions were
thrown open to all: caste was breached, the peasant freed from some of
his heaviest burdens. Education, in some parts of Germany, was taken
out of the hands of the Church, and the clergy made amenable to the law.

In this manner Napoleon had, unconsciously perhaps, laid the foundation
for the union of the German peoples into one great empire, by the
suppression of so many of those small, jealous, and hide-bound
principalities which had divided the land, and which nothing but
overwhelming pressure from without could have reformed.

Thus, while still wearing the modest title of First Consul, the ruler
of France had grown to proportions which were imperial. To the French,
he was the necessary man without whom they might relapse into chaotic
conditions. The wondrous structure he had reared seemed to rest upon
his strength alone. His life was the sole guarantee of law and order.
Should assassins strike him down, what would be the situation in
France? To avoid such a danger, and to deprive royalist fanatics of
such a temptation, would it not be better to make Napoleon monarch,
and to settle the succession? In that event his death would not bring
about endless confusion and violent convulsions. Reasoning of this kind
seems to have moved the Senate to propose that the First Consul accept
a new title, and on May 18, 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor of the

Partly by the force of circumstances, partly by sincere conviction,
partly by the exertion of Napoleon’s wonderful gift for the management
of men, France had been so well prepared for this change in her form
of government that she indorsed it by a practically unanimous vote.
Only such stalwart exponents of a principle as Carnot and Lafayette

With the Empire came all things imperial: a change of constitution;
a creation of high dignitaries; the ennobling of the Bonaparte
family, Lucien excepted; the creation of marshals in the army; the
establishment of court forms and etiquette in the palace.

Gorgeous and imposing were the ceremonies which ushered in the New
Order. Paris, France, Europe, were dazzled by the lavish expenditures,
the magnificent parade, with which the Consul became Emperor. He spared
no expense, no pains, no personal discomfort, to make the pageant a
success. Historians have sneered at the rehearsals by means of which he
prepared each actor in the coronation for his part; but the ridicule
would seem to be misplaced. His example has set the fashion; and not
only are private marriages rehearsed in our day, but royal funerals and
royal coronations perfect their functions by the same prudent process.

That nothing might be wanting to the solemnity and impressiveness of
the occasion, Napoleon insisted that the Pope should come from Rome
to Paris and officiate. So recent and so immense had been Napoleon’s
services to the Church that the Pontiff could not refuse, more
especially as he had other favors to ask.

Brilliant as a dream was the coronation in the great cathedral of Notre
Dame. Paris never witnessed a civic and military display more splendid.
The Church, the State, princes foreign and native, grandees old and
new, blazed forth in the utmost that wealth and pride and vanity could
display. In a coach heavy with gold Napoleon and Josephine rode, amid
soldiers, to the church where the Pope had long awaited their coming;
and when the great Corsican had been conducted through the proper
forms, had prayed, had sworn, had been oiled and blessed, he proudly
took the crown out of the Pope’s hands, crowned himself, and then
crowned the kneeling Josephine (December, 1804). His mother was not
there, she was in Rome with the revolted Lucien; but when the artist
David painted the picture of the coronation, Napoleon, with his never
failing eye for effect, had Madame Letitia put in. Just as he wished
for his mother on this the great day of his life, he did not forget his

“Joseph, what would father have said!”

One who had lifted himself from a cottage to the White House in these
United States drew all hearts to himself when, after having taken the
oath of office, he turned to his old mother and kissed her. Not far
distant from the same creditable feeling was Napoleon’s regret for his

Mother Letitia could not be persuaded to leave Rome and the insurgent
Lucien; but the old nurse journeyed from Corsica to see her nursling
crowned. Napoleon hugged and kissed the old woman, lavished every
attention upon her, and kept her in Paris a couple of months. When she
returned to Ajaccio, she was laden with gifts.

Nor could Brienne be overlooked in these sunny days of triumph and
of happiness. The Emperor must return to the school grounds of his
boyhood, view the old familiar scenes, talk of old times with such
former acquaintances as might still be there. Behold him, then, soon
after his coronation, arriving at the château of Brienne, at six in
the evening, where Madame de Brienne and Madame Loménie await him at
the foot of the steps. He spends the night at the château, whose kind
mistress had so often made him welcome in the forlorn days of his
youth. He walks about the place, pointing out every spot familiar to
him when at school. He visits the field of La Rothière, a favorite
strolling place of his youth. He is so affable, so animated, so
interested, that his movements seem to say, See where I started from,
and where I have arrived. “And what has become of Mother Marguerite,
the peasant woman who used to sell milk, eggs, and bread to the boys?”
Mother Marguerite is still living, still to be found at the thatched
cottage in the woods. By all means, the Emperor must quit the fine
circle at the château and visit the old peasant in the hut. A man so
gifted with eye to effect could never miss a point like that. So the
horse is saddled and brought; the Emperor mounts and rides; and at the
cottage in the wood his Majesty alights and enters.

“Good day, Mother Marguerite!” The aged eyes are dim, and they
gleam with no recognition. She knows that the Emperor is in the
neighborhood; she expects to go to the château to see him; she will
carry him a basket of eggs to remind him of old times. Suddenly his
Majesty puts himself where the dim eyes can see him better, draws
nearer to her, and mimicking in voice and manner his schoolboy tone,
and rubbing his hands as he had used to do: “Come, Mother Marguerite!
Some milk and fresh eggs; we are dying of hunger.”

A little more jogging of the memory, and the ancient dame, knowing now
who it is, falls at the Emperor’s feet. He lifts her, and still insists
on the eggs and milk. She serves, he eats, both of them happy, and both
of them full of reminiscences of the years long ago. Though he left her
a purse of gold, Mother Marguerite probably was prouder of the fact
that he came to her house and ate.

One more visit the great Emperor will pay Brienne, the year of the last
visit being 1814. Foreign invaders will be encamped all round about the
playgrounds of his boyhood. Prussian Blücher will be taking his ease
and his dinner in the château. Prussian Blücher will give him battle
at Brienne, and will rout him at La Rothière. And to his companions,
the falling Emperor will again point out places of interest in the old
school-ground, but not in the happy vein of 1804.

       *       *       *       *       *

What should be done with Italy? French arms had wrested her from
Austria and defended her from Russia. She was too weak to stand alone.
Take away the support of France, and she would again be cut up and
devoured by the stronger powers. On all sides she was threatened. The
English were at Malta, the Russians at Corfu, the Austrians in Venice,
while in Naples and Rome were apparent allies, but actual foes. Reasons
of state made it imperative that Napoleon’s imperial system should
embrace Italy, and the Italians themselves favored the change.

Napoleon tendered the crown to his brother Joseph. To the amazement of
the world that preposterous egotist refused upon two grounds: first,
Italy was too near to France for its king to enjoy that complete
independence which Joseph felt necessary to his self-respect; second,
the crown of France belonged to him, in prospect, as heir of the
childless Napoleon; and Joseph would not exchange this selfish, shadowy
claim for the certainty offered him by his too partial brother! Surely
there never lived a man more be-cursed with ingrates of his own blood
than Napoleon!

“I am sometimes tempted to believe,” said he, “that Joseph thinks I
have robbed my elder brother of his share of the inheritance of the
late king, our father!”

It was only after Joseph had resisted all persuasions that Napoleon
decided to make himself king of Italy “until the peace.”

In April, 1805, taking Josephine with him, he crossed the Alps.
Everywhere he was greeted with enthusiasm. On the field of Marengo he
and Josephine sat upon a throne and viewed the splendid rehearsal of
the battle in which the young hero had crushed Austria and rescued
Italy at a blow.

In May, 1805, he placed upon his head, amid pomps and ceremonies in the
cathedral of Milan, the iron crown of the Lombards. Josephine looked
on from the gallery; she was not crowned queen of Italy; but her son,
the loyal and gallant Eugène Beauharnais, was made Viceroy of the new
kingdom. His Holiness, the Pope, was not present at the ceremony; his
Holiness was chagrined and unfriendly; he had left Paris a disappointed
man; he had asked many favors of Napoleon, “my son in Christ Jesus,”
which had been denied, and already was to be seen the slender line of
the rift between Napoleon and the Papacy which was to grow and grow,
widening year by year, until the yawning chasm was to ingulf much of
the strength of the Empire.

But, for the time being, the Pope went his way almost unnoticed, meekly
implacable, humbly vindictive, waiting his chance to strike the ruler
he had so recently oiled and blessed, while the vaulting Corsican,
using an archbishop to manipulate the clerical machinery instead of a
pope, inflated himself with pride as he felt upon his head the crown of

And had he no cause to be proud? Did the history of the world disclose
a more dazzling record than his? Not born to the throne, a stranger to
the purple and the gold of rank, the greatest Empire of modern times
was his; and, as heir to the Cæsars, he had now caught upon his arms
the grandeur and the glory of old Rome. Emperor of the West!--another
Theodosius, another Charles the Great! And only a few years ago he had
meekly stopped to scrape the mud of the streets off his coarse boots to
avoid offence to the nose of Madame Permon: had pawned his watch for
food; had moodily thought of drowning himself in the Seine because his
mother had pleaded for help which he was too poor to give!

If ever mortal was justly proud, it was he,--Napoleon, the penniless
son of the lawyer; Napoleon, tireless student, unwearied worker,
unconquerable adventurer, resistless soldier of Fortune,--Napoleon,
Emperor of France and King of Italy, whose crowns had come to him
unstained of blood! He was the strongest, the wisest, the best in
fight, in work, in council; and they had raised him aloft on their
bucklers as the strongest had been lifted in the valiant days of old.

Nothing in Napoleon’s career was more brilliant than his triumphal
progress through the Italian cities. Everything which a passionate,
imaginative people could do to testify their admiration and affection,
they did; and during these brief, sunny weeks when he moved amid
ovations and splendors, amid rejoicings and blessings, amid music
and flowers, with Josephine by his side, he probably came as near to
happiness as his restless, craving nature could come. Everywhere he
left indelible footprints,--roads, canals, public buildings of all
sorts, mighty and useful works which made his tour memorable for all

Genoa, following the lead of Italy, and friendly suggestions from
France, voted to unite her fortunes with those of the new Empire. The
Doge and the Senate went in state to Milan, were received by Napoleon
on his throne, and prayed that he would accept the ancient republic
as a part of France. Graciously the modern Cæsar consented; the Doge
became a French senator, and out of the territories of the republic
were carved three French departments.

The little republic of Lucca caught the general infection, sent a
deputation to Milan, begged at Napoleon’s hands a government and a
constitution, was warmly welcomed by the Emperor, and was bestowed as
an imperial fief upon his sister Elisa, wife of a Corsican fiddler
named Bacciochi.

[Illustration: JOSEPHINE IN 1809

From a water-color by Isabey]

The horror and indignation with which European kings and cabinets
looked upon these encroachments can easily be imagined. With one accord
they began to cry out against Napoleon’s “insatiable ambition.” England
did not consider how she had despoiled France in Canada, on the Ohio,
in Hindustan. Russia and Austria made no account of provinces taken
from Poland or Turkey. All the great nations were growing greater; the
general balance of power had been disturbed: was France alone to be
denied the right to extend her system over states which asked for it,
and which were dependent upon her for protection?

In January, 1805, Napoleon had written directly to the King of England,
as he had done once before, asking for peace. As before, his advances
had been repelled. Great Britain had already begun to knit together the
threads of another coalition. An understanding existed between England,
Russia, Austria, and Sweden. Naples, through her Bourbon rulers, was
fawning at Napoleon’s feet, flattering and servile, while secretly she
was plotting his downfall. Well aware of the storm which was gathering
on the Continent, Napoleon prepared for it, but did not for an instant
relax his efforts at Boulogne.

His plan was to send his fleet to sea, decoy Nelson into pursuit,
and then, while his own ships doubled and came back to the Channel,
to cross his army over to England, under its protection, in his
flat-bottomed boats. “Masters of the Channel for six hours, we are
masters of the world.”

It was not to be. Wind and waves fought against him. The incapacity
of his navy fought against him. Into soldiers on land he could infuse
courage, confidence, sympathetic coöperation. But the navy baffled
him: all his efforts were vain. His admirals could not, or would
not, have faith; could not, or would not, obey orders; could not, or
would not, coöperate. Utterly wasted were all his labors, all his
expenditures. Austrian armies were marching against Bavaria, Napoleon’s
ally; Russian hordes were moving down from the north; Prussia’s
magnificent army of fifty thousand men was in the balance, wavering
ominously, and threatening to unite with the coalition.

Such was the situation on the Continent when the despatches reached
Napoleon that all his great plans for the invasion of England had gone
to wreck and ruin; that his admiral had misconceived or had disobeyed
positive orders; that the French fleet would not only be unable to give
him aid, but was so scattered and so placed that it must inevitably
fall a prey to the English.

“It was about four o’clock in the morning of August 13, that the news
was brought to the Emperor,” says Ségur. “Daru was summoned, and
on entering gazed on his chief in utter astonishment.” The Emperor
“looked perfectly wild”; his hat jammed down over his eyes, “his whole
aspect terrible.” As soon as he saw Daru, he rushed up, and poured out
a torrent of pent-up wrath. He railed at his admiral, his imbecile
admiral, “that damned fool of a Villeneuve!” He paced “up and down the
room, with great strides for about an hour,” venting his rage, his
disappointment, his reproaches. Then stopping suddenly and pointing
to a desk, he exclaimed: “Sit down there, Daru, and write!” And with
marvellous self-control, wresting his thoughts away from Villeneuve,
the fleet, the blasted plans of invasion, he dictated to the secretary,
hour after hour, as fast as pen could catch the rushing words, the
whole campaign of Ulm in its largest outline, in its smallest detail,
embracing, as it did, the movement of his own vast legions lying
along the coast for two hundred leagues, the movement of Masséna
from Italy, of Marmont from Holland, and of Bernadotte from Hanover.
Four hundred thousand soldiers were moving against the French; less
than half that number of French rushed to repel the attack. The vast
camps on the Boulogne coast vanished, the eagles set Rhineward, other
legions marched as they had never marched before--thousands speeding
along the roads in coaches. The Austrians had not waited for the
Russians; Bavaria had been overrun; and Mack, the Austrian general,
was now dawdling about Ulm. Before he suspected what was happening,
Napoleon’s combination had been made, a circle of steel drawn about
his adversary; and the French armies, closing in upon front, rear, and
flanks, held the Austrians as in a mighty trap. With the exception of
a few squadrons which broke through the gaps in the French lines as
they advanced, the whole Austrian army laid down its arms (October 20,
1805). In the _Memoirs_ of de Ségur we are given a personal glimpse of
the Emperor which is perhaps more interesting to the average reader
than the dreary narrative of march, counter-march, manœuvre, and battle.

During the combats around Elchingen, Napoleon, soaked with rain, went
to a farmhouse at Hasslach to wait for Lannes and the Guard to come up.
There was a stove which threw out its comfortable heat, and before it
sat a drummer boy, wet, cold, and wounded. Napoleon’s staff officers
told the boy to get out, and go somewhere else. The drummer would not
hear of it. The room was big enough for both the Emperor and himself,
he said, and he meant to stay. Napoleon laughed, and told them to let
the boy alone, “since he made such a point of it.” In a few moments
the Emperor was dozing on one side of the stove and the drummer lad on
the other. Around the two sleepers were grouped the staff officers,
standing, and awaiting orders.

Louder roared the cannon, and every few minutes Napoleon would rouse
himself and send off messengers to hasten Lannes. While the Emperor was
thus napping, Lannes came up, entered the room abruptly, and exclaimed:
“Sire! What are you thinking about? You are sleeping while Ney,
single-handed, is fighting against the whole Austrian army!”--“That’s
just like Ney, I told him to wait,” said Napoleon, and springing on his
horse, he galloped off so fast that Lannes, afraid now that the Emperor
would rush into danger, roughly seized the bridle rein and forced
him back in a less dangerous position. Ney was reënforced, and the
Austrians routed.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the midst of his own successes, Napoleon received the tidings from
Trafalgar. Nelson had fought the combined fleets of France and Spain,
had lost his own life, but had won so complete a triumph that England’s
supremacy at sea was not disputed again throughout the Napoleonic wars.
The shock to Napoleon must have been stunning, but he only said, “I
cannot be everywhere.”

Continuing his advance, he entered Vienna, November 13, 1805, and lost
no time in throwing his army across the Danube, in hot pursuit of the
retreating enemy.

By a trick and a falsehood, Murat and Lannes secured the great bridge,
and much precious time was saved. By a similar trick, the Russians
deceived Murat a few days later, and escaped the net Napoleon had
thrown around them, and thus “the fruits of a campaign were lost.”
Murat gained the bridge by pretending that an armistice had been agreed
on; the Russians made good their escape by duping Murat with the same
falsehood. Napoleon’s anger was extreme, the more so as a blunder of
Murat’s had come within a hair’s-breadth of spoiling the campaign of

Failing to trap the Russians as he had trapped the Austrians, there
was nothing for Napoleon to do but to press the pursuit. League after
league the French penetrated a hostile country, new armies mustering
on all sides to rush in upon them, until they were in the heart of
Moravia. The Emperor Francis of Austria had joined the Czar Alexander,
and the combined Russo-Austrian forces, outnumbering the French,
confronted Napoleon at Austerlitz. The position of the French, far
from home and surrounded by populations rushing to arms, was critical.
Napoleon realized it, and so did his foe. There is no doubt that he
would have welcomed an honorable peace, but the terms offered by the
Czar were so insulting that he indignantly rejected them. Hastily
concentrating his army, he made ready to fight. He artfully cultivated
the self-confidence of the enemy, and put them under the impression
that he was trying to escape. They had the hardihood to believe that
they could turn his position, cut him off from his line of retreat, and
do to him at Austerlitz as he had done to Mack at Ulm.

Indeed, the position of the French army demanded all of Napoleon’s
firmness, all of his genius. He had about eighty thousand men; the
Emperors in his front had ninety thousand. His right was threatened
by the Archduke Charles with an army of forty thousand; his rear by
the Archduke Ferdinand with twenty thousand; on his left flank was
unfriendly Prussia with a magnificent force of one hundred and fifty
thousand. The combined armies in his front, taking the offensive,
attacked the French advance guard at Wischau, and routed it. Napoleon
was uneasy. He sent envoys to the Czar and sought a personal interview.
Surrounded by young hotheads, Alexander repulsed the overture, sending
Dolgorouki to meet the Emperor of the French. Full of the idea that the
French were frightened and would pay handsomely for the privilege of
getting back home, young Dolgorouki demanded of Napoleon the surrender
of Italy, Belgium, and the Rhine provinces.

“What more could you ask if you were in France?” exclaimed the
indignant Napoleon. The envoy’s manner was as offensive as his
language, and Napoleon finally ordered him off. Violently irritated,
Napoleon stood talking to Savary for some time, striking the ground
with his riding-whip, as he dwelt upon the insolence of the Russians.
“Please God, in forty-eight hours I will give them a lesson!”

An old grenadier stood near, filling his pipe for a smoke. Napoleon
walked up to him and said, “Those fellows think they are going to
swallow us up.”--“If they try it,” said the veteran, “we’ll stick in
their craws.” Napoleon laughed, and his brow cleared.

Drawing his army back to a still better position, Napoleon studied
the ground thoroughly, reconnoitred diligently, and waited. He soon
guessed the plan of the enemy, to turn his right flank. But to do this
they must expose their own flank to him, and he would strike them as
they marched. So confident was Napoleon that he could destroy his enemy
if the turning movement across his front were attempted, that he lured
them still farther by withdrawing from the high-ground, the Pratzen
plateau--“a grand position,” from which he could easily have inflicted
upon the Russians an ordinary defeat. But an ordinary defeat was not
what he wanted; he manœuvred to lead his foes into a false movement
where they could be annihilated.

On December 1, 1805, about four in the afternoon, Napoleon could see
through his field-glass that the great turning movement of the Russians
had commenced. He clapped his hands and exclaimed, “They are walking
into a trap; before to-morrow night that army will be mine!”

Ordering Murat to make a sham attack and then retire so as to confirm
the enemy in his delusion of a French retreat, Napoleon dictated a
stirring address to his troops, pointing out to them the Russian
mistake and the advantage the French could take of it. Everything done
that could be done, the great captain called his staff about him, and
sat down to dinner in the hut which served him for a bivouac. Seated
around the table on wooden benches were Murat, Caulaincourt, Junot,
Rapp, Ségur, Mouton, Thiard, and others. As serenely as though he were
in Paris, Napoleon led the conversation to literary topics, dramatic
poetry especially, and commented at length on the merits of various
authors and plays. From these subjects he passed on to Egypt, and again
spoke of the wonderful things he would have done had he taken Acre. He
would have gained a battle on the Issus, become Emperor of the East,
and returned to Paris by way of Constantinople. Junot suggested that
they might, even now, be on the road to Constantinople. But Napoleon
said: “No. The French do not love long marches. They love France too
well. The troops would prefer to return home.” Junot questioned this;
but Mouton bluntly declared that the Emperor was right, that the army
was tired out, it had had enough: it would fight, but would do so
because it wished to win a battle which would end the war and allow the
men to return home.

Throwing himself upon some straw in his hut, Napoleon slept till far
into the night. Then he mounted his horse, and once more went the
rounds to see that all was right. He went too near the Russian lines:
roused some Cossacks, and escaped capture by the speed of his horse.
Getting back into his own lines, he was stumbling along on foot in the
darkness when he fell over a log. A grenadier, to light his way, made
a torch of some straw. The blaze showed to other soldiers the Emperor.
Upon a sudden impulse, more torches were made of straw, while the shout
arose, “Live the Emperor!” It was the anniversary of the coronation,
and the troops remembered. The one torch became a score, the score a
hundred, then thousands, until a blaze of light ran along the line for
miles, while the shout of “Live the Emperor!” roused even the Russian
hordes. It was such an ovation as only a Cæsar could inspire. It was
so unstudied, so heartfelt, so martial and dramatic, that Napoleon was
profoundly moved. “It is the grandest evening of my life,” he exclaimed.

At dawn he called his staff to the hut, ate with them standing, and
then, buckling on his sword, said, “Now, gentlemen, let us go and begin
a great day!” A moment later he sat his horse on a hill that overlooked
the field, his staff and his marshals around him. As the sun cleared
itself of the mists, “the sun of Austerlitz,” the final orders were
given, the marshals galloped to their posts, and the famous battle
began. By four o’clock that evening the Russo-Austrian army was a
wreck--outgeneralled, outfought, knocked to pieces. Napoleon had ended
“_this_ war by a clap of thunder.” The Czar fled with the remnant of
his host, escaping capture at the hands of Davoust by the well-worn
falsehood of an armistice. The Emperor Francis came in person to
Napoleon to sue for peace, was kindly received, and was granted terms
far more liberal than he had any right to expect.

On December 27, 1805, the Treaty of Presburg was signed. Austria ceded
Venice, Friuli, Istria, and Dalmatia to Italy; Tyrol to Bavaria, which
Napoleon erected into an independent kingdom; Würtemberg and Baden
received cities and territory as rewards for adherence to France.
Austria sanctioned all of Napoleon’s recent encroachments in Italy, and
agreed to pay an indemnity of $8,000,000.

In the battle of Austerlitz the Allies lost about fifteen thousand men,
killed and wounded, besides twenty thousand prisoners. The French loss
was about twelve thousand.

Marbot relates an incident which illustrates the character of Napoleon.

One of the familiar episodes of the battle of Austerlitz was the
retreat of the Russians over the frozen lakes. Napoleon himself ordered
the cannoneers to cease shooting at the fugitives, and to elevate
their pieces so that the balls would fall upon the ice. The balls fell,
the ice cracked, and some two thousand Russians sank to watery graves.

Next day Napoleon, being near this spot, heard feeble cries for help.
It was a Russian sergeant, wounded, adrift in the lake, supporting
himself on an ice floe. Napoleon’s sympathies were at once aroused,
and he called for volunteers to save the Russian. Many attempts were
made, several Frenchmen came near being drowned, and finally Marbot and
Roumestain stripped, swam to the man, and brought him to the shore.
Napoleon had every attention shown to the poor fellow--the survivor of
the host which sank the day before under his pitiless orders.


In England the wonderful triumph of Napoleon spread consternation and
bitter disappointment. So much hard cash had been wasted, so many
well-laid plans smashed, so much blind hatred brought to nothing!
Other faces besides Pitt’s took on “the Austerlitz look.” That most
arrogant of ministers had offered money to all who would unite against
France, had encouraged Austria to attack Bavaria because of the
refusal of Bavaria to enter the coalition against France, had landed
English troops in Calabria to stir up the priest-ridden peasantry to
insurrection, and had pledged himself to the task of driving the French
from Germany, from Switzerland, from Italy and Holland. A mightier ruin
had never fallen upon haughtier plans. The French were now masters of
more territory than ever; Napoleon’s power greater than ever; England’s
allies were being dismembered to strengthen the friends of France; and
the British troops which had been sent to Calabria, and which had won
the battle of Maida (July, 1806), abandoned the enterprise, and left
the peasantry to suffer all the vengeance of the French. Whether Mr.
Pitt’s last words were, “My country! How I leave my country!” or, as
Mr. D’Israeli used to relate, “I think I could now eat one of Bellamy’s
pork pies,” it is certain that he took the news of Austerlitz as Lord
North took Saratoga, “like a ball in the breast.”

On the Continent Napoleon was supreme, and he used his advantage
vigorously. The Bourbons of Naples had played him false, and he
dethroned them. In western Germany was organized the Confederation of
the Rhine, composed of Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, and thirteen smaller
principalities, and containing a population of eight million. Created
by Napoleon, it looked to him for protection, put its military forces
at his service, and became, practically, a part of his imperial system.

By these changes the Emperor of Austria was reduced to his hereditary
dominions, and his shadowy Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist, August 6,

Following Austerlitz came a grand distribution of crowns and coronets.
Brother Joseph condescended to become King of Naples, with the distinct
understanding that he waived none of his “rights” to the throne of
France, and that he should be treated as an “independent ally” of the

Holland was turned into a subject kingdom, and Louis Bonaparte put upon
its throne.

To his sister Elisa, Napoleon gave additional territory in Italy; and
to Pauline, who had married Prince Borghese, was given Guastalla.
Madame Bacciochi, who was morally another Caroline of Naples, was a
good ruler, and her government of her little kingdom was excellent. As
to Pauline, she cared for nothing but pleasure; and not knowing very
well what else to do with her Guastalla, she sold it.

Caroline Bonaparte, importunate in her demands for imperial
recognition, was offered the principality of Neufchâtel. She haughtily
declined it. Such a petty kingdom was obviously, even glaringly, less
than her share. Yielding to this youthful and self-assertive sister,
Napoleon had to create the Grand Duchy of Berg to satisfy her and her
no less aspiring husband, Murat.

The scapegrace Jerome Bonaparte, one of whose numberless freaks was
that of paying $3,000 for a shaving outfit long prior to the arrival
of his beard, was made to renounce his beautiful young American wife,
Miss Patterson; and was kept in imperial tutelage till such time as he
should be made king of Westphalia, with a Würtemberg princess for queen.

Eugène Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, was married to the daughter of
the king of Bavaria; and Stephanie Beauharnais, Josephine’s niece, was
wedded to the son of the Elector of Baden.

In these grand arrangements for the Bonaparte family, Lucien was left
out. He and Napoleon had quarrelled, the cause being, chiefly, that
Lucien would not discard his wife, as the pusillanimous Jerome had
done. Napoleon was offended because Lucien at his second marriage had
selected a woman whose virtue was far from being above suspicion.
“Divorce her,” demanded Napoleon; “she is a strumpet.”

“Mine is at least young and pretty,” retorted Lucien, with sarcastic
reference to Josephine, who was neither young nor pretty. Angrily the
brothers parted: the elder insisting on the divorce, and offering
a kingdom as a bribe: the younger scornfully spurning the bribe,
and cleaving to his wife. This manly and independent attitude was
the easier to maintain since Lucien had already amassed a fortune
in Napoleon’s service. Taking up his residence in a grand palace in
Rome, surrounded by rare books, paintings, and statuary, comforted
by the preference and the presence of Madame Letitia, a favorite of
the Pope because an enemy of Napoleon, Lucien cultivated letters,
wrote the longest and the dullest epic of modern times, and called it

While elevating to thrones the members of his family, the Emperor could
not forget those who had served him in the army and in civil affairs.
From the conquered territories he carved various principalities,
duchies, and so forth, for distribution among the Talleyrands,
Bernadottes, and Berthiers, who were to betray him later. A new order
of nobility sprang up at the word,--a nobility based upon service, and
without special privilege, but richly endowed, and quick to arrogate to
itself all the prestige ever enjoyed by the old.

Surrounded as he was by hostile kings, Napoleon felt the need of
supports. In creating the Confederation of the Rhine, in putting his
brothers upon adjacent thrones, in bestowing fiefs upon his high
officials, he believed himself to be throwing out barriers against
foreign foes, and propping his empire with the self-interest and
resources of all these subject princes whom he had created, never
dreaming that in the day of adversity his own brothers and sisters
would think of saving themselves at his expense.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the very night of Napoleon’s return to Paris from the army, he
summoned his council. The finances were in confusion; there had been
something of a panic, and only the victory of Austerlitz restored
confidence. The minister, who had brought about this state of things
by his mismanagement, was Barbé-Marbois, a royalist whom Napoleon
had recalled from banishment and elevated to high office. During
the Emperor’s absence the minister had allowed the contractors and
speculators to become partners in the management of the treasury,
had allowed these speculators to use public funds, and had carried
his complaisance to such an extent that they now owed the government
more than $25,000,000. Under the Old Régime it was quite the usual
thing to allow contractors and speculators to use and misuse public
funds. In our own day it is the universal rule. No well-regulated
Christian government would think of issuing a loan, undertaking public
improvements, or refunding its debt without giving to some clique
of favored capitalists a huge share of the sum total: just as it
would shock a modern government to its foundation if the principle
were enforced that public funds should be rigidly kept in public
depositories to be used for public purposes only.

Napoleon, however, was neither a ruler of the ancient Bourbon type,
nor a Christian governor of the modern sort. He would not float loans,
levy war taxes, nor allow his treasury to become the hunting-ground
of the Bourse. England was fighting Napoleon with paper money, was
floating loan after loan, was giving to speculators and contractors
golden opportunities to enrich themselves. In the end, England’s paper
money, loans, and war taxes were to whip the fight; but in the meantime
Napoleon believed himself right and England wrong. He honestly believed
that England would sink under her debt, taxes, and worthless currency.
When he saw her grow in strength year by year, her manufactures
increase, her trade increase, her wealth, power, and population
increase, he was unable to comprehend the mystery. Mr. Alison, the
Tory historian, who chronicles the facts, explains, kindly, that this
growth of England was illusive and fictitious. To Napoleon, sitting
desolately on the rock at St. Helena, housed in a remodelled cow barn
and tormented by rats, it must have seemed that this paper-money growth
of English power was not quite so illusive as Mr. Alison declared.

Sternly adhering to his own system, Napoleon called the erring minister
and the greedy speculators to account. Marbois was dismissed from
office, the speculators thrown into jail, the property of the syndicate
seized, and the debt due the treasury collected. The Bank of France was
overhauled, the finances put into healthy condition, and the public
funds advanced until they commanded a higher price than ever before,
nearing par.


After the treaty of Presburg the Archduke Charles, in paying off the
Austrian troops, said to them, “Go and rest yourselves until we begin
again.” Even at that early date the European powers were acting upon
the fixed principle that the war against France was not to cease till
she had been forced back into her ancient limits. No matter what
battles might be fought, treaties made, and territories yielded, the
one thing upon which England, Austria, and Russia were agreed, was that
Napoleon must be crushed. He represented the New Order brought forth by
the Revolution. He represented liberalism, civil and religious freedom,
and progress in its modern sense of giving to every man a chance in
life. Such principles were destructive to the repose of Europe, and the
ruling classes in Europe were deeply attached to this repose. England’s
ruling class, supported in lordly preëminence by the patient millions
below them, wanted no levelling tendencies to invade her caste-ridden
isles. Germany, whose nobles and landowners clung to all the privileges
and barbarities of feudalism, abhorred the Code Napoléon, and the
democratic germs of the Napoleonic system. Russia, almost as benighted
as Persia or Turkey, dreaded a trend of events which meant freedom
for the serf and civil rights for the common people. The nobleman in
Russia, the peer of Great Britain, the petty lord in Germany, was at
heart one and the same man. He had been born to wealth, privilege, and
power; he meant to keep what birth had given him, and he meant to pass
it on to his son, “forever in fee simple.” Of course he explained that
God had ordained it so. And what the nobleman asserted, the priest
maintained. If Napoleon foresaw that as Consul war would be made upon
him continually by the opposing systems of Europe, how much less hope
was there for peace now, when he had begun to shatter the ancient

Let crimination and recrimination exhaust itself, let Thiers write
bulky volumes in Napoleon’s favor, while Lanfrey and Baring-Gould print
heavy pamphlets against him, the truth lies here:--

Napoleon represented principles which were considered ruinous to the
Old Order in Europe, and the beneficiaries of that Old Order were
determined not to surrender without a desperate fight. Just as the Old
Order in France resisted all efforts at reform, so on a wider field
the kings and aristocracies of Europe resisted Napoleon. They could
not believe themselves safe while he was aggressive and triumphant.
Therefore, while Austria might bow to the storm, while the Emperor
Francis might come to Napoleon’s tent, pleading for mercy, and get it,
the true sentiment of Austria was voiced by the Archduke Charles, when
he said to the troops, “Go rest yourselves, my children, till we begin
again.” It was only a question of time and opportunity when they would
begin again.

Prussia had been one of the first nations to arm against revolutionary
France. Lugged in by Austria, she had published the famous proclamation
of Brunswick, had invaded France, and had been beaten back at
Valmy. In due time Prussia had become disgusted with the French
royalists--tired of a contest in which, gaining no glory, she lost
men, money, and prestige. She had made peace with the Republic, and
had become honestly neutral. Harmonious relations had continued to
exist between the two nations until the rupture of the Peace of Amiens.
England had then done her utmost to draw Prussia into the third
Coalition, but had not quite succeeded. In the grand strategy leading
to the climax at Ulm, it had become necessary to march some French
troops through Anspach, a Prussian province. This violation of his
territory gave great offence to the young King Frederick William IV.,
and he threatened war.

Napoleon’s crushing blows on Austria intimidated Prussia and made
her hesitate; but when the French risked themselves in Moravia, and
the outlook for Napoleon began to grow gloomy, Prussia sent him her
minister, Haugwitz, bearing an ultimatum. Napoleon realized his peril,
postponed immediate action, and fought the battle of Austerlitz.
His victory released him from danger, and Haugwitz, forgetting his
ultimatum, poured forth congratulations. Napoleon heard them with
a sardonic amusement he did not conceal, bluntly declaring that
Austerlitz had changed the Prussian tone.

When the Confederation of the Rhine was about to be formed, Napoleon,
by the treaty of Vienna, ceded Hanover to Prussia partly in return for
Anspach and Bayreuth. Hanover being the personal domain of the King of
England, its cession to Prussia was a fair guarantee against Prussian
and English coöperation. That he gave so rich a bribe to Prussia
proves his earnestness in seeking her friendship. Those who criticise
Napoleon’s politics, dwell on his imprudence in not separating England
from the Continent. The critics say that he ought to have known that
he was not strong enough to combat combined Europe. The probabilities
are that Napoleon understood the situation quite as well as those
divines and college professors who now criticise him. How was he to get
Continental Europe on his side save by force of arms? Had he not tried
treaties with Naples and Austria? Had he not exhausted conciliation
with Russia and Prussia? In what way was he to cripple England if not
by shutting her out of the Continent, and how could he do that without
using force? His navy was gone; England had rejected his repeated
overtures for peace; her gold bribed European diplomats and cabinets to
wage war upon him: how was he to deal with armies hurled against him
if he did not fight them? Unite the Continent against England! That
was precisely what he was trying to do, and England knew it. Hence her
bribes, hence successive wars. Ever and ever it was Napoleon’s hope to
win his way to a Continental league against England, forcing her to
peace, and to the terms she had made at Amiens.

The inherent antagonism of the European monarchs to Napoleon was shown
when the Czar visited Berlin in 1805, and at the tomb of Frederick the
Great vowed alliance and friendship to the Prussian king.

In 1806 that pledge was solemnly repeated, the Czar and the King having
broken it a good deal in the interval. Whether the last oath would
amount to more than the first, would depend upon circumstances; but
the formal act proved at least how instinctive and vehement was their
antagonism to Napoleon.

After Mr. Pitt’s death, Fox succeeded him in the ministry, and almost
immediately Napoleon again made overtures for peace. There was much
less hope of it now, for the situation had greatly changed. Passions on
both sides the Channel were at white heat, territorial distributions
had been made which it would be difficult to unmake, and Fox, as a
known friend of Napoleon, might find himself unable to make concessions
which Pitt could safely have offered.

Of course, England would demand that Hanover be restored; Malta, she
would certainly keep. In the temper which the newspapers had created in
England, no minister would have dared now to surrender that island. But
still peace was possible. Equivalents for Malta might be arranged. As
to Hanover, Napoleon might take it from Prussia, giving her something
just as good in exchange. The negotiations were set on foot, through
Lord Yarmouth, one of the Englishmen who had been held in France at
the beginning of the war. When Prussia learned that Napoleon was using
Hanover as a bait to England, her smothered ill-will burst into flames.
Violent talk, violent pamphlets, broke out in Prussia, and Davoust
intensified matters by having Palm, the bookseller of Naumberg, shot,
because he had circulated incendiary documents against the French.

The war feeling rose irresistibly. Even had the King been inclined to
oppose it, he could not have done so. His Queen, his army chiefs, his
nobles, his troops, his people--they all clamored for war.

The young officers at Berlin whetted their swords on the steps of the
French embassy, and broke the windows of Prussian ministers who favored

Napoleon was at Paris when the news came that the Prussian hotheads had
been sharpening their blades in front of his embassy. His hand went to
his sword-hilt: “They will learn that our swords need no whetting--the
insolent braggarts!”

So confident were the Prussians, so impatient were they to hurl
themselves into the struggle, that they would not wait for Russian aid.
Apparently they feared that Prussia might have to divide the glory.
Was not theirs the army of Frederick the Great? Was not their cavalry
the finest in Europe? Had not General Rüchel announced on parade that
the army of his Majesty of Prussia possessed several commanders who
were the equals of Bonaparte? Why await Russia? The delay would put
Napoleon on his guard. At present he was unsuspicious of immediate
attack. Prussian diplomats had lulled him with assurances that their
preparations were a mere pretence. There were a few scattered French
forces in Bavaria; Prussia could hurl her two hundred thousand veterans
upon Saxony, absorb the Saxon forces, and brush the French out of
Germany before Napoleon could help himself. So thought the Prussian war
party, at the head of which was the Queen and Prince Louis, brother of
the King. On horseback, clad in uniform, Queen Louisa appeared at the
head of the army, fanning the war fever into flames. Prince Louis took
high command for active service, and the old Duke of Brunswick (he of
the famous manifesto of 1792 and of Valmy) tottered forth under the
weight of his fourscore years to suggest bold plans which he lacked the
vigor to prosecute. While Prussian cohorts were mustering and marching
upon Saxony, the Prussian ambassador in Paris was still playing a
confidence game on Napoleon. At last Prussia launched an ultimatum
giving the Emperor of the French until October 8 to save himself by
submission. The Prussian army, one hundred and thirty thousand strong,
concentrated near Jena; the French seemed at their mercy, the chief
dispute among the Prussian commanders being whether they should wait
till after the date fixed by the ultimatum to pass the Thuringian
Forest and attack the enemy. When the ultimatum reached Paris, Napoleon
was gone, was on the Rhine, was ready to launch two hundred thousand
men upon the now amazed and bewildered Prussians. The great Emperor had
not for a moment been deceived. All the time that he had been listening
with placid face to the lies of the Prussian diplomat, he had been
massing troops where they were needed. When the courier caught up with
him and delivered the ultimatum, he laughed at it. With masterly speed
he threw himself upon the Prussian flank and rear. Prussia had repeated
the mistake of Austria; her losses were even more ruinous. Prince
Louis, attacking Lannes at Saalfeld (October 10), was routed and killed.

When Napoleon reached Jena with his main army of ninety thousand men,
he supposed that the bulk of the Prussians were before him. Cautious
as ever, he sought the advantage of position, and secured it. A Saxon
parson showed him a secret path to the heights commanding the Prussian
position, and during the night this path was made practicable for
artillery. When day dawned (October 14, 1806), the unequal battle
commenced, the French outnumbering the enemy two to one. Hohenlohe, the
Prussian commander, was almost annihilated, the remnants of his army
fleeing in wild disorder.

At the same time Davoust with twenty-seven thousand French fought
the main Prussian force, about double his own, at Auerstädt. Badly
commanded by the Duke of Brunswick and the King of Prussia, the
Germans fought with desperate valor, but were utterly beaten. Broken
and driven, they fled from the field, making for Weimar, and ran
into the masses of fugitives who were flying from the field of Jena.
Murat’s dreaded cavalry were in hot pursuit, and a scene of the wildest
confusion followed. To the beaten army all hope was lost. There was no
fixed line of retreat, no rallying-point, no master-mind in control.
In hopeless fragments the fugitive host fell apart, and the relentless
pursuit was never slackened until the last one of these bands had been
captured. With incredible ease and rapidity the Prussian monarchy had
been brought to the dust.


There is no doubt that Napoleon had more personal feeling against
Prussia than against any foe he had heretofore met, England excepted.
In fact, the manner in which Prussia had acted justified much of this
enmity. She had tried to blow hot and cold, run with the hare and hold
with the hounds in so shameless a manner that even Charles Fox, the
sweetest tempered of men, had denounced her to the English Parliament
in the bitterest of terms. She had toyed with England, sworn and broke
faith with Russia, dallied with and deluded Austria, trifled with and
played false to Napoleon, and finally, after taking the Hanover bribe
from him, had sent the Duke of Brunswick to St. Petersburg to assure
Alexander that Frederick William III. was still his friend, and that
the apparent alliance with Napoleon meant no more than that Prussia was
glad to get Hanover.

It is no wonder that Napoleon had declared that Prussia was for sale
to the highest bidder, and that she would be his because he would pay
most. He had paid the price,--Hanover. When he saw that Prussia meant
to keep the price, and not the contract, his feeling was that of the
average man who finds that where he thought he had made a good trade,
he has been swindled.

Therefore, when the Queen of Prussia, Prince Louis, the Duke of
Brunswick, and the war party generally, showed their determination to
break faith with him; when the young officers insulted his embassy;
when the Prussian army launched themselves against a member of his
Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon was genuinely incensed. They had
shown him no consideration, and he was inclined to show them none.

He roughly denounced the conduct of the Duke of Weimar, when speaking
to the Duchess in her own palace; but when she courageously defended
her absent husband, Napoleon’s better nature prevailed, he praised her
spirit, and became her friend.

The Duke of Brunswick, mortally wounded at Auerstädt, sent a messenger
to Napoleon praying that his rights as Duke of Brunswick might be
respected. Napoleon answered that he would not spare the _duke_,
but would respect the general; that Brunswick would be treated as
a conquered province, but that the Duke himself should have that
consideration shown him which, as an old man and a brave soldier, he
deserved. At the same time, and as additional reason for not sparing
the Duke as a feudal lord, Napoleon reminded him of the time when he
had advanced into France with fire and sword, and had proclaimed the
purpose of laying Paris in ashes. The son of the dying Duke took this
natural reply much to heart, and swore eternal vengeance against the
man who sent it.

Napoleon understood very well that the war had been brought on by
the feudal powers in Germany,--those petty lords who had dukedoms
and principalities scattered throughout the land, miniature kingdoms
in which these lords lived a luxurious life at the expense of the
peasantry. These feudal chiefs were desperately opposed to French
principles, and dreaded the Confederation of the Rhine. Every elector,
prince, duke, or what not, expected, with trembling, the day when he
might be “mediatized,” and his little monopoly of a kingdom thrown into
the modernized confederation. Hence their eagerness for war, and hence
Napoleon’s bitterness toward them. It went abroad that he said that
he would make the nobles of Prussia beg their bread. He may have said
it, for by this time he was no longer a mute, all-concealing sphinx.
He had become one of the most talkative of men; therefore, one of the
most imprudent. Unfortunately, he did nothing to separate the cause of
the German people from that of the German nobles. His heavy hand fell
upon all alike; and it was his own fault that the national spirit of
Germany rose against him finally, and helped to overthrow him. Not only
did he speak harshly, imprudently of the Prussian nobles, he committed
the greater blunder of reviling the Queen. True, she had well-nigh
said, as a French empress said later, “This shall be _my_ war!” She had
inspired the war party by word and by example. In every way known to
a beautiful young sovereign, she had made the war craze the fashion.
She had done for Prussia what Eugénie afterward did for France,--led
thousands of brave men to sudden death, led her country into a colossal
smash-up. Eugénie’s husband, swayed by an unwomanly wife, lost his
liberty and his throne. By a mere scratch did Louisa’s husband, as
blindly led, escape the same fate. A brazen but patriotic lie, told
by old Blücher to the French general, Klein,--“an armistice has been
signed,”--saved Frederick William III. from playing Bajazet to the
French Tamerlane. A political woman was ever Napoleon’s “pet aversion.”
In his creed the place held by women was that of mothers of numerous
children, breeders of stout soldiers, wearers of dainty toilets,
companions of a lustful or an idle hour, nymphs of the garden walks,
sirens of the boudoir, nurses of the sick, comforters of grief, censer
bearers in the triumphal progress of great men. A woman who would talk
war, put on a uniform, mount a horse, and parade at the head of an
army, aroused his anger and excited his disgust. This feeling was the
secret of his dislike to the Queen of Prussia, and of his ungentlemanly
references to her in his bulletins. But while those references were
such as no gentleman should have made, they were infinitely more
delicate than those in which the royalist gentlemen of Europe were
constantly alluding to Napoleon’s mother, his sisters, his wife, his
step-daughter, and himself. It is only fair, in trying to reach just
conclusions, to remember the circumstances and the provocations under
which a certain thing is said or done. If we constantly keep in view
this standard in weighing the acts and words of Napoleon, it will
make all the difference in the world in our verdict. Napoleon was no
passionless god or devil. His blood was warm like ours; his skin was
thin like ours; a blow gave him pain as it pains us; slanders hurt him
as they hurt us; infamous lies told about his wife, sisters, and mother
wrung from him the same passionate outcries they would wring from us.
And this fact also must be kept in mind: before Napoleon stooped to
make any personal war upon his sworn enemies, he had appealed to them,
time and again, to cease their personal abuse of him and his family.

On October 27, 1806, Napoleon made his triumphal entry into Berlin,
giving to the corps of Davoust the place of honor in the march. It
was a brilliant spectacle, and the people of Berlin who quietly
looked upon the scene were astonished to see the contrast between the
Emperor’s plain hat and coat, and the dazzling uniforms of his staff.

Says Constant: “We came to the square, in the middle of which a bust
of Frederick the Great had been erected. On arriving in front of the
bust, the Emperor galloped half around it, followed by his staff, and,
lowering the point of his sword, he removed his hat and saluted the
image of Frederick. His staff imitated his example, and all the general
officers ranged themselves in semicircle around the monument, with the
Emperor. His Majesty gave orders that each regiment as it marched past
should present arms.”

The Prince Hatzfeldt brought the keys of the city to the conqueror,
and Napoleon at once organized a new municipal government, putting
Hatzfeldt at the head of it. The Prince, instead of being faithful to
the confidence Napoleon placed in him, used his position to gather
information about French forces and movements. This information he
forwarded to the fugitive king, Frederick William. Hatzfeldt may
not have realized that his conduct was that of a spy; may not have
understood that holding an office by Napoleon’s appointment he must be
loyal to Napoleon. Serving two masters under such circumstances was
a risky business, and Hatzfeldt found it so. His letter to the King
was intercepted, and brought to Napoleon. The Prince was about to be
court-martialled and shot. Already the necessary orders had been given,
when the Princess Hatzfeldt, wife of the accused, gained access to
the palace, and threw herself at Napoleon’s feet. A woman in tears--a
genuine woman and genuine tears--Napoleon could never resist; and
Hatzfeldt was saved, as the Polignacs had been, by the pleadings of a
devoted woman.

After Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington, confident now that he was the
greatest man that ever walked upon the earth, bought Canova’s statue
of Napoleon, carried it to London, stood it up in his hall, and made
of it a hat-rack, umbrella-stand, and cloak-holder. It would seem that
the men who say that Napoleon had no generous, chivalrous instincts
have failed to see in Wellington’s conduct any evidence of indelicacy
of feeling. These critics, however, are confident that, in seizing as
trophies the sword and sash of Frederick the Great, as Napoleon did at
this time, he committed a most outrageous act. It may fairly be argued
that the rule as to trophies is not so clear as it might be. The law
seems to be obscure, and the decisions conflicting. So far as can be
gathered from a reading of a number of authorities, the rule seems
to be that after a conqueror has overthrown his enemy, he can take
whatever his taste, fancy, and greed suggest.

Of course we are here speaking of Christians--civilized, complacent,
watch-me-and-do-as-I-do Christians. It will be found that they have
taken any sort of plunder which can be carted away. All over England
is the loot of India; all over Spain that of South America and Mexico;
and in sundry portions of these United States may be found articles of
more or less value which used to belong to China or the Philippines.
They--the Christians--have taken the ornaments from the bodies of the
wounded and the dead; have wrenched from arms, and fingers, and necks,
and ears, the jewels of man, woman, and child; have robbed the temple
and the shrine; have not spared the idol, nor the diamonds that blazed
in its eyes; have taken sceptre, and sword, and golden throne; have
stripped the palace, and robbed the grave. A dead man of to-day and a
dead man of thousands of years ago, are as one to the remorseless greed
of the Christians. In the name of science the mummy is despoiled; in
the cause of “advancing civilization” the warm corpse of the Chinaman
or the Filipino is rifled. When we find among the crown jewels of
Great Britain the “trophies” wrenched from the living and the dead in
Hindustan; when we see the proud people of the high places wearing the
spoil of Egyptian sepulchres, it is difficult to know where the line is
which separates legitimate from illegitimate loot. Consequently, we are
not certain whether Napoleon was right or wrong in robbing the tomb of
Frederick the Great of the sash and sword.

While at Berlin, Napoleon issued his famous Berlin Decree. The English,
repeating the blow they had aimed at France during the Revolution, had
(1806), by an “Order in Council,” declared the entire coast of France
in a state of blockade. In other words, Great Britain arrogated to
herself the right to bottle up Napoleon’s Empire, the purpose being to
starve him out.

By way of retaliation, he, in the Berlin Decree, declared Great Britain
to be in a state of blockade. It is curious to notice in the books how
much abuse Napoleon gets for his blockade, and how little England gets
for hers. Usually in trying to get at the merits of a fight for the
purpose of fixing the blame, the question is, “Who struck the first
blow?” This simple rule, based on plain common sense, seems to be lost
sight of here entirely.

When England struck at Napoleon with a sweeping blockade which
affected eight hundred miles of his coast, had he no right to strike
back? The Berlin Decree was no more than blow for blow.

There can be no doubt that in this commercial war Napoleon got the
worst of it. England suffered, but it was for the want of markets.
Continental Europe suffered, but it was for the want of goods.

Napoleon’s Continental system, about which so much has been said, was,
after all, nothing more than a prohibitory tariff. In course of time
it would have produced the same effect as a prohibitory tariff. The
Continent would have begun to manufacture those goods for whose supply
it had heretofore depended upon England. In other words, the blockade,
shutting off the supply of certain cloths, leather goods, hardware,
etc., would have forced their production on the Continent. A moderate
tariff stimulates home production in the ratio that it keeps out
foreign competition. A prohibitive tariff, shutting off foreign wares
entirely, _compels_ the home production of the prohibited articles.
Napoleon’s Continental system, prohibiting all English goods, would
inevitably have built up manufactories of these goods on the Continent.
During the years when these enterprises would have been getting under
way, the people of the Continent would have suffered immense loss and
inconvenience; but in the long run the Continent would have become
the producer of its own goods, and Great Britain would have been
commercially ruined. This Napoleon saw; this the English Cabinet saw:
hence the increasing bitterness with which this death struggle between
the two went on.

The great advantage of England was that she had the goods ready for
market, and the Continent wanted them. The enormous disadvantage of
Napoleon was that he neither had the goods nor the men ready to take
hold and manufacture them. The all-important _now_ was on the side of
England. The ink was hardly dry on the Berlin Decree before Napoleon
himself had to violate it. He needed enormous supplies for his army in
the winter campaign he was about to begin. Continental manufactories
did not produce what he wanted, England did, and Napoleon’s troops were
supplied with English goods. What the master did, his minions could
imitate. All along the coast French officials violated the law, sold
licenses, winked at smuggling at so much per wink, and feathered their
nests in the most approved and gorgeous style. The Continental system
did great damage to England, since it drove her trade into tortuous,
limited channels. It did great damage to the Continent, since it worked
inconvenience to so many who needed English goods, and so many who
had Continental produce to sell to England. But it never had a fair
test, did not have time to do its work, and therefore has been hastily
called Napoleon’s crowning mistake. Failing to get a fair trial for his
system, it collapsed, and must therefore be called a blunder; but it
must be remembered that its author believed he could get a fair trial
for it; that he worked with tremendous tenacity of purpose for many
years to bring Continental Europe to accept and enforce it. Could he
have done so, the candid reader must admit that he would have smitten
England’s manufactures, her commercial life, as with a thunderbolt. It
should also be remembered that to Napoleon’s policy, so much resisted
then, France owes many of those manufactures which constitute her
wealth at the present day.


After allowing his army a brief rest, Napoleon set out against the
Russians. His troops entered Poland, and on November 28, 1806, Murat
took possession of Warsaw. The Poles received the French as deliverers.
They believed that the dismemberment of their country by Austria,
Prussia, and Russia was to be at last avenged, and Poland once more to
take its place among the nations. By thousands the bravest flocked to
the French standards, as enthusiastic for Napoleon as were the French

It may be that in his treatment of Poland the Emperor made one of his
huge mistakes. It may be that he here lost his one great opportunity
of permanently curbing the three Continental powers, whose combined
strength finally wore him out. Had Poland’s resurrection as a nation
been promptly proclaimed, had her crown been given to some born
soldier, like Murat, Lannes, Soult, or Poniatowski, he would have drawn
to his physical support every man of Polish blood, and to his moral
support the active approval of every liberal in the world.

Across the path of Russia he would have thrown the living rampart of
a gallant nation, fired by love of country and a passion for revenge.
With Turkey on one frontier, and united Poland on another, and the
mighty power of Napoleon ready to aid both, Russia’s position would,
apparently, have been desperate. In like manner, a united Poland, on
the flanks of Austria and Prussia, would, apparently, have been the
very best guarantee that those two nations would not invade France.

In brief, had Napoleon decreed the liberty of Poland, he would have
secured an ally whose strength and position were of vast importance
to him, and whose need of his support would have kept her loyal. On
the other hand, he would have incurred the lasting hatred of the three
robber powers, and they would have had a common cause of union against
him. This is what he realized, and this is what held him back; but in
the end his temporizing, inconsistent, I-will-and-I-won’t policy did
exactly that--brought upon him the lasting hatred of the three robber
powers, and lost him the united support of Poland. For in order that
his ranks might be recruited with Polish volunteers, he constantly
dangled before the eyes of the unfortunate nation the prospect of
independence. “Show yourselves worthy and then--.” In other words, rush
to my eagles, fight my battles, die in my service, lavish your blood
and your treasures upon me, and I will then consider whether Poland
shall once more become a nation! It is a sorry picture--this of the
greatest man of history sporting with Polish hopes, rights, lives,

Gallant men of this heroic nation gave him their lives--for Poland.
At least one beautiful Polish woman gave him her honor--for Poland.
He won part of the country because of his vague promises. He failed
to win united Poland because his promises _were_ vague. But the mere
fact that Poland looked to Napoleon as its liberator, the fact that
Poles trooped by thousands to fight for him, the fact that he erected
Prussian Poland into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, bore just the bitter
fruit which Napoleon was so anxious the tree should not bear--the union
of the three powers which had despoiled Poland, and whose suspicion and
hatred had been aroused past all remedy by his dalliance with the Poles.

But these final results were all in the future as yet. For the time,
Napoleon’s plan worked well enough. He got all the help he needed from
Poland without burning any bridges between him and the three powers.
His attitude seemed to say to Russia, Austria, and Prussia, “See what I
can do with these Poles if you provoke me too far!” Polish independence
was artfully utilized in two ways; to the Poles it was an aspiration
rousing them to rush to the French eagles; to the three powers it was a
threat, warning them to come to terms with Napoleon.

In the game of national chess, Poland thus became a mere pawn on the
board. From any moral point of view such a policy is infamous. And the
indignation of the historian is deepened when he is forced to add that
Napoleon’s conduct was but an imitation of the statecraft of former
times, just as similar infamies of the present day are imitations
of time-honored precedents of kings and cabinets. Cavour one day
exclaimed, “What rascals we should be if we did for ourselves what
we are doing for our country!” He was referring to some especially
dirty work (dirt and blood being copiously mixed), which he had
been doing in copartnership with Napoleon III. in bringing about
Italian independence. The confession is worth remembering. Christian
civilization has certainly reached a curious pass when its leading
statesmen admit that in statecraft they are continually doing things
which would disgrace them as private citizens.

In the _Memoirs_ of the Princess Potocka there is a vivid picture of
the Polish situation in the winter of 1807, the writer being in Warsaw
at the time.

“The 21st of November, in the morning, the arrival of a French
regiment was announced. How shall I describe the enthusiasm with
which it was received? To understand such emotions properly one must
have lost everything and believe in the possibility of hoping for
everything--like ourselves. This handful of warriors, when they set
feet on our soil, seemed to us a guarantee of the independence we were
expecting at the hands of the great man whom nothing could resist.

“The popular intoxication was at its height: the whole town was lit
up as if by magic. That day, forsooth, the town authorities had no
need to allot quarters to the new arrivals. People fought for them,
carried them off, vied with each other in treating them best. Those
of the citizens who knew no French, not being able to make themselves
understood, borrowed the dumb language which belongs to all countries,
and by signs of delight, handshakings, and bursts of glee made their
guests comprehend that they freely offered all their houses contained,
_cellars included_.

“Tables were even laid in the streets and squares. Toasts were drunk
to Napoleon, to his Grand Army, to the Independence of Poland. There
was hugging and kissing, and a little too much drinking.” Next day came
dashing Murat and his brilliant staff, with braided uniforms, gold and
silver lace, nodding plumes of red, white, and blue, and a good deal
of rattle and bang, fuss and bustle, generally. A noisy cavalier was
Murat, ostentatious, boastful, full of the reminiscences of his own
meteoric career.

Lodged at the Hotel Raczynski, where there was a vile chimney which
smoked, the Grand Duke of Berg left it, and quartered himself “in our
house,”--the palace Potocki,--where he bored the inmates with his loud
manners, his theatrical airs, and his too frequent reference to his
most recent feat of arms,--the storming and taking of Lubeck at the
head of his cavalry. Murat gave the Warsaw people to understand that
the Emperor would soon arrive, and would enter the city with a certain
degree of pomp. The authorities bestirred themselves; reared triumphal
arches, composed inscriptions, ordered fireworks, plaited wreaths, and
gave the usual warnings to poets and orators. The whole town was thrown
into the private agony which is the prelude to a public and joyful

And after all the toil and suffering of preparing for the Emperor’s
triumphal entrance, what should he do but come riding into Warsaw on
a shabby little post-horse, between midnight and day, with no one in
attendance save Roustan, the Mameluke! The imperial carriage had mired
on the road, and Napoleon had left it sticking in the mud. When he
reached Warsaw, all were asleep, and “the Emperor went to the sentry
box himself to wake up the sentinel.”

That same evening the authorities of the city were received by the
Liberator, who talked to them graciously and volubly upon all topics
excepting that of liberation. Upon this all-important subject he
uttered nothing more than what are called “glittering generalities.”
Poland, it appeared, had not yet done enough. Poland must rouse
herself. “There must be devotion, sacrifices, blood.” Otherwise Poland
would never come to anything. Running on in his nervous, rapid way,
Napoleon alluded to the great exertions he would have to make to bring
the campaign to a prosperous end. But he was sure that France would do
all he demanded of her. Putting his hands in his pockets, he exclaimed:
“I have the French _there_. By appealing to their imagination I can do
what I like with them!”

The Polish magnates listened to this statement with considerable
surprise, which pictured itself upon their faces. Observing this,
Napoleon added, “Yes, yes, it is just as I tell you,” and took snuff.

Keenly disappointed as many of the Polish nobles were at Napoleon’s
doubtful attitude, the country generally was enthusiastic in its faith
that he would, at the proper time, do the proper thing. Every want of
the French was supplied. Where voluntary offerings fell short, forced
contributions made good the difference.

Warsaw had never been more brilliant. The heart of the doomed nation
beat again. There were smiles, open hands, glad festivities. There were
brilliant balls at Murat’s; brilliant balls at Talleyrand’s; brilliant
balls at the palace of Prince Borghese; brilliant receptions held by
the Emperor. It must have been a spectacle worth seeing,--a ballroom in
reawakened Warsaw, where the loveliest ladies of Poland and the bravest
warriors of France danced the happy hours away. It must have been a
sight worth seeing,--Talleyrand entering a grand reception hall filled
with the notables of Poland and gravely announcing, “The Emperor!”

Well worth seeing was the stout, stunted figure, crowned by the
pale, set, marble-like face and large head, which came into view at
Talleyrand’s announcement, and which stood within the doorway a moment
to see and to be seen.

Did lovely Polish women crowd about the mighty Emperor, listening for
the least word in favor of Poland’s independence? Did fair patriots
appeal by look and word to him, yearning for the magic names, Liberty,
Freedom? Vain the ardent, beseeching look; vain the tender, seductive
voice. It would not do at all. He had suspected that--had steeled
himself against it; and eager patriotism, voiced by women never so
bewitching, could not break through that watchful guard. But as he
leaves the room, he pauses again, and says to Talleyrand in a tone loud
enough to be heard by all, “What pretty women!” Then the imperial hand
salutes the company, and the Liberator is gone!

It must have been a sight worth seeing,--that ball at Talleyrand’s
where Napoleon danced, and cultivated Madame Walewski, and where the
imposing Talleyrand, with folded napkin under his arm, and gilt tray in
his hand, humbly served his imperial master with a glass of lemonade.

Army affairs called Napoleon to the front; but after the bloody
struggle at Pultusk, the weather stopped military movements. Continual
rains had ruined the roads. Cannon stuck in the mire, soldiers perished
in the bogs. Even Polanders had never seen anything equal to it.

Napoleon returned to Warsaw quite serene, remarking, “Well, your mud
has saved the Russians; let us wait for the frost.”

Busy with French affairs, Polish and Russian affairs, busy also and
above all at this time with army affairs, the Emperor relaxed himself
socially to a greater extent than usual, and made himself exceedingly

He entered into all the amusements, gossiped familiarly with all comers
to his receptions, played whist, danced square dances, attended the
concerts of his Italian orchestra, and led the applause with zest and
good taste.

“How do you think I dance?” he smilingly inquired of the young Princess
Potocka. “I suspect you have been laughing at me.”

“In truth, sire,” answered the adroit lady, “for a great man your
dancing is perfect.”

Sitting down to whist, Napoleon turned to Princess Potocka at the
moment the cards were dealt and asked:--

“What shall the stake be?”

“Oh, sire, some town, some province, some kingdom.”

He laughed, looking at her slyly.

“And supposing you should lose?”

“Your Majesty is in funds and will perhaps deign to pay for me.”

The answer pleased. He loved bold talk, prompt replies, definite
answers. Halting, uncertain, indefinite people he could never endure.

Answer quick and answer positively, and your reply, though untrue,
might please him better than if you hesitatingly told him the truth.

The same lively writer gives another lifelike picture of Napoleon in
one of his fits of ill temper.

One day at Warsaw he received information that General Victor, bearing
important despatches, had been captured by the Prussians. This piece of
news enraged the Emperor. It chanced that upon the same day a Dutch
delegation arrived to congratulate him upon the victory of Jena. They
were admitted to audience just before the Emperor’s regular reception.

“It was near ten o’clock, and we (those in the reception room) had been
awaiting a long time ... when, the door being noisily thrown open, we
saw the fat Dutchmen, in their scarlet robes, roll rather than walk in.
The Emperor was prodding them, exclaiming in rather loud tones, ‘Go on!
go on!’ The poor envoys lost their heads, and tumbled all over each

Princess Potocka says that she felt like laughing; but when she looked
at the Emperor’s face, she did not dare.

“The music soothed him quickly; toward the end of the concert his
gracious smile returned, and he addressed pleasant words to the ladies
he liked best, before sitting down to his whist table.

“Excepting foreign ministers, and some of the high functionaries at
play, all stood while Napoleon sat. This did not displease Prince
Murat, who lost no opportunity to pose and to strike attitudes which
he judged appropriate to show off the beauty of his figure. But little
Prince Borghese was enraged and still had not the courage to sit down.”

But the Emperor’s amusements did not confine themselves to such things
as whist and quadrilles alone. A certain Madame Walewski, “exquisitely
pretty,” “her laugh fresh, her eyes soft, her face seductive,” caught
the attention of the imperial visitor. “Married at sixteen to an
octogenarian who never appeared in public, Madame Walewski’s position
in society was that of a young widow.” She was “lovely and dull,”
tempting and not unyielding. Talleyrand’s diplomacy is said to have
done some very humble work as go-between, and the Madame was soon
known to be the Emperor’s favorite.

Josephine, hearing vague rumors of high-doings at the Polish capital,
generously offered to brave the rigors of travel and season to join her
absent spouse. In the gentlest manner in the world he insisted that she
stay where she was.

The gay time at Warsaw ended abruptly. Ney having made a dash at
the Russians, without orders, Bennigsen roused himself to general
action, and Napoleon went forth to one of the bloodiest battles in
history--Eylau, February 8, 1807. Fought in a blinding snowstorm, the
losses on both sides were frightful. So doubtfully hung the result that
the Emperor himself escaped capture because he was concealed from view
in the old churchyard. Augereau’s corps, caught in the snow-drift,
blinded by wind-driven sleet, and exposed point blank to deadly Russian
fire, was annihilated. Only a desperate cavalry charge, led in person
by Murat, checked the Russian advance. When darkness fell, the French
were about to retreat when Davoust, laying ear to ground, heard the
retiring rumble of Russian guns. So the French held their position and
claimed the victory. The Russians, in retreat, also claimed it.

On each side rose hymns and prayers of thanks and praise to God:
Russians grateful that they had won; French rejoicing that they had
prevailed. Bennigsen continued to retire; Napoleon went back into
winter-quarters; and the only distinct and undisputed result of the
battle was that some twenty-five thousand men lay dead under the snow.

Napoleon did not return to Warsaw, but made his headquarters at
Osterode, where he shared all the discomforts of his soldiers while
doing more work than any hundred men in the army. In spite of the
dreadful weather and boggy roads, he was constantly on horseback, going
at full speed from one outpost to another. Frequently he rode ninety
miles during the day. With his own eyes he inspected the military
situation down to the smallest details, untiring in his efforts to have
his men well placed, well clothed, well fed. The sick and the wounded
were indeed “his children.” He spared no efforts in their behalf, and
this was one of the secrets of the cheerfulness with which his soldiers
made such sacrifices for him. Sometimes in the march when the weary
legions were weltering through the mud, drenched with rain or pelted
by sleet, or blinded by snow, hungry and homesick, murmurs would be
heard in the ranks, complaints would even be thrown at the Emperor
as he passed. But when the enemy was in sight, murmurs ceased. “Live
the Emperor!” was all the cry. They shouted it wherever they caught a
glimpse of him on the field; they shouted it as they rushed to battle;
and after the fight was over those who came forth unharmed, and those
who were mangled, and those who were about to die--all shouted, “Live
the Emperor!” Nothing like the devotion of the French soldier to
Napoleon had ever been known before, and not till another Napoleon
comes will be seen again.

The care of his army by no means filled all of the Emperor’s time: he
ruled France from Poland, just as though he were at St. Cloud. Couriers
brought and carried ministerial portfolios, brought and carried
official reports and orders. Every detail of government passed under
the eye of the master, all initiative rested with him.

Madame Walewski was brought secretly to headquarters, an indulgence
Napoleon had never allowed himself before. While at Finckenstein, he
received envoys from Persia and Turkey, and gravely discussed plans for
an invasion of India.

In June the Russians again took the offensive. Their
commander-in-chief, Bennigsen, one of the murderers of the Czar Paul,
had shown great courage and ability. At Pultusk he had beaten Lannes
and Davoust; at Eylau he had fought the Emperor to a standstill, and
had carried away from that field twelve of the French eagles.

Bennigsen renewed the war by an attack on Ney, whom he hoped to cut
off. A hasty retreat of the French saved them. Then Napoleon came up,
and the Russians retired. At Heilsberg they stood and fought, both
sides losing heavily. At length the superiority of the French leader
made itself felt. He lured Bennigsen into a false position, closed
on him, and well-nigh crushed him, at the battle of Friedland, June
14, 1807. This victory ended the campaign. The Russians asked for an
armistice, which was promptly granted. The two emperors, Napoleon and
Alexander, met on a raft, moored in the Niemen, near Tilsit, June 25,
1807, embraced each other cordially, and, amid the rapturous shouts of
the two armies drawn up on opposite sides of the river, commenced those
friendly, informal conferences which led to peace.

The town of Tilsit, having been made neutral ground, became the
headquarters of the two emperors, who established their courts there,
and lived together like devoted personal friends. The poor fugitive,
Frederick William of Prussia, was invited to come, and he came. Later
came also his queen.

On the 7th of July, 1807, the Treaty of Tilsit was signed.

Prussia lost her Polish provinces, which were erected into the grand
duchy of Warsaw, and given to the Elector of Saxony. A slice of this
Polish Prussia, however, was bestowed on Alexander. Dantzic, which
the French had taken, was declared a free city, to be garrisoned with
French troops till maritime peace should be ratified. The Prussian
dominions in lower Saxony and on the Rhine, with Hanover, Hesse-Cassel,
and other small states were formed into the kingdom of Westphalia for
the profligate Jerome Bonaparte.

Ancient Prussia, as well as Silesia, was restored to Frederick William.

Much ado has been made over Napoleon’s alleged harshness to Queen
Louisa at Tilsit; but a careful reading of the authorities proves that
his only harshness consisted in declining to give to her that for which
she asked. She went there to influence Napoleon by a beautiful woman’s
persuasions; and she failed. In the nature of things, it could not
have been otherwise. Having provoked the war, and having lost in the
trial of arms, Prussia had to pay the penalty. The tears or cajoleries
of Queen Louisa could not of course obliterate the hard political
necessities of the case. Suppose the Empress Eugénie, in 1871, had gone
in tears to Bismarck or to the Emperor William, could she have saved
for France the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine? Could she have reduced
the war penalty from $1,000,000,000 to $1,000,000? Just such a task
Queen Louisa undertook in 1807.

Beyond his refusal to be influenced, Napoleon was not guilty of any
discourtesy to the Queen. On the contrary, he honored her with the most
studious politeness and deference.

By the Treaty of Tilsit, Russia bound herself to mediate between France
and Great Britain. On his part, Napoleon agreed to mediate between
Russia and Turkey.

In secret articles, Russia bound herself to adopt Napoleon’s
Continental system in the event that Great Britain refused to make

Furthermore, in that case, there was to be a northern confederation
against England for the purpose of shutting her out of the Continent
and of breaking her tyranny over the seas.

Russia, in return for this promise, was to be allowed to conquer
Finland, a province of vast importance to her.

It is also stated by some authorities that Alexander agreed that
Napoleon should do as he liked with Spain and Portugal; while Napoleon
consented that Alexander should be allowed to strip Turkey of Moldavia
and Wallachia, provided Turkey refused his mediation.


At this period (1807) Napoleon was a strikingly handsome man. The “wan
and livid complexion, bowed shoulders, and weak, sickly appearance”
of the Vendémiaire period were things of long ago. The skin disease
of the Italian campaign had been cured. Not yet fat and paunchy as he
became toward the end, his form had rounded to a comely fulness, which
did not impair his activity. The face was classic in profile, and in
complexion a clear, healthy white. His chin was prominent, the jaw
powerful, the head massive, being twenty-two inches round, according
to Constant. The chestnut-colored hair was now thin, inclining to
baldness on the crown. Worn long in his youth, he cut it short in the
Egyptian campaign, and ever afterward continued to wear it so. His
ears, hands, feet, were small and finely shaped. The nose was long,
straight, well proportioned. His teeth were white and sound; the lips
beautifully moulded; the expression about the mouth, when he smiled,
being peculiarly sweet and winning. His eyes were gray-blue, and
formed the striking feature of his face. All accounts agree that his
glance was uncomfortably steady and penetrating; or, at other times,
intolerably fierce and intimidating; or, again, irresistibly soft,
tender, magnetic. One is struck with the fact that so many who knew
him, and loved him or hated him, feared him or defied him, should
emphasize the impression made upon them by his eyes. Before that steady
gaze, which seized and held attention, Lavalette said that he felt
himself turning pale; Decrés lost all desire to be familiar; Vandamme
became a coward; Augereau and Masséna admitted they were afraid;
Madame de Staël grew embarrassed; and Barras faltered into silence at
his own table. Not many years ago there lived in Michigan a battered
veteran of the Italian wars, one who had been with Napoleon the day
he reconnoitred Fort Bard, which had checked the army; and this old
soldier’s recollection of Napoleon had dwindled down to the wonderful
eyes which had fixed him as though they would pierce the very innermost
fibre. During the year 1900 there died in London an aged man, who as a
boy had seen Napoleon at St. Helena; and his recollection of the fallen
Emperor hung upon the same feature,--the eyes.

Generally, the expression of Napoleon’s face was that of a
student,--mild, pensive, meditative, intellectual. In moments of
good humor, his smile, glance, voice, were caressing, genial, even
fascinating. In anger, his look became terrible; a rotary movement
took place between the eyes, and the nostrils distended. All agree
that in conversation there was such a play of feature, such quick
changes of expression, such mirroring of the mind upon the face, that
no description or portrait could convey an idea of it. Only those who
had talked with him could realize it. But it is also agreed that when
he wished to banish all expression, he could do that also, and his face
then became a mask.

His voice was sonorous and strong. In anger it became harsh and cruelly
cutting. In his best mood it was as soft and wooing as a woman’s.
His general appearance, then, at this time, was that of a well-built
man, below the medium height, but powerfully moulded, the bust, neck,
and head being massive, and the legs somewhat short for the trunk.
Unfriendly critics called him stunted, his stature being about five
feet, three inches.

He was inclined to be round-shouldered, and, when walking meditatively,
he slightly stooped. In talking he gesticulated freely, sometimes
violently; when in repose the hands were folded behind him, or across
the breast, or one would rest within the waistcoat and the other behind

It is doubtful whether any true portrait of Napoleon exists. He has
been idealized and caricatured until the real Napoleon may have been
lost. If the death mask claimed to have been taken by Antommarchi
is genuine, one must surrender the belief that Napoleon’s head was
massive, his brow imperial, his profile perfect; for this mask exhibits
a forehead which recedes, and which narrows above the temples. It shows
the high cheek-bones of the American Indian, and the skull itself is
commonplace. But this is not the Napoleon pictured in the portraits
and _Memoirs_ of his contemporaries. According to friend and foe, his
head was massive, in fact too large to be in symmetry with his body.
Madame Junot speaks of that “brow fit to bear the crowns of the world.”
Bourrienne, Méneval, and numbers of others speak of the magnificent
forehead and classic face. And yet there are two or three fugitive
portraits of Napoleon which are so different from the orthodox copies,
and so much like the Antommarchi’s death-mask, that one knows not what
to believe.

Napoleon was very temperate in eating and drinking. He preferred the
simplest dishes, drank but little wine, and that weakened with water.
Coffee he drank, but not to excess. He ate fast, and used his fingers
oftener than his fork. He was very sensitive to cold, and could not
bear the least light in his room at night. He slept a good deal, from
six to eight hours per day; and usually took a nap during the afternoon
or evening. His standing order to his private secretary was a model of
wisdom, “Never wake me to hear good news, that will wait; but in case
of bad news wake me at once, for there is no time to be lost.” Another
rule of his was to sleep over a matter of doubt. “Night is a good

While his nerves were very irritable, his pulse was slow and regular.
He declared that he had never felt his heart beat. Medicine he detested
and would not take. When ill, he left off food, drank barley water,
and took violent exercise. He could not bear the least tightness in
his clothing. His garments were of the softest, finest material, and
cut loose. His hats were padded, his boots lined with silk, and both
hats and boots were “broken” for him before he wore them. His favorite
trousers were white cassimere, and a habit he had of wiping his pen on
his breeches made a new pair necessary every morning. His taking of
snuff consisted merely in smelling it. He used tobacco in no other form.

Extremely careful in business matters, he was disorderly in some
personal details. In undressing he flung his clothes all about the
room, and sometimes broke his watch in this way. Newspapers and books
which he had been reading were scattered around in confusion. In
shaving, he would never allow both sides of his face to be lathered
at the same time: one cheek was finished before the other was touched.
He had a habit of poking the fire with his foot, and burnt out many a
pair of boots in so doing. Excessively fond of the hot water bath, he
opened letters, read newspapers, and received callers while splashing
around in the tub. On leaving the bath, his valet rubbed him down,
using the flesh brush and coarse cloths, and then dressed him. The most
self-helpful of men in matters of importance, he was one of the least
so in this. He depended upon servants for almost everything connected
with the care of his person. “Rub me hard! Scrub me as though I were
an ass!” he would call to his valet, while he stood almost naked, and
with a red bandanna handkerchief knotted about his head. He loved
cologne-water and drenched himself with quantities of it. One of the
privations he keenly felt at St. Helena was the lack of cologne. Other
perfumes he detested, and Constant relates a curious incident of
Napoleon calling to him one night to take out of his room a certain
young lady who had been brought there, and who was “killing me with her

With his elevation to empire, Napoleon became more stately, reserved,
dignified, and imposing; but perfect ease and repose of manner he never
acquired. The indolent, calm, and studied air of languor and fatigue
which, according to a well-known standard, constitutes good-breeding,
he did not have. Perhaps he did not realize its tremendous value.
Nervous, intense, electrical, pulsing with vital power, tossed by
colossal ideas, ambitions, purposes, it was never possible for
him to become a self-complacent formality, posing with studiously
indolent grace, and uttering with laborious ease the dialect of polite

But the man never lived who knew better how to talk, how to write,
how to say what he meant. He could address mobs, committees, state
councils, senates, armies, peoples, and kings. Who that ever lived
excelled him in speaking to soldiers? Verily the lines are yet hot
in his proclamations, and he who reads them even now will feel the
magnetic thrill. How they must have inspired the soldiers _then_!

His speeches to the councils and the Senate were models in their way;
his state papers have not been excelled; his diplomatic correspondence
measures up the loftiest standards. In truth, his language varied
with the subject and the occasion. He could be as elegantly gracious
as any Bourbon, if the occasion required it. If it became needful
to call a spade a spade, he could do it, and with a vim which left
the ears tingling. In all of his talk, however, there was character,
individuality, and greatness. Wrong he might often be, weak never.
Whatever view he expressed, in youth or age, was stated clearly, and
with strength. Even when sifted through the recollections of others,
his sayings stand out as incomparably finer than those of any talker of
that age. Compare the few little jests and epigrams of Talleyrand, for
instance, with the numberless comments of Napoleon on men and things,
on matters social, political, industrial, financial, military, and
religious. It is like a comparison between a few lamps in a hallway
and the myriad stars of the firmament. On every topic he discussed
he said the best things that can be said on that side; and there is
no subject connected with human affairs in a state that he has not
touched. Upon every subject he had a word which shot to the core of the
matter. His talent for throwing into one dazzling sentence the pith of
a long discussion was unexcelled. Some of the best sayings attributed
to Talleyrand were really the sayings of Napoleon. It often happened
that these terse expressions were coarse, the language of men on the
street. At such sayings the “Lady Clara” tribe of men arched their
eyebrows in delicate protest, and said to one another, “This Bonaparte
is no gentleman; he was not so well brought up as we were,--we, the
Talleyrands, Metternichs, and Whitworths!”

In one humor, Napoleon was brusque, coarse, overbearing, and pitiless;
in another he was caressing, elegantly dignified, imperially generous
and gracious. Between these extremes ran the current of his life:
hence the varied impressions he made upon others. Charles Fox and Lord
Holland knew him personally, and they risked political and social
influence in England by defending him from the abuse which had become
the fashion there. Almost without exception the men who came into
personal relations with him loved him. The rare exceptions are such
people as Bourrienne and Rémusat, whom Napoleon had to rebuke for ways
that were crooked. Even to his valets he was a hero.

As Charles Fox said, “The First Consul at Malmaison, at St. Cloud, and
at the Tuileries are three different men, forming together the _beau
ideal_ of human greatness.”

To these three Napoleons should be added at least one other,--Napoleon
at the head of his army.

In public, Napoleon trained himself to that majestic dignity, grace,
and thoughtfulness which his imposing position required. The Pope did
not act his part better at the coronation, nor Alexander at Tilsit. He
rarely, if ever, overacted or underacted a public part, but in private
there was a difference. In familiar converse he would pace up and down
the room, or twitch in his chair, or throw his feet up on the desk, and
open his penknife and whittle the chair arm, or sprawl on the floor
studying his big maps, or sit down in the lap of his secretary.

With the rough good humor of a soldier, he would call his intimates
“simpleton,” “ninny,” or even “fool”; he would pinch their ears, and
lightly flick them on the cheek with his open hand. Whereupon the
oversensitive biographers have unanimously shuddered, and exclaimed,
“See what a vulgar creature this Napoleon was!”

In his personal habits he was neat to the point of being fastidious.
If ever he wasted any time at all, it was the hours he spent in the
bath. Simple in his dress and in his tastes, no gentleman was ever more
scrupulously clean. Generally he wore the uniform of a colonel of his
guard; and his plain gray overcoat, and plain little hat with its cheap
tricolor cockade, formed a vivid contrast to the gaudy dress of foreign
diplomats, or of his own officers.

He pretended that anger with him never reached his head, that he had
his passions under perfect control. This was all nonsense. His temper
frequently burst all bounds, and for the moment he was as insane as
other men in a passion. Madame Junot states that when he fell into one
of these fits of anger, he was frightful.

Upon at least one occasion of this kind he kicked the dinner table
over, and smashed the crockery; at another he put his foot, in a
violent and tumultuous manner, against the belly of Senator Volney.

It was rumored around the palace, on his return from Spain in 1809,
that he gave Talleyrand a “punch on the nose”; and once when the
jealous and watchful Josephine came upon him as he was enjoying himself
with another woman, he sprang at her in such a fury that she fled the
room in terror.

At Moscow while the Emperor was in his blackest mood, everything going
wrong, and a general crash impending, Roustan, kneeling before him to
put on his boots, carelessly got the left boot on the right foot. The
next instant he was sprawling on his back on the floor. Napoleon had
kicked him over.

It is said that he threatened Berthier once with the tongs, and Admiral
Bruix with his riding-whip. On the road to Moscow he rode furiously
into the midst of some pillaging soldiers, striking them right and left
with his whip, and knocking them down with his horse.

But these occasions were rare. His control of himself was almost
incredible, and he learned to endure the most startling and calamitous
events without a word or a change of expression.

If you would see far, far into the heart of Napoleon, study his
relations with Junot. Not much brain had this Junot, not much
steadiness of character; but he was as brave as a mad bull, and he had
shared his purse with Napoleon in the old days of poverty and gloom.
More than this, he had believed in Napoleon at a time when Napoleon
himself had well-nigh lost heart. So it came to pass that Junot was
the beloved of the chief, and remained so in spite of grievous faults
and sins. Junot gambled, and Napoleon abhorred gaming; Junot drank
to excess, and Napoleon detested drunkards; Junot was a rowdy, and
Napoleon shrank from rowdyism; Napoleon loved order, and Junot was
most disorderly; Napoleon loved a strict relation between income and
outgo, and Junot was a marvel of extravagant prodigality. Napoleon
loved success, and Junot brought failure upon him where it hurt
dreadfully--in Portugal, in Russia. Yet through it all Napoleon never
flagged in his indulgence to Junot. He made the hot-headed grenadier
Governor of Paris, Duke of Abrantes, lapping him in honors and wealth.
Sometimes Junot would be angry at his chief, and Napoleon would coax
him back to good humor, as a father would a child. Sometimes Junot
would run to Napoleon with his griefs; and the busiest man in the world
would drop everything, take his suffering friend by the arm, walk him
up and down some quiet room or corridor, soothing him with soft words,
with caresses. One day when Junot had taken to his bed, because of a
fancied slight at the palace, Napoleon, hearing of it, slipped away
from the Tuileries, went to the bedside of his old comrade, comforted
him, reassured him, and stood by him until he was himself again.

When Madame Junot is in the throes of child-birth, it is to Napoleon
that the distracted husband flies. At the Tuileries he is soothed by
Napoleon himself, who sends off messengers to inquire after the wife;
and when the ordeal is safely over, it is Napoleon who congratulates
the now radiant Junot, finds his hat for him, and sends him off home to
the mother and babe.

At last there did come something like a rupture between these
two--and why? Junot had brought scandal on Napoleon’s sister while
the brother was off with his army in Germany. “To bring shame upon
my sister--_you_, Junot!” and the great Emperor fell into a chair,
overcome with grief.

In his relations with Duroc, Berthier, Lannes, La Salle, Rapp, Méneval,
Eugène Beauharnais, we find the same traits. The indulgence with which
he treated those he liked, the pains he took to keep them in good
humor, his care not to wound their feelings, and his caressing way of
coaxing them out of their occasional sulks, shows a phase of Napoleon’s
own character which is usually overlooked.

He had many boyish ways which never left him. He would hum a song and
whistle a tune to the last. During moments of abstraction he fell to
whittling his desk or chair, sat upon a table and swung his leg back
and forth, or softly whistled or hummed some favorite air. During the
great disaster at Leipsic, when all had been done and all had failed,
Napoleon, in a kind of daze, stood in the street and whistled “Malbrook
has gone to the wars.”

He was fond of playing pranks. He tried to drive a four-in-hand at
Malmaison, struck a gate-post, and got thrown headlong to the ground,
narrowly escaping fatal injuries to himself and Josephine. He would
disguise himself, and go about Paris to hear the people talk, coming
back delighted if he had provoked angry rebuke by some criticism of his
on Napoleon. He would throw off his coat at Malmaison, and romp and
play like a schoolboy. After dinner, if the weather was fine, he would
call out, “Let’s play barriers!” and off would go his coat, and in a
moment he would be racing about the grounds.

One afternoon while amusing himself in this way, two rough-looking
men were seen near the gate, loitering and gazing at the romping
group. The ladies saw fit to become frightened, and to make the usual
hysterical outcry. Gallant young officers sprung forward to drive off
the intruders, as gallant young officers should. But it turned out
that one of the men was a maimed veteran of the wars, come with his
brother, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the beloved form of his
general--Napoleon. Having seen, having heard, the First Consul put his
arm around Josephine, drew her toward the two men, gave them gracious
welcome, introduced them to his wife, and sent them under Eugène’s
escort to the house to drink his health in a glass of wine. So promptly
was the thing done, so naturally, so warmly, so tactfully, that the
one-armed soldier was melted to tears.

In his rude horse-play, Napoleon taught his gazelle to chase the ladies
of the court, and when the animal caught and tore a dress, or caught
and pinched a leg, his delight was precisely that of the mischievous,
slightly malicious boy. In playing barriers he cheated, as he did at
all games, and violated all the rules. When he was unbent, when he was
at Malmaison, he could take a joke as well as any. One very rough piece
of horse-play he took a good deal more placidly than many a private
citizen would have done. Passing through a gallery at Malmaison, he
stopped to examine some engravings which were lying upon a table. Young
Isabey happening to come into the gallery behind Napoleon, and seeing
the back of the stooping figure, took it to be Eugène Beauharnais.
Slipping up softly, Isabey gave a jump, and leaped upon Napoleon’s
shoulders, astraddle of his neck. Napoleon recovered from the shock,
threw Isabey to the ground, asking, “What does this mean?”

“I thought it was Eugène,” cried Isabey.

“Well, suppose it was Eugène--must you needs break his shoulder bones?”
Without further rebuke Napoleon walked out of the gallery. Through the
folly of Isabey, the secret leaked out, and there was just enough of
the ludicrous about it to embarrass both the actors, and Isabey went to
play leap-frog elsewhere.

Napoleon was fond of children, knew how to talk to them, play with
them, and win their confidence. The man never lived who knew better
than he the route to the heart of a soldier, a peasant, or an ambitious
boy. With these he could ever use exactly the right word, look, smile,
and deed. He was familiar with his friends, joked them, put his arms
around them, and walked with them leaning upon them: he never joked
with men like Fouché, Talleyrand, Bernadotte, Moreau, and St. Cyr.
These men he used, but understood and disliked.

Fat women he could not endure, and a pregnant woman showing herself
when she should have been in seclusion, excited his disgust. One of the
pictures he most liked to gaze upon was that of a tall, slender woman,
robed in white, and walking beneath the shade of noble trees.

A fastidious, exacting busybody, he was forever on the lookout for
violations of good taste on the part of the ladies of his court. He
detested the low dresses which exposed the bosom to the vulgar gaze;
and if he saw some one dressed in peculiarly unbecoming style, he was
rude enough to give words to his irritation. “Dear me! are you never
going to change that gown?” This was very, very impolite, but the
costume was one which he abhorred, and the wearer had inflicted it upon
him “more than twenty times.”

Possibly if there were a greater number of outspoken Napoleons, there
would be fewer absurdities in fashionable female attire.

To some of Napoleon’s sharp sayings, the haughty dames and damsels
of the old aristocracy made some crushing replies--according to their
_Memoirs_. It is fairly safe to say that these crushing retorts were
made in the seclusion of the homes of the fair retorters. The man whose
stern look and bitter tongue awed into embarrassed silence such a
veteran in word-play as Madame de Staël, was not likely to be crushed
by such pert and shallow beings as Madame de Chevreuse and her kind.

For facts, events, his memory was prodigious; for names and dates, it
was not good. Sometimes he would ask the same man about court three or
four different times what his name was. In his later years his memory
became very fickle, and he was known to forget having given the most
important orders. He could not remember a charge he ordered Ségur to
make in Spain; nor could he recall that he had ordered the charge of
the heavy cavalry at Waterloo.

Noted at school for his skill in mathematics, and using that science
constantly in his military operations, it is said that he could rarely
add up a column of figures correctly.

He could not spell, nor could he write grammatically; and he took no
pains to learn. A busy man, according to his idea, had no time to waste
on such matters.

He loved music, especially Italian music; was fond of poetry of the
higher sort, and appreciated painting, sculpture, and architecture.
He loved the beauty and quietude of such country places as Malmaison,
never wearied of adding to their attractions, and was happy when free
from business, and taking a solitary stroll along garden walks amid
flowers and under the shade of trees.

In his work, Napoleon was all system. No clerk could keep papers in
better order. No head of a department could turn off business with such
regularity and despatch. He knew all about his army, down to the last
cannon; knew just what his forces numbered, where they were, and what
their condition. He was master of the state finances, of every branch
of the internal administration, of every detail of foreign affairs. He
kept up with everything, systematized everything, took the initiative
in everything. An extra plate of soup could not be served in the
palace without a written order from Duroc, the proper officer. An army
contractor could not render a false account without being exposed and
punished. An overcharge could not be made in the palace furnishings
without his finding it out. “He is a devil,” said many a quaking

One day, says Constant, the pontoon men were marching with about forty
wagons. The Emperor came along, and cried, “Halt!”

Pointing to one of the wagons, Napoleon asked of the officer in

“What is in that?”

The officer answered, “Some bolts, nails, ropes, hatchets, saws--”

“How many of all that?”

The officer gave the number.

“Empty the wagon and let me see!”

The order was obeyed, bolts, nails, ropes, saws, everything taken out
and counted. But the Emperor was not satisfied. He got off his horse,
climbed into the wagon over the spoke to see that it had been emptied.

The troops shouted: “Bravo! That’s right! That is the way to find out!”

He compared his mind to a chest of drawers, where each subject occupied
its separate space. In turn he opened each drawer. No one subject ever
got mixed with another. When all the drawers were shut, he fell asleep.
Of course this was not literally true, but during his best years it
came as near being literally true as is possible to the human brain.

After the day’s work was done, he would enter into the amusements of
his domestic circle, would play and dance with the young people, would
read or listen to music, or would entertain the circle by telling some
romantic story which he composed as he talked. In the evening he loved
to have the room darkened while he threw the ladies into a gentle state
of terror with a ghost-story.

Napoleon’s penetration in some directions was wonderfully keen; in
others remarkably dull. For instance, it was almost impossible to
deceive him in matters of account, the number of men in a mass, or
the plan of battle of a foe. He would converse with an engineer in
reference to a bridge he had been sent to build and which Napoleon
supposed he had built; after a few words he would turn away and say to
the prefect, “That man did not build the bridge--who did it?” The truth
would come out: an obscure genius had planned the work, and Napoleon
would say to this genius, obscure no more, “Come up higher.”

He could scan a list of political prisoners, pounce upon the name of a
surgeon, decide at a flash that this man could not be a fanatic. “Bring
him to trial, order him to be shot, and he will confess.” And it so

But it is marvellous that Napoleon, who revolutionized the strategy of
war, improved nothing, invented nothing, in the instruments of warfare.
A Prussian offered to him the original of the needle-gun, and he
totally failed to grasp the terrible effectiveness of the weapon. True,
he experimented with it, ordering that specimens should be made and
shown him. But when his armories turned out clumsy models, as at first
they were almost sure to do, he seemingly lost interest. The Prussian
carried his invention to Germany; and the Austrians and French of a
later day melted like snow before this new and fearful gun.

When Fulton came to France with his steam-boat discovery, offering
a means by which Napoleon might have destroyed with ease England’s
all-powerful navy, his invention was not appreciated. True, Napoleon
gave him encouragement and money, and urged the wise men of the
Institute to look into the thing; but Napoleon himself did not “take
hold.” When the sages of the Institute reported adversely to the
new invention, as sages almost always do, Napoleon let the subject
drop, apparently forgetting that it is usually the ignorant “crank”
and the untutored “tenderfoot” who stumbles upon great inventions
and the richest mines. So far-sighted in some directions, it seems
unaccountable that he did not realize immediately the vast importance
of the breech-loading gun, and the steam-propelled vessel. With the
same muzzle-loading muskets he fought the first battle and the last.
The same little cannon which could not batter down the old walls of
Acre, sent balls which rebounded from the farmyard enclosures at

During all of his campaigns prior to 1812, Napoleon gave personal
attention to everything; no detail was neglected. He saw with his own
eyes, taking nothing for granted, nothing on trust. As far as possible
he followed up his orders, seeing to it that they were executed.
Thus on the night before Jena he risked his life and came near being
shot reconnoitring the Prussian position, and after he had selected
positions for his batteries, and marked out the path up which the guns
were to be drawn to the heights, he could not rest until he had gone in
person and seen how his orders were being executed. It was fortunate
that he did so. The foremost cannon carriage had got jammed between
the rocks of the passage and had blocked the way of all the others.
The whole battery was at a halt, and nothing being done to forward the
guns. Angry as he was, Napoleon at once took command, ordered up the
sappers, held a lantern while they were at work, and showed them how to
widen the road. Not until the first gun had passed through did he leave
the place. The failure to look after such things was one cause of the
disasters of his later years.

He spared himself no fatigue in war. Sensitive to cold, to evil smells,
to ugly scenes, to physical discomfort of all sorts, the Sybarite of
the palace became the Spartan on the campaign. He could stand as much
cold, or heat, or hunger, or thirst, camp hardships and camp nastiness
as any private. He could stay in the saddle day and night, could march
on foot by the hour in snow or mud, could stand the storms of rain,
sleet, and wind, made no complaint of filthy beds and disgusting
surroundings, and could eat a soldier’s bread out of the knapsack with
all of a soldier’s relish.

In later years he carried his habits of luxury to the army, and with
them came defeats. The general who in Italy could have taken all his
baggage in a cart was followed in 1812 by a train of seventy wagons. He
went to war then like Louis XIV., and the luck of Louis XIV. overtook

On the field of battle his aspect was one of perfect composure. No turn
of the tide broke through his absolute self-control.

At Marengo, when the great plain was covered with the flying fragments
of his army, and fugitives were crying: “All is lost! Save himself
who can!” he was as calm as at a review. Berthier galloping up with
more bad news, Napoleon rebuked him with, “You do not tell me that
with sufficient coolness.” When Desaix arrived, Napoleon took all the
time that was necessary to make proper dispositions for the attack,
exhibiting not the slightest nervousness under the galling Austrian

In the retreat from Russia he was stoically serene, save on the rarest
occasions. Only a few intimates knew how much, in private, he gave way
to his immense burden of care, of grief, of impotent rage. To the army
he appeared as cold, as hard, as unyielding as granite. When a general
brought him some unusually appalling news, Napoleon turned away as
though he did not wish to hear. The officer persisted; Napoleon asked,
“Why do you wish to disturb my equanimity?”

If his fatigues had been excessive in the preparation for battle, and
his dispositions had been made, and all was going as he had foreseen,
he could slumber restfully while the combat raged. Thus at Jena, Ségur
speaks of Napoleon asleep on the ground where his great map was
unrolled--asleep with the grenadiers standing in hollow square about

Lord Brougham writes: “Lying under some cover in fire, he would remain
for an hour or two, receiving reports and issuing his orders, sometimes
with a plan before him, sometimes with the face of the ground in his
mind only.

“There he is with his watch in one hand, while the other moves
constantly from his pocket, where his snuffbox, or rather his snuff,
lies. An aide-de-camp arrives; tells of a movement; answers shortly,
some questions rapidly, perhaps impatiently, put; is despatched with
the order that is to solve the difficulty of some general of division.
Another is ordered to attend, and sent off with directions to make
some distant corps support an operation. The watch is again consulted;
more impatient symptoms; the name of one aide-de-camp is constantly
pronounced; question after question is put whether any one is coming
from a certain quarter; an event is expected; it ought to have
happened; at length the wished-for messenger arrives. ‘Well! what has
been done yonder?’--‘The height is gained; the Marshal is there.’--‘Let
him stand firm--not to move a step.’ Another aide-de-camp is ordered to
bring up the guard.

“‘Let the Marshal march upon the steeple, defiling by his left--and all
on his right are his prisoners.’ Now the watch is consulted and the
snuff is taken no more; the great captain indulges in pleasantry; nor
doubts any more of the certainty and of the extent of his victory than
if he had already seen its details in the bulletin.”

Cruelty and kindness, selfishness and generosity, loyalty and
treachery, honesty and perfidy, are almost unmeaning terms if applied
without qualification to Napoleon. Where his plans were not involved,
he frequently manifested the human virtues in their highest form;
where those plans were involved, he practised all the vices without
scruple or pity. Naturally he was humane, charitable, kind, indulgent,
sympathetic, generous; if policy required it, he became as hard as
steel. He left no debt of gratitude unpaid; ignored none of the claims,
however slight, of kindred and old association. See how he behaves
toward Madame Permon, how tolerant he is of that intolerable woman,
how he forgets her snubs, how he forgives her a public insult, how he
follows her with respectful consideration all the days of her life--and
why? She had been kind to him when he was a poor boy, had nursed his
father on the death-bed. “It is a devil of a temper, but a noble
heart;” and the noble heart makes him forget the devil of a temper.

He gave place and pension to early sweetheart, to boyhood friends,
to schoolmates, to teachers. The son and daughter of General Marbeuf
found him delighted to serve them in remembrance of their father. The
widow of the Duke of Orleans who had chanced to be the giver of a prize
to him at Brienne, and who had forgotten all about it, was happily
surprised to find that he had remembered. He restored her confiscated
pension, and gave a relative of hers a place in the Senate. To the
daughter of Madame de Brienne he proved himself a vigilant guardian. So
the record runs throughout his life, and his last will is little more
than a monument of gratitude to those who had at any time done him a

He was not free from superstition. What people called “omens” made an
impression upon him. He sometimes made the sign of the cross, as though
to ward off impending evil. When in Italy the glass over Josephine’s
portrait was broken, Marmont says that he turned frightfully pale, and
exclaimed that his wife was either dead or unfaithful.

He was a man of insatiable curiosity. He wished to know everything,
and to have a hand in everything. His police infested every nook and
corner, and over his police he set spies, and over the spies he set the
informer. Thus he had two or three systems going at the same time. He
not only sought to know all about public affairs, but private matters
also. He delighted in gossip and scandal, hugely enjoying his ability
to twit some man or some woman with an amour which he had discovered.
Theatre talk, street talk, drawing-room talk, were reported to him
regularly. Copying the Bourbon example, he opened private letters to
ascertain what correspondents were saying to each other. He allowed no
freedom of the press, and no real freedom of speech. Journals which
showed the least independence he suppressed. Authors, actors, orators,
who ventured upon forbidden ground, felt the curb at once.

Lavish as he was in expenditures, there was method and economy
throughout. He was good at a bargain, exacted the worth of his money,
would tolerate no imposition or overcharge. His imperial displays were
more magnificent than those of the Grand Monarch, but they cost him
less than one-tenth as much.

It is not possible to dogmatize about a man like Napoleon, saying
positively just what he was. A more contradictory mortal never lived.

The man who massacred the prisoners at Jaffa was the same who perhaps
lost his crown because he would not consent to excite civil war in
Russia or in France. He who had just sent tens of thousands to death at
Borodino, angrily reproved a careless member of his staff for allowing
the hoof of his horse to strike one of the wounded, causing a cry of

“It was only a Russian,” said the negligent rider.

“Russian or French, it’s all the same,” cried Napoleon, furiously; “I
want them all cared for.”

His temper was despotic; he could not brook opposition, nor tolerate
independence. Hence he banished Madame de Staël, suppressed the
tribunate which had the power of debate, and frowned upon voluntary
movements of all kinds, whether clubs or schools. His treatment of
Toussaint was atrocious, filling the honest biographer with anger,
disgust, and shame: but, after all, Toussaint was a rebel, and the
way of the rebel is hard. In his own eyes the insurgent, striving for
national independence, is a hero: in the eyes of the world he is an
incendiary, unless he whips his master and becomes free.

From the grave of Robert Emmett, Ireland can speak of England’s
treatment of rebels: from Cuba comes a voice choked with blood, which
vainly tries to do justice to Spain’s treatment of the rebel; and
from Siberia, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Hindustan, Crete, Italy,
South Africa, come awful reminders of the well-known fact,--the way
of the rebel is hard. Toussaint L’Ouverture, regarded as a rebel, was
cast into prison: Jefferson Davis, regarded as a rebel, was cast into
prison: Davis, the white man, was put in irons and came near dying:
Toussaint, the black man, was ironed, and died. In each case the motive
was the same,--to degrade and to punish an alleged rebel.

Great has been the outcry made by the literary Scribes and Pharisees
against Napoleon because of his cruelty to the hero of St. Domingo
and to Andreas Hofer, the hero of the Tyrol; until these indignant
people indict also the kings and cabinets who have slain their hundreds
where Napoleon slew his dozens, we cannot feel much sympathy for the

Relentlessly selfish in the pursuit of power, it will be admitted by
those who impartially study his career that he used his power, not
for personal and selfish pleasures, but for the future welfare of the
peoples over whose destinies he presided. The laborious manner in which
he worked out the revolutionary principle of lifting the despised Jew
into full citizenship, will always be a striking illustration of the
liberality of his statesmanship.

He loved to tour the country, to see with his own eyes, to hear with
his own ears. He loved to meet the people face to face, to talk with
them familiarly, to get at the real facts about everything. The man
never lived who had such a passion for making things better. Harbors
must be widened, deepened, made more secure. Trade routes must be
improved, rivers linked to rivers, or rivers connected with seas.
Mountains must be conquered by broad, easy-grade roads; and villages
must be planted along the route for the convenience of the traveller.
He tore out old buildings to make way for new ones,--larger, better,
grander. Crooked streets--narrow, nasty, the homes of squalor, of
crime, and of pestilence--he replaced by broad avenues and handsome
buildings. Churches, schools, town-halls, arsenals, dockyards, canals,
highways, bridges, fortifications, manufactories, harbor works, new
industries, sprang up at his touch throughout the realms he ruled.
Had he never been known as a warrior, his work as administrator and
as a legislator would have made his name immortal. Had he never been
heard of as a legislator, his work in Europe as a developer of material
resources would have made it impossible for the world to forget him.
The manufactories which he encouraged were but the beginnings of a
mighty evolution which would have transferred to the Continent the vast
profits England had so long reaped. At every seaport, on every canal,
on all the highways, in every town from Venice to Brest and Cherbourg,
the traveller of the present day sees the footprints of Napoleon the

He rid Paris of the periodical nuisance of the Seine overflow, and
along the river ran his magnificent embankments. At St. Helena he
expressed a wonder that the Thames had never been thus controlled, and
England afterward embanked her river as the great Emperor suggested.

His natural instinct was to make improvements. The first thing he did
in Spain was to establish free-trade between her provinces, abolish
feudal burdens, suppress one-third of the monasteries where “those lazy
beasts of monks” lived in idleness at public expense, and to give the
people the right to be heard in fixing taxes and making laws. The first
thing the Bourbons did, on their return, was to restore all the abuses
Napoleon had abolished.

In Italy, the first thing he did, after overturning the temporal
power of the Pope, was to suppress the papal monopolies by which the
Albani family had the sole right to manufacture pins, Andrea Novelli
the exclusive privilege of selling oil for lamps, Alexandro Betti
the monopoly of ferry boats, and so forth. To these benighted Romans
he gave the Code Napoléon, trial by jury, home rule in local affairs,
equality before the law, and relief from all feudal abuses.

The first thing the Pope did when in 1814 he was restored to temporal
power was to abolish all things Napoleonic, and to reëstablish the
hateful monopolies, feudal burdens, and papal customs.

In Egypt he projected the mighty work of adding millions of acres to
the cultivable area by the construction of vast storage basins on the
Nile. England has but recently carried to successful completion the
magnificent plan he suggested.

In Milan he finished the gorgeous cathedral which had been commenced
hundreds of years before. To stagnant, pestilential Venice he gave new
life, dredging her lagoons, decreeing a Grand Canal, deepening her
harbor, overhauling her sanitary system--spending $1,000,000 during his
one visit. And the story is the same for almost every portion of his
huge empire.

Bad? Lord Wolseley says he was not only bad, but “superlatively” so.
Perhaps he was; but here is one publican and sinner who dares to say
that were the good men to work half as hard as Napoleon did to improve
the condition of _this_ world, its moral and material situation would
more nearly approximate the imagined perfection of that heavenly abode
in whose behalf _this_ poor planet and its poor humanity are so often


Tilsit is generally considered the high-water mark of Napoleon’s
power. Not yet forty years of age, he was lord of lords and king of
kings. With Russia for an ally, Continental Europe was at his mercy.
Adding Westphalia and, also, enlarged Saxony to the Confederation of
the Rhine, the Empire was guarded upon the west, from the North Sea
to the Mediterranean, by an unbroken line of feudatory states. In all
these subject lands the principles of the French Revolution took the
form of law. The Code Napoléon, with its civil equality, jury trials,
uniformity of taxes, publicity of legal proceedings, drove out the
mediæval abuses which had so long robbed the people in the name of
government. To his brother Jerome Napoleon wrote: “Be a constitutional
king. Your people ought to enjoy a liberty, an equality, a well-being
unknown heretofore to the Germans.” And the Emperor reminded Jerome
that if he gave his people the benefits of a wise and liberal
administration, they would never wish to return to the barbarous rule
of Prussia. Rule your kingdom wisely and liberally, said Napoleon,
and “this kind of government will protect it more powerfully than
fortresses or the armies of France.”

Far-reaching as was the sweep of Napoleon’s sword, that of his Code
went farther. The soldier of the Revolution could never go as far as
its principles. In the hour of its deepest humiliation Prussia dropped
the system of Frederick, a worn-out garment, and clad itself anew. She
freed the serf, abolished caste, opened all careers to merit, made
military service universal, and gave partial self-government to towns
and cities. Under the ministry of Stein, Prussia was born again, and
the greatness of modern Germany dates from the reorganization which
followed Jena--a greatness which, when analyzed, is seen to consist
in calling in the Prussian people to resurrect a nation which class
legislation and the privileged nobles had led to perdition.

In measuring the results of the French Revolution and of Napoleon’s
victories, let us remember what Germany was in the eighteenth century.
Let us not forget that the great mass of the people were serfs chained
to the soil, mere implements of husbandry, burdened with the duty of
feeding the nation in time of peace, and fighting for it in time of
war, but uncheered by the hope of ever becoming more than serfs. Let us
remember that the great rights of the citizen had no legal existence,
that the arbitrary will of the lord was the peasant’s law. In the very
provinces out of which Napoleon fashioned the kingdom of Westphalia a
legitimate, divine-right prince had sold to an equally God-appointed
king of Great Britain some thousands of soldiers to fight against the
revolted colonists in North America. In the very cities which the Code
Napoléon now entered and ruled, might still be seen the foul dungeons
where alleged culprits were secretly tried, secretly tortured, and
secretly done to death with atrocities which might have shamed a savage.

With Napoleon himself, however, imperialism had become a fixed creed.
Ever since Austerlitz, he had affected greater reserve, exacted a
greater deference, obeyed and enforced a more rigid etiquette. Oriental
baseness of flattery pampered his pride; opposition to his will was not
dreamt of in his empire; pestiferous intriguers like Madame de Staël
lived in exile; pert maids of honor like Mademoiselle de Chevreuse were
sent away and silenced; secret enemies, embryo traitors like Talleyrand
and Bernadotte, fawned and flattered like the others, greedily
clutching at all he flung to them,--money, titles, estates. The Grand
Monarch himself never lived in greater pomp than this “Corsican
upstart.” The formulas of divine right usurped the old popular phrases,
and “Napoleon by the grace of God Emperor, etc.,” was the style of
imperial proclamations. “Religious veneration” was claimed for the
eagles of the army; and the priests taught the children that “to honor
and serve the Emperor is to honor and serve God.” No toil was spared
to make the ceremonial at the palace conform to Bourbon precedent. The
hero of Austerlitz and Jena consented to be tutored by the Campans, De
Ségurs, Narbonnes, and De Brézés of etiquette. When Louis XVIII. came
to the throne in 1814, he apparently discovered but one serious fault
in all of Napoleon’s imitation Bourbonism--his dinner had not been
escorted from kitchen to dining room by a squad of soldiers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Turkey had not nursed any very great degree of wrath against Napoleon,
on account of his attempt upon Egypt; she had recognized his greatness
and had become his ally. During the campaign in Poland, while
Napoleon’s army was weltering in the mud, which caused indignant
French soldiers to exclaim, “Is this what the Poles have the impudence
to call their country?” England had sent a fleet to Constantinople to
bully the Sultan into joining the league against France.

The terror of the unprepared Turk was profound, and he was about
to submit; but it so happened that Napoleon was represented there
by a man of courage and ability--General Sébastiani. Through his
advice, and inspired by his confidence, the Sultan parleyed with the
English, temporized, gained time, manned defences, and prepared for a
struggle. A letter from Napoleon came at the right moment, exhorting
and promising, as no one but Napoleon could exhort and promise. French
diplomats steadied the nerves of the Commander of the Faithful, while
French officers directed the work on the fortresses, so that when the
English admiral was finally told that Turkey would resist his insolent
demands, the Turks were all ready for battle, and the English were not.
They had forced their way into Turkish waters, killing and wounding as
they came; they now sailed away, pursued and bombarded, losing many in
killed and wounded as they escaped.

Failing here, they determined to make sure of Denmark. By the Treaty
of Tilsit the two Emperors contemplated a union of all the Continental
powers against English commerce. Great Britain believed that Denmark
would be forced to enter this league--but she had no proofs, so far
as historians know. At any rate, no hostile steps had been taken by
either Emperor: Napoleon had merely instructed Talleyrand to enter
into negotiations with Denmark. Upon the plea that Napoleon meant to
seize the Danish fleet, Great Britain determined to take charge of
it herself, despite the fact that Denmark was at peace with her, had
given no cause for war, and was even then represented at London by
a resident, friendly minister. Concealing her purpose, smiling upon
this duped minister to the last, Great Britain launched fleet and army
against an unsuspecting people. Appearing before Copenhagen in force,
the British demanded that the Danish fleet be given up to England in
pledge, “until the peace.”

Taken at disadvantage though they were, the Danes could not at once
yield to so shameful a humiliation, and the English opened fire. For
three days and nights the devoted city was shelled, and all the horrors
of war inflicted upon it. For three days the British guns roared,
strewing the streets with dead men, dead women, dead children; while
eight hundred homes were in ruins or on fire. Then the Danes yielded,
their city was looted, their ships taken away, and the exulting
marauders sailed back to England towing their prizes, to be welcomed
with rapturous enthusiasm.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the Berlin Decree of Napoleon, Great Britain retorted with another
“Order in Council.” She declared that she would search all merchant
vessels, and that neutrals should not be allowed to trade unless they
had touched at a British port and paid duties there. Here was another
violation of all law,--an insolent invasion of the right of neutrals
to do business, save in contraband of war. Napoleon’s counter shot was
the Milan Decree, in which he very naturally declared that any ship
submitting to such demands as England had made, should be treated as
an English ship. Why not? It is apparent enough, that if neutral ships
did business under English rules, paying duties at English ports, such
ships were practically doing business as English ships.

Strange are the verdicts of history. Napoleon gets almost all the blame
for this commercial war, in which he was first struck by England, and
in which each of his decrees was but an attempt to ward off the blows
England aimed at him.

To make a success of his Continental system, it was necessary that the
entire seacoast of the Continent should be closed to English goods.
In theory, the system was in force throughout the Continent, with the
important exceptions of Spain and Portugal. To close the long line of
seaboard these countries presented, was Napoleon’s first purpose in
meddling with their affairs.

Spain had been his ally, but had, perhaps, never had her heart in the
alliance. At all events, when the great Bourbon conspiracy against
Napoleon’s life was on foot, in 1803, some of the accomplices of
Georges had entered France under the protection of Spanish passports.
Nevertheless, Spain had paid rich subsidies into Napoleon’s coffers,
and had sent her ships to be destroyed by Nelson at Trafalgar. So
burdensome had become the alliance that Spain had grown tired of it.
While Napoleon was involved with Prussia, and previous to Jena, the
Spaniards had been called to arms by Godoy, the Prince of The Peace,
real ruler of the kingdom. Napoleon believed that this call to arms was
a measure of hostility to the French. The victory of Jena, however,
changed the situation, and Godoy humbly came to terms with the winner.

Now again, in 1808, a treaty was made between France and Spain.
Portugal, virtually an English colony, and ruled from London, was to
be conquered, and divided between France and Spain. A French army,
under Junot, marched through Spain into Portugal, and captured Lisbon
(November, 1807). The royal house of Braganza made its escape to
Brazil. Its throne was declared vacant by Napoleon, and the French took
full possession of the country. But for Junot’s rashness and rapacity,
it seems that the Portuguese, as a general thing, would have been quite
contented with the change of masters.

In Spain itself fateful events were on foot. The old king, Charles IV.
was a Bourbon, densely ignorant, extremely religious, and devoid of
any real character. His queen was a woman of some ability and force of
character, but she had become infatuated with a common soldier, Manuel
Godoy, and both she and her husband were governed by the favorite.

The heir to the throne, Ferdinand, prince of the Asturias, was a young
man of obstinate temper, full of duplicity and cruelty. He was loved
by the Spanish people, partly because he was their handsome young
prince-royal, and partly because it was known that he hated Godoy.

The old king was made to believe that his son meant to have him
assassinated. He appealed to Napoleon for protection against Ferdinand.
At the same time this prince requested of Napoleon the hand of a
Bonaparte princess in marriage. Thus both factions looked to France,
and the French Emperor used each against the other.

The Spaniards rose against Godoy, a mob wrecked his palace, and he fled
for his life, hiding himself in a roll of matting in a loft. Forced out
by hunger, he was seen, captured, and about to be torn to pieces when
he was rescued by the guards of Ferdinand, and taken, amid blows and
curses, to the barracks. The terrified old king abdicated in favor of
his son; and on March 20, 1808, Ferdinand entered Madrid in triumph, to
the frantic delight of the people.

French armies had already been massed in Spain, and some of the
strongest fortresses seized by unscrupulous trickery. Murat was in
chief command, and he marched upon the Spanish capital in overwhelming
numbers--unresisted because the French were believed to be coming as
friends of Ferdinand.

The old king, Charles IV., protested to Napoleon that his abdication
had been made under duress; he prayed for help against his son. To
Napoleon applied Ferdinand, also; for Murat held Madrid with forty
thousand troops, and he had not yet recognized the title of the new

In April, 1808, the Emperor himself came to Bayonne, moving soon into
the château of Marrac, which was surrounded by a lovely park “on the
banks of the silver Nive.” The place is now a ruin, the house having
been gutted by fire in 1825, and the park being now used for the
artillery of the garrison. But when Napoleon came there in 1808, soon
to be joined by Josephine and the court, it was a place of beauty.
Biarritz, the fashionable watering-place of to-day, was then unknown;
but along the same shore where summer visitors now stroll, Napoleon
romped with Josephine, “chasing her along the sands, and pushing her
into the sea at the edge of the tide, until she was up to her knees
in water.” They bathed and played together, “and the great Emperor,
England’s ‘Corsican Ogre,’ used to hide her satin shoes on the sands
while she was in the water, and not allow us to bring them to her, but
made her walk from the beach to the carriage barefooted, which gave him
immense delight.”

All was very gay at the château of Marrac, everything free, easy,
joyous, etiquette somewhat shelved. For instance, it is related that
Josephine’s harpsichord needed tuning, that a man was called in to
tune it, that Josephine, who was unknown to the tuner, leaned her arms
on the harpsichord, chatting very familiarly with the tuner, that her
dress was so plain (and perhaps slovenly) that the amorous tuner took
her to be a lady’s-maid, accessible to kisses, that he assured her
she was much prettier than the Empress, and that he was just about to
kiss her, when the door opened and in walked the Emperor! Josephine
laughed, Napoleon laughed, the tuner fled,--leaving his tools,--deaf to
Napoleon’s call for him to come back.

Equally true, perhaps, is another story of the same date. There was a
ball at the château of Marrac, the windows were open, the night being
warm. At a pause in the music, a lady stepped out upon the balcony,
seen by the sentinels, who likewise saw an officer follow her and kiss
her. The sentinels knew him--it was the Little Corporal. But he saw
them also, and his sharp word of command rang out, “Shoulder arms!”
“Right about turn!” They turned, and they stayed turned, fixed and
immovable, until the relief came an hour or so later.

So much for the bright side of this famous picture.

       *       *       *       *       *

By the most astonishing series of duplicities and perfidies, Napoleon
gathered into his snare at Bayonne _all_ the contending parties of the
Spanish trouble,--King Charles, the Queen, Godoy, Ferdinand, and Don
Carlos, Ferdinand’s younger brother.

These Bourbons washed their dirty family linen in his presence,
appealing to him against each other. Ferdinand’s royal father shook a
cane over his head and cursed him; Ferdinand’s royal mother reviled
him, and told him that the king, her husband, was not his father; and
Godoy, the paramour of the wife and mother, sat down to meat with
King and Queen, indispensably necessary to both. Charles IV., fond of
pleasure and ease, resigned the crown of Spain to Napoleon; Ferdinand
was asked to do likewise. He refused, and it was not till there had
been an uprising in Madrid, cruelly suppressed by Murat, who lost
nearly a thousand men, that he yielded. The revolt had been laid at his
door, and Napoleon had threatened to treat him as a rebel.

Charles and Ferdinand became grandees of France, with princely
revenues; in return Napoleon received Spain and its magnificent
dependencies (May, 1808).

Calling Joseph Bonaparte from Naples to wear this new crown, Napoleon
wished to give to the transfer some show of national consent. He
summoned an assembly of Spanish prelates and grandees to Bayonne (June,
1808). They came, but as they came the ground upon which they walked
was hot with revolt. All Spain was spontaneously and furiously running
to arms. The assembly at Bayonne accepted Joseph and the constitution
which Napoleon had prepared.

In all courts and cabinets Napoleon’s conduct was hotly discussed; in
most of them it was furiously condemned. True, he had not used Spain
much more unscrupulously than he had treated Venice; nor, indeed, more
perfidiously than England had dealt with India, Russia with Poland,
Prussia with Silesia. But there were two considerations which weighed
heavily against Napoleon: he was not a legitimate king, and he was
getting more than his share. The small men began to ask, one the other,
concerning the meat upon which this our Cæsar fed; and to say, one to
the other, that they, the small men, might, by union and patience and
perseverance, pull the big man down.

The more closely his statecraft is studied, the more clearly will it
be seen that in all things he conformed to orthodox standards. He was
neither better nor worse than others. His march to power was bridged
with broken promises, pitiless deeds, utter disregard of human life,
and the rights of other peoples. A foe was an obstacle, which must be
got out of the way. If fair means would answer, well and good; if fair
means would not answer, then foul methods would be used. Precisely the
same principles have been constantly practised by all conquerors, all
conquering nations. Russia, England, Prussia, France--the same policy
built empires for each. The Russian Czar, Alexander, fawned upon the
Swedish minister, swearing friendship and good intentions when the
Russian legions were already on the march to seize Finland. Russian
faith was solemnly pledged afterward to the Finns themselves, that
their autonomy, their local institutions, should never be destroyed. In
our own day, we have seen a most Christian Czar violate this written
contract and pitilessly Russianize helpless Finland.

England’s empire is built on force and fraud; Prussia’s greatness rests
on Frederick’s crime against Silesia: France under Napoleon merely
conformed to the well-known precedents. Ambitious and despotic, he
made war upon the weak, to shut out English goods, to cripple English
commerce, and to bring her to terms of peace. This was bad enough,
but we have lived to see things that were worse. We have seen England
make war upon China to compel her to open her ports to the deadly
opium trade--deadly to the Chinese, but most profitable to the English
trader. We have lived to see a Dutch republic trampled out of existence
because it would not allow English gold-miners to rule it.

Let us put away cant and lies and hypocrisy; let us frankly admit
that Napoleon was a colossal mixture of the good and the bad, just as
Cromwell was, just as Richelieu, Frederick, and Bismarck were. Those
retained attorneys of royalism, clericalism, and absolutism, who
gravely compile huge books to prove that Napoleon was a fiend, an evil
spirit struggling against light, are the absurdest mortals extant.
Even Spain now knows better; and the national revolt there at this
era is against the very system the great democratic despot would have
overthrown. “Down with the Jesuits!” they cry in all the cities of
Spain in this year 1901. They are just a century behind time. Napoleon,
a hundred years ago, put down the Jesuit and his Inquisition, swept
feudalism away, gave just laws and representative government to a
priest-ridden, king-accursed people. They were not ready for the boon,
and repelled it. With mad infatuation Spaniards listened to monk and
grandee and English marplot. Passion flamed, and reason fled. Blind
hatred of all things French took possession of men, women, and children
throughout the land. Peasants were even more frantic than princes and
peers. Deeds of heroism, of self-sacrifice, of cruelty were done which
amazed the world. By desperate persistence, the Spaniards succeeded
in getting back their good old system--Bourbon king, privileged
aristocracy, priestly tyranny, feudal extortions. Great Britain kindly
sent armies and subsidies to aid the good work. Spain got the old
system back, and much good has it done her. It has eaten the heart out
of a great people, made her name a byword among nations, stranded her
in the race of human progress. To-day she comprehends what she lost a
hundred years ago.


When Captain Marbot, bearing despatches from Murat announcing the riot
in Madrid, reached the château of Marrac, he found the Emperor in the
park, taking his after-dinner walk, with the Queen of Spain on his arm
and Charles IV. beside him, followed by the Empress Josephine, Prince
Ferdinand, Don Carlos, Marshal Duroc, and some ladies.

“What news from Madrid?” cried Napoleon, as Marbot, covered with dust,
drew near. The despatches were delivered in silence, and Napoleon drew
to one side to read them, and to overwhelm the officer with questions.
In vivid terms, Marbot described the despair of the Spanish people, the
fury with which they had fought, the threatening aspect of the populace
even after the revolt had been put down.

“Bah!” exclaimed Napoleon, cutting him short; “they will calm down
and will bless me as soon as they see their country freed from the
discredit and disorder into which it has been thrown by the weakest and
most corrupt administration that ever existed!”

When the Emperor had explained to the King and Queen of Spain what had
occurred in Madrid, they turned upon Ferdinand with an outburst of
rage. “Wretch!” cried the old King, “you may now be satisfied. Madrid
has been bathed in the blood of my subjects shed in consequence of your
rebellion against your father; their blood be on your head!” The Queen
was no less bitter, and even offered to strike her son. Napoleon put a
stop to the painful scene.

“Bah! they will soon calm down.” So Napoleon thought, having no
fear whatever that a tumultuous rising of peasants would make head
against his troops. What his army had done in Italy and in Egypt, it
could do in Spain. It only annoyed him, and somewhat puzzled him,
to see that the people should reject his liberal constitution, and
devote themselves with such frantic zeal to the most worthless of
Bourbon kings. That Joseph would soon be in peaceful possession of
the peninsula, that his generals would soon sweep the peasant bands
out of the field, he did not doubt. Had he lacked faith as to this,
he would probably not have given the crown to Joseph,--the placid,
self-satisfied, comprehensively incapable Joseph. Had he dreamed of the
long years of war that were to follow, he might have hearkened to the
pleadings of Murat, and left that brilliant soldier to defend the crown
which he so ardently coveted.

Amid ovations the Emperor and Josephine toured the provinces, on the
return trip to Paris, everywhere welcomed with joy and admiration,
while in the peninsula the great storm was muttering. Throughout Spain,
in the highways and byways, from pulpit to market-place, Napoleon was
denounced, defied, and resisted. Priests led the crusade, cursing the
man of the Concordat as anti-Christ, minister of the devil, worthy
of death and damnation. Committees of defence, juntas, sprang up
everywhere; armies mustered almost at the stamp of the foot. Wherever
a Frenchman could be stabbed, shot from ambush, or taken and sawn
asunder, it was done. Roads were lined with ambuscades, stragglers and
detached parties cut off, and the French generals were soon thrown on
the defensive by this despised uprising of the people. At Saragossa
and Valencia the French troops were repulsed; in Andalusia hordes of
Spaniards surrounded Dupont’s army of twenty thousand, beat it in
battle, and forced it to capitulate (Baylen, July, 1808).

In August the English landed troops in Portugal; and Junot, whose
forces were scattered, fought with only thirteen thousand men against
Wellington with sixteen thousand, was worsted at Vimeiro (August 21,
1808) and by the convention of Cintra (August 30, 1808) agreed to
evacuate Portugal. He, too, had wanted to become a king; he, too, had
thought of himself rather than of his master; he, too, had wrecked a
splendid plan by sheer mismanagement and monstrous rapacity.

The disaster in Spain and Portugal came upon Napoleon like a
thunderbolt; his grief and indignation knew no bounds; cries of rage
and pain were wrung from him; pointing to his uniform, he said, “There
is a stain here.” At Aboukir, Brueys had at least fought and died like
a soldier; at Trafalgar Frenchmen had shown desperate valor; but at
Baylen an army of twenty thousand imperial troops had laid down their
arms to gangs of insurgents! Oh, the shame of it! Who could estimate
its effect in Europe? When the Emperor spoke of Baylen to his council
of state, his voice trembled, and his eyes were full of tears.

Conscious of the peril which menaced his supremacy, Napoleon determined
to go in person and put down the Spanish revolt. But before doing so
it was necessary that he and the Czar should have another conference,
smooth over certain points of difference which had arisen, and come
to a better understanding--hence the famous gathering at Erfurth
(October, 1808). This time Alexander was Napoleon’s guest, and very
royally was he entertained. A more brilliant assembly was never seen
in Europe. Subject kings, vassals, lords of the Empire, civil and
military dignitaries, courtiers, ambassadors, diplomats, eminent men
of letters, surrounded the two great Emperors, and rendered homage.
Business and pleasure intermingled; and while frontiers of empire were
being arranged, there were banquets, balls, grand hunts, orchestral
music, and the drama. Actors brought from Paris played to the Emperors
and their trains, and the Czar stood up one night and took Napoleon’s
hand at the line “the friendship of a great man is a gift from the
gods.” Davoust used to say that Napoleon had been nodding till the Czar
improvised this little by-play.

If Napoleon was anxious for the future of his power, he concealed
it well; his face showed nothing but serenity, good nature, and
confidence. He found time to converse at length with Goethe and
Wieland; he found time to act the suave host to lords and ladies; he
was as firm with Alexander as he had been at Tilsit; and when the
conference broke up, he had arranged everything as completely to his

In the _Memoirs_ of Marshal Oudinot, we find the following anecdote of
the Erfurth meeting:--

“Napoleon had occasional fits of forgetfulness which prevented him from
displaying, in his relations with the sovereigns, all the forethought
expected in a host.

“One day we were riding into the country, the two Emperors, Napoleon
and Alexander, riding side by side. At a given moment, the former,
carried away by his thoughts, took the lead, whistling, and seeming to
forget those he was leaving behind. I shall always remember Alexander,
turning stiffly toward his neighbor, and asking, ‘Are we to follow?’
‘Yes, sire.’ I rejoined Napoleon and told him of this little scene. He
fell back, offered an explanation, and that was the end of it.”

So Marshal Oudinot thought, but as the compiler of the _Memoirs_ asks,
who knows what influence this trifling incident may have had upon the
proud, sensitive, suspicious, and wavering Czar?

By the terms of the new agreement, Alexander was to have a free hand
on the Danube to take Moldavia and Wallachia; that much had been
understood at Tilsit, perhaps, but “Constantinople, never! That is the
empire of the world!” In return for the liberty to seize the Danubian
provinces, the Czar was to keep central Europe quiet, while Napoleon
conquered Spain and Portugal. Prussia was notified by the Czar that she
must remain quiet, bow to Napoleon’s will, and agree to his demands,
one of which was that Stein should be dismissed.

To Germans, generally, the heavy hand of the Czar, coming down upon
Frederick William in this imperative fashion, must have suggested the
thought that it was high time the Lord’s Anointed autocrat of Russia
was being sworn to friendship to Prussia, once more, at the tomb of the
great Frederick. The two oaths already taken seemed to have slipped
their hold.

Suppose that Napoleon had solemnly gone in state to the Escorial
and there, at night, had taken in his own the hand of the Spanish
king, and had, over the bones of dead Spanish monarchs, sworn eternal
friendship to Spain; suppose he had broken this vow as soon as made;
suppose he had gone the second time and sworn it all over again;
suppose he had violated his oath a second time:--would royalist and
clerical authors _ever_ have found ink black enough to fill their
righteously indignant pens?

If we would correctly judge Napoleon, let us keep our equilibrium and
our standards of comparison; let us throw him into contrast, not with
the ideal man, but with other rulers of his own time. By so doing we
may hope to come, in the humblest spirit and manner, to know the great
Corsican as he actually was.

Once more an effort was made to put an end to war. The two Emperors
sent couriers,--one French and the other Russian,--to England, bearing
offers of peace. These couriers were treated almost as spies by the
English, were kept under surveillance, and were finally sent back with
a note which gave no encouragement to the monarchs who sent them.

King Joseph had been driven out of Madrid, was now at Vittoria, and
the insurgents controlled the country with the exception of the soil
occupied by the French armies.

Losing no time after the Erfurth interview, Napoleon hastened to Spain,
took command of the troops at Vittoria (November 5, 1808), and moved
forward. In a few days the entire military situation was changed.
The Spaniards were out-generalled, beaten at all points, and escaped
complete annihilation by the too great haste of some of the French
generals. Within four weeks after the commencement of the campaign,
Madrid was retaken, and once more put into the possession of the feeble

On his march to the Spanish capital, Napoleon found his road blocked
at the mountain pass of Sommo-Sierra. The insurgents had fortified the
heights, their cannon completely controlling the defile. So strong was
the position that a handful of veterans there might have checked an

But the impudence of these Spanish bands in presuming to resist his
march threw Napoleon into a fury. He would not wait till his infantry
could advance upon either side, turn the enemy, and almost certainly
secure a bloodless victory. He raged and stormed, “What! my army
stopped by armed bands, wretched peasants!”

“Patience, sire, I pray,” pleaded General Walthour, who assured him
that in a few minutes the pass would be cleared by infantry, which was
even then advancing on either side. But no; the enemy must be charged
with cavalry--a bristling battery, on the crest of a mountain gorge,
must be swept out of the way by a cavalry dash.

“Go, Ségur! Go at once; make my Poles charge, make them take

There was astonishment--but the order had to be obeyed. At full speed
the splendid soldiers of the Polish squadron dashed up the pass, to
melt away in an awful fire from the battery above. Historians say that
the cavalry charge succeeded. Ségur, who led the dash and was shot down
in it, relates that the flanking infantry columns did the work.

“Does anybody know how Ségur came to be hurt? Was he carrying an
order?” Napoleon asked, after the battle.

When reminded that he had himself given Ségur the order, he was silent,
and “fell into a very thoughtful mood.”

An English army under Sir John Moore had entered Spain and was
advancing toward Madrid. When it learned that Napoleon was in the
field, it began a retreat to the coast, which is famous in military
history. The French, led by the Emperor, set out in hot pursuit; and
it would be hard to say with certainty which party suffered the more
frightful hardships,--the pursuers or the pursued. The weather was
bitterly cold, with cutting winds, chilly rains, blinding snowstorms.
In crossing the Gaudamara Mountains the storm was so fierce, the cold
and the snow so terrible, that the advance guard of Napoleon actually
began to retreat. It required all the Emperor’s personal influence
and example to encourage the men onwards. Dismounting, he trudged
along on foot, Lannes and Duroc on either side, and hour after hour
he plodded thus through the snow, up the mountain, at the head of his
men. Near the summit, on account of the jackboots the officers wore,
they could go no farther. Napoleon was lifted on to a gun carriage,
and riding on a cannon, he reached the top, his generals similarly
mounted. By forced marches the French were pushed on in the hope of
cutting off the English retreat, but it could not be done. Horribly
as they suffered, the English were not wholly demoralized. There were
always some gallant thousands who would turn and fight when the French
pressed them too hard. In this way the pursuers met bloody repulses.
Many frightful scenes took place among the English; but General Marbot
relates an incident of the French pursuit which throws a vivid light
over the hideous character of this whole campaign. He saw three French
grenadiers kill themselves because they were tired out, could no
longer keep up, and chose death rather than the tortures which awaited
them if they fell into the hands of the Spanish peasants.

Napoleon was so deeply impressed by the suicide of his grenadiers that
in spite of the drenching rain and bitter cold he went the rounds of
the bivouac that night, speaking to the wretched soldiers and trying to
restore their courage.

At Astorga a courier arrived, bringing despatches from Paris which
warned Napoleon that Austria was ready now “to begin again.” She had
completely reorganized her army, had patiently waited for the right
moment, and was sure that it had come. The veteran troops of France
were scattered over the Spanish peninsula; England had made good her
grip on Portugal; Austria had about five hundred thousand soldiers
ready, and now was the time to strike. The pursuit of the English
was turned over to Soult, and the race for the seacoast continued as
before. When the French could overtake the English at all, it was with
an advance guard too small to crush the English rear-guard. If there was
a clash, the French were repulsed. If the French came up in force, the
English continued the retreat. At last the coast was made. There was a
bloody fight, the battle of Corunna. Sir John Moore was killed, but his
army, or what remained of it, got on board the English ships and sailed

As to Napoleon, he returned to Valladolid, where he busied himself
for several days regulating the affairs of Spain, and in sending off
innumerable despatches. Then springing upon his horse, he spurred
away for Bayonne, in perhaps the wildest ride an emperor ever made.
His escort clattered after him, strung out behind, and the wondering
peasants of Spain long remembered that meteoric vision. They heard in
the distance a faint noise as of frantic racing; there burst into view
a breathless cavalcade; it came on like a wind-driven cloud; there was
a rush, and a noise like thunder, a fleeting glimpse of bent riders and
straining steeds; there was, perhaps, a shout in passing; then it went
as it came, and in a moment it was gone.

General Thiébault, on his way to Vittoria, was in the road, with
carriage, aides, escort, and servants, when one of his attendants said,
“Here comes the Emperor, I think.” The General was about to alight from
the carriage when he heard some one call:--

“Who is in that carriage?”

The servant hardly had time to answer “General Thiébault” before the
imperial party tore by. “Savary was first, after him the Emperor,
lashing Savary’s horse, and digging the spurs into his own.... A good
minute afterward Duroc and the Emperor’s Mameluke galloped by, and at
a like distance from them came a guide, exhausted with his efforts to
make up lost ground, and four more brought up the rear as best they

From Valladolid to Burgos, some seventy-five miles, Napoleon rode in
three hours and a half (January, 1809).


When the Emperor reached Paris, he was in one of his worst moods.
Many causes had combined to mar his serenity. His brother Joseph had
violently found fault with him because he, Napoleon, had remodelled the
government, making it better for the people, and not quite so good for
the nobles and priests. Joseph resented this deeply. He, Joseph, was
King of Spain. He, Joseph, was the proper person to remodel government,
change laws, and manage the country. Napoleon was present merely as a
military expert, a general whose service was temporarily needed to pull
Joseph from beneath the enemy, and lead him by the hand back to the
throne; but when this had been done, Napoleon should have gone away,
leaving Joseph to do in Spain just as he thought best. This view was
not only held by Joseph at the time, but as long as his worthless life
lasted he never wearied of explaining to his friends how Napoleon had
lost him the crown of Spain by “interfering in his affairs” in 1809.

Not less high than this was the estimate which Louis Bonaparte placed
on his “rights” as King of Holland. No sooner had that morose, jealous,
ill-conditioned dolt been placed on a throne by his elder brother than
he arrogated to himself all the prerogatives of a dynastic king. The
“divine right” virus got into _his_ sluggish veins, and he began to
shift on to God the responsibility for such a creature as himself being
a king at all. He wished to rule Holland, not as a fief of the Empire,
not as part of the Napoleonic system, but as a piece of independent
property which had come to him, Louis, through a long line of
ancestors. When Napoleon gave him the crown, the conditions were made
plain. Holland was a part of France; must be governed with reference to
France; the friends and enemies of the one must be those of the other.
In other words, Holland was a planet in the French system, and Louis
a subordinate king. If Louis was too proud to rule as a lesser light
in the system of his great brother, he should have been as frank as
Lucien: he should have refused the crown. But he accepted the splendid
gift, and then violated the conditions. English goods poured into
his markets. To all intents and purposes he became the ally of Great
Britain, for it was her policy which he favored. It was her dearest
object to break down the Continental system, and Louis was aiding her
to the best of his slight ability. Could Napoleon be otherwise than
furious? Had Holland been won merely that England should be enriched?
Had he set his brother on a throne merely to weaken his own empire,
and to set an example of disloyalty to other allies? At a time when
Prussia, Austria, and even Russia were under contract to enforce
the Continental system, was it tolerable that his own brother, in
all-important Holland, should be throwing his ports open to the common

This cause of trouble, also, was worrying Napoleon and making it hard
to maintain good humor. And even this was far from being all. Murat,
his brother-in-law, was acting almost as badly as his brother. Murat,
who was grand duke, wanted to be king, had coveted the crown of Poland,
had claimed the Spanish throne, and in his disappointment, in both
instances, had fallen into a rebellious mood.

Napoleon had given him Joseph’s vacant throne in Naples; but it
was rumored that he was still discontented, and had been holding
communications with conspirators in Paris. And who were these
conspirators? Talleyrand and Fouché, of course. These restless,
overrated, and chronic traitors had been sagely conferring in Paris,
as they had done previous to Marengo, for the purpose of agreeing upon
a successor to Napoleon, in case he should be killed in battle or
hopelessly defeated.

Nor was even this all: the funds had fallen, the treasury was drained,
murmurs had begun to be heard in France against the expansion of the
Empire; conscriptions, which had been called for in advance of the
legal time, began to be unpopular, desertions were frequent, and “the
refractory” grew ever more numerous. The Spanish war was not relished.
Generals ordered to Spain went, but went reluctantly. They carried no
zeal, none of that buoyant confidence which is half the battle. Troops
ordered there marched, but without enthusiasm. Compared with Italy and
Germany Spain was a barren land. Against armed peasant bands no glory
was to be won; little booty could be expected. Even the Guard grumbled
at such service. As Napoleon was holding a review at Valladolid just
before quitting Spain, the murmurs in the ranks grew so loud that he
lost control of himself, snatched the musket from one of the growlers,
jerked the man out of the line, threatened to have him shot, and then
pushed him back to his place while he sharply lectured the whole troop.

Once more at Paris, Napoleon’s courtiers grouped themselves around him
with the same blandishments as before. A few, a very few, might venture
to speak frankly to him and to tell him the truth, but the many had
fallen into the ways natural to all courts: they spoke, not to inform,
but to please. And foremost among those who came to fawn and to flatter
was “that cripple” whom Josephine said she dreaded, Talleyrand.

Only dangerous to the weak, gifted with no constructive talent
whatever, incapable of sustained labor of any sort, strong only in
sudden emergencies, in the crises of political changes, Talleyrand was
known to Napoleon like an open book. Scorning him, rather than fearing
him, Napoleon’s anger against him now was inflamed to the highest
pitch, not so much because of anything he had done, as because of what
his treachery implied. That so keen-eyed a time-server as Talleyrand
should begin to plot, meant that confidence was shaken in the
Napoleonic power. That the funds should fall, conscripts dodge the law,
allies shirk their obligations, and domestic enemies conspire, were but
various symptoms of the same malady.

When Talleyrand appeared at the levee, Napoleon boiled over. He began
to rebuke the false courtier, began in a moderate tone, but the more
he talked the less he could control himself. All the past perfidies
of this most perfidious of men came to mind, and in bitter words were
hurled at Talleyrand’s head. His venalities, his bribe-takings, his
betrayal of state secrets--they all swelled the torrent of Napoleon’s
excoriation. “You base wretch, you false-hearted minister. _You_
pretend that you advised against the trial of the Duke d’Enghien when
you urged it in writing; _you_ pretend that you advised against the
Spanish war when you urged me into it!”

And at each sentence Napoleon advanced, face distorted with passion,
hand raised in menace, while the guilty courtier slunk back step by
step as the Emperor advanced, until he reached the wall. There he
stood, with Napoleon’s clenched hand in his face and Napoleon’s blazing
eyes threatening death, warning him, as he loved life, to say nothing,
and let the storm pass.

When Talleyrand reached home, “he fell into a kind of fit,” and the
doctors had to be called in. Only a few days elapsed, however, before
he was again at the levee, bending humbly before his master, and ready
again with his fawnings and flatteries. Napoleon’s anger had passed: he
listened to the courtier’s suave phrases with a smile of contemptuous

France had given Austria no cause for war. It was not even claimed that
she had. Austria had causelessly provoked two wars already, had got
whipped in both, had lost much territory, much money, much prestige.
She now believed she was strong enough to win back all she had
lost--hence she had mustered her forces and commenced the march into
Bavaria. Her readiness to “begin again” had been accelerated by a bribe
of $20,000,000 paid her by England.

Napoleon had massed troops at the point of danger, but had trusted to
Berthier the direction of their movements. This officer had bungled
matters so badly that the different divisions were widely scattered;
and the troops, conscious that something was wrong, were becoming
demoralized. Summoned by the signal telegraph, Napoleon made all haste
to headquarters. He found the army so ill-posted that he said to
Berthier, “If I did not know you to be true to me, I should suspect
that you were a traitor.”

The Archduke Charles, commanding the Austrians, had seen his advantage
clearly, and was hastening to throw himself between the separate
divisions of the French, to beat them in detail. He commenced his
campaign well, and it appeared certain that he would crush the corps
of Davoust before it could be supported. But the Archduke was almost
superstitiously afraid of Napoleon, and no sooner did he learn that
the Emperor was now in command of the French than the Austrians seemed
paralyzed. Time was given for Masséna and Davoust to support each
other, the one having been ordered to fall back while the other moved
forward. Calculating to the hour when these two wings could support
the centre, the great soldier fell upon his enemy. The risk was great;
for should his two lieutenants fail to come up, all would be lost. But
Davoust and Masséna were not Grouchys: they came, and the campaign was
saved. Never was Napoleon greater in plan and execution than in 1809;
not even in the Italian campaign did he work harder. For a week he was
almost constantly in the saddle, never having time to undress. But in
that week he wrought utter confusion among his enemies, and saved his
empire. At Abensberg, at Landshut, at Eckmühl, at Ratisbonne, he struck
the Austrians blow after blow, and shattered their army, killing and
wounding thirty thousand men, capturing an equal number, and taking
vast spoil in guns, ammunition, stores, war material of all sorts. The
Archduke drew off his broken army on Bohemia; Napoleon marched upon
Vienna, which fell May 12, 1809. The royal family fled to Hungary;
the French Emperor, quartered at the palace of Schönbrunn, made
preparations to cross the Danube. There were no bridges this time for
Lannes and Murat to win by stratagem; the river rolled broad and deep
between French and Austrians; bridges would have to be built, and the
French put across in face of an army ready to dispute the passage.

Had not victory declared for Napoleon, promptly and emphatically at
the opening of the campaign, his ruin would have come in 1809 as it
did in 1814. The national spirit was declaring against him in Germany,
as it had done in Spain. Prussia was honeycombed with patriotic secret
societies, pledged against him; and in anticipation of Austrian
success, the young Duke of Brunswick and Colonel Schill had raised the
standard of revolt. The decisive victory of the French at Eckmühl alone
prevented this abortive effort at a national uprising from being a
success. In the Tyrol, also, the people, intensely Catholic and opposed
to the reforms Bavaria had introduced, rose against the Napoleonic
power, and failed only because the French had been so prompt in
scattering the strength of Austria.

In the crisis, Napoleon’s ally, Russia, had shown little zeal. She sent
a very small army where she had promised a large one; and a general of
their army wrote to the Austrian commander that he hoped they would
soon be acting in concert. Napoleon forwarded this letter to Alexander,
who contented himself with the recall of the writer. But for the heroic
conduct of Poniatowski and the Poles, it seems that the Austrian army
would have succeeded in wresting the Grand Duchy of Warsaw from Saxony.

But Napoleon’s triumphs at the opening of the campaign changed the
aspect of affairs all around. Austrian armies had to be called in from
Warsaw, from Italy, from Bohemia, to concentrate and oppose Napoleon on
the Danube.

Choosing a position below Vienna, where the large island of Lobau
divides the stream into two unequal channels, the French threw bridges
across, and on May 20 commenced passing over, taking possession of
the villages of Aspern and Essling, almost without opposition. Next
day the Archduke Charles made a furious attack, first on Aspern, then
on Essling also. The struggle was very bloody. Only a portion of the
French had passed the river; the Austrians outnumbered them heavily;
and, realizing this vast advantage, pushed it with splendid energy.
Aspern was taken and retaken time after time; and when night put an
end to the carnage, the French held only a portion of the smouldering
ruins. Next day the battle was renewed, the French army still cut
in two by the Danube. The corps of Davoust had not passed, and the
Austrians were doing their utmost to break the bridges, which a sudden
rise in the river already threatened to carry away.

So strong had been the efforts of the enemy to carry Aspern on their
right, that Napoleon guessed they had weakened their centre too much.
He therefore massed heavy columns against it, and began to drive it
back. At this moment came the dreaded message,--“The bridges are gone!”

He might have pressed on and beaten his foe, but Napoleon thought
the risk too great. His columns halted, their fire slackened, and
the orders to retire were given. The wondering Austrians took fresh
courage, and followed the retiring French with terrible effect. Masséna
must hold Aspern, Lannes Essling, until the Emperor could get the army
back to the island of Lobau. Aspern was everything; it must be held at
all hazards.

“Hold your position! It is a question of saving the army--the bridges
are gone!” So ran the despatch, and the grim soldier who held Genoa
while Napoleon planned Marengo, now held Aspern while his Emperor
prepared for Wagram.

Poor Lannes! Brave, unselfish, plain-spoken, leonine Lannes! Here his
long march was to end. The same year that Madame Letitia in Corsica
had begun to rock the cradle of Napoleon, the wife of an humble dyer
in Gascony had begun to nurse the babe who became the Roland of
Bonaparte’s army. He had little education, no influential friends; but
when the Revolution began to sound its tocsin and beat its drum, the
Gascon lad went forth to the wars. From 1791, when he volunteered as
grenadier, he had served without pause and with unsurpassed courage.
Augereau made him colonel for bravery in the Pyrenees; and Napoleon
made him general for brilliant service in Italy. He followed his
chief to Egypt, and was shot through the neck at Acre. On the famous
Sunday of Brumaire he aided in Napoleon’s seizure of supreme power,
and at Montebello fought the prelude to Marengo. He had loved Caroline
Bonaparte, whom Murat won; and had Lannes instead of Murat been the
imperial brother-in-law, much disaster might have been averted. Raised
in rank, made marshal of the Empire, and Duke of Montebello, he was the
same intrepid, ever growing, ever loyal soldier. Great at Austerlitz,
great at Jena, great at Friedland, he was greater yet at Saragossa
where he overcame a resistance which challenged the wonder of the world.

From that ruined city in Spain he had hastened to Germany, and had
been again the right hand of the great captain who so well knew his
worth. Better courtiers there were than Lannes, gallants who better
graced a ballroom, flatterers who could better please the ear. But who
of all the brave men of France could walk the battle-field with surer,
steadier step than he?

Who at heart was more loyal to the chief--who so ready to forsake ease
and comfort and go forth at the call of the chief into rain or snow,
heat or cold, exhausting march or desperate battle? In all the long
record of French heroism, who had done deeds more lionlike than Lannes?

Who was first over the bridge at Lodi, outstripping Napoleon and all,
and slaying six Austrians with his own hand? Who led the vanguard
across the frozen Alps and held the rout at Marengo till Desaix could
come? Who, in this last campaign, had rallied the grenadiers beneath
the blazing walls of Ratisbonne, seized a scaling ladder, when the
bravest held back, and had rushed toward the battlements under a
withering fire, shouting to his halting men, “I’ll show you that I’ve
not forgotten I was once a grenadier!” Who but Lannes had electrified
these troops by his fearless example, and had carried them over the

At Essling he had been in the thick of the fight, holding his ground
with old-time grip. The slaughter had been immense, and the sight of
the mangled body of General Pouzet, shot down at his side, had affected
him painfully. Sick of the hideous spectacle, he had gone a little to
one side, and had seated himself on the embankment of a trench.

A quarter of an hour later, four soldiers, laboriously carrying in a
cloak a dead officer whose face could not be seen, stopped in front of
Lannes. The cloak fell open, and he recognized Pouzet. “Oh!” he cried,
“is this terrible sight going to pursue me everywhere?” Getting up, he
went and sat down at the edge of another ditch, his hand over his eyes,
and his legs crossed. As he sat there a three-pounder shot struck him
just where his legs crossed. The knee-pan of one was smashed, and the
back sinews of the other torn. General Marbot ran to him; he tried to
rise, but could not. He was borne back to the bridge, and one of his
limbs amputated. Hardly was the operation over when Napoleon came up.
“The interview,” says Marbot, from whose _Memoirs_ this account is
literally taken, “was most touching. The Emperor, kneeling beside the
stretcher, wept as he embraced the marshal, whose blood soon stained
the Emperor’s white kerseymere waistcoat.”

“You will live, my friend, you will live!” cried the Emperor, pressing
the hand of Lannes. “I trust I may, if I can still be of service to
France and to your Majesty.”

The weather was terribly hot, and fever set in with Lannes; on May 30th
he died. In spite of the cares and dangers of his position, Napoleon
had found time to visit the wounded man every day. A few moments after
daybreak on the 30th, the Emperor came as usual, when Marbot met him
and told him of the sad event. The amputated limb had mortified, and
the stench was so strong that Marbot warned Napoleon against going in.
Pushing Marbot aside, the Emperor advanced to the dead body, embraced
it, wept over it, remained more than an hour, and only left when
Berthier reminded him that officers were waiting for orders.

“What a loss for France and for me!” Well may Napoleon have grieved and
wept: here was a gap in his line that could never be filled. Said the
Emperor at St. Helena, “I found him a pygmy; I lost him a giant.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The bridges connecting the island of Lobau with the bank of the Danube
upon which the army had been fighting were not broken: hence the
troops could be led back to the island. Once there, the position could
be fortified and held, until the Vienna arm of the river could be

This was done. Several weeks were spent in preparations, reënforcements
brought up, larger, better bridges built, and all made ready for
another attempt to cross.

The Archduke Charles, believing that Napoleon would direct his march
upon Aspern and Essling, as before, calmly waited, confident that he
could beat the French as before. On the night of July 4, 1809, while a
terrible thunderstorm was raging, Napoleon began his attack upon the
Austrian position at Essling and Aspern. This was a feint to hide his
purpose of crossing at another place, in front of Enzersdorf.

While the Archduke’s attention was fixed on the two villages first
named, the French made a dash at Enzersdorf, and took it. Several
bridges, ready-made, had been thrown across the river here, and
Napoleon’s army had passed almost before the Austrian knew what he
was about. Then the Archduke drew back into the vast plain of the
Marchfeld, and three hundred thousand men lined up for the great battle
of Wagram. From the roofs and ramparts of Vienna, excited thousands
gazed upon that vast wheat field, yellow in the summer sun, where the
harvester Death was to reap where humble peasants had sown.

For two days the tremendous struggle lasted. The Austrians never fought
better. In sight of fathers and sons, of wives, daughters, sisters,
sweethearts, who would not fight well for home and native land? What
did the Austrian soldier know of the cause of the war? He knew as much
as his masters chose to tell him; and in his heart he believed the
French to be aggressors, tyrants, marauders, come to loot and ruin and

So they stood amid the burning wheat in the golden grain fields,
beneath the torrid sun, and fought as Napoleon had never seen them
fight--fought as men fight only when their souls are in it. And far
off on the housetops, steeples, and battlements of old Vienna were
straining eyes, beating hearts, hungry prayers, and the wild hope that
these marauders from France would be scattered as the Turks had been
scattered in that dread time long ago.

But in those olden days Christians could hear the cry of Christians,
could fly to the relief of Christians. What bannered host was that
which had burst like a storm upon the Moslem rear, scattering infidels
like so much dust, bringing salvation to the beleaguered town? Who
but the Polanders and John Sobieski had smitten the Turk and sent the
crescent backward in flight before the cross? That was many and many a
year ago. There would be no “Poland to the rescue!” this time. Poland
had been devoured--by Moslems? No; by Christians. And at the feast
Austria had sat, greedily eating her share.

The shells set fire to the wheat; the smoke and the flame from the
burning grain mingled with the smoke and flame of batteries. Troops
moving to the charge were halted or turned from their course; the
wounded fell in the midst of the blazing stubble, and were burnt to
death or suffocated.

Nothing could withstand the French. The Austrian leader outclassed by
his antagonist, the long trial of strength yielded victory at length
to the better soldier. The efforts made on the wings had weakened the
Archduke’s centre. Masséna, though terribly shaken, was able to hold
the right, while Napoleon massed all his available force to hurl it
upon the Austrian centre. But he must wait. Nothing could be done
until Davoust on the enemy’s left had succeeded. Motionless as a rock,
Napoleon kept his eyes riveted on Neusiedel, a village “which lies high
and is surmounted by a tall tower visible from all parts of the field.”
Davoust must fling the Austrians back behind this village before the
attack on the centre could be made. “At last we suddenly saw the smoke
of Davoust’s guns beyond the tower.” Now the enemy’s left was beaten.
“Quick! quick!” cried the Emperor to Aide-de-camp Marbot, who had come
from Masséna to ask instructions. “Tell Masséna to fall upon whatever
is in front of him, and the battle is won!” All along the line flashed
similar orders, while Macdonald, a hundred cannon blazing along his
front, made the famous charge which broke the Austrian centre.

It was a great fight, a great victory, and great were its results.
Austria sued for peace, and Napoleon, ready as he ever was to end a
war, granted her terms as generous as she had any right to expect. She
lost territory, and had to pay an indemnity; but out of wreck which she
herself had made, her empire came forth practically intact.

As indemnity, she was asked to pay $20,000,000. This was the amount of
the bribe she had taken from England to begin the war.

An indemnity of $20,000,000! How trivial this amount when compared to
the _one thousand millions_ which Bismarck levied upon France. How
modest it looks beside the $330,000,000 which China had to pay to
Christian missionaries and their supporting nations for the riots of
the year 1900!


After the French defeat at Aspern (May 22, 1809), and while they were
shut up in the island of Lobau, it had seemed that Napoleon’s position
was almost desperate. The Tyrolese were in revolt, and had expelled
the French and Bavarians; the young Duke of Brunswick had invaded
Saxony and driven Napoleon’s vassal king from his capital. Popular
insurrections broke out in Würtemberg and Westphalia; England was
holding her ground in Portugal, and was preparing an armament to fall
upon the Dutch coast. Prussian statesmen, officers, preachers, poets,
and patriots were clamoring for war. In this anxious crisis the courage
and confidence of Napoleon were perfect. To beat the Austrians in his
front was the one thing he must do. Succeeding in that, resistance
elsewhere would disappear. Failing in that, all was lost. Thus Napoleon
had reasoned, and he had judged rightly. After Wagram his peril passed.
Austria, after having pledged faith to the Tyrolese, coldly deserted
them, and they were crushed. Brunswick’s effort failed as Schill’s had
failed; popular insurrections were stamped out; Prussia dared not move;
and England’s “Walcheren expedition” against Flushing and Antwerp ended
in utter failure and heavy loss. Everywhere Napoleon’s Empire stood
the test: Eugène beat the Austrians in Italy; and Wellington, after
defeating Victor at Talavera, was driven back into Portugal by Soult.
Out of the storm which had threatened his very existence, Napoleon came
forth with frontiers extended to the borders of Turkey, cutting off
Austria from the sea--an empire stretching in unbroken line from Bosnia
to the straits of Calais.

Never had Napoleon’s power seemed so great, nor his court so splendid.
His vassal kings came to Paris with brilliant retinues, the kings of
Saxony, Bavaria, Westphalia, Würtemberg, and Naples, the Viceroy of
Italy, the Queen of Holland, besides princes and dukes by the dozen.
Paris had become the capital of Continental Europe, and from Paris went
forth the law to eighty million people. All Frenchmen realized the
grandeur of this huge empire; but many a wise Frenchman was oppressed
by anxieties. What if the Emperor should suddenly die? Would the
succession go quietly to his brothers, or would the mighty fabric fall
to pieces? All this power, all this splendor, hung as by a single hair
upon the life of Napoleon; and there were others besides Talleyrand and
Fouché who speculated upon what should be done if the Emperor should
fall in battle. When the bullet struck his toe at Ratisbonne, the
troops broke ranks and crowded toward him in their breathless eagerness
to know whether he were seriously hurt; and the far-seeing said,
“Suppose the ball had struck two feet higher!” When it became known
that a young German fanatic, Staps, bent on assassinating the Emperor,
had almost reached him with his knife when stopped, the same uneasy
feeling prevailed. Too much depended on this one life. The Emperor had
no bodily heir; by Josephine he would never have one; the favorite
nephew, Hortense’s son, the little Napoleon, might have been adopted,
but he died of croup in Holland.

       *       *       *       *       *

His power in the north being now secure, it was expected that Napoleon
would take charge of the war in the south, and end it. He could easily
have done so. England had less than thirty thousand troops there,
and the native soldiers, Spaniards and Portuguese, could not have
stood against French veterans led by the greatest soldiers of all
time. Besides, he could have crushed resistance by the mere weight of
numbers. Why did he never return to Spain? Joseph was blundering as
stupidly as mortal could; the French commanders were not acting in
concert, but were pulling against each other; things were going as
badly as the English could reasonably expect; and nowhere in the Empire
was its Emperor needed worse than here. But Napoleon, once so quick
to rush to the point of danger, let the “Spanish ulcer” run, year in
and year out, with an apathy for which it is impossible to account.
Either he had grown fonder of his personal ease, or the dreary kind of
warfare necessary to reduce a national uprising did not appeal to his
imagination, or he feared that in his absence the north might again
give trouble, or he took an imperial pride in seeming to say to the
world that the insurrection in the south was too trifling a matter for
his personal attention and could be left to his lieutenants.

Whatever the motive, he astonished his enemies no less than his friends
by failing to follow up Wagram with the complete conquest of the
peninsula. Three hundred thousand French soldiers in Spain propped
feeble Joseph on his throne; but they were never able to put down
resistance or expel the English.

Another serious matter which might have been settled at this time was
his quarrel with the Pope.

The Concordat had accomplished great results for both contracting
parties, and at first both were highly satisfied. Napoleon complacently
rubbed his hands and declared, “With my soldiers, my prefects, and my
priests I can do as I like.”

But, after all, the Concordat was a compromise. Neither party got quite
what was wanted. Napoleon expected that there would result a clergy
wholly dependent upon his will; a pope who would be a sort of clerical
lieutenant obeying imperial orders, content to move as a lesser light
in the Napoleonic system. The Pope, on the other hand, eagerly expected
a restoration, gradually, of the former spiritual prestige of the
Church. When Napoleon was seen to attend Mass, and kneel for blessing
or prayer, clerical fancy readily pictured the return of the good old
times when pious Bourbon kings and their official mistresses had fallen
on their knees at the feet of Jesuit confessors, and allowed the reins
of government to be pulled by the Church. Especially did the Pope look
for the restoration of his full temporal power, the return of the lost
legations in Italy.

Both parties found themselves in grievous error. Napoleon not only
believed he had done quite enough for the Church, but was inclined to
think he had done too much. At any rate, he flatly declined to do more.
He would not put priests in charge of the state schools; he would not
restore the legations. He was ready to lavish respectful attentions
upon the head of the Church, ready to aid him in restoring public
worship, ready to fill his coffers with cash; but in the Concordat, the
solemn contract already agreed on, he would make no change.

So the Pope had left Paris after the coronation in ill-humor. He
refused to crown Napoleon at Milan; refused to annul Jerome’s marriage;
refused to recognize Joseph Bonaparte as King of Naples; refused to
close his ports to English commerce. Professing neutrality, he became
as much the enemy of France as he had been when an avowed member
of the European league against the Revolution. Enemies of Napoleon
flocked to Rome and found friendly welcome there. Fugitives from
French justice took refuge under papal immunity, and were protected.
The Roman court, as in the time of the Revolution, became a nucleus of
anti-French sentiment and intrigue. Papal animosity to the French did
not cool its ire when it saw him do in Spain what he had wished to do
in Italy--abolish the Inquisition. Napoleon complained, remonstrated,
threatened--all to no purpose. Meekly obstinate, piously implacable,
the Pope refused to come to terms, using God’s name, of course, as a
sanction to his own line of conduct.

During the campaign of 1809 Napoleon proclaimed the abolition of the
temporal power of the Pope, and the papal territories were incorporated
in the kingdom of Italy. The Pope’s spiritual powers were not
challenged: his revenues were largely increased. The Pope protested, as
usual, that the temporal power, lands, cities, rich revenues, were the
patrimony of St. Peter, of God, and that he, the Pope, had no right to
give them up. Napoleon, in effect, replied that what a French emperor
had given, a French emperor could take away; and that it ill became the
successor of Peter and the vicar of the homeless, moneyless Christ to
be making such eternal clamor about money, wealth, lands, and earthly
power and splendor. The situation at Rome, where French authorities
and papal authorities were in conflict, became so embarrassing that
the Pope was finally arrested, carried to Savona, and lodged in a
palace there. Later, he was transferred to the magnificent château of
Fontainebleau in France, where he was luxuriously lodged and treated as
a prince.

This complete rupture between Napoleon and the Church might never have
been more than an annoyance, a crab nibbling at the toe of Hercules,
had Napoleon continued fortunate. But when disasters thickened, and his
powers began to totter, the papal legions were not the weakest of those
who assaulted his wavering lines.

Well had it been for France had Napoleon, in 1810, given personal
attention to the Spanish war; equally well had he come to some terms
with the Pope, who had excommunicated him. The longer each trouble was
neglected, the more difficult its treatment became.

       *       *       *       *       *

Napoleon would not go to Spain, he would not settle his differences
with the Pope; but he made up his mind to bring to an issue another
long-deferred and vitally important matter--that of divorcing Josephine.

The Emperor must have an heir, the question of succession must not be
left open longer: political necessity was inexorable: ambition would
tolerate no obstacle.

Great as a man may become, he is human after all; and Napoleon flinched
from saying the fateful word to Josephine. From time to time he shrank
from the pitiful task, and the way in which he led up to it is full of
the pathos which sometimes lies in small things. Whenever Napoleon
was at home, it was the custom for a page to bring in coffee for the
Emperor after dinner. Every day Josephine herself would take the
tray, pour the coffee, sweeten it, cool it, taste it, and hand it to
Napoleon. Years had come and gone, and the little domestic custom had
become as fixed as the relation of man and wife.

At length came the day of days for them both, the dismal evening upon
which Napoleon had resolved to speak. He was gloomy and sad; she
was red-eyed with weeping, wretched, waiting the word she dreaded
and expected. Dinner was served, but neither ate, neither spoke.
The Emperor rose from the table, she followed “with slow steps, her
handkerchief over her mouth, as if to stifle her sobs.” The page came
with the coffee, offering the tray to the Empress, as he had always
done. But Napoleon, looking steadily at Josephine, took the tray,
poured the coffee, sweetened it, and drank; and Josephine knew that
they had reached the parting of the ways. The tray was handed back to
the page, the attendants withdrew at a sign from the master, Napoleon
closed the door, and then with face as cold and sad as death he spoke
of the divorce.

Constant, the valet, dreading “some terrible event,” had sat down
outside by the door. He heard shrieks, and rushed forward. The Emperor
opened the door, the Empress was on the floor, “weeping and crying
enough to break one’s heart.” They lifted her and bore her to her room,
Napoleon assisting. There were tears in his eyes, and his voice was
broken and trembling. It was a bitter night to them both, and Napoleon
visited her room several times to inquire after her condition. He did
not sleep; he did not utter a word to his attendants. “I have never
seen him,” writes Constant, “in such affliction.”

But his resolution stood, and on December 16, 1809, the divorce was
formally pronounced. There was a final heart-breaking interview in
Napoleon’s bedchamber, to which the stricken wife had come to say
good-by; there were sobs and tears and tender, regretful words; then
Josephine, weeping, went back to her room, leaving Napoleon “silent as
the grave, and so buried in his bed that it was impossible for one to
see his face.”

The ex-Empress’s humiliation was softened in every manner possible.
She was regally endowed with pensions and estates; she was treated
with the most delicate respect; the friendship between herself and
Napoleon remained uninterrupted; he delighted to do her honor; and her
place in the Empire remained one of dignity and grandeur. Once the
Emperor, returning from the chase with the kings of Bavaria, Baden,
and Würtemberg, stopped at Malmaison to pay the ex-Empress a visit,
and spent an hour in the château with her while the three little kings
waited and lunched at her gate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Napoleon’s first thought was to wed a sister of the Czar of Russia,
and proposals to that effect were made. The mother of the princess,
however, was bitterly opposed to Napoleon, and alleged that her
daughter was too young. Alexander, greatly embarrassed, asked for time.
To the impatient Emperor of the French this evasion seemed to cover a
refusal, and he would not grant the delay. In the meantime the Austrian
Cabinet, dreading the increased strength which such a marriage would
give to the Franco-Russian alliance, let it be known to Napoleon that
if he asked for the daughter of the Emperor Francis, she would be
promptly delivered. Irritated by the hesitation of the Romanoffs, and
flattered by the advances of the Hapsburgs, Napoleon put his foot upon
the “abyss covered with flowers.” On March 11, 1810, he was married
by proxy to Maria Louisa in Vienna, and the bride set out at once for
Paris. “Take as your standpoint that children are wanted,” Napoleon had
frankly written to his negotiator at St. Petersburg: and the Austrian
princess understood the situation thoroughly. After a triumphal
progress through the provinces of the Empire, she reached the French
frontier, was formally received, her clothing all changed, her Austrian
attendants relieved, and France, taking her precious person in custody,
reclothed her, surrounded her with a fresh lot of attendants, and
hastened with her in the direction of Compiègne, where by appointment
she was to meet her imperial spouse. Napoleon had himself dictated, to
the minutest detail, every movement of the bridal party, and he awaited
its coming with the utmost impatience, “cursing the ceremonial and the
fêtes which delayed the arrival of his young bride.”

At length when Maria was within ten leagues of Soissons, Napoleon broke
from all restraint.

At the top of his voice he shouted to his valet: “Heigho, Constant!
Order a carriage without livery, and come and dress me!”

He bathed, he perfumed, he dressed, laughing all the time like a boy
at the effect which the surprise he was planning would produce on his
bride. Over his uniform he drew the gray overcoat he had worn at
Wagram; and calling Murat to go with him, he secretly left the park
of Compiègne, entered the plain carriage, and dashed along the road
beyond Soissons. The rain was pouring down when he and Murat reached
Courcelles, where they left the carriage and stood in the porch of
the church for the bridal train to come up. Signing to the postilions
to stop, Napoleon had intended to reach Maria Louisa unannounced; but
the equerry, recognizing him, let down the step and called out, “His

“Didn’t you see that I signed you to be silent?” exclaimed Napoleon,
in a pet. But his ill-humor vanished at once, he hastened into the
carriage, and flung his arms around the neck of his bride, who, nicely
tutored, was all graceful submission, and who, looking from his face
to his portrait which she held in her hand, remembered to say, “Your
portrait does not flatter you.”

Napoleon was in ecstasies. He was a boy again, amorous, rapturous,
seeing everything with the eyes of a lover. Soissons had prepared a
magnificent reception and banquet, but Napoleon could not think of
tarrying. He must hasten on to Compiègne with the blushing Maria that
very night. “He made love like a hussar!” some have sneered. So he did,
and most men who are not invalids or frigid decadents make love like
hussars. Furthermore, most women who are young, healthy, and sane, have
a stealthy preference for the hussar style of love-making.

Etiquette had prepared a bed for Maria at the Chancellor’s, and one for
Napoleon at the palace. Etiquette insisted that this separation was
decorous, was most essential, was demanded by precedent and custom.
“Not so,” maintained Napoleon; “Henry IV. breached the custom, and so
will I.”

Had not the marriage already taken place in Vienna? If that ceremony,
solemnized by the Archbishop of Vienna was valid, were not Napoleon
and Maria man and wife? Why, then, separate apartments? He decided
that a husband’s rights were already his, and Maria made no strenuous
objection,--so well had she been tutored in Vienna. Read what the
imperial _valet-de-chambre_, Constant, writes:--

“The next morning at his toilet the Emperor asked me if any one had
noticed his change of the programme.” Constant lied, like a good
servant, and “I told him, no.” At that moment entered one of the
Emperor’s intimates who was unmarried. Pinching his ears, his Majesty
said to him: “Marry a German, my dear fellow. They are the best women
in the world: gentle, good, artless and as fresh as roses.” And
Constant states that Napoleon “was charmingly gay all the remainder of
the day.”

With imperial pomp the civil and religious marriage was solemnized
at St. Cloud and Paris, April 1 and 2, 1810. The illuminations, the
processions, the festivities, were gorgeous beyond description. After
these were ended, there was a grand tour of the provinces by the
imperial couple. Returning to Paris, the Austrian ambassador, Prince
Schwarzenberg, tendered them the magnificent fête during which the
tapestries in the vast temporary ballroom caught on fire, the building
burned to the ground, and some of the revellers met fiery death.

[Illustration: MARIA LOUISA

From the portrait by Gérard in the Louvre]

As to Maria Louisa it may be said, once for all, that she was a
commonplace woman, with no talent, no character, no graces of manner,
and no beauty. She was strong, healthy, physically fresh and buxom,
therefore admirably suited to Napoleon’s immediate purpose. She was
never a companion to him, never had any influence over him, never had
any love for him, never understood or appreciated him. Dull, indolent,
sensual, capable of no warm attachment, she simply yielded to her
father’s policy, married where she was told to marry, obeyed Napoleon
as she was told to obey him, accepted his caresses, ate four or five
times per day, bore him a child, pleaded her health against the bearing
of more, gave herself little concern about his reverses, left him when
her father called for her to leave him, took up with another man whom
her father selected, lived with him in much contentment, and bore him
several children.

       *       *       *       *       *

Increasingly heavy became to Napoleon the burden of his family. Joseph
in Spain required huge armies and huge subsidies to uphold him there,
and his correspondence with his brother was one long, lugubrious
howl for “more.” Jerome’s reckless dissipations and extravagance in
Westphalia scandalized Germany, bringing reproach upon the Empire.
Lucien contributed his share of mischief by encouraging the ill-temper
of the Pope. Pauline, Caroline, Elisa were so many thorns in the flesh,
so many annoyances more or less acute. Brother-in-law Murat, by his
pride and boasting and complaints, disgusted friends of the Emperor,
arousing jealousies among old comrades who had not been made kings.
Mother Letitia, like the mother of Washington, complained that the
illustrious son had not done enough for the author of his being. Uncle
Fesch, now a cardinal, had absorbed all the essence of his clerical
order, and maddened his nephew by opposition in the quarrel with Rome.

And to cap a climax and advertise family feuds to the world, Louis
Bonaparte vacated the throne of Holland, left the country privately,
and went, almost as a fugitive, to “drink the waters” at Teplitz in
Bohemia. For some days it was not even known what had become of him.

The Emperor’s grief, anger, and mortification were extreme. Stunned by
the blow dealt him by his brother, he said in broken voice: “To think
that Louis should make me this return! When I was a poor lieutenant of
artillery, I divided my slender pay with him, fed him, taught him as
though he were my son.” And this cross-grained, thankless Louis had
brought shame upon Emperor and Empire! Why? Because the brother who had
put the sceptre in his hand wished him to rule Holland as a province
of the Empire, in line with the policy of the Empire, sharing all the
benefits of the Empire, and sharing likewise its burdens! Because
Napoleon would not consent that Holland should violate the Continental
system, and become practically the ally of England in the great
struggle for national supremacy, Louis had dropped the crown and gone
away to drink mineral water in Bohemia.

A very aggravating mortal must have been this Louis, on general
principles. Yielding to his brother’s influence, he had wedded
Hortense, the daughter of Josephine. There was no love prior to this
marriage, and none afterward. Despite Napoleon’s repeated, patient
efforts, the two could never harmonize. With or without reason, Louis
suspected the virtue of his wife. Ugly rumor reported that the first
child of Hortense was not begotten by Louis, but by Napoleon. The
younger brother may not have believed the story, but the fondness of
the childless elder brother for the son of the younger, attracted
attention and excited remark. The child was a promising boy; he was
named after his uncle Napoleon, and he was devotedly fond of this
uncle. The little fellow would come into Napoleon’s room, put on the
Emperor’s hat, catch up his sword, put the belt over his shoulders,
and, whistling a military air, go marching about in military style,
with the sword dragging along on the floor. And Napoleon would be
thrown into ecstasy, and would cry out, rubbing his hands: “Look at
him! See the pretty picture!”

His love for the boy growing with the boy’s growth, Napoleon had
offered to make him King of Italy, preparatory, doubtless, to adopting
him as heir to the Empire. Louis would not hear of it. Put his son
above _him_? Give his child a throne, when he himself had none? Never
in the world! So he objected flatly, saying to his brother with
unparalleled impudence, “Such a favor from you to this child would
revive the rumors that you are his father.”

Is it any wonder that Napoleon’s temper escaped control, and that he
caught Louis about the body and flung him out at the door?

The little Napoleon had died, Hortense had separated from her
impossible spouse, and was going a rapid pace of her own, with a
certain Duc de Flahaut, famous for his shapely legs,--so much so that
they wrung from the Emperor an exclamation on the subject of Flahaut
and “his eternal legs.” Holland’s throne was vacant: what was Napoleon
to do? Give it to some one else who would be as ungrateful as Louis
had been? Abandon it entirely, and see England get a foothold there?

To escape the dilemma, Holland was annexed to the Empire (July, 1810).

       *       *       *       *       *

The royal line of Sweden was about to become extinct. It became
necessary to provide for the succession. The Swedes decided to choose
a Crown Prince from among the illustrious Frenchmen who stood around
Napoleon’s throne. They wished to win Napoleon’s good-will and
protection by selecting one of his favorites, and they were made to
believe that they could not please him better than by the choice of

Were not this a matter so gravely serious, it would be comical to the
last degree. The marshal whom Napoleon most detested and distrusted
was Bernadotte. The marshal who most envied the Emperor, most hated
him, most longed to betray him, was Bernadotte. He had plotted against
his chief during the Consulate, and escaped court-martial because he
and Joseph Bonaparte had married sisters. He had left Davoust in the
lurch at Auerstädt, imperilled the army, coldly leaving thirty thousand
French to combat sixty thousand Prussians, without lifting a hand to
help the French. Again he had escaped; he was a member of the Bonaparte

At Wagram his conduct had been so darkly suspicious, his proclamation
claiming a victory where he had failed miserably to do his duty, had
been so insolent, that Napoleon ordered him home in disgrace. But again
family influence prevailed, and he was made Governor of Rome.

The Swedes had not kept the run of these events, and when Bernadotte’s
agents plied them with the argument that he was a member of the
Bonaparte family, and a favorite with the Emperor, there were none to
deny. Napoleon knew what was going on. He alone could have set the
Swedes right, and nipped the intrigue in the bud. Why did he not do
so? Absolutely no satisfactory answer can be given. A word from him
would have made some other man Prince Royal of Sweden, but he would
not speak. With apathetic scorn he looked on while Bernadotte worked
the wires, feeling all the while that Bernadotte’s success would be
a misfortune to France. He not only refused to interfere, not only
refused to correct the false representations upon which the Swedes
acted, but gave his formal consent when it was asked, and furnished
Bernadotte with $400,000 to equip himself in a suitable way in setting
out to take possession of his new dignity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some months after Napoleon’s second marriage, he and the Empress stood
sponsors at the baptism of several infants of his great officers. When
the baptismal ceremony had been finished, the Emperor turned to some of
his intimate friends and said rubbing his hands together as he did when
well pleased, “Before long, gentlemen, I hope we shall have another
baby to baptize.”

This joyful intelligence gradually spreading, the whole French nation
began to look forward with a feeling of hope and satisfaction to the
birth of Napoleon’s heir.

On March 19, 1811, the Empress felt the first pains, and “the palace
was in a flutter.” Next morning early the crisis came. Napoleon
sprang out of his bath, and covered with a dressing-gown hastened
to his wife’s room, saying to the excited doctor in charge, “Come,
now, Dubois, don’t lose your head.” He embraced the suffering Empress
tenderly, but, unable to endure the sight of her anguish, went to
another room, where he stood, pale and trembling, awaiting the event.
When the physician reported that an operation might be necessary, and
that one or the other, mother or child, might have to be sacrificed
Napoleon answered, without hesitation, “Save the mother, it is her

To calm them, he said: “Forget that you are operating upon an Empress.
Treat her as though she were some shopkeeper’s wife.”

At length the cruel ordeal was over, the child safely delivered, and
the mother relieved. The Emperor sprang to her couch and covered
her with caresses. He was overwhelmed with joy; his face shone with
delight. “Well, Constant, we have a big boy!” he cried to his valet;
and to all others as he met them he continued to repeat rapturously,
“We have a big boy!” Very, very human was this “Corsican ogre,”
Napoleon Bonaparte.

If words and looks go for evidence, the warrior of Austerlitz, the
giver of crowns and kingdoms, was never so happy as when he took
his son in his arms, kissed it tenderly, and holding it toward his
courtiers, said proudly, “Gentlemen, the King of Rome!”

All Paris listened, eagerly attentive, to the great bells of Notre
Dame; steeple answered steeple, until every church had joined in
the chorus. All Paris hearkened to the cannon, counting report
after report: for if the child were a girl, the shots would stop at
twenty-one; if a boy, there would be one hundred. At the sound of
the twenty-second gun there burst out a universal shout of joy and
congratulation. “Hats flew up into the air, people ran to meet entire
strangers, and with mutual embraces shouted, _Long live the Emperor!_
Old soldiers shed tears of joy.”

Behind a curtain at the window of the palace stood Napoleon, looking
out upon this display of enthusiastic gladness. “His eyes swam with
tears, and he came in that condition to kiss his son.”

Never were national rejoicings greater at the birth of an heir to
the throne. Cities, towns, private dwellings, illuminated not only
in France, but throughout the Empire. Couriers rode with the news to
foreign courts. Congratulations poured into the Tuileries from the four
quarters of the earth. The Emperor seemed to be “walking in the midst
of a delicious dream.” He was the mightiest monarch of earth; his wife
“a daughter of the Cæsars”; his son, his long-yearned-for son, had
come, was strong and fair,--the “King of Rome!” Napoleon’s imagination
was aflame; human grandeur he had pushed to its limit.

His memory may have swept back to far-off Corsica, and to that day
of 1769 when his mother had brought him into the world, lying on the
floor “upon a wretched rug.” From that dim period to this, what a march

If Napoleon had been kind and indulgent to the barren Josephine, what
was his tenderness to the fruitful Maria! He almost smothered her with
caresses, and almost, if not quite, wearied her with attentions. As
to his boy, nothing could have been more touching than his boundless
pride in him, his infinite patience with him, his intense paternal
fondness for him.

Nothing would satisfy the Emperor but that Josephine must see his
boy. Maria must not know; Maria being jealous of the ex-Empress.
One day Napoleon had his child carried privately out to Bagatelle.
Josephine was there. The little King of Rome was presented to her.
Was she envious and jealous? Not so. She took the child in her arms,
pressed it, kissed it, wept over it, prattled “baby talk” to it,
fondling it with “unutterable tenderness” as though it were her own.
Poor Josephine! Sternly truthful historians have told us about the
infidelities and the want of honesty and scruple. With pain and sorrow
we must tell the story of these as it is told to us; but let us turn
the picture as quickly as we may, and look upon the other side--for
there is another and a brighter.

It was true womanhood at its best when the barren, discarded wife
continued to love the husband who had put her away; who loved and
fondled the offspring of the other marriage with a greater tenderness
than the child’s own mother ever showed it; who remained faithful to
Napoleon in the dark days when the second wife was false; who grieved
brokenly over his fall, and wished to share his exile.

Evermore will this record speak for Josephine; evermore will it speak
for Napoleon also.

Constant relates: “One day when Bonaparte came back very much fatigued
from hunting, he sent to ask Maria Louisa to come and see him. She
came. The Emperor took her in his arms and gave her a hearty kiss on
the cheek. Maria took her handkerchief and wiped it off.

“‘Well, Louise,’ said the Emperor, ‘so I disgust thee?’

“‘No,’ replied the Empress, ‘I have a habit of wiping myself like that.
I do the same with the King of Rome.’ The Emperor seemed dissatisfied.”

A wife and mother wiping off the kisses of husband and child reveals
her own character so fully by the act that comment is unnecessary.


“My taskmaster has no bowels; it is the nature of things.” This remark,
made by Napoleon long prior to the divorce, was now to be verified with
results calamitous to Europe and to himself. The war of 1812 was one
for which he had no enthusiasm, and into which he was drawn by almost
irresistible circumstances. To Metternich he said, “I shall have war
with Russia on grounds which lie beyond human possibilities, because
they are rooted in the case itself.”

The French Emperor felt himself committed to his Continental system.
His pride, his pledge, his self-preservation, were at stake. As long as
England could make war upon him, and league against him the kings and
cabinets of the Continent, his empire would never be secure. He might
weather the storm for his own life; but the same endless antagonism,
the same implacable hatred, would pursue his successor. To steady his
throne, he must have peace with Great Britain: this peace he could not
get till he conquered it; having no navy, he could only “conquer the
sea on the land,” and his only hope of doing this was to make good the
Continental boycott against English manufactures. If he could close all
Continental ports to British goods, he would starve England into peace.
But as long as Continental ports were but partially closed, his policy
would be a failure. Command of the seaboard was his great aim, hence
the invasion of Spain and Portugal, the annexation of Holland, the
Illyrian provinces, and the Duchy of Oldenberg.

The motive of Napoleon in granting Alexander such liberal terms
at Tilsit was to get another adherent to the Continental system.
The Czar took the benefits of the treaty and shirked its burdens.
His coöperation with Napoleon in the war of 1809 was nothing less
than a mockery, and when the Russian landlords clamored against the
Continental system, Alexander began to relax it. When the Emperor
complained of this violation of the treaty, the Czar retorted that
Napoleon himself did not enforce his system, that he licensed
violations of it--a retort in which there was truth enough to sting.

By a vast system of smuggling, misuse of the neutral flag, and the
forging of neutral papers, English goods continued to pour into the
Continent. Unless Napoleon could put a stop to this, he might as well
give up the contest. In October, 1810, he wrote to the Czar urging
him to seize these so-called neutral ships, alleging that they were
English. “Whatever papers they carry, your Majesty may be sure they are
English.” It is now admitted that this statement of the Emperor was
substantially correct. The Czar refused, and, to make his refusal the
more galling, he issued a ukase, allowing the admission of colonial
goods while it virtually prohibited French wines and silks. A plainer
declaration of commercial war he could not have made. That it would
lead to a clash of arms, he must have known. At any rate the Czar’s
entire line of conduct from 1810 was that of a monarch preparing for
a great war. It was in 1810 he sounded the Poles, seeking to know
whether they would side with Russia in a contest with Napoleon. His
armies were increased, his fortresses strengthened, and he made secret
approaches to England and to Austria.

In addition to the Continental system there were other grievances.
Napoleon had added Galicia to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, after the
Treaty of Vienna in 1809, in violation of his agreement with the
Czar. He had taken possession of Oldenberg, whose Duke had married a
sister of the Czar. In each of these cases the Emperor had offered
explanations, and he had offered an equivalent in Germany for
Oldenberg; but the transactions themselves rankled in the Russian
memory--although she had really no right to object to Napoleon’s
treatment of Oldenberg which was a member of his Confederation of the
Rhine; and although she had accepted at his hands a valuable increase
of territory as the price of her lukewarm support in the war of 1809.

In the matter of the marriage, there had been irritation, Napoleon
suspecting that Alexander meant to procrastinate and then refuse, while
the Czar believed that the Emperor was wooing two princesses at the
same time, and coolly balancing the Russian against the Austrian. This
was not the truth, but was near it. A Napoleonic family council had
debated the two alliances, upon the assumption that the Emperor could
choose either, and had decided in favor of the Hapsburg. Alexander,
the Romanoff, therefore felt insulted. In fact, after this second
marriage of Napoleon, the Czar had believed that war was inevitable.
Nevertheless, the fault even here was with the Czar. Napoleon had asked
for his sister, and was entitled to a positive answer. Indefinite
adjournment, without a promise, was, to a man in Napoleon’s position,
a polite way of refusing.

Still there was no rupture. Diplomatic relations were strained, war
began to be talked of, preparations got under way, but diplomacy yet
hoped to solve the problem. The final quarrel seems to have taken place
over the wording of a new treaty. Alexander wanted Napoleon to say that
“Poland shall never be restored.” How could the Emperor guarantee such
a thing? He was not Destiny. He could not foresee what might be done
by others and by Time. He was willing to promise that _he_ would never
restore Poland, nor aid in its restoration. He wrote this promise in
the strongest terms. The Czar struck out the amendment, rewrote the
original, “Poland shall never be restored,” and demanded Napoleon’s

Was this an affront, or not? There the case, so far as the actual
rupture goes, rests. Napoleon considered it a humiliation to sign such
an indefinite, peremptory guarantee; he thought it an insult for the
Czar to show so plainly that he doubted his word.

England, of course, was buzzing at the Russian ear all this while.
Her agents moved heaven and earth to make the “two bullies” fight. No
matter which was worsted, Great Britain would be the gainer. She feared
France on the Continent, Russia on the Indian frontier. A duel between
these colossal powers would exhaust both, leaving England all the
stronger by comparison.

Russia and Turkey were at war on the Danube. The Christians were doing
their utmost to relieve the heathen of several thousand square miles of
land. England exerted herself to bring about peace between Turk and
Russian, in order that the Czar might not have a war in his rear as
Napoleon had in Spain.

It is said that a forged letter, in which Napoleon was made to state
that he agreed to a partition of Turkey, was shown at Constantinople.
The Turk had his suspicions of this letter; but an Englishman swore
that he recognized Napoleon’s writing. By some strange neglect, France
had no ambassador in Turkey at this critical moment. Andréossy had been
appointed, had set out, but had waited at Laybach for his credentials.
When they at length arrived, and he proceeded to Constantinople, it was
too late.

Before any declaration of war, and while diplomatic relations were
still maintained by the two governments, the Czar sent an agent to
Paris to pose as envoy and to work as spy. This man, Czernischeff,
bribed a clerk in the French war office to steal a complete statement
of the French forces, dispositions, equipments, etc. The clerk was
shot; the noble Russian escaped by sudden, secret, and rapid flight.

At practically the same time, Napoleon was equally well served at St.
Petersburg by a spy who stole the “states” of the Russian armies, and
the plates from which the great maps of Russia were printed. From
these plates Napoleon furnished his generals with maps for the Russian

Napoleon fully realized the nature of the task he had before him in
a contest with Russia. To defend himself in Italy, Germany, or even
Poland against the Czar was one thing; to invade that vast empire with
the purpose of seizing its capital and compelling it to sign such
treaties as he had imposed upon Austria and Prussia, was another task
altogether--a task colossal, if not appalling. No one knew this better
than Napoleon, and his preparations were made on a scale such as Europe
had never seen.

In advance of the work of the soldier came that of the diplomat. Both
Russia and France sought alliances. Great Britain was, of course,
heartily with the Czar. Sweden, controlled by Bernadotte, took the same
side. He had demanded, as the price of his alliance, that Napoleon give
him Norway, thus despoiling the Danes. The Emperor refused, but offered
Finland, which Russia had seized. The Czar promised Norway, and thus
the Frenchman, Bernadotte, who probably had not yet spent all the money
Napoleon had supplied him with when he went to Sweden, pledged his
support to the enemies of France. For all practical purposes, Russia
likewise made an ally of Turkey. So utterly improbable did it seem that
Turkey would make peace with its hereditary enemy at the very moment
when it had the best opportunity fate had ever offered in all the long
struggle, that Napoleon had not even calculated upon such an event. It
took him completely by surprise.

Turkish recollections of Tilsit and Erfurth, Turkish fears of other
bargains of the same sort, and Turkish dread of an English bombardment
of Constantinople, which was threatened, brought about the unlooked-for
treaty which gave Russia an army to throw upon Napoleon’s flank.

In addition to these advantages the Czar had another, and of vast
importance--the war in Spain. Three hundred thousand French troops were
held in the peninsula, and scores of the best officers the Empire could

To Alexander it must have seemed that it would indeed be a miracle if
Napoleon could sustain two such immense contests so far apart, one at
the extreme south the other in the extreme north. Even Napoleon had
appeared to grow weary of his huge tasks, and had been heard to say,
“The bow is overbent.”

But in getting ready for the contest he certainly accomplished
wonders. So imposing were his armaments that Austria and Prussia both
believed he would succeed, and they cast in their lot with the French.
Each agreed to furnish contingents: the Emperor Francis assured his
son-in-law that he might “fully rely upon Austria for the triumph of
the common cause,” and the King of Prussia pledged his “unswerving
fidelity.” Upon these broken reeds the astute Emperor did not, in all
probability, intend to lean very heavily. Events were soon to prove
that they would bear no weight at all.

Before putting himself at the head of his army, Napoleon held a grand
assemblage of his allies at Dresden (May, 1812). It was the most
imposing, as it was the last, of the Napoleonic pageants, wherein
vassal princes gathered about him and did him homage. Accompanied by
the Empress Maria Louisa, he left St. Cloud May 9, reached Mayence
on the 14th, and from thence made a triumphal progress to the Saxon
capital. Princes of the Confederation of the Rhine hastened to receive
their suzerain; “many even came to wait for them on the road, amongst
others the King of Würtemberg and the Grand Duke of Baden.” The King
and Queen of Saxony came forth from Dresden to meet them; and a
torchlight procession escorted them into the city. On the morrow came
the Emperor and Empress of Austria, and the archdukes; following these
came the King and Crown Prince of Prussia, the Queen of Westphalia,
and scores of princes, noblemen, and dignitaries. “The splendor of the
Court,” says an eye-witness, “gave Napoleon the air of some legendary
Grand Mogul. As at Tilsit, he showered magnificent presents on all
sides. At his levees, reigning princes danced attendance for hours in
the hope of being honored with an audience. Every country sent its
contingent. There were no eyes but for Napoleon. The populace gathered
in crowds outside the palaces, following his every movement, and
dogging his progress through the streets, in hourly expectation of some
great event.”

The Crown Prince of Prussia begged for the privilege of serving on
the Emperor’s staff, and was denied. Napoleon doubtless thought the
campaign before him was risky enough without the presence of a possible
spy in his military family.

Napoleon was no longer the man he had been in his earlier campaigns. He
had grown fat, subject to fits of lassitude, and to a painful disease,
dysuria. His plans were as fine as ever, but the execution was nothing
like what it had been. He no longer gave such personal attention to
detail; irresolution sometimes paralyzed his combinations.

Nor were his generals up to their former standard. He had made them
too rich. They had pampered themselves and grown lazy. They had no
stomach for the Russian war, joined their commands reluctantly, and
worked without zeal. Neither was the army to be compared to those of
Austerlitz, Jena, and Wagram. In his host of six hundred thousand,
there were but two hundred thousand Frenchmen, the remainder being
composed of Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine, Prussians,
Austrians, Italians, Poles, Swiss, Dutch, and even Spaniards and
Portuguese. In such a motley array there could be no cohesion, no
strength of common purpose which could stand a serious strain. Even the
French soldiers, splendid as they undoubtedly were, were not animated
by the same spirit as formerly. The causes of the war were beyond their
grasp, even the generals felt that the Continental system was not worth
fighting about. England, on the verge of commercial ruin, might know
better: Napoleon certainly knew better; but to the average Frenchman
the grievances on both sides were too vague and abstract to justify so
huge a conflict.

No declaration of war had been published, neither Czar nor Emperor
had yet fully committed himself, and hopes were entertained that even
yet terms might be arranged. But when the travel-stained carriage of
Count Narbonne rolled into Dresden, and he announced that Alexander had
refused to make any change in his attitude, it became with Napoleon a
question of back down or fight. The Czar was determined not to begin
the war; he was equally determined not to keep the contract made at
Tilsit. Just as England had held Malta after pledging herself to give
it up, Russia was resolved to repudiate and oppose the Continental
system which she had promised to support.

At St. Helena Napoleon said that he and Alexander were like two
bullies, each trying to frighten the other, and neither wishing to
fight. From the manner in which Napoleon continued to hesitate and to
send messengers, after all his preparations were complete, it would
seem that he, at least, had hoped to the last that an accommodation
might be reached. Narbonne’s report put an end to doubt.

Either Alexander’s breach of the Continental system must be borne, to
the ruin of Napoleon’s whole policy, or there must be war. The Emperor
had gone too far to stop. What would the world say if, after having
made such gigantic preparations, he abandoned the enterprise without
having extorted a single concession? The very “nature of things” drove
him on, and, dismissing the Dresden conference, he put his host in
motion for the Niemen.

Says General Marbot: “When the sun rose on June 24 we witnessed a most
imposing spectacle. On the highest point near the left bank were seen
the Emperor’s tents. Around them the slopes of every hill, and the
valleys between, were gay with men and horses flashing with arms.”
Amid strains of music from the military bands, the eagles were borne
forward, and, under the eye of the master, a quarter of a million
soldiers began to tramp over the bridges, shouting, “Live the Emperor!”
Soon Napoleon himself crossed the bridge, and galloped through the
forest at full speed on his Arab, as though it exhilarated him to be
upon Russian soil.

The Russians made no attempt to check the invaders. Deceived as to
Napoleon’s plan of campaign, their armies were scattered, and soon
became involved in the gravest peril. Had it not been for the terrible
blunders of Jerome Bonaparte and Junot, the Russian force under Barclay
de Tolly must have been cut off and destroyed. Had this been done, it
might, like Ulm, have proved decisive. But Napoleon found it impossible
to perfect his combinations: the Russian armies escaped, united, and
the long campaign began.

Crops had failed in this part of Russia the year before, and the
land was scantily supplied with provisions. The troops of the Czar
laid waste the country as they retreated; hence the invaders almost
immediately began to suffer, for their commissariat could not sustain
so tremendous a burden as the feeding of the half million men and one
hundred thousand horses. The summer heat was stifling. Men and horses
sank under it. One writer gives us a picture of Napoleon himself,
stripped to his shirt and lying across a bed, panting and inert with
heat. Torrents of rain followed. The roads were cut up, becoming mere
sinks of mud. Desertions, straggling, mortalities, marauding, became
frightful, so much so that an officer who came up with reserves stated
that the route over which the Grand Army had passed looked like that
of a defeated foe. Ten thousand horses died for want of forage between
the Niemen and Wilna. After the floods came sultry weather again and
the suffocating dust of the roads. The hospitals were crowded with the
sick. Discipline was lax, movements slow and uncertain. There was a
babel of languages, growing confusion, quarrels among officers, and
much vacillation in the Emperor himself.

At Wilna the Polish question faced him again. Once more he temporized.
He had mortally offended the Czar by enlarging the Grand Duchy of
Warsaw, perpetually menacing Russia with a resurrected and vengeful
Poland. He now froze the ardor of the Poles by indefinitely postponing
the day of their deliverance. When he afterward realized how
tremendously effective a united Poland would have been in the death
struggle with the Czar, he must have inwardly cursed the bonds which
tied his hands--the alliances with Prussia and Austria. Very frankly,
very honorably, he told the Polish delegation that his engagements
with these two powers made it impossible for him to reëstablish their
national independence.

While at Wilna Napoleon received an envoy from the Czar, who proposed
that if the French would recross the Niemen, terms of peace might be
agreed on. Such an offer seemed to be altogether one-sided, giving
substantial advantages to Alexander, and assuring nothing to Napoleon.
Therefore it was rejected.

After having lingered at Wilna from June 28 to July 16, a loss of time
which Lord Wolseley thinks “it is impossible to explain away when we
remember how late it was in the year when he opened the campaign,” the
Emperor marched upon Vitebsk. It was here that he learned that Russia
had come to terms with Sweden and Turkey.

It was at this place that, according to Ségur, the Emperor exclaimed,
“Here I am, and here I will stay,” taking off his sword and throwing
it upon the table. He had pursued the Russians some distance beyond
the town, had failed to force them into a pitched battle, and had now
returned to headquarters. “I will stay here for the winter, complete my
army, give it a rest, and organize Poland. The campaign of 1812 is at
an end.” Turning to the King of Naples, he continued: “Murat, the first
Russian campaign is over. We will plant our standards here. We will
intrench and quarter the troops. The year 1813 will see us in Moscow;
1814 in St. Petersburg--the war with Russia is one of three years!”

But he soon became irresolute. The thought of eight months of inaction,
with the Grand Army on the defensive, became unbearable. What would
the world say? “Europe will say, ‘He stayed at Vitebsk because he
_dared_ not advance.’ Am I to give Russia time to arm? How can we go
into winter quarters in July? Let us forestall the winter! Peace is at
Moscow. Why should we remain here eight months, idle and exposed to
treacherous intrigues in the rear, when we can reach our goal in twenty

He did not convince his marshals; they opposed the advance; but he
angrily swept their objections aside.

To Duroc he said he would go to Smolensk and there winter. Complaining
that his generals were sick of war, that he had made them too rich,
that they could think of nothing but the pleasures of the chase on
their estates, and the display of themselves in fine carriages in
Paris, he ordered the advance upon Smolensk. Once more he failed to
secure his much-desired pitched battle. The Russians fought his advance
guard stubbornly, and inflicted heavy losses, but during the night they
continued their retreat. The French found Smolensk a heap of smoking
ruins; French shells and Russian patriots had fired it.

Much has been said about the alleged plan of Russia to lure Napoleon
into the country and to destroy him by starvation. The fact seems to
be that the Russians retreated because they could not help it. They
fought often and desperately. The Czar himself came to the army for the
express purpose of inspiring it to fight. Outnumbered and beaten, it
fell back, desolating the country as it went; but the plain facts show
that the Russians did all that was in their power to put a stop to the
invasion. The alleged campaign policy of “luring Napoleon to his doom”
is fiction.

At Smolensk, Napoleon was no more willing to stop than he had been at
Vitebsk. Peace was at Moscow; he must press on; he must beat the enemy
in a great pitched battle, and give his friend, the Czar, the excuse
to his people without which he would not dare to come to terms. Again
there were hot words between the Emperor and his marshals. Murat, in
great anger, predicted that if the army was forced on to Moscow, it
would be lost. But the order was imperative: “On to Moscow!”--and the
army marched.

The Czar, or those who controlled him, were dissatisfied with the
manner in which their side of the campaign had been conducted. There
had been too much retreat, and not enough fight. Kutusoff was put in
command with the understanding that he must give battle--a fact which,
of itself, would seem to dispose of the theory that Napoleon was
“lured” into the interior as a matter of policy.

At Borodino the Russians barred the road to “Mother Moscow”: and here
the pitched battle was fought. With a cannonade that was heard for
eighty miles, a quarter of a million men here butchered each other all
day long on September 7, until seventy thousand lay dead or wounded.
Night ended the carnage, and next morning the Russians were again in

During this famous battle, Napoleon remained sitting, or slowly
walking up and down at one place, where he received reports and sent
orders. He spoke but little, and seemed ill. In fact, he was a sick
man, suffering with a severe cold and with his bladder complaint. He
showed no activity, and left the battle to his marshals. At three in
the afternoon the Russians had put in their last reserves, and were in
distress everywhere--driven from their intrenchment, and threatened
with ruin should the French reserves now attack. Ney, Murat, Davoust,
all clamored for the Guard, the Emperor’s reserve. He hesitated. They
sent again, and still he wavered. “Sire!” said Bessières, commander
of the Guard, “remember that you are eight hundred leagues from your
capital.” Napoleon refused the Guard. Ney was amazed, furious: “What
does this mean? What is the Emperor doing in the rear? If he is tired
of fighting, let him go back to his d--d Tuileries, and leave us to do
what is necessary!”

Thus the Guard never fired a shot, the battle remained unfinished,
and the Russians retired in good order, when they might have been
destroyed. Military critics say that the Emperor made two capital
blunders at Borodino: first, in vetoing Davoust’s offer to turn the
Russian flank and come upon their rear; and, second, in not using his

That night the Emperor tried to dictate orders, but could not. He was
too hoarse to talk. He was obliged to write; and he fell to it, writing
rapidly, and throwing the scraps of paper on the table. Secretaries
deciphered these scrawls slowly, and copied them, as fast as they
could. As the papers accumulated, Napoleon would rap on his table for
the secretaries to remove them. For twelve hours he labored, not a
sound to be heard save the scratching of Napoleon’s pen and the rapping
of his hammer.

The French continued their march onward, and at last neared Moscow.
Napoleon left his carriage, mounted his horse, and rode forward. “In
the distance could be seen the long columns of Russian cavalry retiring
in good order before the French troops.” The French marched on,
and at last Moscow was in sight. It was a proud moment for Napoleon
when he stood on Pilgrim’s Hill, surrounded by a brilliant staff,
and gazed upon the towers, the golden domes of the vast city, while
his lieutenants and his troops shouted, in wild enthusiasm, “Moscow!

The Emperor was heard to mutter, “It was time.” Apparently his greatest
enterprise had been crowned with success. His long triumphant march
toward Asia would rank with Alexander’s. Russia would now sue for
peace, terms would be easily arranged, Continental unity would follow,
and England would find herself an island once more--not an empire.

But it was soon apparent that Moscow was not like Berlin or Vienna.
Here were no crowds of spectators to gaze upon the victors. The
streets were silent, empty. The houses were deserted. Here was a vast
city without citizens. The French were dumfounded. Napoleon refused
at first to believe: “the thing was preposterous.” The conquerors
marched through the streets, the military bands playing, “To us is the
victory,” but the vast solitude awed them as they marched.

The sight of the Kremlin, however, gave the conqueror a thrill of
exultation. “Here I am at last! Here I am in Moscow, in the ancient
palace of the Czars! in the Kremlin itself!”

Almost immediately, and in spite of all Napoleon could do, commenced
the wholesale pillage of the city. Discipline relaxed, and marauders
stormed the vacant houses on the hunt for loot. In the middle of the
night of the 16th of September, the sleeping Napoleon was roused and
brought running to the window of the Kremlin by the cry of “Fire!”
The flames, feeding on wooden houses and fanned by high winds, defied
control, and struck the conquerors with terror. As described by
Napoleon himself, at St. Helena, “It was the spectacle of a sea and
billows of fire, a sky and clouds of fire, mountains of red, rolling
fire, like immense ocean waves, alternately bursting forth and lifting
themselves to skies of fire, and then sinking into an ocean of fire
below. Oh, it was the grandest, sublimest, most terrible sight the
world ever saw!”

Russians say that the French burnt the city; the French say the
Russians did it. French officers allege most positively that Russian
incendiaries were caught in the act. It is certain that numbers of
persons so taken were shot, as a punishment. On the other hand, so
eminent a Russian as Tolstoï maintains that the carelessness of the
French soldiers was the cause of the fires. The Russians who had burned
Smolensk to deprive the French of its use, who made the line of their
retreat a desert to deprive the French of supplies, were probably the
burners of Moscow. They burnt it as they burnt Smolensk and every
village on their line of march, as a war measure which would injure the
invaders. The fact that Rostopchin, the mayor, had carried away all
appliances for putting out fires, would seem to be a conclusive piece
of circumstantial evidence.

This awful calamity, unexpected, unexampled, upset Napoleon’s
calculations. To destroy a town like Smolensk was one thing, to make
of Moscow, one of the great cities of the world, an ocean of flame, a
desert of ashes, was quite another. It was appalling: it stupefied,
benumbed, bewildered Napoleon as no event in his career had done. He
realized the frightful extent of the disaster, and saw himself hurled
from the pinnacle to the abyss.

Indecision had already made sad havoc in the campaign: indecision now
completed the ruin. Napoleon had loitered at Wilna eighteen days;
had halted sixteen days at Vitebsk. He had hesitated at Borodino,
practically leaving the battle to his marshals, refusing them the
reserves. Now at Moscow, he dawdled for five weeks, when every day
brought nearer the march of two enemies that hitherto had not hindered
him,--the Russian army, from the Danube, and _Winter!_

At the Kremlin was the most wretched man in existence. The Emperor had
reached his Moscow only to find it a prison. Inexorable conditions shut
him in with unpitying grip. He could not rest, could not sleep, would
not talk, lingered long at table, lolled for hours on a sofa,--in his
hand a novel which he did not read. He, the profoundest of calculators,
who had from boyhood calculated everything, had for once miscalculated
in everything. He had misjudged his friends and his foes; had erred
as to the Russian temper; had fatally misconceived the character of
the Czar. He knew Alexander to be weak, vain, vacillating; he did not
allow for the strength which strong advisers like Stein and Sir Robert
Wilson and dozens of others might give to this wavering monarch. He had
calculated upon finding peace at Moscow, and had not found it. He had
felt assured that, at the worst, Moscow would furnish abundant food
and excellent winter quarters. It did neither. At fault in so many
matters of vital concern, the Emperor was a prey to the most gloomy
reflections. He set up a theatre for his troops, but did not attend it.
He rode daily through the streets on his little white Arab, but spoke
to no one. Sometimes in the evening he would play a game of cards with
Duroc. There were a few concerts at the palace; some singing by Italian
artists, some piano music; but the Emperor listened moodily, “with
heavy heart.” He held his reviews, distributed rewards, but looked pale
and stern, saying almost nothing. He duped himself with hopes of peace.
He sent envoys and letters to Alexander--envoys who were not received,
letters which were not answered. With an obstinacy which was fatal,
he refused to see the truth of his situation. A lethargy, a failure
of power to decide, mastered him. Even a light fall of snow was not
warning sufficient to rouse him.

“At the Kremlin,” says Constant, “the days were long and tedious.” The
Emperor was waiting for the Czar’s answer, which never came. His morbid
irritability was stirred by the great flocks of crows and jackdaws that
hovered about the city. “My God,” he cried, “do they mean to follow us

On October 3 he summoned a council of his marshals and proposed to
march upon St. Petersburg. His officers listened coldly, and opposed

In a sort of desperation he then sent Lauriston to Kutusoff to ask for
an interview with Alexander, saying to his envoy: “I want peace; you
hear me. Get me peace. But save my honor if you can!”

The wily Kutusoff humored Lauriston, and Lauriston, in turn, nursed the
infatuation of the Emperor. Thus precious days slipped away, the French
were still at Moscow, winter was coming, and two other Russian armies,
one from the north and one from the south, were marching steadily on to
strike the French line of communication.

Napoleon wished to attack Kutusoff, drive him or destroy him, and then
fall back on Smolensk. His officers counselled against this.

“Then what am I to do?”

“Stay here,” advised Count Daru. “Turn Moscow into a fortified camp,
and so pass the winter. There is plenty of bread and salt. We can
forage, we can salt down the horses which we cannot feed. As for
quarters, if there are not houses enough here, there are plenty of
cellars. We can hold out till spring, when our reënforcements, backed
by Lithuania in arms, will come to the rescue and complete our success.”

“Counsel of the lion!” exclaimed the Emperor. “But what will Paris say?
what will they do? No; France is not accustomed to my absence. Prussia
and Austria will take advantage of it.”

At length a rabbit, fleeing for dear life from a Cossack, put an end to
hesitation, and put two great armies in motion.

Tolstoï relates: “On October 14 a Cossack, Shapovalof, while on patrol
duty, shot at a rabbit, and, entering the woods in pursuit of the
wounded animal, stumbled upon the unguarded left flank of Murat’s
army”--Napoleon’s advance guard.

Shapovalof, on his return to camp, told what he had seen, the news
reached headquarters, a reconnoissance confirmed the statement, and the
Russians, sorely tempted, broke the armistice, fell upon the unwary
Murat, and did him immense damage. But for a difference between the
Russian generals, it appears that Murat’s entire force might have been

The Emperor was holding a review in the courtyard of the Kremlin when
members of his suite began to say to one another that they heard
cannon firing in the direction of the advance guard. At first no one
dared speak of it to Napoleon. Duroc finally did so, and the Emperor
was seen to be seriously disturbed. The review had not been recommenced
before an aide-de-camp from Murat came at full speed to report that the
truce had been broken, the French taken by surprise, and routed with
heavy loss.

This was October 18. At last Napoleon was a soldier again: the news of
the battle had roused him to action. His decision was taken, orders
flew, and before night the whole army was in motion.


Encumbered by a vast amount of booty, a host of camp-followers, and
a huge train of vehicles of all sorts, the Grand Army left Moscow,
upward of one hundred thousand strong and with some fifty thousand
horses. Neither men nor horses had been shod for a winter campaign. The
clothing worn by the troops was mostly that of summer. The movement
of the troops was slow, because of the enormous baggage. The Emperor
wished to retreat by the Kalouga road which would carry him over a
country able to support him with provisions. The Russians barred the
way, and at Malo-Yaroslavitz the French, under Eugène Beauharnais,
attacked and beat them. Falling back to a stronger position, the
Russians still barred the way. Military critics say that had not
Napoleon’s retreat been so sluggish, he would have outstripped these
Russians in their efforts to head him off. Had he burned all that
plunder which his army was carrying away, he might have saved his army.

Marshal Bessières and others, sent forward to reconnoitre, reported
that the enemy was too strongly intrenched to be dislodged; the army
must get back to the old road by which it had come. Napoleon hesitated,
listened to reports and advice, lost time, and finally gave the word
to retreat by the old route--a fatal decision. What Bessières had seen,
according to some authorities, was but a rear-guard: Kutusoff had
retreated, and the new route by Kalouga could have been taken by the

With heavy heart the Emperor led the way to the other road--that which
had already been swept bare in the advance to Moscow.

The Russians did not press the pursuit with any great vigor, but the
Grand Army, nevertheless, melted like snow. Men and horses died of
starvation, demoralization set in, bands of stragglers were cut off by
Cossacks, so that after a battle at Wiasma, and previous to any snow or
severe cold, only fifty-five thousand men and twelve thousand horses
were fit for active service.

On November 6 the weather changed, and wintry horrors accumulated. The
snow, the freezing winds, the icy rains, the lack of food, the want
of shelter, the ferocity of pursuing foes, the inhumanity of comrades
and friends, the immense plains to be crossed, the deep rivers to be
bridged, the enormous burden of despair to be borne,--these were the
factors of the most hideous drama war ever presented.

The Grand Army reeled in tattered fragments toward home, fighting,
starving, freezing, meeting death in every shape known to man. The
French marched in four divisions, commanded by the Emperor, Eugène,
Davoust, and Ney. Terrible as was the daily loss by disease, death,
and straggling, each of these divisions held its formation, and never
failed to stand and fight when the Russians attacked. The unbending
courage shown by these commanders, the steadiness of subordinate
officers, the despairing gallantry of the remnants of the Grand Army,
stand out in bold relief to the general gloom of this mightiest of
shipwrecks. Much of the time Napoleon was on foot, clad in furs, staff
in hand to help him through the drifts, marching stolidly, silently,
with his men. Nothing that he could do was left undone; but that which
he could do had little influence on general results as they tramped
along. Until they reached Smolensk, he was almost as powerless as the
others; after that his superiority saved what was left of the army.

The hardships of the retreat increased after November 14, when Smolensk
was left behind. Men fell by the road exhausted, men were blinded by
the glare of the light on limitless fields of snow, men were maddened
by the intolerable anxieties and woes of the march. In the day the
ice cut their rag-covered or naked feet, the wind and freezing rain
tortured their hungry, tattered bodies. At night--nights of sixteen
fearful hours--bivouac fires were scant and insufficient, and when
morning dawned, the circle of sleeping forms around these dismal
bivouacs would sometimes remain forever unbroken--the sleep of the
soldier was the long one, the final one.

In October the Russian prisoners had said to the French, “In a
fortnight the nails will drop from your fingers; you will not be
able to hold your guns.” The cold was even worse; not only did nails
drop off, the hands dropped off. The time soon came when a benumbed
Frenchman, who had fallen into a ditch, and who had piteously begged a
passing comrade to lend a helping hand, was answered, “I haven’t any!”
There were only the stumps of the arms; the poor fellow’s hands had
been frozen off. “But here, catch hold of my cloak,” he continued, and
the man in the ditch having caught hold, was dragged to his feet.

Conditions like these made savages of the men. In the rush for food
and fire and shelter, the strong tramped down the weak. Frantic
with cold and hunger, they fought each other like wolves for place
and provisions. The weaker were shut out and died. Horse-flesh was
common diet; it is even said that cannibalism occurred. For warmth,
artillerymen could be seen holding their hands at the noses of their
horses; for food, a soldier was considered lucky who found a little
flour, half dirt and chaff, in the cracks of a floor. But in the
worst stages of this awful retreat there was human heroism; there was
human sympathy and unselfishness. There is nothing finer in the fine
character of Eugène Beauharnais than the gallantry with which he set
the good example of patience, courage, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.
From the time he beat Kutusoff in the first fight after Moscow, to
his taking the chief command, which Murat abandoned, his conduct was
heroic. Rugged Davoust, the best of the marshals now serving, who would
have saved his master at Borodino, and who did snatch him from the
burning streets of Moscow, was a tower of strength after the retreat

Other marshals did not love Davoust; they quarrelled with him, said he
was slow, and accused him of not maintaining discipline. On the retreat
Ney, whom Davoust had left behind, charged him with something like
treachery. But Napoleon knew the value of Davoust, and history knows
it. To the careful student of this eventful epoch the conclusion comes
home, irresistibly, that Napoleon might have remained till his death
the mightiest monarch of the world had he listened to two men,--in
civil affairs, Cambacérès; in military matters, Davoust.

As to Murat, he fought all along the front with such conspicuous
gallantry, superbly mounted and gorgeously dressed, that he extorted
the admiration of the Russians themselves. The Cossacks, especially,
looked upon him as the bravest, the most martial of men. Murat fought
the cavalry till the horses were all dead, and then he spent most of
his time in Napoleon’s carriage.

But Ney, rugged, lionlike Ney, surpassed them all, winning in this
campaign the Emperor’s proud title, “The brave of the braves.” Such
grandeur of courage, such steadiness, such loyalty, the world never
surpassed. Separated from Davoust, beset by overwhelming numbers, he
seemed a lost man. The Emperor, hard pressed himself, but determined
to make a final effort to save his marshals, halted at Krasnoi, facing
sixty thousand Russians with six thousand French. Nothing in Napoleon’s
own career is finer than this. Russian shells began to fly, screaming
through the air and along the snow. Lebrun spoke of it as of something
unusually terrible. “Bah!” said the Emperor with contempt; “balls
have been whistling about our legs these twenty years.” His desperate
courage in standing at bay so impressed Kutusoff that he drew back,
and Davoust came through. But Ney was still behind, and in the face of
the tremendous odds the French were forced onward. In deep grief for
his marshal, the Emperor reproached himself for having exposed Ney too
much. From time to time he would inquire if any one had heard from him.
On the 20th of November General Gourgand came in haste to announce that
Ney was only a few leagues away and would soon join. With a cry of joy,
Napoleon exclaimed, “Is it true?” When Gourgand explained how Ney had
marched and fought: how he had defied a beleaguring host ten times his
own number; how, summoned to surrender, he had replied, “A marshal of
France has never surrendered!” and how he had, partly by stratagem, and
partly by force, escaped with a small remnant of his command, Napoleon
was delighted. “There are 200,000,000 francs in my vaults in the
Tuileries, and I would give them all to have Ney at my side!”

When the heroic survivors of this column joined the main army, there
were shouts and tears of joy.

It was Ney who held the Cossacks at bay toward the final stages of the
retreat; it was Ney who fired the last shot of the war as he recrossed
the Niemen: it was Ney who became almost literally the rear-guard of
the Grand Army.

Well might the Bourbon Duchess of Angoulême say, in 1815, when told the
story of this man’s antique heroism in the Russian campaign, “Had we
known all that, we would not have had him shot!”

In the disorder, savagery, elemental chaos of this historic retreat,
human nature flew to the extremes. There were soldiers who slew each
other in struggles for food, and soldiers who risked starvation to
share with others. In some instances comradeship was mocked, in some
it was stronger than ever. There were instances where the strong
laughed at the weak who pleaded for aid. There were cases where the
strong braved all to save the weak. Wounded officers were seen drawn
on sledges to which their comrades had harnessed themselves, brother
officers taking the place of horses. A child, abandoned by its mother,
was saved by Marshal Ney, and escaped all the hardships of the
retreat. Another mother drowning in the Beresina held her babe aloft in
her arms, the child alive, the mother as good as dead.

One of the most touching and purely unselfish acts of devotion was that
of the Hessian contingent in its protection of their hereditary prince.
The people of Hesse had little cause to reverence their rulers--petty
tyrants who had sold them into military servitude at so much a head to
England, and who had misgoverned them with the worst of feudal methods.
But on the coldest night of the retreat, when it seemed that the young
Prince Emil would freeze to death, the remnant of the Hessians closed
around him, “wrapped in their great white cloaks pressed tightly
against one another, protecting him from wind and cold. The next
morning three-fourths of them were dead, and buried beneath the snow.”

By the time the French came near the Beresina, the two Russian armies,
which had been released by the treaties the Czar had made with Turkey
and Sweden, had reached the scene of war, and threatened the line of
retreat. Kutusoff in overwhelming force in the rear, Wittgenstein and
Tchitchagoff in front and flank, the French seemed doomed. When the
Russians were driven by Oudinot from Borissow, they burnt the bridge
over the Beresina. The ice had melted, the river was swollen, it was
wide and deep, and the Russians were on the opposite bank ready to
dispute the passage. To bridge and cross the river in the face of these
Russians--such was the French necessity: either that or surrender, for
Kutusoff was close behind.

Already the Emperor had destroyed his papers and burned his eagles to
save them from capture; already had provided himself with poison,
resolved to die rather than be taken prisoner.

Standing up to their lips in the freezing current of the river,
soldiers worked all night, fixing the timbers for the bridge. It was a
terrible labor, and several lost their lives, drowned or frozen. Those
who toiled on, had to keep the masses of ice pushed away while they

The Emperor sat in a wretched hovel, waiting for day. Great tears
rolled down his cheeks. “Berthier, how are we to get out of this?”
Murat urged him to take an escort of a few Poles, cross the river
higher up, and escape. The Emperor silently shook his head, and Murat
said no more.

Suddenly came news that was almost too good for belief: the Russians
had disappeared! Tchitchagoff, deceived by Napoleon’s feint to cross
elsewhere, or misled by Kutusoff’s despatches, had led his army away.
The line of retreat was now open, the bridges were rapidly finished,
and with shouts of “Live the Emperor!” the jubilant French began to
cross. When in their hurry a jam occurred in the passage, and artillery
teams got blocked, Napoleon himself sprang on the bridge, caught the
horses, and helped to free the pieces.

The bridges, constructed under so many difficulties and in such haste,
were frail, the crush of the crowd in going over became greater and
greater. Finally the bridges gave way. They were repaired, but broke
again. Beginning with this, the tumult, the terror, the frantic
struggle for place, the loss of life, became frightful. The weak fell,
they were trampled by men and horses, and ground to pulp by wheels.
Some perished on the bridges, others were pushed off and drowned
in the river. There were no side-rails or ledges, nothing to keep
those on the outer edge from being crowded off--and they went over by
hundreds, by thousands. The Russians under Wittgenstein having come up,
a fierce battle ensued between them and the French rear-guard. Amid
wild confusion, the passage of the river continued, while a storm raged
and the cannon roared. In the evening the large bridge, crushed by the
weight upon it, gave way, and with a fearful cry, which rose above the
storm and the battle, the multitude that was crossing sank forever.
Next day the battle raged again, while the crossing continued. Early in
the night, Victor’s rear-guard began to cross, the Russians cannonading
the bridge, and covering it with the dead. Next morning the bridge was
burned, and all the thousands of stragglers and camp-followers were cut
off, and perished miserably.

Beyond the Beresina, the regulars of the Russian army did not press the
pursuit, but the Cossacks hung on, inflicting heavy losses. From cold,
from hunger, from disease, the French continued to lose fearfully; but
the broken remnant of the Grand Army was now comparatively safe from
the enemy.

Full details of the Malet conspiracy having reached Napoleon, he became
anxious and restless. He believed he could render greater service to
himself and the Empire by being in Paris. Turning over the command to
Murat, at Smorgoni, the Emperor entered a covered sleigh, and set out
for France.

Accompanied by Duroc, Caulaincourt and Lobau, Roustan the Mameluke,
and a Polish officer, the Emperor sped across the snow on his way
homeward. Almost captured by Cossacks, he reached Warsaw on the 15th
of December, 1812, where he put up at the English Hotel, and sent for
the Abbé de Pradt, his minister to the Grand Duchy. Here, in a small
room of the hotel, moving about restlessly, stamping his feet for
circulation while a servant girl bent over the hearth trying to make
a fire from green wood, he gave his instructions to his treacherous
minister, and announced that in the following spring he would be back
in the Niemen at the head of three hundred thousand men. Then he sped
onward toward Saxony.

Late at night, December 14, 1812, the sledge of the flying Emperor
reached Dresden, where there was a brief conference between Napoleon
and his faithful ally. Bitter beyond description must have been the
reflections of the lonely fugitive in hurrying through those streets,
where a few months before kings had crowded to his antechamber!

Escaping the conspiracies aimed at his life in Germany, he safely
entered France, and reached Paris, late at night, December 18, 1812,
arriving at the Tuileries almost alone, in a hackney coach.

There was an outburst of indignation in the Grand Army remnants when it
was known that the Emperor had gone. “The same trick he played us in
Egypt,” said one General to another. Murat had on his hands a thankless
task at best, and under his management the situation did not improve.
At Wilna the Cossack “Hourra!” stampeded the French, who fled, loosing
six thousand prisoners. At the steep hill, a few miles beyond, the
horses could not drag the artillery up the ice-covered road, and it was

Sick of such a responsibility, Murat bethought himself that he also
had a kingdom that might need his presence, and on January 16, 1813, he
made over the command to Eugène Beauharnais.

There were seventeen thousand men in the army when Murat left it;
Eugène increased its numbers until, by the 9th of March, 1813, it was
an effective force of forty thousand. Taking a strong position, his
line stretching from Magdeburg to Dresden, the loyal Eugène waited for
his Emperor to bring up reënforcements.


There is no convincing evidence that the Russian war of 1812 was
generally unpopular in France. There is no proof whatever that any
national calamity growing out of it was expected or feared. So great
was the confidence which the Emperor’s uninterrupted success had
inspired, that the current belief was that Russia would be beaten and
brought to terms. The glamour of the Dresden conference was sufficient
to dazzle the French people, and the magnificent host which gathered
under the eagles of the Empire left them no room for doubts. Led by
such a captain as Napoleon, this army of half a million men would bear
down all opposition. Bulletins from the front, dictated by the Emperor,
did not fail to produce the impression desired; and when at length
the victory of Borodino was followed by the French entry into Moscow,
national enthusiasm and pride reached its height.

The first shadow that fell upon France, the first thrill of fear, was
caused by the news that the Russians had given their capital to the
flames. Still, when it became known that the Emperor was quartering
the army amid the ruins, that there was shelter and food for all, that
communications between Paris and Moscow were so well guarded that not
a courier or convoy had been cut off, that Napoleon, seemingly quite
at ease, was giving his attention to the internal affairs of France,
was drawing up regulations for schools and theatres, was corresponding
with his son’s governess upon the subject of the child’s teething,
the French convinced themselves that the invasion had proved another
triumph. They could not put their eyes upon that sombre figure in
the Kremlin, the chief who had not a word to say to those about
him, who lay listless upon the sofa day by day,--a leader without a
plan,--wrapping himself in the delusion that even yet the Czar would
accept his peaceful overtures.

So strong was the system which Napoleon had organized in France that
it went on in his absence just as regularly as when he was present.
Even when the daring General Malet, encouraged by the Emperor’s great
distance from his capital, conspired with the priest, Abbé Lafon,
to overthrow the government, the attempts never had the slightest
chance of success. By means of a forged decree of the Senate, and the
announcement that the Emperor was dead, the conspirators were for a
moment enabled to secure control of a small body of troops, arrest
the minister and the prefect of police, and to take possession of the
city hall. But almost immediately the authorities asserted themselves,
seized the conspirators, and put them to death.

The true significance of this episode lay in the fact that so violent
a revolutionist as Malet, who had plotted to kill Napoleon because of
the Concordat, was found in league with the Abbé Lafon, a royalist and
clerical fanatic, and that they had agreed upon a programme which was
so eminently sane as to be formidable.

According to their plan, Napoleon’s family were to be set aside, the
conscription abolished, and the most oppressive taxes lifted. The Pope
was to be restored to his temporal power, and France was to secure
peace with the world by consenting to be reduced to her old boundaries
of Rhine, Alps, and Pyrenees. Those who had purchased the confiscated
property of the Church and the nobles were to be quieted with the
assurance that their titles should not be questioned.

When we remember that peace was finally established in France upon
substantially the same lines as those marked out by the Abbé Lafon,
it becomes evident that he was in touch with those royalist clericals
who, failing miserably in 1812, succeeded completely two years later.
Napoleon’s uneasiness when he heard of the conspiracy, and his
curiosity in asking for the minutest details, can well be understood.

       *       *       *       *       *

The twenty-fifth bulletin from the Grand Army told France that the
retreat from Moscow had begun. The twenty-eighth bulletin, dated from
Smolensk, and made public in Paris on November 29, 1812, announced
that winter had set in. After this, France was left for eighteen days
without news--eighteen days filled with dread. Then on December 17 came
the avalanche. The twenty-ninth bulletin, revealing much, suggested
all--the Grand Army was no more! The consternation, the dismay, the
stupor of grief and terror which overspread the stricken land, can be
imagined; it passes the power of words.

And the home-coming of the Emperor--what was it like, this time?

It was midnight in Paris, the 18th of December, 1812. The Empress Maria
Louisa, at the Tuileries, sad and unwell, had gone to bed. The imperial
babe, the infant King of Rome, was asleep. It was a mournful time
in France. Where was the hut from one end of the Empire to the other
which did not hear sobs this bitter, bitter night? How many women,
at cheerless firesides, wept and prayed for sons, husbands, lovers,
shrouded in motionless snow on far Russian plains! Even the Empress
was sorrowful. She knew nothing of the fate of the army or its chief.
Napoleon himself might get rest for his unresting spirit from Cossack
lance or Russian gun--in which event the Empress Maria might find
untold calamity for her imperial self.

A common cab rolled into the courtyard below, and steps were heard
hastily ascending the stairs. Two men hooded and wrapped up in furs,
pushed their way into the anteroom to the Empress’s bedchamber. Voices
were heard in this anteroom, and the Empress, frightened, was just
getting out of bed, when Napoleon burst in, rushed up to her, and
caught her in his arms.

On the following day, according to Pasquier, the Emperor admitted no
one but his archchancellor, his ministers, and his intimates. On the
20th, which was Sunday, he attended divine service, and then held
the usual levee; after which he formally received the Senate and the
Council. Seated upon his throne, enveloped in his robes of state, this
wonderful man, so recently a fugitive fleeing almost alone through
the wilds of Poland, never presented a serener face to the world, nor
looked down upon the grandees who bowed before him with haughtier
glance, than upon this memorable Sabbath. Loyal addresses were listened
to with dignity and composure; imperial responses were made in a tone
which convinced France and Europe that Napoleon remained unconquered.
Such was the grandeur of his attitude, so powerfully did his fortitude,
courage, magnetic audacity appeal to this gallant nation, that it
rallied to him with almost universal sympathy and enthusiasm. Towns,
cities, corporate bodies, imperial dependencies, sent in loyal
addresses, offers of cordial support. From Italy, Holland, the Rhine
provinces, poured in warm expressions of attachment and fidelity. Rome,
Milan, Florence, Turin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Mayence, testified their
sense of the benefits his rule had conferred upon them, and tendered
him “arms, armies, gold, fidelity, and constancy.”

Napoleon had said that he would be back in Germany in the spring with
three hundred thousand men. He lost no time in getting ready to keep
his promise. It was an awful task--this creation of a new army; but
he set about it with a grim resolution, a patient persistence, which
accomplished wonders. Skeleton regiments of veterans were filled in
with youthful recruits, and hurriedly drilled. The twelve hundred
cannon lost in Russia were replaced by old guns from the arsenals, or
new ones from the foundries. The enormous loss of war material was made
good from the reserves in the military depots. But where could the
Emperor get horses to supply the mighty number frozen or starved in
Russia? He could not get them. His utmost exertions could but supply
teams for the artillery. Of cavalry he could mount almost none.

Meditate a moment on the situation. The civilized world stood arrayed
against one man, one people. England on the seas, in Portugal, in
Spain; Russia marching on with a victorious host; Sweden (having been
promised Norway and English money) uniting with the Czar; Prussia and
Austria leaving the side of France,--Prussia joining in the crusade,
and Austria preparing to do so,--smaller German powers threatened
with ruin if they did not declare war upon Napoleon; Murat at Naples
betraying the man who had given him the crown; the Pope doing his
utmost to sow disaffection by troubling the conscience of Catholics
throughout the Empire; royalists in France beginning to stir, covertly
and stealthily, in the tortuous ways of intrigue and conspiracy. All
this we see upon one side. And upon the other, what? One man of supreme
genius and courage,--backed by one gallant nation,--preparing to lead
forth, to meet a world in arms, an army composed largely of boys,
almost without cavalry, and almost without drill.

“I noticed at this epoch,” says Constant, “that the Emperor had never
hunted so frequently.” Two or three times a week the hunting suit was
donned, and the imperial party would seek the pleasures of the chase.
As Napoleon had no real fondness for hunting, his valet was surprised.
One day he learned the explanation. English newspapers, as the Emperor
told Duroc, had been repeating that he was ill, could not stir, and
was no longer good for anything. “I’ll soon make them see that I am as
sound in body as in mind!”

One of these hunts, Napoleon endeavored to turn to a particularly
good account. The Pope was at Fontainebleau, to which place he had
been removed from Savona at the opening of the Russian campaign. His
quarrel with the Emperor had become most annoying in its consequences.
Disaffection, because of it, had found its way into the very Council
of State. All attempt at negotiation had been fruitless. On the eve of
another great war, here was a question which demanded settlement; and
the Emperor determined to go in person to the Pope.

On January 19, 1813, the hunt was directed to Grosbois, the fine estate
which had belonged to Barras, then to Moreau, and then to Berthier,
Prince of Neufchâtel. At Grosbois, accordingly, the imperial party
hunted. “But what was the surprise of all his suite when, at the moment
of reëntering the carriages, his Majesty ordered them to be driven
toward Fontainebleau.”

The Empress and the ladies, having no raiment with them other than
hunting costumes, were in some confusion at the prospect. The Emperor
teased them for a while, and then let them know that by his orders the
necessary change of clothes had been sent from Paris beforehand and
would be ready for them at Fontainebleau. Taking up his quarters in the
ancient palace, Napoleon and Maria Louisa went informally to call upon
the Pope. The meeting was affectionate. Again there were huggings and
kissings; again it was “My father!” “My son!” And again the magnetism,
the adroit winsomness of Napoleon, swept the aged pontiff off his feet.
He signed a new compact with his “son”; and once more there came to
them both the bliss due to the peacemakers.

Radiant with pleasure, Napoleon returned to Paris; and, quick as
couriers could speed, went the good news to all parts of the Empire.
But he had been too fast. He had given permission that the rebellious
cardinals--“the black cardinals,” who, refusing to attend the
celebration of the religious marriage with Maria Louisa, had been
forbidden to wear the red robes--might attend the Pope. And these black
cardinals had not changed their color,--were still black,--and they
began immediately to urge the Holy Father to break his plighted word.
The Holy Father did so, pleading by way of excuse, that the paper he
had signed was not a contract or treaty, but only the basis of one;
and that Napoleon had acted in bad faith in making it public. But the
Emperor inserted the treaty in the official gazette, keeping up the
pretence that all was peace between him and the Pope; so that the
French people at large knew no better until a much later date.

There are critics who say that Napoleon was too hasty in setting out
to join his army in April, 1813. But the plain facts of the case would
seem to show that Napoleon knew what he was about. Prussia had issued
her declaration of war on March 17, 1813, and Blücher pushed forward to
the Elbe. Russian troops had likewise reached the Elbe, and Cossacks
raided in the vicinity of Dresden, which the French, under Davoust,
evacuated. Blücher entered the Saxon capitol; the Saxon king was a
fugitive; and the Prussians passed on toward Leipsic.

By the 24th of April the Czar of Russia and the King of Prussia were in
Dresden. Bernadotte, at the head of thirty thousand Swedes, had joined
Bülow, and was covering Berlin.

In view of these events, how can it be said with assurance that
Napoleon was overhasty in taking the field?

Remembering that the Allies had threatened war upon those minor
German powers who would not join them, and that Saxony was already
in their grasp, it seems that Napoleon’s conduct admits of easy
explanation. Unless he checked the Allies, and that speedily, the Rhine
Confederation would go to pieces; the French garrisons in various
German cities would be lost. Eugène and his army would be cut off at
Magdeburg, and the fabric of Napoleonic Empire would fall without a
blow having been struck in its defence.

To accomplish these very purposes, the Allies had pressed forward;
and great must have been the confusion in both armies; for Napoleon,
as well as his enemies, was surprised when the two armies struck each
other at Lützen, May 2, 1813. A bloody struggle followed; the Allies
were outgeneralled, and they retreated from the field. Having no
cavalry, the Emperor lost the usual fruits of victory; but the mere
fact that he, so recently the fugitive from a lost army, now appeared
at the head of another host, and had driven Russians and Prussians
back in defeat, produced a moral effect which was immense. The enemy
was driven beyond the Elbe; all hopes of breaking up the Rhine
Confederation were at an end; Eugène and Napoleon would now unite;
Saxony was redeemed. Napoleon entered Dresden in triumph. His friend
and ally, the Saxon king, returned to his capital. The French army was
full of confidence: the Allies made no effort to stand their ground
till they reached Bautzen, on the Spree. Here, on May 21 and 22, they
were assailed by the French, and again overthrown.

So competent a judge as Lord Wolseley is of the opinion that a mistake
of Marshal Ney in this battle saved the allied army from total ruin.
The Russians and Prussians held a strong fortified position resting on
the Bohemian Mountains, from which there was only one line of retreat.
Napoleon’s quick eye took in the situation, and he sent Ney to the rear
of the enemy with seventy thousand men, while he assailed their front
with eighty thousand. In executing this turning movement, Ney became
engaged with a small force of Prussians, which Blücher had detached to
protect his rear. “Instead of pressing his march along the rear of the
allied army to cut off its retreat, and attack it in the rear, whilst
Napoleon assailed it in front, Ney allowed his movements to be checked,
and his direction diverted by this insignificant Prussian detachment.
This fighting soon roused Blücher to a sense of his extreme danger, and
he at once fell back and made good his retreat.” The Russians made the
best of a bad situation till dark, and then escaped during the night.
“Ney had, in fact, only succeeded in manœuvring the Allies out of a
position in which Napoleon intended to destroy them, and where they
must have been destroyed had his orders been skilfully obeyed.”

As it was, the Allies drew off without losing a gun, and Napoleon,
looking over the thousands of dead that cumbered the field, exclaimed
in rage and grief, “What a massacre for nothing!”

It was at this stage of the campaign that Napoleon is thought to have
made the crowning mistake of his later years. He halted his victorious
columns, and signed the armistice of Pleiswitz (June 4, 1813).

Austria had, since her defeats in 1809, fully recovered her strength.
Her armies reorganized, her people animated by a patriotic spirit which
had been intensified by promises of constitutional reforms, she had
come unhurt out of the war of 1812, and was now determined to recover
her lost provinces and her position as an independent power of the
first class. With Russia and France both severely crippled by the
late struggle, Austria realized her advantage too well to allow the
opportunity to pass. Either from Napoleon or the Allies the position
lost in 1809 must be recovered. With this end in view, Metternich
negotiated with all parties,--Prussia, England, France, and Russia. The
amount of lying this able and eminent Christian did at this critical
time would probably have taxed the conscience of even such veterans in
deception as Fouché and Talleyrand.

Whether Napoleon could have won the friendship of Austria by frankly
surrendering to her demands for the restitution of her lost territory,
must always remain a matter of doubt. Inasmuch as the Austrian army
was not quite ready to take the field, and her treasury was empty, and
she had no complaint against Napoleon, excepting that she had made an
unprovoked attack upon him in 1809 and had been thoroughly whipped,
the probability is that a prompt concession of her demands would have
gained her neutrality in the war of 1813. But this is by no means
certain. When we remember the strength of dynastic prejudices, the
influence of British money, the rising tide of German nationality and
of hatred of Napoleon, the intense antagonism to French principles, the
activity of royalist and clerical intrigue--it is difficult to escape
the conclusion that had Napoleon yielded up what he had taken from
Austria, he could have stopped at nothing short of a full surrender all
along the line. And had he returned to France shorn of all that French
blood had won, the storm of indignation there would have driven him
from the throne. Napoleon himself expressed substantially this view at
St. Helena; it may have been sound. Why, then; did he grant the truce?
What did he mean by saying, after he had signed it, “If the Allies do
not sincerely wish for peace, this armistice may prove our ruin”? No
one can say. There are facts which appear to prove conclusively that
he ardently wished for an honorable peace. Other facts seem to indicate
that he was playing for time, that he never did mean to give up
anything, and that he was beaten in a grand game of duplicity, where,
intending to deceive, he was duped.


The guiding hand of Austrian diplomacy at this time being Metternich’s,
and that astute person having left behind him certain _Memoirs_ which
his family have arranged and published, it may be fairly presumed that
any revelation of Metternich’s own perfidy made in these _Memoirs_ can
be credited.

According to his own story, Metternich sought an interview with the
Czar (June 17, 1813) and urged him to trust implicitly to the Austrian
mediation which had been tendered to the belligerents. Alexander had
his misgivings, and inquired:--

“What will become of _our cause_ if Napoleon accepts the mediation?”

Metternich replied:--

“If he declines, the truce will come to an end, and you will find us
among the number of your allies; if he accepts, _the negotiations will
most certainly_ show that Napoleon is neither wise nor just, and then
_the result will be the same_. In any case, we shall have gained time
to bring up our armies for combined attack.”

What did Alexander mean by “our cause,” which might be ruined by
Napoleon’s consent to allow Austria to mediate? If peace was all that
the Allies wanted, why demur to Austria’s offer?

And what did Metternich mean by assuring the Czar that it made no
difference whether Napoleon declined or accepted, the results would be
the same?

Evidently he meant to convince Alexander that “our cause” was as dear
to Austria as to Russia; and that if Napoleon trusted to Austrian
mediation, he would be deceived and despoiled. The Czar so understood
it, and he “seemed exceedingly well pleased.”

The political meaning of “our cause” was this: English diplomats had
been unusually busy, and had (June 14 and 15, 1813) negotiated new
treaties with Russia and Prussia whereby Great Britain agreed to pay
heavy subsidies to those powers to prosecute the war, which was not to
be ended without England’s consent.

Inasmuch as England was no party to the negotiations then pending
between Napoleon and the Allies, one of two things is obvious: the
Allies were intent upon betraying England, or of duping France. As
to which of the two it was meant to deceive, the language used by
Metternich to Alexander, and by Alexander to Metternich, leaves no

What, on the other hand, were the thoughts of Napoleon? On June 2,
1813, he wrote to Eugène, who had been sent back to Italy, “I shall
grant a truce on account of the armaments of Austria, and in order to
gain time to bring up the Italian army to Laybach to threaten Vienna.”

There are those who see in this a proof that Napoleon did not desire
peace. Read in the light of the surrounding circumstances, it is just
as easy to see in the letter an evidence that Napoleon merely wished to
escape Austrian dictation.

He had already offered to treat for peace with Russia and Prussia;
and they, controlled by English influence, had refused to treat, save
through Austria.

Anxious, suspicious, harassed by all sorts of cares, Napoleon summoned
Metternich to Dresden.

Napoleon understood Metternich thoroughly, and despised him. With this
man, as with Fouché, Talleyrand, and Bernadotte, the proud Corsican had
too lightly indulged in the perilous license of contempt.

“Sire, why do you not send Metternich away?” Duroc inquired one day at
the Tuileries.

“Ah, well,” answered Napoleon, “if Austria sent me a new minister, I
should have him to study; as to Metternich, he can no longer deceive

Summoned to Dresden, the Austrian diplomat went, and on June 27, 1813,
held his famous interview with Napoleon. It was not then known to any
save the parties to the treaty that Lord Aberdeen, acting for England,
had already made his bargain with Austria, whereby the latter power
agreed to accept an enormous bribe to enter the coalition against
France. On the very day of Metternich’s interview with Napoleon,
Austria was actually signing the Reichenbach treaty which, affirmed by
the Emperor Francis on August 1, 1813, placed Austria’s two hundred
thousand men at the service of “our cause.”

Napoleon knew nothing of this; he suspected it, dreaded it, desperately
sought to avert it. Hence his call to Metternich.

In his _Memoirs_, the Austrian statesman relates that he found the
French Emperor at the Marcolini Garden, near the Elster meadows. “The
French army sighed for peace. The generals had little confidence in
the issue of the war.” “The appearance of the Austrian minister at
Napoleon’s headquarters could only be regarded by the French generals
as decisive in its results.” Bursting with self-importance was this
Metternich, of whom Napoleon said that he was always believing that he
controlled everything, whereas he was eternally being controlled by
others. In this instance he walked toward Napoleon’s rooms with the
majestic port of an arbiter of nations, whereas the whole thing had
already been determined by Lord Aberdeen’s negotiations at Vienna, not
to mention the masterful influence of Sir Charles Stewart and Lord
Cathcart in the counsels of Russia and Prussia.

“It would be difficult to describe,” says Metternich, “the expression
of painful anxiety shown on the faces of the crowd of men in uniform
who were assembled in the waiting rooms of the Emperor. The Prince of
Neufchâtel (Berthier) said to me in a low voice, “Do not forget that
Europe requires peace, and especially France, which will have nothing
but peace.”

Of Berthier, Napoleon himself said that, in anything outside his
specialty of writing despatches, “he was a mere goose.” If Berthier
made at this juncture any such remark to Metternich as that important
man records, it would be a charity to let Berthier escape with so light
a reproach as that of being a mere goose. Such a remark to such a man,
by such a man, and at such a time is rankly odorous of disaffection,
disloyalty, and the incipient treason which broke out openly a few
months later.

Metternich, referring to Berthier’s remark, complacently states,
“Not seeing myself called upon to answer this, I at once entered the
Emperor’s reception room.” Great was Metternich in this crisis, too
great to bandy words with a mere mushroom, Prince de Neufchâtel!

“Napoleon waited for me, standing in the middle of the room with his
sword at his side, and his hat under his arm. He came up in a studied
manner and inquired after the health of the Emperor Francis. His
countenance soon clouded over, and he spoke, standing in front of me,
as follows:--

“‘So you _too_ want war; well, you shall have it. Three times have I
replaced the Emperor Francis on his throne. I have promised always to
live in peace with him. I have married his daughter. To-day I repent of

Metternich says that at this crisis he felt himself the representative
of all European society. He felt the strength of his position, felt
that the mighty Napoleon lay in the hollow of his hand.

“If I may say so, Napoleon seemed to me small!”

“If I may say so”--why the modest doubt? Where is the limit of what one
may say in one’s _Memoirs_? Do the writers of _Memoirs_ ever by any
possibility get worsted in discussion, or fail to say and do the very
best thing that could have been said and done?

Metternich proceeds to relate how he read Napoleon a paternal lecture;
how he explained to the French Emperor that France as well as Europe
required peace; how he intimated that Austria would throw her aid to
the coalition; how he predicted that the French army would be swept
away, and how he asked the Emperor, “If this juvenile army that you
levied but yesterday should be destroyed, what then?” “When Napoleon
heard these words he was overcome with rage, he turned pale, and his
features were distorted. ‘You are no soldier,’ said he, ‘and you do not
know what goes on in the mind of a soldier. I was brought up in the
field, and a man such as I am does not concern himself much about the
lives of a million of men.’ With this exclamation he threw his hat into
the corner of the room.”

Of course the _Memoirs_ represent Metternich as promptly taking
advantage of this imprudent outbreak, and as throwing Napoleon
quite upon the defensive. It is noticeable that in the _Memoirs_ of
Napoleon’s enemies, the authors invariably got the better of him in
trials of wit. Some very dull people gave him some very crushing
conversational blows--in their _Memoirs_.

But this much is known of the Dresden interview,--it lasted half a day,
and Metternich reports less than half an hour’s talk. The Austrian
does not record how unerringly Napoleon guessed the riddle, and how
directly he put the question,--“Metternich, how much has England paid
you to act this part against me?” Nor does he record the fact that
Napoleon, in his extremity, offered to buy Austria off by ceding the
Illyrian provinces, and that the bargain could not be made because the
Emperor Francis advanced his demands as often as Napoleon enlarged
his concessions. Austria, sold to England, was perfectly willing to
be bought by France; but the price demanded was so excessive, that
Napoleon indignantly cried out, “I will die under the ruins of my
throne before I will consent to strip France of all her possessions,
and dishonor myself in the eyes of the world!”

Metternich records that he said to Napoleon: “You are lost. I thought
it when I came here; now I know it.” The Emperor’s reply to this
remarkable observation is not on the Metternich tablets. The writers of
_Memoirs_ have a habit of getting in the last word.

Not satisfied with having crushed Napoleon, Metternich dealt a parting
blow to Berthier, the Emperor’s goose.

“In the anterooms I found the same generals whom I had seen on
entering. They crowded round me to read in my face the impression of
nearly nine hours’ conversation. I did not stop, and I do not think
I satisfied their curiosity. Berthier accompanied me to my carriage.
He seized a moment when no one was near to ask me whether I had been
satisfied with the Emperor.” To this humblest of questions, “Were you
satisfied with the Emperor?” the important Metternich replied, with a
loftiness which must have painfully bruised the Emperor’s goose:--

“Yes, yes! It is all over with the man. He has lost his wits.”

It is all over with the man; he has lost his mind--great Metternich,
small Napoleon, and poor Berthier, the Emperor’s assiduous goose!

One other important fact the Metternich _Memoirs_ record: the Archduke
Charles needed twenty additional days to bring up the Austrian
reserves, and Metternich undertook to decoy Napoleon into an extension
of the armistice. The _Memoirs_ record how Napoleon vainly endeavored
through the Duke of Bassano to come to terms of peace; how Metternich
stubbornly stood his ground, refusing to budge an inch; how Napoleon
kept up the contest until the Austrian ordered his carriage and was
about to leave Dresden; how Napoleon then yielded, calling Metternich
back, and signing an agreement to accept Austrian mediation, to prolong
the armistice till August 10, and to submit the issues to a congress of
the powers to be assembled at Prague on the 10th of July.

In Thiers’s _History of the Consulate and Empire_ we read that
Napoleon by his cleverness and diplomacy lured the Allies into granting
him precious delays most necessary to his welfare. In Metternich’s
_Memoirs_ we read that the Austrian, by his adroitness and implied
threats, led Napoleon to the exact time which the Archduke Charles said
was needed to get his forces just where he wanted them. Which of these
contradictory stories is the truth? which is history?

The Congress of Prague assembled, and it soon became apparent that
peace would not be made. British influence dominated it from the first.
By consenting, once for all, to surrender his empire and become King of
France,--France with the old boundaries,--Napoleon could doubtless have
rid himself of the Allies. But what then? Could he have held the throne
in France after so complete a submission to foreign dictation? Could he
thus have secured internal peace for France itself? Would not England
have pressed home the advantage, restored the Bourbons, and destroyed
the work of the Revolution?

When we recall what took place in 1814 and afterward,--the steady
progress of reaction and counter-revolution until absolutism and
aristocratic privilege had completely triumphed again throughout
Europe,--we can but honor the sagacity and the unquailing courage of
Napoleon in standing his ground, indomitably, against combinations
without and disaffection within, rather than make craven surrender to a
coalition which meant nothing less than death to democratic principles
and institutions, as well as to his own supremacy.

In Spain the fortunes of war were going heavily against France.
King Joseph was in everybody’s way, hampering military movements by
his absurdities; the marshals were at odds with each other, and no
coöperation could be had. Wellington, whose progress in the peninsula
had been slow and fluctuating, now advanced into Spain, and won a
decisive battle. Just as the victory of Salamanca had influenced
Russian councils in 1812, that of Vittoria bore heavily against
Napoleon at the Congress of Prague.

Napoleon himself had no confidence in the negotiations, and was
painfully aware of the manifold perils which beset him. He returned to
Mayence, and bent all his energies to the improvement of his situation.
One day he called upon Beugnot to write at his dictation, and Beugnot,
flurried at the unexpected summons, twice took the Emperor’s chair.
Napoleon said: “So you are determined to sit in my seat! You have
chosen a bad time for it.”

Soult was sent off to Spain to hold Wellington in check, Fouché and
Talleyrand were summoned to aid in fathoming the Austrian intrigue, and
influences were set to work to bring Murat back to the army.


To Mayence the Empress Maria Louisa came, to spend a few days pending
the peace negotiations. If Napoleon cherished the belief that her
presence would have any bearing upon her father’s policy, the illusion
soon vanished. Austrian diplomats were already saying, “Politics made
the marriage; politics can unmake it.”

So confident was Austria that the Congress at Prague would accomplish
nothing, that she had drawn up her declaration of war and held it
ready, as the last day of the truce wore on toward midnight. At the
stroke of the clock, the paper was delivered for publication, and the
war signals were lit along the Bohemian mountains. When Napoleon’s
courier arrived, a few hours later, bringing to the French envoys
authority to sign the terms demanded, the Allies declined to consider
the matter at all. It was too late. Technically they were acting
within their rights; but if we really wish to know the truth about the
negotiations, the conduct of those diplomats, watching the midnight
clock, sending out midnight declarations of war, and lighting midnight
fires to proclaim the failure of the Congress, belongs to the class of
actions which speaks louder than words. If their real purpose had been
to stop the shedding of blood and to liberate Europe from Napoleon’s
“cruel yoke,” they would never have made so great a difference between
midnight of the 10th and early morning of the 11th. Nothing was to be
gained by such extreme rigor, beyond the ending of the Congress; for,
by the terms of the treaty, six days’ notice was necessary before the
resumption of hostilities.

Says Metternich: “As the clock struck twelve on the night of August 10,
I despatched the declaration of war. Then I had the beacons lighted
which had been prepared from Prague to the Silesian frontier, as a sign
of the breach of the negotiations.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Pasquier relates an interesting story which he had from Daru.

One day toward the end of July, Sébastiani, a Corsican, and a life-long
friend of Napoleon, came to make a report, and was asked by the Emperor
what was being said about the military situation. Sébastiani replied
that the current opinion was that Austria would join the Allies, in
which event Dresden could no longer be made the central point of the
French line of defence.

“You are all right,” said Napoleon, “and my mind is made up. I am going
to return to the banks of the Saale; I will gather there some three
hundred thousand men, and, with my rear resting on Mayence, my right
flank covered by the extremity of the mountains of Bohemia, I will show
the enemy the bull’s horns. He will seek to manœuvre under my eyes; no
sooner has he committed his first mistake than I will fall upon him,
crush him, and the coalition will vanish more quickly than it appeared.”

Daru was sent for and told to go at once and prepare the necessary
orders for this retrograde movement. As Daru was leaving the room,
Bassano entered, and the Emperor put to him the usual question, “What
is being said?” Bassano replied that certain persons who pretended to
know everything were speaking of a backward movement, saying: “That
your Majesty cannot remain here. They forget that the great Frederick,
with forces vastly inferior to your own, held out all winter in the
same position against the combined armies of Austria and Russia.”

This comparison made so deep an impression upon Napoleon that when Daru
returned a few hours later with all the orders he had been told to
prepare, he found the Emperor in a pensive mood, and was dismissed with
these words, “The matter requires more thought.”

The result of this new meditation was that he persisted in his first
system of operations: Dresden remained the central point of his line.

Napoleon’s position at the renewal of hostilities was well-nigh
desperate. He had grossly deceived himself. Keenly aware of the
demoralized condition of his own forces, he had not realized how
much worse had been the condition of the Allies. Calculating upon
the reënforcements he could muster, he had not rightly estimated the
strength which Russia and Austria could add to their resources. As to
Austria, particularly, it seems that he miscalculated to the extent of
one hundred thousand men.

In other important respects, the allied position became stronger.
Marshal Ney’s chief of staff, Jomini, deserted, and carried over to
the enemy the general knowledge he had gained in Napoleonic warfare,
as well as the special information he had obtained in the present
campaign. General Moreau, leaving Baltimore in the United States,
had landed at Stralsund, where Bernadotte received him with the
highest military honors; and he was now in position to direct the
allied forces. Thus with Bernadotte, Jomini, and Moreau to guide their
counsels, the Allies would be able to combat Napoleon with advantages
they had never possessed before. They would be advised by men who
understood his system, men who could anticipate his plans and defeat
his combinations.

“We are teaching them how to beat us!” Napoleon himself had already
said, speaking to Lannes of the improved Russian tactics. In this
campaign his enemies had agreed upon the best of policies,--to avoid
battle when he commanded in person, and to crush his lieutenants
wherever found.

In yet another respect events were telling heavily against the French.
Marshal Bessières, commander of the cavalry of the Imperial Guard, had
been killed in one of the first skirmishes; and, after Bautzen, a spent
cannon ball had mortally wounded Duroc. Both these were officers of
the highest merit, devotedly attached to the Emperor, and possessing
his implicit confidence. He had singled them out at the beginning of
his career, had lifted them from the ranks, and had raised them to
imperial peerages. Their loss he felt to be irreparable, and his grief
was almost overwhelming. For the first time in his career he was so
prostrated, on the evening of Duroc’s death, that he was unable to give
orders. Alone in his tent, his head bowed to his breast, he sat in a
stupor of sorrow; and to his officers coming for instructions, he said,
“Everything to-morrow.” Next morning, at breakfast, Constant noticed
the big tears which rolled down his cheeks and fell upon his plate.

The Allies, having tricked the great trickster in the matter of the
armistice, broke it to effect the junction between the Russian and
Austrian forces. This much more won by fraud, the war began again.

Napoleon made a dash at Blücher, who did not forget to fall back out
of reach, as agreed among the Allies. The dreaded Emperor, being at a
distance, vainly chasing Blücher, the main army of the Allies marched
upon Dresden, where St. Cyr was in command of the defence.

On the 25th of August, 1813, some two hundred thousand of the allied
troops invested the city, whose garrison was about twenty thousand. If
the French should lose it, ruin to their campaign would follow. In vain
Jomini urged the Austrian commander, Schwarzenberg, to attack at once,
while Napoleon was away. No. The leisurely Prince, being fatigued, or
something else, must await the morning of another day; for Napoleon was
in Silesia, too far off to be a source of disquiet. On August 26 the
assault began, St. Cyr meeting it with heroism, but steadily losing

Three hundred pieces of artillery rained shot and shell upon the
crowded city. The dying and the dead, men, women, and children
strewed the streets. The inhabitants of the town implored the French
to surrender. Two regiments of Westphalian hussars, from Jerome
Bonaparte’s kingdom, went over to the enemy. But the Emperor had not
lost sight of Dresden. When the news reached him that the allied army
was crossing the Bohemian frontier, he guessed the point threatened,
and hurried to its relief. As he marched, courier after courier from
St. Cyr galloped up to hasten the coming of succor. Napoleon’s horses
were spurred on to their highest speed, till he reached the outskirts
of the city, from which, with his field-glass, he could survey the
battle. The road over which he must enter Dresden was swept by such a
fire from the Austrian guns that it is said Napoleon went down upon
all fours to crawl past. As he entered the city, its defenders went
wild with joy. “There he is! There he is!” was shouted by thousands,
as the Old Guard rushed forward to meet him. “Nothing was heard,” says
Caulaincourt, “but clapping of hands and shouts of enthusiasm. Men,
women, and children mingled with the troops and escorted us to the
palace. The consternation and alarm which had hitherto prevailed, were
now succeeded by boundless joy and confidence.”

The Emperor had marched his army one hundred and twenty miles in
four days over roads which heavy rains had turned into bogs. He had
arrived in time; those who had strained their eyes to catch the first
glimpse of the relief columns had not looked in vain. “There he is!
There he is!” roused all drooping spirits, gave life to dead hope, so
mysteriously irresistible is the influence of a great man. The date was
August, 1813. Just a few months were to roll by before the good city of
Paris would find itself beleagued by these same Allies. Napoleon would
again be away, but would again be devouring distance, moving heaven and
earth to get back in time. Again anxious eyes would look out over walls
and battlements, scanning the horizon to catch a glimpse of the white
horse and the stunted rider, flying to the relief. Ardent patriots,
seeing what they long to see, will mistake some other figure for his,
and will raise the cry. “There he is!” But traitors and cowards will be
busy in the great captain’s chief city, his own brother will act the
craven and fly, his best-beloved of the surviving marshals will fight
the feeble fight of the dastard, his son will be torn screaming and
struggling from the palace, and while the haggard eye of the war-worn
Emperor, almost there, will strain to see the towers of Notre Dame, the
white flag will fly over a surrendered town.

Too late! Just a few hours too late.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night in Dresden, after having reconnoitred and made all his
dispositions, Napoleon was walking up and down his room. Stopping
suddenly, he turned to Caulaincourt and said:--

“Murat has arrived.”

This brilliant soldier had wavered until the battles of Lützen and
Bautzen had been gained; but he had now come to lead a few more
matchless charges of cavalry, meteoric in splendor, before he should
lose heart again, forsake Napoleon utterly, and take his wilful course
to utter and shameful ruin.

“Murat has come. I have given him command of my guard. As long as I am
successful, he will follow my fortune.”

The Allies were not aware that either Napoleon or Murat had arrived.
It is said that the battle had not been long in progress before
Schwarzenberg turned to the Czar and remarked, “The Emperor must
certainly be in Dresden.”

Holding the allied centre in check by a concentrated fire of heavy
artillery, Napoleon launched Ney at their right and Murat at their
left. Both attacks were completely successful. The allied army broke at
all points, and retreated toward Bohemia, leaving some twenty thousand
prisoners in the hands of the French.

Torrents of rain had poured down during the whole day, and as Napoleon
came riding back into the city that evening by the side of Murat, his
clothes dripped water, and a stream poured from his soaked hat. As
Constant undressed him he had a slight chill, followed by fever, and he
took his bed.

Worn out as he was, the Emperor must have felt profoundly relieved. He
had won a victory of the first magnitude, infinitely greater than those
of Lützen and Bautzen, for he now had cavalry. His mistake in having
granted the armistice had perhaps been redeemed. If his lieutenants now
served him well, the coalition which had put him in such extreme peril
would dissolve. He would emerge from the danger with glory undimmed,
empire strengthened. “This is nothing!” he said, referring to his
triumph at Dresden. “Wait till we hear from Vandamme. He is in their
rear. It is there we must look for the great results.”

Alas for such calculations! His lieutenants were ruining the campaign
faster than he could repair it. The Prussians, led by Bülow (nominally
under Bernadotte), had beaten Oudinot at Grossbeeren, on August 23,
driving the French back upon the Elbe. Blücher had caught Macdonald in
the act of crossing a swollen river in Silesia, had fallen upon him
and destroyed him, in the battle of Katzbach, August 26; and, to crown
the climax of disaster, Vandamme, from whom so much had been expected,
was, partly through a false movement of his own, and partly through
the failure of Napoleon to support him, crushed and captured at Kulm
(August 29 and 30).

Thus, Dresden proved a barren triumph. The Czar of Russia and the King
of Prussia should have been taken prisoners; the allied army should
have been annihilated; the war should have ended with a glorious peace
for France. How did it happen that the wrecked army escaped, and made
havoc with Vandamme at Kulm?

The story goes that the Emperor, pressing eagerly forward in pursuit
of the vanquished foe, was suddenly stricken with severe sickness; and
instead of being carried on to Pirna, was hurried back to Dresden. The
army, left without leadership, slackened in the pursuit; the Allies
were left undisturbed; and when they came upon Vandamme, that rash
officer, taken front and rear, was overwhelmed by superior numbers.

As to the cause of Napoleon’s sudden illness, accounts differ widely.
General Marbot states that it was “the result of the fatigue caused by
five days in the saddle under incessant rain.”

According to the Emperor himself, as reported by Daru to Pasquier,
the illness was “nothing but an attack of indigestion caused by a
wretched stew seasoned with garlic, which I cannot endure.” But he had
at the time believed himself to be poisoned. “And on such trifles,”
said he to Daru, “the greatest events hang! The present one is perhaps

Virtually the same explanation of his sudden return to Dresden, and the
abandonment of the pursuit, was given by Napoleon at St. Helena.

It is significant that Constant’s _Memoirs_ represent the Emperor as
vomiting and having a chill, accompanied by utter exhaustion, upon his
return from the battle-field on the evening of the 27th. Overwork,
exposure, mental anxiety, the continual strain of mind and body
had evidently brought on a collapse. The illness which recalled him
back from Pirna may have originated in the same natural causes. The
“stew seasoned with garlic,” or the “leg of mutton stuffed with sage”
(for each statement occurs), may have been merely the thing which
precipitated the breakdown which was already inevitable.

Whatever the cause, the results were decisive. As at Borodino, he
lost all control of events, let the campaign drift as it would, and
recovered himself when it was too late to repair the mischief.

Dresden was to prove the last imperial victory. When Napoleon, drenched
and dripping, his fine beaver aflop on his shoulder, was taken into
the arms of the grateful King of Saxony, on the return from the
battle-field of Dresden, he was receiving the last congratulation which
he as Emperor would ever hear from subject monarch. To this limit had
already shrunk the fortunes of the conqueror who, a few months back,
had summoned Talma from Paris to play “to a parquet of kings.”

A stray dog wandering about the battle-field of Dresden, with a collar
on its neck, attracted some curiosity, and it was soon known in the
French army that the collar bore the inscription, “I belong to General
Moreau.” It was soon known, likewise, that this misguided soldier had
been mortally wounded early in the action, and had died amidst the
enemies of his country.

Napoleon believed that he himself had directed the fatal shot; but one
who was in Moreau’s party at the time contended that the ball came from
a different battery.

Remaining in the vicinity of Dresden till the last days of September,
Napoleon found himself gradually growing weaker. His army was
crumbling away through hardships, disease, and battle. Reënforcements
as steadily added to the strength of the Allies. Operating in a country
hostile to him as it had never been before, Napoleon had the utmost
difficulty in keeping himself advised of the numbers and movements
of the forces opposed to him. So intense was the patriotic spirit in
Germany that the spy could do almost nothing for the French, while the
Allies were kept informed of everything.

It was Blücher who took the offensive for the Allies, and boldly
crossed the Elbe at Wartenburg. Napoleon rushed from Dresden to throw
himself upon the Prussians; but as soon as Blücher learned that
Napoleon was in his front he shunned battle and went to join Bernadotte
(October 7, 1813). The huge iron girdle of the allied armies was slowly
being formed around the French; it became evident that the line of the
Elbe must be abandoned.

But before taking this decision it seems that Napoleon had contemplated
a bold forward march upon Berlin, and had been thwarted by the
opposition of his generals. Ever since the Russian disasters had broken
the spell of his influence, the Emperor had encountered more or less
surliness and independence among his higher officers. The marshals had
taken a tone which was almost insubordinate, and the great captain was
no longer able to ignore their opinions.

When it became known that he intended to make a dash at Berlin,
regardless of the possibility that armies double the size of his
own might throw themselves between him and France, there was almost
universal dissatisfaction among the troops. Moscow was recalled. Nobody
wanted a repetition of that hideous experience. “Have not enough of us
been killed? Must we all be left here?”

To add to Napoleon’s embarrassment, news came that Bavaria had deserted
and gone over to the Allies. Says Constant, “An unheard-of thing
happened: his staff went in a body to the Emperor, entreating him to
abandon his plans on Berlin and march on Leipsic.”

For two days the Emperor did nothing. Quartered in the dismal château
of Düben, he became as inert, as apathetic, as he had been at Borodino
and at Moscow. “I saw him,” writes Constant, “during nearly an entire
day, lying on a sofa, with a table in front of him covered with maps
and papers which he did not look at, with no other occupation for hours
together than that of slowly tracing large letters on sheets of white

The Emperor yielded to the pressure of his officers, and “the order to
depart was given. There was an outburst of almost immoderate joy. Every
face was radiant. Throughout the army could be heard the cry, ‘We are
going to see France again, to embrace our children, our parents, our

Falling back upon Leipsic, Napoleon found Murat already engaged with
the Austrians. In the hope that he could crush Schwarzenberg before
Blücher and Bernadotte came up, the Emperor prepared for battle. There
were about one hundred and fifty thousand of the Austrians, while the
French numbered about one hundred and seventy thousand; but it was
necessary to place the divisions of Ney and Marmont on the north, where
the Russians and Prussians and Swedes were expected. The great “Battle
of the Nations” began on the morning of the 16th of October, 1813, and
raged all day. The advantage was with the French, for they fought from
positions more or less sheltered; but the Emperor appears to have made
one serious mistake. Blücher not having yet arrived, Ney and Marmont
were ordered to Napoleon’s aid in the effort to destroy the Austrians
before the coming of reënforcements. Ney moved, but Marmont was already
engaged with Blücher when he received the Emperor’s order. Holding
his ground and assaulted by overwhelming numbers, Marmont’s corps was
almost destroyed; while Ney, divided between his old position and the
new, rendered no effective service in either place. Just as d’Erlon’s
corps, swinging like a pendulum between Quatre-Bras and Ligny did not
strike at either point, so Ney lost his force on the fatal field of

General Marbot states, moreover, that Ney left his original position
without orders from the Emperor. Blücher, getting up before Napoleon
expected him, and worsting the French on the north, turned the scales
in favor of the Allies.

Why it was that Napoleon had not called St. Cyr from Dresden, and
thus added thirty thousand to his own forces, cannot now be known. He
himself said at St. Helena that he sent despatches to this effect, but
that they were intercepted. Taking into account the swarms of Cossacks
and Bashkirs which were flying over the country, and also the intensely
hostile spirit of the native populations, the capture of a French
courier would seem to have been a natural event.

However, there are those who say that St. Cyr was left at Dresden on
purpose, because Napoleon was unwilling that the Saxon capital should
fall into the hands of the enemy. In other words, he left his garrison
caged at Dresden, just as he left cooped up within similar fortresses
a sufficient number of veteran troops to have made his army as large as
that of the Allies.

In the year 1797 the young Napoleon had driven the Austrian armies from
Italy, had chased them through the mountains of the Tyrol, and had come
almost in sight of Vienna. Austria sent Count Meerfeldt into the French
lines to sue for peace, and her prayer was granted. In 1805 this same
Napoleon had shattered the Russo-Austrian forces at Austerlitz, and was
about to capture both Czar and Emperor. Again Count Meerfeldt was sent
to Napoleon’s tent to beg for mercy, and again the plea was heard. Now
it was 1813, the tide had turned, and it was Napoleon’s time to ask
for peace. His messenger was a released captive, Count Meerfeldt, he
of Leoben and Austerlitz; and to the message neither Czar nor Austrian
emperor returned any answer whatever.

During the 17th there was no fighting, and the French made no movement.
They could probably have retired unmolested, but Napoleon was awaiting
a reply to his propositions.

During the night, rockets blazed in the sky on the north--the signal to
Schwarzenberg and Blücher that Bernadotte and Bennigsen had come. The
Swedes, the German bands, the Russian reserves, were all up, and the
Allies would now outnumber the French two to one.

With the light of the 18th began “the greatest battle in all authentic
history.” Nearly half a million men threw themselves upon each other
with a fury like that of maniacs. Men from every quarter of Europe were
there, from Spain to Turkey, from the northern seas to the Adriatic and
Mediterranean, men from palaces and men from huts, men who flashed
like Murat in the gaudiest uniforms of modern Europe, and men like the
Bashkirs who wore the dress and carried the bow and arrow of ancient

The French never fought better than on this day, nor did the Allies;
but the French soldier was not what he had been, nor were French
officers the same. Shortly before this the Emperor had said to
Augereau, “You are no longer the Augereau of Castiglione;” and the
answer was, “Nor have I the troops of Castiglione.” Ney had written,
after his overthrow at Dennewitz: “I have been totally defeated, and do
not know whether my army has reassembled. The spirit of the generals
and officers is shattered. I had rather be a grenadier than to command
under such conditions.” Napoleon had exclaimed in bitterness of spirit,
“The deserters will be my ruin.”

Bavaria, threatened by the Allies and carried along by the torrent
of German patriotism, was threatening Napoleon’s rear. The King of
Würtemberg had honorably given notice that he also would be compelled
to turn against the French. Saxony was moved by the same influences,
and, in spite of the presence of her king in Leipsic, the Saxon troops
felt the impulse of national passion. In the very hottest of the
fight on the great day of the 18th, the Saxon infantry went over to
Bernadotte, and turned their batteries upon the French. The Würtemberg
cavalry followed. Then all was lost. The courage of the bravest, the
skill of the ablest, sink before such odds as these. One account
represents Napoleon as lifting a rage-swept face to heaven, with a
cry of “Infamous!” and then rushing at the head of the Old Guard to
restore the broken line. Another story is that he sank into a wooden
chair which some one handed him, and fell into the deep sleep of utter

Bernadotte had commanded the Saxon troops for Napoleon in the campaign
of 1809. He had issued a proclamation, on his own motion, claiming
credit for the victory of Wagram for these Saxons, and the Emperor
reproved him for the untruth and the impertinence. Operating now
against Napoleon, and in Saxony, Bernadotte had broadcasted the country
with a proclamation calling upon the Saxons to join him. It is quite
possible that the coincidence of these circumstances influenced the
wavering troops, who had used half their ammunition against the Allies,
to spend the other half against the French.

This desertion of about twenty-five thousand men furnished one
imperative reason for retreat; but there seems to have been a second,
equally good. Constant says, “In the evening the Emperor was sitting
on a red morocco camp-stool amidst the bivouac fires, dictating orders
for the night to Berthier, when two artillery commanders presented
themselves to his Majesty, and told him that they were nearly out of
ammunition.” Some two hundred and twenty-five thousand cannon balls had
been fired, the reserves were exhausted, and the nearest magazines were
out of reach.

The retreat began that night; and troops continued to pour across the
one bridge of the Elster as fast as they could go. Why was there but
one bridge? No satisfactory answer can be made, unless we adopt the
theory of sheer neglect. The stream was so small that any number of
bridges might have been built during the idle day of the 17th; but no
orders were issued, and the French army was left to fight awful odds,
with a river at its back, over which lay the only line of retreat,
and across which there was a single bridge. Did the Emperor forget the
terrible experience of Aspern? Was he no longer the Napoleon of Rivoli,
as Augereau was no longer the Augereau of Castiglione?

“Ordener is worn out,” Napoleon remarked at Austerlitz. “One has but a
short time for war. I am good for another six years, and then I shall
have to stop.”

Austerlitz was fought at the close of 1805; Leipsic toward the end of
1813: the great captain had already gone two years beyond his limit.

The lean, wiry, tireless young general of the Italian campaign, who
had fought Alvinczy five days without closing his eyes or taking off
his boots, could never be identified in the dull-faced, slow-moving,
corpulent, and soon-wearied Emperor of 1813.

Next morning, October 19, the Allies discovered that the French were
in retreat, and this attack was renewed at all points with passionate
energy. Napoleon left his bivouac, came into Leipsic, took up quarters
in the hotel called _The Prussian Arms_. He went to the palace to
take leave of the King and Queen of Saxony, who wished to follow
his fortunes still. He advised them to stay and make the best terms
possible with the Allies. He released his remaining Saxon troops. All
day the retreat went on, the battle raging at the same time, the French
rear-guard maintaining itself with superb courage.

The magistrates of the town, fearing its utter destruction, begged
the Allies to suspend the cannonade till the French could get away.
“Let Leipsic perish,” answered the “Saviors of Germany”; and the guns
continued to roar.

To protect his rear while the retreat was in progress, Napoleon was
urged to fire the suburbs next to the allied lines. He nobly refused.

What a horrible day it must have been! The steady thunder of a thousand
cannon; the crackle of four hundred thousand muskets; the shouts of
onset; the shrieks of the wounded; the fierce crash of caissons and
wagons; the stormlike hurly-burly of countless men and horses, all wild
with passion, all excited to the highest pitch of action, all crowding
desperately toward the maddened town, the gorged, blood-stained
streets--to reach the all-important bridge!

The world seemed ablaze with hatred for the fleeing French. The very
body-guard of the Saxon king whirled upon their stricken allies, and
poured deadly volleys into the retreating ranks. Even the cowardly
Baden troop, which had been left in Leipsic by the French, to chop wood
for the bakehouses, now laid aside their axes, and from the shelter of
the bakeries shot down the French soldiers as they passed.

The Emperor with difficulty had crossed the river, and given personal
direction to the reunion of the various corps. The rear-guard was
making heroic efforts to save the army; and all was going as well as
defeats and retreats can be expected to go, when suddenly there came a
deafening explosion which, for a moment, drowned the noise of battle.
It roused Napoleon, who had fallen asleep; and when Murat and Augereau
came running to tell him that the bridge had been blown up and the
rear-guard cut off, he seized his head convulsively in his hands,
stunned by the awful news.

The French officer, charged with the duty of destroying the bridge
when the rear-guard should have passed, had touched off the mine too

The twenty odd thousand heroes who had been protecting the retreat,
found themselves hemmed in--a swollen river in front, and three hundred
thousand of the enemy in flank and rear. Some few dashed into the water
and swam across, among them Marshal Macdonald. Some in attempting to
swim were drowned, among them the golden-hearted, hero-patriot of
Poland, Poniatowski. But the bulk of the rear-guard laid down their
arms to the enemy.

In the three days at Leipsic Napoleon lost 40,000 killed, 30,000
prisoners, and 260 guns. The Allies lost in killed and wounded 54,000.

The retreat from Leipsic was less horrible than that from Moscow, but
it was dismal enough. Men died like flies from camp diseases; and those
who kept the ranks were demoralized.

At Erfurth, Murat left the army. The brothers-in-law embraced each
other in the fervid French fashion, which looks so much and means so
little. In this case it meant considerably less than nothing, for Murat
had already decided to join the Allies, and Napoleon had issued orders
to his minister of police to clap Murat into prison if he should set
foot in France. Murat avoided the danger by getting to Naples by way of
the right bank of the Rhine, and through Switzerland.

Sadly shorn of his strength, Napoleon wended his way homeward, doing
what he could to save the remnants of his army. So woe-begone was the
condition of the French that Bavaria, upon which Napoleon had heaped
immense favors, found itself unable to resist the temptation to give
the ass’s kick to the expiring lion. At Hanau the kick was delivered,
with sorry results for the ass. The mortally wounded lion swept the
Bavarians out of his path and passed on, dragging himself across the
Rhine at Mayence, November 2, 1813.


From the Rhine to the Vistula the retreat of the French caused an
outburst of joy. Nationalities and dynasties drew a mighty breath of
relief. Peoples, as well as kings, had warred against French domination
in 1813; and peoples, rather than kings, had been Napoleon’s ruin.
Quickened into life by the French Revolution, Germany had partially
thrown feudalism off; and, whereas in 1807 there had been no such
political factor as a German people, in 1813 it was the all-powerful
element of resistance to Napoleon. The German statesman outlined a
people’s programme, the German pamphleteer and agitator propagated it,
the German poet inspired it, the German pulpit consecrated it, the
German secret society organized it. There was the weapon; Spain had
shown what could be done with it; the kings had but to grasp and use
it. Under its blows, Napoleon’s strength steadily sank.

Inspired by the German spirit, the allied armies rose after each defeat
ready to fight again. Carried away by the current, Napoleon’s German
allies left his ranks and turned their guns upon him. Intimidated by
its power, his trusty officers lost heart, lost nerve, lost judgment.
Buoyed by its confidence, the kings had no fears, and rejected all
compromise. Napoleon was barely across the Rhine before his Rhenish
confederation was a thing of the past, the kingdom of Westphalia a
recollection, Jerome Bonaparte a fugitive without a crown, the Saxon
monarch a prisoner, Holland a revolted province, Polish independence
and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw a vanished dream.

The “Saviors of Europe” had saved it. Napoleon’s “cruel yoke” would vex
Germany no more. To emphasize the fact, the “Saviors” levied upon the
country a tribute of men and money, which just about doubled the weight
of Napoleon’s cruel yoke.

Very heavy had been the hand of France during her ascendency. Very
freely Napoleon had helped himself to such things in Germany as he
needed. Very harshly had he put down all opposition to his will. And
the French officers, imitating their chief, had plundered the land with
insolent disregard of moderation or morality. From Jerome Bonaparte
downward, Napoleon’s representatives in Germany had been, as a rule,
a scandal, a burden, an intolerable offence to German pride, German
patriotism, and German pockets. It was with a furious explosion of
pent-up wrath that Germany at last arose and drove them out.

Who was there to warn the peoples of the European states that they
were blindly beating back the pioneers of progress, blindly combating
the cause of liberalism, blindly doing the work of absolutism and
privilege? Who would have hearkened to such a warning, had there been
those wise enough and brave enough to have spoken? Viewed upon the
surface, the work Napoleon had done could not be separated from his
mode of doing it. The methods were rough, sometimes brutal, always

People could see this, feel it, and resent it--just as they saw, felt,
and resented his exactions of men, money, and war material. They could
not, or did not, make due allowance for the man’s ultimate purpose.
They could not, or would not, realize how profoundly his code of
laws and his system of administration worked for the final triumph
of liberal principles. They could not, or would not, understand that
there was _then_ no way under heaven by which he could subdue the
forces of feudalism, break the strength of aristocracy, and establish
the equality of all men before the law, other than the method which he

So the peoples in their folly made common cause with the kings,
who promised them constitutions, civil and political liberty, and
representative government. In their haste and their zeal, they ran to
arms and laid their treasures at the feet of the kings. In their ardor
and devotion, they marched and fought, endured and persisted, with
an unselfish constancy which no trials, sufferings, or defeats could

They advanced to the attack with fierce shouts of joy; on the retreat
they were not cast down; reverses did not dampen their hopes nor
shake their resolution. When the truce of Pleiswitz was granted, they
welcomed it only as it gave them time to recuperate. When the Congress
of Prague convened, they regarded it with dread, fearing that peace
might be made and Napoleon left part-master of Germany. When the beacon
lights blazed along the heights at midnight of August 10, they were
hailed as slaves might hail the signals of deliverance.

In his _Memoirs_, Metternich relates that when, after the battle of
Leipsic, he entered the palace of the King of Saxony to notify him
of the pleasure of the Allies, the Queen reproached him bitterly for
having deserted Napoleon’s “sacred cause.” Metternich states that he
informed her that he had not come there to argue the question with her.

And yet, if Metternich had any reply to make, then was the time to make
it. The Queen’s side of the case was weaker then than it would ever
be again; Metternich’s stronger. Perfect as may have been the Queen’s
faith, it was beyond her power to pierce the curtain of the years, and
see what lay in the future. Had the spirit of prophecy touched her
lips, she would have been taken for a maniac, for this would have been
her revelation:--

“The promises the kings have made to the people will be broken; the
hope of the patriot will be dashed to the ground; counter-revolution
will set in; and the shadow of absolutism will deepen over the world.
The noble will again put on his boots and his spurs; the peasant will
once more dread the frown of his lord. The king will follow no law but
that of his pleasure; the priest will again avow that Jehovah is a
Tory and a Jesuit. Reactionaries will drive out Napoleon’s Code, and
the revolutionary principles of civil equality. The prisons will be
gorged with liberals; on hundreds of gibbets democrats will rot. The
Inquisition will come again, and the shrieks of the heretic will soothe
the troubled conscience of the orthodox. Constitutions promised to
peoples, and solemnly sworn to by kings, will be coldly set aside, and
the heroes who demanded them will, by way of traitor’s deaths, become
martyrs to liberty.

“Mediævalism will return; statues of the Virgin will weep, or wink, or
sweat; and miracles will refresh the faith of the righteous, bringing
death to the scoffer who too boldly doubts. The press will be gagged,
free speech denied, public assemblies made penal. The Jesuits will
swarm as never before, monasteries and convents fill to overflowing,
church wealth will multiply, and neither priest nor noble will pay
tribute to the state. Clerical papers will demand the gallows for
liberals, clericals will seize the schools, clericals will forbid all
political writings.

“The time will come when the European doctrine will again be proclaimed
that the sovereign has full power over the lives and the property of
his subjects. The time will come when this same Emperor Francis will
publicly admonish the Laybach professors that they are not to teach the
youth of Germany too much:--‘I do not want learned men! I want obedient

“The time will come when in Bourbon France the work of the Revolution
will be set aside by the stroke of the pen, and absolute government
decreed again. Even in England, free speech attempted at a public
meeting will bring out the troops who will charge upon a mixed and
unarmed multitude, wounding and slaying with a brutality born of
bigoted royalism and class-tyranny. The cry for reform there will
challenge such resistance that Wellington will hold his army ready to
massacre English people.

“The time will come when these three kings--Alexander, Francis, and
Frederick William--will form their Holy Alliance in the interest of
aristocracy, hereditary privilege, clerical tyranny, and absolute
royalty. By force of arms they will crush democracy wherever it
appears; they will bring upon Europe a reign of terror; and the cause
of human progress will seem to be lost forever.

“And as for you, Prince Metternich, the time will come when you will
have been so identified with the oppressors of the people, so well
known as their busy tool, their heartless advocate, their pitiless
executioner, their polished liar, hypocrite, and comprehensive knave,
that a minister of state will proclaim amid universal applause, ‘I sum
up the infamy of the last decades in the name of Metternich!’”

All this might the Queen of Saxony have said to her insolent tormentor;
for all this is literal truth. In the light of history the woman was
right: Napoleon’s was the “sacred cause.”

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Emperor reached Paris, his situation was as trying as any
mortal was ever called upon to face. Not a legitimate king like
Alexander, Frederick William, or Francis, his power could not rally
from shocks which theirs had so easily survived. Great as had been his
genius for construction, he could not give to his empire the solidity
and sanctity which comes from age. He could create orders of nobility,
and judicial, legislative, and executive systems; he could erect a
throne, establish a dynasty, and surround it with a court; but he could
not so consecrate it with the mysterious benediction of time that it
would defy adversity, and stand of its own strength amid storms which
levelled all around it.

The great Frederick and the small Frederick William remained the centre
of Prussian hopes, Prussian loyalty, Prussian efforts even when Berlin
was in the hands of the enemy, the army scattered in defeat, and the
King almost a fugitive. Prussia, in all her battles, fought for the
King; in her defeats, mourned with the King; in her resurrection from
disaster, rallied round the King.

Austria had done the same. Her Emperor Francis had as little real
manhood in him as any potentate that ever complacently repeated the
formula of “God and I.” He was weak in war and in peace; in the head,
empty; in the heart, waxy and cold; in the spirit, selfish, false,
cowardly, and unscrupulous. Yet when this man’s unprovoked attacks
upon Napoleon had brought Austria to her shame and sorrow,--cities
burnt, fields wasted, armies destroyed, woe in every house for lives
lost in battle,--Austria knew no rallying-point other than Francis;
and when the poor creature came back to Vienna, after Napoleon had
granted him peace, all classes met him with admiration, love, loyalty,
and enthusiasm. Napoleon, returning to France victorious, was not more
joyously acclaimed by the French than was this defeated and despoiled
Francis applauded in Vienna.

The one was a legitimate king, the other was not. On the side of
Francis and the Fredericks were time, training, habit, and system.
Germans were born into the system, educated to it, practised in it, and
died out of it--to be succeeded by generations who knew nothing but to
follow in the footsteps of those that had gone before.

In France the old order had been overthrown and the new had not so
completely identified itself with Napoleon that he could exert the
tremendous force which antiquity and custom lend to institutions.

Nevertheless, the truth seems to be that in his last struggles Napoleon
had the masses with him. Had he made a direct appeal to the peasantry
and to the workmen of the cities, there is every reason to believe
that he could have enrolled a million men. The population in France
was not at a standstill then as it is now. It was steadily on the
increase; and it was fairly prosperous, and fairly contented. The
Emperor had given special attention to agriculture and manufactures. In
every possible way he had encouraged both, and his efforts had borne
fruit. He had not increased the taxes, he had not burdened the State
with loans, he had not issued paper money, he had not even changed the
conscription laws. In some of his campaigns he had called for recruits
before they were legally due; but, as the Senate had sanctioned the
call, the nation had acquiesced. It is true that men and boys had
dodged the enrolling officers, and that the numbers of those who defied
and resisted the conscriptions had increased to many thousands; but the
meaning of this was nothing more than that the people were tired of
distant wars.

A pledge from the Emperor that soldiers should not be sent out of
France would apparently have rallied to him the full military support
of the nation. But Napoleon could not get his own consent to arm the
peasants and the artisans. Both in 1814 and in 1815 that one chance of
salvation was offered to him; in each year he rejected it.

The awful scenes of the Revolution which he had witnessed had left him
the legacy of morbid dread of mobs. The soldier who could gaze stolidly
upon the frightful rout at Leipsic, where men were perishing in the
wild storm of battle by the tens of thousands, could never free himself
from the recollection of the Parisian rabble which had slaughtered a
few hundreds. At Moscow he refused to arm the serfs against their
masters; in France he as deliberately rejected all proposals to appeal
to the lower orders to support his throne.

The secret is revealed by his question, “Who can tell me what spirit
will animate these men?” He feared for his dynasty, dreading a republic
in which free elections would control the choice of the executive.

But while the mass of the French people remained loyal to Napoleon,
the upper classes were divided. There had always been a leaven of
royalism in the land, and Napoleon himself had immensely strengthened
its influence. Bringing back the émigrés, restoring hereditary estates,
creating orders of nobility anew, and establishing royal forms, he
had been educating the country up to monarchy as no one else could
have done--had been “making up the bed for the Bourbons.” The ancient
nobility, as a rule, had secretly scorned him as a Corsican parvenu,
even while crowding his antechambers and loading themselves with his
favors. Now that reverses had commenced, their eyes began to turn to
their old masters, the Bourbons, and the hopes of a restoration and a
counter-revolution began to take distinct shape in Paris itself.

To the royalists, also, went the support of a large number of the
rich--men who resented the income tax of twenty-five per cent, which
Napoleon at this time felt it necessary to impose upon them. Another
grudge, they, the rich, had against him: he would not allow them to
loot his treasury, as the rich were doing in England. Nor would he
grant exemptions from any sort of public burden, special privilege
being in his eyes a thing utterly abominable. Hence, such men as the
great banker Laffitte were not his friends.

There was another element of opposition which made itself felt at this
crisis. There were various contractors, and other public employees,
who had taken advantage of the decline of Napoleon’s power to plunder,
embezzle, and cheat. The Emperor was on the track of numbers of these
men, and in his wrath had sworn to bring them to judgment. “Never will
I pardon those who squander public funds!” These men moved in upper
circles, and had many social, political, and financial allies. Dreading
punishment if Napoleon held his throne, they became active partisans
of the Bourbon restoration. Even his old schoolmate, Bourrienne, his
private secretary of many years, betrayed him shamelessly. The Emperor
had detected the fact that Bourrienne had been using his official
position for private gain, and had dismissed him; but on account of old
association had softened the fall by appointing him Consul at Hamburg.
At this place Bourrienne amassed a fortune by violating the Continental
system, and he now hated the man he had betrayed, and from whom he
feared punishment. This was but one case among hundreds.

Then, there was the Talleyrand, Fouché, Rémusat, Abbé Louis, Abbé
Montesquieu, Duc de Dalberg sort. Talleyrand had been enriched,
ennobled, imperially pampered, but never trusted. Napoleon had borne
with his venalities and treacheries until men marvelled at his
forbearance. This minister of France was in the pay of Austria, of
Russia, of England, of any foe of France who could pay the price.
It was probably he who sold to England the secret of Tilsit. It was
certainly he who conspired with the Czar against Napoleon, and took a
bribe from Austria every time she needed mercy from France. It was he
who extorted tribute from Napoleon’s allies at the same time that he
sold state secrets to Napoleon’s foes. Denounced and dismissed, and
then employed again, this man was ripe for a greater betrayal than he
had yet made, and he now believed that the opportunity was close at

Fouché, also, had been Napoleon’s minister, Napoleon’s Duke of Otranto.
Dabbling in conspiracies of all sorts, and venturing upon a direct
intrigue with England, Napoleon had disgraced him, instead of having
him shot. Needing him again, the Emperor had reëmployed him, thereby
affording another rancorous foe his chance to strike when the time
should come.

In the army there was the same grand division of sentiment,--the rank
and file being devoted to Napoleon, the officers divided.

The marshals were tired of war, there being nothing further in it
for them. They had been lifted as high as they could go; they had
been enriched to satiety; their fame was established. Why should they
continue to fight? Were they never to be left in peace? What was the
good of having wealth if they were never to enjoy it?

The marshals were human; their grumblings and growlings most natural.
They honestly believed that peace depended upon the Emperor alone, that
he only had to stretch forth his hand to get it.

He himself knew better; but it almost maddened him to realize that so
few understood this as he did.

“Peace! peace!” he cried impatiently, to Berthier the goose. “You
miserable----! Don’t you know that I want peace more than any one? How
am I to get it? The more I concede, the more they demand!”

This brings us squarely to the question: Did the Allies, in good faith,
offer Napoleon peace, and did he recklessly refuse it?

Then and afterward he contended that he had done everything in his
power to secure honorable terms. Almost with his dying breath he
repeated this statement at St. Helena. What is the truth about it?

Let any one who wishes to know, study the _Memoirs_ of the period; let
him further study the despatches and treaties of the Allies; let him
give due weight to the influence upon these Allies of the Bourbons,
the ancient nobility, the higher priests of the Catholic Church, the
dynastic prejudices of the allied kings, and the intense personal
hatreds of such powerful counsellors of kings as Pozzo di Borgo, Stein,
Bernadotte, Castlereagh, and Talleyrand. In addition to this, let such
a student consider how the Allies violated the armistice of Pleiswitz,
the capitulations of Dantzic and Dresden, the treaties they made with
Napoleon in 1812, and that which they made with him at his abdication
in 1814.

Let such a student furthermore consider that these Allies not only
broke the treaty they made with Napoleon in 1814, but likewise violated
the pledges which they had made to their own peoples in drawing them
into the war.

If, after the study of these evidences of the bad faith of the Allies,
there still remains doubt, the _Memoirs_ of Metternich will remove
it--if it be removable.

The world knows that the only avowed purpose of the Allies was to
liberate Europe by driving Napoleon back beyond the Rhine, and that
this end had now been attained. Hence, if the real objects the Allies
had in view were those which had been made public, why should not
the war have ceased? Europe was free, Napoleon’s empire shattered,
nothing remained to him but France--why should the Allies follow him
there? It was necessary to hoodwink the world upon this point, and it
was Metternich’s task to do it;--for the allied kings were determined
to invade France and put an end to Napoleon’s political existence.
Metternich avows this himself; yet he persuaded them to make to
Napoleon the celebrated Frankfort Proposals. All the world knows that
the allied kings, with an apparent excess of magnanimity, offered
even then to come to such terms with Napoleon as would have left him
in possession of the France of 1792, a larger realm than the greatest
of Bourbon kings had ever ruled. What the world did not know was that
these Frankfort Proposals were not sincere, and were made for effect
only. It was necessary to the Allies to cover their own designs, to
justify their departure from the declarations of 1813, to create the
impression that they themselves favored peace while Napoleon persisted
in war. Succeeding in this, they would cut the ground from under his
feet, divide the French, and deprive him of enthusiastic and united
national support. With profound policy and duplicity, they sought to
create in France itself the impression that Napoleon was the only
obstacle to peace, and that their efforts were aimed at him, and not
at France, her institutions, her principles, or her glory. Not for a
moment was France given cause to suspect that the Bourbons were to be
forced upon her, and the great work of the Revolution partially undone.
Not for a moment was she allowed to realize that offers of peace to
Napoleon were deceptive--intended only to embarrass him and to divide
his people. Yet Metternich himself admits that the Frankfort Proposals
were made for effect--not only admits it, but takes credit for it. He
states that he was compelled to exert all his influence with the allied
sovereigns to secure their consent to these proposals, and that he
overcame their resistance, as he had overcome Alexander’s in 1813, by
assuring them that the offers would come to nothing.


Had Napoleon promptly accepted the Frankfort Proposal as they were
made, would he have secured peace? Manifestly not, for Metternich had
put two conditions to his offer which do not look pacific. First, the
war was not to be suspended during negotiations. Second, the Frankfort
Proposals were only to be taken as _bases_ upon which diplomats could
work. Does this look like a _bona fide_ offer of peace? Napoleon
thought not, and impartial history must hesitate long before saying
he erred. When in December, 1813, he sent his envoy to the Allies,
agreeing to all they demanded, he was once more told that he should
have consented sooner. The Allies had gained their point in having made
the offer, and their active interest in the matter was at an end. The
French envoy was kept in hand, seeking audiences and positive replies,
while the allied armies marched into France.

France in 1814 was a nation of about thirty million souls. During the
years 1812 and 1813 she had furnished nearly six hundred thousand
soldiers to Napoleon’s armies. Of these about half were prisoners in
Russia and Germany, or were shut up in distant garrisons; about two
hundred thousands were dead or missing; about one hundred thousand
remained subject to the Emperor’s call. It was his hope that further
conscription would yield him three hundred thousand recruits; but it
failed to do so.

So much war material had been lost in the campaigns in Russia and
Saxony that he could not furnish muskets to volunteers; some went to
war armed with shot-guns. Neither could he mount any large force of
cavalry; horses could not be had. Nor were there uniforms for all; some
went to the front in sabots and blouse. Money was lacking, and the
Emperor took more than $10,000,000 from his own private funds (saved
from his Civil List), and threw them into the equipment of the troops,
calling also upon the rich for voluntary contributions, on a sliding
scale which he was thoughtful enough to furnish. A few of the taxes
were increased, the communal lands taken for the public service, and
paper money issued against the value of this particular property.

Competent judges have expressed the opinion that had Napoleon at
this time liberated the Pope and Ferdinand of Spain, and done so
unconditionally, he might have won in the campaign which was about to
open. The release of the Pope might have brought back to allegiance
many of the disaffected; the release of Ferdinand might have made it
necessary for the English to quit Spain, and in this manner Napoleon
would have drawn to his own support the veterans he still kept there.
The Duke of Wellington is quoted as saying that had Ferdinand appeared
in Spain in December, 1813, the English would have had to evacuate it.
He, of all men, should have known.

But Napoleon would not consent to make unconditional surrender to the
Pope or to Ferdinand. He patched up a peace with the latter, which,
being a halfway measure, yielded no benefit; and as to the Pope, the
Holy Father refused to treat on any terms with his “son in Christ
Jesus.” Restore him to Rome first; then he would treat.

From the time Napoleon returned from Saxony till he left Paris to take
charge of his last campaign, less than three months passed.

There was never a time when he labored with greater patience or
exhibited greater fortitude, courage, and determination. But the
evidence seems to indicate that he had lost hope, that he was conscious
of the fact that nothing less than a miracle could save him.

Ever since the Russian campaign, he had not had the same confidence
in his star. As he set out from St. Cloud for his campaign in Saxony
he said to Caulaincourt: “I envy the lot of the meanest peasant of
my empire. At my age he has discharged his debts to the country and
remains at home, enjoying the society of his wife and children; while
I--I must fly to the camp and throw myself into the struggles of war.”

Méneval states that in private he found the Emperor “careworn, though
he did his best to hide his anxiety.”

“But in public his face was calm and reassured. In our conversations he
used to complain of feeling tired of war and of no longer being able to
endure horse exercise. He reproached me in jest with having fine times,
whilst he painfully dragged his plough.”

Is there anything which is more pathetic and which shows how grandly
Napoleon towered above the small men who were tugging to pull him down
than his rebuke to the intriguers of the legislative body?

At the head of a disloyal faction there, M. Lainé--an old Girondin,
now a royalist, who was soon to set up the Bourbon standard at
Bordeaux--started a movement which was meant to give aid to the Allies
by showing that divisions existed in France, and by forming a nucleus
of Bourbon opposition. A committee, which Lainé controlled, made a
report in which Napoleon’s government was impliedly censured, and
reforms demanded. Following this lead, others in the legislative body
clamored for the acceptance of the Frankfort Proposals.

This movement of opposition in the legislative body, at a time when
half a million men were on the march to invade France, was nothing
short of treason. At such a crisis, the dullest of Frenchmen must have
understood that obstruction to Napoleon was comfort to the enemy.

Even the cold Pasquier admits that the Emperor’s words to these men
were “somewhat touching.”

Having reproved the committee for allowing Lainé, the royalist, to lead
them astray, Napoleon said: “I stood in need of something to console
me, and you have sought to dishonor me. I was expecting that you would
unite in mind and deed to drive out the foreigner. You have bidden him
come! Indeed, had I lost two battles, it would not have done France
greater harm.”

Somewhat touching, Chancellor Pasquier? Ah, if ever the great man was
heard to sob in public, it was here! A nobler grief, and a nobler
expression of it, history has seldom recorded.

In the course of the same talk, the indignant Emperor reminded the
legislators that whatever differences existed between him and them
should have been discussed in private. “Dirty linen should not be
washed in public.” Then hurried away by angry impatience at those
who were forever prating about the sacrifices he exacted of France,
he exclaimed, “France has more need of me than I of France.” This
was true, but the statement was imprudent; and his enemies at once
misconstrued his meaning, and used the remark to his damage. He
dismissed the legislative body fearing, doubtless, that while he was at
the head of the army the royalists of the chamber might become a danger
in his rear.

Blow after blow fell upon the defeated Emperor during the closing weeks
of 1813. St. Cyr gave up Dresden, and Rapp surrendered Dantzic, upon
condition that their troops should be allowed to return to France. The
Allies set aside the conditions, and held the garrisons as prisoners of

Constant relates two incidents which reveal Napoleon’s melancholy more
fully than his words to Méneval or to the legislative body.

The Emperor went about Paris more informally than he had ever done.
Sometimes on horseback, sometimes on foot, he went to inspect his
public works, schools, and hospitals. Apparently he was curious to feel
the public pulse. Constant says that the people cheered him, and that
sometimes great multitudes followed him back to the Tuileries. The time
had been when the Emperor had not paid any special heed to the shouts
of a street mob. Now the cry of enthusiasm was music to his ears. After
one of these episodes the Emperor would return to the palace in high
spirits, would have much to say to his valet that night, and would be
“very gay.”

In his visits to Saint-Denis (Girl’s School of the Legion of Honor)
the Emperor was usually accompanied by two pages. “Now it happened in
the evening,” writes Constant, “that the Emperor, after returning from
Saint-Denis, said to me with a laugh on entering his chamber, where I
was waiting to undress him, ‘Well, well, here are my pages trying to
resemble the ancient pages. The little rogues! Do you know what they
do? When I go to Saint-Denis they wrangle with each other as to who
shall go with me.’ As he spoke, the Emperor was laughing and rubbing
his hands, and repeated in the same tone a number of times, ‘The little

Would Chancellor Pasquier admit that this was also “somewhat touching”?

The greatest man of all history had said with proud mournfulness, “I
stood in need of something to console me,” and we do not realize how
infinitely sad he was till we read in Constant’s artless narrative that
the shouts of the mob made him “very gay,” and that the dispute of the
boys in the palace as to which two should go out into the town with him
made him rub his hands with pleasure, and repeat time and again, “Ah,
the little rogues.”

       *       *       *       *       *

At the beginning of 1814 positive information came that Murat had made
a treaty with Austria, and had promised an army of thirty thousand men
to coöperate with the Allies against France. Much as this defection
must have wounded the Emperor, the worst part of it was that he knew
his sister Caroline to be more to blame than Murat. She did not believe
that the Allies meant to dethrone Napoleon; she believed he could make
peace on the basis of the Frankfort Proposals; and to save her own
crown she believed that a treaty with the Allies was necessary. To this
extent her treachery can be palliated--excuse for it there is none.

[Illustration: LETTER TO COUNTESS WALEWSKI, APRIL 16, 1814.*]

This defection was the cruelest blow of all; for Murat had been
promising his support, and the Emperor had based his plan of campaign
upon it. He had intended that Eugène should unite his forces to those
of Murat, and that the two should fall upon the Austrian line of
communications, threatening Vienna. From this plan he had expected the
happiest results.

Murat had been negotiating with England and Austria, but had not
definitely made terms. It is said that he was driven to a decision by a
wound which Napoleon inflicted upon his vanity. Murat, having written
the Emperor that he could bring thirty thousand men to the field to aid
France, was told to send the troops to Pavia, where they would receive
“the Emperor’s orders.” The King of Naples received this letter on a
day when, with the Queen and others, he was making a visit to Pompeii.
He was so much hurt by Napoleon’s tone that he tore the despatch in
pieces, trampled on the fragments, and returned to Naples to close with
the Austrian offers.

One must pity this brave, vain, fickle Murat, urged on to his shame and
ruin by his innate levity of character, the sting of wounded vanity,
the selfish promptings of an ambitious wife, and the temptings of
professional diplomats.

England dug the grave for Murat as she did for Napoleon, her agent at
Naples being Lord Bentinck. Murat having sent the Englishman a sword of
honor, the latter wrote to his government:--

“It is a severe violence to my feelings to incur any degree of
obligation to an individual whom I so deeply despise.”

On the same day he wrote to Murat: “The sword of a great captain is
the most flattering compliment which a soldier can receive. It is with
the highest gratitude that I accept, sire, the gift which you have done
me the honor to send.”

Lord Bentinck belonged, we must presume, to what Lord Wolseley calls
“the highest type of English gentleman”; hence his duplicity must not
be spoken of in the terms we use in denouncing the vulgar.

Another piece of bad luck had happened to the Emperor since the
Saxon campaign--his two brothers, Joseph and Jerome, were in France.
Wellington had not left the former much to resign in Spain; but
whatever there was, Joseph had surrendered it, and he had come away.
He was now in Paris, confident as ever of his own great merits, and
most unfortunately exercising his former evil influence. Napoleon made
this imbecile Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, and having made the
Empress regent, Joseph became President of the Council of Regency. The
disastrous consequences of putting such power into Joseph’s hands will
be seen presently.

At length everything which human effort and human genius could achieve
for the national defence, in so short a time, was done; and it became
imperative that the Emperor should join his army.

On Sunday of January 23, 1814, it being known that he would leave Paris
in a few hours, the officers of the twelve legions of the National
Guard assembled in the hall of the marshals, at the Tuileries, to be
presented as the Emperor should return from Mass. Presently he came;
and while the Empress stood at his side, he took his little son in his
arms, and presented him to the brilliant throng. In a voice which
revealed his deep feeling, he told them that he was about to leave
Paris to put himself at the head of the army to drive the invaders from
France, and he reckoned on the zeal of all good citizens. He appealed
to them to be united, and to repel all insinuations which would tend to
divisions. “Efforts will not be lacking to shake your fidelity to your
duties; I rely on you to reject these perfidious attempts. Gentlemen,
officers of the National Guard, I put under your protection what, next
to France, is dearest to me in all the world,--my wife and my son!”

Even Pasquier records that these words were uttered in tones which
went to the heart, and with an expression of face that was noble
and touching. “I saw tears course down many a cheek. All swore by
acclamation to be worthy of the confidence with which they were being
honored, and every one of them took this oath in all sincerity.”
Warming up a little, in spite of himself, the Chancellor adds, “This
powerful sovereign in the toils of adversity, this glorious soldier
bearing up against the buffets of fortune, could but deeply stir souls
when, appealing to the most cherished affections of the human heart, he
placed himself under their protection.” The learned Chancellor frostily
adds that “the capital did not remain indifferent to this scene, and
was more deeply moved by it than one might expect.”

Let us get out of this draught of wind from the frozen summits of
eminent respectability, and turn to a man whose heart-beat had not been
chilled in any social or judicial ice-box.

Constant writes:--

“... The Emperor’s glance rested on the Empress and on the King of
Rome. He added in a voice that betrayed emotion, indicating by look and
gesture his son, ‘I confide him to you, gentlemen!’ At these words, a
thousand cries, a thousand arms arose, swearing to guard this precious
trust. The Empress, bathed in tears, would have fallen if the Emperor
had not caught her in his arms. At this sight the enthusiasm reached
its climax; tears fell from every eye, and there was not one of the
spectators who did not seem ready to shed his blood for the imperial

       *       *       *       *       *

At the beginning of 1814 France was threatened by four armies,
aggregating half a million men. Wellington was at the Pyrenees in
the south, Bernadotte was in the Netherlands, while Blücher and
Schwarzenberg, crossing the Rhine higher up, but at different points,
were marching upon Paris by the Seine and the Marne.

With a confidence which events justified, the Emperor left Soult to
oppose Wellington. As to Bernadotte, he was neither trusted by the
Allies nor feared by Napoleon. The recreant Frenchman had merely come
to terms with the Allies because they had promised to take Norway from
Denmark and give it to Sweden. In addition to this, the Czar of Russia
had dangled before Bernadotte’s eyes, as a tempting bait, the crown of
France--a fact which of itself proves the hollowness of the overtures
made to Napoleon from Frankfort. So well was the crafty Prince-Royal
of Sweden understood by those who had bought him, that he was kept
under strict personal surveillance by each of the four great allied
powers,--Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain. From an army
led by such a man, Napoleon had little to fear; and he gave his whole
personal energies to Blücher and Schwarzenberg, especially to Blücher.
This old hussar who had served under Frederick the Great, and who was
now more than seventy years of age, was the most energetic of all the
officers arrayed against France; and he gave Napoleon more trouble than
all the others put together. He could easily be outgeneralled, he could
be beaten any number of times by such a captain as Napoleon; but there
was no such thing as conquering him. Routed one day, he was ready to
fight again the next. Outmanœuvred at one point, he turned up ready for
battle at another. His marches were swift, his resources inexhaustible,
his pluck and determination an inspiration, not only to the Prussians,
but to all the allied armies. He was not much of a general, was a
good deal of a brute; but he was about as well fitted for the task of
wearing down Napoleon’s strength as any officer Europe could have put
into the field.

Moving slowly from the Rhine toward Paris, meeting no resistance which
could hinder their march, the Allies, who were making war upon Napoleon
alone, and who had no grudge against France, and whose wish it was, as
they proclaimed, to see France “great, prosperous, and happy,” gave
rein to such license, committed such havoc upon property, and such
riotous outrage upon man, woman, and child, that the details cannot be
printed. In Spain, Napoleon had shot his own soldiers to put an end
to pillage; in Russia he had done the same. At Leipsic he had refused
to burn the suburbs to save his army. In his invasions of Prussia and
Austria he had held his men so well in hand that non-combatants were
almost as safe, personally, as they had been under their own king.
At Berlin the French Emperor publicly disgraced a prominent French
officer for having written an insulting letter to a German lady.

In France the sovereigns whose every proclamation and treaty ran under
the sanctimonious heading, “In the name of the Holy and Indivisible
Trinity,” let loose upon the country savage hordes of Cossacks, Croats,
and Prussian fanatics who wreaked their vengeance upon the non-combatant
peasantry and villagers until the invasion of the “Saviors of Society”
became a saturnalia of lust and blood and arson, which no language fit
for books can describe.

The Prussians had almost reached Brienne when the Emperor took the
field with a small force, and drove them from St. Dizier. He then came
upon Blücher at Brienne, suddenly, while the Prussian general was
feasting at the château, and captured one of the higher officers at the
foot of the stairs. The Emperor believed he had nabbed Blücher himself,
and he shouted, “We will hold on to that old fighter; the campaign will
not last long!”

But Blücher had fled through the back door, and had escaped. The battle
raged over the school grounds and the park where Napoleon had read and
meditated in his boyhood. During the fight he found himself storming
the school buildings, where the Prussians were posted; and he pointed
out to his companions the tree in the park under which he had read
_Jerusalem Delivered_.

One of the guides in the movement about Brienne was a curé who had been
a regent of the college while Napoleon was there. They recognized each
other, the Emperor exclaiming: “What! is this you, my dear master? Then
you have never quitted this region? So much the better; you will be
more able to serve the country’s cause.”

The curé saddled his mare and took his place cheerfully in the imperial
staff, saying, “Sire, I could find my way over the neighborhood with my
eyes shut.”

The Emperor drove the Prussians from Brienne with heavy loss; but when
Blücher joined Schwarzenberg, and Napoleon with his slender force
attacked this huge mass at La Rothière, he was beaten off, after a
desperate combat.

Riding back to the château of Brienne to spend the night, the Emperor
was suddenly assailed by a swarm of Cossacks, and for a moment he was
in great personal danger; so much so that he drew his sword to defend
himself. A Cossack lunged at him with a lance, and was shot down by
General Gourgaud.

This incident gave Gourgaud a claim upon Napoleon which was heard of
frequently afterward,--rather too frequently, as the Emperor thought.
At St. Helena Gourgaud, a fretful man and a jealous, tortured himself
and his master by too many complaints of neglect; and reminded the
Emperor once too often of the pistol-shot which had slain the Cossack.

“I saw nothing of it,” said Napoleon, thus putting a quietus to that
particularly frequent conversational nuisance.

It was now the 1st of February, 1814; the Emperor fell back to Nogent,
the Austrians following. Blücher separated from Schwarzenberg, divided
his army into small detachments, and made straight for Paris. In a
flash Napoleon saw his advantage, and acted. At Champ-Aubert he fell
upon one of these scattered divisions and destroyed it. At Montmirail
he crushed another; and hurling his victorious little army upon
Blücher himself, drove that astonished old warrior back upon Châlons.
Putting his guard into carts and carriages, and posting at the highest
speed night and day, Napoleon united with Marshals Oudinot, Victor,
and Macdonald at Guignes. On February 18 he fell upon the huge army
of Schwarzenberg at Montereau and actually drove it back toward
Troyes,--the Austrians as they retired calling upon old Blücher to come
and give them help!

When Caulaincourt, early in December, 1813, had appeared at Frankfort
ready to accept those famous proposals unconditionally, Metternich
had shuffled, evaded, and procrastinated. Finally, a Peace Congress
was assembled at Châtillon (February 6, 1814); and while the soldiers
marched and fought, the diplomats ate, drank and made themselves merry
in the farce of trying to arrange a treaty. Caulaincourt, gallant and
hospitable, supplied his brother diplomats at Châtillon with all the
good things which Paris could furnish,--good eatables, good drinkables,
and gay women. Hence, the Peace Congress was a very enjoyable affair,
indeed. It was not expected to do anything, and it fully came up to
expectations. As the tide of success veered, so shifted the diplomats.
When the Allies won a victory, their demands advanced; when Napoleon
won, the demands moderated. There was no such thing as a coming


After his defeat at La Rothière, the Emperor authorized Bassano to
make peace, giving to Caulaincourt unlimited powers. But before the
necessary papers could be signed, Blücher had made his false movement,
and Napoleon’s hopes had risen. Bassano, entering his room on the
morning of February 9, found the Emperor lying on his map and planting
his wax-headed pins.

“Ah, it is you, is it?” cried he to Bassano, who held the papers in
his hands ready for signing. “There is no more question of that. See
here, I want to thrash Blücher. He has taken the Montmirail road. I
shall fight him to-morrow and next day. The face of affairs is about to
change. We will wait.”

In the movements which followed the Bonaparte of the Italian campaign
was seen again, and for the last time. He was everywhere, he was
tireless, he was inspiring, he was faultless, he was a terror to his
foes. We see him heading charges with reckless dash, see him aiming
cannon in the batteries, see him showing his recruits how to build
bridges, see him check a panic by spurring his own horse up to a live
shell and holding him there till the bomb exploded, see him rallying
fugitives, on foot and sword in hand. We hear him appeal to his tardy
marshals to “Pull on the boots and the resolution of 1793”; we hear
him address the people and the troops with the military eloquence of
his best days; we see him writing all night after marching or fighting
all day--his care and his efforts embracing everything, and achieving
all that was possible to man.

That was a pretty picture at the crossing of the river Aube, where
Napoleon was making a hasty bridge out of ladders spliced together,
floored with blinds taken from the houses near by. Balls were tearing
up the ground where the Emperor stood; but yet when he was about to
quench his extreme thirst by dipping up in his hands the water of the
river, a little girl of the village, seeing his need, ran to him with
a glass of wine. Empire was slipping away from him, and his mind must
have been weighed down by a thousand cares; but he was so touched by
the gallantry of the little maid that he smiled down upon her, as he
gratefully drank, and he said:--

“Mademoiselle, you would make a brave soldier!”

Then he added playfully, “Will you take the epaulets? Will you be my
aide-de-camp?” He gave her his hand, which she kissed, and as she
turned to go he added, “Come to Paris when the war is over, and remind
me of what you did to-day; you will feel my gratitude.”

He was no gentleman; he had not a spark of generosity in his nature; he
was mean and cruel; he was a superlatively bad man. So his enemies say,
beginning at Lewis Goldsmith and ending at Viscount Wolseley. It may be
so; but it is a little hard on the average citizen who would like to
love the good men and hate the bad ones that a “superlatively evil man”
like Napoleon Bonaparte should be endowed by Providence with qualities
which make such men as Wellington, Metternich, Talleyrand, Czar
Alexander, Emperor Francis, or Bourbon Louis seem small, seem paltry,
seem prosaic and sordid beside him.

Another glimpse of the Emperor fixes attention in these last struggles.
He was at the village of Méry where he rapidly reconnoitred over the
marshy ground bordering the Aube. Getting out of the saddle, he sat
down upon a bundle of reeds, resting his back against the hut of a
night-watchman, and unrolled his map. Studying this a few moments, he
sprang upon his horse, set off at a gallop, crying to his staff, “This
time we have got them!”

It did indeed seem that Blücher was entrapped and would be annihilated;
but after very heavy losses he managed to get across the marsh and the
river. It is said that a sudden frost, hardening the mud, was all that
saved him.

Having been reënforced by the corps of Bülow and Woronzoff, which
England had compelled Bernadotte to send, Blücher advanced against
Marmont on the Marne. The French fell back upon the position of Marshal
Mortier; and the two French generals, with about twelve thousand,
checked one hundred thousand Prussians.

Napoleon, with twenty-five thousand, hurried to the support of his
marshals, and was in Blücher’s rear by March 1. Once more the Prussian
seemed doomed. His only line of retreat lay through Soissons and across
the Aisne. With Napoleon hot upon his track, and in his rear a French
fortress, how was he to escape destruction? A French weakling, or
traitor, had opened the way by surrendering Soissons. Had he but held
the town for a day longer, the war might have ended by a brilliant
triumph of the French. Moreau was the name of the commandant at
Soissons--a name of ill-omen to Napoleon, whose fury was extreme.

“Have that wretch arrested,” he wrote, “and also the members of the
council of defence; have them arraigned before a military commission
composed of general officers, and, in God’s name, see that they are
shot in twenty-four hours.”

Here was lost the most splendid opportunity which came to the French
during the campaign. Blücher safely crossed the Aisne (March 3)
in the night, and was attacked by Marmont on March 9. During the
day the French were successful; but Blücher launched at the unwary
Marmont a night attack which was completely successful. The French
lost forty-five guns and twenty-five hundred prisoners. In a sort
of desperation, Napoleon gave battle at Laon, but was so heavily
outnumbered that he was forced to retreat.

Almost immediately, however, he fell upon the Russians at Rheims, March
13, killed their general, St. Priest, and destroyed their force. It was
at this time that Langeron, one of Blücher’s high officers, wrote: “We
expect to see this terrible man everywhere. He has beaten us all, one
after another; we dread the audacity of his enterprises, the swiftness
of his movements, and the ability of his combinations. One has scarcely
conceived any scheme of operations before he has destroyed it.”

This tribute from an enemy is very significant of what “this terrible
man” might have accomplished had he been seconded. Suppose Murat and
Eugène had been operating on the allied line of communications! Or
suppose Augereau had done his duty in Switzerland, in the rear of the
Allies! Spite of the odds, it seems certain that Napoleon would have
beaten the entire array had he not been shamefully betrayed--abandoned
by creatures of his own making.

As if the stars in their courses were fighting against this struggling
Titan, he learned that the relations between his wife and his brother
Joseph were becoming suspicious. Chancellor Pasquier states that he
himself saw the letters written by Napoleon on leaving Rheims in which
Savary, minister of police, was censured for not having made known
the facts to the Emperor, and in which Savary was ordered to watch
closely the suspected parties. Pasquier adds that at first he thought
the Emperor must be deranged; but that information which came to him
afterward caused him to believe that Napoleon’s suspicions “were only
too well founded.”

Did ever a tragedy show darker lines than this? All Europe marching
against one man, his people divided, his lieutenants mutinous and
inclining to treason, his senators ready to depose him, a sister and a
brother-in-law stabbing him to the vitals, members of his Council of
Regency in communication with the enemy, nobles whom he had restored
and enriched plotting his destruction, and his favorite brother, his
Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, using the opportunity which the
trust afforded to debauch his wife!

Is it any wonder that even this indomitable spirit sometimes bent under
the strain?

Referring to the battle of Craonne, Constant writes:--

“The Emperor who had fought bravely in this battle as in all others,
and incurred the dangers of a common soldier, transferred his
headquarters to Bray. Hardly had he entered the room when he called me,
took his boots off while leaning on my shoulder, but without saying
a word, threw his sword and hat on the table, and stretched himself
on the bed with a sound which left one in doubt whether it was the
profound sigh of fatigue or the groan of utter despair. His Majesty’s
countenance was sorrowful and anxious. He slept for several hours the
sleep of exhaustion.”

After the Emperor’s repulse at Laon, Schwarzenberg took heart and
advanced toward Paris; but Napoleon, leaving Rheims, marched to
Épernay, and the Austrians fell back, pursued by the French. The allied
armies, however, concentrated at Arcis on the Aube, and, with one
hundred thousand men, beat off the Emperor when he attacked them with
thirty thousand.

Napoleon now made his fatal mistake--fatal because he could count on
no one but himself. He moved his army to the rear of the Allies to cut
their line of communications. This was a move ruinous to them, if the
French armies in front should do their duty. The despatches in which
Napoleon explained his march to the Empress Regent at Paris fell into
the hands of the enemy, owing to Marmont’s disobedience of orders
in abandoning the line of communications. They hesitated painfully,
they had even turned and made a day’s march following Napoleon, when
the capture of a bundle of letters from Paris, and the receipt of
invitations from traitors and royalists in Paris, revealed the true
situation there, and convinced them that by a swift advance they could
capture the city and end the war. Accordingly they turned about,
detaching a trifling force to harass and deceive the Emperor.

These movements, Napoleon to the rear and the Allies toward Paris,
decided the campaign. The small force of eight or ten thousand, which
the Allies had sent to follow the Emperor, was cut to pieces by him
at St. Dizier, and from the prisoners taken in the action he learned
of rumors that the Allies were in full march upon Paris. He soon
learned, also, that through Marmont’s disobedience of orders a severe
defeat had been inflicted upon the two marshals, and that Blücher and
Schwarzenberg had united.

What should Napoleon now do? Should he continue his march, gather up
the garrisons of his fortresses, enroll recruits, and, having cut the
enemy’s communications, return to give him battle? He wished to do
so, urged it upon the council of war, and at St. Helena repeated his
belief that this course would have saved him. It might have done so.
The army of the Allies, when it reached Paris, only numbered about
one hundred and twenty thousand. Half that number of troops were
almost within the Emperor’s reach, and there were indications that the
peasantry, infuriated by the brutality of the invaders, were about to
rise in mass. At this time they could have been armed, for Napoleon had
captured muskets by the thousand from the enemy. If Marmont and Mortier
would but exhaust the policy of obstruction and resistance; if Joseph
and War-minister Clarke, at Paris, would but do their duty, the Allies
would be caught between two fires, for the Emperor would not be long in
marshalling his strength and coming back.

But the older and higher officers were opposed to the plan. They told
Napoleon that he must march at once to the relief of Paris. After
a night of meditation and misery at St. Dizier, he set out on the
return (March 28, 1814). At Doulevent he received cipher despatches
from Lavalette, postmaster-general in Paris, warning him that if
he would save the capital he had not a moment to lose. This message
aroused him for the first time to the extremity of the peril. He had
expected a stubborner resistance from Marmont, had relied upon greater
effectiveness in Joseph and Clarke. But even now he did not realize
the awful truth, the absolute necessity for his immediate presence to
save Paris--else he would have mounted horse and spurred across France
as he had once done, to smaller purpose, across Spain: as he had done
the year before when Dresden was beleaguered. In this connection let
us remember what he had told Méneval,--that he was no longer able to
endure horse exercise. For a cause which may have been physical, he did
not mount a horse himself, for the long life-and-death ride, but he
sent General Dejean. Through this messenger he told Joseph that he was
coming at full speed, and would reach Paris in two days. Let the Allies
be resisted for only two days--he would answer for the balance. Away
sped Dejean, and he reached the goal in time.

The Empress and the King of Rome had been sent from the capital by
Joseph, and Joseph had taken horse to follow; but Dejean spurred after
him, and caught him up in the Bois de Boulogne. Brother’s message was
delivered to brother, Napoleon’s appeal made to Joseph; and the answer,
coldly given and stubbornly repeated, was, “Too late.”

The Allies had marched, dreading every hour to hear the returning
Emperor come thundering on their rear; Marmont had made one of the
worst managed of retreats, and had allowed the enemy to advance
far more rapidly than they had dared to hope; Parisians had vainly
clamored for arms, that they might defend their city; and while
thousands of citizens stood on the heights of Montmartre, looking
expectantly for the Emperor, who was known to be coming, and while the
cry, “It is he! It is he!” occasionally broke out as some figure on a
white horse was seen in the distance, the imbecile Joseph wrote to the
traitorous Marmont the permission to capitulate. This note had not been
delivered, the fight was still going on, and Dejean prayed Joseph to
recall the note. “The Emperor will be here to-morrow! For God’s sake,
give him one day!”

With a sullen refusal to wait, Joseph put spurs to his horse, and set
out to rejoin Maria Louisa.

In the dark corridors of human passion and prejudice, who can read the
truth? The rebukes of the outraged husband to a recreant brother may
have swayed Joseph, just as the reproofs of an indignant chief to a
disobedient subordinate may have controlled Marmont.

The note from Joseph did its work. The defence ceased, the French army
marched out, and the chief city of France fell, almost undefended.

Talleyrand and his clique had invited the Allies to march upon the
capital, and the same party of traitors had paralyzed the spirit of
the defence as far as they were able. They had found unconscious but
powerful accomplices in Napoleon’s brothers.

That night the French troops marching away from Paris, according to
the terms of the capitulation, were met, only a few miles from the
city, by Napoleon. After having sent Dejean, he had hurried his troops
on to Doulaincourt, where more bad news was picked up; and, by double
marches, he reached Troyes (March 29), where he rested. At daybreak
he left his army to continue its march, while he, with a small escort,
flew on to Villeneuve. There he threw himself into a coach and,
followed by a handful of officers, dashed forward--to Sens, where he
learned that the Allies were before Paris,--to Fontainebleau, where he
was told of the flight of the Empress,--to Essonnes, where they said
that the fight of Paris was raging,--and to La Cour de France, only ten
miles from his capital, where at midnight (March 30), as he waited for
a fresh team to be put to his carriage, he heard the tramp of horses
and the clank of arms. It was a squadron of cavalry on the highroad
from Paris. He shouted to them from the dark, and to his challenge came
the terrible response, “Paris has fallen.”

The scene which followed is one of those which haunt the memory. The
chilly gloom of the night, the little wayside inn, the halted cavalry,
the horseless carriage, the rage of the maddened Emperor, his hoarse
call for fresh horses, his furious denunciation of those who had
betrayed him, his desperate efforts to hurry the post-boys at the
stables, the passion which carried him forward on foot a mile along the
road to Paris, and the remonstrances of his few friends who urged him
to go back--make a weird and tragic picture one does not forget.

It was not until he met a body of French infantry, also leaving
Paris, that the frenzied Emperor would stop, and even then he would
not retrace his steps. He sent Caulaincourt to make a last appeal to
Alexander of Russia, he who had risen in the theatre at Erfurth to take
Napoleon’s hand when the actor recited, “The friendship of a great man
is a gift of the gods.”

A messenger was sent also to Marmont, and the Emperor waited in the
road to receive his answer; nine miles, and not much more than an hour,
being the tantalizing margin upon which, again, fate had traced the
words, “Too late.” Only the river separated him from the outposts of
the enemy; their campfires could be seen by reflection in the distance,
and yonder to the west was the dull glare hanging over Paris--Paris
where a hundred thousand men were ready to fight, if only a leader
would show them how!

Leaden must have been the feet of those hours, infinite the woe of that
most impatient of men, that haughtiest of men, that self-consciously
ablest of men, as he tramped restlessly back and forth on the bleak
hill in the dark, awaiting the answers from his messengers.

At last he was almost forced into his carriage and driven back to
Fontainebleau. Making his way to one of the humblest rooms, he fell
upon the bed, exhausted, heart-broken.

You go to France to-day, and you see around you everywhere, Napoleon.
You hear, on all sides, Napoleon. Ask a Frenchman about other historic
names, and he will reply with extravagant politeness. Leave him to
speak for himself, and his raptures run to Napoleon. _He_ is the Man;
_he_ is the ideal soldier, statesman, financier, developer, the creator
of institutions, organizer of society, the inspiration of patriotism.

What Frenchman speaks of the little men who pulled Napoleon down? Who
remembers them but to curse their infamous names? Who does not know
that the very soul of French memory and veneration for the past centres
at the Invalides, where the dead warrior lies in state?

We see this now. Time works its reversals of judgment. The pamphlet
gives way to the book; the caricature to the portrait; the discordant
cry of passion to the calm voice of reason. Angels roll away sepulchral
stones; and posterity sees the resurrected Cromwells, the Dantons, the
Napoleons, just as they were. Great is the power of lies--lies boldly
told and stubbornly maintained, but great, also, is the reaction of
truth. The cause, and the man of the cause, may have been slain by the
falsehood, and Truth may serve merely to show posterity where the grave
is; but sometimes--not always--she does more; sometimes the cause, and
the man of the cause, are called back into the battle-field of the
living; sometimes the great issues are joined again; sometimes the
martyr remains triumphant, the victim holds the victory.


The final resurrection and triumph of Napoleon no one could foresee on
March 31, 1814, when he lay in a stupor of weariness and soul-sickness
at Fontainebleau, while the Allies were entering Paris.

It was a sad day out there at the old palace; in the capital was
spasmodic jubilation. Talleyrand, of the Council of Regency, had
managed to remain in Paris when the Empress fled. Talleyrand became the
moving spirit of royalist intrigue. He may not have intended the return
of the Bourbons, may have been tricked by Vitrolles as Lord Holland
relates; but he had meant all the while to overthrow Napoleon, and had
countenanced, if not suggested, plans for his assassination.

To prove to Czar Alexander that France hungered and thirsted for
the Bourbons, Talleyrand got up cavalcades of young aristocrats who
rode about shouting, “Down with the tyrant! Long live Louis XVIII.!”
High-born ladies, also, began to take active part in the business, it
being an axiom with Talleyrand that if you wish to accomplish anything
important, you “must set the women going.” Ladies of the old nobility,
elegantly dressed, were in the streets, distributing white cockades,
and drumming up recruits. Royalism and clericalism bugled for all their
forces; and while Napoleon’s friends, disorganized, awaited leaders,
the day was carried for the Bourbons.

So that when the Allies marched into Paris, as masters, on March 31,
1814, the royalist faction welcomed the invaders as “Liberators.”

How had these royalists got back to France, to freedom, and to wealth?
Through the magnanimity of “the tyrant” whom it was now so easy to
abuse. How had those high-priests of the Church, who were Talleyrand’s
aides in treachery, regained their places, their influence, their
splendid importance? Through the leniency of the man who was now
abandoned, denounced, sold to the enemies of France.

And how had the wars commenced which Napoleon had inherited, and
which he had never been able to end? By the determination of kings
and aristocracies to check the spread of French principles, to crush
democracy in its birth, and to restore to its old place organized
superstition, class-privilege, and the divine right of kings. In the
long fight, the new doctrine had gone down; and the old had risen
again. Royalists, clericals, class-worshippers, fell into transports
of joy. Glorious Easter, with a sun-burst, flooded them with light.
They thronged the streets in gala dress; they filled the air with glad
outcry; they kissed the victor’s bloody hand, and hailed him as a god.

They followed Czar Alexander through the streets to Talleyrand’s house,
with such extravagance of joyful demonstration that you might have
thought him a French hero fresh from victories won over foreign foes.
Cossacks, driving before them French prisoners, were enthusiastically
cheered as they passed through the streets. Aristocratic women, by
the hundred, trooped after the foreigners who led the parade, threw
themselves with embraces upon the horses, and kissed the very boots of
the riders. And these troops, mark you, were those who had made havoc
in the provinces of France, with a ferocity and a lust which had not
only wreaked its fill upon helpless maid and matron, but had revelled
in the sport of compelling fathers, husbands, and sons to witness what
they could neither prevent nor revenge, and which had coldly slain the
victims after the bestial appetite had been glutted.

Cheer the Cossack bands as they prod with lances the bleeding French
captives who have seen their homes burnt, and their wives and
daughters violated and butchered! Hug the horses, and kiss the feet
of the foreigners who have come to beat down your people, change your
government, quell your democracy, force back into power a king and a
system that had led the nation to misery and shame!

Do all this, O high-born ladies of France, for the triumph of to-day
is yours! But when passion has cooled and reason returned; when
overwhelming pressure from without has been removed and France has
become herself again, your excesses of servility to-day will but have
hastened the speed of the To-morrow in which your precious Bourbons,
and your precious feudalism will be driven forever forth from the land
into which foreign bayonets have brought them. The man who lingers
at Fontainebleau is to-day no longer Emperor to the high and mighty
ones in Paris. To confederated monarchs he is “Bonaparte”; to banded
conspirators he is “Bonaparte”; to recreant marshals, ungrateful
nobles, grasping clericals, treacherous Dalbergs and Talleyrands, he
is “Bonaparte.” Foreign and domestic foes make their appointment at his
triumphal column in the Place Vendome, tugging and pulling to drag his
statue down, as they have dragged _him_ down.

The Empire is a wreck, the Napoleonic spell broken for all time to
come. Down with the Corsican and his works! Up with the Bourbon lilies,
and the glories of the Old Régime!

So runs the current--the shouts of the honest devotee and of the
time-server whose only aim in life is to find out which is the
winning side. Far-seeing, indeed, would be the sage,--wise as well as
brave,--who, in this hour of national degradation, should dare to say
that all this carnival of royalism would pass like a dream;--would dare
to say that the fallen Emperor would rise again and would sweep his
enemies from his path, and would come once more to rule the land--with
the majesty and the permanence which belongs to none but the immortal

       *       *       *       *       *

Troops had collected in the neighborhood of Fontainebleau to the
number of forty or fifty thousand. The younger officers and the men
of the rank and file were still devoted to the Emperor. Whenever he
appeared he was met with the same old acclamations; and shouts of
“To Paris” indicated the readiness of the army for the great battle
which it was thought he would fight under the walls of Paris. After
his first torpor, Napoleon had recovered himself, had formed his
plans, and had convinced himself that the allied army could be cut
off and destroyed. But in order for him to succeed it was necessary
that treason in Paris should give him a chance to win, and treason
gave him no such chance. The high-priests and the nobles whose hands
Napoleon had strengthened by his Concordat and the recall of the
émigrés, made the streets of Paris hot with the hurry of their feet
as they ran here, there, and yonder, marshalling their partisans. The
Abbés Montesquieu and Louis, the Archbishop of Malines, cordially
working with Talleyrand and Dalberg, and assisted by banker Laffitte
and others of that kind, honeycombed the Senate and the various public
bodies with conspiracy, drawing into one common net those who merely
wished to end the war by getting rid of Napoleon, as well as those who
were original Bourbonites. In this crisis there was none to take the
lead for Napoleon. He had deprived the masses of the people of all
initiative; had given them civil liberty, but had taken away from them
all political importance. Into the hands of the nobles and the priests
he had replaced power, wealth, influence, class organization. When
the Church and the aristocracy turned upon him, where was the power
of resistance to come from? The army was a tower of strength to the
Emperor, it is true; but even here there was mortal weakness, for the
higher officers, who had been ennobled, were imbued with the spirit
of their class. If the Senate, and the Church, and the aristocracy
should declare against Napoleon, it soon became evident that his
marshals would declare against him also. He had so bedizened them with
titles, loaded them with honors, and gorged them with riches, that
they could get nothing more by remaining loyal, even though he should
finally triumph. Upon the other hand, should he fail, they would lose
everything; hence to desert him was plainly the safe thing to do.

Napoleon was holding a review of his troops at Fontainebleau when
Caulaincourt was seen to approach him, and whisper something in his
ear. He drew back as though he had been struck, and bit his lips, while
a slight flush passed over his face. Recovering himself at once, he
continued the review. Caulaincourt’s whispered news had been that the
Senate had deposed him.

“The allied sovereigns will no longer treat with Bonaparte nor any
member of his family.” This declaration had cleared the way for the
creation (April 1) of a provisional government by the French Senate,
which provisional government was composed of Talleyrand and four other
clerical and aristocratic conspirators.

The beginning having been made, the rest was easy. On April 3 the
Senate decreed the Emperor’s deposition, alleging against him
certain breaches of the Constitution, which breaches the Senate had
unmurmuringly sanctioned at the time of their commission. Various
public bodies in and around Paris began to declare against him, having
no more right to depose him than the Senate possessed, but adding very
sensibly to the demoralization of his supporters. Even yet the army was
true; even yet when he appealed to the troops, the answering cry was,
“Live the Emperor!” Thus while in Paris his petted civil functionaries,
his restored clericals, and his nobles were jostling one another in
the tumultuous rush of desertion, and while the swelling stream of the
great treason was rolling onward as smoothly as Talleyrand could wish,
there was one cause of anxiety to the traitors,--the attitude of the
French army.

On April 4 the Emperor held his usual review; it proved to be the last.
The younger officers and the troops were as enthusiastic as ever, but
the marshals were cold. After the parade they followed Napoleon to his
room. Only in a general way is known what passed at this conference.
The marshals were tired of the war, and were determined that it should
come to an end. Napoleon had formed his plans to march upon Paris and
fight a great battle to save his crown. Marshal Macdonald had approved
the plan and was ready to second his chief; the others would listen
to no plans, and were resolute in their purpose to get rid of this
chief. It seems to be certain that if a surrender could not be got from
Napoleon by fair means, the marshals were ready to try those that were
foul. If he could not be persuaded, he was to be intimidated; and if
threats failed, he was to be assassinated. Talleyrand’s provisional
government was equally determined and unscrupulous. Napoleon was to
be killed if he could not otherwise be managed. Foremost among the
marshals demanding his abdication, and apparently threatening his life,
was Marshal Ney, whose tone and bearing to his chief are said to have
been brutally harsh.

After having exhausted argument and persuasion upon these officers,
Napoleon dismissed them, and drew up his declaration that he resigned
the throne in favor of his son.

“Here is my abdication!” he said to Caulaincourt; “carry it to Paris.”
He appeared to be laboring to control intense emotion, and Caulaincourt
burst into tears as he took the paper.

As long as the French army appeared to be devoted to the Emperor, the
Allies had not openly declared for the Bourbons. They had encouraged
the idea that they would favor a regency in favor of Napoleon’s son,
conceding to its fullest extent the right of the French people to
select their own rulers. It was by the skilful use of this pretence
that many of the French officers had been led astray. It was by this
mingling of the sweet with the bitter that Napoleon’s first act of
abdication had been wrung from him by the marshals. Succeeded by
the son he adored, France would not be wholly lost to him, since it
remained to his dynasty.

But here again Marmont ruined all. Played upon by Laffitte and
Talleyrand’s clique,--flattered, cajoled, and adroitly seduced,--this
marshal of France made a secret bargain with the Allies which took from
the Emperor the strongest body of troops then at hand.

Thus it happened that when the Ney-Macdonald delegation, bearing the
conditional abdication, returned to Paris, and were urging upon the
Czar the claims of Napoleon’s son, the conference was interrupted by an
excited messenger who had come to announce to Alexander that Marmont’s
corps had been led into the allied lines. This astounding intelligence
ended the negotiations. The Czar promptly dropped the veil, and
disclosed the real policy of the Allies. The marshals went back to
Fontainebleau to demand an abdication freed from conditions.

Marmont had dealt the final blow to a tottering cause--“Marmont, the
friend of my youth, who was brought up in my tent, whom I have loaded
with honors and riches!” as the fallen Emperor exclaimed, in accents of
profound amazement and grief. Yes, when the miserable renegade sat down
to plot with Talleyrand the complete ruin of the Empire, it was in a
luxurious palace which Napoleon had given him.

What officer had ruined a campaign in Spain and thereby done grievous
injury to the Emperor in Russia? Who had disobeyed orders, brought on
the night surprise at Laon, and wrecked Napoleon’s pursuit of Blücher?
Who had lost the line of communications, by movements against orders,
and had let Napoleon’s most important despatches fall into the hands
of the enemy? Who had caused the defeat at Fère-Champenoise; who had
so feebly resisted the allied advance upon Paris that their progress
astonished themselves? Who had surrendered a vast city of eight hundred
thousand souls to foreigners, when he must have known that Napoleon
was coming to the rescue as fast as horse could run? Marmont, the
spoiled favorite; Marmont, the vainglorious weakling; Marmont, the
false-hearted traitor! Verily he reaped his reward. To the Bourbons
he became a hero, and so remained for a season. But France--the real
France--hated him as North America hates Benedict Arnold. The time came
when he who had betrayed Napoleon for the Bourbons, betrayed the elder
Bourbons for the House of Orleans. Despised by all parties, he wandered
about Europe as wretched as he deserved to be. And the day came when
the gondoliers at Venice pointed him out scornfully to each other, and
refused to bend an oar for the miscreant.

“You see him yonder! That is Marmont. Well, he was Napoleon’s friend,
and he betrayed him!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Undaunted even by Marmont’s defection, Napoleon issued a proclamation,
and began his preparations to retire beyond the Loire, and fight it
out. His conditional abdication rejected, war could not be worse than
peace, and he explained his plan of campaign to his marshals. They cut
him short, brusquely, menacingly. The Emperor stood alone, forsaken by
all his lieutenants, and made an imploring address to them, pleading
with them to make one final effort for France. His words fell on hearts
that were turned to stone. They harshly declared that the confidence
of the army was gone. Macdonald said that they must have unconditional

The Emperor promised to reply next day, and, as his marshals filed
out, he said, in bitterness of spirit,--“Those men have neither heart
nor bowels; I am conquered less by fortune than by the egotism and
ingratitude of my companions-in-arms.”

Who has not read of that panic of apostasy which now ran like a
torrent? From the setting sun at Fontainebleau to that which was
rising in Paris, all turned--turned with the haste of panic-stricken
pardon-seekers, or of greed-devoured place-hunters. From the highest to
the lowest, the fallen Emperor’s attendants left him. Princes, dukes,
marshals, generals,--all creations of his,--fled from him as from the
contagion of pestilence. Even Berthier, the favorite, the confidant,
the pampered and petted--even Berthier bit his nails for a brief season
of hesitancy, and then abandoned his friend to his misery. Marmont’s
treason had hurt, had wrung a cry of amazement and pain from that
tortured spirit; but Berthier’s was a crueller stab. “Berthier, you see
that I have need of consolation, that my true friends should surround
me. Will you come back?” Berthier went, and he did not come back.

They left him, singly and in squads, till he and his faithful guard
were almost all that remained. His very valets, the Mameluke he
brought from Egypt, and Constant whose _Memoirs_ portray his master so
lovingly, could not resist the panic of the hour; they turned their
backs upon their master, and, according to that master’s statements in
his instructions to his executors, they robbed him before they fled.
But there were some who did not go, a few who stood the storm. May
their glorious names live forever! Among these it is pleasant to find
the name of his old schoolmate, Colonel Bussy.

Bertrand, Gourgaud, Montholon, Bassano, Cambronne, Caulaincourt,
Lavalette, Druot, and some others did not blanch. Nor did the Old Guard
falter. The “growlers” had followed the chief--murmuring sometimes,
but following--all through the terrors of the last campaign; they were
ready to follow him again.

And there were womanly hearts that warmed to the lonely monarch, and
would have consoled him--first of all, Josephine. She had watched
his every movement though the campaign with an agony of interest and
apprehension. His name was ever in her thoughts and on her lips. Of
all who came from the army she would ask: How does he look? Is he
pale? Does he sleep? Does he believe his star has deserted him? Often
the harassed Emperor found time to write to her, brief notes full of
kindness and confidence. These she would take to her privacy, read, and
weep over. She understood the great man, at the last; she had not done
so at first. From Brienne he wrote her, “I have sought death in many
battles, but could not find it. I would now hail it as a boon. Yet I
should like to see Josephine once more.” This note she carried in her

When she heard of the abdication, she was frantic with grief, and
she would have flown to his side, only she thought of one who had
the better right,--Maria Louisa. As the broken monarch sat in the
gloom, his great head sunk on his breast, two other noble-hearted
women appeared at Fontainebleau. One of them was the beautiful Polish
lady, Madame Walewski; the name of the other is not given. They
were announced, and the Emperor promised to see them. After waiting
many hours, they went away. Napoleon had fallen into revery again
and had forgotten they were there. It is said that he took poison,
intending to kill himself. This has been questioned; but it is certain
that he swallowed some drug which brought on a sudden and alarming
illness, during which he said he was going to die. “I cannot endure
the torments I experience. They have dragged my eagles in the dirt!
They have misunderstood me! Marmont gave me the last blow! I loved
him. Berthier’s desertion has broken my heart! My old friends, my old

Says Constant: “What a night! what a night! While I live I shall never
think of it without a shudder.”

On the morning after this attempted suicide, Napoleon “appeared much
as usual,” and met his marshals to give them his answer to their
demand for unconditional abdication. Even yet he made one more attempt
to inspire them to effort, to infuse into them something of his own
courage. It was all in vain. Then he scrawled the few lines in which he
laid down his great office, and handed them the paper.

“You claim that you need rest! Very well, then, take it!”

“What shall we demand of the Allies in your behalf?” the marshals

“Nothing. Do the best you can for France; for myself, I ask nothing.”

They went away upon their errand, and once more the Emperor sank into
a stupor of despondency. Much of the time he spent seated upon a stone
bench, near the fountain, in the English garden which he had himself
laid out at the back of the palace. Just as he had lain, novel in hand,
upon the sofa at Moscow, silent and moody day by day; and just as he
had sat in the château of Düben, in 1813, idly tracing big letters on
white paper; so he now sat by the hour on the stone bench in the garden
at Fontainebleau, saying nothing, and kicking his heel into the gravel
until his boot had made a hole a foot deep in the earth.

Deserted as he had been, Napoleon was yet a man to be dreaded; and the
Allies were most anxious to come to terms with him, and to get him
out of the country. Partly from fear of what he might do if driven
to despair, and partly out of generosity to a fallen foe, the Czar
influenced the other powers to sign the treaty of Fontainebleau with
Napoleon, whereby he was to retain his title of Emperor, to receive
a yearly pension of $400,000 from France, and remain undisturbed as
Emperor of Elba. His son, as successor to his wife, was to have a realm
composed of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla.

Resigning himself to his fate, Napoleon received the Commissioners whom
the Allies sent to take charge of his journey to his new empire, and
busied himself in the selection of the books and baggage he intended to
take with him.

With assumed gayety he said to Constant, whom the Emperor evidently
believed would follow him, “Eh, well, my son, get your cart ready: we
will go and plant our cabbages.”

But every now and then the full sweep of bitter reality would come over
him, and he would clap his hand to his forehead, crying:--

“Great God! Is it possible?”

His departure was fixed for April 20, 1814. The Imperial Guard formed
in the White Horse Court of the palace. The Emperor appeared upon the
stairs, pale and firm. A dozen or more stanch friends waited to bid
him farewell. He shook hands with them all. The line of carriages
was waiting; but he passed hastily by them, and advanced toward the
soldiers drawn up in the court.

It was seen then that he would speak to the troops, and dead silence
reigned. The old, proud bearing was there again,--pride softened by
unutterable sadness,--and the voice was full and sonorous as he spoke
the few words which reached all hearts that day, reach them now, and
will reach them as long as human blood is warm.

“Soldiers of the Old Guard, I bid you farewell! For twenty years I
have led you in the path of honor and glory. In these last days, as
in the days of our prosperity, you have never ceased to be models of
fidelity and courage. With men such as you, our cause could never have
been lost; we could have maintained a civil war for years. But it would
have rendered our country unhappy. I have therefore sacrificed all my
interests to those of France. Her happiness is my only thought. It will
still be the object of my wishes. Do not regret my fate. If I have
consented to live, it is in order to promote your glory. I trust to
write the deeds we have achieved together. Adieu, my children! I would
that I could press you all to my heart. Let me embrace your general and
your eagle!”

He took General Petit, commander of the Guard, in his arms, and he
pressed the eagle to his lips.

The soldiers sobbed, even the Commissioners were touched; and Napoleon,
hurrying through the group which had gathered round him, reached his
carriage, fell back on the cushions, and covered his face with his

There was the word of command, the crunching and grinding of wheels,
and the carriages were soon lost to sight.


The Count of Provence was living in England when Napoleon’s Senate
called him to the throne. He was one of those who had “digged the pit”
for his brother, Louis XVI.; and who, when that brother was falling
into it, discreetly ran away to foreign lands. After several changes
of asylum on the Continent, he had gone to England as a last refuge.
France had well-nigh forgotten him. A generation of Frenchmen who knew
not the Bourbons had grown up; and the abuses of the Old Order were
known to the younger generation only as an almost incredible story,
told in the evenings by older people, as the family circled about the
hearthstone. So completely had the Revolution swept away the foul
wrongs of the Bourbon system, that the younger generation could never
be made to understand why their fathers hated it with such bitterness.
Reined in by the iron hand of Napoleon, the nobles and the clericals of
the Empire seemed to be harmless enough. Why should the noble and the
priest of the Old Order have been so much worse than these?

The graybeards in France knew; but the younger people could no more
realize the former situation than could the children of Daniel Boone,
George Rogers Clarke, John Sevier, or of the New England pioneers,
understand the horrors of Indian warfare. The story of Bourbon
misrule, class tyranny, and church greed fell upon the ear with a sound
deadened by the lapse of twenty odd years.

Bourbon emissaries had pledges and soft words for all parties. To
Napoleon’s nobles were given the assurance that they should remain
noble; to his generals, that they should retain their honors and their
wealth. To the priests it was not necessary to say that they should
have even more than the Concordat gave, for the priests knew how dearly
the Bourbons loved the old pact between Church and State. To pacify men
of liberal ideas, promises were made that the restored Bourbons would
rule as constitutional kings, recognizing in good faith the changes
wrought by the Revolution. Napoleon’s Senate was not so forgetful of
its own safety, and of the interests of France, that it failed to put
the contract in writing. The Constitution of a limited monarchy was
formulated, and the Count of Artois, brother and representative of
Louis XVIII., accepted its conditions.

In England the new King was given an ovation upon his departure for
France, and he took occasion to write to the Prince Regent that, next
to God, he owed his crown to Great Britain. This statement was not
good policy, for neither in France nor among the potentates of the
Continent did it tend to popularize the speaker; but it was the truth,
nevertheless. The settled purpose of Pitt had been the restoration
of the Bourbons, and upon this basis it is now known that he built
the first European coalition against republican France. Canning and
Castlereagh had but inherited the principles of the abler Pitt. In a
speech in Parliament (April 7, 1814), Lord Castlereagh proclaimed that
his “object had long been to restore Europe to that ancient social
system which her late convulsions had disjointed and overthrown.”

As Hobhouse says, “When he talks so plainly, even Lord Castlereagh can
be understood; when he professes such principles, even Lord Castlereagh
may be believed.”

Fresh from his London ovation, and full of his ideas of divine right,
Louis met the French legislative body at Compiègne, and evaded their
request for a declaration of the royal policy. It became evident that
he intended to set aside the pledges made in his name, and to rule as
absolute sovereign. To this purpose he was urged by clericals, nobles,
and his own inclinations, for, as Napoleon said, “the Bourbons had
learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” With a royal disregard of
facts, he had mentally abolished Napoleon’s empire, all of its glories,
all of its shame, and had appropriated the entire era to himself. In
his own mind he had become King of France at the death of the boy,
Louis XVII.; and the year 1814 was the nineteenth year of his reign!
Here, indeed, was cause for tribulation among the eminent turncoats who
had exchanged Napoleon for the Bourbon! If the Empire had been but a
hallucination, what would become of the nobles created by the Emperor,
the honors conferred by him, the lands whose titles had been granted by
him, the great institutions which had been founded by him? What would
become of his peers, his judges, his marshals, his schools, hospitals,
and public charities? Where would the Legion of Honor be? What was to
become of the revolutionary principle that all Frenchmen were equals
in law, and that all careers were open to merit? Questions like these
buzzed throughout the land, and the hum of inquiry soon grew into the
murmurs of alarm, of anger. If Bourbons came back to power in any
such temper as that, what would become of eminent statesmen who had
overturned the ancient monarchy, abolished the nobility, confiscated
the wealth of the Church, and guillotined the King? What would be the
fate of Talleyrand, Fouché, and Company? Aghast at such a prospect as
unhampered and vengeful Bourbonism threatened, eminent renegades who
had negotiated Napoleon’s downfall with the Czar Alexander appealed to
the Russian monarch to stand between themselves and the danger. Like
most mortals, the Czar had a strict code of morals for his neighbors.
Ready to break pledges himself, it shocked him to see Louis ignore the
conditions upon which he had been summoned to France. In courtly phrase
the Bourbon was notified that until he confirmed the promises Artois
had made to the Senate, there should be no royal entry into Paris. Even
under this pressure, Louis would not yield an iota of the precious
dogma of divine right. Refusing to concede that the people had any
inherent powers whatever, and stubbornly maintaining that all power,
privilege, and sovereignty rested in him alone, he graciously published
a proclamation in which he granted to the people, of his own free will,
certain civil and political rights, ignoring the Senate altogether.
This “Charter” having been signed, the King made his triumphal entry
into Paris, May 3, 1814.

On the evening of the same day, as the sun was sinking in the
Mediterranean, the mountains of the island of Elba rose upon the sight
of the crew of the British vessel, the _Undaunted_, and Napoleon had
his first glimpse of his little realm in the sea.

His journey from Fontainebleau to Fréjus, on the French coast, had
been, at first, soothed by many expressions of kindness and of sympathy
from the people who thronged the line of travel; but as the fallen
Emperor reached the province where the White Terror had once raged, and
was to rage again, popular expressions underwent a complete change.
Mobs of hooting royalists surrounded his carriage, and dinned into his
ears the most brutal insults. Only his escort saved him from being torn
to pieces. At Avignon he missed, almost by miracle, the dreadful fate
which overtook Marshal Brune there, after Waterloo. Napoleon believed
that these royalist mobs were set upon him by Talleyrand’s provisional
government, and perhaps his suspicion was correct. It is certain that a
certain nobleman, Maubreuil by name, afterward charged Talleyrand with
having employed him to kill Napoleon; and when Talleyrand denied the
story, Maubreuil took the first occasion to beat him--a beating which
Talleyrand was wise enough not to endeavor to punish by prosecution.

Surrounded by savage mobs who jeered him, insulted him, threatened
him, and made desperate efforts to seize him, Napoleon is said to
have lost his nerve. Unfriendly witnesses allege that he trembled,
paled, shed tears, and cowered behind Bertrand, seeking to hide. What
is more certain, is that he disguised himself in coat and cap of the
Austrian uniform, mounted the horse of one of the attendants, and rode
in advance of the carriages to escape recognition. Courage, after all,
seems to be somewhat the slave of habit: a soldier may brave death a
hundred times in battle, and yet become unnerved at the prospect of
being torn to pieces by a lot of maddened human wolves. It should be
remembered, however, that the only real evidence we have of Napoleon’s
terror was the wearing of the disguise. If this makes him a coward, he
falls into much distinguished company, for history is full of examples
of similar conduct on the part of men who are admitted to have been

Napoleon had banished from court his light sister Pauline, because of
some impertinence of the latter to the Empress Maria Louisa. This light
sister was now living at a château which was on his route to the coast,
and he spent a day and a half with her. Shocked to see her imperial
brother in the Austrian uniform, she refused to embrace him until he
had put it off and put on his own.

While Napoleon was staying at the château, a crowd of people from the
surrounding country gathered in the courtyard. He went down and mingled
with them. Soon noticing an old man who wore a red ribbon in his
button-hole, Napoleon went up to him and said:--

“Are you not Jacques Dumont?”

Too much surprised to reply at once, the veteran at length faltered,
“Yes, my lord; yes, General; yes, yes, sire!”

“You were with me in Egypt?”

“Yes, sire!” and the hand was brought to the salute.

“You were wounded; it seems to me a long while ago?”

“At the battle of Trebbia, sire.”

The veteran by this time was shaking with emotion, and all the crowd
had clustered thickly about these two.

Taking off his cross of the Legion of Honor, Napoleon put it upon his
old soldier; and while the veteran wept, the crowd shouted, “Live the

“My name! To remember my name after fifteen years!” the old man
continued to repeat; and so great was the sensation this little
incident was creating that the Commissioners who had charge of the
exile grew alarmed, and hastened to get him back into the house.

The captain and the crew of the British frigate had never seen the
French Emperor save through the glasses of the English editors. Any one
who knows how great is the power of an unbridled press to blacken the
fairest name, distort beyond recognition the loftiest character, and
blast the hopes of the noblest career, can readily comprehend what was
the current British opinion of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. Seen through
the eyes of Tory editors and pamphleteers, he was a man contrasted with
whom Lucifer might well hope to become a popular hero.

Great was the surprise of Captain Usher and his sailors to see a
handsome, quiet, polite, and self-controlled gentleman, who talked
easily with everybody, conformed without fuss to all the ship
regulations, gave himself no airs of superhuman loftiness, and took an
intelligent interest in the ship and in the folks about him. So great
was the charm of his manner, and of his conversation, that English
prejudice wore away; and the sailors began to say, “Boney is a good
fellow, after all.”

It is amusing to note that Sir Walter Scott records with pride the
fact that there was one sturdy sailor who was not to be softened, who
retained his surliness to the last, and whose gruff comment upon all
the good-humored talk of the Emperor was the word, “_Humbug!_” The
name of this unyielding Briton was Hinton; and both Sir Walter and his
son-in-law Lockhart record his name with a sort of Tory veneration.
In spite of the unyielding Hinton, the sailors of the _Undaunted_ grew
fond enough of Napoleon to accept a handsome gratuity from him at the
journey’s end; and the boatswain, addressing him on the quarter-deck in
the name of the crew, “Thanked his honor, and wished him long life and
prosperity in the island of Elba, _and better luck next time_.”

Neither Sir Walter Scott nor his son-in-law Lockhart, report Hinton’s
remarks upon this occasion; and they leave us in doubt as to whether
his virtue held out against the golden temptation, or whether he
pocketed his share, with a final snort of, “Humbug!”

On May 4, 1814, the Emperor made his official landing in Elba, whose
inhabitants (about thirteen thousand souls) received him well. He made
a thorough investigation of his new empire, its industries, resources,
etc., and sitting his horse upon a height from which he could survey
his whole domain, remarked good-humoredly that he found it rather small.

Soon joined by his mother and by his sister Pauline, also by the
seven hundred troops of the Old Guard assigned him by the Treaty of
Fontainebleau, Napoleon’s establishment at Porto Ferrajo resembled
the Tuileries in miniature. Imperial etiquette stiffened most of its
joints, and put on much of its formidable armor. Visitors poured into
Elba by the hundred, and with many of these Napoleon conversed with
easy frankness, speaking of past events with the tone of a man who was
dead to the world.

His restless energies found some employment in the affairs of his
little kingdom, and in the planning of all sorts of improvements upon
which he lavished freely the funds he had brought from France. With
Pauline’s money he bought a country-seat, where he spent much time, and
where he could occasionally be seen helping to feed the chickens.

His mother had come and his sister, but where was wife and child? The
allied sovereigns had pledged themselves by formal treaty to send Maria
Louisa to him under escort, and the promise had been broken. Wife and
child had been enveloped with hostile influences, kept well out of his
reach, hastened from France, and carried to Vienna.

Historians gloss over the intrigue which followed--as foul a conspiracy
against human virtue and sacred human relations as ever soiled the
records of the human race.

The Emperor Francis of Austria and Metternich, his minister, were
determined that Maria Louisa should never rejoin her husband, treaty
or no treaty. They knew her character, and for his daughter the royal
father laid the most infamous snare. He deliberately encouraged
Neipperg, an Austrian libertine of high degree; and Napoleon’s wife,
entangled in the meshes of this filthy intrigue which had found her all
too ready to yield, no longer wished to return to the husband she had

No wonder the authors who gloat over Napoleon’s sins find no comfort
here; and hurry on to other topics. They have made horrible accusations
against him and his sister Pauline, on the mere word of a spiteful
Madame de Rémusat, and of an unscrupulous liar like Fouché. But the
accusations might be true, and nevertheless Napoleon would shine like a
superior being beside such an exemplar of divine right as the Emperor
Francis, who coldly and deliberately, as a matter of state policy,
pushed his own daughter into the arms of a libertine!

We have read of the crimes of the vulgar, the canaille, the Marats,
and the Héberts; does any page of modern history hold a story more
sickening than this? Did any criminal of the vulgar herd stoop to
depths more loathsome than Francis, Emperor “by the grace of God,”
wallowed in?

After having broken their treaty upon the sacred subject of wife and
child, the allied kings found it easy enough to violate it upon matters
less important. They did not respect the property of the Bonaparte
family as they had agreed; they did not pay the Bonaparte pensions;
they did not bestow the principalities promised for Napoleon’s son; and
they paid no respect to that provision of the compact which secured
to Napoleon inviolably the island of Elba. Bitter personal enemies
of the fallen Emperor, Pozzo di Borgo, Lord Wellington, Talleyrand,
and others, agreed that he must be removed to a greater distance from
Europe, St. Helena being the place which met with most favor. The fact
that the allied kings had pledged themselves to allow him to remain at
Elba, seems not to have entered into the discussions at all. He who had
broken no treaties was already an outlaw in the counsels of those who
had broken all: they could deal with him as they chose. “In the name
of the most Holy Trinity” they had pledged faith to him; they could as
easily breach the last treaty as its predecessors, being kings by the
grace of God, and owing no fealty to ordinary moralities.

The British ministry began to negotiate with the East India Company for
the island of St. Helena; and the purpose of the allied kings to send
him there as a prisoner of war not only reached Napoleon at Elba, but
actually found its way into the _Moniteur_, the official gazette of

The fact that Louis XVIII. did not pay one cent of the $400,000 which
the Treaty of Fontainebleau had provided for Napoleon’s annual revenue,
was of itself a source of serious embarrassment to him, justifying him
in setting aside a contract which his enemies did not regard; but it
had less to do with his movements, perhaps, than any other breach of
the treaty. He cared nothing for money; little for personal luxury. “I
can get along with one horse, and with a dollar a day,” he declared
with democratic independence. Besides, he could easily have secured
from Europe the sums he needed, as he himself publicly declared on
his return to France. But when he found that his wife and child would
never be surrendered; that Talleyrand and the Bourbons were still bent
upon having him assassinated; that if he could not be killed he was
to be taken away to a distant rock and held as a prisoner of war, the
impulse became irresistible to make one desperate effort to escape the
impending doom. Those who watched over his personal safety had already
stopped, disarmed, and sent away two would-be assassins: who could tell
whether the third would be stopped? It came to him that the Allies
had agreed to send him to St. Helena: who could say when a British
man-of-war might bear down upon little Elba? Brooding over his wrongs,
and over the perils of his situation, Napoleon gave way to occasional
bursts of anger, declaring that he would die the death of a soldier,
arms in hand, before he would submit to the proposed removal.

A Scotchman of rank who visited Elba at this time wrote: “Bonaparte
is in perfect health, but lodged in a worse house than the worst
description of dwellings appropriated to our clergy in Scotland,
yet still keeping up the state of Emperor, that is, he has certain
officers with grand official names about him. We were first shown into
a room where the only furniture was an old sofa and two rush-bottom
chairs, and a lamp with two burners, only one of which was lighted. An
aide-de-camp received us, who called a servant and said that one of the
lights had gone out. The servant said it had never been lighted. ‘Light
it, then,’ said the aide-de-camp. Upon which the servant begged to be
excused, saying that the Emperor had given no orders upon the subject.
We were then received by Bonaparte in an inner room. The Emperor wore a
very old French Guard uniform with three orders, and had on very dirty
boots, being just come in from his country house.”

Then the writer describes a conversation in which Napoleon spoke
without apparent reserve of his past life. Referring to the doings of
the Bourbons in France, he remarked that they had better mind what
they were about, as there were still five hundred thousand excellent
soldiers there. “But what is all that to me?” he exclaimed with a rapid
turn; “I am to all intents and purposes dead.”

“His manner,” says the Scotchman, “was that of a blunt, honest,
good-hearted soldier’s, his smile, when he chose it, very insinuating.
He never has anybody to dinner. Bertrand says that they are in the
greatest distress for money, as the French court does not pay the
stipulated salary to Bonaparte.

“The following day the Emperor set off for his country house. He was in
an old coach with four half-starved horses; on the wheel-horse sat a
coachman of the ordinary size, and the bridles had the imperial eagle
on them; on the leaders there was a mere child, and the bridles had the
coronet of a British viscount on them. He had General Bertrand in the
carriage, and two or three officers behind on small ponies, which could
not, by all the exertions of their riders, keep up with the carriage,
emaciated as those poor horses were.”

The Scotchman contrasts the wretched little establishment at Elba with
the splendor of the Tuileries where he went to see Louis XVIII. dine in
public,--separate table for king, separate tables for princes of the
blood-royal; attendant courtiers standing in full dress, duchesses only
being permitted to sit; everything served on gold plate; the dining
hall, a hundred feet long, brilliantly lighted and hung with gobelin
tapestries, “and a very fine concert going on all the time.”

The contrast between these two pictures, striking as it was to the
Scotchman, was no less so to Napoleon, who felt the squalor of Elba
and longed for the lost grandeur of France. If there had been a secret
bargain between the fallen Emperor and the Bourbons that they should
prepare the country for his speedy return, they could hardly have gone
to work in a more effective manner to accomplish that result. They had
not been in possession of the throne six months before the nation was
fairly seething with discontent.

  NOTE.--While the Congress of Vienna was in session, Dr. Richard
  Bright, an Englishman, was visiting the city and saw the
  pageant. He describes many of the august sovereigns who were in
  attendance, and gives an account of the festivities, amusements,
  and polite dissipations which were in progress. But perhaps the
  most interesting page the Doctor wrote was that in which he
  relates his visit to Napoleon’s son, who was then with his mother
  at the palace of Schönbrunn. “We found that all the servants
  about the palace were Frenchmen, who still wore the liveries of
  Napoleon.... We ... were ushered into a room where the infant
  [King of Rome] was sitting on the floor amusing himself amidst
  a profuse collection of playthings.... He was at that moment
  occupied with a toy which imitated a well-furnished kitchen. He
  was the sweetest child I ever beheld; his complexion light, with
  fine, white, silky hair, falling in curls upon his neck. He was
  dressed in the embroidered uniform of an hussar, and seemed to
  pay little attention to us as we entered, continuing to arrange
  the dishes in his little kitchen. I believe he was the least
  embarrassed of the party. He was rather too old to admit of
  loud praise of his beauty, and rather too young to enter into
  conversation. His appearance was so engaging that I longed to
  take him in my arms, but his situation forbade such familiarity.
  Under these circumstances, we contrived a few trifling questions,
  to which he gave such arch and bashful answers as we have all
  often received from children of his age.”

  Madame Montesquieu was still with the child, but, after a while,
  she and all the other French attendants were dismissed. The
  effort was made to wean the poor boy of all things French, and to
  transform him into an Austrian.

  It may be proper here to add that he died of consumption at
  the early age of twenty-one. It is darkly hinted that the same
  malevolent influences which destroyed the respectability of
  Napoleon’s wife led the son into excesses which undermined his
  constitution. To the last he was passionately fond of his father,
  and when Marmont visited Vienna in 1831 the Duke de Reichstadt
  (as the boy was called in Austria) eagerly drew from him all that
  he would tell of the great Emperor.

  The cage in which Napoleon’s only legitimate son was kept was
  gilded with pension and title and outward show of deference, but
  it was a cage, nevertheless, and he died in it (1832).


The ink was hardly dry upon the Charter before Louis XVIII. began to
break its conditions. It had served its purpose, he had ridden into
office upon it: what further use had he for it? Why should he trammel
his actions by treaty when the other kings of Europe were freeing
themselves from such fetters? To the south of him was Spain, where
the liberals had framed a constitution which Ferdinand, released
by Napoleon early in 1814, had sworn to respect, and which he had
set aside the moment he had taken again into his hands the reins
of power. Instead of reform and limited monarchy on the peninsula,
there was now a full restoration of the Old Order, feudalism, tithes,
local tyrannies, clerical and royal absolutism, the jails full of
democrats, and the Inquisition hungry for heretics. Nobles and priests
struck their ancient bargain, mastered a willing king, and with the
resistless strength of self-interest, class-prejudice, and corporate
unity of purpose, acting upon the ignorance, the superstition, and the
cultivated hatreds of the people, carried Spain back with a rush to the
good old times of Bourbon and Roman absolutism.

Not only in the south was counter-revolution triumphant; in the north
it was equally so. In Jerome Bonaparte’s kingdom of Westphalia,
where the people had driven out the system of Napoleon, and called
in their former rulers, old laws and customs rattled back to their
rusty grooves; the Code Napoléon vanished; equality of civil right was
seen no more, feudalism fell like a chain upon the astounded peasant,
purchasers of state lands were ousted without compensation, special
privilege and tax exemptions again gladdened the elect, aristocracy
and clericalism swept away every vestige of Jerome’s brief rule,
the torture chamber again rang with the shrieks of victims, and the
punishment of death by breaking upon the wheel emphasized the desperate
efforts nobles and priests were making to stem the torrent of modern

And the Holy Father at Rome, loosed by Napoleon from Fontainebleau at
about the same time that Ferdinand of Spain had been released from
Valençay, had wended his way back to Italy as Ferdinand had to Spain,
and, seated again in St. Peter’s chair, had laid his pious hands to the
same work in Rome which Ferdinand was busy with in Madrid.

With absolutism and feudalism triumphing all around him, why should
not Louis XVIII. follow the glorious examples? Did he not owe it to
God and the ancient Bourbon kings to cast out from France the devil
of democracy which had rended her, and to clothe her once more in
her right mind--in the docile obedience to kingly word and clerical
admonition? Apparently he did; and apparently he believed that the
quicker he set about it the better.

He had guaranteed freedom of the press in his Charter; but this was a
promise he could not venture to keep. He meant to violate the Charter
and to restore the Old Order; and he knew that this could not be done
if the press remained free. He had lived in England where he may have
heard Richard Brinsley Sheridan when he thrilled the House of Commons
with that famous burst of eloquence, “Give them a corrupt House of
Lords, give them a venal House of Commons, give them a tyrannical
Prince, give them a truckling Court, and let me have but an unfettered
Press, I will defy them to encroach a hair’s-breadth upon the liberties
of England!” Therefore, one of his first acts was to gag the press with
a censorship. With indecent haste, this royal ordinance breaching the
Charter was published just six days after the official publication of
the Charter itself.

Unbridled criticism by those organs which in our modern system control
public opinion being thus made impossible, other measures of similar
tendency followed swiftly.

Loudly condemning Napoleon’s toleration of heretics, Jews, and
non-believers, the clericals induced the King to compel Frenchmen of
all creeds and races to suspend business not only on the Christian
Sabbath, but on the festival days of the Catholic Church.

Not satisfied with a grand religious ceremony to “purify” the spot upon
which Louis XVI. had been guillotined, nor with having dug up bones
supposed to be his and given them magnificent sepulture, Louis solemnly
devoted France to the Virgin Mary, and her image was borne through the
streets in formal procession, wherein the great dignitaries ambled
along with lighted candles in their hands.

By the Charter, the army had been specially protected. Napoleon’s
soldiers still had guns in their hands and rage in their hearts when
Talleyrand was writing out the pledges with which the returning
Bourbons were to be fettered. It was highly important to soothe these
troops, or to remove their fear that the Bourbons would deal with them
unjustly. Hence the sixty-ninth article of the Charter, which declared
that soldiers in active service, the officers and soldiers in retreat,
the widows, the officers and soldiers on the pension list, should
preserve their rank, honors, and pensions.

By royal ordinance (December 16, 1814) this clause of the Charter was

Fourteen thousand officers and sergeants were dismissed on half-pay;
and the places of these battle-scarred heroes of the Empire were filled
by five thousand nobles who had never seen service save with the
enemies of France. Naval officers who had deserted the ships of their
own country, and had served against their native land, were put back
into the French navy, and given the rank they had won abroad. Veterans
who had fought for the French Republic and the French Empire, from
Valmy and Jemappes to Laon and Montmirail, found themselves officered
by insolent little noblemen who had never smelt gunpowder. General
Dupont, known principally for his capitulation at Baylen, was made
minister of war. The tricolor flag which French soldiers had borne
victoriously into every capital on the Continent was put away. Many of
the bullet-shredded banners were destroyed--they and their splendid
memories being hateful to the Bourbon soul.

The white flag of the old monarchy--a flag which living French soldiers
knew only as the rallying-point of treason and rebellion in La
Vendée--was made the national standard. The numbers of the regiments
were changed, and the veterans of a dozen historic campaigns lost the
names by which they were known, and which they had made glorious in the
arduous test of battle. The Imperial Guard was banished from Paris; the
Swiss were again enrolled to defend the palace, and clad in the uniform
of 1792; a Bourbon military household was organized, filled with young
nobles who had never fired a shot, who were paid fancy salaries, and
decked out in a livery which made all Paris titter. To complete the
burlesque, they resurrected and made chief officer of the palace the
old Marquis of Chansenets, who had been Governor of the Tuileries on
August 10, 1792, and had escaped massacre that day by hiding under
piles of dead.

The young Bourbon dukes, Berry and Angoulême, knew nothing whatever of
war, practically or otherwise; yet they were put in highest military
command; and they gave themselves airs which neither Wellington,
Blücher, or Napoleon ever assumed. These young princes of the
blood-royal told French veterans on parade that their twenty years of
service under the Republic and under the Empire were but twenty years
of brigandage. When Napoleon’s Old Guard failed to manœuvre as the
youthful Duke of Angoulême would have them do, they were sneeringly
advised to go to England to learn their drill. Does a colonel so
displease the Duke of Berry that he must be cashiered, disgraced?
The haughty Bourbon tears off the epaulets with his own hand! At
another time the same doughty warrior strikes a soldier on parade.
Word goes out that a monument is to be raised to the invading émigrés
whom English vessels had landed at Quiberon in 1795, and whom the
republicans had slaughtered there. Honors to these being granted,
Pichegru and Georges Cadoudal were not forgotten. Their names were
mentioned with honor, masses recited for the repose of their souls, and
a patent of nobility granted to Cadoudal’s family.

By the Charter, laws were to be made by king, peers, and deputies
acting together. In actual practice the King made his own laws.
From the mouths of such men as Lainé, whom Napoleon had thoroughly
understood and denounced, the gospel of non-resistance was heard in all
its ancient simplicity, “If the King wills it, the law wills it.”

Incredible as it may seem, the members of the old Parliament of Paris
met at a private house, and drew up a protest against the Charter.
With one accord nobles and priests began to speak of the return of
feudalism, of seignorial rights, of tithes, of benefices, of exclusive
chase, and of the confiscated lands. The clergy of Paris, in their
address to the King (August, 1814), expressed their earnest desire
for the restoration of “that old France, in which were intermingled,
without distinction, in every heart, those two sacred names,--God and

At least one sermon was preached in which those citizens who did not
restore to the nobles and the Church the lands which the Revolution
had taken away were threatened with the doom of Jezebel--_and they
should be devoured by dogs_. Three hundred petitions were found at one
time lying upon the table of the Bourbon minister of the interior,
sent there by distressed Catholics who declared that their priests
refused them absolution on account of their being owners of national
properties. To the trembling devotee, the poor slave of superstition,
the priest said, “Surrender to Church and nobles the land you bought
and paid for, else the gates of heaven shall remain shut to you!” Under
the spell of clerical duress many a middle-class and peasant proprietor
swapped good land for a verbal free passage to the new Jerusalem. Many
nobles, imitating a king who had mentally abolished all changes since
1789, began to claim forgotten dues and to exercise offensive feudal
privileges. The Duke of Wellington himself acted the _grand seigneur_
of the Old Régime; and with a cavalcade of friends and a pack of hounds
went charging at his pleasure over the crops of the farmers around
Paris, trampling their young grain with serene disregard of peasant
rights. These nobles of old France, who had fled from the dangers of
the Revolution, and who had been restored by Napoleon, or by foreign
bayonets, were as proud, as intolerant, as though they had accomplished
the Bourbon restoration by themselves. They regarded the nobles of
Napoleon’s creation with unconcealed contempt. The wives of men whose
fathers had been ennobled for shady services to shadier Bourbon kings,
looked with lofty scorn upon the ladies of such men as Marshal Ney,
whom Napoleon had ennobled for service as gallant as any soldier
ever rendered to France. To mark beyond all mistake the dividing
line between the old nobility and the new, the military schools were
reëstablished, in which a hundred years of nobility were necessary for
admission--another violation of the Charter.

Louis XVIII. was not devoid of talent, nor of worldly wisdom; but
he was not the man to contrast favorably with Napoleon. It was his
misfortune to be personally repulsive. Like his brother, Louis XVI.
he was swinish in tastes and habits. So fat that he could not mount a
horse, so unwieldy that he could only waddle about in velvet gaiters,
he was no man’s hero--nor woman’s either. Those who loved the ancient
system were compelled to use him, not because they loved _him_, but
because they adored the system.

Gifted with small talent for governing, how could he bring order out
of the chaos Napoleon’s fall had left? How could he reconcile the
intemperate greed of the partisans of the Old Order with the advocates
of liberal ideas in France? How could he harmonize emancipated peasants
with lords of Church and State who were clamorous to reënslave them?
How could he restore prosperity to the French manufacturer suddenly
ruined by the flood of English goods, which flood Napoleon had so long
dammed with his Continental system? And when the curé of St. Roch
refused holy burial to an actress, how could the feeble Louis control
either arrogant priest or indignant, riotous friends of the actress?
And how could he prevent all France from remembering that once before
when this same priest had refused Christian burial to an opera dancer,
the iron hand of Napoleon Bonaparte had fallen upon the unchristian
curé, inflicting chastisement, and the reproof that “Jesus Christ
commanded us to pray even for our enemies”?

No wonder, then, that when Carnot published a memorial, arraigning
the government for its breaches of faith, and pointing out its rapid
progress to absolutism, the book had a vast circulation. Chateaubriand
was brought forward to write a reply, and he wrote it; but even
Chateaubriand could not slay facts with a pen, though the courtiers at
the palace seem to have believed that he had done so.

Such was the Bourbon restoration. Undoing much of the work of the
Revolution, it menaced all. Apparently it was only a question of time
when France would be clothed again in the political and religious garb
of 1789. Those who had flattered themselves that they were getting
constitutional monarchy in exchange of Napoleon’s despotism, soon
realized that the Bourbon system had most of Napoleon’s vices and
none of his virtues. Talleyrand, Fouché, and Company had expected to
rule the kingdom as constitutional ministers. They found that their
influence was nothing when opposed by such royalist courtiers as the
empty-headed Blacas. Three months did not elapse after Talleyrand and
Fouché had plotted the downfall of Napoleon before they were plotting
the overthrow of Louis XVIII.

       *       *       *       *       *

At length the Congress of Nations assembled at Vienna (September,
1814), and a very grand gathering of notabilities it was. The Czar
of Russia, the kings of Prussia, Denmark, Bavaria, and Würtemberg,
the Emperor Francis of Austria, were present in person; the kings of
England and France were represented by Lord Castlereagh and Prince
Talleyrand, respectively; Saxony, Naples, and other small states were
represented by delegations more or less official, and more or less

Statesmen of many countries, diplomats, envoys, agents, male and
female, attended in great numbers; and in fêtes, banquets, balls,
excursions, and miscellaneous amusements some $50,000 each day were
gayly consumed.

Faithless in their dealings with Napoleon, the allied kings had been
distrustful of each other; behind public treaties secret agreements had
lurked, and now at the Congress of Vienna these underhand dealings
began to crop out. Ostensibly Napoleon had been overthrown by a grand,
brotherly coöperation of all the European monarchs. Ostensibly the
motive of this grand, brotherly coöperation had been to liberate the
people of Europe from the grinding tyranny of Napoleonic government.

No sooner had eminently wise heads begun to wag at this congress,
loosening eminently sage tongues, than it appeared that Russia,
Prussia, Austria, and England had made a secret bargain, quite a while
ago, to divide at their own pleasure the territories of which they had
stripped the too ambitious Emperor of the French. Consequently, the
representatives of these four Christian powers began to hold little
meetings of their own, to readjust the map of Europe, shutting the door
in the face of the eminent Talleyrand and lesser lights who had come
there to wield influence on a variety of subjects. This concert of the
four Christian powers, to the utter ignoring of other powers, likewise
Christian, would have resulted in a new map of Europe, just suited to
their own views but for one thing. In reaching their secret agreement
to shut out the other powers, they had failed to come to an agreement
among themselves.

If four royal and Christian victors secretly agree to monopolize the
spoils, it is obviously of the utmost importance that they should
not fall out while dividing the loot. Russia, Austria, Prussia, and
England were in harmony so far as agreeing that those four should take
everything which Napoleon had lost; but the Congress of Vienna had
barely passed the stage of mutual congratulations, and a solemn return
of thanks to God, before the row between the four robber powers began.
The Czar demanded all of Poland; Prussia all of Saxony; Austria’s
eager eyes were fixed upon Italy, and England stiffened her grip on
colonies generally.

A great deal has been said in praise of the masterly manner in which
Talleyrand forced open the door, and led France again to the council
board of nations. His boasted diplomacy seems to have amounted to no
more than this: the four powers mentioned quarrelled among themselves,
and France found her opportunity to take sides. Talleyrand made good
the opening thus offered, but surely he was not the only Frenchman who
could have done so. France had not been obliterated: she was still the
France of 1792, which had successfully resisted all Europe. If the four
great powers found themselves about to fight, two against two, was it
owing to Talleyrand’s genius alone that France was courted by one party
to the feud? Surely not. It was owing to the greatness of France--not
the greatness of Talleyrand.

Louis XVIII. could have brought into the field not only the remnants
of Napoleon’s army in the late campaign, but also the army with which
Soult had fought Wellington, as well as the troops which the Treaty of
Paris had released from northern prisons and garrison towns.

In a war which enlisted the support of the French people, half a
million men could easily have been armed; hence we can readily
understand why Austria and England, enraged by the greed of Russia and
Prussia, signed a secret treaty with France in January 1815.

However, the spirit of compromise worked with the Congress of Vienna;
and to avoid such a dreadful war as was on the eve of breaking out
among the allied kings, the Czar was allowed to take nearly all of
Poland; and Prussia had her way with Saxony; for while they gave her
only half of Saxony itself, they made up for the other half by giving
her more than an equivalent on the Rhine.

Juggling with the doctrine of “legitimacy,” and claiming that all
thrones must be restored to princes who were rulers “by the grace of
God,” and not by the choice of the people, Talleyrand seems to have
brought the powers to agree that Murat should be ousted from Naples,
and the Bourbons restored. Bernadotte could not be treated likewise,
because he was the adopted son of the legitimate King of Sweden!

He was not only confirmed in his high office, but the English fleet had
been sent to aid him in seizing the prey which had been promised him
as the price of his waging war upon his mother-country. Norway, which
Napoleon had refused to promise him, and which the Czar had promised,
was torn from Denmark by force, and handed over to Sweden, in spite of
all the Norwegians themselves could do.

       *       *       *       *       *

Informed of all that was passing in France, in Italy, and at the Vienna
Congress, Napoleon prepared to make a bold dash for his throne. He
communicated secretly with Murat, with various Italian friends, with
various friends in France. Vague rumors began to circulate among his
old soldiers that he would reappear in the spring.

Did he make a secret treaty with Austria, detaching her from the
European alliance? There is some reason to believe that he did. He
repeatedly declared at St. Helena that such a treaty had been made;
and the author of the _Private Memoirs of the Court of Louis XVIII._
corroborates him. In that curious, interesting book a copy of the
alleged treaty is given.

Napoleon himself is reported to have said that the conspiracy which
Fouché had been organizing among the army officers forced him to leave
Elba three months earlier than he had intended. This is important,
if true, for it is conceded that had he waited three months longer
his chances of success would have been immensely improved--provided
that he had not in the meantime been seized as a prisoner of war or

Concealing his design to the last moment, Napoleon gathered up his
little army of eleven hundred men, went on board a small flotilla at
Porto Ferrajo, February 15, 1815, and set sail for France. His mother
and his sister looked on in tears while the troops were embarking, and
the Emperor himself was deeply affected. As he embraced his mother and
bade her farewell, he said, “I must go now, or I shall never go.”

       *       *       *       *       *

At the Tuileries on the night of March 2, 1815, a curious scene was
witnessed in the saloon of the Abbé d’André, director-general of the
royal police.

Quite a number of people being present, conversation fell upon certain
ugly rumors concerning Elba. A gentleman just from Italy spoke of the
active movements of Napoleon’s agents. It was said that the Emperor
was engaged in some hostile preparations. The gentleman from Italy
evidently made an impression upon the company, and created a feeling
of uneasiness. The mere thought of Napoleon Bonaparte breaking loose
from Elba, and landing in France, was enough of itself to materially
increase the chilliness of a night in March to the Bourbon group.

But the Abbé d’André was equal to the emergency. As director-general of
police it was his business to know what Napoleon was doing, and he knew.

Rising from his chair, and striding to the fireplace, he faced the
company, and harangued them thus:--

“It is certainly a very extraordinary thing that right-thinking
people should be the first to find fault with the government. For
heaven’s sake, ladies and gentlemen, do give the ministers credit for
common sense! If you think them indifferent to passing events, you
are strangely mistaken. They watch everything, see everything, and
take precautions against everything. Do not be alarmed about Elba.
Every step Bonaparte takes is carefully noted. Elba is surrounded by
numerous cruisers. All who come and all who go are carefully examined.
Government receives a daily report of all that takes place there. Now,
to convince you that your alarms are silly, I will read you the report
we received yesterday.”

With this the complacent police minister drew from his pocket the
official bulletin, and read it. His agent represented that Napoleon
was reduced to a very low state of health, that he had the scurvy, and
was assailed by the infirmities of premature old age; that he rarely
went out, and that he would sometimes be seen on the seashore amusing
himself by tossing pebbles into the sea--a sure sign of approaching
lunacy. And so forth.

Having read this valuable report, d’André looked down upon his
auditors with a glance of triumph. He had demonstrated to his complete
satisfaction that Napoleon was not only in Elba, but that he was
pitching idle pebbles into a listless sea, and was on the direct route
to the lunatic asylum.

This was March 2; on the day previous Napoleon had landed at Cannes,
and was marching upon Paris!

The shock which Europe felt when the signal telegraph flashed the news
that the lion was loose again, was such as Europe had probably never
felt before, and will probably never feel again. It paralyzed the
King and the court at the Tuileries; it created consternation among
the kings and statesmen at the Congress of Vienna. The royalist lady
who wrote the _Memoirs of the Court of Louis XVIII._, declares that
the King’s ministers looked like men who had seen a ghost. They were
frightened into such imbecility that they were incapable of forming any
plan or giving any sane advice.

On the other hand, Wellington’s belief was that Napoleon had acted
on false information, and that the King would “destroy him without
difficulty, and in a short time.”

How Wellington ever managed to conjure up the mental picture of
Napoleon being destroyed by Louis XVIII. is one of the psychological

The man who, of all men, best knew that Louis XVIII. could never
stand his ground against Napoleon was Louis himself; and he began to
arrange to go out at one gate while Napoleon came in at the other.
Proclamations he issued, but no man read them. A price he set on
Napoleon’s head, but no man was eager to earn it. Generals and troops
he sent to stop the daring intruder, but the troops cried “Live
the Emperor!” and the officers had to flee, or join the Napoleonic
procession. The Duchess of Angoulême, daughter of Louis XVI., exhorted
the soldiers at Bordeaux, but even her appeals fell flat. The Count
of Artois and Marshal Macdonald were equally unsuccessful at Lyons;
their troops deserted them, and they were forced to gallop away.
Marshal Ney was quite sure that he could manage the soldiers committed
to him, and that he could cage the monster from Elba. Pledging his
word to the quaking King, he set forth upon his errand, drew up his
troops, harangued them, and proposed the capture of Napoleon. They
laughed at him, drowned his voice in cries of “Live the Emperor!” and
the inconstant Ney fell into the current, surrendered to his men,
proclaimed his adherence to the man he had been sent to capture, and
went in person to lay his offer of service at the feet of his old

Sadly Louis XVIII. turned to Blacas upon whom he had too trustfully
leaned for guidance and counsel. “Blacas, you are a good fellow, but I
was grievously deceived when I mistook your devotedness for talent.”
With nobody to fight for him, it was time he was leaving; and on the
night of March 19 he left. With him on his doleful way to the frontier
went a terror-stricken renegade, who dreaded of all things that
Napoleon should lay hands upon him,--Marmont, the Arnold of France.


During the voyage from Elba to France, Napoleon had been in the best
of spirits, moving about familiarly among his men, and chatting freely
upon all subjects. He had not told them where they were going, but
probably they little needed telling. All must have felt that they were
bound for France.

The passage was full of peril, for French cruisers were often in
sight. One of these came quite near, so much so that Napoleon ordered
his guards to take off their bearskin caps and to lie down upon the
deck. The commander of the French vessel hailed Napoleon’s brig, and
recognizing it as from Elba, asked, “How’s the Emperor?” Napoleon
himself seized the speaking-trumpet and replied, “He is wonderfully

At length the companions of the Emperor were told that they were bound
for France, and those who could write were called around him to copy
two proclamations he intended to scatter abroad upon landing. He had
himself written these in Elba, but nobody present could read them--not
even himself.

Casting these into the sea, he dictated two others,--one for his old
soldiers, the other for the nation at large. He revised these papers
ten times before they satisfied him, and then he set all hands making
copies. Engaged thus, they came within sight of France, and they
greeted the shores with enthusiastic shouts.

It was about five o’clock in the evening of March 1, 1815, that
Napoleon and his little army landed near Cannes, and bivouacked in a
meadow surrounded by olive trees, close to the shore. A captain and
twenty-five men, sent to Antibes to rouse the garrison and bring it
over to Napoleon, entered the town crying, “Live the Emperor!” without
explanation or further statement; and the people of the place, knowing
nothing of Napoleon’s landing, took these men, who had suddenly
come screaming through their quiet town, to be lunatics. The royal
commandant had sufficient presence of mind to shut the town gates;
and so the gallant twenty-six, who went to surprise and capture, got
surprised and captured.

“We have made a bad beginning,” said Napoleon, when news of this mishap
reached him. “We have nothing to do but to march as fast as we can, and
get to the mountain passes before the news of our arrival.”

The moon rose, and at midnight the Emperor began his march. He had
brought a few horses from Elba, had bought a few more from peasants
after landing, and thus some of his officers were mounted, while he
himself rode in a carriage given him by his sister Pauline, and which
he had brought from Elba. They marched all night, passing through
silent, moonlit villages, where the people, roused by reports of
something unusual afoot,--the pirates had come, some said,--stood
gaping at the marching troops, responding with shrugs of the shoulders
to the shouts of “Live the Emperor!” It was not until the column had
passed through Grasse, a town of six thousand inhabitants, and had
halted on a hill beyond, that the people seemed to realize what was
happening. The pirate alarm disappeared, the fires of enthusiasm began
to glow, and with glad shout of “Live the Emperor!” the town-folk came
running toward the camp, bearing provisions for the troops. From this
time the country people were certain that Napoleon had really come
back, and his march became one of triumph. Leaving cannon and carriage
at Grasse, the column pressed on toward Cérénon by mountain paths still
covered with snow, the Emperor marching on foot among his grenadiers.
When he stumbled and fell on the rough road, they laughed at him; and
he could hear them calling him, among themselves, “Our little monk.”
Reaching Gap on the 5th, he printed his proclamations; and he began
to scatter them by thousands. And never before did proclamations find
such willing readers, or win such popular favor. Advancing toward
Grenoble, the advance guard under Cambronne encountered a battalion
of six thousand troops, sent to stop the march of the invaders. The
royalist commander refused to parley with Napoleon’s officers, and
threatened to fire. Cambronne sent to inform the Emperor of what had
occurred. Napoleon was riding in an old carriage, picked up at Gap,
when this report reached him. Mounting his horse, he galloped forward
to within a hundred yards of the hostile battalion. Not a cheer greeted
him. Turning to Bertrand, the disappointed Emperor remarked, “They have
deceived me, but no matter. Forward march!” Throwing the bridle of his
horse to Bertrand, he went on foot toward the royal troops.

“Fire!” shouted the officer, drawing his sword. And then Napoleon,
unbuttoning that familiar gray overcoat, and fronting them with that
familiar cocked hat, made the famous address which broke down all
military opposition between Grenoble and Paris, sweeping thousands of
bayonets out of his way with a word.

“What! My children, do you not recognize me? It is your Emperor. If
there be one among you who would kill his general, he can do it. Here I

“Live the Emperor!” came the answer of six thousand men, as they melted
into tears, broke ranks, and crowded around him to fall at his feet,
kiss his hands, and touch the hem of his garment.

The officer who had ordered them to fire had a good horse and a fair
start; hence he managed to escape.

The six thousand who had come to capture Napoleon turned and marched
with him. By this time the country was aroused on all sides, and crowds
flocked around the column, shouting “Live the Emperor!” Advancing
beyond Vizille, the Emperor was met by Colonel Labédoyère, who had
brought his regiment to join Napoleon’s ranks. With cries of joy the
troops mingled, and Napoleon took the ardent young colonel in his arms,
pressing him to his breast, and saying, “Colonel, it is you who replace
me upon the throne!” Onward then to Grenoble, where the gates had been
closed, and the defences manned to resist the invader.

It was dark when Napoleon arrived before the walls. He ordered
Labédoyère to address the troops within. This was done, and there
were cries of “Live the Emperor!” from within the city. But the royal
commandant had the keys, and the gates could n