You are here

قراءة كتاب Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 2

moment when the laws of war and of humanity presented to him, to think rather of a retreat, than of continuing the battle.

I had at first rejected from these Memoirs such official papers, as had already been made known: but have since thought, that they ought to be inserted. This work, which embraces all the events of the reign of a Hundred Days, would be imperfect, if the reader were obliged to refer to the papers of the day; to read or consult the act of the congress of Vienna, that placed the Emperor Napoleon out of the pale of the law of nations; the Additional Act, which occasioned his loss of popularity; and the eloquent speeches and nervous declarations by which Napoleon, his ministers, and his counsellors, sought to explain and justify the 20th of March. I have thought, besides, that perhaps the reader would not find it uninteresting, to witness the contests exhibited, at that important period, between the legitimacy of nations and the legitimacy of sovereigns.

The colours under which I represent Napoleon, the justice I do him for the purity of his intentions, will not please all the world. Many persons, who would blindly have believed any ill I could say of the ancient sovereigns of France, will give little credit to my eulogies: they are wrong: if praises lavished on power be suspicious, those bestowed on the unfortunate will be true; to doubt them would be sacrilege.

Neither can I conceal from myself, that the men, who, from principle, see nothing but a hateful conspiracy in the revolution of the 20th of March, will accuse me of having embellished facts, and designedly distorted the truth. No matter: I have depicted this revolution as I saw it, as I felt it. How many others are pleased, to tarnish the honour of the nation, to represent their countrymen as composed of rebels or cowards! For my part, I think it the duty of a good Frenchman, to prove to all Europe, that the king was not guilty of abandoning France:

That the insurrection of the 20th of March was not the work of a few factious persons, who might have been repressed; but a grand national act, against which the efforts and volitions of individuals would have been vain:

That the royalists were not cowards, and all other Frenchmen traitors:

Lastly, that the return from the island of Elba was the terrible consequence of the faults of ministers and the ultras, which called to France the man of fate, as the conductor draws down the lightning from heaven.

This sentiment naturally led me, to conclude these Memoirs by a philosophical examination of the Hundred Days, and a refutation of the reproaches daily bestowed on the men of the 20th of March: but considerations, easy to divine, held my pen. It was my duty, to content myself with placing a statement of the facts before the eyes of the grand jury, the public, and leave it to decide. I know, that the question has been determined in the fields of Waterloo; but a victory is not a judicial sentence.

Whatever opinion the impartial reader may form of this work, I can protest beforehand, that I have not allowed myself to be influenced by any private consideration, by any feeling of hatred, affection, or gratitude. I have followed no impulse but that of my conscience, and I may say with Montaigne: "This is an honest book."

Too young to have participated in the errors or crimes of the revolution, I began and ended my political career without blot, and without reproach. The places, titles, and decorations, which the Emperor deigned to bestow on me, were the reward of several acts of great devotion to his service, and of twelve years of trials and sacrifices. Never did I receive from him any favours or gifts: I entered his service rich, I quitted it poor.

When Lyons opened to him its gates, I was free: I spontaneously embraced his cause: it appeared to me, as to the immense number of Frenchmen, that of liberty, honour, and our country. The laws of Solon declared infamous those, who took no part in civil troubles. I followed their maxims. If the misfortunes of the 20th of March must fall on the heads of the guilty, these guilty, I repeat, will not be in the eye of posterity, the Frenchmen who abandoned the royal standard, to return to the ancient colours of their country; but those imprudent and senseless men, who, by their threats, their acts of injustice, and their outrages, compelled us to choose between insurrection and slavery, between honour and infamy.

During the Hundred Days, there was no person to whom I did an ill turn; frequently I had an opportunity of doing good, and seized it with joy.

Since the return of the regal government, I have lived tranquil and solitary; and, whether from forgetfulness, or from a sense of justice, I escaped in 1815 the persecutions, which the partisans and servants of Napoleon experienced.

This explanation, or this apology, appeared to me necessary: it is right the reader should know, who it is that addresses him.

I could have wished, to abstain from speaking of the royal government in the first part of this work: but it was impossible. It was necessary for me, prominently to exhibit the errors and faults of the king's ministers one by one, to render evident this truth, that they were the sole authors of the 20th of March. When elsewhere, as here, I say the government, I mean not to designate the King, but his ministers. In a constitutional monarchy, in which the ministers are responsible, we cannot, and ought not to confound them with the King. "It is from the King," said the keeper of the seals, when he proposed to the deputies of the nation the project of a law on the responsibility of ministers, "that every act of equity, protection, and clemency, and every regular employment of power, emanates: it is to the ministers alone, that abuses, injustice, and misconduct, are to be imputed."

&c. &c.

Until the close of the Spanish war, Napoleon, whether as the First Consul of the Republic, or as the Chief of the Empire, had never ceased to be the object of the love, the pride, and the confidence of the people. But the multitude neither judge, nor can judge of the actions of their rulers but from appearances which often mislead them in their judgment; and the loyalty of the nation then became enfeebled. The conduct of Napoleon was stigmatized as a series of hateful aggressions; the war, as an unjustifiable act of violence. Disaffection increased. Napoleon was assailed by the anger of his subjects, and, for the first time, they upbraided him with having spilt their blood, and wasted their riches, in gratifying his vain and culpable ambition.

At this juncture the public mind became absorbed in the contemplation of the invasion of Russia, and the general discontent was withdrawn from the events which had taken place in the peninsula.

Our arms were crowned with good fortune and glory at the commencement of the Russian war; but that conflict was ended by a catastrophe which has no parallel in the annals of the world.

The Emperor, who escaped almost alone from the perils of the campaign, returned to the capital. His countenance was that of a hero who defies adversity. But his firmness was deemed to be the result of heartless insensibility. Instead of inspiring the people with hope, it embittered their feelings. Louder murmurs broke forth; their indignation expressed itself with greater emphasis. Yet such was the enthusiasm which was even then inspired by the proud recollections of the triumphs of Napoleon, that France,