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قراءة كتاب The Modern Regime, Volume 1

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The Modern Regime, Volume 1

The Modern Regime, Volume 1

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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href="@public@vhost@g@gutenberg@html@files@2581@[email protected]#link2H_4_0077" class="pginternal" tag="{http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml}a">VII. Local society in 1880.
VIII. Final result in a tendency to bankruptcy.











PREFACE

The following third and last part of the Origins of Contemporary France is to consist of two volumes. After the present volume, the second is to treat of the Church, the School and the Family, describe the modern milieu and note the facilities and obstacles which a society like our own encounters in this new milieu: here, the past and the present meet, and the work already done is continued by the work which is going on under our eyes.—The undertaking is hazardous and more difficult than with the two preceding parts. For the Ancient Régime and the Revolution are henceforth complete and finished periods; we have seen the end of both and are thus able to comprehend their entire course. On the contrary, the end of the ulterior period is still wanting; the great institutions which date from the Consulate and the Empire, either consolidation or dissolution, have not yet reached their historic term: since 1800, the social order of things, notwithstanding eight changes of political form, has remained almost intact. Our children or grandchildren will know whether it will finally succeed or miscarry; witnesses of the denouement, they will have fuller light by which to judge of the entire drama. Thus far four acts only have been played; of the fifth act, we have simply a presentiment.—On the other hand, by dint of living under this social system, we have become accustomed to it; it no longer excites our wonder; however artificial it may be it seems to us natural. We can scarcely conceive of another that is healthier; and what is much worse, it is repugnant to us to do so. For, such a conception would soon lead to comparisons and hence to a judgment and, on many points, to an unfavorable judgment, one which would be a censure, not only of our institutions but of ourselves. The machine of the year VIII,1101 applied to us for three generations, has permanently shaped and fixed us as we are, for better or for worse. If, for a century, it sustains us, it represses us for a century. We have contracted the infirmities it imports—stoppage of development, instability of internal balance, disorders of the intellect and of the will, fixed ideas and ideas that are false. These ideas are ours; therefore we hold on to them, or, rather, they have taken hold of us. To get rid of them, to impose the necessary recoil on our mind, to transport us to a distance and place us at a critical point of view, where we can study ourselves, our ideas and our institutions as scientific objects, requires a great effort on our part, many precautions, and long reflection.—Hence, the delays of this study; the reader will pardon them on considering that an ordinary opinion, caught on the wing, on such a subject, does not suffice. In any event, when one presents an opinion on such a subject one is bound to believe it. I can believe in my own only when it has become precise and seems to me proven.

Menthon Saint-Bernard, September, 1890.






BOOK FIRST. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.





CHAPTER I. HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE OF HIS CHARACTER AND GENIUS.

If you want to comprehend a building, you have to imagine the circumstances, I mean the difficulties and the means, the kind and quality of its available materials, the moment, the opportunity, and the urgency of the demand for it. But, still more important, we must consider the genius and taste of the architect, especially whether he is the proprietor, whether he built it to live in himself, and, once installed in it, whether he took pains to adapt it to how own way of living, to his own necessities, to his own use.—Such is the social edifice erected by Napoleon Bonaparte, its architect, proprietor, and principal occupant from 1799 to 1814. It is he who has made modern France; never was an individual character so profoundly stamped on any collective work, so that, to comprehend the work, we must first study the character of the Man.1102





I. Napoleon's Past and Personality.

     He is of another race and another century.—Origin of his
     paternal family.—Transplanted to Corsica.—His maternal
     family.—Laetitia Ramolino.—Persistence of Corsican
     souvenirs in Napoleon's mind.—His youthful sentiments
     regarding Corsica and France.—Indications found in his
     early compositions and in his style.—Current monarchical or
     democratic ideas have no hold on him.—His impressions of
     the 20th of June and 10th of August after the 31st of May.
     —His associations with Robespierre and Barras without
     committing himself.—His sentiments and the side he takes
     Vendémiaire 13th.—The great Condottière.—His character and
     conduct in Italy.—Description of him morally and physically
     in 1798.—The early and sudden ascendancy which he exerts.
     Analogous in spirit and character to his Italian ancestors
     of the XVth century.

Disproportionate in all things, but, stranger still, he is not only out of the common run, but there is no standard of measurement for him; through his temperament, instincts, faculties, imagination, passions, and moral constitution he seems cast in a special mould, composed of another metal than that which enters into the composition of his fellows and contemporaries. Evidently he is not a Frenchman, nor a man of the eighteenth century; he belongs to another race and another epoch.1103 We detect in him, at the first glance, the foreigner, the Italian,1104 and something more, apart and beyond these, surpassing all similitude or analogy.-Italian he was through blood and lineage; first, through his paternal family, which is Tuscan,1105 and which we can follow down from the twelfth century, at Florence, then at San Miniato; next at Sarzana, a small, backward, remote town in the state of Genoa, where, from father to son, it vegetates obscurely in provincial isolation, through a long line of notaries and municipal syndics. "My origin," says Napoleon himself,public@vhost@g@gutenberg@html@files@2581@[email protected]#linknote-1106" id="linknoteref-1106" class="pginternal"

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