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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
الصفحة رقم: 7

Already, at the receptions of the Directory, when conversing with men, or even with ladies, he puts questions "which prove the superiority of the questioner to those who have to answer them."1136 "Are you married?" says he to this one, and "How many children have you?"to another. To that one, "When did you come here?" or, again, "When are you going away? He places himself in front of a French lady, well-known for her beauty and wit and the vivacity of her opinions, "like the stiffest of German generals, and says: 'Madame, I don't like women who meddle with politics!'" Equality, ease, familiarity and companionship, vanish at his approach. Eighteen months before this, on his appointment as commander-in-chief of the army in Italy, Admiral Decrès, who had known him well at Paris,1137 learns that he is to pass through Toulon: "I at once propose to my comrades to introduce them, venturing to do so on my acquaintance with him in Paris. Full of eagerness and joy, I start off. The door opens and I am about to press forwards," he afterwards wrote, "when the attitude, the look, and the tone of voice suffice to arrest me. And yet there was nothing offensive about him; still, this was enough. I never tried after that to overstep the line thus imposed on me." A few days later, at Albenga,1138 certain generals of division, and among them Augereau, a vulgar, heroic old soldier, vain of his tall figure and courage, arrive at headquarters, not well disposed toward the little parvenu sent out to them from Paris. Recalling the description of him which had been given to them, Augereau is abusive and insubordinate beforehand: one of Barras' favorites, the Vendémiaire general, a street general, "not yet tried out on the field of battle,1139 hasn't a friend, considered a loner because he is the only one who can thinks for himself, looking peaky, said to be a mathematician and a dreamer!" They enter, and Bonaparte keeps them waiting. At last he appears, with his sword and belt on, explains the disposition of the forces, gives them his orders, and dismisses them. Augereau has remained silent; It is only when he gets out of doors does he recover himself and fall back on his accustomed oaths. He admits to Massena that "that little bastard of a general frightened him." He cannot "comprehend the ascendancy which made him feel crushed right away."1140

Extraordinary and superior, made for command1141 and for conquest, singular and of an unique species, is the feeling of all his contemporaries. Those who are most familiar with the histories of other nations, Madame de Staël and, after her, Stendhal, go back to the right sources to comprehend him, to the "petty Italian tyrants of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries," to Castruccio-Castracani, to the Braccio of Mantua, to the Piccinino, the Malatestas of Rimini, and the Sforzas of Milan. In their opinion, however, it is only a chance analogy, a psychological resemblance. Really, however, and)historically it is a positive relationship. He is a descendant of the great Italians, the men of action of the year 1400, the military adventurers, usurpers, and founders of governments lasting their life-time. He inherits in direct affiliation their blood and inward organization, mental and moral.1142 A bud, collected in their forest, before the age of refinement, impoverishment, and decay, has been transported into a similar and remote nursery, where a tragic and militant régime is permanently established. There the primitive germ is preserved intact and transmitted from one generation to another, renewed and invigorated by interbreeding. Finally, at the last stage of its growth, it springs out of the ground and develops magnificently, blooming the same as ever, and producing the same fruit as on the original stem. Modern cultivation and French gardening have pruned away but very few of its branches and blunted a few of its thorns: its original texture, inmost substance, and spontaneous development have not changed. The soil of France and of Europe, however, broken up by revolutionary tempests, is more favorable to its roots than the worn-out fields of the Middle Ages and there it grows by itself, without being subject, like its Italian ancestors, to rivalry with its own species; nothing checks the growth; it may absorb all the juices of the ground, all the air and sunshine of the region, and become the Colossus which the ancient plants, equally deep-rooted and certainly as absorbent, but born in a less friable soil and more crowded together, could not provide.

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