You are here

قراءة كتاب Napoleon Bonaparte

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

‏اللغة: English
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

All these minute details Napoleon arranged, while at the same time he was doing the work of a dozen energetic men, in reorganizing the whole structure of society in France. If toil pays for greatness, Napoleon purchased the renown which he attained. And yet his body and his mind were so constituted that this sleepless activity was to him a pleasure.

The appointed hour at last arrived. On the 7th of May, 1800, Napoleon entered his carriage at the Tuileries, saying, "Good-by, my dear Josephine! I must go to Italy. I shall not forget you, and I will not be absent long." At a word, the whole majestic array was in motion. Like a meteor he swept over France. He arrived at the foot of the mountains. The troops and all the paraphernalia of war were on the spot at the designated hour. Napoleon immediately appointed a very careful inspection. Every foot soldier and every horseman passed before his scrutinizing eye. If a shoe was ragged, or a jacket torn, or a musket injured, the defect was immediately repaired. His glowing words inspired the troops with the ardor which was burning in his own bosom. The genius of the First Consul was infused into the mighty host. Each man exerted himself to the utmost. The eye of their chief was every where, and his cheering voice roused the army to almost super-human exertions. Two skillful engineers had been sent to explore the path, and to do what could be done in the removal of obstructions. They returned with an appalling recitasl of the apparently insurmountable difficulties of the way. "Is it possible ," inquired Napoleon, "to cross the pass?" "Perhaps," was the hesitating reply, "it is within the limits of possibility ." "Forward, then," was the energetic response. Each man was required to carry, besides his arms, food for several days and a large quantity of cartridges. As the sinuosities of the precipitous path could only be trod in single file, the heavy wheels were taken from the carriages, and each, slung upon a pole, was borne by two men. The task for the foot soldiers was far less than for the horsemen. The latter clambered up on foot, dragging their horses after them. The descent was very dangerous. The dragoon, in the steep and narrow path, was compelled to walk before his horse. At the least stumble he was exposed to being plunged headlong into the abysses yawning before him. In this way many horses and several riders perished. To transport the heavy cannon and howitzers pine logs were split in the centre, the parts hollowed out, and the guns sunks into grooves. A long string of mules, in single file, were attached to the ponderous machines of war, to drag them up the slippery ascent. The mules soon began to fail, and then the men, with hearty good-will, brought their own shoulders into the harness—a hundred men to a single gun. Napoleon offered the peasants two hundred dollars for the transporation of a twelve-pounder over the pass. The love of gain was not strong enough to lure them to such tremendous exertions. But Napoleon's fascination over the hearts of his soldiers was a more powerful impulse. With shouts of encouragement they toiled at the cables, successive bands of a hundred men relieving each other every half hour. High on those craggy steeps, gleaming through the midst, the glittering bands of armed men, like phantoms appeared. The eagle wheeled and screamed beneath their feet. The mountain goat, affrighted by the unwonted spectacle, bounded away, and paused in bold relief upon the cliff to gaze upon the martial array which so suddenly had peopled the solitude.

When they approached any spot of very especial difficulty the trumpets sounded the charge, which re-echoed, with sublime reverberations, from pinnacle to pinnacle of rock and ice. Animated by these bugle notes the soldiers strained every nerve as if rushing upon the foe. Napoleon offered to these bands the same reward which he had promised to the peasants. But to a man, they refused the gold. They had imbibed the spirit of their chief, his enthusiasm, and his proud superiority to all mercenary motives. "We are not toiling for money," said they, "but for your approval, and to share your glory."

Napoleon with his wonderful tact had introduced a slight change into the artillery service, which was productive of immense moral results. The gun carriages had heretofore been driven by mere wagoners, who, being considered not as soldiers, but as servants, and sharing not in the glory of victory, were uninfluenced by any sentiment of honor. At the first approach of danger, they were ready to cut their traces and gallop from the field, leaving their cannon in the hands of the enemy. Napoleon said, "The cannoneer who brings his piece into action, performs as valuable a service as the cannoneer who works it. He runs the same danger, and requires the same moral stimulus, which is the sense of honor." He therefore converted the artillery drivers into soldiers, and clothed them in the uniform of their respective regiments. They constituted twelve thousand horsemen who were animated with as much pride in carrying their pieces into action, and in bringing them off with rapidity and safety, as the gunners felt in loading, directing, and discharging them. It was now the great glory of these men to take care of their guns. They loved, tenderly, the merciless monsters. They lavished caresses and terms of endearment upon the glittering, polished, death-dealing brass. The heart of man is a strange enigma. Even when most degraded it needs something to love. These blood-stained soldiers, brutalized by vice, amidst all the honors of battle, lovingly fondled the murderous machines of war, responding to the appeal "call me pet names, dearest." The unrelenting gun was the stern cannoneer's lady love. He kissed it with unwashed, mustached lip. In rude and rough devotion he was ready to die rather than abandon the only object of his idolatrous homage. Consistently he baptized the life-devouring monster with blood. Affectionately he named it Mary, Emma, Lizzie. In crossing he Alps, dark night came on as some cannoneers were floundering through drifts of snow, toiling at their gun. They would not leave the gun alone in the cold storm to seek for themselves a dry bivouac; but, like brothers guarding a sister, they threw themselves, for the night, upon the bleak and frozen snow, by its side. It was the genius of Napoleon which thus penetrated these mysterious depths of the human soul, and called to his aid those mighty energies. "It is nothing but imagination," said one once to Napoleon. "Nothing but imagination!" he rejoined. "Imagination rules the world."

When they arrived at the summit each soldier found, to his surprise and joy, the abundant comforts which Napoleon's kind care had provided. One would have anticipated there a scene of terrible confusion. To feed an army of forty thousand hungry men is not a light undertaking. Yet every thing was so carefully arranged, and the influence of Napoleon so boundless, that not a soldier left the ranks. Each man received his slice of bread and cheese, and quaffed his cup of wine, and passed on. It was a point of honor for no one to stop. Whatever obstructions were in the way were to be at all hazards surmounted, that the long file, extending nearly twenty miles, might not be thrown into confusion. The descent was more perilous than the ascent. But fortune seemed to smile. The sky was clear, the weather delightful, and in four days the whole army was reassembled on the plains of Italy.

Napoleon had sent Bertlier forward to receive the division, and to superintend all necessary repairs, while he himself remained to press forward the mighty host. He was the last man to cross the mountains. Seated upon a mule, with a young peasant for his guide, slowly and thoughtfully he ascended those silent solitudes. He was dressed in the gray great coat which he always wore. Art pictured him bounding up the cliff, proudly mounted on a prancing charger. But truth presents him in an attitude more simple and more sublime. Even the