Memoirs of Napoleon — Volume 11

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The Modern Regime, volume 1, Napoleon, book 1, in English translation. Hipppolyte A. Katharine Prescott Wormeley. The Memoirs of Queen Hortense Vol. Ten Years' Exile. Anne Louise Germaine Necker.

Citizen Emperor

Arthur John Butler. La Rochefoucauld.

By LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE

Madame Campan. Imbert De Saint-Amand. Legends of the Bastille. Frantz Funck-Brentano. Louis Philippe. Political Women, Vol. Sutherland Menzies. Memoirs of the Empress Catherine II. Written by Herself. His account of the conversation of Josephine after the death of the Due d'Enghien may be compared with what we know from Madame de Remusat, who, by the way, would have been horrified if she had known that he considered her to resemble the Empress Josephine in character. We now come to the views of Savary, the Due de Rovigo, who avowedly remained on good terms with Bourrienne after his disgrace, though the friendship of Savary was not exactly a thing that most men would have much prided themselves on.

Nor were these the only advantages he possessed. He knew the routine of public business and public law.

Memoirs of Méneval about Napoleon, Book 1, 37-54

His activity and devotion made him indispensable to the First Consul. I knew the qualities which won for him the unlimited confidence of his chief, but I cannot speak with the same assurance of the faults which made him lose it. Bourrienne had many enemies, both on account of his character and of his place" Savary, i. Marmont ought to be an impartial critic of the Memoirs. He says, "Bourrienne. By inspiring us with an immoderate ardour to reach a fixed end, they often make us miss it.

Bourrienne had an immoderate love of money. With his talents and his position near Bonaparte at the first dawn of greatness, with the confidence and real good-will which Bonaparte felt for him, in a few years he would have gained everything in fortune and in social position.

But his eager impatience mined his career at the moment when it might have developed and increased" Marmont, i. The criticism appears just. As to the Memoirs, Marmont says ii. The Comte Alexandre de Puymaigre, who arrived at Hamburgh soon after Bourrienne had left it in , says page of the part of the Memoirs which relates to Hamburg, "I must acknowledge that generally his assertions are well founded.

This former companion of Napoleon has only forgotten to speak of the opinion that they had of him in this town. Thus we may take Bourrienne as a clever, able man, who would have risen to the highest honours under the Empire had not his short-sighted grasping after lucre driven him from office, and prevented him from ever regaining it under Napoleon. In the present edition the translation has been carefully compared with the original French text.

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Where in the original text information is given which has now become mere matter of history, and where Bourrienne merely quotes the documents well enough known at this day, his possession of which forms part of the charges of his opponents, advantage has been taken to lighten the mass of the Memoirs. This has been done especially where they deal with what the writer did not himself see or hear, the part of the Memoirs which are of least valve and of which Marmont's opinion has just been quoted.

But in the personal and more valuable part of the Memoirs, where we have the actual knowledge of the secretary himself, the original text has been either fully retained, or some few passages previously omitted restored. Attention has also been paid to the attacks of the 'Erreurs', and wherever these criticisms are more than a mere expression of disagreement, their purport has been recorded with, where possible, some judgment of the evidence.

Thus the reader will have before him the materials for deciding himself how far, Bourrienne's statements are in agreement with the facts and with the accounts of other writers. At the present time too much attention has been paid to the Memoirs of Madame de Remusat. She, as also Madame Junot, was the wife of a man on whom the full shower of imperial favours did not descend, and, womanlike, she saw and thought only of the Court life of the great man who was never less great than in his Court.

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She is equally astonished and indignant that the Emperor, coming straight from long hours of work with his ministers and with his secretary, could not find soft words for the ladies of the Court, and that, a horrible thing in the eyes of a Frenchwoman, when a mistress threw herself into his arms, he first thought of what political knowledge he could obtain from her. Bourrienne, on the other hand, shows us the other and the really important side of Napoleon's character. He tells us of the long hours in the Cabinet, of the never-resting activity of the Consul, of Napoleon's dreams, no ignoble dreams and often realised, of great labours of peace as well as of war.

He is a witness, and the more valuable as a reluctant one, to the marvellous powers of the man who, if not the greatest, was at least the one most fully endowed with every great quality of mind and body the world has ever seen. The trading upon an illustrious name can alone have given birth to the multitude of publications under the titles of historical memoirs, secret memoirs, and other rhapsodies which have appeared respecting Napoleon. On looking into them it is difficult to determine whether the impudence of the writers or the simplicity of certain readers is most astonishing.

Yet these rude and ill digested compilations, filled with absurd anecdotes, fabricated speeches, fictitious crimes or virtues, and disfigured by numerous anachronisms, instead of being consigned to just contempt and speedy oblivion, have been pushed into notice by speculators, and have found zealous partisans and enthusiastic apologists. For a time I entertained the idea of noticing, one by one, the numerous errors which have been written respecting Napoleon; but I have renounced a task which would have been too laborious to myself, and very tedious to the reader.

I shall therefore only correct those which come within the plan of my work, and which are connected with those facts, to a more accurate knowledge of which than any other person can possess I may lay claim. There are men who imagine that nothing done by Napoleon will ever be forgotten; but must not the slow but inevitable influence of time be expected to operate with respect to him? The effect of that influence is, that the most important event of an epoch soon sinks, almost imperceptibly and almost disregarded, into the immense mass of historical facts.

Time, in its progress, diminishes the probability as well as the interest of such an event, as it gradually wears away the most durable monuments. I attach only a relative importance to what I am about to lay before the public. I shall give authentic documents.