Early Life, and First Campaigns, of Napoleon Bonaparte

Ben Perley Poore

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Editore: Forgotten Books
Formato: PDF
Testo in en
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Dimensioni: 2,88 MB
  • EAN: 9780259657361

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Numerous as are the biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte, the reading public may not look ungraciously upon a young American's attempt to chronicle, from original materials, the early deeds of that extraordinary being, whose good and bad qualities have so intensely fixed the attention of the world. While all-adoring Frenchmen have sought to enhance the brilliancy of their idol's career, by the false glare of enthusiastic flattery; British historians have been stimulated by a fantastic zeal for hereditary royalty, to blacken the reputation of the once powerful enemy of their nation: - and it is only by submitting these contradictory views to the test of a trans-atlantic balance, that they can be reduced to the standard of truth. This idea originated with Major Henry Lee, of Virginia, who was at Paris when Sir Walter Scott published his notoriously unjust "Life of Napoleon." Considering the name of the "author of Waverley" less glorious than that of the citizen Emperor - his memory less sacred than truth, the talented American determined to repair the injustice by an impartial history. The first volume was published at Paris, in January, 1837, and a few days afterwards the labors of the gifted author were prematurely suspended by his untimely decease.

Marshal Soult, Gen. Pelet, and other veterans of the Imperial Army, had taken a great interest in Maj. Lee's work, and when (in 1846,) the subscriber commenced his researches in the Archives of the War Department at Paris, (as Historical Agent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,) he was induced to carry out the idea of his gifted countryman. Every facility was afforded him by the French Government, and in addition to the copies of important manuscripts from their Archives, he obtained the curious journals of several notable Americans who were in France during Napoleon's career. The Emperor's early homes, his palaces, and over forty of his sixty victorious battle-fields were carefully visited, - the French, English and American newspapers of the epoch were read, and many curious unpublished incidents were gathered from the lips of the survivors. From these valuable materials the subscriber sought to recapitulate the principal events of Napoleon's life, with their causes and their consequences. Not merely his conquests and his creation of king-vassals - but the more glorious phases of his civil rule - his diplomatic intercourse, (particularly with the United States,) and his gigantic public works - his social and his domestic life - his loves and his hatreds - his glory and his exile - his virtues and his religion!

The greater portion of the following pages were printed last Winter, when the subscriber was forced to suspend his labors - to glean historical materials in another field. Should this narration of the most uninteresting portion of Napoleon's life prove acceptable to the public, he will continue and complete it hereafter. The proofs of this volume, it is but justice to state, have been revised by that able historian, Mr. C. C. Hazewell, to whom the subscriber is greatly indebted for much valuable information.

Many statements in this work will conflict with those advanced by other historians, particularly, Sir Walter Scott. The "author of Waverly" was unfitted for the task, for he had been to long engaged in converting history into fiction, to succeed in recording contemporaneous events in the simple language of history. He had indulged too long in the realms of imagination to confine himself strictly to the rigid boundaries of truth; nor is it, therefore, surprising that discrepancies and mis-statements, omissions and mistakes, are to be found profusely scattered through his pages. The correction of these errors - to use the words of Maj. Lee - will counteract, in imposing form, and by a single operation, a diversified mass of historical falsehood, and establish in the reader's mind, various and important truths. It was observed by Lord Bacon, that "the enquiry of truth, which is the wooing of it; the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it; is the sovereign good of human nature."
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