Early Life, and First Campaigns, of Napoleon Bonaparte
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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were carefully visited, - the French, English and American newspapers of the epoch were read, and many curious unpublished incidents were gathered from the lips of the survivors.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."