EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoleon the Great, 17th ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th March 1800)
Soldiers: We have not been conquered; two men, sprung from our ranks, have betrayed our laurels, their country, their benefactor, and their prince. Those whom we have beheld for twenty-five years traversing all Europe to raise up enemies against us, who have spent their lives in fighting against us in the ranks of foreign armies, and in cursing our beautiful France, shall they pretend to command or enchain our eagles?—they who have never been able to look them in the face. Shall we suffer them to inherit the fruit of our glorious toils, to take possession of our honors, of our fortunes; to calumniate and revile our glory? If their reign were to continue all would be lost, even the recollection of those memorable days. With what fury they misrepresent them! They seek to tarnish what the world admires; and if there still remain defenders of our glory, they are to be found among those very enemies whom we have confronted in the field of battle.
Soldiers: in my exile I have heard your voice; I have come back in spite of all obstacles and all dangers. Your general, called to the throne by the choice of the people, and raised on your shields, is restored to you; come and join him. Put on the tri-colored cockade once more; you wore it in the days of our greatness. We must forget that we have been the masters of nations; but we must not suffer anyone to meddle in our affairs. Who would pretend to be master over us? Who would have the power? Resume those eagles which you had at Ulm, at Austerlitz, at Jena, at Eylau, at Wagram, at Friedland, at Tudela, at Eckmühl, at Essling, at Smolensk, at the Moskowa, at Lutzen, at Wurtchen, at Montmirail. The veterans of the armies of the Sambre and Meuse, of the Rhine, of Italy, of Egypt, of the West, of the Grand Army, are illuminated; their honorable scars are stained; their successes would be crimes; the brave would be rebels, if, as the enemies of the people pretend, the legitimate sovereigns were in the midst of foreign armies. Honors, recompenses, favors, are reserved for those who have served with them against the country and against us.
Soldiers: Come and range yourselves under the banners of your chief; his existence is only made up of yours; his rights are only those of the people and yours; his interest, his honor, his glory, are no other than your interest, your honor, and your glory. Victory shall march at a charging step; the eagle, with the national colors, shall fly from steeple to steeple, till it reaches the towers of Notre Dame., Then you will be able to show your scars with honor; then you will be able to boast of what you have done; you will be the liberators of the country! In your old age, surrounded and looked up to by your fellow citizens, they will listen to you with respect as you recount your high deeds, you will each of you be able to say with pride, ‘And I also was part of that Grand Army which entered twice within the walls of Vienna, within those of Rome, of Berlin, of Madrid, of Moscow, and which delivered Paris from the stain which treason and the presence of the enemy had imprinted on it.
Honor to those brave soldiers, the glory of their country!