EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoleon the Great, 17th of Ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th March 1800)
This day is the anniversary of Marengo and Friedland, which twice decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after Austerlitz and Wagram, we were too generous. We believed in the protestations and oaths of princes to whom we left their thrones. Now, however, leagued together, they strike at the independence and sacred rights of France. They have committed unjust aggressions. Let us march forward and meet them; are we not still the same men?
Soldiers ! At Jena, these Prussians, now so arrogant, were three to one against us; at Montmirail six to one. Let those who have been captive to the English describe the nature of their prison ships, and the suffering they endured. The Saxons, the Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers of the Confederation of the Rhine, lament that they are obliged to use their arms in the cause of princes who are the enemies of justice, and the destroyers of the rights of nations. They well know this coalition to be insatiable. After having swallowed up twelve million Poles, twelve million Italians, one million Saxons, and six million Belgians, it now wishes to devour the States of the second order among the Germans.
Madmen! one moment of prosperity has bewildered them. To oppress and humble the French people is out of their power; once entering our territory, there they will find their doom.
Soldiers, we have forced marches before us, battles to fight, and dangers to encounter; but firm in resolution, victory must be ours. The honour and happiness of our country are at stake, and, for every Frenchmen who has spirit, the moment has arrived to conquer or die!