TOUT POUR ET PAR LE PEUPLE – EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« Pour l’Honneur de la France, pour les intérêts sacrés de l’Humanité – For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoléon le Grand, le 17 ventôse an VIII – Samedi 8 mars 1800 – Napoleon the Great, 17th of Ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th March 1800)
ON NAPOLEONIC IDEAS
NAPOLEON III, EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH
Translated from the French
by Paul-Napoléon Calland, President of the Bonapartist Movement, and published in French and English in honour of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Napoleon the Great, on the Fifteenth of August, 2019.
Traduit du français par Paul-Napoléon Calland, Président du Mouvement Bonapartiste, et publié en français et en anglais en l’honneur du 250e anniversaire de Napoléon le Grand, le 15 août 2019.
THE EMPEROR’S VARIOUS PROJECTS
Let us rapidly cover this great drama, that began at Arcola and ended at Waterloo; and we shall see that Napoleon appears as one of these extraordinary beings that Providence creates to be the majestic instruments of its impenetrable plans, and whose mission is so drawn up in advance, that an invincible force seems to make them come to pass.
After achieving the conquest of Italy and carried the torch of civilisation to the foot of the Pyramids, the place which was its cradle, he returns to Europe, and, by the battle of Marengo, obtains the peace of which France has so great a need. But this peace is short lived; England wants war. It seems that the two most civilised peoples are forced by Providence to enlighten the world, the one by mounting the nations against France, and the other by conquering them to regenerate them. For an instant, these two colossi gaze at each other, face to face; there is but a narrow strait to cross; they are about to fight hand to hand. But such is not Destiny’s verdict. The civilising genius of the century must march eastward. Peoples of Illyria, of Carinthia, peoples of the Danube and the Spree, of the Elbe and of the Vistula, you will see, you will follow his laws; victorious, you will adore him; you will later hate him, and, when he is gone, lament and bless him!
Each coalition which forms augments the preponderance of France, for the god of battles is with us, and the might of Napoleon grows because of the hatred of his enemies. Our allies profit from our conquests. In 1805, France has for allies, Prussia, the smaller States of Germany, Italy and Spain; Ulm and Austerlitz give Hanover to Prussia, Venice to Italy, the Tyrol to Bavaria. Prussia leaves the French alliance; Napoleon is obliged to tame her at Jena (2). The Kingdom of Westphalia is born from the dismemberment of Prussia, and the victories of Eylau and Friedland. A peaceful future can be glimpsed at Tilsit. The two most powerful monarchs of the world, representing 80 million men and the civilisation of the Occident and the Orient, meet on a river that separates very great interests.
The meeting of Alexander and Napoleon on the Niemen was, at the time, for Europe, like the union of two voltaic poles, which, by the difference in their natures, produce electric light when they meet. How, in effect, could onlookers not believe in a future bright with prosperity, when these two great monarchs are in agreement for the repose of the world? Napoleon, in 1808, is in Erfurt, in the midst of a congress of mastered or rallied kings; but England, for her part, is neither mastered nor rallied [to the alliance]; she has fleets which cover all the coasts, and gold which weighs upon the scales of treaties. 1809 sees another coalition, which ends with Eckmühl and Wagram. The French Eagle soars over Breme, Lubeck and Hamburg. Bavaria obtains Salzbourg and its land. Illyria too is part of the Great Empire.
The intentions of the Emperor have been enlarged in proportion to the terrain of his exploits; the events have placed him in the position in which he can plan the regeneration of Europe. The greatest difficulty for Napoleon was not to vanquish, but to manage his conquests. As sovereign of France, of duty, he must make use of them in a French interest; as a great man, in a European interest. That is to say that his conquests must be employed in satisfying the momentary interests of war, while providing him with the means to found a system of general peace.
The provinces which he incorporates into France are thus no more than means to be exchanged, which he holds in reserve pending definitive pacification (3). But as these incorporations lead to the supposition that he wills the establishment of a universal monarchy, he founds kingdoms which have the outward forms of independence, and raises his brothers upon thrones, so that they be, in the various countries, the pillars of a new edifice, and reconcile with the opportunities of a passing establishment the outward forms of stability. They alone, in effect, could, in spite of being kings, be in submission to his will, and accept, according to the needs of his policy, to leave a throne to become once again French princes; they joined the outward independence of royalty with the dependency of family. Thus it was that we have seen the Emperor change, according to events, the governments of Holland, Naples, Lombardy, Spain, and the Grand-Duchy of Berg.
It was a fatality for Napoleon to be obliged to create so many new kingdoms; it is thus in error that some have said that he should, in his own interests, have dethroned the sovereigns of Prussia and Austria, when he occupied their capitals. The Emperor would have only, in doing so, increased his troubles, and created new enemies for himself; for these sovereigns were loved by their peoples; and moreover, who could he put in their place? The governments imposed by us are no more loved, beyond the Rhine, than we love those that foreigners impose upon us. Let it be remembered, that in 1808 Napoleon believed it necessary to change the dynasty of a great nation. This dynasty was so degenerate that it applauded its own downfall! The country whose lot it placed in the Emperor’s hands was the one whose regeneration most needed French influence. And yet all Spain arose to demand the monarch that the foreigner was taking from her!
The Emperor reconciled, as much as it was possible, the momentary interests; the passing demands, with his great aim of reorganising Europe, upon the interests of all. But fate seemed always to force him into new wars; and as if it was not enough for Napoleon to liberate, from the shackles of centuries past, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, he further had to lead his armies under the burning sun of Andalusia, and in the snows of Russia, and that, like those of Caesar, his legions, even dying, leave, as the tracks showing where they had trodden, the seeds of a new civilisation. In 1812, the struggle became ever more terrible once again. In order that universal peace might be established and consolidated, England to the West, and Russia to the East, must be persuaded by reason, or tamed by victory. The great plans of the Emperor are going to come to pass; the West of Europe marches on Moscow. But, alas, one winter changed everything!! Napoleonic Europe can no longer exist. Let us judge, by the grandeur of the defeats, the gigantean result in the event of success! It is no longer a matter, for the great man, to unite and to found, he must defend, and protect, France and her allies. The battlefield is carried from the Berezina to the heights of Montmartre. Peace! Peace! cry cowards who have remained silent until now. But the soul of the Emperor is inaccessible to timorous advice; even if his body were bleeding from all sides, better death, he cries out, than a shameful peace! Better death than to be emperor of a smaller France than the one I received!
A bolt of lightning shines out once more! But soon Waterloo arrives. Here every French voice stops and finds nothing to utter but tears! Tears to weep with the vanquished, tears to weep with the victors, who will regret, sooner or later, having overthrown the one man who had made himself the mediator between two opposing centuries!
(2) It will be asked one day why, in the last six years of his reign, Napoleon showed himself without pity for Prussia; it was because Prussia was to be the power which would do him the most harm, by forcing him to fight her, to destroy her; when he wanted to extend, fortify, and expand her, to ensure, with her aid, the immobilising of Russia and of Austria, to give the Continental System an undisputed development, and by this means, force England to make peace.
(3) “Illyria is an advanced sentinel at the gates of Vienna; I will return her later for Galicia”. (Napoleon). He said to a deputation from Berlin in 1807, “I did not want war, the Rhine is enough for me”.