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.
We will return, in another chapter, to the morality of the aim that the Emperor was proposing. Let us now examine the principal improvements that he brought to the other countries. Very different to other governments, which have always treated as conquered lands the provinces they acquired, the Emperor had all the nations of which he was the master participate in the benefits of an enlightened administration; and those which he incorporated into France were instantly entitled to the same rights as the mother-country. When he gave crowns, he imposed always two conditions upon the king he named – the inviolability of the constitution, and the guarantee that the debt public be paid off.
In Italy, he forms a great kingdom which has its own administration, and its Italian army. All administrative and judicial positions are filled by indigenous people. The troops are no longer composed of mercenaries, of the scum of the nation. Every man is called upon to defend his country; the army becomes a citizen army. The sovereign no longer draws, as he pleases, from the public treasury; he has his civil list. Feudalism, tithes, serfdom, monastic orders are destroyed – a constitutional statute establishes three colleges, the possidenti, commercianti, and the dotti. To the two first colleges, which demanded, to be admitted to them, a certain quotient in taxes, a third college dispensed from this obligation, composed, under the name of college of scholars, of two hundred citizens chosen from among the most celebrated men in all the fields of the sciences, liberal or mechanical arts, or the most distinguished, either by their learning in ecclesiastical matters, or by their knowledge in legislation, morality, policy, or administration.
The citizens are organised into the National Guard; the country is divided into départements, and administered by the prefectures and under-prefecture, losing that provincial spirit that kills nationality. New laws on property and on the system of mortgages simplifies the administration and enriches the country. Agriculture, the sciences and the arts are encouraged. The French Code is introduced, with public procedures in criminal cases. Workhouses arise in several towns to destroy begging. Convents are converted to hospices. Justices of the peace are established, and the decimal system for coinage, weights and measures. Public instruction is regulated by a law, which divides its economic aspect into three degrees – national, departemental and municipal; its scientific aspect, likewise, into three degrees – transcendent, middle and elementary; above arises the National Institute. The Italian concordat puts temporal power beyond the reach of ecclesiastical power. The various ties of the peoples of Italy are drawn closer by communications which become easier. The Alps are traversable, and the Apennines, transected by new roads, unite Piedmont and the Mediterranean. Italian glory awakes, and for the first time since Caesar, we see the Italian legions set foot as victors on the soil of Iberia. The most beautiful name of Italy, dead for so many centuries, is returned to provinces until then detached from it; it carries in itself an entire future of independence.
Napoleon destroyed these little republics which, as Montesquieu says, owed their existence only to the perpetuity of their abuses. From the Alps to Otranto, there are now only three great divisions – the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of Naples and the French provinces. Napoleon had united Piedmont to the great Empire, along with Rome and Florence, with the aim of accustoming these peoples to a government that made citizens and soldiers of men. Once the wars were over, he would have returned them to the mother-country; and these provinces, re-stamped by his authority, would have been happy to pass from French dominion to an Italian government; whereas, if this great reorganisation had been more hasty, these peoples, that French action had not at all prepared for a common nationality, would doubtless have longed for their former individual political identities.
(4) On receiving the Italian deputation which brought him the crown, Napoleon replied in public to Signor Melzi – “I have always had the intention of creating the Italian nation free and independent. I accept the crown, I will keep it, but only for the time that my interests demand it”. (Cf. Botta, book XXII., page 5).