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 period of the Empire was a war to the death of England against France. England triumphed; but, thanks to the creative genius of Napoleon, France, although vanquished, lost less materially than England. The finances of France are still the most prosperous of Europe; England bends under the weight of her debt. The impulsion given to industry and commerce has not at all stopped, despite our reverses; today the European continent provides by itself the better part of the products that England once furnished to it.
So, now, we ask, who are the greater statesmen? Those who have governed countries and have won in spite of their defeat, or those who have governed lands and lost in spite of their victory?
The period of the Empire was a war to the death against the old European system. The old system triumphed; but, despite the fall of Napoleon, the Napoleonic ideas have germinated everywhere. The victors themselves have taken on the ideas of the vanquished, and the peoples busy themselves in their efforts to rebuild what Napoleon established in their lands.
In France, ceaselessly, under other names or other forms, the realisation of the Emperor’s ideas is demanded. If a great measure, or a great labour is carried out, it is generally a project of Napoleon’s that is put into effect, or that is being completed. Every act of government, every proposition of the chambers always places itself under Napoleon’s aegis to make itself popular; and upon a word fallen from his mouth, a whole system is built.
Spain sheds in great waves the blood of her children to re-establish the institutions that the consultation of Bayonne in 1808 guaranteed her. The troubles that agitate her are only the reaction which acts of its own impulse, against their resistance to the Emperor.
In London too, the reaction has taken place, and the major general of the French army at Waterloo was celebrated by the English people, on a par with the victor.
Belgium, in 1830, demonstrated, most highly, her wish to become once more what she was under the Empire.
Several countries of Germany demand the laws that Napoleon gave to them.
The Swiss cantons, of a common accord, prefer to the pact between them, the Act of Mediation of 1803.
Lastly, we have seen, even in a democratic republic, in Berne, the districts that once belonged to France demand, in 1838, from the Bernese government, the imperial laws of which their incorporation into this Republic had deprived them in 1815.
Let us ask therefore also, who are the greater statesmen? Those who found a system that collapses in spite of their unlimited might, or those who found a system that survives their defeat, and is born again from its ashes?
The Napoleonic ideas have thus the character of ideas which regulate the movement of societies, as they advance due to their own strength, although deprived of their author, like a body, which, thrown into space, arrives by its own weight at the point at which it was aimed.
There is no need now to rebuild the Emperor’s system; it will rebuild itself; sovereigns and peoples, all will help to re-establish it, because each will see a guarantee of order, of peace and of prosperity.
Where else, moreover, might we find, today, this extraordinary man who stamped himself upon the world by the respect due to the superiority of his conceptions?
The genius of our epoch needs only reason itself. Thirty years ago it was necessary to guess and prepare; now it is question only of seeing rightly and receiving.
“In contemporary facts, as in historical facts”, Napoleon said, “we can find lessons, rarely models”. We could not copy what has been done, because imitations do not always produce resemblances.
In effect, to copy the details, instead of the spirit, of a past government, would be to act like a general, who, finding himself on the same battlefield where Napoleon or Frederick was victorious, attempts to ensure success in repeating the same maneuvers.
On reading the history of peoples, like the history of battles, we must draw out general principles, without binding ourselves to slavishly following, step by step, a track that is not printed upon sand, but on a higher terrain, the interests of humanity.
Let us repeat in conclusion, the Napoleonic Idea is not a warlike ideal, but a social, industrious, commercial and humanitarian idea. If for some men she appears still surrounded by the thunder of combat, it is because in effect she was too long enveloped by the smoke of cannons and the dust of battles. But today the clouds have blown away, and we can see, through the glory of arms, a civil glory, greater still and more lasting.
Let the spirit of the Emperor repose therefore in peace! His memory grows every day. Each wave that comes to break upon the rock of Saint Helena brings, with a breath from Europe, a homage to his memory, regret to his ashes, and the echo of Longwood repeats over his coffin – “THE FREE PEOPLES LABOUR EVERYWHERE TO REBUILD YOUR WORK!”
GLORIEUX RÈGNE DE 19 ANS * COMME IL GOUVERNE DEPUIS 15 ANS
GLORIOUS REIGN OF 19 YEARS * HOW HE HAS GOVERNED FOR 15 YEARS