Page One Youth

Napoleon In Paris

Out Of Work

The First Italian Campaign

The Egyptian Campaign

Statesman And Lawgiver

The Concordat

Code Napoleon

General Prosperity

Preparations For War With England

Sale Of Louisiana

Establishment Of The Empire

King of Italy

Campaign Of 1805-1806-1807

The Peace Of Tilsit

Napoleon's Empire

Family Affairs

The Berlin Decree

War In The Peninsula

Bonapartes On The Spanish Throne

Disaster In Spain

Alexander And Napoleon In Council

Napoleon At Madrid

Talleyrand's Treachery

The Campaign Of 1809


The Divorce

A New Wife

An Heir To The Crown

The Pope


Evasions Of Blockade

Tilsit Agreement Broken

The Russian Campaign

The Burning Of Moscow

A New Army

Campaign Of 1813

Campaign Of 1814


Ruler Of Island Of Elba

Return To Paris

Hundred Days

Second Abdication

Napoleon's Surrender

Sent To St. Helena

Life In Exile

Death Of Napoleon

Second Funeral Of Napoleon

Related Information

Wellington and Nelson

Napoleon and the French Revolution



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Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida







Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida


Chapter III.


Robespierre - Out Of Work - General-In-Chief Of The Army Of The Interior


     The favors granted Napoleon for his services at Toulon were extended

to his family.  Madame Bonaparte was helped by the municipality of

Marseilles.  Joseph was made commissioner of war.  Lucien was joined to

the Army of Italy, and in the town where he was stationed became famous as

a popular orator - "little Robespierre," they called him.  He began, too,

here to make love to his landlord's daughter, Christine Boyer, afterwards

his wife.


     The outlook for the refugees seemed very good, and it was made still

brighter by the very particular friendship of the younger Robespierre for

Napoleon.  This friendship was soon increased by the part Napoleon played

in a campaign of a month with the Army of Italy, when, largely by his

genius, the seaboard from Nice to Genoa was put into French power.  If

this victory was much for the army and for Robespierre, it was more for

Napoleon.  He looked from the Tende, and saw for the first time that in

Italy there was "a land for a conqueror." Robespierre wrote to his

brother, the real head of the government at the moment, that Napoleon

possessed "transcendent merit." He engaged him to draw up a plan for a

campaign against Piedmont, and sent him on a secret mission to Genoa.  The

relations between the two young men were, in fact, very close, and,

considering the position of Robespierre the elder, the outlook for

Bonaparte was good.


     That Bonaparte admired the powers of the elder Robespierre, is

unquestionable.  He was sure that if he had "remained in power, he would

have reestablished order and law; the result would have been attained

without any shocks, because it would have come through the quiet exercise

of power." Nevertheless, it is certain that the young general was

unwilling to come into close contact with the Terrorist leader, as his

refusal of an offer to go to Paris to take the command of the garrison of

the city shows.  No doubt his refusal was partly due to his ambition - he

thought the opening better where he was - and partly due, too, to his

dislike of the excesses which the government was practising.  That he

never favored the policy of the Terrorists, all those who knew him

testify, and there are many stories of his efforts at this time to save

emigres and suspects from the violence of the rabid patriots; even to save

the English imprisoned at Toulon.  He always remembered Robespierre the

younger with kindness, and when he was in power gave Charlotte Robespierre

a pension.


     Things had begun to go well for Bonaparte.  His poverty passed.  If

his plan for an Italian campaign succeeded, he might even aspire to the

command of the army.  His brothers received good positions.  Joseph was

betrothed to Julie Clary, and life went gayly at Nice and Marseilles,

where Napoleon had about him many of his friends - Robespierre and his

sister; his own two pretty sisters; Marmont, and Junot, who was deeply in

love with Pauline.  Suddenly all this hope and happiness were shattered.

On the 9th Thermidor Robespierre fell, and all who had favored him were

suspected, Napoleon among the rest.  His secret mission to Genoa gave a

pretext for his arrest, and for thirteen days, in August, 1794, he was a

prisoner, but through his friends was liberated.  Soon after his release,

came an appointment to join an expedition against Corsica.  He set out,

but the undertaking was a failure, and the spring found him again without

a place.


     In April, 1795, Napoleon received orders to join the Army of the

West.  When he reached Paris he found that it was the infantry to which he

was assigned.  Such a change was considered a disgrace in the army.  He

refused to go.  "A great many officers could command a brigade better than

I could," he wrote a friend, "but few could command the artillery so well.

I retire, satisfied that the injustice done to the service will be

sufficiently felt by those who know how to appreciate matters." But though

he might call himself "satisfied," his retirement was a most serious

affair for him.  It was the collapse of what seemed to be a career, the

shutting of the gate he had worked so fiercely to open.


     He must begin again, and he did not see how.  A sort of despair

settled over him.  "He declaimed against fate," says the Duchess

d'Abrantes.  "I was idle and discontented," he says of himself.  He went

to the theatre and sat sullen and inattentive through the gayest of plays.

"He had moments of fierce hilarity," says Bourrienne.


     A pathetic distaste of effort came over him at times; he wanted to

settle.  "If I could have that house," he said one day to Bourrienne,

pointing to an empty house near by, "with my friends and a cabriolet, I

should be the happiest of men." He clung to his friends with a sort of

desperation, and his letters to Joseph are touching in the extreme.


     Love as well as failure caused his melancholy.  All about him,

indeed, turned thoughts to marriage.  Joseph was now married, and his

happiness made him envious.  "What a lucky rascal Joseph is!" he said.

Junot, madly in love with Pauline, was with him.  The two young men

wandered through the alleys of the Jardin des Plantes and discussed

Junot's passion.  In listening to his friend, Napoleon thought of himself.

He had been attracted by Desiree Clary, Joseph's sister-in-law.  Why not

try to win her?  And he began to demand news of her from Joseph.  Desiree

had asked for his portrait, and he wrote: "I shall have it taken for her;

you must give it to her, if she still wants it; if not, keep it yourself."

He was melancholy when he did not have news of her, accused Joseph of

purposely omitting her name from his letters, and Desiree herself of

forgetting him.  At last he consulted Joseph: "If I remain here, it is

just possible that I might feel inclined to commit the folly of marrying.

I should be glad of a line from you on the subject.  You might perhaps

speak to Eugenie's [Desiree's] brother, and let me know what he says, and

then it will be settled." He waited the answer to his overtures "with

impatience"; urged his brother to arrange things so that nothing "may

prevent that which I long for." But Desiree was obdurate.  Later she

married Bernadotte and became Queen of Sweden.


     Yet in these varying moods he was never idle.  As three years before,

he and Bourrienne indulged in financial speculations; he tried to persuade

Joseph to invest his wife's dot in the property of the emigres.  He

prepared memorials on the political disorders of the times and on military

questions, and he pushed his brothers as if he had no personal ambition.

He did not neglect to make friends either.  The most important of those

whom he cultivated was Paul Barras, revolutionist, conventionalist, member

of the Directory, and one of the most influential men in Paris at that

moment.  He had known Napoleon at Toulon, and showed himself disposed to

be friendly.  "I attached myself to Barras," said Napoleon later, "because

I knew no one else.  Robespierre was dead; Barras was playing a role: I

had to attach myself to somebody and something." One of his plans for

himself was to go to Turkey.  For two or three years, in fact, Napoleon

had thought of the Orient as a possible field for his genius, and his

mother had often worried lest he should go.  Just now it happened that the

Sultan of Turkey asked the French for aid in reorganizing his artillery

and perfecting the defences of his forts, and Napoleon asked to be allowed

to undertake the work.  While pushing all his plans with extraordinary

enthusiasm, even writing Joseph almost daily letters about what he would

do for him when he was settled in the Orient, he was called to do a piece

of work which was to be of importance in his future.


     The war committee needed plans for an Italian campaign; the head of

the committee was in great perplexity.  Nobody knew anything about the

condition of things in the South.  By chance, one day, one of Napoleon's

acquaintances heard of the difficulties and recommended the young general.

The memorial he prepared was so excellent that he was invited into the

topographical bureau of the Committee of Public Safety.  His knowledge,

sense, energy, fire, were so remarkable that he made strong friends and

became an important personage.


     Such was the impression he made, that when in October, 1795, the

government was threatened by the revolting sections, Barras, the nominal

head of the defence, asked Napoleon to command the forces which protected

the Tuileries, where the Convention had gone into permanent session.  He

hesitated for a moment.  He had much sympathy for the sections.  His

sagacity conquered.  The Convention stood for the republic; an overthrow

now meant another proscription, more of the Terror, perhaps a royalist

succession, an English invasion.


     "I accept," he said to Barras; "but I warn you that once my sword is

out of the scabbard I shall not replace it till I have established order."


     It was on the night of 12th Vendemiaire that Napoleon was appointed.

With incredible rapidity he massed the men and cannon he could secure at

the openings into the palace and at the points of approach.  He armed even

the members of the Convention as a reserve.  When the sections marched

their men into the streets and upon the bridges leading to the Tuileries,

they were met by a fire which scattered them at once.  That night Paris

was quiet.  The next day Napoleon was made general of division.  On

October 26th he was appointed general-in-chief of the Army of the



     At last the opportunity he had sought so long and so eagerly had

come.  It was a proud position for a young man of twenty-six, and one may

well stop and ask how he had obtained it.  The answer is not difficult for

one who, dismissing the prejudices and superstitions which have long

enveloped his name, studies his story as he would that of an unknown

individual.  He had won his place as any poor and ambitious boy in any

country and in any age must win his - by hard work, by grasping at every

opportunity, by constant self-denial, by courage in every failure, by

springing to his feet after every fall.


     He succeeded because he knew every detail of his business ("There is

nothing I cannot do for myself.  If there is no one to make powder for the

cannon I can do it"); because neither ridicule nor coldness nor even the

black discouragement which made him write once to Joseph, "If this state

of things continues I shall end by not turning out of my path when a

carriage passes," could stop him; because he had profound faith in

himself.  "Do these people imagine that I want their help to rise?  They

will be too glad some day to accept mine.  My sword is at my side, and I

will go far with it." That he had misrepresented conditions more than once

to secure favor, is true; but in doing this he had done simply what he saw

done all about him, what he had learned from his father, what the oblique

morality of the day justified.  That he had shifted opinions and

allegiance, is equally true; but he who in the French Revolution did not

shift opinion was he who regarded "not what is, but what might be."

Certainly in no respect had he been worse than his environment, and in

many respects he had been far above it.  He had struggled for place, not

that he might have ease, but that he might have an opportunity for action;

not that he might amuse himself, but that he might achieve glory.  Nor did

he seek honors merely for himself; it was that he might share them with



     The first use Bonaparte made of his power after he was appointed

general-in-chief of the Army of the Interior, was for his family and

friends.  Fifty or sixty thousand francs, assignats, and dresses go to his

mother and sisters; Joseph is to have a consulship; "a roof, a table, and

carriage" are at his disposal in Paris; Louis is made a lieutenant and his

aide-de-camp; Lucien, commissioner of war; Junot and Marmont are put on

his staff.  He forgets nobody.  The very day after the 13th Vendemiaire,

when his cares and excitements were numerous and intense, he was at the

Permon's, where Monsieur Permon had just died.  "He was like a son, a

brother." This relation he soon tried to change, seeking to marry the

beautiful widow Permon.  When she laughed merrily at the idea, for she was

many years his senior, he replied that the age of his wife was a matter of

indifference to him so long as she did not look over thirty.


     The change in Bonaparte himself was great.  Up to this time he had

gone about Paris "in an awkward and ungainly manner, with a shabby round

hat thrust down over his eyes, and with curls (known at that time as

oreilles des chiens) badly powdered and badly combed, and falling over the

collar of the iron-gray coat which has since become so celebrated; his

hands, long, thin, and black, without gloves, because, he said, they were

an unnecessary expense; wearing ill-made and ill-cleaned boots." The

majority of people saw in him only what Monsieur de Pontecoulant, who took

him into the War Office, had seen at their first interview; "A young man

with a wan and livid complexion, bowed shoulders, and a weak and sickly



     But now, installed in an elegant hotel, driving his own carriage,

careful of his person, received in every salon where he cared to go, the

young general-in-chief is a changed man.  Success has had much to do with

this; love has perhaps had more.

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