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"Napoleon's Letters to Josephine." Topic

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135 hits since 10 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 3:51 p.m. PST

"I have no apology to offer for the subject of this book, in view of Lord Rosebery's testimony that, until recently, we knew nothing about Napoleon, and even now "prefer to drink at any other source than the original."

"Study of Napoleon's utterances, apart from any attempt to discover the secret of his prodigious exploits, cannot be considered as lost time." It is then absolutely necessary that we should, in the words of an eminent but unsympathetic divine, know something of the "domestic side of the monster," first hand from his own correspondence, confirmed or corrected by contemporaries. There is no master mind that we can less afford to be ignorant of. To know more of the doings of Pericles and Aspasia, of the two Cęsars and the Serpent of old Nile, of Mary Stuart and Rizzio, of the Green Faction and the Blue, of Orsini and Colonna, than of the Bonapartes and Beauharnais, is worthy of a student of folklore rather than of history.

Napoleon was not only a King of Kings, he was a King of Words and of Facts, which "are the sons of heaven, while words are the daughters of earth," and whose progeny, the Genii of the Code, still dominates Christendom.[1] In the hurly-burly of the French War, on the chilling morrow of its balance-sheet, in the Janus alliance of the Second Empire, we could not get rid of the nightmare of the Great Shadow. Most modern works on the Napoleonic period (Lord Rosebery's "Last Phase" being a brilliant exception) seem to be (1) too long, (2) too little confined to contemporary sources. The first fault, especially if merely discursive enthusiasm, is excusable, the latter pernicious, VI for, as Dr. Johnson says of Robertson, "You are sure he does not know the people whom he paints, so you cannot suppose a likeness. Characters should never be given by a historian unless he knew the people whom he describes, or copies from those who knew him."…"
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