Napoleon I of France
Napoleon I of France
Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a Corsican-born military officer who rose to prominence in the French Revolution, becoming the ruler of France as First Consul of the French Republic (11 November 1799 - 18 May 1804), and then Emperor of the French and King of Italy under the name Napoleon I (18 May 1804 - 6 April 1814, and again briefly from 20 March - 22 June 1815).
- Send me 300 francs; that sum will enable me to go to Paris. There, at least, one can cut a figure and surmount obstacles. Everything tells me I shall succeed. Will you prevent me from doing so for the want of 100 crowns?
- I am the instrument of providence, she will use me as long as I accomplish her designs, then she will break me like a glass.'
- Said after he crowned Josephine Empress of the French
- My waking thoughts are all of thee. Your portrait and the remembrance of last night's delirium have robbed my senses of repose. Sweet and incomparable Josephine, what an extraordinary influence you have over my heart. Are you vexed? do I see you sad? are you ill at ease? My soul is broken with grief, and there is no rest for your lover.
- Letter to Joséphine de Beauharnais (February 1796), as translated in Napoleon's Letters to Josephine 1796-1812 (1901) edited by Henry Foljambe Hall
- From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.
- Speech to his troops in Egypt (21 July 1798) Variant translation: "Soldiers, from the summit of yonder pyramids forty centuries look down upon you...". Published in the autobiography of French general Eugène de Beauharnais.
- "I was full of dreams," He said of his time spent in Egypt" I saw myself founding a new Religion, Marching into Asia, Riding an Elephant, a Turban on my head and in my hand, the new Qu'ran."
- "What I have done up to now is nothing, I am only at the begining of the course I must run, I can no longer obey, I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up."
- I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of the Quran which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.
- Letter to Sheikh El-Messiri, (28 August 1798); published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), t.4, N° 3148, p. 420
- A form of government that is not the result of a long sequence of shared experiences, efforts, and endeavors can never take root.
- Statement (1803) as quoted in The Mind of Napoleon (1955) by J. Christopher Herold
- From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.
- Writing about the retreat from Moscow, in a letter to Abbé du Pradt. (1812)[specific citation needed]
- Variant translations:
There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
- 'Impossible' n'est pas français.
- 'Impossible' is not [in the] French [language].
- Letter to General Lemarois (9 July 1813)[specific citation needed] Variant translation: You write to me that it is impossible; the word is not French.
- Variant attribution : Impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.
- What is a throne? — a bit of wood gilded and covered in velvet. I am the state— I alone am here the representative of the people. Even if I had done wrong you should not have reproached me in public—people wash their dirty linen at home. France has more need of me than I of France.
- France is invaded; I am leaving to take command of my troops, and, with God's help and their valor, I hope soon to drive the enemy beyond the frontier.
- Statement at Paris (23 January 1814)[specific citation needed]
- The bullet that will kill me is not yet cast.
- Statement at Montereau (17 February 1814)[specific citation needed]
- The Allied Powers having proclaimed that the Emperor Napoleon is the sole obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, he, faithful to his oath, declares that he is ready to descend from the throne, to quit France, and even to relinquish life, for the good of his country.
- Act of Abdication (4 April 1814)
- Unite for the public safety, if you would remain an independent nation.
- Proclamation to the French People (22 June 1815)
- Wherever wood can swim, there I am sure to find this flag of England.
- Statement at Rochefort (July 1815)[specific citation needed]
- Whatever shall we do in that remote spot? Well, we will write our memoirs. Work is the scythe of time.
- On board H.M.S. Bellerophon (August 1815)[specific citation needed]
- I generally had to give in.
- Statement on his relations with the Empress Josephine (19 May 1816)[specific citation needed]
- I may have had many projects, but I never was free to carry out any of them. It did me little good to be holding the helm; no matter how strong my hands, the sudden and numerous waves were stronger still, and I was wise enough to yield to them rather than resist them obstinately and make the ship founder. Thus I never was truly my own master but was always ruled by circumstances.
- Conversation with comte de Las Cases (11 November 1816)[specific citation needed]
- Women are nothing but machines for producing children.
- The St. Helena Journal of General Baron Gourgaud (9 January 1817); as quoted in The St. Helena Journal of General Baron Gourgaud, 1815-1818 : Being a Diary written at St. Helena during a part of Napoleon's Captivity (1932) as translated by Norman Edwards, a translation of Journal de Sainte-Hélène 1815-1818 by General Gaspard Gourgaud
- My maxim was, la carrière est ouverte aux talents, without distinction of birth or fortune.
- Statement while on St. Helena (3 March 1817)[specific citation needed]
- Religions are all founded on miracles — on things we cannot understand, such as the Trinity. Jesus calls himself the Son of God, and yet is descended from David. I prefer the religion of Mahomet — it is less ridiculous than ours.
- Letter from St. Helena (28 August 1817); as quoted in The St. Helena Journal of General Baron Gourgaud, 1815-1818 : Being a Diary written at St. Helena during a part of Napoleon's Captivity (1932) as translated by Norman Edwards, a translation of Journal de Sainte-Hélène 1815-1818 by General Gaspard Gourgaud, t.2, p.226
- Muhammad was a great man, fearless soldier; with a handful of men he triumphed at the battle of Badr, great captain, eloquent, a great man of state, it regenerated his homeland, and created in the middle of the deserts of Arabia a new people and a new power.
- Statement of 1817 quoted in Précis des guerres de César, écrit à Sainte-Hélène sous la dictée de l'empereur (1836) edited by Comte Marchand, p. 237
- Our hour is marked, and no one can claim a moment of life beyond what fate has predestined.
- To Dr. Arnott (April 1821)[specific citation needed]
- Morality has nothing to do with such a man as I am.
- As quoted in The Story of World Progress (1922) by Willis Mason West, p. 433
- Waterloo will wipe out the memory of my forty victories; but that which nothing can wipe out is my Civil Code. That will live forever.
- As quoted in The Story of World Progress (1922) by Willis Mason West, p. 437
- The hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.
- As quoted in The Money Masters (1995)
- Among so many conflicting ideas and so many different perspectives, the honest man is confused and distressed and the skeptic becomes wicked ... Since one must take sides, one might as well choose the side that is victorious, the side which devastates, loots, and burns. Considering the alternative, it is better to eat than to be eaten.
- Letter to his brother, as quoted in The Age of Napoleon (2002) by J. Christopher Herold, p. 8
- Ordinary men died, men of iron were taken prisoner: I only brought back with me men of bronze.
- quoted from David Johnson's Napolean's Cavalary and its Leaders in C.J. Sumemerville's version of General de Segur's History of the Expedition to Russia.
 Memoirs of Napoleon (1829-1831)
- Memoirs of Napoleon was published in 10 volumes (1829-1831) by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne who from 1797 to 1802 had been a private secretary to Napoleon.
- Immortality is the best recollection one leaves.
- Kiss the feet of Popes provided their hands are tied
- Malice delights to blacken the characters of prominent men.
- More glorious to merit a sceptre than to possess one.
- Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others.
- What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history ? A fable agreed upon.
- Ascribed to Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle in Mélanges de Littérature (1804)
 Maxims of Napoleon
- The Maxims of Napoleon were collected and published by A. G. de Liancourt.
- A constitution should be framed so as not to impede the action of government, nor force the government to its violation.
- A Government protected by foreigners will never be accepted by a free people.
- A great people may be killed, but they cannot be intimidated.
- A great reserve and severity of manners are necessary for the command of those who are older than ourselves.
- A king is sometimes obliged to commit crimes; but they are the crimes of his position.
- A King should sacrifice the best affections of his heart for the good of his country; no sacrifice should be above his determination.
- Greatness is nothing unless it be lasting.
- Many a one commits a reprehensible action, who is at bottom an honourable man, because man seldom acts upon natural impulse, but from some secret passion of the moment which lies hidden and concealed within the narrowest folds of his heart.
- The life of a citizen is the property of his country.
- When you have an enemy in your power, deprive him of the means of ever injuring you.
- You cannot treat with all the world at once.