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FrRevol_401-450.indd 25 3/16/12 1:10 PM ++++++ PART IV ++++++ CHAPTER I News from Egypt: Return ofBonaparte. Nothing was more likely to produce a striking effect on the mind than the Egyptian war; and though the great naval victory gained by Nelson near Aboukir1 had destroyed all its possible advantages, letters dated from Cairo, orders issuing from Alexandria to penetrate to Thebes, on the confines of Ethiopia, increased the reputation of a man who was not now within sight, but who at a distance seemed an extraordinary phenomenon. He put at the head of his proclamations Bonaparte, Commander-in-chief and Member ofthe National Institute; whence it was concluded that he was a friend to knowledge and a protector ofletters; but the guarantee which he gave for these qualities was not any firmer than his profession of the Mahomedan faith/ followed by his concordat with the Pope.3 He was already beginning to deceive Europe by a system of juggling tricks, convinced , as he was, that for everyone the science oflife consists merely in the maneuvers ofegoism. Bonaparte is not a man only but also a system; and ifhe were right, the human species would no longer be what God has made it. He ought therefore to be examined like a great problem, the solution of which is of importance to meditation throughout all ages. Bonaparte, in reducing everything to calculation, was sufficiently acquainted with that part of the nature ofman which does not obey the will 1. On August 1, 1798. 2. There is no evidence that Napoleon intended to convert to Islam. For more information on this topic, see Spillman, Napolion et !'Islam. 3· The Concordat was signed on July r6, r8o1. FrRevol_401-450.indd 26 3/16/12 1:10 PM PART IV to feel the necessity of acting upon the imagination; and his twofold dexterity consisted in the art of dazzling multitudes and of corrupting individuals. His conversation with the Mufti in the pyramid of the Cheops could not fail to enchant the Parisians, for it united the two qualities by which they are most easily captivated: a certain kind ofgrandeur and ofmockery together. The French like to be moved and to laugh at being moved: quackery is their delight, and they aid willingly in deceiving themselves, provided they be allowed, while they act as dupes, to show by some witticisms that they are not so. Bonaparte, in the pyramid, made use of the Oriental style. "Glory to Allah," said he, "there is no true God but God, and Mahomet is hisprophet. The bread stolen by the wicked turns into dust in his mouth." "Thou hast spoken," said the Mufti, "like the most learned ofthe Mullahs."-"I can cause a chariot offire to descendfrom Heaven," continued Bonaparte, "and direct it upon the earth."-" Thou art the mightiest Captain," replied the Mufti, "whose hand the power ofMahomet hath armed."4 Mahomet, however , did not prevent Sir Sidney Smith from arresting by his brilliant valor the successes of Bonaparte at St. Jean-d'Acre.5 When Napoleon, in r8o5, was named King of Italy, he said to General Berthier in one of those moments when he talked of everything that he might try his ideas upon other people: "This Sidney Smith made fortune fail me at St. Jean-d'Acre; my purpose was to set out from Egypt, proceed to Constantinople, and arrive at Paris by marching back through Europe." This failure, however, made at the time a very decent appearance. Whatever his regrets might be, gigantic like the enterprises which followed them, Bonaparte found means to make his reverses in Egypt pass for successes ; and although his expedition had no other result than the ruin of the fleet and the destruction ofone of our finest armies, he was called the Conqueror of the East. Bonaparte, availing himselfwith ability ofthe enthusiasm ofthe French for military glory, associated their self-love with his victories as well as 4· This imaginary dialogue was published in various French journals of that period. )·In May-June 1799. FrRevol_401-450.indd 27 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER I. Return ofBonaparte with his defeats. He gradually took possession ofthe place which the Revolution occupied in every head, and attached to his own name thatnational feeling which had aggrandized France in the eyes of foreigners. Two of his brothers, Lucien and Joseph,6 had seats in the Council of Five Hundred, and both in their different lines had enough ofintellect and...


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