- Preface.


First hand accounts from
the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon's Victories - from the personal memoirs of Capt. C. Parquin of the Imperial Guard 1803-1814.
Napoleon's
Victories.


From the personal memoirs of
Capt. C. Parquin
of the Imperial Guard.
1803-1814.
Introduction.

As soon as he arrived. Prince Marat dismounted, placed his horse in my charge and saluted the Emperor. Where is he. The champion and the child
Of all that's great or little, wise or wild?
Whose game was empires and whose stakes were thrones,
Whose table Earth ... whose dice were human bones.

... Byron.


Translated from the French.
With numerous illustrations specially designed by
F. De Myrbach, H. Dupray, J. A. Walker,
L. Sergent & Marius Roy.

The Werner Company, Publishers.
Chicago.
1893.

There is scarcely another topic in the whole range of literature, except it may be the history of our own land, which possesses for American readers such an interest and fascination as the extraordinary career of the first Napoleon.

Those eighteen years of his resplendent triumphs, followed by disaster almost as vivid in dramatic intensity, would appear as time rolls on to enter more and more into the realm of poetic legend. Whatever else might diminish the admiration inspired by the great Emperor, is passing gently onward to the shades of oblivion, leaving only with the present a kind of reverential awe for that "man of destiny" who so long and tenaciously held sovereign sway over the fortunes of Europe.

Even amid the sternest realities of life, and where the burning race for wealth seems to be the chief task of existence, human nature still has longings for the unique, the mighty and the marvelous. The imagination requires nourishment as well as the stomach or brain, and its favorite sustenance has ever been found in the chronicles of high achievement or in the records of those dauntless men who have wielded the sword of history on desperate fields of war.

Neither fiction nor romance can claim any such hold as these on the average human mind. And, if such stirring events have been recent, if their narratives be given to us in the very words of those whom death has but lately silenced, no other possible theme can exert such a thrilling influence on the hearts of both young and old.

This will fully explain why the reading public, in all civilized lands, has given such cordial welcome to the publication of authentic memoirs covering the period of the French Revolution and the First Empire. These narratives not only teem with the most precious historical matter, but they also shed light on the true genius of the men who gave France her prolonged dominion on the European continent - an era which has insured to its nations the survival of the better principles of the French Revolution.

As distinctly personal memoirs they also display the merit, so rare in our time of being entirely free from the artifices of rhetoric, and of presenting to us the genuine, sincere impressions of eye-witnesses and actors in the great drama - features that have aroused the enthusiasm of every reader in France, and will be heartily appreciated wherever her fame and name are held dear.

The loving veneration that still enshrines the image of the "Little Corporal," remote and shadowy though it be, has always included those unconquerable French armies that made feasible and realized, during half a lifetime, the stupendous enterprises of the man from Corsica. Nowadays it is clearly seen that the soldiers who looked up to Bonaparte, First Consul, and to Napoleon, Imperator, as to a being somewhat akin to the deities of the ancients, were themselves of such heroic mold that their beloved leader, having them in his wake, could well have dared to impose his haughty will on the leagued sovereigns of Europe.

Whence did these Frenchmen of the early Nineteenth Century gather their sublime energy? Were they taller or stronger than us, their descendants? Were their frames more vigorous or their hearts any braver? Certain it is that the career they embraced with alacrity at such a tender age - multitudes only in their fourteenth, fifteenth or sixteenth year - must have steeled their natures so that the comforts of civilized life held no allurement for them. In the rough school of war they must also have gained an agility surpassing that of the gymnasium, while the fresh air and sunshine stimulated their fighting instinct with all that this implies - keenness of perception, promptness of decision and rapidity of execution.

But that which really made them invincible was rather a condition of their mental being. Reared amid the storms of the Revolution they had seen death too often and too closely to fear it at any moment, or in any form it might take. They had chosen the military life from taste and preference rather than from an impulse of obedience. They had gravitated into the army as iron glides to the magnet, not from any yearnings for honor or reward, but that simply to be a soldier, to wear a hussar's or chasseur's uniform, to go forth to the wars, to imperil their lives, to do anything and everything in the nature of wild adventure, all had for them an irresistilile attraction. They had no care for the morrow, no plans for the future, no schemes for accomplishment.

In some corner of France they had doubtless beloved relatives - a father, mother, young sisters. But they rarely corresponded and always felt more at home with their regiments than elsewhere. There friendships were formed, more especially by the men who continued long in the ranks, as chivalrous and devoted as ever were those of the mediæval paladins - friendships in which all things were shared in common, provisions and pleasures as well as sabre-strokes and gun-shots; in which baseness was utterly unknown, and which, like highly-tempered swords, endured right along to the rust of inefficacy unless death stepped in on a bullet to shatter the

Note:
Some text is missing here but
the Preface continues a little later on.





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