Napoleon: For and Against

By Pieter Geyl; Olive Renier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
PRINCE NAPOLEON

POLITICAL CONCEPTIONS

PRINCE NAPOLEON, son of Jérôme, the king for a day of the shadowy Kingdom of Westphalia, was 65 years old when he took up his pen to refute Taine. He was an excitable and crotchety, but by no means insignificant, figure. Robust, dark, with acquiline nose and flashing eyes, he seemed when the Second Empire crumbled the epitome of vital will power as compared with the ailing, disheartened and vacillating Napoleon III.1 He had played a political role under his cousin, if only that of an impotent grumbler. Against Eugénie's aggressive conservatism and clericalism he had been the spokesman at court of a popular, anti-clerical tendency, the opponent of the attempt to preserve the favour of French Catholics by bolstering up the temporal power of the Pope in his last bastion, and thus raise a barrier against Italian unity. He was a representative of the Napoleonic legend in its most radical version.2

The historic figure of Napoleon which he defended with such asperity against its traducers, had for him a profound significance, not only, as he was wholly convinced, for his own personal life, but for that fatherland which had banished him after his family's second downfall. 'To defend Napoleon's memory is still to serve France', he declares. As to the principles which Napoleon bequeathed to posterity, he believes that only these can solve the problem of the coexistence of democracy with a strong authority. 'Executive authority springing from a direct, particular and separate mandate, legislative power confined within the sphere of deliberation and control. Our parliamentary regime, which is becoming impracticable if only as a result of the multiple divisions

____________________
1
cf. P. DE LA GORCE, Histoire du Second Empire, VII, 164; G. HANOTAUX, Histoire de la France contemporaine, IV, 472; the same work, I, 488: 'Le prince était un homme de haute valeur intellectuelle, ambitieux, intempérant, plus embarrassant peut-être pour les siens que pour ses adversaires.'
2
"'N'oubliant pas'" (writes Hanotaux) les origines révolutionnaires, il avait recueilli, dans l'héritage des Bonaparte, la thèse républicaine, populaire et plébiscitaire.'

-156-

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Napoleon: For and Against
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface - To the First Dutch Edition 7
  • Part One - The Antithesis at the Beginning 13
  • Chapter I - Chateaubriand 17
  • Chapter II - Madame de StaËl 19
  • Chapter III - The Napoleonic Legend 23
  • Part Two - The First Chroniclers 33
  • Chapter I - M. Mignet 35
  • Chapter II - Baron Bignon 37
  • Chapter III - Armand Lefebvre 45
  • Chapter IV - Adolphe Thiers 53
  • Part Three - Reaction against the Legend 69
  • Chapter I - Jules Barni 73
  • Chapter II - Edgar Quinet 77
  • Chapter III - Pierre Lanfrey 86
  • Chapter IV - Comte D'Haussonville 106
  • Chapter V - Hippolyte Taine 133
  • Part Four - Admirers 149
  • Chapter I - Prince Napoleon 156
  • Chapter II - Henry Houssaye 160
  • Chapter III - Arthur - LÉVy Polemic against Taine 169
  • Chapter IV - FrÉDÉric Masson 177
  • Chapter V - Count Albert Vandal 230
  • Part Five - The Problem of Foreign Policy 233
  • Chapter I - Old Acquaintances 235
  • Chapter II - Emile Bourgeois 241
  • Chapter III - Two More Old Acquaintances 250
  • Chapter IV - Albert Sorel 254
  • Chapter V - Edouard Driault 308
  • Part Six - The Antithesis at the End 349
  • Chapter 1 356
  • Chapter II - A. L. GuÉrard 362
  • Chapter Ill - G. Pariset 364
  • Chapter IV - Jules Isaac 371
  • Chapter V - Charles Seignobos 373
  • Chapter VI - Jacques Bainville 376
  • Chapter VII - Louis Madelin 390
  • Chapter VIII - Gabriel Hanotaux 403
  • Chapter IX - Georges Lefebvre 446
  • Chronological Table 451
  • Index 465
  • Index of Authors 475
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