Napoleon: For and Against

By Pieter Geyl; Olive Renier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
A. L. GUÉRARD

AT first sight one might ignore this author as not being typical. Guérard was a Frenchman, but he was half anglicized, wrote in English, and was professor at an American university. But the chapter ' Napoleon' in his French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century,1 is in its conciseness an excellent summary of what I may call the opposition point of view. It is sober in the good sense of the word, that is to say, not clouded by romanticism, or propaganda and advertisement, but penetrated with respect for humanistic and cultural values.

All the motifs already known to us -- the love of war, the pride and exclusive faith in force, the spiritual compulsion through Concordat, Université and press censorship, the undermining of independence by an excess of bureaucratic centralization, the reactionary tendencies in legislation and social reconstruction, the vulgar display and undignified snobbery in the improvised court, find their place in this sketch. And yet the picture is not, as are those of Lanfrey and of Taine, devoid of light. Guérard acknowledges that there is something beautiful in the first idea of the Consulate and in the constructive work then undertaken, though he sees at the same time the dangers threatening the whole venture. ' Bonaparte's ambition knew no internal check: he had no scruples, a limited culture, and boundless contempt for "ideology" and for "imponderable" forces.'

Nevertheless he ends with the remark that the character of the imperial period, as seen from the point of view of the historian of culture, is more complex than is generally assumed. Through the oppressive imitation classicism there appear signs of a liberating aspiration after a new and higher existence. In this young romanticism the new Caesar is also a factor 'in spite of his Italian ancestry, his classical features, his Roman aspirations and the practical character of much of his work'. 'The contrasts and dangers of his adventurous career; his constant hankerings after

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1
A. L. GuÉRARD, "'Agrégé de l'Université'". The book discussed was published in England in 1914.

-362-

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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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