THE SUPREME REGRETS
HE seems to concentrate the main regrets of his solitude on three capital points: that he could not have died at some supreme moment of his career; that he left Egypt and gave up his Eastern ambitions; and, of course, Waterloo. As to the first, he discusses the right moment with his suite. "For the sake of history, I should have died at Moscow, Dresden, or Waterloo." Again: "I should have died after my entry into Moscow": or "I should have died at La Moskowa." Gourgaud thinks either Moscow or Waterloo, and only leans to the latter date as including the return from Elba. Las Cases protests against Moscow, as omitting so much.
On another occasion Napoleon again leans to Moscow. Had a cannon-ball from the Kremlin killed him, his greatness would have endured, because his institutions and his dynasty would, he declares, have survived in France. As it is, he will be almost nothing to posterity, unless his son should come to mount the throne. "Had I died at Moscow," he says on another occasion, "I should have left behind me a reputation as a conqueror, without a parallel in history. A ball ought to have put an end to me there."
Again: "To die at Borodino would have been to die like Alexander: to be killed at Waterloo would have been a good death: perhaps Dresden would have been better: but no, better at Waterloo. The love of the people, their regret."