BEFORE Sorel had given his ideas on Napoleon their full form, however, a very different note was sounded in the Manuel de politique étrangÈre by Emile Bourgeois,1 the relevant volume of which (the second) appeared in 1898, and which to this day has found numbers of readers for its many editions. The book is more than its title indicates, it is more than a handbook, being based on original research and presenting its own view of the development and significance of the events described.
Bourgeois will have none of that historical necessity to which Vandal sees Napoleon subjugated, and which for him determines both his tragic greatness and his indissoluble connection with the French people. In Bourgeois's account the young conqueror, from the moment when as a plain general in Italy he took the control of foreign policy out of the hands of the Directory, appears as a personal and an amazingly dynamic factor -- from the French point of view a disturbing factor.
Even before he became First Consul, according to this theory, Bonaparte's tempestuous will, fed by his quite personal and fantastic ambition, forced history off its normal course. The Italian conquests gave him the chance to make a great position for himself. The bartering of Venice, where he had fostered riots that he might strike it down, was to assure temporarily the acquiescence of Austria. By the coup d'état of Fructidor he broke all resist- ance in Paris against his self-willed conduct and his incalculable plans.2 And indeed in the meantime his real purpose had taken on body, the dream of his life had begun to stir, when, by occupying Ancona (in the Papal States), and the Ionian Islands (Venetian territory), he set foot on the Adriatic and saw within his grasp the East, the extensive, ramshackle and half-decomposed Ottoman Empire.3 'In the Orient alone are great empires possible today,'____________________