Most of the boys who attended Brienne school were the sons of French noblemen. They had plenty of money to spend; they made a show of it, and dressed and did things as finely as they could. Napoleon, you know, was poor. His father had scrimped and begged and borrowed to send his boys to school. He could not, therefore, give them much for themselves; so the French boys, with the money to spend and the manners to show, made no end of fun of the little Corsican, who had neither money nor manners.
At once he got into trouble. He did not like, nor did he understand, the ways of the French boys; he was alone; he was homesick; and naturally he became sulky and uncompanionable. When the boys teased him, he tossed back a wrathful answer; when they made fun of his appearance, he grew angry and sullen; and when they tried to force him into their society, he went off by himself, and acted like a little hermit.
But when they twitted him on his nationality, called him "Straw-nose, the Corsican," and made all manner of fun of that rocky and (as they called it) savage island, then all the patriotism in the boy's nature was aroused, and he called his tormentors French cowards, with whom he would one day get square.
"Bah, Corsican! and what will you do?" asked Peter Bouquet. "I hope some day to give Corsica her liberty," said Napoleon; "and then all Frenchmen shall march into the sea."
Upon which all the boys laughed loudly; and Napoleon, walking off in disgust, went into the school-building, and there vented his wrath upon a portrait of Choiseul, that hung upon the wall.
"Ah, ha! blackguard, pawnbroker, traitor!" he cried, shaking his fist at this portrait of a stout and smiling-looking gentleman. "I loathe you! I despise you! I spit upon you!" And he did.
Now, Monsieur the Count de Choiseul was the French nobleman who was one of the old King Louis's ministers and advisers. It was he who had planned the conquest of Corsica, and annexed it to France. You may not wonder, then, that the little Corsican, homesick for his native island, and hot with rage toward those who made fun of it, when he came upon this portrait of the man to whom, as he had been taught, all Corsica's troubles were due, should have vented his wrath upon it, and heaped insults upon it.
Unfortunately for him, however, the teachers at Brienne did not appreciate his patriotic wrath; so, when one of the tattle-tales reported Napoleon's actions, at once he was pounced upon, and ordered to ask pardon for what he had said and done, standing before the portrait of Corsica's enslaver.
He approached the portrait so reluctantly and contemptuously, that one of the teachers scolded him sharply.
"You are not worthy to be a French officer, foolish boy," the teacher declared; "you are no true son of France, thus to insult so great and noble a Frenchman as Monsieur the Count de Choiseul."
"I am a son of Corsica," Napoleon replied proudly; "that noble country which this man ground in the dust."
"As well he might," replied the teacher tauntingly. "He was Corsica's best friend. He was worth a thousand Paoli's."
"It is not so!" cried Napoleon, hot with patriotic indignation. "You talk like all Frenchmen. Paoli was a great man. He loved his country. I admire him. I wish to be like him. I can never forgive my father for having been willing to desert the cause of Corsica, and agree to its union with France. He should have followed Paoli's lead, even though it took him with Paoli, into exile in England."
"Bah! your father!" one of the big boys standing by exclaimed; "and who is your father, Straw-nose?"
Napoleon turned upon his tormentor; "a better man than you, Frenchman!" he cried; "a better man than this Choiseul here. My father is a Corsican."
"A stubborn rebel, this boy," said the teacher, now losing his temper. "What! you will not ask Monsieur the Count's pardon, as a rebel should? Then will we tame your spirit. Is a little arrogant Corsican to defy all France, and Brienne school besides? Go, sir! We will devise some fine punishment for you, that shall well repay your insolence and disobedience."
So Napoleon, in disgrace, left the schoolroom, and pacing down his favorite walk, the pleasant avenue of chestnut-trees that lined the path from one of the schoolhouse doors, he sought his one retreat and hermitage,—his loved and bravely defended garden.
That garden was a regular Napoleonic idea. I must tell you about it.
IN NAPOLEON'S GARDEN.
One of the rules of Brienne school was that each pupil should know something about agriculture. To illustrate this study, each one of the one hundred and fifty boys had a little garden-spot set aside for him to cultivate and keep in order.
Some of the boys did this from choice, and because they loved to watch things grow; but many of them were careless, and had no love for fruit or flowers; so while some of the garden-plots were well kept, others were neglected.
Napoleon was glad of this garden-plot, for it gave him something which he could call his own. He cared for it faithfully; but he wished to make it even more secluded. He remembered his dear grotto at Ajaccio, and studied over a plan to make his garden-plot just such a real retreat. But it was not large enough for this. He looked about him. The boys to whom belonged the garden-plots on either side of him were careless and neglectful. Their gardens received no attention; they were overgrown with weeds; their hedges were full of gaps and holes.
"I will take them," said Napoleon; "what one cannot care for, another must."
So the boy went systematically to work to "annex" his neighbors' kingdoms, and make from the three plots one ample retreat for himself. He cut down the separating borders; he trimmed and trained and filled in the stout outside hedge, until it completely surrounded his enlarged domain; and, in the centre of the paths and flower-beds and hedges, he put up a seat and a little summer-bower for his pleasure and protection.
It took some time to get this into shape, of course. When he had completed it, and was beginning to enjoy it, the owners of the plots he had confiscated awoke to a sense of their loss and the excellent garden-spot this young Corsican had made for them. "For of course," they said, "the garden-plots are ours. Straw Nose has improved them at his own risk. What he has made we will keep for our own pleasure." So they attempted to occupy their property; but with Napoleon there was force in the old saying, "Possession is nine points of the law."
When the dispossessed boys demanded their property, he refused it; when they spoke of their rights, he laughed at them; and when they attempted to enter the garden by force, he fell upon them, drove them flying from the field, and pommelled them so soundly that they judged discretion to be the better part of valor, and made no further attempt to disturb the conqueror.
The other boys did attempt it, however, simply to tease and annoy the fiery Corsican. But it always resulted in their own damage; for Napoleon become so attached to his garden citadel, that he would grow furiously angry whenever he was disturbed. Rushing out, he would rout his assailants completely; until at last it was understood that it was safest to let him alone.
As he sought his garden on this day of disgrace to which I have referred, he was full of bitter thoughts against the unfriendly boys and the unsympathetic teachers amid whom his lot was cast. Like most boys, he determined to do something that should free him from this tyranny; then, like many boys, he decided to run away. Where or how he could go he did not know; for he had no friends in France who would help him along, and he had no money in his pocket to enable him to help himself.
"I will run away to sea," he said. For the sea, you know, is the first thought of boys who determine to be runaways.
But Napoleon had a strong love for his family; he held high notions in regard to the honor of the family name; above all else, he was determined to do something that should help his family out of its sore straits, and become one element of its support.
"If I should run away to sea," he thought, "I should bring discredit and shame to my family: I should annoy my father, and seriously interfere with my own plans. For, should I run away from Brienne, my father, who has been at such pains to place me here, would be distressed, and perhaps injured. No; I will brave it out. But I will write to my father, asking him to take me away, and place me in some school where I shall feel less like an outcast, where poverty would not be held as a crime, and where I shall have more agreeable surroundings. So he went into his garden fortress; he stretched himself at full length on his bench, and, using the cover of his favorite book, Plutarch's "Lives," as a desk, he wrote this letter to his father:—
"MY FATHER,—If you or my protectors cannot give me the means of sustaining myself more honorably in the house where I am, please summon me home, and as soon as possible. I am tired of poverty, and of the smiles of the insolent scholars who are superior to me only in their fortune; for there is not one among them who feels one-hundredth part of the noble sentiments by which I am animated. Must your son, sir, continually be the butt of these boobies, who, vain of the luxuries which they enjoy, insult me with their laughter at the privations I am forced to endure? No, father; No! If fortune refuses to smile upon me, take me from Brienne, and make me, if you will, a mechanic. From these words you may judge of my despair. This letter, sir, please believe, is not dictated by a vain desire to enjoy expensive amusements. I have no such wish. I feel simply that it is necessary to show my companions that I can procure them as well as they, if I wish to do so.
"Your respectful and affectionate son,
It took some time to write this letter; for, with Napoleon, letter-writing was always a detested task.
When he had written and directed it, he felt better. We always do feel relieved, you know, if we speak out or write down our feelings. Then he read a chapter in Plutarch about Alexander the Great. This set him to thinking and planning how he would win a battle if he should ever become a leader and commander. He had a notion that he knew just what he would do; and, to prove that his plan was good, he threw himself on the garden walk, and gathering a lot of pebbles, he began to set them in array, as if they were soldiers, and to make all the moves and marches and counter-marches of a furious battle. He indicated the generals and chief officers in this army of stone by the larger pebbles; and you may be sure that the largest pebble of all represented the commander-in-chief —and that was Napoleon himself.
As he marshalled his pebble army, under the lead of his generals and officers, shifting some, advancing others, rearranging certain of them in squares, and massing others as if to resist an attack, Napoleon was conscious of a snickering sort of laugh from somewhere above him.
He looked up, and caught sight of a mocking face looking down at him from the top of the hedge that bordered his garden.
"Ho, ho! Straw-nose!" the spy cried out; "and what is the baby doing? Is it playing with the pretty pebbles? Is it making mud-pies? It was a sweet child, so it was."
Napoleon flushed with anger, enraged both at the intrusion and the teasing.
"Pig! imbecile!" he cried; "get down from my hedge, or I will make you!"
"Ho! hear the infant!" came back the taunting answer. "He will make me—this pretty Corsican baby who plays with pebbles. He will make me! That is good! I laugh; I—Oh, help! help! the Corsican has killed me!"
For a moment Napoleon thought indeed he had; for a moment, too, I am afraid, he did not care. For so enraged was he at the boy's insults and actions, that he had caught up his biggest pebble, which happened to be Napoleon the general, and flung it at the intruder. It struck him squarely between the eyes, and so stunned him that he fell back from the hedge, and lay, first howling, and then terribly quiet, in the space outside Napoleon's garden. At once there was a hue and cry; Napoleon was summoned from his retreat, and dragged before his teacher.
"Ah, miserable one!" cried the master. "And is it you again? You have perhaps killed your fellow-student. You will yet end in the Bastille, or on the block. Take him away, until we see what shall be the result of the last ill-doing of this wicked one."
"When one plays the spy and the bully one must expect retribution," said Napoleon loftily. "This Bouquet is a rascal who will be more likely to end in the Bastille than I, who did but defend my own."
This language, of course, did not help matters; so into the school-cage, or punishment "lock-up" for the school-boy offenders, young Napoleon was at once hurried, without an opportunity for explanation or protest.
FRIENDS AND FOES.
Napoleon, the prisoner in the school "lock-up," raged for a while like a caged lion. Then he calmed down into the sulks, returned to his determination to run away, concluded again that he would go to sea, thought of his family and his duties once more, and at last concluded to take his punishment without a word, though he knew that the boy who had mocked him into anger deserved the punishment fully as much as did he who had been the insulted one.
"But then," he reasoned, "he paid well for his taunts and teasing. I wonder how he is now?"
His schoolmate, the English boy, Lawley, was on duty outside the "lock-up" door, as a sort of monitor.
"Say, you Lawley!" Napoleon called out, "and how is that brute of a Bouquet?"
"None the better for seeing you, little one," replied the good-natured English boy, who had that love of fair play that is supposed to belong to all Englishmen, and, therefore, felt that young Bonaparte was suffering unjustly. Then he added:
"Bouquet will no doubt die, and then what will you do?"
"I will plead self-defence, my friend," said Napoleon. "Did not you tell me that an English judge did once declare that a man's home was his castle, which he was pledged to defend from invasion and assault. What else is my garden? That brute of a Bouquet came spying about my castle, and I did but defend myself. Is it not so?"
"It may be so to you, young Bonaparte," Lawley replied; "but not to your judges. No, little one, you're in for it now; they'll make you smart for this, whatever happens to old Bouquet."
For, like all English boys, this young Lawley mingled with his love of justice an equal love for teasing: and like most of the boys at Brienne school, he declared it to be "great fun to get the little Corsican mad."
"Then must you help me to get away from here," Napoleon declared. "Look you, Lawley!" and the boy in great secrecy pulled a paper from his pocket; "see now what I have written."
The English boy took the paper, ran his eye over it, and laughed as loudly as he dared while on duty.
"My eye!" he said, "it's in English, and pretty fair English too. A letter to the British Admiralty? Permission to enter the British navy as a midshipman, eh? Well, you Bonaparte, you are a cool one. A Frenchman in the British navy! Fancy now!"
"No, sir; a Corsican," replied Napoleon. "Why should it not be so? What have I received but scorn and insult from these Frenchmen? You English are more fair, and England is the friend of Corsica. Why should I not become a midshipman in your navy? The only difficulty, I am afraid, will be my religion."
"Your religion!" cried Lawley, with a laugh; "why, you young rascal! I don't believe you have any religion at all."
"But my family have," Napoleon protested. "My mother's race, the Ramolini" (and the boy rolled out the name as if that respectable farmer family were dukes or emperors at least), "are very strict. I should be disinherited if I showed any signs of becoming a heretic like you English; and if I joined the British navy, would I not be compelled to become a heretic, like you, Lawley?"
Lawley burst into such a loud laugh over the boy's religious scruples, of which he had never before seen evidence, that he aroused one of the teachers with his noise, and had to scud away, for fear of being caught, and punished for neglect of duty.
But he kept Napoleon's letter of application. He must have sent it, either in fun, or with some desire to befriend this badgered Corsican boy; for to-day Napoleon's letter still exists in the crowded English department, wherein are filed the archives of the British Admiralty.
At last, by the interest of certain of the friends whom the boy's misfortune, if not his pluck, had made for him—such lads as Lawley, the English boy, Bourrienne, Lauriston, and Father Patrault, the teacher of mathematics,—Napoleon was liberated with a reprimand; while the boy who had caused all the trouble went unpunished, save for the headache that Napoleon's well-aimed stone had given him and the scar the blow had left.
But the boy could not long stay out of trouble. The next time it came about, friendship, and not vindictiveness, was the cause.
Napoleon did not forget the good offices of his friends. Indeed, Napoleon never forgot a benefit. His final fall from his great power came, largely, because of the very men whom he had honored and enriched, out of friendship or appreciation for services performed in his behalf.
One day young Lauriston, who was on duty as a sort of sentry in the chestnut avenue that was one of Napoleon's favorite walks, left his post, and joining Napoleon, begged him to help him in a problem in mathematics which he had been too lazy or too stupid to solve.
"We will go to your garden, Straw-nose," said Lauriston; for both friend and foe, after the manner of boys, used the nicknames that had by common consent been fastened upon their schoolfellows.
"We will not, then," Napoleon returned. For, as you know, his garden was sacred, and not even his friends were allowed entrance. "See, we will go beyond, to the seat under the big chestnut. But are you not on duty here?"
Lauriston snapped his fingers and shrugged his shoulders in contempt of duty. "That for duty!" he exclaimed. "My duty now is to get out this pig of a problem."
Under the big chestnut, which was another of Napoleon's favorite resorts, the two boys put their heads together over Lauriston's problem, and it was soon made clear to the lad; for Napoleon was always good at mathematics.
But the time spent over the problem exhausted Lauriston's limit of duty; and when the teacher came to relieve him at his post, the boy was nowhere to be seen.
Now, at Brienne, military instruction was on military rules; and no crime against military discipline is much greater than "absence without leave."
So when, at last, young Lauriston was found in Napoleon's company, away from his post of duty, and beneath the big chestnut-tree, the boy was in a "pretty mess." But Napoleon never deserted his friends.
"Sir," he said to the teacher, "the fault is mine. I led young Lauriston away to"—he stopped: it would scarcely help his friend's cause to say that he had been helping him at his lessons; thus he continued, "to show him my lists"—which was not an untruth, for he had shown the copy to Lauriston.
"Your lists, unruly one," said the teacher—one of Napoleon's chief persecutors. "And what lists, pray?"
"My lists of the possessions of England, here in my copy-book," said Napoleon, drawing the badly scrawled blank-book from his pocket.
He handed it to the teacher.
"Ah, what handwriting! It is vilely done, young Bonaparte. Even I can scarcely read it," he said. "What is this? You would draw my portrait in your copy-book? Wretched one! have you no manners? So! Possessions of the English, is it? Would that the English possessed you! None then would be happier than I." Thereupon the teacher read through the list, making sarcastic comments on each entry, until he came to the end. "'Cabo Corso in Guinea, a pretty strong fort on the sea side of Fort Royal, a defence of sixteen cannons.' Bad spelling, worse writing, this! and the last, 'Saint Helena, a little island;' and where might it be, that Saint Helena, young Bonaparte?"
"In the South Atlantic, well off the African coast," replied Napoleon.
"Would you were there too, young malcontent!" said the teacher, "luring boys from their duty. This is worse than treason. See! you shall to the lockup once more. And you are no longer battalion captain."
Young Lauriston would have protested against this injustice, and declared that he was at fault; but, like too many boys under similar circumstances, he was afraid, and accepted anything that should save him from punishment. Moreover, a glance at Napoleon's masterful eyes held his tongue mute, and he saw his friend borne away to the punishment that should have been his.
"'Tis Saint Helena's fault, and not yours, my Lauriston," Napoleon whispered in his ear. "Bad writing is never forgiven."
So, as if in a prophecy of the future, Napoleon suffered unjust disgrace in connection with Saint Helena's name; and to-day, in the splendid exhibition-room of the historical library at Florence, jealously guarded beneath a glass case, is Napoleon's blue paper copybook, the very last line of which reads, by the strangest of all strange coincidences, "Saint Helena, a little island."
The boy's willingness to suffer for his friends, and, even more than this, the unjust taking away of his office in the school battalion, of which he was quite proud, turned the tide in young Napoleon's favor, so far as his schoolmates were concerned.
"Little Straw-nose is a plucky one, is he not, though?" the boys declared; and when he came on the field again, they welcomed him with cheers, and made him leader for the day in their sports.
They had great fun. Napoleon, full of his readings in Plutarch's "Lives," divided the boys into two camps; one camp was to be the Persians, the other the Greeks and Macedonians. Napoleon, of course, was Alexander; and, like the great Macedonian, he wrought such havoc on the Persians, that the school hall in which the battle was waged was filled with the uproar, and all the teachers at Brienne rushed pell-mell to the place, to quell what they were certain must be a school riot, led on by "that miserable Corsican."
Day by day, however, "that miserable Corsican" made more and more friends among his schoolfellows. For boys grow tired at last of plaguing one who has both spirit and pluck; and these Napoleon certainly possessed. He had come to the school "a little savage," so the polished French boys declared.
"I was in Brienne," he said years afterwards, as he thought over his school-days, "the poorest of all my schoolfellows. They always had money in their pockets; I, never. I was proud, and was most careful that nobody should perceive this. I could neither laugh nor amuse myself like the others. I was not one of them. I could not be popular."
So he had to go through the same hard training that other poor boys at boarding-school have undergone. He, however was petulant, high-spirited, proud, and had something of that Corsican love of retaliation that has made that rocky island famous for its feuds and family rows, or "vendettas" as they are called.
He showed the boys at last that they could not impose upon him; that he had plenty of spirit; that he was kind-hearted to those who showed themselves friendly; and, above all, that he was fitted to lead them in their sports, and could, in fact, help them toward having a jolly good time.
So, gradually, they began to side with and follow him. They left him in undisturbed possession of his fortified garden, they asked his help over hard points in mathematics, until at last he began even to grow a little popular. And then, to crown all, came the great Snow-ball Fight.
THE GREAT SNOW-BALL FIGHT AT BRIENNE SCHOOL.
That Snow-ball Fight is now famous. It was in the winter of 1783. Snow fell heavily; drifts piled up in the schoolyard at Brienne. The schoolboys marvelled and exclaimed; for such a snow-fall was rare in France. Then they began to shiver and grumble. They shivered at the cold, to which they were not accustomed; they grumbled at the snow which, by covering their playground, kept them from their usual out-of-door sports, and held them for a time prisoners within the dark schoolrooms.
Suddenly Napoleon had an inspiration.
"What is snow for, my brothers," he exclaimed, "if not to be used? Let us use it. What say you to a snow fort and a siege? Who will join me?"
It was a novel idea; and, with all the boyish love for something new and exciting, the boys of Brienne entered into the plan at once. "The fort, the fort, young Straw-nose!" they cried. "Show us what to do! Let us build it at once!"
With Napoleon as director, they straightway set to work. The boy had an excellent head for such things; and his mathematical knowledge, together with the preparatory study in fortifications he had already pursued in the school, did him good service.
He was not satisfied with simply piling up mounds of snow. He built regular works on a scientific plan. The snow "packed well," and the boys worked like beavers. With spades and brooms and hands and homemade wooden shovels, they built under Napoleon's directions a snow fort that set all Brienne wondering and admiring. There were intrenchments and redoubts, bastions and ramparts, and all the parts and divisions and defences that make up a real fort.
It took some days to build this wonderful fort. For the boys could only work in their hours of recess. But at last, when all was ready, Napoleon divided the schoolboys into two unequal portions. The smaller number was to hold the fort as defenders; the larger number was to form the besieging force. At the head of the besiegers was Napoleon. Who was captain of the fort I do not know. His name has not come down to us.
But the story of the Snow-ball Fight has. For days the battle raged. At every recess hour the forces gathered for the exciting sport. The rule was that when once the fort was captured, the besiegers were to become its possessors, and were, in turn, to defend it from its late occupants, who were now the attacking army, increased to the required number by certain of the less skilful fighters in the successful army.
Napoleon was in his element. He was an impetuous leader; but he was skilful too; he never lost his head.
Again and again, as leader of the storming-party, he would direct the attack; and at just the right moment, in the face of a shower of snow-balls, he would dash from his post of observation, head the assaulting army, and scaling the walls with the fire of victory in his eye and the shout of encouragement on his lips, would lead his soldiers over the ramparts, and with a last dash drive the defeated defenders out from the fortification.
The snow held for nearly ten days; the fight kept up as long as the snow walls, often repaired and strengthened, would hold together.
The thaw, that relentless enemy of all snow sports, came to the attack at last, and gradually dismantled the fortifications; snow for ammunition grew thin and poor, and gravel became more and more a part of the snow-ball manufacture.
Napoleon tried to prevent this, for he knew the danger from such missiles. But often, in the heat of battle, his commands were disregarded. One boy especially—the same Bouquet who had scaled his hedge and brought him into trouble—was careless or vindictive in this matter.
On the last day of the snow, Napoleon saw young Bouquet packing snow-balls with dirt and gravel, and commanded him to stop. But Bouquet only flung out a hot "I won't!" at the commander, and launched his gravel snow-ball against the decaying fort.
Napoleon was just about to head the grand assault. "To the rear with you! to the rear, Bouquet! You are disqualified!" he cried.
But Bouquet was insubordinate. He did not intend to be cheated out of his fun by any orders that "Straw-nose" should give him. Instead of obeying his commander, he sang out a contemptuous refusal, and dashed ahead, as if to supplant his general in the post of leader of the assault.
Napoleon had no patience with disobedience. The insubordination and insolence of Bouquet angered him; and darting forward, he collared his rebellious subordinate, and flung him backward down the slushy rampart.
"Imbecile!" he cried. "Learn to obey! Drag him to the rear, Lauriston."
The fort was carried. But "General Thaw" was too strong for the young soldiers; and that night, a rain setting in, finished the destruction of the now historic snow-fort of Brienne School.
Bouquet, smarting under what he considered the disgrace that had been put upon him before his playmates, accosted Napoleon that night in the hall. "Bah, then, smarty Straw-nose!" he cried; "you are a beast. How dare you lay hands on me, a Frenchman?"
"Because you would not obey orders," Napoleon replied. "Was not I in command?"
"You!" sneered Bouquet; "and who are you to command? A runaway Corsican, a brigand, and the son of a brigand, like all Corsicans."
"My father is not a brigand," returned Napoleon. "He is a gentleman—which you are not."
"I am no gentleman, say you?" cried the enraged French boy. "Why, young Straw-nose, my ancestors were gentlemen under great King Louis when yours were tending sheep on your Corsican hills. My father is an officer of France; yours is"—
"Well, sir, and what is mine?" said Napoleon defiantly.
"Yours," Bouquet laughed with a mocking and cruel sneer, "yours is but a lackey, a beggar in livery, a miserable tip-staff!"
Napoleon flung himself at the insulter of his father in a fury; but he was caught back by those standing by, and saved from the disgrace of again breaking the rules by fighting in the school-hall.
All night, however, he brooded over Bouquet's taunting words, and the desire for revenge grew hot within him.
The boy had said his father was no gentleman. No gentleman, indeed! Bouquet should see that he knew how gentlemen should act. He would not fall upon him, and beat him as he deserved. He would conduct himself as all gentlemen did. He would challenge to a duel the insulter of his father.
This was the custom. The refuge of all gentlemen who felt themselves insulted, disgraced, or persecuted in those days, was to seek vengeance in a personal encounter with deadly weapons, called a duel. It is a foolish and savage way of seeking redress; but even today it is resorted to by those who feel themselves ill treated by their "equals." So Napoleon felt that he was doing the only wise and gentlemanly thing possible.
But, even then duelling was against the law. It was punished when men were caught at it; for schoolboys, it was considered an unheard-of crime.
Still, though against the law, all men felt that it was the only way to salve their wounded honor. Napoleon felt it would be the only manly course open to him; so, early next morning, he despatched his friend Bourrienne with a note to Bouquet. That note was a "cartel," or challenge. It demanded that Mr. Bouquet should meet Mr. Bonaparte at such time and place as their seconds might select, there to fight with swords until the insult that Mr. Bouquet had put upon Mr. Bonaparte should be wiped out in blood.
There was ferocity for you! But it was the fashion.
"Mr. Bouquet," however, had no desire to meet the fiery young Corsican at swords' points. So, instead of meeting his adversary, he sneaked off to one of the teachers, who, as we know, most disliked Napoleon, and complained that the Corsican, Bonaparte, was seeking his life, and meant to kill him.
At once Napoleon was summoned before the indignant instructor.
"So, sir!" cried the teacher, "is this the way you seek to become a gentleman and officer of your king? You would murder a schoolmate; you would force him to a duel! No denial, sir; no explanation. Is this so, or not so?"
Once more Napoleon saw that words or remonstrances would be in vain.
"It is so," he replied. "Can we, then, never work out your Corsican brutality?" said the teacher. "Go, sir! you are to be imprisoned until fitting sentence for your crime can be considered."
And once again poor Napoleon went into the school lock-up, while Bouquet, who was the most at fault, went free.
There was almost a rebellion in school over the imprisonment of the successful general who had so bravely fought the battles of the snow-fort.
Napoleon passed a day in the lock-up; then he was again summoned before the teacher who had thus punished him.
"You are an incorrigible, young Bonaparte," said the teacher. "Imprisonment can never cure you. Through it, too, you go free from your studies and tasks. I have considered the proper punishment. It is this: you are to put on to-day the penitent's woollen gown; you are to kneel during dinner-time at the door of the dining-room, where all may see your disgrace and take warning therefrom; you are to eat your dinner on your knees. Thereafter, in presence of your schoolmates assembled in the dining-room, you are to apologize to Mr. Bouquet, and ask pardon from me, as representing the school, for thus breaking the laws and acting as a bully and a murderer. Go, sir, to your room, and assume the penitent's gown."
Napoleon, as I have told you, was a high-spirited boy, and keenly felt disgrace. This sentence was as humiliating and mortifying as anything that could be put upon him. Rebel at it as he might, he knew that he would be forced to do it; and, distressed beyond measure at thought of what he must go through, he sought his room, and flung himself on his bed in an agony of tears. He actually had what in these days we call a fit of hysterics.
While thus "broken up," his room door opened. Supposing that the teacher, or one of the monitors, had come to prepare him for the dreadful sentence, he refused to move.
Then a voice, that certainly was not the one he expected, called to him. He raised a flushed and tearful face from the bed, and met the inquiring eyes of his father's old friend, and the "protector" of the Bonaparte family, General Marbeuf, formerly the French commander in Corsica.
"Why, Napoleon, boy! what does all this mean?" inquired the general. "Have you been in mischief? What is the trouble?"
The visit came as a climax to a most exciting event. In it Napoleon saw escape from the disgrace he so feared, and the injustice against which he so rebelled. With a joyful shout he flung himself impulsively at his friend's feet, clasped his knees, and begged for his protection. The boy, you see, was still unnerved and over-wrought, and was not as cool or self-possessed as usual.
Gradually, however, he calmed down, and told General Marbeuf the whole story.
The general was indignant at the sentence. But he laughed heartily at the idea of this fourteen-year-old boy challenging another to a duel.
"Why, what a fire-eater it is!" he cried. "But you had provocation, boy. This Bouquet is a sneak, and your teacher is a tyrant. But we will change it all; see, now! I will seek out the principal. I will explain it all. He shall see it rightly, and you shall not be thus disgraced. No, sir! not if I, General Marbeuf, intrench myself alone with you behind what is left of your slushy snow-fort yonder, and fight all Brienne school in your behalf—teachers and all. So cheer up, lad! we will make it right."
RECOMMENDED FOR PROMOTION.
General Marbeuf did make it all right. Bouquet was called to account; the teacher who had so often made it unpleasant for Napoleon was sharply reprimanded; and the principal, having his attention drawn to the persistent persecution of this boy from Corsica, consented to his release from imprisonment, while sternly lecturing him on the sin of duelling.
The general also chimed in with the principal's lecture; although I am afraid, being a soldier, he was more in sympathy with Napoleon than he should have been.
"A bad business this duelling, my son," he said, "a bad business—though I must say this rascal Bouquet deserved a good beating for his insolence. But a beating is hardly the thing between gentlemen."
"And you have fought a duel, my General?" inquired Napoleon. "Have I? why, scores" the bluff soldier admitted.
"Let me see—I have fought one—two—four—why, when I was scarcely more than your age, my friend, I"—and then the general suddenly stopped. For he saw how his reminiscences would grow into admissions that would scarcely be a correction.
So, with a hem and a haw, General Marbeuf wisely changed the subject, and began to inquire into the reasons for Napoleon's unpleasant experiences at Brienne. He speedily discovered that the cause lay in the pocket. As you have already learned from Napoleon's letter to his father and his own later reflections, the boy's poverty made him dissatisfied with his lot, while his companions, heedless and blundering as boys are apt to be in such matters, did not try to smooth over the difference between their plenty and this boy's need, but rather increased his bitterness by their thoughtless speech and action.
"Brains do not lie in the pocket, Napoleon, boy," he said. "You have as much intelligence as any of your fellows, you should not be so touchy because you do not happen to have their spending-money. You must learn to be more charitable. Do not take offence so easily; remember that all boys admire ability, and look kindly on good fellowship in a comrade, whether he have much or little in his purse. Learn to be more companionable; accept things as they come; and if you are ever hard pushed for money,—call on me. I'll see you through."
Any boy will take a lecture with so agreeable an ending, and Napoleon did not resent his good friend's advice.
The general also introduced the boy to the great lady who lived in the big chateau near by—the Lady of Brienne. She interested herself in the lad's doings, gave him many a "tip," invited him to her home, and, by kindly words and motherly deeds, brought the boy out of his nervousness and solitude into something more like good manners and gentlemanly ways.
So the school—life at Brienne went on more agreeably as the months passed by. Napoleon studied hard. He made good progress in mathematics and history, though he disliked the languages, and never wrote a good hand. He was always an "old boy" for his years; and, in time, many of his teachers became interested in him, and even grew fond of him.
But he always kept his family in mind. He was continually planning how he might help his mother, and give his brothers and sisters a chance to get an education.
He even treated Joseph as if he himself were the elder, and Joseph the younger brother. There is a letter in existence which he wrote to his father in 1783, in which he tries to arrange for Joseph's future, as that rather heavy boy had decided not to become a priest.
"Joseph," so Napoleon wrote from Brienne to his father, "can come here to school. The principal says he can be received here; and Father Patrault, the teacher of mathematics, says he will be glad to undertake Joseph's instruction, and that, if he will work, we may both of us go together for our artillery examination. Never mind me. I can get along. But you must do something for Joseph. Good-by, my dear father. I hope you will decide to send Joseph here to Brienne, rather than to Metz. It will be a pleasure for us to be together; and, as Joseph knows nothing of mathematics, if you send him to Metz, he will have to begin with the little children; and that, I know, will disgust him. I hope, therefore, that before the end of October I shall embrace Joseph."
That is a nice, brotherly letter, is it not? It does not sound like the boy who was always ready to quarrel and fight with brother Joseph, nor does it seem to be from a sulky, disagreeable boy. This spirit of looking out for his family was one of the traits of Napoleon's character that was noticeable alike in the boy, the soldier, the commander, and the emperor.
Indeed, the very spirit of self-denial in which this letter, an extract from which you have just read, was written, was not only characteristic of this remarkable man of whose boy-life this story tells, but it led in his school-days at Brienne to a change that affected his whole life.
One day there came to the school the Chevalier de Keralio, inspector of military schools—a sort of committee man as you would say in America. It was the duty of the inspector to look into the record, and arrange for the promotions, of "the king's wards," as the boys and girls were called who were educated at the expense of the state. He was, in some way, attracted to this sober, silent, and sad-eyed little Corsican, and inquired into his history. He rather liked the boy's appearance, odd as it was. He took quite a fancy to the young Napoleon, talked with him, questioned him, and outlined to the teachers at Brienne what he thought should be the future course of the lad.
Charles Bonaparte had some thought of placing Napoleon in the naval service of France. The boy told Inspector Keralio this; but the chevalier declared that he intended to recommend the boy for promotion to the military school at Paris, and then have him assigned for service at Toulon. This was the nearest port to Corsica, and would place Napoleon nearer to his much-loved family home.
The teachers objected to this.
"There are other boys in the school much better fitted for such an honor than this young Bonaparte," they said.
But the inspector thought otherwise.
"I know boys," he said. "I know what I am doing."
"But he is not ready yet," said the principal. "To do as you advise would be to change all the rules set down for promotion."
"Well, what if it does?" replied the inspector.
"But why should you favor this boy and his family? They are Corsicans."
"I do not care anything about his family," the inspector declared. "If I put aside the rules in this case, it is not to do the Bonaparte family a favor. I do not know them. But I have studied this boy. It is because of him that I propose this action. I see a spark in him that cannot be too early cultivated. It shall not be extinguished if I can help it. This young Bonaparte will make his mark if he has a chance, and I shall give him that chance."
So before he left Brienne the inspector wrote this strong recommendation of the boy whom he desired to befriend and put forward:—
"Monsieur de Bonaparte (Napoleon), born August 15, 1769. Height, four feet, ten inches. Of good constitution, excellent health, mild disposition. Has finished the fourth form: is straightforward and obliging. His conduct has been most satisfactory. He has been distinguished for his application to mathematics; is fairly acquainted with history and geography; is weak in all accomplishments,—drawing, dancing, music, and the like. This boy would make an excellent sailor. He deserves promotion to the school in Paris."
Napoleon had gained a powerful friend. His favor would put the boy well forward in his career. He felt quite elated. But, unfortunately for the plans proposed, the Inspector de Keralio died suddenly, before his recommendation could be acted upon; and with so many other applications that were backed up by influence, for boys with better opportunities, Napoleon's desired assignment to the naval service did not receive action by the government, and he was passed by in favor of less able but better befriended boys.
So, when the examination—days came, the new Inspector, who came in place of the lad's friend Chevalier de Keralio, decided that young Napoleon Bonaparte was fitted for the artillery service; and at the age of fifteen the boy left the school at Brienne, and was ordered to enter upon a higher course of study at the military school at Paris. Nothing more was said about preparing him for the naval service, for which Inspector de Keralio had recommended him. And in the certificate which he carried from Brienne to Paris, Napoleon was described as a "masterful, impetuous and headstrong boy." Evidently the opinion of Napoleon's teachers was adopted, rather than the prophetic report of his dead friend, Inspector de Keralio.
In after-years Napoleon forgot all the worries and troubles of his school-days at Brienne, and remembered only the pleasant times there.
Once, when he was a man, he heard some bells chiming musically. He stopped, listened, and said to his old schoolmate, whom he had made his secretary,—
"Ah, Bourrienne! that reminds me of my first years at Brienne; we were happy there, were we not?"
To the chaplain who had prepared him for that most important occasion in the lives of all French children, his first communion, and who had taken a fatherly interest in him, Napoleon, when powerful and great, wrote: "I can never forget that to your virtuous example and wise lessons I am indebted for the great fortune that has come to me. Without religion, no happiness, no future, is possible. My dear friend, remember me in your prayers."
Even his old adversary, Bouquet, whose mean ways had brought Napoleon into so many scrapes, was not forgotten. Bouquet was a bad fellow. Years after, he was caught doing some great mischief; and Napoleon, as his superior officer, would have been obliged to punish him. But when he heard that Bouquet had escaped from prison, he really felt relieved.
"Bouquet was my old schoolfellow at Brienne," he said. "I am glad I did not have to punish him."
Whenever he had the chance, after he had risen to honor and power, he would do his old schoolmates and teachers at Brienne school a service. Bourrienne and Lauriston were both advanced and honored. To one teacher he gave the post of palace librarian; another was appointed the head of the School of Fine Arts; Father Patrault, who had been his friend and had taught him mathematics, was made one of his secretaries; other teachers he helped with pensions or positions; and even the porter of the school was made porter of one of the palaces when Napoleon became an emperor.
At last, as I have told you, when the opportunity came, Napoleon said good-by to Brienne school. He left before his time was up, in order to give his younger brother, Lucien, the chance for a scholarship in the school; he put aside with regret, but without complaining, the wished-for assignment to the naval service. He decided to become an artillery officer; and on October 17, in the year 1784, he started for Paris to enter upon his "king's scholarship" in the military school. He had been a schoolboy at Brienne five years and a half. He was now a boy of fifteen.
NAPOLEON GOES TO PARIS.
Some boys at fifteen are older than other boys at fifteen. Napoleon, as I have told you, was always an "old boy." So when, on that October day in 1784, he arrived at the capital to enter upon the king's scholarship which he had received, he was no longer a child, even though under-sized and somewhat "spindling."
Here, however, as at Autun and Brienne, his appearance was against him, and created an unfavorable impression.
As he got out of the Brienne coach, he ran almost into the arms of one of the boys he had known at Corsica—young Demetrius Compeno.
"What, Demetrius! you here?" he cried, a smile of pleasure at sight of a familiar face lighting up his sallow features.
"And why not, young Bonaparte," Demetrius laughed back in reply. "You did not suppose I was going to let you fall right into the lion's mouth, undefended. Why, you are so fresh and green looking, the beast would take you for Corsican grass, and eat you at once."
Although Napoleon was inclined to resent this pleasantry, he was too delighted to meet an old friend to say much. And, the truth is, the great city did surprise him. For, even though he had been five years at Brienne school, he was still a country boy, and walked the streets gaping and staring at everything he saw, like a boy at his first circus.
"Why, boy! if I were not with you," said Demetrius, with the superior air of the boy who knows city ways, "I don't know what snare you would not fall into. While you were staring at the City Hall, or the Soldier's Home, or that big statue of King Henry on the bridge, one of those street-boys who is laughing at you yonder would have picked your pockets, snatched your satchel, or perhaps (who knows?) cut your throat. Oh, yes! they do such things in Paris. You must learn to look out for yourself here."
"I think I am big enough for that," cried Napoleon.
"You big! why, you are but a child, young Bonaparte!" Demetrius exclaimed. "But we'll make a man of you at the Paris school."
The boys at the Paris Military School—the West Point of France in those days—proceeded at once to try to "make a man" of Napoleon in the same way that all boys seem ever ready to do; as, indeed, the boys at Autun and Brienne had done—by poking fun at the new cadet, mimicking his manners, ridiculing his appearance, and making life generally unpleasant.
But Napoleon had learned one thing by his bitter experiences at the other schools he had attended,—he had learned to control his temper, and take things as they came, with less of revenge and sullenness. The kindly criticism of his friends, General Marbeuf and Inspector de Keralio, had left their effect upon him; and besides the companionship of his fellow-countryman, Demetrius Comneno, he had the good fortune to make his first really boy-friend in his roommate at the military school. This was young Alexander des Mazes, a fine lad of his own age, "a noble by birth and nature," who conceived a liking for Napoleon at once, and was his friend for many years.
In Paris, too, he had the advantage of the friendship of a fine Corsican family,—the Permous, relatives of Demetrius, and old acquaintances of the Bonaparte family. His sister Eliza was also at school at the girls' academy of St. Cyr; and Napoleon visited her frequently, and talked over home matters and other mutual interests. For Napoleon had long since forgiven and forgotten the trouble into which Eliza had once plunged him because of her love for the fruit of their uncle, the canon; and the brother and sister could now laugh over that childish experience, while Eliza dearly loved Napoleon, in spite of her selfishness, and even because of his so uncomplainingly bearing her punishment.
Napoleon, though "an odd child," as people called him, was wide awake and critical. He observed everything, and thought much. He was not long in noticing one thing: that was, the recklessness, the extravagance, and the indifference of the boys who were being educated at the king's expense in the king's military school.
Most of these boys were of high birth, accustomed to having their own way, and with extravagant tastes and notions. Napoleon spoke of this frequently to the friends he made; but both Demetrius and Alexander laughed at him, and said, "Well, what of it? Would you have us all digs and hermits—like you? Here is the chance to have a good time, to live high, and to let the king pay for it—the king or our fathers. Why shouldn't we do as we please?"
"But, Demetrius!" Napoleon protested, "that is not the way to make soldiers. Do you think those fellows will be good officers, if they never know what it is to deny themselves, or to do the work that is their duty, but which they leave for servants to do?" For Napoleon, you see, had many of the saving ways of his practical mother, and rebelled at the unconcern of these luxury-loving and careless boys, who were supposed to be learning the discipline of soldiers in their Paris school.
Demetrius only snapped his fingers, as Alexander shrugged his shoulders, in contempt of what they considered Napoleon's countrified way.
But all this show of pomp and luxury really troubled this boy, who had long before learned the value of money and the need of self-denial. Indeed, it worried him so much that one day he sat down and wrote a letter which he intended to send as a protest to the minister of war, actually lecturing that high and mighty officer, and "giving him points" on the proper way to educate boys in the French military schools.
Fortunately for him, he sent the letter first to his old instructor, the principal of the Brienne school. And the instructor—even though he, perhaps, agreed with this boy-critic—saw how foolish and hurtful for Napoleon's interest it would be to send such a surprising letter; and he promptly suppressed it. But the letter still exists; and a curious epistle it is for a fifteen-year-old boy to write. Here is a part of it:
"The king's scholars," so Napoleon wrote to the minister, "could only learn in this school, in place of qualities of the heart, feelings of vanity and self-satisfaction to such an extent, that, on returning to their own homes, they would be far from sharing gladly in the simple comfort of their families, and would perhaps blush for their fathers and mothers, and despise their modest country surroundings. Instead of maintaining a large staff of servants for these pupils, and giving them every day meals of several courses, and keeping up an expensive stable full of horses and grooms, would it not be better, Mr. Minister—of course without interrupting their studies—to compel them to look after their own wants themselves? That is to say, without compelling them to really do their own cooking, would it not be wise to have them eat soldiers' bread or something no better, to accustom them to beat and brush their own clothes, to clean their own boots and shoes, and do other things equally useful and self-helpful? If they were thus accustomed to a sober life, and to be particular about their appearance, they would become healthier and stronger; they could support with courage the hardships of war, and inspire with respect and blind devotion the soldiers who would have to serve under their orders." How do you think the grand minister of war would have felt to get such a lecturing on discipline from a boy at school? and what do you imagine the boys would have done had they heard that one of their schoolmates had written a letter, suggesting that they be deprived of their pleasures and pamperings? It was lucky for young Napoleon that the principal at Brienne got hold of the letter before it was forwarded to the war minister.
But then, as you have heard before, Napoleon was an odd boy. He thought so himself when he grew to be a man, and he laughed at the recollection of his manners. He laid it all, however, to the responsibility he had felt, even from the day when he was a little fellow, because of the needs of his hard-pushed family in Corsica. "All these cares," he once said, looking back over his boy-life, "spoiled my early years; they influenced my temper, and made me grave before my time."
Even if he did not send that critical and most unwise letter for a boy of his standing, the insight he gained into the expensive ways of the pupils at the military school had its effect upon him; and the very criticisms of that remarkable letter were used for their original purpose when Napoleon came to authority and power. For, when he was emperor of France, he gave to the minister who had the military schools in charge this order: "No pupil is to cost the state more than twenty-five cents a day. These pupils are sons either of soldiers or of working-men; it is absolutely contrary to my intention to give them habits of life which can only be hurtful to them."
If Napoleon was so critical as to the ways and style of his schoolmates, he certainly set the lesson in economy for himself that he suggested for them.
To be sure, he had no money to waste or to spend; but he might have been hail-fellow with the other boys, and joined in their luxuries, had he but been willing to borrow, as did the rest of them. But Napoleon had always a horror of debt. He had acquired this from his mother's teachings and his father's spendthrift ways. Even as a boy, however, his will was so strong, his power of self-denial was so great, that he continued in what he considered the path of duty, unmindful of the boyish charges of "mean fellow" and "pauper" that the spoiled spendthrifts of the school had no hesitation in casting at him.
At last, however, these culminated almost in an open row; and Napoleon found himself called upon either to explain his position, or become both unpopular and an "outcast" because of what his schoolmates considered his stinginess and parsimony.
It was this way—But I had better tell you the story in a new chapter.
A TROUBLE OVER POCKET MONEY.
It was the twelfth of June in the year 1785 that a group of scholars was standing, during the recess hour, in a corner of the military school of Paris.
They were all boys; but they assumed the manners and gave themselves the airs of princes of the blood.
"Gentlemen," said one who seemed to be most prominent in the group, "I have called you together on a most important matter. Tomorrow is old Bauer's birthday. I propose that, as is our custom, we take some notice of it. What do you say to giving him a little supper, in the name of the school?"
"A good idea; a capital idea, d'Hebonville!" exclaimed most of the boys, in ready acquiescence.
"A gluttonous idea, I call it; and an expensive one," said one upon the outer edge of the circle, in a sharply critical tone. "Ah. our little joker has a word to say," exclaimed one of the boys sarcastically, drawing back, and pushing the speaker to the front; "hear him."
"Oh, now, Napoleon! don't object," young Alexander des Mazes said. "Did you not hear why d'Hebonville proposed the supper? It is to honor the German teacher's birthday."
"Oh, he heard it fast enough, des Mazes," rejoined d'Hebonville. "That is what makes him so cross."
"Why do you say that?" Napoleon demanded.
"You do not like the plan because it is to honor old Bauer; for you do not like him," d'Hebonville replied. "If, now, it were a supper to the history teacher, you would agree, I am sure. For de l'Equille praises you on 'the profundity of your reflections and the sagacity of your judgment.' Oh, I've read his notes; or you would agree if it were Domaisen, the rhetoric teacher, who is much impressed—those are his very words, are they not, gentlemen?—with 'your powers of generalization, which' he says, are even 'as granite heated at a volcano.' But as it is only dear old Bauer"—and d'Hebonville shrugged his shoulders significantly. "Well, and what about 'dear old Bauer,' as you call him?" cried Napoleon; "finish, sir; finish, I say."
"I will tell you what Father Bauer says of you, Napoleon," said des Mazes laughingly, as he laid his arm familiarly about Napoleon's neck; "he says he does not think much of you, because you make no progress in your German; and as old Bauer thinks the world moves only for Germans, he has nothing good to say of one who makes no mark in his dear language. 'Ach!' says old Bauer, 'your Napoleon Bonaparte will never be anything but a fool. He knows no German.'"
The boys laughed loudly at des Mazes's mimicry of the German teacher's manner and speech. But Napoleon smiled with the air of one who felt himself superior to the teacher of German.
"Now, I should say," said Philip Mabille, "that here is the very reason why Napoleon should not refuse to join us. It will be—what are the words?—'heaping coals of fire' on old Bauer's head."
"That might be so," Napoleon agreed, in a better humor. "But why give him a feast? Let us—I'll tell you—let us give him a spectacle. A battle, perhaps."
"In which you should be a general, I suppose, as you were in that snow—ball fight at Brienne, of which we have heard once or twice," said d'Hebonville sarcastically.
"And why not?" asked Napoleon haughtily.
"Or the death of Caesar, like the tableaux we arranged at Brienne," suggested Demetrius Comneno enthusiastically.
"In which your great Napoleon played Brutus, I suppose," said d'Hebonville. "No, no; the birthday of old Bauer is not a solemn occasion to demand a battle or a spectacle; something much more simple will do for a professor of German. Let us make it a good collation. There are fifteen of us in his class. If each one of us contributes five dollars, we could get up quite a feast."
"Oh, see here, d'Hebonville!" cried Mabille; "think a little. Five dollars is a good deal for some of us. Not all of the fifteen can afford so much. I don't believe I could; nor you, Napoleon, could you?" Napoleon's face grew sober, but he said nothing.
"Oh, well! let only those pay then who can," said d'Hebonville.
"Who, then, will take part in your feast?" demanded Napoleon.
"Why, all of us, of course," replied d'Hebonville.
"At the feast, or in giving the money," queried Mabille.
"At the feast, to be sure," d'Hebonville answered.
"Come, now; we should have no feeling in this matter," cried des Mazes. "We will decide for you, Mabille."
"Old Bauer must not dream that there are any of his class who do not share in the matter," said Comneno. "That would be showing a preference, and a preference is never fair."
"And do you wish, then," said Mabille, "that old Bauer should be under obligation to me, for example, who can pay little or nothing toward the feast?"
"Certainly; to you as much as to the richest among us," said d'Hebonville.
"Bah!" cried Napoleon. "That would imply a sentiment of gratitude toward my masters; and I, for one, have none to this Professor Bauer."
"Some one to see Napoleon Bonaparte," said a porter of the school, appearing at the door of the schoolroom. "He waits in the parlor."
Without a word Napoleon left his school-fellows; but they looked after him with faces expressive of disapproval or disappointment.
The disagreeable impression produced by the discussion in which he had been taking part still remained with Napoleon as he entered the parlor to meet his visitor. It was the friend of his family, Monsieur de Permon.
Napoleon, indeed, was scarce able to greet his visitor pleasantly. But Monsieur de Permon, without appearing to notice the boy's ill-humor, greeted him pleasantly, and said,—
"Madame de Permon and I are on our way to the Academy of St. Cyr, to see your sister Eliza. Would you not like to go with us, Napoleon? I have permission for you to be absent"
Napoleon brightened at this invitation, and gladly accepted it. The two proceeded to the carriage, in which Madame Permon was awaiting them; and the three were soon on the road to the school of St. Cyr, in which, as I have told you, Eliza Bonaparte was a scholar.
They were ushered into the parlor, and Eliza was summoned. She soon appeared; but she entered the room slowly and disconsolately; her eyes were red with crying. Eliza was evidently in trouble.
"Why, Eliza, my dear child, what is the matter?" Madame Permon exclaimed, drawing the girl toward her. "You have been crying. Have they been scolding you here?"
"No, madame," Eliza replied in a low tone.
"Are you afraid they may? Have you trouble with your lessons?" persisted Madame Permon.
With the same dejected air, Eliza answered as before, "No, madame."
"But what, then, is the matter, my dear?" cried Madame Permon; "such red eyes mean much crying."
Eliza was silent.
"Come, Eliza!" Napoleon demanded with an elder brother's authority; "speak! answer Madame here What is the matter?"
But even to her brother, Eliza made no reply.
Then Madame Permon, as tenderly as if she had been the girl's mother, led her aside; and finding a remote seat in a corner, she drew the child into her lap.
"Eliza," she said with gracious kindliness, "I must know why you are in sorrow. Think of me as your mother, dear; as one who must act in her place until you return to her. Speak to me as to your mother. Let me have your love and confidence. Tell me, my child, what troubles you."
The tender solicitude of her mother's friend quite vanquished Eliza's stubbornness. Her tears burst out afresh; and between the sobs she stammered,—
"You know, Madame, that Lucie de Montluc leaves the school in eight days."
"I did not know it, Eliza," Madame Permon said, keeping back a smile; "but if that so overcomes you, then am I sorry too."
"Oh, no, Madame'" Eliza said, just a bit indignant at being misunderstood; "it is not her leaving that makes me cry; but, you see, on the day she goes away her class will give her a good—by supper."
"What! and you are not invited?" exclaimed Madame Permon. "Ah, that is the trouble, Madame," cried Eliza, the tears gathering again. "I am invited."
"And yet you cry?"
"It is because each girl is to contribute towards the supper; and I, Madame, can give nothing. My allowance is gone."
"So!" Madame Permon whispered, glad to have at last reached the real cause of the trouble, "that is the matter. And you have nothing left?"
"Only a dollar, Madame," replied Eliza. "But if I give that, I shall have no more money; and my allowance does not come to me for six weeks. Indeed, what I have is not enough for my needs until the six weeks are over. Am I not miserable?"
Napoleon, who had gradually drawn nearer the corner, thrust his hand into his pocket as he heard Eliza's complaint. But he drew it out as quickly. His pocket was empty. Mortified and angry, he stamped his foot in despair. But no one noticed this pantomime.
"How much, my dear, is necessary to quiet this great sorrow?" Madame Permon asked of Eliza with a smile. Eliza looked into her good friend's eyes.
"Oh, Madame! it is an immense sum," she replied,
"Let me know the worst," Madame Permon said, with affected distress. "How much is it?"
"Two dollars!" confessed Eliza in despair.
"Two dollars!" exclaimed Madame Permon; "what extravagant ladies we are at St. Cyr!" Then she hugged Eliza to her; and, as she did so, she slyly slipped a five-dollar piece into the girl's hand. "Hush! take it, and say nothing," she said; for, above all, she did not wish her action to be seen by Napoleon. For Madame Permon well knew the sensitive pride of the Bonaparte children.
Soon after they left the school; and when once they were within the carriage Napoleon's ill-humor burst forth, in spite of himself.
"Was ever anything more humiliating?" he cried; "was ever anything more unjust? See how it is with that poor child. The rich and poor are placed together, and the poor must suffer or be pensioners. Is it not abominable, the way these schools of St. Cyr and the Paris military are run? Two dollars for a scholars' picnic in a place where no child is supposed to have money. It is enormous!"
His friends made no reply to this boyish outburst; but, when the military school was reached, Monsieur Permon followed Napoleon into the parlor.
"Napoleon," he said, "at your age one is not furious against the world unless he has particular reason."
"And are not my sister's tears a reason, sir, when I cannot remedy their cause?" Napoleon answered with emotion.
"But when I came here for you," said Monsieur Permon, "you, too, appeared angry, as if some trouble had occurred between yourself and your schoolfellows."
"I am unfortunate, sir, not to be able to conceal my feelings," said Napoleon; "but it does seem as if the boys here delighted in making me feel my poverty. They live in an insolent luxury; and whoever cannot imitate them,"—here Napoleon dashed a hand to his forehead,—"Oh, it is to die of humiliation!"
"At your age, my Napoleon, one submits and blames no one," said Monsieur Permon, smiling, in spite of himself, at the boy's desperation.
"At my age' yes, sir," Napoleon rejoined, as if keeping back some great thought. "But later—ah, if, some day, I should ever be master! However"—and the French shrug that is so eloquent completed the sentence.
"However,"—Monsieur Permon took up his words—"while waiting, one may now and then find a friend. And you take your part here with the boys, do you not?"
Napoleon was silent; and Monsieur Permon, remembering the trouble that had weighed Eliza down, concluded also that some such trial might be a part of Napoleon's school-life.
"Let me help you, my boy," he said.
At this unexpected proposition Napoleon flushed deeply; then the red tinge paled into the sallow one again, and he responded, "I thank you, sir, but I do not need it."
"Napoleon," said Monsieur Permon, "your mother is my wife's dearest friend; your father has long been my good comrade. Is it right for sons to refuse the love of their fathers, or for boys to reject the friendships of their elders? Pride is excellent; but even pride may sometimes be pernicious. It is pride that sets a barrier between you and your companions. Do not permit it. Regard friendship as of more value than self-consideration; and, for my sake, let me help you to join in these occasions that may mean so much to you in the way of friendship."
Thus deftly did good Monseiur Permon smooth over the bitterness that inequality in pocket allowances so often stirs between those who have little and those who have much.
Napoleon fixed upon his father's friend one of his piercing looks, and taking his proffered money, said:—
"I accept it, sir, as if it came from my father, as you wish me to consider it. But if it came as a loan, I could not receive it. My people have too many charges already; and I ought not to increase them by expenses which, as is often the case here, are put upon me by the folly of my schoolfellows."
The Permons proved good friends to the Bonaparte children; and it was to their house at Montpellier that, in the spring of 1785, Charles Bonaparte was brought to die.
For ill health and misfortune proved too much for this disheartened Corsican gentleman; and, before his boys were grown to manhood, he gave up his unsuccessful struggle for place and fortune. He had worked hard to do his best for his boys and girls; he had done much that the world considers unmanly; he had changed and shifted, sought favors from the great and rich, and taken service that he neither loved nor approved. But he had done all this that his children might be advanced in the world; and though he died in debt, leaving his family almost penniless, still he had spent himself in their behalf; and his children loved and honored his memory, and never forgot the struggles their father had made in their behalf. In fact, much of his spirit of family devotion descended to his famous son Napoleon, the schoolboy.
Napoleon returned to his studies after his father's death, poorer than ever in pocket, and greatly distressed over his mother's condition.
For Charles Bonaparte's death had taken away from the family its main support. The income of their uncle, the canon, was hardly sufficient for the family's needs. Joseph gave up his endeavors, and returned to Corsica to help his mother. But Napoleon remained at the military school; for his future depended upon his completing his studies, and securing a position in the army.
How much the boy had his mother in his thoughts, you may judge from this letter which he wrote her a month after his father's death:
MY DEAR MOTHER,—Now that time has begun to soften the first transports of my sorrow. I hasten to express to you the gratitude I feel for all the kindness you have always displayed toward us. Console yourself, dear mother, circumstances require that you should. We will redouble our care and our gratitude, happy if, by our obedience, we can make up to you in the smallest degree for the inestimable loss of a cherished husband I finish, dear mother,—my grief compels it—by praying you to calm yours. My health is perfect, and my daily prayer is that Heaven may grant you the same. Convey my respects to my Aunt Gertrude, to Nurse Saveria, and to my Aunt Fesch.
Your very humble and affectionate son,
At the same time he wrote to his kind old uncle, the Canon Lucien, saying: "It would be useless to tell you how deeply I have felt the blow that has just fallen upon us. We have lost a father; and God alone knows what a father, and what were his attachment and devotion to us. Alas! everything taught us to look to him as the support of our youth. But the will of God is unalterable. He alone can console us."
These letters from a boy of sixteen would scarcely give one the idea that Napoleon was the selfish and sullen youth that his enemies are forever picturing; they rather show him as he was,—quiet, reserved, reticent, but with a heart that could feel for others, and a sympathy that strove to lessen, for the mother he loved, the burden of sorrow and of loss.
That the death of his father, and the "hard times" that came upon the Bonapartes through the loss of their chief bread-winner, did sober the boy Napoleon, and made him even more retiring and reserved, there is no doubt. His old friend, General Marbeuf, was no longer in condition to help him; and, indeed, Napoleon's pride would not permit him to receive aid from friends, even when it was forced upon him.
"I am too poor to run into debt," he declared.
So he became again a hermit, as in the early days at Brienne school. He applied himself to his studies, read much, and longed for the day when he should be transferred from the school to the army.
The day came sooner than even he expected. He had scarcely been a year at the Paris school when he was ordered to appear for his final examination. Whether it was because his teachers pitied his poverty, and wished him to have a chance for himself, or whether because, as some would have us believe, they wished to be rid of a scholar who criticised their methods, and was fault-finding, unsocial, and "exasperating," it is at least certain that the boy took his examinations, and passed them satisfactorily, standing number forty in a class of fifty-eight.
"You are a lucky boy, my Napoleon," said his roommate, Alexander des Mazes; "see! you are ahead of me. I am number fifty-six; pretty near to the foot that, eh?"
"Near enough, Alexander," Napoleon replied; "but I love you fifty-six times better than any of the other boys; and what would you have, my friend? Are not we two of the six selected for the artillery? That is some compensation. Now let us apply for an appointment in the same regiment."
They did so, and secured each a lieutenancy in an artillery regiment. This, however, was not hard to secure; for the artillery service was considered the hardest in the army; and the lazy young nobles and gentlemen of the Paris military school had no desire for real work.
The certificate given to Napoleon upon his graduation read thus:—"This young man is reserved and studious, he prefers study to any amusement, and enjoys reading the best authors, applies himself earnestly to the abstract sciences, cares little for anything else. He is silent, and loves solitude. He is capricious, haughty, and excessively egotisical, talks little, but is quick and energetic in his replies, prompt and severe in his repartees, has great pride and ambition, aspiring to any thing. The young man is worthy of patronage."
And upon the margin of the report one of the examining officers wrote this extra indorsement—
"A Corsican by character and by birth. If favored by circumstances, this young man will rise high."
Napoleon's school-life was over. On the first of September, 1785, he received the papers appointing him second-lieutenant in the artillery regiment, named La Fere (or "the sword"), and was ordered to report at the garrison at Valence. His room-mate and friend, Alexander des Mazes, was appointed to the same regiment.
It was a proud day for the boy of sixteen. At last his school-life was at an end. He was to go into the world as a man and a soldier.
I am afraid he did not look very much like a man, even if he felt that he was one. But he put on his uniform of lieutenant, and in high spirits set off to visit his friends, the Permons.
They lived in a house on one of the river streets—Monsieur and Madame Permon, and their two daughters, Cecilia and Laura.
Now, both these daughters were little girls, and as ready to see the funny side of things as little girls usually are.
So when Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte, aged sixteen, came into the room, proud of his new uniform, and feeling that he looked very smart, Laura glanced at Cecilia, and Cecilia smiled at Laura, and then both girls began to laugh.
Madam Permon glanced at them reprovingly, while welcoming the young lieutenant with pleasant words.
But the boy felt that the girls were laughing at him, and he turned to look at himself in the mirror to see what was wrong.
Nothing was wrong. It was simply Napoleon; but Napoleon just then was not a handsome boy. Longhaired, large-headed, sallow-faced, stiff-stocked, and feeling very new in his new uniform (which could not be very gorgeous, however, because the boy's pocket would not admit of any extras in the way of adornment on decoration), he was, I expect, rather a pinched-looking, queer-looking boy; and, moreover, his boots were so big, and his legs were so thin, that the legs appeared lost in the boots.
As he glanced at himself in the mirror, the girls giggled again, and their mother said,—
"Silly ones, why do you laugh? Is our new uniform so marvellous a change that you do not recognize Lieutenant Bonaparte?"
"Lieutenant Bonaparte, mamma!" cried fun-loving Laura. "No, no! not that. See! is not Napoleon for all the world like—like Lieutenant Puss-in-Boots?"
Whereupon they laughed yet more merrily, and Napoleon laughed with them.
"My boots are big, indeed," he said; "too big, perhaps; but I hope to grow into them. How was it with Puss-in-Boots, girls? He filled his well at last, did he not? You will be sorry you laughed at me, some day, when I march into your house, a big, fat general. Come, let us go and see Eliza. They may go with me, eh, Madame?"
"Yes; go with the lieutenant, children," said Madame Permon.
So they all went to call on Eliza, at the school of St. Cyr, and you may be sure that she admired her brother, the new lieutenant, boots and all. And as they came home, Napoleon took the little girls into a toy-store, and bought for them a toy-carriage, in which he placed a doll dressed as Puss-in-boots.
"It is the carriage of the Marquis of Carabas, my children," he said, as they went to the Permons' house by the river. "And when I am at Valence, you will look at this, and think again of your friend, Lieutenant Puss-in-Boots."
But between the date of his commission and his orders to join his regiment at Valence a whole month passed, in which time Napoleon's funds ran very low. Indeed, he was so completely penniless, that, when the orders did come, Napoleon had nothing; and his friend Alexander had just enough to get them both to Lyons.
"What shall we do? I have nothing left, Napoleon," said Alexander; "and Valence is still miles away."
"We can walk, Alexander," said Napoleon.
"But one must eat, my friend," Alexander replied ruefully. For boys of sixteen have good appetites, and do not like to go hungry.
"True, one must eat," said Napoleon. "Ah, I have it! We will call upon Monsieur Barlet." Now, Monsieur Barlet was a friend of the Bonapartes, and had once lived in Corsica. So both boys hunted him up, and Napoleon told their story.
"Well, my valiant soldiers of the king," laughed Monsieur Barlet, "what is the best way out? Come; fall back on your training at the military school. What line of conduct, my Napoleon, would you adopt, if you were besieged in a fortress and were destitute of provisions?"
"My faith, sir," answered Napoleon promptly, "so long as there were any provisions in the enemy's camp I would never go hungry."
Monsieur Barlet laughed heartily.
"By which you mean," he said, "that I am the enemy's camp, and you propose to forage on me for provisions, eh? Good, very good, that! See, then, I surrender. Accept, most noble warriors, a tribute from the enemy."
And with that he gave the boys a little money, and a letter of introduction to his friend at Valence, the Abbe (or Reverend) Saint Raff.
But Lyons is a pleasant city, where there is much to see and plenty to do. So, when the boys left Lyons, they had spent most of Monsieur Barlet's "tip"; and, to keep the balance for future use, they fell back on their original intention, and walked all the way from Lyons to Valence.
Thus it was that Napoleon joined his regiment; and on the fifth of November 1785, he and Alexander, foot-sore, but full of boyish spirits, entered the old garrison-town of Valence in Southern France, and were warmly welcomed by Alexander's older brother, Captain Gabriel des Mazes, of the La Fere regiment, who at once took the boys in charge, and introduced them to their new life as soldiers of the garrison of Valence.
It does not take boys and girls long to find out that realization is not always equal to anticipation. Especially is this so with thoughtful, sober-minded boys like the young Napoleon.
At first, on his arrival at Valence, as lieutenant in his regiment, he set out to have a good time.
He took lodging with an old maid who let out rooms to young officers, in a house on Grand Street, in the town of Valence. Her name was Mademoiselle Bon. She kept a restaurant and billiard—room; and Napoleon's room was on the first floor, fronting the street, and next to the noisy billiard—room. This was not a particularly favorable place for a boy to pursue his studies; and at first Napoleon seem disposed to make the most of what boys would call his "freedom." He went to balls and parties; became a "great talker;" took dancing lessons of Professor Dautre, and tried to become what is called a "society man."
But it suited neither his tastes nor his desires, and made a large hole in his small pay as lieutenant. Indeed, after paying for his board and lodging, he had left only about seven dollars a month to spend for clothes and "fun." So he soon tired of this attempt to keep up appearances on a little money. He took to his books again, studying philosophy, geography, history, and mathematics. He thought he might make a living by his pen, and concluded to become an author. So he began writing a history of his native island—Corsica.
He even tried a novel, but boys of seventeen are not very well fitted for real literary work, and his first attempts were but poor affairs. His reading in history and geography drew his attention to Asia; and he always had a boyish dream of what he should like to attempt and achieve in the half-fabled land of India, where he believed great success and vast riches were to be secured by an ambitious young man, who had knowledge of military affairs, and the taste for leadership. At last he was ordered away on active service; first to suppress what was known as the "Two-cent Rebellion" in Lyons, and after that to the town of Douay in Belgium.
If was while there that bad news came to him from Corsica. His family was again in trouble. His mother had tried silkworm raising, and failed; his uncle the canon was very sick; his good friend and the patron of the family, General Marbeuf, was dead; his brothers were unsuccessful in getting positions or employment; and something must be done to help matters in the big bare house in Ajaccio.
Worried over the news, Napoleon tried to get leave of absence, so as to go to Corsica and see what he could do. But this favor was not granted him. His anxiety made him low-spirited; this brought on an attack of fever. The leave of absence was granted him because he was sick; and early in 1787 he went home to Corsica.
He had been absent from home for eight years. At once he tried to set matters on a better footing. He fixed up the little house at Melilli, which had belonged to his mother's father; tried to help his mother in her attempts at mulberry-growing for the silkworms; saw that his brother Joseph was enabled to go into the oil-trade; brightened up his uncle the canon with his political discussions and a correspondence with a famous French physician as to the cure for his uncle's gout; and finally, being recalled to his regiment, went back to Paris, and joined his regiment at Auxonne.
While in garrison at this place, he lodged with Professor Lombard, a teacher of mathematics, whom he sometimes assisted in his classes. He worked hard, kept out of debt, ate little, and was "poor, but proud." He gained the esteem of his superiors; for in a letter to Joey Fesch, who was now a priest, he wrote:
"The general here thinks very well of me; so much so, that he has ordered me to construct a polygon,—works for which great calculations are necessary,—and I am hard at work at the head of two hundred men. This unheard-of mark of favor has somewhat irritated the captains against me; they declare it is insulting to them that a lieutenant should be intrusted with so important a work, and that, when more than thirty men are employed, one of them should not have been sent out also. My comrades also have shown some jealousy, but it will pass. What troubles me is my health, which does not seem to me very good."
Indeed, it was not very good. He was just at the age when a young fellow needs all the good food, healthful exercise, and restful sleep that are possible; and these Napoleon did not permit himself. The doctor of his regiment told him he must take better care of himself; but that he did not, we know from this scrap from a letter to his mother:—
"I have no resources but work. I dress but once in eight days, for the Sunday parade. I sleep but little since my illness; it is incredible. I go to bed at ten o'clock, and get up at four in the morning. I take but one meal a day, at three o'clock. But that is good for my health."
The boy probably added that last line to keep his mother from feeling anxious. But it was not true. Such a life for a growing boy is very bad for his health. Again Napoleon fell ill, obtained six months' sick leave, and went again to Corsica. This visit was a much longer one than the first. In fact, he overstayed his leave; got into trouble with the authorities because of this; smoothed it over; regained his health; wrote and worked; mixed himself up in Corsican politics; became a fiery young advocate of liberty; and at last, after a year's absence from France, returned to join his regiment at Auxonne, taking with him his young brother, Louis, whom he had agreed to support and educate.
It was quite a burden for this young man of twenty to assume. But Napoleon undertook it cheerfully, he was glad to be able to do anything that should lighten his mother's burdens.
The brothers did not have a particularly pleasant home at Auxonne. They lived in a bare room in the regimental barracks, "Number 16," up one flight of stairs. It was wretchedly furnished. It contained an uncurtained bed, a table, two chairs, and an old wooden box, which the boys used, both as bureau and bookcase. Louis slept on a little cot-bed near his brother; and how they lived on sixty cents a day—paying out of that for food, lodging, clothes, and books—is one of the mysteries.
In fact, they nearly starved themselves. Napoleon made the broth; brushed and mended their clothes; sometimes had only dry bread for a meal; and, as Napoleon said later, "bolted the door on his poverty." That is to say, they went nowhere, and saw no one.
It was hard on the young lieutenant; it was perhaps even harder on the little brother.
One morning, after Napoleon had dressed himself and was preparing their poor breakfast, he knocked on the floor with his cane to arouse his brother and call him to breakfast and studies.
Little Louis awoke so slowly that Napoleon was obliged to arouse him a second time.
"Come, come, my Louis," he cried; "what is the matter this morning? It seems to me that you are very lazy."
"Oh, brother!" answered the half-awaked child, "I was having such a beautiful dream!"
"And what did you dream?" asked Napoleon.
The little Louis sat upright on the edge of his cot. "I dreamed that I was a king," he replied.
"A king! Well, well!" exclaimed his brother, laughing. Then he glanced around at the bare and poverty-stricken room. "And what, then, your Majesty, was I, your brother,—an emperor perhaps?" Then he shrugged his shoulders, and pinched his brother's ear.
"Well, kings and emperors must eat and work," he said, "the same as lieutenants and schoolboys. Come, then, King Louis; some broth, and then to your duty."
This was Napoleon at twenty,—a poverty-pinched, self-sacrificing, hard-working boy, a man before his time; knowing very little of fun and comfort, and very much of toil and trouble.
He was an ill-proportioned young man, not yet having outgrown the "spindling" appearance of his boyhood, but even then he possessed certain of the remarkable features familiar to every boy and girl who has studied the portraits of Napoleon the emperor. His head was large and finely shaped, with a wide forehead, large mouth, and straight nose, a projecting chin, and large, steel-blue eyes, that were full of fire and power. His face was sallow, his hair brown and stringy, his cheeks lean from not too much over-feeding. His body and lees were thin and small, but his chest was broad, and his neck short and thick. His step was firm and steady, with nothing of the "wobbly" gait we often see in people who are not well-proportioned. His character was undoubtedly that of a young man who had the desire to get ahead faster than his opportunities would permit. Solitude had made him uncommunicative and secretive; anxiety and privation had made him self-helpful and self-reliant; lack of sympathy had made him calculating; but doing for others had made him kind-hearted and generous. His reading and study had made him ambitious; his knowledge that when he knew a thing he really knew it, made him masterful and desirous of leadership. He had few of the vices, and sowed but a small crop of what is called the "wild oats" of youth; he abhorred debt, and scarcely ever owed a penny, even when in sorest straits; and, while not a bright nor a great scholar, what he had learned he was able to store away in his brain, to be drawn upon for use when, in later years, this knowledge could be used to advantage.
Such at twenty years of age was Napoleon Bonaparte. Such he remained through the years of his young manhood, meeting all sorts of discouragements, facing the hardest poverty, becoming disgusted with many things that occurred in those changing days, when liberty was replacing tyranny, and the lesson of free America was being read and committed by the world.
He saw the turmoil and terrors of the French Revolution—that season of blood, when a long-suffering people struck a blow at tyranny, murdered their king, and tried to build on the ruins of an overturned kingdom an impossible republic.
You will understand all this better when you come to read the history of France, and see through how many noble but mistaken efforts that fair European land struggled from tyranny to freedom. In these efforts Napoleon had a share; and it was his boyhood of privation and his youth of discouragement that made him a man of purpose, of persistence and endeavor, raising him step by step, in the days when men needed leaders but found none, until this one finally proved himself a leader indeed, and, grasping the reins of command, advanced steadily from the barracks to a throne. All this is history; it is the story of the development and progress of the most remarkable man of modern times. You can read the story in countless books; for now, after Napoleon has been dead for over seventy years, the world is learning to sift the truth from all the chaff of falsehood and fable that so long surrounded him; it is endeavoring to place this marvellous leader of men in the place he should rightly occupy—that of a great man, led by ambition and swayed by selfishness, but moved also by a desire to do noble things for the nation that he had raised to greatness, and the men who looked to him for guidance and direction.