Letters and Despatches,

Date: 1884

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Letters and Proclamations of Napoleon



Napoleon’s Early Years


If you or my protectors do not give me the means of supporting myself more honorably in the house where I am, let me return home immediately. I am tired of exhibiting indigence and seeing the smiles of insolent scholars who are only superior to me by reason of their fortune; for there is not one capable of feeling the noble sentiments with which I am animated. What! sir, your son is to be the laughing-stock of some popinjays, who, proud of the pleasures they give themselves, make fun of the privations I endure! No, my father, no! Should fortune absolutely refuse the amelioration of my lot, remove me from Brienne, and if necessary give me a mechanical profession. By these offers judge of my despair. This letter, believe me, is not dictated by any vain desire to indulge in expensive amusements; I am not at all fond of them. I simply experience the want of showing that I have the means of procuring them like the rest of my comrades.

The men at the head of the Revolution are a poor lot. It must be acknowledged, when one views matters closely, that the people do not deserve all the trouble taken about them. You are acquainted with the history of Ajaccio;1 that of Paris is the same. Perhaps here men are meaner, worse, and greater liars. . . . Every one pursues his own interest and searches to gain his own end by dint of all sorts of crimes; people intrigue as basely as ever. All this destroys ambition. One pities those who have the misfortune to play a part in public affairs. . . . To live tranquilly and enjoy the affections of one’s family is what one should do when one has five thousand francs a year and is between twenty-five and forty years of age; that is to say, when the imagination has calmed down and no longer torments one. I embrace you, and recommend you to be moderate in all things — in all things, mind, if you desire to live happily.

At last all is over. My first idea is to think of you and to send you news concerning myself.

The royalists, formed into sections, became daily more insolent. The Convention ordered that the Lepelletier section should be disarmed, and it resisted the troops. Menou, who commanded, is said to have played the traitor, and was at once dismissed. The Convention appointed. Barras to command the army, and the Committees appointed me second in command. We posted the troops; the enemy marched to attack us at the Tuileries; we killed a great number of them, losing on our side thirty men killed and sixty wounded. We have disarmed the sections, and all is quiet. As usual, I was not wounded.

1 , edited by D. A. Bingham. 3 vols. London, 1884. Chapman and Hall.

2 vol. i, pp. 5, 27, 58.

1 Napoleon’s native town in Corsica.

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Chicago: D. A. Bingham, ed., Letters and Despatches, in Readings in Modern European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1926), 242–243. Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8LYT3CVQFSCKN6S.

MLA: . Letters and Despatches,, edited by D. A. Bingham, Vol. i, in Readings in Modern European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, D.C. Heath, 1926, pp. 242–243. Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8LYT3CVQFSCKN6S.

Harvard: (ed.), Letters and Despatches,. cited in 1926, Readings in Modern European History, ed. , D.C. Heath, Boston, pp.242–243. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8LYT3CVQFSCKN6S.