Friday, August 31, 2007

The Washington of France

From A Selection from the Letters and Despatches of the First Napoleon. With Explanatory Notes By Denis Arthur Bingham. (London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1884), pp. 219-220. Comments below between the text of the letters is by Bingham.

In a letter to Marmont, dated the 18th August, Bonaparte showed considerable anxiety to know what the English were about. "You will forward me the most minute details," he wrote, "and let me know the situation of the English, and the manner in which our squadrons behaved during the combat. In speaking either to the generals, to the sailors, or to the soldiers, take care to say and to do all in your power to encourage them. More especially, have a conference with Rear-Admiral Ganthaume, and let me know what he thinks of the conduct of our fleet, what he thinks of the conduct of Villeneuve, and what he supposes that the English intend doing. Assure him of my esteem, &c., &c."

Two days afterwards, writing to Kl├ęber, he said—
"The Turks will think twice before undertaking any important operation against us; besides, they would soon repent of it. ... I do not fear 100,000 Turks. If the English relieve this squadron by another, and continue to infest the Mediterranean, they will perhaps oblige us to do greater things than we proposed to perform"— would force the French to take India.

On the 22nd August Bonaparte created an institute at Cairo, which he organised with his usual love of detail. In the list of persons proposed to form "the Institute of Egypt," the Correspondence gives, " Mathematical Section, Bonaparte, Monge, &c." In the section of political economy, one remarks the name of Tallien.

Nelson thus wrote to Earl Spencer :—

9th August, 1798."

I send you a pacquet of intercepted letters, some of them of great importance: in particular, one from Bonaparte to his brother. He writes such a scrawl, no one not used to it can read it: but luckily we have got a man who has wrote in his office to decipher it. Buonaparte has differed with his Generals here, and he did want— and, if I understand his meaning, does want—and will strive to be the Washington of France. . . . "


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