An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter: THE character and career of Napoleon form a subject of perennial interest. He is already one of those personages about whom, after all is said, the most diverse opinions are held because their names have become identified with principles that go down to the roots of character and conduct. In the struggle between Caesar and the Senate (for Pompeius never counted as a statesman), who shall say which side was right? People take part, and will continue to take part, with one ...
An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter: THE character and career of Napoleon form a subject of perennial interest. He is already one of those personages about whom, after all is said, the most diverse opinions are held because their names have become identified with principles that go down to the roots of character and conduct. In the struggle between Caesar and the Senate (for Pompeius never counted as a statesman), who shall say which side was right? People take part, and will continue to take part, with one side or the other according to their temperament and training, but not as the result of argument. Few Catholics will condemn Mary of Scotland, few Protestants will defend her. The character of Cromwell, again, will always be a subject of dispute. New facts may come forth in abundance, but each man will interpret them according to his previously formed opinions. So it is with Napoleon. Whatever his merits as a military leader, he was essentially a politician, for when he said of himself "je suis tout a fait un etre politique" he spoke the exact truth. While the French Revolution started the new system of "la carriere ouverte aux talents," it was Napoleon that consolidated that system and surrounded it with the glamour of military glory. Hence his name will always be the watchword of those who think that each man should have a fair chance in the world-"equality of opportunity," as it is called-and that the artificial inequalities of birth and rank should no longer usurp the power due only to the inequality of nature. Another class of people will always be attracted by the personality of Napoleon, which offers so many facets to the student of humanity. There is, then, no wonder that we never come to an end of Napoleon, and that every new book only furnishes matter for fresh controversy. No apology therefore is necessary for an attempt to clear the character of one whose name is indissolubly connected with the closing scenes of the Emperor's life, of one who has been so maligned that his name has become a byword for peevishness of temper, coarseness of language, and petty persecution. It is scarcely necessary to say that I refer to Sir Hudson Lowe, the Governor of St. Helena during Napoleon's captivity. French national pride has made it a point of patriotism to cling to charges long after they have been disproved, but something different might have been expected from ourselves. A writer who attempts to defend one whom a large body of opinion-I will not say public opinion-has condemned must expect to be charged with what is commonly called "whitewashing"-an odious name for an odious thing-and I have not escaped. Sir Hudson Lowe has, however, no need of "whitewashing," for he makes no demand on our generosity. It is only necessary to clear away the mud that has been so persistently thrown at him. Soon after the death of Napoleon, a small but noisy group, aided by political interest, party spite, and the specious statements of a lying book, captured the ear of the public with their version of the treatment of the Emperor at St. Helena, and they have more or less kept it ever since. A few months before the death of Sir Hudson Lowe, Colonel Basil Jackson thus expressed himself in the "United Service Magazine" "So complete a reaction has taken place, in this country at least, that it may now be doubted whether any man of information and reflection can be found to countenance opinions unfavourable to Sir Hudson Lowe." There are, however, a good many such to be found even now. No man, it is true, "of information and reflection" ought to entertain such opinions, but there is considerable excuse to be made for the British public. When people have once had it instilled into their mind that atrocious deeds have been done, they do not rest content (and all honour to them for the feeling) till they have seen punishment inflicted for the wrongdoing...."
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Neat gift inscription on front endpaper, dated 1911. Slight wear and slight nicking at spine ends, otherwise sound, near very good with clean text. 8vo. pp viii, 282. Original publisher's red cloth, lettered gilt at the spine. Portrait frontispiece.
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