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MILITARY AND POLITICAL
The story of his origin-Is sent to a French Military Academy
at Brienne-Anecdotes of his exploits while a Cadet--Ad. mitted into the Royal Military Academy at Paris, and distinguishes himself by his unwearied diligence in study-Appointed a Lieutenant.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE was born on the 15th of August, 1769, at Ajaccio, a small town in the island of Corsica. He was the eldest son of Carlo Bonaparte, a lawyer by profession, whose wife, and the mother of Napoleon, was Letitia Raniolini. The early patron of Napoleon was general count Marbeuf, who had conquered the island of Corsica for France. The friendship of count Marbeuf, which was so advantageous to the Bonaparte family, particularly to young Napoleon, is said to have been occasioned by the personal beauty of his mother, and the improper and disgraceful attachment which subsisted between her and the count. But whatever may have been the origin or the cause of the attachment of count Marbeuf to the Bonaparte family, he evidently took a warm interest in the welfare of young Napoleon, and it was from his influence, with Mareschal de Segur, the French minister at war, that he was admitted into L'Ecole Royale Militaire at Brienne, in the province of Chan
ENTERS THE MILITARY ACADEMY.
paigne. Here he acquired the rudiments of the sciences of war and politics, which he subsequently perfected and matured, by experience and an excellent understanding, and which afterwards enabled him to excel in the practice of war, and procured him the character of a great general, a conqueror, and an Em-peror of the most powerful nation in the world,
The school at Brienne, was one of the thirteen Roy. al military colleges, established in the different provin. ces of France. These institutions were subjects of great favour with the Sovereigns of France, particularly the two last of the Bourbon family ; were munificently endowed and possessed in an eminent degree all the advantages which can belong to such establishments.
At the head of this system of military Education was L'Ecole Royale Militaire at Paris. The pupils of this school were drawn from those of the Provinces ; at the annual examinations, which were in the presence of the Royal Inspector, and two members of the French academy, a certain number of the pupils who had made the greatest proficiency in their studies, and whose good conduct was attested by the regents, were removed and admitted into the Royal military school at Paris, where their education was completed, and having graduated honorably were immediately attached to some regiment, or appointed to some military employment.
In 1779, at the early age of ten years, Napoleon, was placed at the Royal military school at Brienne. Here he soon disclosed a peculiar temper ; avoiding, the sports, and withdrawing from the amusements of his fellow students, he devoted himself to retirement, and to his studies. He seldom mixed with his school fellows except in the character of a monitor, and his reprimands were often returned with blows, which he never shunned, or retreated from the assailants, however superior they might be in numbers.
The following fact exhibits at this early period an
STUDIES MATHEMATICKS AND HISTORY.
indication of the peculiar character of his mind. A plot of ground belonging to the school was divided into lots, which the boys were allowed to cultivate, or appropriate to other purposes, for amusement, recreation and exercise. One of these allotments being assigned to Napoleon in conjunction with three others, he prevailed on his associates to relinquish their interest and privileges in the ground ; and having aequired absolute dominion of his little territory, he took steps not only to cultivate it, but likewise to fortify and defend it. The cash sent him by his patron count Marbeuf, designed as pocket money, he expended in constructing a strong pallisade around his little domain, to protect it from the intrusion of the boys; and to increase the seclusion, he planted shrubs, of which he formed impenetrable arbours ; a part of the lot he laid out into a garden, with great regularity and taste, the improvement and cultivation of which formed almost his sole recreation.
Napoleon appears to have had a dislike of the Latin language, and to have rejected it entirely, or at an early period to have withdrawn all attention from it ; neither was it discovered at first that he made unusual proficiency in bis studies, or that he applied himself with extraordinary intenseness.
It was the Mathematicks that seems first to have deeply engaged his attention, and disclosed his genius and resources of mind. Under the instruction of Fa. ther Patrault he engaged in the study of the mathematical sciences with great ardour and success. Military tactics, fortifications, enginering, and all the various branches of military science followed, and were pursued with increasing ardour and astonishing success. His attention to history, particularly that of the most celebrated nations of antiquity, Greece and Rome, was zealous and persevering; history appeared to be his most delightful occupation, and a great source both of pleasure and instruction. It is probable that reading of the great achievements of the heroes of anti
24 STUDIES THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF WAR.
quity, and the glory which attended them, aided by the natural bent of his genius, and the strong ardour of his temper, at this early period, inspired him with that heroic martial spirit, that thirst for military fame, those exalted ideas of great achievements, and that daring and insatiable ambition, which afterwards appeared so conspicuous. The hours of vacation, and what time was not occupied with regular studies, he spent in his garden, either in its cultivation, or as a retreat for reading. So impervious had he rendered its borders, that it might have served as a seclusion for a religious recluse. The garden in its interior was cultivated with great neatness and attention. Here, with books upon his favorite subjects, the Mathematicks and History, he retired to enjoy the sweets of solitude, study, and reflection. Having read deeply he meditated deeply, and the admiration with which he perused the heroic achievements of others, inspired an ardour to imitate such noble and glorious deeds. His military and mathematical studies on the one hand, and his historical reading on the other, acquainting him in some measure with both the service and the practice of war; and whilst he perused the great and splendid actions of the statesmen and heroes of Plutarch, not regarding the injustice, tyranny and cruelty which tvo frequently characterizes them, he became excited to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. His whole soul was absorbed in the love of military fame and glory; and having in imagination already become a hero, upon paper and upon the ground, he formed the hostile corps in order of battle, commenced the attack, advanced, retreated ; changed their positions, led on charges, planned the attack and defence of fortified places, performed various evolutions, arranged and directed all the movements of vast armies and obtained mighty victories.--He enjoyed in imagination what he afterwards did in reality, the music of the roar of cannon, the clangour of arms, the sound of the soulstirring fife and drum, the shouts of victory, and the
groans of the wounded and the dying. The life of Marshal prince of Saxony was a favourite work with Bonaparte.
He pursued his military and mathematical studies with great intenseness; but his attention being entirely engrossed with these, he paid no attention to Belles Lettres, and he even neglected the liberal and polite accomplishments, considering them unworthy the attention of a soldier. He did not like the great Marlborough, seem to calculate that those who could not be gained by power, might be gained by the art of pleasing; he considered fattery and the arts of the courtier disgraceful; what he could not command by force, he relied upon acquiring by stratagem. His comrades called him the Spartan, which name he retained until he left the school at Brienne.
The attachment of Napoleon to Corsica was conspicuous. When the archbishop according to custom, was performing the ceremony of confirmation and the receiving of the communion, with the boys of the school, he asked Bonaparte, as he did the rest, his christian name, he answered very loud, but the name of Napoleon, being uncommon, it escaped the attention of the Prelate, who desired that it might be repeated, which Bonaparte did with much apparent impatience. This induced the minister who assisted to observe to the archbishop," Napoleon ! I do not know that saint," 5 Parbleu! I believe it” said Bonaparte, “the saint is a Corsican.” From the circumstance of his being a native of Corsica, and that Island having been reduced under the dominion of France, the term “French vassal” was frequently applied to Bonaparte by his school fellows. This irritated him extremely, and he retorted with severity; he often declared a belief, that it was his destiny to deliver Corsica from its humbled condition and rescue it from the dominion of France. The name of Paoli, he never mentioned but with reverence, and he seemed ever to meditate the patriotic design, which that officer failed of accom