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26

HIS ATTACHMENT TO CORSICA.

plishing, the deliverance of his country. Genoa had added to its degradation by transferring it to France, and the gallant but unavailing resistance which this occasioned, involved it in the greatest calamity. From these considerations, and the ardour of his attachment to his country, he felt an inveterate hostility towards the Genoese. His fellow students to try the strength of these feelings introduced to him a young Corsican who arrived at the school, as a Genoese; immediately Bonaparte's countenance kindled into rage, and with the velocity of lightning he flew at the boy, who by the interference of those present, was with difficulty rescued from the danger and violence to which he was exposed from the rage and indignation of Napoleon.

He took great interest in the public transactions of his native country, always manifested the greatest reverence for it, and never spoke of its gallant resistance to France but with enthusiasm. The successes of the Corsican patriots filled him with raptures; he had frequent conversations with the French officers who happened at Brienne, upon the Corsican war; he would reproach them with great vehemence for exaggerating their own advantages, and for claiming the honour of victories, where, he affirmed, their numbers were vastly superior. In speaking of a particular engagement, he observed,“ you say that there were six hundred of the French in the action; I know there were six thousand, and that they were opposed only by a few wretched Corsican peasants.'

At this early period he was austere and overbearing in his conduct ; reserved and proud in his manners. His behaviour was free from the frivolity and instability of youth ; his actions even upon the most trifling subjects, were not hasty and inconsiderate, but proceeded from thought and reflection ; his decisions were peremptory, his resolves immovable, his firmness inflexible, and his whole deportment characterized by obstinacy and eccentricity. If his companions offend

APPOINTED CAPTAIN BY HIS COMRADES.

27

ed him, he never forgave them, he sought satisfaction immediately if it was in his power ; but if not, as was frequently the case in consequence of his usually being on the weak side, he scorned to make complaint to the authority, but retaining his resentment, meditated retaliation and revenge in silence.

In the frequent instances of insubordination of the scholars, Napoleon was either a leader himself, or selected to advocate the cause of others, and therefore frequently suffered severe chastisement. He vindicated himself with intrepidity and firmness; neither promises or flattery on the one hand, nor reproaches on the other, could move him; punishments intended to humble and disgrace him, and the raillery of an ungenerous comrade or of a powerful superior were received in sullen silence.

The boys had formed themselves into a sort of military establishment, having company and battalion officers, who wore the usual badges and decorations of the French uniform. These appointments being made in a popular way were generally the rewards of some distinction or service, or what was so considered by the boys; and their official badges were of course deemed insignia of merit.

In this corps Bonaparte was elevated to the rank of captain by the unanimous voice. But from his inflexible behaviour and unaccommodating manners, he incurred displeasure, and was soon summoned before a Court martial called in due form, and being convicted of the charges presented against him, was degraded from his command. But if he felt the disgrace, he was too inflexible and proud to acknowledge it, and he submitted to the sentence in silence.

The loss of his rank, however, was more than compensated, by the advantage which it gave him over the younger boys whose favour he acquired by encouraging their sports and promoting their warlike plays; and having associated himself with them he was soon constituted Supreme Director of their diversions. This

28

FORMS TWO PARTIES FOR BATTLE.

was a situation suited to his genios and his aspiring temper; he extended his authority until it embraced most of the youths of the school, introduced a new discipline and mode of warfare. He divided the comrades: composing his command into two parties which he alternately called the Romans and the Carthaginians--the Greeks and the Persians.

It being more difficult to represent the mode of modern warfare, in which artillery forms so conspicuous a feature, he adopted that of the ancients ; he not only disciplined, arranged, and led on his troops to battle, but he exerted himself to rouse their

courage,

and excite their enthusiasm by glowing speeches, and his own heroic actions. The struggles for victory were often long, obstinate and doubtful. He recalled his troops by reproaches, when they fled; revived their ardour by exposing himself to the greatest dangers, and sustained their courage by his own bravery.These conflicts being frequently repeated, became more warm, and the palm of victory on each successive trial was disputed with increased ardour and perseverance ; until the games which originated in sport assumed a character so serious that the authority were obliged to interfere to suppress them. The earnestness with which victory was contended for, was often attested by the wounds of the combatants. On

On the attention of the authority being attracted to these hostile sports, the young general Bonaparte was sharply reprimanded, and the renewal of these battles probibited.

Being denied the only exercise to which he was attached, Napoleon retired to his favourite retreat, where he resumed his former occupations and studies. The following winter, 1783, drew him from his seclusion, and always fertile in expedients, he resolved to open a winter campaign upon a new plan. Having first tried the ancient, he now adopted the modern mode of war. From the attention which he had bestowed upon the study of fortifications, he was desir

FORMS FORTIFICATIONS OF SNOW.

29

ous of witnessing in practice, what he had acquired in theory. Collecting a number of his comrades, and putting himself at their head, they proceeded with their gardening implements to collect at particular points, in the great court of the school, large quantities of snow. Bonaparte, in the mean time, was occupied in tracing the boundaries of an extensive fortification ; entrenchments of snow were formed, forts constructed, bastions and redoubts erected, and the whole works soon completed according to the exact rules of art.

The report of these extensive and scientific fortifcations spread abroad; great curiosity was excited, and crowds flocked to witness and admire the warlike operations of the young General Bonaparte.

Numerous assaults were made and repelled, various military manoeuvres were performed, and great impetuosity in attacking and firmness and resolution in defending the works were exhibited. Bonaparte directed the whole operations, sometimes heading the assailants, then conducting the defence ; always active, expert and bold, he often surprised and astonished the spectators, and acquired great applause. The authority, feeling more inclined to encourage, than to repress these hostile games, praised those who were distinguished for activity and courage ; the sports continued during the winter, and until the works were demolished by the heat of the vernal sun.

The following incident is an evidence of the violence of the temper, and the roughness of the manners of Bonaparte.

The anniversary of St. Louis, the 25th of August, was a holiday with the pupils, who were indulged in pleasures, amusements and demonstrations of joy almost without restraint; all punishment being suspended and all subordination having ceased, the day did not often close without furnishing a catalogue of accidents and disasters. By an old custom of the college the pupils over

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DEFENDS HIS GARDEN WITH VIOLENCE.

fourteen years of age, had the privilege of purchasing a certain quantity of gun powder, of preparing fireworks, and of discharging small cannon, musketry and other fire arms.

At the celebration of 1784, being the last year that Napoleon remained at Brienne, he affected great coldness and indifference on the occasion; whilst his comrades were all activity, animation and hilarity, he was gloomy, sullen, and silent. Retiring to his garden, he refused to participate in the general rejoicing, but pretended to be engaged in his usual occupations and studies, without being disturbed or his attention arrested by the noise and confusion which every where prevailed. This perverse singularity, would not have attracted notice, but for an accident which occurred. In the evening, about twenty young men assembled in a garden adjoining that of Bonaparte, the proprietor of which had promised to entertain them with the exhibition of fire-works. During the performance, a spark fell upon a box containing several pounds of powder, that had been forgotten to be removed, which instantly exploded, to the no small confusion and alarm of the company ; some had their legs and arms broken, others were dreadfully burned in their faces, and the wall for several paces

roken down. In their consternation and endeavours to escape, some rushed upon the fence, separating the garden from that of Bonaparte's, broke down some of the palisades, and attempted to enter; but were repelled by the proprietor, who armed with a pick axe, resolutely defended his frontier and drove back those who were attempting to escape from the flames; and the resistance and violence, which the affrighted fugitives experienced from Bonaparte, increased the general confusion and added to the number of the wounded. .

At the examination which soon took place, by the royal inspector general M. le chevalier de Renault, this officer, well versed himself in the art of fortification, and who owed his own preferment to his talents

was

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