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SELECTED FOR THE MILITARY SCHOOL AT PARIS. 31
and honourable conduct, was well calculated to discover and to appreciate genius, and its results, when judiciously directed. He readily decided that Bonaparte's acquirements in military science entitled him to be sent to L'Ecole Royal Militaire at Paris, notwithstanding the representation of his masters of several occurrences unfavourable to his promotion ; Bonaparte accordingly arrived at the military Academy at Paris, on the 17th of October 1784.
It has been remarked of him, that at the time he quitted the school at Brienne, his temper was overbearing and irritable, that he often endeavoured to controul the actions of the other youths ; sometimes he excited their indignation by his sarcasms, but never feared their vengeance, or shrunk from their endeavours to punish his ill-timed interference; he bore their attacks with firmness, and repelled them with violence, and with various success. No threats, either from his equals, or his superiors, nor no impending danger, seemed to appal him ; and he appeared as insensible to their applause, as to their displeasure. Sternly independent, and confiding in himself alone, respecting no talents in another which he could not employ to his own purposes ; intriguing where he could not command, firm in his resolves, impatient of restraint, and disdainful of authority ; his character was as remarkable for its turbulence, as for its inflexibility,
At the School at Paris, Bonaparte's exertions were principally directed to complete his knowledge of the mathematicks; under the instructions of the celebrated Monge, he laboured with unwearied diligence.It being generally considered at this time, that the artillery and engineer corps were the only ones in France, where favouritism and interest bad no influence, and where merit afforded any tolerable prospect of promotion, Bonaparte determined to enter one of these as soon as he had obtained the necessary qualifications, and passed the requisite probation.
From three hundred pupils, which were at the
32 APPOINTED A LIEUTENANT-JOINS HIS REGIMENT.
school, he selected for his associates Lauriston, a youth of phlegmatic temper, and Dupont, a daring and fearless young man. At his first examination in 1786, he had made such proficiency, under the instruction of Monge, that he acquitted himself with great credit, and in the month of July, was permitted to enter as a Lieutenant, into the regiment de la Fere, then in garrison at Auxone. While at the school at Paris, he spent his leisure hours in one of the bastions of a small fort, called “ Lieu Brienne."
Here he was often seen with the works of Vauban, Muller, Cohorn, and Foland open before him, drawing plans for the attack and defence of this little fort according to the rules of military science.
On joining his regiment he did not remit his attention to the theory of his profession; he passed the day in examining the fortifications of the garrison, and part of the night in the study of military details.
He frequently in conversation with the officers of the regiments expressed opinions, which, by the higher orders, and the partizans of royalty, were considered as factious. He censured freely all regulations which abridged the privileges of the people, and even those intended to restrain the excesses which grew out of the inefficacy of the laws, or the laxity of their administration. His opposition to all the measures of the government became confirmed and uniform, and all endeavours to convince him of their justice and propriety were unavailing.
The following year, 1786, his patron, general count Marbeuf died, which deprived Bonaparte of his protection and influence; and of what was of more immediate importance, the pecuniary assistance which he had afforded him, which subjected him to some inconvenience, as his pay as Lieutenant was scarcely adequate to support the appearance which his rank required. He perceived with complacency, the operation of causes calculated to disorganize the state of society which had so long existed in France; and
ESCAPES A DISASTER.
waited, although not without impatience, for some political agitations, which might present a field for his military genius and acquirements, and open a path to preferment and celebrity. In a conversation with some officers, whilst walking in the Champ de Mars, which turned upon public affairs, Bonaparte, having declared against the king, excited great indignation with all present; the dispute became warm, and Napoleon, although opposed by all, defended the opinions he had advanced with great firmness and intrepidity. The dispute ran so high, that in a moment of vehemence and passion, those opposed to Bonaparte seized him and were about to throw him headlong into an adjoining stream ; but before they had proceeded far in the execution of their design, they perceived the rashness and injustice of it, and desisted from their purpose. He gradually withdrew from their society entirely, and if he did not disclose his sentiments, they were neither changed nor abandoned.
The sagacious and reflecting mind could not but discover at this period, various indications of a political revolution, or at least of civil commotions. The numerous venal factions which existed among the nobility, the clergy, and the people of Paris; the corruptions and abuses of the government; the burthensomeness of taxes, the oppressions of the nobility, the rapacity of the clergy, the operations of the press, the diffusion of light and intelligence, and the prevailing spirit of faction and insubordination, seemed to indicate an approaching convulsion. These considerations did not escape the attention of Bonaparte ; they made a strong impression upon his mind : increased his ardour, exalted his hopes and emboldened his language.
The French Revolution-The conduct of Bonaparte-His en
thusiastic avowal of the principles of Liberty and Equality" -and open hostility to the Royal Family-Condemnation and execution of the king.
That tempestuous revolution, which in its progress shook the foundations of civil order throughout Europe, threw France into an awful convulsion, pulled down those in high places,' and exalted those in low, crushed the thrones of kings, and made kings of private citizens, burst upon the world in a manner truly astonishing.
A despotic and arbitrary government, for many ages, had been “gathering up wrath against the day of wrath ;" abuses of every description had grown up; the increasing 'privileges of the higher orders, their wealth, power and immunities, and the corruption and profligacy of the court increased the oppressions, the poverty, and the wretchedness of the people; the long and glorious wars of Louis XIV. had exalted and strengthened the monarchy at the expense of the nation, and the glory and pageantry of the king was contrasted with the poverty and misery of his people. It was discovered, that the glory and grandeur which the monarch had acquired, was but a poor reward for the toils and sacrifices, which the nation had sustained, during a long period of war; which had burdened it with debt, gave rise to new, and aggravated old abuses of power, and degraded and oppressed the people.
At the time that these political disorders had attain. ed to their height, the impervious gloom of ignorance and superstition, which had long enveloped the nation in moral darkness, was beginning to be dissipated by the light which that most powerful of all engines the press, is calculated to diffuse, even where it cannot be said to be entirely free.
Although the mass of the people of France, were at
this period in profound ignorance and superstition, yet she possessed a numerous and enlightened literati. She had men eminently learned in every department of science; many of them having long deplored the consequences of that degrading ignorance which brooded over the nation, had exerted themselves to dissipate the pervading darkness, and many patriotic and liberal works, of a character highly popular and fascinating, were published, and distributed with great diligence throughout the kingdom. These publications, had in some measure prepared the public mind for the operation of the more important causes growing out of the glorious struggle between Great Britain and her colonies in America. The war of the revolution was professedly a war for liberty; it led to an examination and discussion, both in America and in England, of the first principles of government, of the “rights of man," and of the origin and nature of monarchy.
The French officers and soldiers, who had been engaged in the American war, in some measure had the spirit of the revolution infused into their minds. Being engaged in the same cause with the Americans, they imbibed the same feelings, and in no small degree adopted the same principles. This was an important school, where political science, as well as the art of war, was acquired.
It was natural, therefore, for those who had fought for liberty abroad, to look into the political state of their own country ; and it was a painful reflection to all, who had contributed to establish the independence and freedom of America, to perceive the oppressed and degraded condition of their own country. The light, shed abroad by the American struggle, contributed, greatly, to basten that mighty revolution, which agitated not only France, but all Europe. It served as a torch, applied to the combustible materials, which had been accumulating for ages ; an awful explosion ensued, terrible in its consequences.
The contest in its origin was between the oppressed, and their op